Racquet Reaction

Roland Garros: Federer d. Devvarman

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 /by
AP Photo
AP Photo

After spending the day sliding and slipping in lunging pursuit of Roger Federer's drives, Somdev Devvarman seemed to have the second seed right where he wanted him. With a wide expanse of red clay ahead and a day of frustration behind him, Devvarman set up for a routine mid-court smash and unloaded. Anticipating the direction before the swing was complete, Federer darted to his right and flicked a forehand pass up the line, snatching a break point in the second set that reinforced the enormity of Devvarman's task.

Shaking his head at his predicament, a disconsolate Devvarman looked like a stranded tourist informed he'd have to hurdle the Arc de Triomphe to get back home. Federer followed that stirring pass with a crackling cross-court backhand to break serve, sparking a run of 11 consecutive games as he outclassed Devvarman, 6-2, 6-1, 6-1, to cruise into the third round for the 10th consecutive year.

A young fan waved a signed that read "Roger 4Ever" as Federer walked out onto the court. The 2009 champion scored his 56th French Open match win today, which gives him sole possession of third place all time behind only Guillermo Vilas and Nicola Pietrangeli (58 wins apiece), and puts him a full 55 wins ahead of Devvarman, who's most at home on hard courts and entered the second round fresh of his first French Open win.

Imposing his advantage at the outset, Federer reeled off eight straight points to start the match. Relying on his legs to extend points, Devvarman drilled a pair of fine running forehand winners, eventually earning a pair of break points in the fourth game. Federer was not fazed. He saved the first with a tricky second-serve kicker, erased the second with a sharp slice serve followed by an inside-out forehand winner, and slid an ace down the T, eventually holding.

Federer generates significantly more snap on the forehand—the ball screamed off his strings and was a more muffled murmur off Devvarman's racquet—and successive forehand winners from drew the second break and a 4-1 lead. Serving for the set, Federer treated the post-lunch crowd to a buffet of appetizing shots: The drop shot, a crisp serve-and-volley winner, a down-the-line backhand, and a cross-court forehand winner closed the set with his third love game. Federer hit more than four times as many winners (17 to four) in cruising through the 23-minute opener.

Even when Federer wasn't precise, he was still pulverizing: He served just 39 percent in the second set yet still won 13 of 18 points played on his serve, whipping 18 winners in the 31-minute stanzat. Devvarman, a former two-time NCAA champion and sparring partner of Andy Roddick, could not hurt Federer at all, creating an atmosphere of inevitability.

If you've ever been completely overwhelmed by an elite opponent—at any level of the game—you had to feel for Devvarman, who was powerless to stop the onslaught. Tormented by Federer's down-the-line backhand in the fourth game of the third set, Devvarman was leaning slightly to his right when Federer switched it up, teasing him with a deep slice backhand to set up a forehand winner (down the line) to break for 4-0. The Swiss finished with 54 winners, 32 from his forehand, and will face 30th-seeded Frenchman Julien Benneteau, who swept Federer in Rotterdam in February and held a two-set lead over him at the 2012 Wimbledon, for a spot in the fourth round.

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