The Canadian gave Roger a mighty test, as expected. Both men held comfortably until 4-4 in the first set when Fed played a poor game and coughed up the break. Raonic held to take the first set 6-4. Throughout the entire set, Raonic did not give up a point when getting the first serve into play. In the 2nd, it was more of the same until 6-5. Fed had come through some tough holds, and it was the time to strike. For the first time in the match, Roger was able to get a read on the Raonic serve and played his best tennis of the day, securing the break on his second chance to knot the match at a set apiece. The 3rd set was also very even and ended up in a tiebreak, where Fed raised his level once again and won the match with a beautiful cross-court forehand winner past his tall opponent.
|Federer was at the net 34 times, winning 19 of those points.|
Overall, the match is what I expected. It was a serve-dominated affair, and the games were filled with easy holds and short points, which did not give either player much rhythm from the back of the court. For the first two sets, the Canadian's serve was unstoppable, and he won the first 44 points of the tournament when he got his first serve into play (amazing!). Roger was struggling on the return and to a lesser extent on the ground, but Raonic was playing very well and he really gave it everything he had. Fed had to put forth an amazing effort to pull through.
It's always nice to see Roger come through in tough matches. I am of the belief that the more tight matches you win, the more confidence it gives you, and that can only be a good thing. The length of the match will not be an issue heading forward - it was over two hours but the play was not physically demanding with many short points. It was also interesting to see Roger serve and volley a lot throughout the match. It nearly cost him at times when he did it too often and became predictable, but it was effective when he came into the net after hitting a high-kicking serve to the corner on the ad side. Fed had this to say about that tactic:
"I thought I could take it to him by serving and volleying and it worked a bit. I definitely started to get a better read on his serve and to get into more baseline rallies, make him hit more shots on his own serve."
Roger now plays Richard Gasquet in the 3rd round. He will be looking to gain revenge for the defeat he suffered in Rome last year. In my view, the match will be easier for Fed than the Raonic one because he'll be able to attack the serve much easier and it will be a more traditional clay baseline game.
To recap the rest of Round Deux:
- Rafa Nadal was not tested at all against Nikolay Davydenko. Historically, Niko has been able to give Rafa problems, but since this match was on clay, Davy really had little chance.
- Novak Djokovic needed three sets to get by Daniel Gimeno-Traver. It was a pretty bad match by Nole for his standards. No doubt he will come back with a better effort in Round 3 though.
- The biggest upset of the 2nd round was Marin Cilic knocking out John Isner. The straight sets loss (two tiebreaks) won't be good for the big man's confidence as he heads into the French Open.
- Tsonga, Ferrer, Berdych, Tipsarevic, Almagro, del Potro, Monfils, Simon, and Verdasco all advanced to the 3rd round. All won in straight sets with the exception of Tipsarevic, who needed two and a half hours to beat 131st ranked Argentinian Federico Delbonis.
There are many compelling 3rd round matches:
(1) Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka
(2) Rafael Nadal vs (15) Fernando Verdasco
(3) Roger Federer vs (14) Richard Gasquet
(4) Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs (16) Alexandr Dolgopolov
(5) David Ferrer vs (11) Nicolas Almagro *
(6) Tomas Berdych vs (12) Gael Monfils
(7) Janko Tipsarevic vs (9) Gilles Simon
(10) Juan Martin del Potro vs Marin Cilic
(*: My pick for Match of the Round)
Should be a great day of tennis! I am very happy that Federer beat Raonic because I would be very disappointed if he was to be away for over a month and then lose in his first match back!