The Bakery is your one stop shop for quick match reports. Including tactical analysis, key points, and poorly executed quips. It is part of a new series of posts which will fully debut in 2014, and you can read about them all here.
Roger Federer (SUI) d. Vasek Pospisil (CAN) 6-3, 6-7(3), 7-5, 2:40
The word “aggressive” may be the most over used word in tennis. It is assumed to be a positive word, and something players should strive to do tactically, but what a sensible aggressive approach looks like can be very different for different players.
Vasek Pospisil certainly knows what aggressive tennis needs to look like. He has a big serve and sometimes kicks his second serve to great effect. The key is his ability and confidence to follow up his big first serves, and not just with finishing off short returns. He loves to run around his forehand, and unlike his compatriot Milos Raonic, puts a big more spin on the forehand which gives him a bit more margin for error.
Despite that it didn’t always work, I liked seeing a rather methodical approach from Pospisil in the first set. He likes to hit his forehand from a close stance cross court while on the ad side (his left) of the court – both in rallies and when given a ball to attack. This was a regular pattern, and as he learned that Federer was defending quite well on the backhand wing, he tried to go down the line with the shot more, particularly in the third set.
Ultimately a tough loss for the Canadian, but he had an excellent showing. His forehand is topspin heavy and gains incredible pace on fast surfaces. His movement and court awareness is great and his net game is above average, which allows him to finish off points much more quickly when he gains the upper hand in a rally off of a big forehand.
For Federer, it was a match of mixed signals – as can be expected from now on. At times he struggled with returning Pospisil’s kick second serve. On several occasions he recognized it, took several steps back, and then shanked the backhand or just simply missed. His cross court chip returns were eventually found out as well, and Pospisil was able to punish them as he grew to expect the short responses.
All of that said, Federer looked to be moving incredibly well, and was hitting some classic shoestring Fed winners in the first set. There were some lovely ping pong backhand block passing shots and some deceptively spinning, cross court forehands that dragged the Canadian well out of position or went for winners.
Federer will play Del Potro in the final, a repeat of last year’s Basel tournament in which Delpo took the title. Del Potro will offer up similarly punishing forehands, but won’t defend quite as well as Pospisil on such a fast surface, despite being an underrated defender. Another serious test for Federer’s game, and I think he might struggle. Regardless, it should be a great match.