Friday, 3 August 2012

London 2012: Federer vs Del Potro Recap

Two grand slam champions did battle on Centre Court today - and what a duel it was. The quality of the match was high right from the start with both men hitting their groundstrokes well. Federer created a break point chance early on but failed to take it - and this ended up being his story of the match.

Del Potro was serving emphatically and returning extremely well. One of Federer's favourite serves is the wide one on the deuce side - Del Potro was returning these with bombs off his forehand. Federer was not able to get on the front foot first in many rallies, and with Del Potro's attacking abilities its difficult even for Federer to neutralise once he begins his attack. The Argentine managed to get the break at 4-3* and served it out with ease. It was a very tidy set from Del Potro, hitting only two unforced errors.

The second set was of even higher quality and extremely tight. Federer started experimenting with the body serve but Del Potro read it and had no problems. There were some very close service games where both men couldn't take any break point chances that they had created. Federer's service form was pretty good in the first set but he upped it again (as he does) in the second set. He found great success with the T-serve on the deuce side to Del Potro's backhand. One thing of Federer's that was not impressive was his finishing at the net. A number of routine forehand volleys found themselves in the net, and he even missed a smash on top of the net. Since when does Federer miss overheads? There were no breaks of serve, with both men serving at about 75% first serves, and the set was decided by a tight tie breaker with few errors which Federer took 7-5.

One set a piece, and its only natural to predict Federer getting into his stride and taking the decider easily as he did against Del Potro in Paris. But Del Potro was resilient and conjured up some break point chances very early on in the set but Federer's serve kicked in and saved him once again. The message from Del Potro however, was clear - he wasn't going to go away. The quality of the match didn't come down as both men continued to serve well and continued holding serve. Federer created quite a few break point chances but still couldn't manage to get the elusive break due to Del Potro's good serving. They held serve all the way until 9-9 where Federer finally broke Del Potro for the first time, in a game where he showed patience and tested Del Potro with short and heavy slices. He extractes a forehand mishit reminiscent of the match point at Wimbledon in '09 to give him the break. Del Potro looked physically fatigued and emotionally drained - surely this was the end?

No, the Argentine hit back to break Federer to love with some heavy returning. You just couldn't write this stuff. He then gave the Swiss a scare taking him to 0-30, threatening to create a match point, but once again Federer hit four fierce first serves to even the set out. Drama. Federer hit back however, and created 0-40 on Del Potro's serve at 17-17. Del Potro couldn't save himself again, right? He won the next two points, but not the third. Federer was to serve for the match again - and this time he closed it out. 3-6 7-6 19-17

Sheer happiness covered Federer's face as he kissed the Swiss badge on his shirt. Del Potro's face dropped and was extremely upset but met with the victor at the net very well. He'll have to pick himself up for his bronze medal match - and I'm sure he will - he always plays great when representing his home nation.
Stats for the match

As for Federer's chances at the gold... I think he's the favourite. He has had a very difficult and long semifinal, but he has a day to rest and recuperate and so I think he'll be fresh on Sunday where I'm predicting he'll meet Andy Murray who is to play Djokovic very soon.

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