David Ferrer, World No. 5, and Radek Stepanek, World No. 37, are who we thought they were. And their match largely ended up the way any observer would’ve expected, despite some twists and turns along the way.
Ferrer, playing his 90th match of the year, won the way he always wins: by being the more solid player in every respect, and by showcasing his incredible skill on the return of serve.
In the first set, Stepanek fought off seven break points to hold for 3-all in a marathon service game. But after all that hard work, he gifted a break to the Spaniard with multiple double faults. Ferrer served out the first set and took it 6-3.
Stepanek surrendered an early break in the second set, but saved three more break points to hold serve for 2-3. Taking that surge of momentum into the next game, he broke Ferrer back for 3-all. But once again, the better player prevailed. Using his deadly return, Ferrer broke again a few games later, and served out the set.
In the third set, Ferrer took a two break lead with ease. Though Stepanek was able to get one of the breaks back, he was outclassed by the World No. 5. Ferrer crossed the finish line on his second try.
One particularly shocking stat: Stepanek won just 51% of points on his first serve throughout the match. Somehow, he managed to win 58% on his second serve, but failing to conjure up enough free points off the first serve became problematic for the Czech, as did the fact that he was only getting 56% of first serves in.
For the first two sets, Ferrer struggled mightily to convert on the numerous break points he earned (1/9 in the first set, 2/12 in the second set). Ferrer’s passive play on break points made the match scoreline look a bit closer than it actually was.
The quick court surface made for some nice shotmaking. Ferrer hit four aces, 48 winners, and 30 unforced errors. Stepanek hit three aces, 35 winners, and 46 unforced errors. Ferrer hit an impressive five winners on the return of serve.
Full match stats:
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