Ah well not the outcome I expected as Roger lost in straight sets to Federico Delbonis to crash out at the Semi Final stage in Hamburg. After looking very scratchy against Mayer I wasn't sure what to expect today and it turned out he was yet again below par making a string of poor errors.
As for Delbonis he played a very solid match and judging by today's match he has a very complete game with raw power so I imagine he will starting climbing up the rankings from #114 where he currently sits.
From the fans point of view matches like this are very demoralising as his last 2 defeats have both been at the hands of players outside the top 100. The thing we don't know though is how Roger himself is treating these losses, is he as surprised as us to lose here? Is the back an issue? Did the new racquet play a part? It's very difficult to ascertain but from the outside looking in I'd say this was another tough loss and it's become a recurring theme as Roger hasn't been playing that well for the vast majority of 2013.
Quick Match Analysis
Again like many of his matches Roger started pretty well breaking early to lead 2-1 but just like yesterday against Mayer he failed to consolidate making a backhand error to put the match back on serve.
Both players then traded a string of love holds until 5-6 where Roger had to save 2 breaks points to take it into a tie breaker. We all know Roger has a great record in tie breaks so I figured his experience would guide him through but that turned out to be the opposite as he squandered a 4-2 lead to lose it 8-6.
The second set was now obviously a must win for Roger but he never managed to really get going. He had to save 3 break points in his opening service game and that set the tone for the remainder of the second set with Roger fighting an up hill battle.
The big moment of the match came at 3-3 where Roger had to save yet more break points in a very tough service game that he went onto hold. Leading 4-3 he then got his first break point of the second set yet Delbonis saved it with a nice volley off a backhand passing shot. This was a great opportunity for Roger to get himself back into the match yet he wasn't able to take it.
At 5-4 Roger had another opening at 15-30 but yet again shanked it into the crowd and Delbonis went onto hold. Of course the set went to another tie breaker and Roger once again had a mini break but relinquished it as Del Bonis went onto take his first match point when Fed dumped a forehand into the net.
Both sets could have gone either way. So, it’s clearly a pity I couldn’t win either of the sets because I was starting to feel better towards the end of the match. But unfortunately I couldn’t push him further and create more chances today. I think the conditions were totally different to last night. It was wet and heavy last night, under the lights. It’s a quick turnaround to quick conditions today and a totally different opponent. But that’s no excuse.
Thoughts on the Match
Losses are usually pretty tough to analyse and this one is no different as there are lots of factors involved. The bottom line is of course that Roger wasn't good enough today but the big question is why?
Is he struggling with the back? Is the racquet still a working progress? Is he just generally playing poor tennis? I don't think the racquet cost him today's match so I think it's probably just a combination of the other two. I can't remember the last time Roger played a tournament where he was at a solid level in all of his matches other than maybe the Australian Open; since then his season has curtailed.
If anything he's been stinking up the joint at most of the tournaments he's played. Putting in some good performances but following them up with some really bad matches. Wimbledon for instance is a biggie, he looked in the zone vs. Hanescu but then faltered against Stakhovsky. I don't expect him to play in JesusFed mode each match, but there has to be a certain level he can't drop below otherwise he will lose, like today which is disappointing.
As for the back issue, according to reports he skipped his morning practice session and played the match with his back taped up (see picture below) so perhaps the back is again playing a part in matches. He gives little away though so we never really know.
What would be interesting as a fan is to actually hear what Roger thinks of losses like this, we only get to hear his views in the press conference which aren't ever going to be exactly what a player thinks. Is he downbeat or was his goal for Hamburg just to play a few matches? I'm not sure.
I just don't like the fact that when you look at 2013 as a whole it's been more about the losses than the victories, I'm hard pressed to remember any really notable wins which is annoying.
I don’t think it had much to do with the racket today, I tried everything I could at this tournament. It’s been a difficult week throughout. But I’m happy I fought through many matches. It gives me the matches I was looking for. I was clearly hoping, after winning a tough one yesterday, to somehow get through today and then give myself an opportunity to win the title tomorrow. It’s disappointing, but defeats like that happen sometimes. I had a great time. I really enjoyed playing in front of the people here in Hamburg on the Centre Court where I’ve had so many nice moments in my career. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to the finals, but nevertheless, I did have four good matches and these are the kind of matches I need.
I thought the Mayer win would have given him confidence but it didn't really look like it today as he just lacked something. The only real positive is that towards the end of the second set he did start to play better just he couldn't pull out the breaker. The break point chance should have been converted though but yet again a shank cost him.
I'm quite surprised that the new racquet seems to have done little for the shanks as they are still cropping up far too often. One fan tweeted me to say Roger should get his eyes tested as Navratilova started wearing glasses at 30 yet had no idea her vision had faded. That sounds a bit far out to me but maybe it's not a bad point.
Anyway, another tournament passes by that ends in a slightly disappointing way. Hamburg was never part of the original plan so I can't complain about it too much but it's a shame he didn't take advantage of the draw opening up and 500 ranking points but oh well.
Gstaad is next and Roger faces either the guy who he beat in the second round here, Daniel Brands or fellow Swiss Marco Chiudinelli who I am sure Roger has said previously is a bad match up for him. Could be interesting 😀