Tennis Freaks

“1821: Nadal, I’ve noticed, has a problem with his shorts, in that they keep on getting stuck up his jacksie and he has to pull them out before every point. Not sure why he doesn’t just get a size up, he’s probably loaded.”

Federer v Youzhny as it happened

French Open Fourth round result:


7-6 6-4 6-4


By Sam Lyon

Third set

Federer 7-6 6-4 6-4 Youzhny
Youzhny extinguishes any thoughts that he’ll refuse to go down without a fight as he comes out on top of a fabulous opening rally that ends with Federer sending a desperate forehand long. A serve-volley brings Federer to 30-15 but Youzhny forces another error to draw level at 30-30 and then comes out on top of another rally to force break point. He can’t take it, though, as Federer draws a point out of the top drawer, sending Youzhny round the court to make it deuce.

One match point goes awry thanks to a Youzhny forehand winner and the Russian saves a second with a stunning backhand down the line. Youzhny then forces another break point of his own but sends a backhand wide to let Federer off the hook and it proves third time lucky for the Swiss a point later, the top seed’s unreturnable serve forcing the error to ensure he comes through a difficult examination in three sets. He’ll have to step up his game next time out against ninth seed Tommy Robredo, though.

Federer 7-6 6-4 5-4 Youzhny
With Barry Davies positively fuming about “the arty nonsense” coverage of French TV on BBCi, Youzhny adopts damage-control mode and holds to 15 with a series of grunts, fist-pumps and hip flexes. And some decent serves and groundstrokes as well, of course.

Federer 7-6 6-4 5-3 Youzhny
Two gentleman, who could not look more French if they had cloves of garlic stuffed in their ears and a slab of cheese between their legs, hold aloft a banner wishing their mum a happy birthday in the crowd. Blooming cheapskates – whatever happened to flowers and two tickets to see ‘Billy Elliott’?? Federer, who I bet treats his mum very nicely on her birthday thank you very much, clicks his serve into top gear and holds to love. Youzhny will serve to stay in the match.

Federer 7-6 6-4 4-3 Youzhny
Youzhny looks forlornly up at his coach as two Federer winners make it 0-30. He pulls one back with an unreturnable serve to Federer’s forehand side, but the Swiss earns two break points from a long rally that ends with him forcing Youzhny to volley into the net off his toes. A deep backhand return goes long next point, Federer breaks and that is the beginning of the end you feel.

Federer 7-6 6-4 3-3 Youzhny
And, as if to show us commentators that it’s there if he wants it, Federer produces four points of real quality to hold to love.

“When you’re so far ahead of your opponent, it can be hard to keep pushing yourself and Federer certainly has not hit his straps at all today.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Federer 7-6 6-4 2-3 Youzhny
Good on Youzhny, though, he bounces back from the disappointment of the previous game to hold to 30. It’s all very patchy and up and down from Federer out there, but Youzhny is struggling to find an answer on a consistent basis.

Federer 7-6 6-4 2-2 Youzhny
Federer still cannot find his range consistently and Youzhny, fuelled with renewed vigour, strides to 40-0 up. But, Federer constructs a fine point to reduce the deficit – a point that ends with Youzhny displaying an impressive, and rather painful looking, splits action – and then makes it 30-40 with a forehand winner. Agonisingly, a wide backhand from Youzhny brings Federer level and the Swiss snatches the next two points as well to hold. It prompts Youzhny to launch a barrage of what can only assume is abuse at his coach in the stands. Clearly he’s wearing his side-parting the wrong way, the doughnut.

Federer 7-6 6-4 1-2 Youzhny
And Youzhny holds his next game to love, including his third ace of the match. Renewed belief sweeps through the Russian and there’s a delectable sense of anticipation sweeping across the arena. Alright, I made the last bit up – let’s be honest, it’d be a monumental shock if Federer lost here (cue commentator’s curse) – but at least Youzhny looks nearly human again.

Federer 7-6 6-4 1-1 Youzhny
Well well well, is Youzhny going to make me eat my words… He picks up on Federer’s lack of urgency with renewed aggression and breaks back to 30. The crowd respond with a polite handclap – they really are a rowdy bunch I tell you – and Youzhny, wait for it, smiles. How nice.

