For his return to the competition in Dubai, Roger Federer has conceded, against Evgeny Donskoy, the 17th defeat of his career after having had one or several match points. A record which deserved a little analysis.

For his return to the competition in Dubai, Roger Federer has conceded, against Evgeny Donskoy, the 17th defeat of his career after having had one or several match points. In the meantime, Roger has also won 15 matches after having saved one or several match points. But still, this record deserved a little analysis. 


The most… epic


Against Marat Safin, in the semi-final of the 2005 Australian Open, and against Rafael Nadal, in the final of the Rome tournament in 2006.

It’s difficult to choose from these two matches as even if they were both defeats, the quality of tennis and the suspense during the five sets have turned these two matches into masterpieces which would both deserve to feature in the top 10 of legendary matches played by the Swiss. The first one, the semi-final of the 2005 Australian Open, saw him face Marat Safin, probably the only player who was as talented as him among his opponents. And if the Russian was never as consistent as the Swiss, their clash in this semi-final in Melbourne will always be considered as a highlight of the year 2000’s. The match point in favor of Federer in the tie-break of the fourth set, on his serve, will always be remembered. A crazy point (at the 30th minute on the video) ended with an attempt to score a tweener - he scored some beautiful ones since - before seing Safin definitely taking over the match in the fifth set, and winning it on his seventh match point (5/7 6/4 5/7 7/6 9/7).



The final of the Rome Masters 1000, in 2006, is the first (and one of the biggest) tennis monuments which the two giant rivals Federer and Nadal have gifted us, as it ended on the score of 6/7 7/6 6/4 2/6 7/6 for the Majorcan. But just before this epilogue in the tie-break of the fifth set, the Basel-born player had had two tournament-points at 6-5, 15-40, which he both lost on two hurried forehand attacks. « It’s difficult to explain why I won, said Rafa. I played well obviously, but there is also a factor called luck. If Roger had managed to score at least one more forehand, it would have been over for me. » Ten years later, we still wonder if a win in the original clash of titans would have given Roger Federer different answers, or a boost of confidence in the next matches against his Nemesis on clay.


The most… repetitive


Against Novak Djokovic, in the semi-finals of the 2010 and 2011 US Open

Same opponent, same stage of the competition, and same amount of match points saved (two each time), in a year’s time : it’s a statistical aberration achieved by Novak Djokovic against Roger Federer at the US Open. With only one difference : in 2010, Novak saved two match points on his serve, at 5-4, 15-40 against him in the fifth set, before ending the match on a high note : 5/7 6/1 5/7 6/2 7/5. « I don’t know how I did it. It’s hard to describe my feelings. Ten minutes ago, I was one point away from losing. It’s the type of match which you remember all your life. On Roger’s match points, I closed my eyes and hit my forehands as hard as I could. »


In 2011, the situation was even more extraordinary : after having gone back from losing two sets to nothing, it’s on the Swiss’ serve that he managed to save two match points at 5-3, 40-15 in the fifth set. The first, especially, was one for the records : a powerful return which landed exactly on the line. A bit of luck…and Djokovic won the four last games of the match to win it : 6/7 4/6 6/3 6/2 7/5. The resemblance between the two matches was so strong that even the Serb’s words were practically the same : « It’s the biggest win of the year for me and one of the biggest of my career. I was in the same situation last year. On the match points, I hit my forehands as hard as I could. It was a bet, and I was lucky. » Twice in a row, we would rather call that talent…and confidence.



The most… hopeful one for the French


Against Richard Gasquet, in the quarter-final of the 2005 Monte-Carlo Masters 1000

Admit it : when you saw Richard Gasquet playing like a valiant Musketeer against the Swiss Guard in Monte-Carlo in 2005, you thought you had found Yannick Noah’s heir, and the next French winner of a Grand Slam tournament ! Roger was the world number 1, « Richie » only the world number 101st, but, on the court, the Frenchman competed equally with Federer. Superb backhands, rushes to the net, spontanious demonstrations of joy and a quarter final earned after a 10-8 in the tie-break of the third set (6/7 6/2 7/6), on a last backhand passing shot and after having saved three match points : how beautiful was this Richard !



The most… unexpected


Against Tomas Berdych in Miami in 2010 and in Dubaï in 2013

Being one of Roger Federer’s favorite victims (and more generally speaking, one of the Big 4’s favorite victims), we didn’t expect this from him : along with Novak Djokovic, Tomas Berdych is the only other player to have defeated Roger Federer twice after saving a match point. The first time was in Miami, in 2010 (6/4 6/7 7/6 in the fourth round), the second time in Dubai in 2013 (3/6 7/6 6/4 in the semi-final). A good way to remind everyone that even if the Czech has a very negative record against the man who’s won 18 Grand Slam titles (6 wins - 17 defeats), he has often managed to put on a performance against him, defeating him in prestigious tournaments such as Wimbledon (quarter-final in 2010, putting an end to Fed’s series of 7 finals in a row in London), the US Open (quarter-final in 2012, while Federer had just reconquered his world number 1 spot), but also at the Olympic Games (second round in Athens in 2004).


The most… heated


Against Gaël Monfils in the semi-final of the 2010 BNP Paribas Masters

Seeing Roger Federer, the absolute icon, being booed by the crowd is very rare. To see that, we can go back to a boiling BNP Paribas Masters, where the fans were cheering on their favorite, Gaël Monfils. The Swiss was heckled by the crowd in a tight third set in the semi-final of the 2010 edition, and especially in a stifling game to lead by 6-5 where the Paris-born player, holding on thanks to an exceptional serve, saved five match points before winning the tie-break (7/6 6/7 7/6). It was then his first win against the Swiss, and he described it as « special : this arena, this tournament, is home for me. » We felt it as well.



By Guillaume Willecoq