Unlike his opening round match where he cruised from start to finish, Roger Federer struggled and was tested early on in his third round match Thursday afternoon against David Ferrer. Broken early, and despite breaking back, the Swiss maestro was broken again to drop the first set against the Spaniard, known to be one of the best fighters on court, grinding for every point. Coming forward and playing more aggressive tennis, the 19-time grand slam champion found a bit of a groove in the second set, but there would still be rough patches, early in the third set, before he could see the finish line. The 36-year-old Swiss defeated Ferrer 4-6 6-4 6-2, in 1 hour 57 minutes, extending his head-to-head record against the Spaniard to 17-0.
“I already beat other players 17 times,” said Federer. “Sometimes I played them maybe 30 or 40 times. They ended up beating me at a certain stages, like Roddick, Gonzalez and Soderling. Sometimes I beat them 10 times in a row. At the end they always ended up beating me. That’s why I have a lot of respect for this match today. I know it can’t continue that way. 17 is a lot.”
“The last match we played were three tight sets in Toronto, then three sets Cincinnati, and again today. So these statistics are a bit ridiculous, because I have a lot of respect for David. As a person, he’s very nice. He’s a great fighter on the court. So this type of head-to-head is a bit strange.”
“For me it was more of a struggle,” Federer said about the match. “As you know, you don’t always feel the same and each opponent is a different problem. He started very well, especially on the return on my second serve. I was not able to serve my first serve where I wanted to, and he hurt me on the second serve.”
“From the baseline, I didn’t have enough rhythm. The court is fast here. Of course, because of the surface, that it’s fast, you can’t just decide to put the ball in because physically David is very strong. You can’t do that. You have to go into the battle. You have to accept you’re going to make mistakes. But you have to keep moving forward.”
“I tried with my intensity and focus to change the match, and this is what I was able to do. I was able also to change the angles, and that helped me win the match.”
“We battled, both tried to find a way to win. He had a good start, I had a better finish. That was important. For me, take it how it is and hope that this match gives me some better rhythm and confidence against Bautista Agut, who plays actually very similar to David today.”
Federer faces Roberto Bautista Agut in Friday’s quarterfinals.