In what promises to be a scintillating match-up between two players with the best one-handed backhands in modern tennis, the veteran Roger Federer takes on the young Stefanos Tsitsipas in a quarter final match at the 2019 Rome Masters.
This will be their third match. Their two earlier matches both came this year, with Tsitsipas edging Federer in one of the major upsets of the Australian Open and Federer avenging that loss at the Dubai Open final. But this will be their first match on clay, and on the evidence of the form shown by both of them, this is likely to be a closely-contested match.
Tsitsipas has been having a great season thus far. He comes to Rome after a great run at the Madrid Masters, where he got the better of Nadal in the semi-final stage. His confidence must be sky high at the moment.
At Rome too, he has continued that rich vein of form. After a facile win over Jannik Sinner in the first round, he had a commanding win over the local favourite, Fabio Fognini. Though the Italian was possibly not at his best and was struggling with a bit of a niggle, due credit must be given to the Greek youngster for not letting that distract him.
Tsitsipas had an especially great win percentage on his first serve, at about 81 percent, and broke Fognini four times in the match. However, one area that he needs to improve is his second serve win percentage which was less than fifty percent in the match.
Federer on the other hand escaped by the skin of his teeth against Borna Coric in his second match of the day, having dismissed the challenge of Joao Sousa rather easily in his first match. Coric, who had defeated Federer in two of his last three matches against the Swiss, got off to a dream start by breaking Federer twice at the beginning of the first set.
The Croat duly took the first set 6-2, before going down 4-6 in the second set. The third set was a much closer affair and in fact, it was Coric who seemed to have the edge for much of that set. He even had two match points, which Federer saved in the tie-break before pocketing the match.
Winning such a close match must have given a lot of confidence to Federer, since he is prone to losing such matches way too frequently in the last couple of years. But this win, closely followed by a similar win over Monfils at Madrid, reflects well on the legend’s mental strength.
But it can also be not ignored that in the match, Federer won twelve points less and was broken one more time than Coric. A similar patchy performance against Tsitsipas may see his quest for a first Rome Masters title end in disappointment one more time.
Prediction: Roger Federer to win in Three SetsPublished 17 May 2019, 09:55 IST