Hey guys, well what an absolute disaster that was huh? I alluded in my previous post after the win against Davydenko that if Roger lost this one to Berdych I'd be seriously pissed off and having slept on it little has changed.
This is one of those matches that cuts deep, usually losses have little meaning in the grander scheme of things but this one is different; Roger had 3 match points (1 on his own serve) and after failing to take them faded into oblivion. He was back into lost little boy on court mode aka Roger 2.0 during the third set and never for a minute looked like winning it.
If anything he looked like he wanted to get off court ASAP and that's never fun to watch. He said afterwards in his interview that he has a lot of regrets from this match and I think that also sums up how the fans feel. Both Roger and his fans needed a win here after the the Rotterdam loss to Benneteau but it just wasn't to be.
In terms of the match I'm not going to go into a massive amount of detail as we all know it should have been done in straights. But let's take a look at the key milestones:
It actually started pretty well for Roger, he had to dig deep in his opening few service games after netting a few easy volleys but he started to play a lot better and broke to take a 5-3 lead. He served it out strongly even hitting a second serve ace to take it which was very impressive.
The second set was extremely up and down, Roger wasted a break point in the first game with a really poor return of serve, something which was lacking all night that definitely didn't help his cause.
At 2-3 down, Roger dropped serve after a forehand error. Berdych held to move 5-2 in front and it looked certain to be heading to a decider.
Then, almost out of nowhere Roger hit back, winning 3 games on the trot to level up at 5-5 and then had another break point chance to serve for the match but Berdych served his way out of trouble to take a 6-5 lead before Roger took it into a tie break.
At this point I was sure he'd get the job done in straights, after breaking back it was like he was about to find top gear or GodMode when it mattered most.
The tie break started well too with Fed immediately securing a mini break, Berdych hit back to take a 4-2 lead but then Roger won 4 points on the spin to lead 6-4 and have a match point on his own serve.
What followed was where the match was lost, Roger got into the rally but drifted long with a very poor backhand slice. It was criminal to give up the point so feebly and gave Berdych a route back into the match which he took taking the tie break 10-8.
After that the body language of Federer changed completely, it's as though he believed that was his only chance to win the match and he faded badly in the third set, falling 3-1 behind and having to dig deep just to say in the match. He had a couple of inroads to break back but just wasn't ruthless enough when it mattered and Berdych served out the match to love.
Horrible feeling. Bad losses hurt but even more so against Berdshit who has a likeability rating of zero, it's almost personal when Roger plays him so to lose when the finish line was in sight makes it sting that little bit more.
What Happens Next?
If I'd posted this last night I'd probably feel like giving Federer a ton of shit for clowning up two tournaments in a row but he probably deserves better than that considering his achievements.
All I know is that he is very difficult to weigh up at the moment and it's impossible to know where his priorities are. He's looking a little unmotivated right now to me, there's tension in the arm and poor body language when he isn't playing great but whether that's a sign of things to come I don't really know.
The match last night was close and turned on it's head due to 1 or 2 points, Fed did great to break back in the second set and come up with some genius shots, served an ace at 5-4 in the breaker which was Roger 3.0 all over but then to waste those match points completely rattled him and whenever that happens matches never end well.
The US Open match against Berdych was similar after he won the third set before crashing and burning in the third. Maybe it's just the fact Berdych is a really tough matchup that cost him today, just some small margins and a lack of clutchness when it really mattered.
The fact Berdych can hit a really heavy inside out forehand to the Federer defensive backhand slice that he really struggles to recover from once that pattern of play develops doesn't help either so it's probably a combination of those two factors: bad matchup and not quite mentally with it.
I've read on Twitter, some other blogs and on the forums that Roger is done, he's not bothered about the sport anymore, his family matters more now, he should retire etc etc but I think it's a bit too early to tell all of those things, if he goes title less in 2012 then maybe fans can start to talk about all that but right now it's too early.
I definitely agree that he's lacked the cutting edge since the Australian Open but judging him on two Masters 500 tournaments could be a little harsh, they were bad losses but it's not really anything we haven't seen before.
In terms of what next then I'd say he's not had a ton of practice and is likely a little low on confidence right now so he has to sort those things out if he's to compete. Fed usually has all the answers to these things so I think it'd be wrong to doubt him now. It is after all only March.
I said to you guys that the US Open is where I make my judgement about Federer this year and that's still the case today. Next up is Indian Wells where again he's defending champion, it's the first 1000 tournament of the year too so it could be interesting. If Roger takes the form from his past 2 tournaments into California then it's probably going to be a similar story to yesterdays match and another tough loss but this is a different tournament in a different continent so we just have to see what happens.
And although I won't be watching the final, expect Djokovic to make Berdych look like a mug in straight sets 😀