More tough news for Fed fans as Roger crashed out in his opening match in Gstaad losing to Daniel Brands in straight sets 6-3 6-4.
Not completely unexpected as Brands is a tricky opponent but this was another uninspiring performance from Roger and begs the question is he at rock bottom right now? It's certainly close!
He looked flat throughout and then looked frustrated when he left the court which is a sure fire sign he's not content with his game right now or with how he's shaping up physically which is both tough for him personally and for his fans but the one benefit is that it certainly separates the wheat from the chaff.
Quick Match Analysis
Well as usual quite a solid start from Roger as he held his opening service games convincingly and had some early inroads against the German but couldn't make any of them count.
And at 2-3 he played a very poor service game to get broken and give Brands a 4-2 lead; he of course immediately had a 2 break points to get back on serve but played timidly to let Brands take a 5-2 lead which allowed him to go onto serve out the set comfortably 6 games to 3.
Obviously this was exactly the same situation as Hamburg where Roger came from a set down to defeat Brands so I wasn't overly concerned.
My mood soon changed though as in the first game Roger played a disaster of a service game netting 3 regulation volleys to drop serve. At 2-0 Roger found himself in more deep trouble has he fell 15-40 down in a must hold game, to his credit he dug it out. He then had break points in Brand's next service game but again wasted them.
Then at 2-3 he had another 2 break points but again wasted them with timid returns that allowed Brands to take initiative and over power him with his forehand. That was his last chance really as Brand moved into a 5-4 lead before serving it out to take it 6-3 6-4.
It was just another un-Federer like performance, very meek, suicidal serve & volleys plus plenty of mindless approach shots. I had no real idea what he was trying out there but everything was out of synch.
|R. Federer||Stats||D. Brands|
|53%||1st Serve %||78%|
|22/30 (73%)||1st Serve Points Won||39/52 (75%)|
|14/27 (52%)||2nd Serve Points Won||7/15 (47%)|
|4/6 (67%)||Break Points Saved||5/5 (100%)|
|9||Service Games Played||10|
|13/52 (25%)||1st Return Points Won||8/30 (27%)|
|8/15 (53%)||2nd Return Points Won||13/27 (48%)|
|0/5 (0%)||Break Points Won||2/6 (33%)|
|10||Return Games Played||9|
|36/57 (63%)||Total Service Points Won||46/67 (69%)|
|21/67 (31%)||Total Return Points Won||21/57 (37%)|
|57/124 (46%)||Total Points Won||67/124 (54%)|
Thoughts on the Match
Well I don't think there's a whole lot to say other than this being another tough loss. I don't like talking about injuries especially when it's only fan speculation as they have a tendency to look for excuses but as per some of Roger's quotes from his press conference it looks like the back is causing more problems:
I took a lot of anti inflammatories last week. Not this week. It's a muscular spasm in the back. I'm just happy to have played.
An interesting comment from him really, he often avoids questions about injury which is the noble thing to do but I'm glad he revealed just a little as it's good to get his actual words rather than just rumours and speculation. Apparently he also said playing today was a last minute decision which was clearl a selfless move for the home fans.
Injuries aside main thing here is yet another painful loss. Like I said previously 2013 has been a huge drain on Roger's confidence and as of right now the rot continues; just when you think he's starting to turn it round like in Halle he then slumps again. Hamburg was a tough loss and now Gstaad ended on an even worse note.
Roger looked pretty subdued when he left the court, almost embarrassed with how things are going right now so I guess he just has to get himself right physically and mentally. That's a catch 22 scenario though, as if he doesn't get right physically then he can't get right mentally and build confidence because you can only really get that in huge doses by winning matches.
So first thing is get right physically and manage the injury, he will need treatment and rest so it's not rocket science but the mental aspect could be trickier because he's had such a poor season.
It has been one big downward spiral, 1 title, no momentum, clearly not feeling too upbeat so it won't be easy to suddenly start playing lights out tennis again even if he is feeling great physically.
The only positive you can really take is that it can't get much worse, it's like he has almost hit rock bottom losing matches to players ranked No. 55, No. 114, and No. 116. I can't ever remember anything like this happening before and it's going to take a strong resolve and character to bounce back.
As for the back injury, is it getting worse or are we just in a bad patch right now where it keeps flaring up? If you remember Roger had back troubles even in 2003 when he won Wimbledon so it's nothing new which is why I don't think it's beyond repair just yet. I was never sure what the injury actually was and it's the first time I've heard him say muscular spasm before so it's definitely the type of thing that can be kept under control and not like a degenerative disc or spinal injury.
It's also reported he may not play Montreal and will decide in a weeks time. Skipping it would be a tough one as he's so short of matches this year it's untrue but if injured what can he do? Another catch 22 situation.
If he doesn't play Montreal the USO looks very improbable and he maybe lucky to even make the Quarters, but then again is Roger just trying to save himself and get right physically? Was he turning up today just for the fans and to avoid them leaving disappointment? I don't know, he looked flat out there all match like he was condemned to the loss so it could well be.
I always said judge it come the end of the year, whether its more disappointment by the bucket load, some lows and some highs, or a rout throughout the indoor swing I don't really mind as watching how he responds from these kind of moments will certainly be interesting whatever the outcome.