After being knocked out of the French Open in the 4th round by Ernests Gulbis, Roger Federer’s clay court season is over for another year. By his extremely high standards, this has been an average season so far for the Swiss star but has been alot more successful than his 2013. This blog looks back on his 2014 season so far.
Weirdly enough, Federer’s 2014 season started in late 2013 with him travelling to Brisbane to gain some match practice ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year. To gain further practice, he decided to partner Nicolas Mahut in the doubles, a theme which he carried on into other tournaments.
His singles tournament started well, gaining straight set wins over Jarkko Nieminem and Marinko Matosevic. He then progressed to the final after a 3 set win over a competitive Jeremy Chardy, setting up a final with old rival, and Australian Lleyton Hewitt. After losing a one-sided first set 6-1, Federer recovered to win the second 6-4 with momentum swinging in his direction. However in the final set, Federer’s level dropped and Hewitt took full advantage, taking it 6-3 and winning the Brisbane title. It was an overall successful tournament for Roger with him and Mahut reaching the semi-finals in the doubles before being seen off by doubles regulars Cabal and Farah.
After having plenty of match time in Brisbane, Federer travelled to Melbourne in good form, looking to defend his semi-final performance of 2013.
After dispatching Duckworth, Kavcic, Gabashvili and impressively Tsonga in sraight sets he met Brit Andy Murray in the Quarter-Finals in their first meeting since that epic semi-final at last years previous tournament. Federer stormed into a two-set lead playing Murray off the court and broke to lead 5-4 in the 3rd set, only a service hold from the semi-finals. A poor game followed and Murray broke immediately back, eventually leading to a tie-break in which Federer wasted a few match points and Murray to it to a 4th set. A 5th set loomed with Murray having all the momentum but it was Federer who had the break points throughout the set, eventually taking one at 4-4 to lead 5-4 and another chance to serve it out. Down 0-30, he recovered to seal the win with an ace and set-up another encounter with Rafael Nadal. Once again Nadal got the better of his old foe, winning in straight sets and destroying any hope Federer had of winning his 18th Grand Slam title.
Later that month, Switzerland travelled to Serbia to play in the Davis Cup with Federer part of the squad. Federer won the first rubber, defeating Ilija Bozoljac in straight sets and didn’t play again due to Switzerland wrapping up the win after the doubles. He then took a month away from the tour and arrived back in Dubai, feeling refreshed after the first break of the season.
He easily saw off Benjamin Becker in Round 2 after receiving a bye past round 1. In Round 3 he met fellow tour veteran Radek Stepanek who had only beaten Federer in 2 out of the 14 times they met. The match reached a deciding set and Stepanek had the control of the game and was on course to gaining his 3rd win over the Swiss legend. Somehow Federer recovered and took the final set 6-3, avoiding the upset. In the Quarters Lukas Rosol proved no test at all, losing 6-2, 6-2 to Federer who set up a Semi-Final with Novak Djokovic. Djokovic was the favourite but his poor early season form gave Federer a huge chance to get the better of the Serb. Djokovic took the first set 6-3 but the pendulum swung the other way in the second with Roger winning it 6-3. In the final set, Federer stunned Djokovic by breaking the Serb’s serve twice and serving out the win, 6-2 in the final set. His final opponent was Czech Tomas Berdych who like Djokovic, took the first set 6-3. For the second match in a row however, Federer recovered and won the final two sets 6-4, 6-3 to win his first title since Halle 2013 and head into the American masters swing in fine form.
After seeing off Mathieu 6-2, 7-6 (5) in Round 2 of Indian Wells, Fed needed two tie-breaks to eventually defeat Tursunov before reaching the final after beating Haas, Anderson and Dolgopolov in straight sets.
For the second tournament in a row, Djokovic was his opponent and unlike in Dubai, failed to beat him with Novak winning in 3 sets and taking the Indian Wells title after Fed took the first set. As well as having another successful singles journey, Federer along with doubles partner Stan Wawrinka reached the semi-finals, winning two thrilling 3 set matches before falling to the 2nd ranked doubles pair, Peya and Soares.
In Miami, Fed reached the Quarter-Finals before losing to rising Japanese talent Kei Nishikori in 3 sets. This followed an impressive run of beating Karlovic, De Bakker and Gasquet to reach that stage.
A return to the Davis Cup was Fed’s next action with Kazakhstan travelling to Geneva as major underdogs. Federer won his first singles rubber, beating Golubev in straight sets before playing the doubles. Surprisingly, Federer and Wawrinka lost to Golubev and Nedovyesov in the doubles with Switzerland requiring both Stan and Roger to win their respective singles to win the tie for them. After Stan nervously won his rubber, Fed secured the win for the Swiss beating Kukushkin in front of a packed crowd.
This led to the clay season, Federer’s least successful surface (By his high standards) The first clay tournament was Monte-Carlo, a place where Federer had never won the trophy.
He had another shot at lifting it by reaching the final, defeating Stepanek and Rosol easily before beating Tsonga 6-1 in the third after two tight first sets. For the third time already this year he faced Djokovic and overcame the slightly injured Serb 7-5, 6-2 creating a final showdown against friend Wawrinka. All appeared to be going well for Federer and after winning the first set 6-4 looked on course to pick up his first Monte-Carlo title. Out of nowhere Wawrinka picked up his level and ran away with the 3rd set after winning a nervy second set tie-break,securing his first ever Masters 1000 title.
Again Federer became a father to two more children as his wife Mirka gave birth to Male twins, forcing Roger to miss Madrid. He arrived in Rome the following week, seemingly short of match practice. In the second round he faced Jeremy Chardy for the second time in 2014 and looked right back in the groove after taking a one-sided set 6-1. However Fed appeared to be tired throughout the rest of the match and, despite having a match point on his own serve in the final tie-break, lost, giving him little court time ahead of the French Open.
After such a good start to the clay season, his performance in Rome gave little indication that he was ready to challenge at Roland Garros, the tournament he won in 2009.
In the early round he beat upcoming Lacko and Schwartzmann in straight sets before defeating Tursunov for the loss of a set. In Round 4 he met Latvian Ernests Gulbis who had beaten Federer previously a few years back. All appeared to be going well however, and Fed had two set points at 40-15 in the second set for a two set lead. Unbelievably Fed missed a simple overhead and Gulbis recovered, taking all the momentum into the end of the second and throughout the whole 3rd set, leading 2-1 in sets. Spurred on by the French crowd, Federer broke the Latvian’s serve twice before Gulbis took a medical timeout, which appeared to be a bit of gamesmanship. After failing to serve out the set at the first attempt, Federer finally held taking the match to 5th set. Importantly for Gulbis, he broke the Federer serve early and never looked back, winning the final set 6-3 to win the biggest match of his career so far.
Brisbane Singles – Final Doubles – Semi-Finals
Australian Open Singles – Semi-Finals
Dubai Singles – Winner
Indian Wells Singles – Final Doubles – Semi-Finals
Miami Singles – Quarter-Finals
Monte-Carlo Singles – Final
Rome Singles – Round 2
French Open Singles – Round 4
Schedule for the rest of the year Date – Location (Level)
9th June -Halle (250)
23rd June – Wimbledon (Grand Slam)
4th August – Toronto (Masters 1000)
11th August – Cincinnati (Masters 1000)
25th August – US Open (Grand Slam)
6th October – Shanghai (Masters 1000)
18th October – Basel (500)
27th October – Paris (Masters 1000)
10th November – The O2 (ATP World Tour Finals)