Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Federer manages Raonic power

For the third successive match Roger Federer had the Melbourne evening as the back drop against which to produce his work.  The protagonist chosen for his recreation this time was Candadian Milos Raonic, he with such a consistently fast serve that our sadness felt with Roddicks' retirement will evaporate that much quicker.

To be able to trouble Federer, Raonic, seeded 13 and certainly a future top ten prospect, possibly higher, would need to bring to the court some other tricks;  once Roger is able to return a big serve, he virtually controls the rally in most instances, so ground stroke development and patience need constant development in order for the transition of Raonic to elite level to eventuate.

Tonight Federer won the right to serve first, and began a set of pretty solid serving, knowing that any lapse could effectively be set gone, that potent is the Raonic delivery.
Pretty solid is an understatement for it was the Federer serve that could not be touched, Milos helpless to score even off Federer's second serves.

Federer continued his run of competent returning by at least displaying an ability to lay the full face of his racquet on serves measured as swift as 220kph+. ( I think I saw 233 kph as the quickest)
The sixth game concerned the Canadian and he alleviated the worry of break points by going to his strength - an ace and powerful ground strokes.

Federer, like Djokovic, often catches his rivals napping at the end of close sets, and he grabbed Raonic by surprise tonight when the Canadian was serving at 4-5 to stay with the second seed.  Yes Milos contributed to his own downfall but the Federer pressure of holding serve so convincingly finally appeared to have had its effect with unforced errors coming at the most inopportune time.
Federer broke Raonic to win the opening set 6-4.

Set 2 was Servers Paradise.  Federer again was unstoppable when asked to serve, and Raonic gave Federer more trouble with the Canadian missiles just as fast as ever but including a touch more angle to deceive the returner.

It made for exciting viewing, perhaps at the slight expense of rallies, but we were allowed the experience of some of Federer's best forehands as a quality sideshow.
No one looked in danger on serve and so the tie break that we had to have arrived and minds wound back to the Tomic scenario and how that match swung so heavily on a second set breaker.

Here, Federer did not slip behind as he had with Tomic - he took the initiative once Raonic slipped up early, and maintained the edge through until 6 points to 3.  Raonic saved a set point but could not deny Federer who won the next and now had the two set lead he had sought. 6-4 7-6 (7-4)

Again in similar vein to the Tomic match, Federer's opponent suffered a major let down after losing a key tie break.  For a serve so impregnable, it was difficult to watch Raonic fall behind 0-4 in the third set.  As the standard of tennis from Milos fell so too did the intensity of Federer who, while still in command of his game, was not required to use his "A" game any longer to deal with the Raonic challenge.

The match certainly did not have the finish of the previous night but we can't be lucky twice in a row.

Federer won comfortably 6-4 7-6 6-2

For two sets Federer played extremely well, the brand of tennis which could quite possibly see him in the final.  Raonic, with further development to other parts of his game, could become as potentially dangerous as Safin was at his peak - his service weapon is already frightening. 

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