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Rome Masters 2019: Roger Federer vs Borna Coric, preview and prediction

ANALYST
Preview
16 May 2019, 17:34 IST

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

Roger Federer’s quest for a first Rome Masters title got off to a flying start with a commanding performance against Joao Sousa. He not only won the match in straight sets, but also displayed some flashes of brilliance that the claycourt season has been missing in the last two seasons.

He next plays the young Borna Coric later today. This is a rare day when Federer, along with Nadal and Djokovic, will have to play a second match on the same day. And the Swiss has done himself no harm by playing a quick match and keeping himself relatively fresh for the second one.

Federer played his first match in Rome exactly the same way he played at Madrid – a fast, aggressive style, playing on his own terms. It was no surprise he had 25 winners and 18 unforced errors in the match.

It was not that Sousa played badly. In fact, the Portuguese had as many as seven chances to break the Swiss maestro. But he was thwarted each time. A pivotal period in the match was in the seventh game of the first set when Federer showed a remarkable mixture of defense and agility to win an unbelievable point, which evoked a collective gasp from the crowd.

He duly broke Sousa in that game, but was down 0-40 on his own service game in the next. He played some terrific points to hold serve there, and that proved to be the turning point of the match.

The second set was much easier for Federer, though he had to save more break points in the later stages of the match.

He will likely continue to play an aggressive game against Coric, but the young Croat could make things much more difficult if Federer does not cut down on his unforced error count. He will have to be a bit more judicious in his shot selection, without having to sacrifice his aggression.

Coric has had some success against the Swiss in the recent past. Last year, he defeated Federer at Halle and Shanghai, though Federer got the better of his young opponent early this year at Dubai.

Coric has looked very good in his two matches so far, against Felix Auger-Aliassime and Cameron Norrie. He has served especially well, with his first serve win percentage in the eighties in both matches.

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But a fit and relaxed Federer is expected to have an edge in this encounter, their first on clay.

Prediction: Roger Federer to win in three sets.

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