Roger Federer, dished out a bagel in the first, was overpowered by Gael Monfils‘ power hitting and athleticism in the second and early parts of the third at the Madrid Masters. The Maestro somehow delayed the inevitable trip back home after losing 4-6 in the second and going down 1-4 in the third.
Gael Monfils turned the tables in the second set.
Gael Monfils played miserably but did not fold, after losing 6-0 in the first. He took the game to Roger Federer, in the second, who seemed a little rattled by the laser-like focus, new-found aggression, and power-hitting of Gael. The laser-focus in the second replaced the unforced, which had brought him down in the first and he raced to a 3-0 lead by dismantling Federer at the start of the second. Monfils played an aggressive but risky game and did not allow much to go Roger’s way. Gael was finding the lines and could do no wrong in the second and early part of the third.
“I tried to keep it going but it was difficult (and) I had a tough run of losing five games in a row – at the end of the second set and the start of the third,” Roger commented in his after-match interview.
Federer continued playing grass-court tennis on the clay.
Gael continued with aggression and power hitting from behind the baseline, and raced to a 4-1 lead in the third. Federer, however, regained composure and focus in time, and evened the score with persistent aggression to bail himself out of the tough situation. Whether leading or trailing, Roger did not give up the baseline, taking the ball early, playing grass-court tennis on the clay, moving in to attack the second serve, and close points at the net.
Monfils caved in towards the latter half of the third set.
The pressure, exerted by Roger, took its toll and pushed Monfils – in the latter half of the third – into his comfort zone which, luckily for Roger, is about seven feet behind the baseline. Monfils’ court-positioning, by the end of the third, helped Roger get back into the match.
After the match, Roger talked extensively about persistence, the stress, and the tiebreak.
“Going down 3-0 and 4-1, it wasn’t looking good for a while, but I hung in there like he did and it got decided in a tiebreaker,” Federer said in the post-match interview.
“It was a highly stressful moment for me but I played a great tiebreaker, served well and mixed it up nicely, so I’m very excited, I was able to come through the match somehow,” Federer added.
Roger Federer versus Dominic Thiem next.
Roger Federer is scheduled to meet Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals next. Dominic Thiem won the Barcelona Open by taking Nadal down, in the semis, about a week ago and, is playing sensational tennis on his surface of choice. Dominic Thiem also enjoys a 3-2 head-to-head record against the Maestro and even beat him in the Indian Wells Masters this year.
What are Dominic Thiem’s clay court prospects in 2019?
138mph believes Dominic Thiem is the favorite to win the Madrid Masters and French Open this year unless Roger – as only he – can expose a few glaring weaknesses – in Dominic’s clay court game – for retrievers like Nadal, and Djokovic to exploit.