Andujar defeats Federer 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 at the Gonet Geneva Open
Roger Federer, playing on home soil in an ATP 250 event, took the court for just the second time this season as he stepped away from competition to rehab his right knee. The thirty-nine-year-old former world #1, endured two knee surgeries during the pandemic and returned to the tour in March in Doha, losing to eventual champion, Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Pablo Andujar, a thirty-five-year-old tour veteran from Spain, currently ranked #80, achieved a career-high ranking of #32 six years ago. Andujar, with 4 career titles – all on clay – is still working his way back up the rankings following three elbow surgeries between 2016 and 2017. Incredibly, after considering retirement, Andujar won his 4th title in 2018 and the following year, reached the fourth round at the US Open – his best run at a slam.
In his pre-match press conference, Andujar stated he was thrilled to finally play the 20-time grand slam champion. Andujar won the toss and chose to serve, holding easily to 15 for 1-0.
Federer had a more difficult time in his opening service game despite making 6/8 first serves. He faced a deuce point following a poorly executed drop shot but held for 1-1 behind two huge serves on the next two points.
Andujar showed zero nerves playing the Swiss maestro in Switzerland as he held at love for 2-1. Although he missed 4/6 first serves, Federer held to thirty for 2-2 with a monster serve out wide.
The Spaniard continued to work the Federer backhand extracting an error on game point for 3-2. Federer raced to a 40-0 lead behind an overhead smash and a well-struck forehand but soon faced 40-30 following two forehand errors consecutive points. The #1 seed missed another first serve but held when his opponent’s backhand return went wide.
Andujar came to play, holding to 15 for 4-3 with his first ace on game point. Despite missing 3/4 first serves, Federer held at love for 4-4 employing every shot in his vast arsenal including the drop shot, forehand down the line, and backhand down the line.
Federer continued to apply pressure, securing the opening point on Andujar’s serve with a spectacular overhead smash down the line winner. Andujar maintained his focus and the lead, holding to 15 behind four unforced errors from his opponent. Federer, down 4-5, continued to miss on first serve and following two unforced errors off the ground on consecutive points dropped the set.
The Spaniard served first in the second and held easily to 15 for 1-0. Federer may have missed 3/4 first serves but held at love behind a serve and volley and a brilliant backhand down the line.
Andujar began missing the first serve and faced break point when Federer crushed a crosscourt forehand and dumped serve when he netted a forehand. The world #8 illustrated why even after two knee surgeries and months off the tour, he should never be underestimated. The 2009 French Open champion consolidated the break at love with four consecutive colossal first serves and groundstroke winners.
Andujar returned the favor, holding at love for 2-3. Federer, apparently having found his groove, continued to pummel the inside-out and inside-in forehand. Keeping his opponent guessing, Federer threw in the serve and volley on game point for 4-2.
Andujar, serving with new balls, opened with an ace and held to 30 when his opponent netted the return. Federer, defying his opponent and mother-time, opened with an overhead smash and held at love for 5-3 with a deft backhand drop shot winner.
Andujar’s defensive skills were exemplary as Federer continued to rip the ball from the baseline. He held to 15 for 4-5, forcing his opponent to serve for the set. The crowd, small as it was, urged on their countryman as he served to force a deciding set. Federer opened with a huge serve and formidable crosscourt forehand and closed out the set with another titanic serve and inside-out forehand winner.
Would Federer’s fitness withstand the onslaught of an experienced dirt baller? Andujar served first in the third and held to 30 for 1-0. Federer continued to serve well, hitting his second ace of the match as he held to 15 for 1-1. Andujar felt the full weight of his opponent’s will as Federer unleashed forehand winner after winner earning three break points and converted for 2-1 with a forehand pass.
Federer opened the fourth game with his third ace and held at love for 3-1. He was now in full flight, seemingly able to place the ball wherever he desired. Andujar admirably acquitted himself, holding at love for 2-3 with his 4th ace.
Federer, serving with new balls, once again held at love, hitting an inside-in forehand on game point for 4-2. Andujar keeping it close, sent a message to his opponent striking two consecutive aces for 3-4.
Federer missed too many first serves throughout the match and it cost him; Andujar reached break point following a forehand error and converted with a remarkable inside-out forehand return.
Level at 4-4, Andujar consolidated the break, holding to 15 with an outstanding forehand down the line winner. Federer, serving to stay in the match at 4-5, saved two match points with breathtaking winners off the ground. The former world #1 boldly withstood the pressure but eventually succumbed when he overcooked a crosscourt forehand.
After close to two hours, Pablo Andujar overcame a worthy but not weary opponent. This was a well-played, exceedingly close match in which the Spaniard won just three more points than his opponent (84/81). Roger Federer should be quite pleased with his performance but will certainly look to improve the serve which ultimately cost him the match.
While Andujar surprisingly hit more aces than Federer (6/3) it was the second serve – points won on serve and on the return – that determined the outcome of the match.
Andujar won 62% of second serve points and 42% of second serve return points while Federer
won 58% of second serve points and 38% of second serve return points.
Next up, either the 18-year-old Swiss sensation, Dominic Stephan Stricker who took out former world #3 Marin Cilic, or the always tricky Hungarian, world #44, Marton Fucsovics.