Jurgen Melzer has surprised crowd favourite Roger Federer with a straight sets defeat in their Monte Carlo quarterfinal match today winning 6-4, 6-4 as a final backhand from the Swiss maestro landed in the net. The win not only marks the first time Melzer has beaten Federer but also the first time Melzer has won a set off Federer. After an hour and 44 minutes Federer was set packing by the Austrian.
Melzer now faces Spaniard David Ferrer for a finals spot.Melzer broke Federer early in the first set for a 3-2 and then battled off multiple break points in order to consolidate his lead as Federer continued to try and push his way back into the set. Jurgen was hitting with great depth and pace and produced some beautiful passing shots.
It is interesting that we’re seeing more and more drop shots from Roger when in 2006, at his prime, he felt he didn’t need them. “I don’t need drop shots to win a match. Because I feel in any situation I can always hit a winner with my forehand, so why hit a drop shot. I can open up the court so well with my forehand, that I never really used it or needed it.” There has been talk over the last few seasons about Federer’s ‘demise’ (i.e. his huge drop down the rankings from number one to two – shocker) and it is interesting that as Federer has started to struggle a little bit more that he has felt the need to use a shot he never previously felt his game needed.
Against Jurgen today he needed the help. Melzer claimed his first set from Federer in their fourth career meeting 6-4 with a fist pump and a delighted cry. Roger had four break point chances in the set and was unable to convert while Melzer, seeing a rare opportunity, took his only chance.
Jurgen again had two chances to break in Roger’s opening service game as the cloud continued to gather and the wind picked up. But the Austrian persisted and showed some serious power, particularly on his backhand wing when compared to Federer’s backhand, and pummeled balls around the court.
Melzer stepped up to serve at 3-2 the surface dirt of the beautiful red clay courts of Monte Carlo blew up and around the players as the court dried more and more in the sun, the wind blowing the clouds away. The dust storm stirred up again as Melzer defended break points and ball boys covered their eyes. Despite the challenge Jurgen was able to keep his lead and put the pressure on Federer to serve at 2-4.
The intermittent dust storms continued to kick up, someone in the stands collapsed, someone from the photographers pit was kicked out – it was all happening during this match and Melzer started to struggle to close out the eighth game of the second set. The Austrian took a deep breath and hit a drop shot with the most incredible touch that Federer pushed wide as he tried to go down the line. Another brilliant drop shot died before Federer had a chance to get to it.
The crowd cheered loudly to try and push Federer into action. Roger got another chance to break as Melzer wobbled trying to hold serve, Federer lifting his level slightly simultaneously. Ultimately it was Melzer who was the more consistent of the two and eventually came out on top for a 5-3 lead.
The number on break points Federer failed to convert mounted as his greatest rivals father, Sebastian Nadal, looked on. Melzer’s anticipation proved vital as Federer pushed to try desperately to stay alive in the tournament.
Another backhand into the net sealed the deal for Federer as he packed his bags and headed home defeated after a match with difficult conditions and a brilliant opponent.