FEDERER PRACTICALLY FLAWLESS IN WIN OVER ANDERSON, SHAPOVALOV NEXT IN SEMIFINALS
By Tucker Verdi
Miami Gardens, FL — 26 minutes and 51 seconds.
That is how long is took for No. 4 seed Roger Federer to bagel No. 6 seed Kevin Anderson in the first set of their quarterfinal matchup Thursday night, a near-flawless set that saw him win 100 percent of his first serve points en route to a 6-0, 6-4 win.
The former World No. 1 has seen his share of records — 20 Grand Slams, 100 ATP titles, 310 weeks at the top of the rankings, just to name a few. His skill level is unprecedented and unparalleled in the men’s game, and he made use of every tool in his arsenal in that opening frame.
An easy win, right? Not in Federer’s head — he knows Kevin Anderson is not the kind of player to just roll over.
“The matches I have played against him I know can be extremely close always,” Federer said of Anderson, “just because of the sheer possibilities he had on the serve”
One such match was at Wimbledon in 2018, when Federer held a sizeable lead over the South African big man at two sets to love. The first and second went the way of the Swiss maestro 6-2 and 7-6(3), respectively, and he looked to be cruising to yet another Wimbledon semifinal.
Anderson won the match 2-6, 6(3)-7, 7-5, 6-4, 13-11.
Suffice it to say the 2017 US Open and 2018 Wimbledon finalist had built beachfront property in Federer’s head by way of that stunning comeback. When Anderson wanted an inch this time, Federer barely budged — fearful of becoming his prey once again.
The opening game of the second set last almost 14 minutes. That is more than half of the first set, as Federer and Anderson battled at deuce, trading game points and break points as the former pushed the latter on his serve yet again. A fourth straight break was the result of Federer’s continued pressure. 14 minutes of hard work had paid off as he wiped out most of the hope that existed for Anderson to turn the match around.
Anderson did manage to get one break back to get back on serve at 3-all. But Federer was relentless, getting his fifth and final break off an errant forehand from Anderson to set up a chance to serve for the match — which he would do, moving on to his seventh Miami Open semifinal.
On Friday night, he will play the young Canadian, No. 20 seed Denis Shapovalov, in that seventh semifinal. The two have never met, but Shapovalov has idolized the superstar since he began playing the sport, and has gotten the chance to practice with him on occasion. Federer didn’t hold back in his admiration for the young gunner.
“I’m very excited to be playing against Denis,” Federer said. “I think he’s a great guy, and he’s one of the great shot-makers. I still remember watching his game in Montreal [in 2017] against Rafa when he crushed forehand down-the-line winner after forehand down-the-line winner. It was unbelievable… so it’s going to be tough tomorrow.”
Shapovalov will without question aim to hit those same winners against his idol, but until Federer decides the game isn’t for him anymore, he will be the favorite to win.
Sometimes in only 26 minutes and 51 seconds. That’s about as flawless it gets.