Roger Federer will be the overwhelming favorite in his fourth round match at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami when he meets American qualifier Taylor Dent. On the other hand, Dent is one of the few players who play the type of game that Federer himself says is bothersome — attacking all the time.
Federer advanced on Sunday with a 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 28 seed Nicolas Kiefer 6-4, 6-1 of Germany, while Dent took down No. 15-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain 7-5, 6-3.
“It’s great to see him back,” Federer said of Dent. “He was always a dangerous player because he was aggressive. It’s going to be interesting to see how he plays.”
The two have never faced each other on tour, but Dent was the winner when the two met on grass in the juniors prior to turning pro.
Federer said that if he ever had to play himself, he would relentlessly attack the net, try and take his timing away. Good advice, but in this current era of super racquets and super-charged strings, there are few players (Radek Stepanek, Andy Roddick come to mind) gutsy enough to consistently charge the net when faced with an opponent with superior baseline skills.
“I don’t see anyone with a big enough weapon to hurt him,” Pete Sampras said of Federer, consequently when Dent was sidelined and potentially out of the game with a back injury. “They’re just staying back and Roger is able to dictate well enough. You just have to serve well and attack him…The art of the serve-and-volley game is pretty much extinct. Basically everybody stays back and trades groundies. I miss the contrast of one guy coming in and the other guy defending.”
Welcome back the contrast.
Dent will hope to provide his best tennis tomorrow, when he matches strength to strength and weakness to weakness with Federer. The Swiss’ backhand was at times abysmal in his last event at Indian Wells, and Dent’s backhand is also the weaker side. Federer’s forehand is the strength off the ground, and Dent says his forehand has been on fire in Miami.
“Roger needs his rematch from our juniors,” Dent joked after defeating Robredo. “It all comes down to execution. It doesn’t matter if you think that Federer has a weak whatever. If you can’t execute and exploit that, it doesn’t really matter.”
Someone give Pete, Pat Rafter, Rod Laver, Stefan Edberg and the entertaining net-plyers of the past a call. Tell him to flip on the TV Tuesday, let them know there will be some good old-fashioned net crashing going on in Miami.
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