Roger Federer didn’t look his unbeatable old self. He hasn’t looked like that since 2007 and shades of 2009, but despite a wobble and vulnerability showing during the second set and much of the third, the Five time US Open champions beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, advancing into the third round and beating Marin Cilic for the third time in three matches.
From the top 4 players, Nadal and Djokovic are the only two not to drop a set so far. Both have also enjoyed one of their matches to end with a retirement of their opponent. Murray had his scare yesterday against Haase. Federer? Not a scare, but the drop we’ve gotten accustomed to. He was up 2-0 over Tsonga at Wimbledon before falling apart, losing in five sets in the quarter final. Federer has failed to make a US Open semi final in 2003. Since then? Five titles, Six Finals, Seven Semis.
Cilic wasn’t the man to stop Federer today. He has never beaten Federer, and despite being the world’s number nine player and serving up 12 aces, his usual inconsistency with big shots and his first serve made it impossible for the 23 year old Croatian to fully capitalize on the momentum he gained after winning the second set.
At 4-4 in third set, Federer began feeling comfortable again, producing drop shots and angles that always leave us in awe. Cilic started sending shots long and high, and Federer got the break, en route to a win in the third set.
In the fourth, Cilic was broken. Twice in the serve, but mostly in spirit. Federer had two aces in the final game after breaking Cilic twice during the set. Cilic’s one dimensional game which he couldn’t execute with consistency meant he had nothing left, in mind and body during the fourth set. He’s never made it through to a Grand Slam Semi final, and I doubt he ever will unless power and big hitting stop being his only assets and he develops a larger arsenal of shots.
Federer? A joy to watch at times, and if you’re a fan, he gets you to pull out some hairs from frustration during those lapses he has, usually around the second and third sets. If he makes it out of those relatively unscathed, he will win the match. If the man on the other side realizes this is the time to go for the jugular, well, it’s those early exits we’ve grown to live with.