Fourth-seeded Roger Federer faced his first true test of the 2014 French Open Friday, but he ultimately passed with flying colors by defeating No. 31 Dmitry Tursunov 7-5, 6-7, 6-2, 6-4 in the third round at Roland Garros.
With the win, Federer continued his incredible run of success in Paris, according to ATP World Tour on Twitter:
After beating a pair of little-known players in the first two rounds, Tursunov proved to be a credible opponent. It was difficult to get a true read on Federer's form prior to Friday's match, but he was able to do a lot of good things against his Russian foe.
Federer has bounced back nicely from his second-round loss to Jeremy Chardy at the Rome Masters a couple weeks ago, and he now seems poised to make a run at his second Roland Garros title.
Federer is one of the winningest players in the history of tennis, but you wouldn't necessarily know it by hearing him talk. He seems to have a loose and laid-back demeanor in Paris, per Kate Battersby of RolandGarros.com, which should help him moving forward in this tournament.
Sometimes people think tennis life is only fun when you win, and when you lose clearly it's a disaster, it's all really bad. Yes, that’s disappointing and it's not much fun. But at the same time, you can enjoy a tournament, enjoy a city, enjoy life while moving on with your career. If you have the big picture in mind, then you realize that missing a few too many forehands has zero impact on how I will actually sleep tonight.
Although Federer was definitely tested by Tursunov, he never seemed nervous or antsy throughout the match. Fed was focused from start to finish, which allowed him to lock in and win the big points when he needed to.
That was apparent from the very start as Federer and Tursunov looked evenly matched in the early going. Both players were serving extremely well, especially Federer, who was able to navigate his way out of some possibly sticky situations, according to Andrew Burton of TennisWorld.net:
Federer and Tursunov continued to trade holds of serve until the score stood at 6-5 in favor of Federer. The first set came down to who would ultimately blink first, and it happened to be Tursunov, as the Swiss superstar was able to disrupt Tursunov's serve and won the set 7-5, per Live Tennis:
Things didn't come easily for Federer in the opening set, but BBC's David Law was thoroughly impressed with his overall game:
The second set featured more of the same as both combatants found it very difficult to gain traction when returning serve. Following five fairly routine holds for Federer and four from Tursunov, Fed had a golden opportunity to put the set away.
A deuce serve from Tursunov totally fooled the legend, however, which allowed Tursunov to scratch out yet another hold:
Federer followed that with a hold of his own to put the pressure back on Tursunov. It looked as though the second set would be a virtual carbon copy of the first with Tursunov staring down three Federer set points.
Tursunov showed a ton of will and determination, however, by winning five straight points to erase the deficit and force a tiebreak.
The tiebreak was a microcosm of the match itself as it was a seesaw affair. Tursunov was ultimately able to gain an 8-7 advantage to earn a surprising set point. He didn't squander it as he blasted a winner past Fed to even the match at one set apiece, according to ESPN Tennis:
Ever the professional, Federer didn't allow that slip-up to impact him in the third set. In fact, Tursunov may have made a tactical error as he left the court for several minutes between the second and third sets, per ESPN's Pam Shriver:
That very well may have halted Tursunov's momentum and given Fed an opportunity to gather his thoughts. Federer opened the set with a quick break of Tursunov's serve and didn't look back from there.
Federer dropped only two games in the set as he took it decisively and put Tursunov on the ropes heading into the fourth.
Much of the match had to do with scoring timely breaks of serve, and while Tursunov was never really able to accomplish that, Federer did on several occasions. Federer was able to break Tursunov in the fourth set to put himself in prime position to win:
Federer converted just one of his nine break-point opportunities in the set, but that was enough as he served out the match and took the fourth set 6-4.
Tursunov was a difficult opponent, but things will get even tougher for Federer in the fourth round. Fed is set to meet Latvia's Ernests Gulbis, who is a No. 18 seed and on quite a roll to boot. Gulbis dismantled Radek Stepanek in the third round and has dropped just one set through three matches.
Gulbis is also coming off winning the Open de Nice Cote d'Azur title, which means he is currently riding a seven-match winning streak. Included among those seven wins is a victory over Tursunov.
Federer is just 2-1 against Gulbis, although they haven't met since 2010. Gulbis upset Federer at the Rome Masters on clay, but Federer answered with a clay-court win in Madrid.
If nothing else, that suggests Gulbis has a fighting chance. After that, Federer could be in for a tester against either Tomas Berdych or John Isner. That would then set up a gargantuan semifinal tilt with No. 2 Novak Djokovic in all likelihood.
The upcoming slate for Federer is tough on paper, and he has reached the point where he simply can't afford to look past anyone.
Dropping a set and getting pushed a bit by Tursunov was good for Federer in that it better prepared him for what he will face in the coming rounds. Federer handled the pressure well, and he'll definitely be a tough out in this tournament.
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