Roger Federer overcame a stern test from his friend and fellow countryman Stan Wawrinka, beating him 7-6(4), 6-3 in a tough semifinal showdown. The win puts Roger into his 107th Tour final, where he will look to capture his 76th title and 21st Masters.
Right from the start of the match, it appeared that Stan was going to be a difficult opponent. He was serving brilliantly, blasting down his big serve when the time called for it. He was also clutch on the important points, and it was very refreshing to see how mentally tough he was.
Neither man could break the other's serve, although Roger had a few chances. So, it inevitably went to a tiebreak, where Fed held a 4-2 advantage on the changeover. The breaker went almost exactly like it did with Fish, and Roger closed it out seven points to four. In the second set, it was more of the same, with Roger getting a few chances to break, but every time Stan replied with great play. They were even until 3-3 when Roger raised his game a level and broke twice to close things out in fine style.
On the surface, Federer didn't play as well as he did in his first three matches, but on the other hand, he was playing a very strong Stan Wawrinka, and Roger actually did quite well to stay patient and not get frustrated by the way his compatriot was shutting him down at every opportunity. The serve was off (around 50% first serves), but the rest of his game was very much there - the forehands, backhands, net game (18/20), and movement were all smoothly functioning, and they certainly needed to be.
For Stan, this was a superb week. He showed the kind of mental fortitude he can display and in this match with Roger, it was some of the best tennis he's ever played. He had big serves, strong groundstrokes, and, for the first time that I've seen, a complete willingness to attack the net, which paid dividends for him.
Roger's opponent in the final will be none other than Novak Djokovic, who soundly defeated Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 6-3. I did not any of the match, but if the scoreline is any indication, it was pretty straightforward.
Since Roger is in the final, he can't lose the #1 ranking until at least after the US Open. However, he has been very focused this week, and as with Novak, he'll want to grab as much momentum as possible heading into the US Open. That's why the match should be very good, as nearly every match between these two is.
If Fed is going to take out Novak, he will need to serve better, and he will need to convert on his chances. He only took 2/10 break points against Stan. On the plus side, he has been very sharp all week from the baseline, and if his backhand holds up as it has in the previous four matches, he should be in good hands. It's interesting to note that neither Fed nor Djokovic have been broken this week, but knowing the history of their matches, I doubt one (or either) will go the entire match not getting broken, even if it is a straights sets win.
So, there is one match left to be played and it will be the #1 and #2 players in the world battle it out. It will be their first meeting on a hard court since their epic US Open semifinal last year (the one that kickstarted Fed's great end to 2011). They have played once before in Cincinnati, in the final in 2009, which Roger won.
Should be a great match.
This is my tennis blog, Lefty Advantage. Tennis is my biggest passion in life and I started this site to discuss the great game. I mainly follow the career of Roger Federer, but I truly love watching all tennis, whether it be the final of a Grand Slam or a junior tournament on the other side of the world.
I have played tennis for 13 years. If you ever met me, I could talk your head off about all things tennis for hours on end if you would let me. Welcome, and enjoy the writing!