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Fleet-footed Federer dazzles against Gasquet

Ismail Vedat at the O2
November 7, 2013 « Suarez has never been happier - Rodgers | Chartbeat test »
Roger Federer lost his first match to Richard Gasquet in 2005 © Getty Images
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Roger Federer ensured he would not lose consecutive round robin matches at the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time as he defeated Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-3 thanks to an impressive display.

The record six-time champion fell to current title holder Novak Djokovic in his opening match at the O2, but the Swiss was in control from start to finish as he picked up an 11th win in 13 meetings against Gasquet, and his first of this year's competition.

The Verdict

  • Roger Federer seems to be playing with a flair that has been missing from his game for much of 2013.
  • He always produces his best at this event, which is a positive given the campaign he has endured, and there seems to be a belief in Federer's game right now which suggests he has a point to prove.
  • Critics have written off his chances of winning major trophies, and considering the number of triumphs the Swiss has had at the season-finale, it is hard to believe that he is regarded an outsider.
  • Although Federer lost to Novak Djokovic on Tuesday night, he demonstrated in that second set he is still a force to be reckoned with, and his display against Gasquet conveys he is very much up for the battle at this year's event.
  • Fitness could be an issue later on for Federer, but he perfected the variation he has adopted into his game against Gasquet, producing pin-point accurate serves, coming to the net a lot more to what we are used to seeing, and aiming to shorten the rallies with delicate drop shots and making more winners.

Djokovic believes Federer's movement has slowed over the past few years, but the latter demonstrated at the age of 32 that he can still fly around the court and compete against younger opponents.

In a battle between two players with great single-handed backhands, it was one from Federer which set up the opportunity of the opening break, which he then converted after Gasquet hit the net to fall 2-1 behind.

Federer was in control of the set until Gasquet hit back to level at 4-4, but throughout his career in the ninth game of sets Federer forces opponents to tumble on their serve, and Gasquet joined the long list of players to have suffered this feat.

Federer moved 5-4 in front after Gasquet's wild forehand handed the break back, and within a couple of minutes he had the first set wrapped up - with surrendering the break the only downfall of a decent display in 34 minutes.

After securing the break in the very first game of the second set, Federer kept hold of it in the fourth game as Gasquet had several opportunities to get his first break of the match.

Gasquet came close on Federer's serve by recovering to deuce on more than one occasion, but Federer continued to hold on and retained his two-game cushion after six had elapsed.

The 17-time grand slam champion produced a tremendous lob to save another break-back point to open up a 5-3 lead, but took his time to close out the win, needing six match points to do so, much to the delight of the crowd inside the O2.

Federer's final group game is against Juan Martin del Potro, and after getting the better of the Argentinian in Paris after Del Potro trumped Federer in Basel, the Swiss is looking forward to the encounter.

"I think the win in Paris was big for me, because he did beat me three times straight in indoors," Federer said. "I'm glad I got one back in Paris because I knew we could be playing each other again. Psychologically it was important for me. I truly believe my confidence is higher, and that's what I need to beat the best and Juan Martin is part of that group."

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