Shocking match from Roger, probably even worse than this loss to Berdych at Wimbledon. He's looking increasingly clueless against players with any modicum of power. His feet don't move, he plays the same game every time with zero variety.
You could pretty much tell from the first game this wasn't going to be a great match from Roger. He lost his serve at 1-1 in the first set after serving pretty poorly. His second serve was getting taken to pieces by Berdych. Berdych however was serving like a robot, he made 73% of first serves in the first set which he won 6-2.
Roger wasn't making any sort of inroads into the Czechs serve, he was content to chip the ball back into play, half court, which Berdych can put away with ease due to his height and power.
If we look at the 1st set statistics below; they don't make pretty reading. Roger won a mere 10% of points behind his second serve. That's a poor showing by anyones standards. 13 unforced errors compared to Berdych's 3. You don't win sets playing that standard of tennis against anyone in the top 100, never mind in the top 10. The only moment worth remembering from that set was a Federer magic backhand lob that dropped in on the line.
Roger managed to make more first serves in the second set and made some important serves when he needed to. At 5-5 in the 2nd, he found himself break point down at 15-40, but pulled out some great first serves to hold after a 9 minute marathon game. This was encouraging in the moment, but of course, this now counts for nothing as he went onto lose the match. He got to 15-30 on Berdych's service game at 6-5, netted a make able forehand pass up the line, and Berdych subsequently held to take into a tie break.
The momentum (if there was one) seemed to be with Roger – Berdych was looking worried by his shoulder that he'd just had treated by the trainer and Fed had just served his way out of trouble. However, the tie break was a disaster from Rogers perspective. He played it like a total donkey. First point he shanked a forehand as a result of terrible footwork and lazy play, didn't make enough first serves and generally didn't make Berdych have to work for the points. It was a shocking display, and I hope he doesn't say he played well and got unlucky in the press conference – because that ain't true! Berdych has zero game, only power and a serve – since when was that enough to beat the greatest player of all time??
What went wrong for Federer?
Well, to put it simply – everything. From the first game Roger played way too passively. And as the match progressed his reluctance to mix up his play only grew stronger.
Let's think about this for a minute – he just played a great match against Del Potro (another power hitter with a big serve a la Berdych) by mixing up his play at every opportunity – using spin, slice, drop shots and pretty much every shot in his repertoire. Yet against Berdych – he played like he had 3 shots – a 1st serve, a weak top spin backhand, and an unreliable forehand. It was awful.
How can he not learn from these types of matches? Instead of being stubborn – he needs to start doing what's required to win, not just satisfy his ego.
I don't think I'm being harsh on Berdych when I say he's a total mug player – he plays like a total robot. Yet he's come out of this match the winner – and has now beaten Roger 3 out of the last 4 times they've played.
Are there any positives to take out of this match? Absolutely none, a few serves at 5-5 when he was break point down and actually showed some fight. But when it mattered in the tie break – he went missing.
Expectations for the US Open
To be brutally honest, I'm not overly optimistic for the US – Federer has showed some glimpses of his brilliance but nowhere near enough to make me think he can get close to winning the tournament. He lost to Tsonga at the Rogers Cup and now loses again to a similar player in Berdych at the Cincinnati Masters. So do we just hope he avoids players like that in the draw? It seems gone are the days when the draw didn't matter so much.
If I was putting money on the US Open – it wouldn't be on Roger that's for sure. But no matter how shit he plays, or how much his game pisses me off, I still have some faith he can pull something out of the bag.