Australian Open QF: Federer Fends off Tsonga 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 to Make 10th Consecutive Semi
In my previous post I didn’t give Tsonga much of a chance in this match. I didn’t give him much of a chance to even win a set. But I failed to filter in Roger’s ‘off’ day. And the match against Tsonga was the perfect opportunity for just that. Don’t get me wrong. Tsonga played extremely well and he deserved to win two sets. But it just makes sense that Roger had to ‘sit this one out’. He played two unbelievable matches back to back and he needed to give JesusFed a rest. He will need him for two more matches if he is to win his 18th slam after all. So in hindsight this result was not surprising at all. Tsonga is a very dangerous player and if Roger was going to beat him in straights or four sets, then JesusFed had to be around. The important thing is that he progressed to the next round. Only the people who doesn’t know Roger will now claim he is beatable.
And that doesn’t matter in the least. In fact that is a good thing because he still stays under the radar. Since the beginning he wasn’t given much of a chance. Djokovic and Murray was considered bigger favorites, and that has worked out well for him. He doesn’t want to go into the Murray match as the favorite and then lose. He doesn’t need the added pressure. Murray has had it very easy thus far. He has had a cakewalk draw and that didn’t change in the quarters when he faced Chardy. He had another routine 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win and haven’t dropped a set thus far. This plays into Roger’s hands. Not only is Murray the favorite, but he has not been tested once. Roger on the other hand has had an unbelievably tough draw and was well tested against Tsonga. It’s similar to the match Djokovic had against Wawrinka.
A match like that is almost indispensable when you want to win the title. It gives a player confidence because they know they can trust themselves when the chips are down. I mentioned the Benneteau match at Wimbledon last year too and there was a good discussion about it. The match with Tsonga was not exactly that close but it didn’t need to be. Roger has been on such a roll that he didn’t need to be tested that thoroughly. So I think Roger’s preparation for the semis couldn’t possibly have been better. Murray on the other hand has a serious problem. He is about to face JesusFed(and you better believe he will show up), and he hasn’t even been pushed to four sets. But let me get back to the Tsonga match momentarily. The match stats were good but not spectacular. It reminded me a little of the Davydenko match.
That was another match where JesusFed took the day off. Having two ‘off’ days in a slam for Roger is enough. Federer 3.0 can play five matches in a slam at JesusFed level. Actually I have coined another term(Goderer) which is just above JesusFed level, and he may need to scale those heights if he is to beat Djokovic. But I don’t want to get too caught up in semantics. The point is Roger can’t/doesn’t have to play at his highest level throughout a slam. If ordinary Roger(which sounds absurd when referring to him) is good enough to get the job done, then there is no reason not to use that version of himself a couple of times during a slam. Against Tsonga Roger’s first serve percentage was 61%, which is comparatively low compared to his incredible serving of late. Crazy as that might sound. The winners outnumbered the unforced errors, but only by 2.
As for the break points it was a pretty poor 4/18 conversion rate(22%). Roger’s break point conversion rate has never been his strength, but you’re not gonna complain too much when he has won 17 slams. He creates so many break point opportunities anyway that it makes things look worse than it is. In the end it’s about breaking and winning, and Roger is good at that. When he played against Raonic he needed to have a high break point conversion rate because of Raonic’s serve, and all of a sudden he did. So I definitely don’t see the break point conversion rate as a problem. I’m not gonna go over this match set by set as I usually do. It’s too long and not Roger’s best level. I will however say that the key point was probably at 5-4 in the third set breaker where Roger hit a superb backhand down the line winner to get the mini break.
The third set was always going to be key after they split sets, and that shot won the breaker for him. At 2-1 in sets Roger was always going to be the favorite to win this. Tsonga came back to win the fourth set, but the writing was on the wall. Roger had match point on the Tsonga serve at 5-2 in the final set , but Tsonga saved it spectacularly. The result was unavoidable for Tsonga though. Roger sent him packing after a classic match point. When I say Roger was not at his best I don’t mean this was a disappointing match by any means. It was still a high quality and dramatic match. Something that I really liked about this match was Roger’s backhand. He hit some crackers off that side and at important moments as well. It was a nice embrace at the net from both players at the end of the match too.
When I was doing my previous post Ferrer had already advanced to the semis, but Djokovic still had to play against Berdych. I warned in my last post that the Wawrinka match doesn’t mean Djokovic is vulnerable, and he proceeded to double breadstick Berdych 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. He now faces Ferrer and I can see only one result there. But I guess you never know. I kinda want Djokovic to win anyway so that Roger can have the opportunity of beating him in the final. But of course Roger has to get past Murray first. Murray won’t be an easy opponent but I predict a four set win for Roger. Again, nothing is certain, but I like Roger’s chances here. I just think he has been in unreal form and that he has too much fire power for Murray. With his serve, forehand, net play, defense, and variety, he may be unbeatable.
Even his backhand and returns can be a viewed as a weapon the way he has been playing of late. It is just a very intimidating scenario for any opponent to face. Murray has never beaten Roger in a slam in three attempts, which adds to the intimidation factor. Of course Murray is a different player these days, and the slowish hard courts do favor him, but I still like Roger’s chances very much. Roger also twice remarked in pressers that the courts is playing slightly faster, which is another positive. I actually think that the Murray match provides the ideal preparation for a possible final with Djokovic. They have similar games. Both have incredible defense, return of serve, and backhands. Djokovic is just slightly better in most departments. The game plan against Murray is pretty straight forward: Dominate with the serve, forehand, and net play.
Roger has been a model of consistency in these areas which is why I like his chances here. We have reached the business end of this slam folks. If Roger wants to win his 18th slam he most likely has to do so beating the two most difficult opponents in the world today. It is a mammoth task but one I believe Roger can complete. One match at a time though.
Good luck champ.