Federer 7-6 6-4 1-0 Youzhny
A touch of genius brings Federer the opening point of the set as he strokes a pick-up volley off the floor into the open court. Youzhny battles back to 30-15 up but the next forehand goes wide, prompting him to wail something that sounded like “egeetzaaaa”. Admittedly, my Russian is not quite up to scratch so I’m not sure if that’s the right spelling. Anyway, Federer forces break point next up and he takes it when Youzhny backhands into the net. If, like my female colleague here in the office, you’re a Youzhny fan, look away now…

Second set

Federer 7-6 6-4 Youzhny
That’s it – bosh – 2-0 to Federer. Not without the odd hiccup – an easy volley into the net is indicative of an uncharacteristically error-strewn display – but an ace and unreturnable second serve seals the second set, and to say Youzhny has a mountain to climb is like saying, well, something really quite obvious.

Federer 7-6 5-4 Youzhny
Youzhny won’t throw the towel in just yet, though. He races to a 40-0 lead, can do nothing about an inch-perfect Federer volley, and closes out the game to 30 with a wide, unreturnable serve.

Federer 7-6 5-3 Youzhny
The umpire is bang involved now, jumping off his chair for an overrule to declare a let on the first point. His reference to the first serve as “premier service” reminds me – I tell you what wasn’t premier service, the rubbish I was faced with down my local last night. Half hour wait for two Stellas, two white wines (for the ladies) and a packet of dry roasted? I won’t be going there again I tell you that much. Not until tonight anyway, that’ll teach them. I might need a drink after this as it happens, it’s overwhelmed with a sense of inevitability – Federer again holds comfortably to love and he is approaching something like his best form now.

Federer 7-6 4-3 Youzhny
To be fair, Youzhny is battling valiantly at the moment, even if he is just delaying the inevitable you fear. He drives his way to 40-15 up with a couple of well-constructed points and seals the game with an ace. Funnily enough, this prompts Youzhny to approach the umpire to complain angrily about the “ball design”. I’ve heard some excuses in my time, but…

Federer 7-6 4-2 Youzhny
A short Youzhny volley gives Federer the chance to slam a cross-court backhand winner that helps the crowd find their voice, and it prompts three inch-perfect points for the Swiss who holds to love.

Federer 7-6 3-2 Youzhny
Federer pegs the scoreline back at 30-30 after a couple of Youzhny winners, and then forces the game to deuce after an unreturnable serve with a deep forehand pass. The Swiss gains break point, but Youzhny saves it when Federer finds the net off a second serve. Another missed groundstroke gives Youzhny game-point and he takes it with a volleyed winner. Hard work for the Russian this, though.

Federer 7-6 3-1 Youzhny
Federer, a renewed glint in his eye, flanks another couple of errors with a couple of blistering serves and winners. It’s safe to say the match has yet to explode into life yet and that is resulting in an unusually quiet crowd on the Philippe Chatrier court.

Federer 7-6 2-1 Youzhny
He may be a set and a break up, but Federer is clearly not happy – highlighted by a resigned cry of “yeah yeah yeah” (but without the preceding “She Loves You”) when he sends another return long. Youzhny sees his opportunity and holds to 30 – bringing the Russian to scream his own “yeah” that only prompts Federer to send a bemused look down at his opponent. Perhaps that will get the players fired up again.

“You have to feel for the Russian. You often underestimate how good Federer is at defending – as well as attacking – it’s just that he has to do it rather less often.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Federer 7-6 2-0 Youzhny
I can tell you from years of experience of playing “Headers and Volleys” on the practice pitches of Clayhall Park, that the true sign of a champion is winning when you’re not playing well. Well Federer is doing just that, though not with as much style as I manage in my singlet and hockey shorts I’m sure. Another couple of forced errors see him slip to 15-30 but he shows glimpses of his true class with a couple of sublime drop volleys and he consolidates the break to 30.

Federer 7-6 1-0 Youzhny
Federer goes to 40-15 up against the Youzhny serve, with the Russian looking increasingly fraught, but the number 13 seed battles back bravely to force deuce – and three times to advantage. Federer maintains the pressure though, throwing in the odd chip-and-charge to keep drawing level and, despite being nearly dissected by a Youzhny cross-court winner, wins the game on his third break point when Youzhny sends a net volley long.

First set

Federer 7-6 Youzhny
Three rallies full of aggression see the first few points go against the server, giving Federer the ‘mini break’. The Swiss holds his next two points with a couple of forehand winners and a Youzhny double break gives, followed by a Federer ace gives the Swiss four set points. Youzhny saves one with a blazing backhand cross-court winner, but goes too deep next point and he’s a set down. The Russian’s inability to retain quality on his first serve in that set – it was down at 49% – cost him and, with Federer sure to improve on five winners and 15 unforced errors, Youzhny will surely have to up his game.

