Thursday, September 9, 2010

Federer passes Sod test

It is with added delight and pleasure that I announce the following result from the U.S. Open:

Soderling     4     4     5
Federer       6     6     7

Yes, Roger Federer, the 16-time Grand Slam champion, issued a timely reminder to the players remaining in the running, that he is very much in this competition to win it, and that any lingering thoughts that he's past his best can be discarded completely. With Soderling himself boasting that Federer is beatable by anybody, at least in the top 10, and commentator Luke Jensen, quite strangely backing Soderling to win this year's U.S. Open, the Swiss Maestro produced a performance to silence all doubters in their mumurings.

The gusty conditions were menacing in the Arthur Ashe stadium, and Soderling was clearly struggling to come to terms with them, his serve nowhere near the potent weapon that it usually is. In big games, we talk about big points, and boy was Federer sharp on the important moments of the match. He broke the big Swede's serve at the first time of asking in the 7th game of the opener, executing a delightful drop-shot to catch Soderling off guard.

At the start of the 2nd set the two players exchanged breaks in the 3rd and 4th games before Federer broke again in the 5th game. Soderling was 40-0 up and cruising only to miss a routine overhead smash, dumping it into the net with the court at his mercy. And he paid dearly for that horrendous error, as Federer went on to convert his 3rd break point out of 3 attempts. The Swiss found himself way out of court as he executed a wonderful slice backhand cross-court, and when Soderling sliced it back he made the forehand winner back into the far corner.

Federer was starting to play with more confidence and ease and looked every inch the champion he is. A little surprisingly though, it was Soderling who drew first blood in the 3rd set when he broke Federer at a critical time to lead 5-3 and serve for the set. But Federer rallied and immediately levelled when Soderling hit a forehand into the net at 30-40. Federer held serve with a string of 2nd serves and then proceeded to break the Swede's resolve again as a backhand drifted wide in the wind at 30-40. Five breaks out of six opportunities showed just how deadly Federer was when the chances came his way. The Great Man served out the match to my utter delight! He moves on to a semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic.

When asked post-match how he was able to serve so well in the blustery conditions, he put it down to a lot of practice before remarking, "You can wake me up at 2 o'clock or 4 o'clock in the morning and I can hit serves." He hit 18 aces to Soderling's 2, a huge discrepancy in Federer's favour.

If he serves that efficiently and takes his break point chances with such precision in the following 2 matches, his legendary status in the game may just elevate even further.

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