Federer faces a single handed backhand player once again, after having played Feliciano Lopez in the third round. Veteran journeyman Phillip Kohlschreiber faces Federer again after two years. Will he finally win a match against him?
Head to Head
Kohlschreiber and Federer have played 11 times, with Federer winning all 11 meetings. In fact, every opponent that Federer has faced so far has never managed to book a win against him. Not only is this unprecedented, the 43-0 record coming into the US open (Including Kohli) is simply bonkers.
Their last meeting was in 2015 in Basel, where Kohlschreiber managed to push Federer to three sets, one of three times he managed to take a set off of Federer. Grass, which is both Kohlschreiber and Federer’s best surface, is the surface where on the other two occasions he managed to take a set off of Federer. It really is odd to talk of the sets taken off the other player rather than a match.
Playing Styles and How They Matchup
Both Federer and Kohlschreiber have somewhat similar styles of play. Both are all court, all surface players with great volleying games and fantastic one-handed backhands. Both prefer grass courts but are comfortable on all surfaces. But one key area of difference among many is the serve. While Kohlschreiber doesn’t lack horsepower on his serve, he lacks precision. He often just serves down the middle and his placement can be erratic. His smash is a problem as well, and his return while good on clay, isn’t as robust on other faster surfaces. His forehand is a key weapon, and his backhand is more solid than Federer’s.
Federer’s backhand is prone to breakdowns, and while in this year it has been more solid, there have been instances where his backhand has failed (Stuttgart comes to mind). If he plays cautiously again like in the first two rounds, the match might just go the stretch.
Kohlschreiber’s lack of a proper return game does not match well with Federer’s powerful and precise serve and his powerful but not very well placed service doesn’t help him. This double weakness is one of the reasons why he’s never won against Federer.
Their US Open’s So Far
Federer struggled in his first two matches. While his opponents played extremely well themselves (The Colonel clinching two sets against Federer for the first time in his career and Tiafoe being an up and coming young prospect), Federer didn’t play very well. He was sloppy and his serve wasn’t as precise. Many unforced errors and a lack of aggressive play in several moments throughout the first two matches. His third round match, while considerably better in all aspects, still saw errors on Federer’s part. Feliciano Lopez made several errors throughout the match to relinquish the match in straight sets.
Kohlschreiber has won all his matches in straight sets, which means he’s one of very few players to not lose a set. His first round match with Benoit Paire was canceled. He instead played Tim Smyczek. Smyczek, known for his sportsmanship, had no answers to Kohlschreiber. His second round match against Santiago Giraldo resulted in a retirement from Giraldo during the third set of the match. Millman showed fight in the first set but quickly faded from then on.
Federer in four. While Federer has shown improvement, I do not think he has reached his best yet. Kohlschreiber has been in solid form too, with a win in Kitzbuhel (A clay court tournament in his hometown) and a great showing so far in the US Open. However, Kohlschreiber has historically not shown up in his matches against Federer. It hence seems safe to say that Federer will yet again win his match against Kohlschreiber.