Federer 6-6 Youzhny
Top work from Youzhny, who is forced to rely on his second serve on occasion but holds to 15 with a sublime backhand pass down the line and another uncharacteristic Federer error. It will be a first-set tie-break.

Federer 6-5 Youzhny
Federer goes 30-0 up in the blink of an eye, and shrugs off an unfortunate net cord to win the game to 15. Youzhny is increasingly targeting Federer’s backhand, but lord help him if the Swiss finds his range with that because his forehand looks impenetrable right now.

Federer 5-5 Youzhny
A smashed backhand winner from Federer appears to sound an ominous warning, but Youzhny takes advantage of a couple of cheap points and pulls out a couple of big serves to keep himself in the set.

“For all Youzhny’s impressive play, you feel his next couple of service games will be crucial. This is exactly the time when Federer goes for the throat.”
BBC Sport’s John Lloyd

Federer 5-4 Youzhny
A couple of wild swings from Federer hands Youzhny a 0-30 advantage, but the no 1 seed uses his forehand passes and big serve to good effect in winning the next four points to extinguish the Russian’s hopes of a second break.

Federer 4-4 Youzhny
With Federer looking in increasingly good touch, none more so in winning another lengthy rally at 15-15, Youzhny does well to hold after being taken to deuce. Aggression is serving him well right now and a deep forehand forces Federer to find the net with an attempted backhand winner and we’re all square again.

Federer 4-3 Youzhny
And the break-back is consolidated to 15. What sounds like an ambulance siren wails from outside the court as the game concludes – a touch prescient for Youzhny, even at this early stage, perhaps?

Federer 3-3 Youzhny
I’m reliably informed by a female colleague of mine that Youzhny’s missus is not the only eye candy on show – the Russian himself (apparently a ringer for Matthew Perry aka Chandler from Friends?) is “rather dishy”. So there you go. A double fault puts him under immediate pressure in game six, though, and a deep backhand gives Federer break-back point. An aggressive, deep forehand saves it, but Federer forces two consecutive errors to level the match.

Federer 2-3 Youzhny
Good service game from Federer, aided by five first serves, and he seals the game to 15 following the best rally of the match so far.

Federer 1-3 Youzhny
The crowd is building nicely now, and Youzhny’s missus is in to see if her fella can pull off a shock. Whatever happens, the Russian gets to go home with her, and that’s no scant consolation let me tell you. Anyway, he might not need consoling at this rate, though Federer is ominously finding his touch. A couple of big serves are followed by a Federer winner and an unforced error, but a Youzhny drop shot seals the game nicely.

Federer 1-2 Youzhny
Some suggestion that Federer is finding his range as he pushes and pulls Youzhny all round the court to win three successive points. Youzhny provides a good follow-up off a cracking return to make it 30-40 but then sends one wide to get Federer on the board.

Federer 0-2 Youzhny
A blazing backhand return gives Federer’s fans something to cheer, but a fine wide-court ace from Youzhny precedes the Swiss sending a delicate drop-volley into the net. Another long Federer backhand gives Youzhny game point and he doesn’t miss out. The top seed has not settled here yet.

Federer 0-1 Youzhny
Shock horror! ‘Federer is losing in the French Open’, cry the commentators! With Youzhny hitting deep and Federer’s serve mis-firing early, the Swiss goes 15-40 down thanks to three unforced errors. He saves one, but a fine forehand return gives the Russian the opening game.

Pre-match (all times BST):

1144: A meddlesome reporter has a quick word with both players as they make their way onto the court – they can’t appreciate that kind of interruption surely – but the chat reveals literally nothing of interest at all. Except that both are aware it is hotter in Paris today, than earlier in the week. That reporter gets paid to extract those juicy titbits you fear.

1139: Next up on the Philippe Chatrier court is world number one Roger Federer against Mikhail Youzhny.

Federer has yet to drop a set this tournament and the feeling is that he should cruise through against Youzhny and towards a possible final against deadly rival Rafael Nadal.

Still, Youzhny will not be overawed by the big Swiss, having shown he can mix it with the big boys in beating Nadal at the US open last year, so you never know…

…that said, Federer has a 9-0 win-loss record against the Russian. He’ll be done in time to catch the big Malawi v Gabon international at 1400 no doubt, the lucky devil.


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