It was the eighth game of the second set, and Roger Federer had put together a 4-3 lead with a break in the first game against Matteo Berrettini. Just when things seemed to be sailing smoothly, the Swiss maestro suffered a lapse in concentration - the like of which he has succumbed to several times over the past two years or so.
Some poor serving from Federer suggested he would fall into a hole again, the way he did two nights ago against Austria's Dominic Thiem. But the opponent today was different, and less opportunistic. Even though he had three break-point opportunities, Berrettini failed to capitalize on any of them.
Had Berrettini managed to get his returns in deep on those points, he could have pushed Federer to a third set. But the Italian's inexperience at the big stage came back to haunt him.
With this defeat, Berrettini is virtually out of the tournament; his exit will be confirmed if Thiem manages to win a set against Novak Djokovic. But given the year he had, the young Italian can hold his head up high and prepare confidently for the next season.
Coming back to Federer, he carried a look of concern throughout the match and he didn't seem happy with the way he was playing. Considering the form that the Swiss has displayed so far in the tournament, Djokovic has to be considered the clear favorite in their upcoming match on Thursday.
Federer managed to hit a total of 23 winners (including nine aces), with eight winners from the forehand side and six off the backhand. On the other hand, Berrettini's forehand played its part as he amassed a total of 13 winners from this wing - with 11 of them coming from the first set alone.
Federer would probably feel satisfied with the unforced errors department as he made just 17 of them, with 12 from the forehand side and five from the backhand.
Berrettini lost his game at the fag end of the second set, and he ended up with 27 unforced errors for the match.
There weren't many rallies in the match. The number of shots played between the two went over nine on just two occasions, with both winning one point each. Moreover, there were 100 points where the number of shots was under five, and Federer was ahead in this category - winning 54 points to Berrettini's 46.
Coming to the points at the net, Berrettini managed to win 10 out of 12 whereas Federer only managed to win 11 of the 18 times he approached the net. Normally the number of winners and net points won are very high for Federer (along with unforced errors), but this match was a clear exception.
Both the players had high first-serve percentages, with Berrettini maintaining a healthy 70% and Federer 67%. But it was the points won on second serve that decided the winner of this contest, as Federer managed to win 68% of them in comparison with Berrettini's 53%.
Berrettini also made a double fault at a crucial juncture in the tie-breaker of the first set, and Federer followed it up with an amazing backhand winner down the line.
All in all, it was a passable performance from Federer, which was just enough to get past the inexperienced Berrettini. He would have to create some magic on the court against Djokovic on Thursday if he wants to book his spot in the semis, because it will be very difficult for him to defeat the Serb with this level of play.
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