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Slaying the slayer: Roger Federer vs Mischa Zverev

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Swiss Maestro Roger Federer is through to his 41st semifinal at the 2017 Australian Open, sweeping aside the giant killer Mischa Zverev 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 in just over 90 minutes.

As It Happened

In the first night-session match on Day 9 at the Rod Laver Arena, Roger Federer, playing in his 13th quarterfinal in Melbourne, produced a masterclass yet again to make it 13 out of 13. Mischa Zverev felt pretty much what Andy Murray might have felt the day he beat him. Zverev was clueless against a clinical display of aggressive baseline tennis cleverly mixed with serve and volley, one that’s Federer is known for.

Roger Federer vs Mischa Zverev
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Flashes of Zverev’s 0-6, 0-6 loss against Federer was present from the beginning as the latter raced on to a 5-0 lead in just 13 minutes, breaking twice. But Mischa managed to escape a heavy embarrassment as he held on to his next service game, finally losing the opening set 1-6 in just 18 minutes. Despite facing immense pressure, his shoulder wasn’t drooped and he came back strong, much to the crowd’s pleasure, breaking Federer in the 4th game of the second set. But, his efforts were shortlived as Federer broke back right away and again in the 11th game as he raced on to a 6-1, 7-5 lead within just 54 minutes. A resilient Mischa tried his best to keep Roger perplexed with his aggressive style and went toe-to-toe for some time but Federer was in no mood to elongate the match. He returned with majestic precision and served his way out of trouble in the third set, to have a stunning 92 minute win.

The Tactical Prowess

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Mischa Zverev’s proficient old-school tennis worked well against other top players but Federer seemed to have done his homework. He took Djokovic to 3 sets, defeated Nick Kyrgios and most recently Andy Murray, but Federer outgunned him in every aspect of the game. As they say, one man’s meat is another man’s poison, what seemed as huge against a top returner like Andy, felt like a Lilliputian effort against the Swiss. Federer used his forehand and a tricky backhand efficiently every time Mischa charged on to the net.

This is a clear indication of Federer’s tactic working properly against Zverev. All he did was to hit a return slightly away from Zverev’s body and the point would be his. This is an even better indication that Zverev’s lack on Plan B against a better opponent led to his thrashing defeat.

Federer hit 65 winners to just 13 unforced errors in the match which made it even worse for Zverev who could not hope for free points at any stage of the match. Moreover, Zverev made some judgemental errors every time Roger’s returns were a bit wide, and Roger made good use of it, hitting inch perfect wide returns almost every time he got the chance to. Having attacked the net more than normal, Federer won 72% of his net points. Even though Zverev gave it his all, this wasn’t the best match-up for him and Federer showed why.

Stanimal Up Next

Federer’s semifinal opponent, 2014 Australian Open champion and 3-time Grand Slam winner, Stanislas Wawrinka has been the top ranked Swiss for some time now. Wawrinka is the 2nd highest seed left in the draw after Milos Raonic (3rd seed) and is one of the major contenders for the title. He has been pretty much under the radar, mostly because of Federer’s long-awaited return, Nadal’s coming back to form and Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray’s shock exits, but Stan’s powerful tennis has silently been killing hopes for the past week. He’s now in his 8th major semifinal and 3rd at Melbourne Park and is aiming for a second Australian Open title.
Federer boasts an incredible 18-3 W/L record against native Swiss Wawrinka with all of Stan’s wins coming on clay. The pair has met once in the Rod Laver Arena which the elder Swiss comfortably won 6-1, 6-3, 6-3. Federer will be looking forward to this clash since his form has only been on the rise since his comeback.

#BEL18VE?

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Ever since his 17th Grand Slam win, fans have gone crazy over a possibility of an unprecedented 18th major title, and social media has been flooded with #BEL18VE posts, meaning that they believe in Federer. This must be true for the man himself, since he has hit winners after winners against the questions over his form and has looked mighty as ever, playing some magical tennis after a 6-month layoff.  Looking firm in control over his tennis, the Swiss Maestro has little to worry about, and with retirement out of the equation, it probably wouldn’t be long until the dream becomes a reality.