Rather than letting this defeat sink in, I've decided to wrap it up quickly and hopefully never have to read the post again as writing about a tough Roger loss doesn't come easy.
To quote Andy Roddick, this match sucked, it was terrible. Both the defeat and the manner of the defeat were painful to watch…
No doubt many wonder if there is a way back for Roger. Only time will tell.
I've never really been critical of Federer ever, it's hard to criticise someone who has achieved so much and added a great deal to the game as a whole. But needless to say after this match I'm disappointed. It goes without saying as a Federer fan, you always watch a match with high expectations, so from time to time disappointment will clearly be a part of it, but to lose this match from 2 sets up really is inexplicable.
Many will argue that Tsonga played a great match, which he did, but you don't come back from 2 sets down without the other player contributing somehow. Here I believe that Federer showed mental weakness, an almost lackadaisical approach and finally one dimensional play caused by his stubbornness. And when you consider this guy has the most versatile game in the history of the game you have to start scratching your head.
Federer totally outplayed Tsonga in the first two sets – and it wasn't as if Tsonga was playing badly. Roger served well, moved Tsonga around and upped his game in the second set tie break. It's difficult to pick the exact moment where the momentum of the match changed and Roger let Tsonga into it, but for me with the 2 set cushion, he seemed to switch off and start playing with less intensity.
Fed became increasingly willling to rally with Tsonga at the back of court – a tactic which has never served him well and he's lost countless matches playing like this (Del Potro 09 US Open being the key one), it's as if he has to beat his opponent at their own game to satisfy his own desires. When in reality, his racket head possesses so much variety that he simply doesn't need to. From set 3 to 5, Roger played with very little variety and allowed Tsonga to settle into a rhythm – and when you consider Tsonga is a player that relies solely on rythmn – why would you let this happen??? This infuriated me.
Federer has always been a relaxed, emotionless figure on court, and it often looks like he's not even trying – which when he's playing well – is truly a beautiful sight. But today, it's as if he didn't really care – and by the time the 5th set arrived, it appeared the match was a foregone conclusion in his mind. Something you would never see happen to a player like Nadal. Which is frustrating to watch when you consider how much more talent Federer has compared with Rafa.
I'd have liked to see Federer show some emotion today and channel his energy into trying to win the match. This is one match where I feel Roger didn't do everything he possibly could to win. And I feel he can't leave the court in peace knowing he left everything out there – because he simply did not.
Clearly Tsonga played a very good match – he served extremely well and really did hit the ball big but no matter what anyone says, or how Federer handles the press conference I believe that this match wasn't alone decided by Tsongas play.
Where does Federer go from here?
I made the decision long ago to never write Federer off, and I'm not about to change my mind on that as I always have faith. It's inevitable that a man with such genius has to have some kind of frailty – otherwise he wouldn't be human and I have to appreciate Federer as he is.
And whilst its difficult to see Roger winning the US Open – stranger things in sport have happened. As a fan, I can only hope that Roger still believes in himself and his ability to win another slam. It goes without saying that this defeat will be hard to digest for Roger, but the fact he played so well at the French, and also played well here surely has to give him the reassurance he's still at the top. I don't actually believe Federer is mentally weak – I think he lapses and simply loses confidence from time to time. And then fights a losing battle. If he can meet triumph with disaster, and treat those two imposters just the same, then I have every faith he can make a run at Flushing Meadows.
Anyway, onwards and upwards. There's still more to come from Roger, that, I guarantee you.