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Federer undecided whether to play Rome after Madrid defeat to Thiem

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 10 May 2019
  • Roger Federer's return to the Madrid Masters ended with defeat to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals
  • Thiem saved two match points to beat Federer 2-6, 7-6(11), 6-4
  • Federer undecided whether or not to play Rome Masters
Roger Federer is in the draw for the Rome Masters but hasn't decided whether or not he will play (PA Sports)

Roger Federer may still play the Rome Masters after losing Madrid Masters quarterfinal to Dominic Thiem.

Twenty-four hours after saving two match points to beat Gael Monfils, Roger Federer failed to convert two match points as he lost to Dominic Thiem in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Masters,
Thiem’s 2-6, 7-6(11), 6-4 victory over Federer sends him into the semifinals to face Novak Djokovic, and ends Federer’s first clay-court tournament after three years.

But Federer could still play the Rome Masters next week: He is in the official draw, which was conducted earlier on Friday evening while he was on court in Madrid, and the 37-year-old said that he will make a decision over the weekend about whether he will withdraw or not.

Federer congratulates Dominic Thiem after their match (PA Sport)
‘I couldn’t make the decision before the game so, unfortunately, I had to wait and see how this match plays out today, if it was going to be 6-0, 6-0 or 7-6 in the third,’ Federer said.

‘Winning or losing, it all matters, so it was an early ask for me to take that decision. I wanted to keep options open and that is why I’m in the draw. I’ll probably only decide on the weekend, but I’m not sure if I’m going to go.’

As he did against Monfils on Thursday, Federer completely dominated the first set against Thiem, coming out with an ultra-aggressive approach which seemed to catch a nervous Thiem off guard, and led 6-2 having made seven winners and five unforced errors while the Austrian’s numbers were nine and 11, with the majority of the mistakes coming in the early stretch of the match. 

Federer saved break point serving to open the second set and produced another huge hold from 0-40 down at 3-3, serving and volleying on second serves as he remained committed to his attacking approach. But Thiem had improved his own serving and started holding with greater ease. In the second-set tie-break, a missed forehand by Thiem gave Federer the immediate mini-break and he led 3-0, but Thiem levelled up when Federer missed the same shot for 3-3.

A forehand winner by Thiem gave him a 6-4 lead and his first set points, but Federer erased both, retrieving the mini-break with a perfectly disguised drop shot winner and, after erasing a third set point, earned a match point. But he went for too much on the return and missed for 8-8. Federer saved a fourth set point with a wide serve and smash for 9-9 and set up a second match point with an ace down the T, but Thiem saved this one too with a brave second serve and forehand combination.

Federer saved a fifth set point with a service winner, but on the sixth his tactic of serving and volleying behind the second serve finally misfired; the serve wasn’t good enough and Thiem hit a clean return winner to give himself a second chance to close out the set on his own serve, duly doing so to level up.

Thiem celebrates victory (PA Sport)
Federer saved break point in his opening service game in the decider, but was heard complaining to the umpire about the state of the court and it wasn’t too surprising when Thiem, on his ninth opportunity, converted a break point finally to lead 2-1. The Austrian held from 15-40 and although Federer broke with a brilliant game to level at 4-4, Thiem immediately re-established his authority and break lead and served out the match after two hours and 12 minutes.

Federer admitted the defeat was ‘frustrating’ but took the positives from the week he had enjoyed on the clay courts of Madrid.

‘Losing with match points is the worst, so that’s how I feel. But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it’s all good,’ he said

‘I feel very good about my game. I thought I had some good matches here, you know, especially last two. First one was good to get into it. And obviously, Gael [Monfils] and Dominic are tough on the clay so it was a good battle. I feel good on the clay right now.’

Federer will reportedly head back to Switzerland to decompress before making his final decision on whether or not to play the Rome Masters. Seeded third for the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Federer would be due to play Frances Tiafoe or Joao Sousa after a first-round bye and is in the same quarter of the draw as eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas. Should he get to the semifinals, he’d be likely to face Thiem or Rafael Nadal.

Thiem, meanwhile, move on to face Djokovic in Saturday’s Madrid Masters semifinals after Djokovic received a walkover from Marin Cilic in the quarterfinals. Cilic pulled out after suffering from food poisoning. 

Djokovic leads the overall head-to-head 5-2, but Thiem has won their last two encounters – both of which came on clay, at the French Open in 2017 and the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters in 2018.

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Federer undecided whether to play Rome after Madrid defeat to Thiem

Roger Federer’s first clay-court tournament in three years ended when Dominic Thiem saved two match points to beat Federer 2-6, 7-6(11), 6-4 and advance to the Madrid Masters semifinals

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