In his first match since his surprise loss to Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai last month; World Number 10 Roger Federer returned to the courts at Indian Wells to face another lower-ranked opponent. This time it was France’s Stephane Robert; and the Swiss Maestro made quick work of his opponent in this 2nd round clash. He dismantled Robert in straight sets, 6-2 6-1 and seems ready to show the tennis world that his Australian Open victory was not a fluke.
This was the first meeting between the two, and it could almost be called a mismatch. The 81st-ranked Robert is a veteran of sorts; having turned pro in 2001 and is 36 years of age. He put up a good fight during the first few games, holding his serve as Federer made some forehand errors. It was temporary however; as he was broken in the fifth game and Federer raced away with the first set in 28 minutes. The Swiss converted both of his break point opportunities, attacking Robert’s second serve and hitting some exceptional winners from his backhand and the occasional foray to the net .
The former world number 1 was in even finer form in the second set, and Robert seemed to have an air of resignation about him. The Frenchman; who defeated Israel’s Dudi Sela 6-4 6-4 in the first round to get this far, had 4 winners the entire match and it wasn’t from a lack of effort. Federer just did not let him into this match, hitting well-placed serves that the Frenchman could barely return and continually attacking his opponent’s serve. He then went on to break Robert thrice; eventually closing it out on Robert’s serve in 51 minutes.
“It’s my pleasure to be back this time around” Federer said after the match. He missed the BNP Paribas Open last year due to injury and is looking to win his 5th crown; having last won in 2012 with a 7-6 6-3 victory over John Isner.
Federer next faces big serving American Steve Johnson in the 3rd round, who defeated South Africa’s Kevin Anderson in 3 sets 6-4 3-6 7-6(4) to progress. This will be the 2nd meeting between the two, with Federer prevailing in straight sets last year at Wimbledon; 6-2 6-3 7-5. If he makes it past that hurdle, then he’ll likely have an Australian Open final rematch with longtime rival Rafael Nadal in the 4th round; with Djokovic possibly waiting in the quarters. This really is the “draw of death”, with the last 12 of 13 championships going to these three men. And following World Number 1 Andy Murray’s surprise exit; their chances of capturing this trophy have improved significantly.
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