By Erik Gudris | Thursday, August 14, 2014
Roger Federer won an entertaining duel full of shotmaking over Gael Monfils to reach the Cincinnati quarterfinals.
Photo Credit: AP
The third round match between Roger Federer and Gael Monfils at the Western and Southern Open was tipped to be a great one. And when the Mayor of Cincinnati himself showed up to do the coin toss, it only added to the anticipation. Yet, in the end, it was still Federer who walked away as the winner despite Monfils playing even better than expected.
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The opening set provided more ups and downs than for riders of the roller coaster at the nearby amusement park next to the tournament site. Monfils broke Federer to open but then the Frenchman dropped serve later for 2-all. Each traded breaks again with neither quite finding the groove on their shots.
Federer would pounce soon enough while up 5-4. Blasting a return winner for 0-15, Federer then benefited from several Monfils' errors. On set point, Federer clinched the set 6-4 with a smash winner.
Early in the second set, Federer almost looked ready to make it a short night. With Monfils complaining in French about his poor first serving percentage, he fell behind break points. Monfils perked up his game long enough though to hold for 2-all.
Monfils delighed the crowd a few games later at 4-3 with a no look volley winner. Federer responded with a near blind backhand volley winner himself on the next point. But while Monfils was expected to come up with jaw-dropping shots, it was his patience from the baseline that proved more fascinating to watch.
At 4-all, Monfils stayed steady in several rallies forcing Federer to try for too much and hit long. That pattern soon resulted in Monfils breaking Federer for 5-4 causing the usual well-mannered Federer to drop his racquet in disgust. Monfils soon closed out the set 6-4.
Ultimately, Monfils and his willingness to be too patient ended up costing him the match. Federer, meanwhile, kept up his recent new trend of moving forward to the net. He did that several times in rallies when Monfils seemed unable to pull the trigger for a winner. Monfils seemed content with that, especially when he found himself level at 3-all.
Neither player was happy most of the night with umpire Carlos Bernardes. Things boiled over in the next game, especially for Federer when Bernardes didn't seem willing to jump in on close calls. A fired up Federer delivered a leaping smash winner as a way to vent his frustration.
That surge of energy carried Federer through to the end.
After both players delighted fans with a fun exchange up at net, Federer made his move. Going forward again during an extended rally, Federer finished off a forehand winner giving him the break for 5-3. Federer would win the match with an appropriate volley winner giving him the satisfying 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win.
"I have a different eagerness today," Federer said about himself and his game right now. "I was a bit more erratic when I was younger: good day, bad day, medium day, I was a bit all over the place. I think I've gotten my act together over the years. I think I'm in a good spell right now. I have a lot of tennis in my legs right now. I go day by day. I have a great team behind me and a wonderful family. I'm very much at peace with how I need to play."
Federer next plays Andy Murray in the quarterfinals.