It may not have been the perfect start for 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer (Player Profile), but he will have an opportunity to redeem himself when he meets World No. 9 Richard Gasquet (Player Profile) in the second group stage match at the ATP World Tour Finals 2013 on Thursday. Both are coming off three-set losses in their opening matches and will need a win to maintain hope of advancing to the semi-finals. It is a match-up that favours the Swiss No. 1, the Federer v Gasquet Head to Head stands at 10-2.
Federer had a relatively decent showing on Tuesday evening but eventually lost in anti-climatic fashion to his Serbian adversary Novak Djokovic. It was a roller-coaster performance fraught with errors as the the Swiss started the match noticeably sluggish and needed to fend off several break point opportunities before eventually succumbing in the ninth game to lose 6-4. Momentum shifted slightly in the second set as Federer improved his first serve percentage and dominated the longer rallies to break Djokovic’s serve. While the Serb regained even terms at 5-5, Federer would dominate the tiebreaker 7-2 to set up deciding set.
In a repeat of last week’s encounter, Federer dropped serve in the opening game and relinquished all possibility of winning the match as he eventually lost the set 6-2. It was not one of the better encounters on the ATP, as both men played error-filled service games and were far from peak form, which is a testament to Djokovic and his extraordinary ability to eek out wins, even when he is frustrated with his own performance.
France’s Richard Gasquet took part in a fantastic opening match against Juan Martin del Potro, where they went three trilling rounds before the Argentine eventually edged Gasquet 7-5 in the third set. It was a disappointing conclusion considering he won the opening set yet was incapable of maintaining the momentum and would quickly fall to 1-4 in the second set. He would defend two break points in the final set but eventually dropped to 4-3. Despite the Frenchman bringing the match to 5-5 to the delight of the crowd at the O2 Arena, it was not meant to be for Gasquet, as he was unceremoniously broken and lost the set 7-5.
Gasquet holds three titles this season, most recently lifting the trophy in Moscow several weeks back. He also reached the quarter-finals in Paris before losing to longtime friend and World No. 1 Rafael Nadal. While it may have been a strong season for the Frenchman, he now needs a win to remain competitive in the tour finals.
Federer needs a win on Thursday afternoon to have any hope of advancing to the following round. Gasquet provides arguably his best opportunity of picking up a win in the group stages, as his best head-to-head record is against the Frenchman. Granted, their last meeting was at the Madrid Masters in 2012, both players are in vastly different positions almost a year and a half later and it will be interesting to see if we will witness an upset on Thursday afternoon. While it is possible, barring any extenuating circumstances, Federer should be able to earn the victory in decisive fashion.
Prediction: Roger Federer defeats Richard Gasquet