Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Federer untroubled in quarter final

The second men's quarter final of Aus Open 2017, played at night on the second Tuesday of the tournament, featured 17th seed Roger Federer against unseeded German Mischa Zverev, the Andy Murray giant killer.  Federer had Tomas Berdych to play with as you would a favourite toy in the third round, in preparation for the real tennis which he needed to play against fifth seed Kei Nishikori in the fourth round.
It lasted five sets, but apart from the first handful of games, and despite losing two sets, Federer never really looked like losing the match.

No one in their right mind should have expected Mischa to be able to back up again and pull off another major upset against Federer who has been in pretty good form.  
However, my predictions had been uncannily inaccurate this past week or so, and from that Roger would have alarm bells ringing.

Federer had a 2-0 head to head record coming into the quarter final, and would have been banking on the form from the last meeting in Halle continuing.  6-0 6-0 was a useful win and just because it was on grass and in 2013 doesn't change the fact that it emotionally scarred Mischa for life.

Federer served a love game and fired three successive winners past a statue like Zverev to break and lead 2-0.
A Swiss double fault and a German volley winner put Roger at 0-30 which was rectified smartly, an ace and forehand volley assisting I the retrieval.  3-0.
The best serve volleyers know when it is advisable to stay back rather than charge the net, because while coming in behind a shot which has been hit deep or has pushed your opponent wide is sensible, attacking the net behind rubbish is crazy.

Mischa was being indiscriminate and coming to the net almost as a ritual, and it cost him again in the fourth game, Federer passing him for four more winners, breaking him to take a 4-0 lead and effectively put set one beyond doubt.
A love game and the seventeenth seed was a game away from the set in just 12 minutes of what was supposed to be a tennis match.

For the sake of everyone and everything, Mischa held serve, and even pushed Roger to deuce as he served for the set.  That was the only ground prepared to be ceded by Federer and an ace and volley winner restored his superiority 6-1 in about twenty minutes.

A different looking approach thankfully from Zverev in set two and it bore fruit in game one as he forced Federer into error on occasion with his better mix of serve volley game.  Serve held and 1-0.
Zverev replied to Federer's ace with two forehand winners, before three Swiss winners shut him up and made it 1-1.  A love game on serve was proof of Mischa's real interest in the match and at 2-1 he had already doubled his games contribution from the set one debacle.

The fourth game was also a love game but to the shock of the world it was to break the almighty's serve.  At 1-3 Roger was embarrassed into action and with backhand and forehand winners had Mischa at 0-30.  Two break points came and a forehand smash saved one, but Federer broke back on the second. 2-3.

Take. To 30-30 in his next two service games Federer managed to avoid break point trouble in either and 4-4 was the result.
Zverev took it to 5-4 with a love game and stuffed up a backhand at 30-30 on the next Federer serve.  That point was critical and of course Federer evened it up 5-5.

Zverev fell into some set one habits and from 0-30 Federer hit two backhand winners, breaking to love and leading 6-5.
Federer was quickly to three set points. Zverev saved two with clean winners before Federer forced a mistake and won a two set advantage 6-1 7-5.

Zverev saved a break point in the opening game of set three and games went with serve until 2-2.
The fifth game was key.  Zverev served and had 30-0 before winners from Federer tied it at 30-30.  Break point came on the back of an unforced Zverev error.  It was saved with a volley winner.  Game point was zapped with a Federer backhand.and two more Swiss winners broke the German serve.

Serving again at 2-4, Zverev had 40-15.  Two Federer winners brought it to the first of an amazing ten deuces in the game.  On the sixth break point it was a backhand winner that achieved the break for Federer and he would serve at 5-2 for the match.

Two aces and it was seemingly seconds from victory.  Three errors, two unforced, delayed celebrations, and Federer needed to address a break point.  He did, with an ace.  A service winner and forehand winner followed and a semi final spot was his.

Roger Federer the victor 6-1 7-5 6-2 and will play Stan Wawrinka in an all Swiss semi final.

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