Federer v Chung SF Preview


The second SF lifts off for us on the U.S. west coast at around 12:30am. Do you know how many times I’ve been up at 3 and even 4am watching these ATP blokes slug-it-out down-under? Too many. We have another one tonight.

If we take a more basic approach to this match, Federer should win. The more assumptions you have to make for something to be true, the more unlikely it is to occur (Occam’s razor).

Anyone who has seen the S. Korean’s game of late has to notice the sharpness and depth of his ground strokes, from either wing, to either corner (and yes the FH seems to be the weapon of choice). As I tried to suggest, this more attacking tennis seemed to almost develop during the Chung v Zverev match. Chung was more center-of-the-court with his shot early in the match and Sascha made him pay. But Chung got stronger as the match wore-on. Sascha’s distaste for Bo5 may have contributed to this match trend, but by the fourth set, either way, Chung’s confidence had spawned wings, which the scoreline reflected in that 63 60 resolution.

Perhaps this definitive vanquishing of the supposed Next Gen emperor really lit the switch on this kid. Beating Sascha was a big achievement, undoubtedly an upset at the time, which only adds to his confidence from winning 2017 Milan. He did, by the way, put a pretty stiff beat-down on another next gen talent, Danil Medvedev, in the AO 2R. All of this to say, he has been playing really good tennis against really solid players, but that AO R32 win over the much celebrated Zverev has to count for a little more, imho.

Then he beat the Serb in straights. That alone is pretty remarkable; watching this upset unfold was even more interesting. The mirrored games of the two certainly catch one’s attention. The defense-to-offense fluidity that seemed to be Novak’s bedrock, the uncanny ability to dig deep and wide and provide massive returns with heavy interest. . . had come back to haunt him, just as he had come back to reclaim what was his.

The narrative is compelling: Novak is Chung’s idol. But the match stats do tell a slightly different story (or at least qualify this intriguing marriage of styles and emulation, or the more macabre version: that Chung destroyed Novak on the Serb’s favorite court):

Novak by the numbers vs Chung:

  • First serve%: 62%
  • He had 2 aces
  • He had 9 double faults
  • 36 winners to 57 unforced errors
  • 5/19 on break point chances
  • 23/38 on net points won

Those are not stellar numbers, but we have to suspect that the S. Korean had something to do with that inefficiency.

We find it tough to confirm Novak’s health and fitness were 100%. Who knows how the elbow was as that match extended.

Federer is in a different place in terms of health and fitness (we understand) and he’s certainly his own type of player, quite different from Novak in terms of style.

Federer’s serve is probably going to be a lot more efficient than what we see in those numbers. Does Chung’s ROS neutralize Federer’s serve? Perhaps. But we can suspect Roger to have a better service game (more aces certainly and given Federer’s attacking predisposition, more first-strike tennis). In other words, the serve and the net will probably be more positive factors for the Swiss. Novak doesn’t usually come to net. That’s just a fact. Federer will probably look to pressure Chung by spotting serves and moving-in to shrink the court more effectively than did Novak.

As for Chung’s serve, he garnered one ace against Djokovic.

As I tend to think with a lot of Federer’s matches, even back in 2015 when he couldn’t get by Novak, if he serves well, he is that much more difficult to deal with (some people have resorted to calling Roger a serve-bot. Wonderful stuff from the peanut gallery. However, part of that is true: his serve — I see that he averaged ~115mph v Berdych, but reached into the 120s on occasion — can clip the wings, ground the bird, kill the goose that lays the golden egg, if you will).

So Chung has to be thinking a bit about that kind of pressure that neither Zverev nor Djokovic includes in their games: big serve and elite net-finishing presence.

Beyond those numbers and game aspects, this is a big stage.

We have to lean Federer here.

Still, people were saying the same thing about Federer in London with a seemingly mountain of advantage against the remaining players in those semi-finals. Ask Goffin how that all went.

Be that as it may, this is Melbourne, Federer is most likely in better condition, it’s Bo5, which benefits Federer, imho, and the old man can not be thinking anything other than “take care of business.” A loss here from Federer would be brutal for the poor guy. 😀

Chung could spoil this party (like many have done before against this perennial favorite).

But the Express looks pretty strong and fluent in this final four lexicon.

Winner gets an enthusiastic and relatively fresh Cilic.

Let’s see some genius out there, boys.

Now it’s time to get some other work done and take a little nap. 🙂

Enjoy the tennis!

4 thoughts on “Federer v Chung SF Preview

  1. Dani

    Matt, just a quick correction of an error I spotted – 123 MPH was the fastest serve vs. Berdych, average was at 115 MPH, which is on the slow side. Source: AO website stats.

    Vs. Chung he served a little faster, at an average of 118 MPH, the fastest being 126 MPH. He has to worry about the percentage he served though.

    As for the match – rather like I expected with Chung being unable to have any impact on the Federer serve. He doesn’t return as deep and aggressive as Djokovic at his best, which allows Federer to take charge from the 3rd shot. He had no clue vs. the 1st serve, managed to put only 4 (!) back into court of which he won 1 (!).

    Chung’s own serve was under constant pressure. Of course Chung wasn’t at his best with his movement compromised, so I won’t mention how he struggled with the mid-court slices, but I don’t think serve and return were much affected by that. With that serve he will struggle vs. Top 10 players for now and I suspect his win vs. Djokovic was more down to the latter’s state of fitness. He should be able to improve there though in the years to come.


    1. Thanks, Dani. I am not a stat guy but I saw in bumping around some coverage that Federer averged 199kmph. Seemed a bit high as he is much more around that 115 mark usually. I attributed the “stat” to the quicker courts perhaps. If Fed could average 123mph, hide the women and children. But he’s more of a spot server now anyway.


  2. Jason Bourne

    What a way to spoil any kind of predictions. Chung got blisters, Fed didn’t play at highest level (see FS %). It wasnt even a proper match. Does this bode well for Federer for the final? He definitely got to save a lot of energy. But did he have enough practice to hit top form? He needs his top form, at least close to that, to handle this red hot Cilic. Mental sharpness can be a problem due to his relatively easy path to the final. Only Berdych presented a legitimate threat, but even that match was still relatively a breeze.


    1. Fed looks sharp and his easier route has to bode well.
      If he loses, it’s an upset. Cilic is a scary proposition if he’s serving big (FS% high),
      enabling him to control with the first-strike Cilician tennis and gain more and more

      But I think Federer has to have a pretty bad serve, BH or FH abandons, starts to slump, etc. for that to transpire. Cilic needs to have a massive night, which we have seen before, of course (2014).


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