Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Federer serves it up in 2nd round

Roger Federer faced a potential tough opponent early in the 2016 Aus Open with the prodigious but as yet not fully displayed talent of Alexandr Dolgopolov.

Federer lost his final in Brisbane to Raonic and his exit in the third round last year here gave Dolgopolov hope of a major upset.

Federer opened proceedings with solid serving, preventing Dolgopolov from entering the fray in any meaningful manner.  At 40-0 Federer returned a brilliant forehand winner and this stalled the promising start on serve by the Ukranian.  Federer out rallied Dolgopolov to create break point but good serving saved it and eventually won the game, levelling at 1-1.

Federer's second effort at serving was even better than his first, winning it to love, an overhead particularly impressive.  

At 2-2 Dolgopolov played a magic drop shot forcing Federer into error, but it was the only blip on the Swiss serve and games remained with server.  A double fault and two Ukranian errors brought up three break points, and a Federer winner clinched it for a 4-2 lead, serve to come.

No issues for the number 3 seed as his sixth ace rounded out another easy service game and the first set was within a whisker for Federer.  

Dolgopolov managed to avoid another break and it was Federer to serve for a set lead.  A double fault stalled things at 30-30 but it was fixed up with two big serves, the second an ace to take the set 6-3.

Alexandr serving first in Set two had the chance to put his stamp on things early but poor first serve percentage and careless errors immediately put him in peril.  15-40 and one break point saved with a rare Swiss mistake, and the next saved the same way.

A forehand winner from the Ukraine and another winner from the same nation paved the way to win the opening game of the set and avoid the break which had seemed inevitable.

Federer was in fine form and not appearing to drop away at all in set two.  The serve formed the basis for his total game and Dolgopolov could only pray that it would suffer at some point.
The fifth game provided another break opportunity for the Swiss player, and to his credit Dolgopolov hung on for a 3-2 lead.

So far Federer had lost only 5 points on his serve for the match and he squared the set at 3-3.

Now with more first serves finding their mark, Alexandr had settled into the match, and led 4-3.  He still had no answer to the Federer serve however.  Three aces in the eighth game and it was 4-4.  Maybe if he could make it to the tie break something freakish could happen.

Federer served at 4-5 and to little surprise achieved 40-0 in the blink of an eye.  The game was over and 5-5.  Pressure huge now on Dolgopolov.

First point to Federer and the second following a bad miss wide from the Ukranian.  A netted Swiss forehand and an unreturnable serve helped regain poise.   Deuce after a foolish drop shot attempt, and the next shot long brought up break point.  Saved with a forehand winner.  
Eventually wiltering under the intense pressure, the serve was broken and Federer served for the set at 6-5.

At 30-30 a good second serve provided a set point for Federer and he only needed that as he strode to a 6-3 7-5 lead.

Federer put his foot down further, breaking serve to lead 2-1 in the third, a forehand return winner the highlight.

Again after Federer held easily, Dolgopolov fell in a hole, and his errors flowed seemingly from a recognition that his hopes had been terminally dashed.  The Swiss advantage now was 4-1.

The end came quickly with the Swiss serve making it 5-1 and then a rifled Swiss backhand on a third break point completing the task 6-3 7-5 6-1

The serve was what Federer would have to be most pleased with today, and it will need to be at least that consistently good if he has pretentions of winning the title because Djokovic looms large.

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