17-time grand slam winner Roger Federer is having a brilliant Australian Open campaign so far. He has been too hot to handle. And, we are all amazed, aren’t we? He came into the Australian open seeded no. 17, not having played an official tennis match for a period of 6 months but has been able to hit his top form this week. As Federer drew Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Sir Andy Murray in consecutive rounds, all anticipated a pretty difficult journey to the second week for him. Andy Murray shockingly lost to unseeded Mischa Zverev on Sunday which dismissed the possibility of Federer having to face him in the quarter-finals. But Roger Federer still had to face Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori in the 3rd and the 4th round respectively. And, he has beaten both of the two top 10 opponents which gets him to the quarter-finals.
The tale in a nutshell
Roger Federer proved that he is still pretty good when it comes to playing grand slam matches against the best players in the sport. But the match was far more easy for him and understandably so, he was up against the Japanese no. 1 and world no. 5 Kei Nishikori who is one of the best returners in the game. Kei was more like a Japanese Shinkansen in the first part of the first set. He broke Roger’s serve twice to go up 4-0. It looked like Kei was going to run away with the match pretty quickly. But, Federer regrouped himself quickly. He held his serve for the first time to make it 1-4. Roger won the next 4 games breaking the Nishikori serve twice in the process to make it 5-5. The Japanese would go on to win the set eventually in the tiebreak but it was a comeback that really gave Federer a lot of belief. Roger won the next two sets before Nishikori managed to win the 4th set to take the match into a decider. At that moment, Kei was looking physically not hundred percent as he summoned his physio. In the 5th set, Roger was the more consistent and fitter player who managed to close out the match in 3 hours and 24 minutes with the score being 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3. He has reached the quarter-finals. This year, the center court looks sleeker and swifter. That’s good news for Roger obviously. Now, the 17-time grand slam champion Roger Federer might as well reach the final of the Oz Open; it is now very much possible!
Stats from the blockbuster 4th round match
Firstly, kudos to Nishikori for playing a very good match. He was almost perfect for some parts of the match and gave Roger a real scare in the first set. He was moving too well throughout almost the whole match (parts of the match when he was not being limited by his injury) and very intimidating. He pushed Roger beyond his limits. Unfortunately for him, there was an injury issue most probably in his hip that jeopardised his match. But that does not take away the credit that Roger deserves to be given. Roger’s game was dandy throughout. Tell me again who’s 35 years old. His performance was majestic. His serve was good , his movement agile and his nerves unyielding. Even in the 5th set, he was resilient enough to fend off any possibility of falling behind. He was looking fresh and energetic. The Swiss great had been gliding inside the Rod Laver Arena and hitting very flat. He hit 24 aces. He hit 83 winners in the match that is indicative of the good state of his lethal aggressive game right now. He had a great first serve points conversion percentage (80%) meaning he won 80% of the points he played on his first serve. He lost only 20 of them in 5 sets to the no. 5 player in the world. And, that is no joke, of course! This again reinforces the belief that his attacking game is hitting peak. Do we have here the old Roger already? My guess would be in the affirmative.
About his next match against the serve and volley dependent Mischa Zverev, Roger has mentioned that it’s better to be playing short rallies than long grueling rallies.
“It’s better perhaps to play someone who keeps the points short and goes to net rather than Murray, who makes you hit thousands of forehands and backhands.”
But, he’s wary of the kind of form that Mischa is in and expects a tricky match.
“But Zverev played really well today, and the surface allows you to play like that, and Zverev really used it well. It was impressive.”
“It’s going to be tough and different and tricky. That’s my mindset.”
Roger next plays ATP no. 50 Mischa Zverev, a serve and volley player, in the quarter-finals who has taken out Andy Murray in the round of 16.
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