It has been predicted on a number of occasions but now more than ever the reality of an 18th grand slam title for Roger Federer looks possible. It was long felt that he would be able to not win one if he had to beat both of the top 2 players in the world in Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. A shocking week 1 has seen both of them depart before the quarter-final stage and Federer is now the bookmakers favourite to win the tournament.
Part of that will be down to the fact he will be expected to defeat his quarter-final opponent Mischa Zverev with ease. The German has never lived up to his potential shown on the juniors but played the match of his life against Andy Murray to beat the World No.1 in four sets. In the ’10s such an impressive display of serve and volley has not been seen before and especially not in such a big match against a top player. See the Federer vs Zverev H2H matches here.
Even with nerves hitting him at the end of the match, characterised by a disastrous overhead on 4-3 *40-30 in the fourth set, he managed to keep his calm to hold and eventually close out the match a few games later, in part due to some stunning volleying. Zverev won 55% of his 118 net approaches, against a player capable of hitting the best passing shots in the game. Rafael Nadal showed what can happen if Zverev doesn’t play lights out with his style of play, winning 1 and 1 in Brisbane earlier in the year.
Federer had looked rusty in round one against Jurgen Melzer but cruised through the next few rounds before a tough five setter with Nishikori. When Nishikori took it to the fifth set, it felt like he may have it especially with his outstanding five set record. However, Federer made a statement with the victory to definitively establish himself as potential winner. “I served exceptionally well tonight, which was key against Nishikori. I’m very pleased there. Rhythm from the baseline is there now.” he said.
It would be some story for the talented junior who had previously failed to live up to his potential on the pro tour, albeit partly due to injuries, to finally make a name for himself in amazing style with wins over Murray and Federer back to back. However, this fairy tale has to end somewhere and Federer should still expect to win relatively easily. Three years ago they met in Halle with Federer demolishing him 6-0 6-0. It won’t be quite the same this time round but if Federer loses a set it would still be a shock, even with this week’s goings on.
Roger Federer in straight sets