Roger Federer will look to continue his Wimbledon preparations when he takes on Guido Pella for a place in the Stuttgart semifinals. Federer is playing his first tournament since a slightly disappointing Sunshine Double which saw the Swiss lose in the final in Indian Wells to del Potro before falling an early victim to Kokkinakis in Miami. Pella has typically preferred the clay, but will be hopeful of springing a big upset. Who will come out on top?
Federer and Pella have met once before in a meeting that also came on grass courts. That match came in 2016 in the first round at Wimbledon, with Federer having reached the final the previous two years, but having missed much of the first half of the season. He none-the-less managed to get past Pella in straight sets, although the Argentinian worked him harder than some might have expected, with the Swiss eventually prevailing 7-6 7-6 6-3.
Path to the quarterfinal
Federer received a first round bye as the top seed in Stuttgart. That saw him open his campaign against Germany’s Mischa Zverev who was a quarterfinalist at the Australian Open last year but has struggled so far this year. He made a good start, however, against Federer, winning the first set 6-3 after surviving some early pressure. But Federer managed to turn the match around, levelling the match 6-4 in the second before dominating the decider to win 3-6 6-4 6-2.
Pella who arrived in Stuttgart after a chastening 2-6 1-6 1-6 loss to Rafael Nadal at the French Open in the second round. He began in Stuttgart against John Millman of Australia, winning 6-2 6-2 to reach the second round. That set up a match with Prajnesh Gunneswaran who had upset sixth seed Denis Shapovalov in three sets 7-6 2-6 6-3 in the first round. But Pella managed to get the better of the Indian in straight sets 7-6 6-3.
How do they match up?
Federer will look to dominate this match from the outset with his quick attacking style of play. His best shot is arguably his serve, which though not one of the most powerful is deadly accurate and has consistently rewarded Federer with free points and aces throughout his career. His forehand is also an excellent shot and his backhand has improved dramatically since the start of his partnership with coach Ivan Ljubicic.
To deny Pella time will surely prove an effective strategy for the Swiss. The Argentine is most comfortable at the baseline and secures the majority of his wins by wearing down his opponents with consistent groundstrokes. But, if Federer is able to force his hand by approaching the net regularly which will make Pella have to try and pass him Pella will be left uncomfortable. It will also likely serve to deny him rhythm something Pella relies on to win matches.
This seems like it should be a routine win for Federer. He is a much more comfortable grass court player than Pella, who will struggle to deal with Federer’s aggression. He has played well to reach the quarterfinals without dropping a set, so expect him to put up some resistance to Federer, but ultimately the world #2 will surely have too much quality for him. Expect Federer to reach the semifinals and take another step towards reclaiming the world #1 ranking in straight sets.