No Federer Nadal showdown in New York as Juan Martin Del Potro defeated Roger 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(8) 6-4 to move into the Semi Finals at the US Open.
The Swiss looked to be on shaky ground throughout the tournament and despite winning his last two matches in straight sets wasn't able to negate Del Potro's firepower or play with the consistency required to have a shot at making his 8th final at Flushing Meadows. Had the Swiss converted one of his four set points in the third set tie break things may have been different but he was never in charge of proceedings in the 2 hours and 50 minutes on court.
He came up with the goods when he needed to, and I helped him a little bit sometimes too maybe. But he was better today, especially on the big points… In some ways I'm actually happy, I made the quarters, so I'm not disappointed because it's been a good run this year already. Unfortunately, I ran into a guy who was better than me today.
Quick Match Recap
Federer won the toss and elected to serve and promptly held to 15 to get off to a nice start. With both players playing cagey in the early stages there were few chances to break, a hold from 0-30 by both players the only windows of opportunities. However at 5-5, 30-30, Roger double faulted to give Del Potro the first break point of the match which he converted before serving out the set to take it 7-5.
Into set 2 and Fed was up from the changeover long before the Umpire called time. A hold from a deuce game put him 1-0 up, and in game two the Swiss had his first break point of the match. Del Potro held, but in game four Roger broke through for a 3-1 lead. The one break proved decisive as he played a better set to take it 6-3.
The Argentine kicked off set 3 with a hold to 30 and then broke thanks to a double fault from the Wilson Wand. Roger then needed to save a further break point in game four to get on the scoreboard. Serving at 4-2, Del Potro returned the favour with a double fault of his own on break point. Roger then levelled for 4-4, and both players rolled through their next two service games to force a tie break.
The breaker saw Fed move up a mini break on four separate occasions only to lose the advantage each time. The costly one coming at 6-4 on his own serve and despite holding four set points in total Roger couldn't convert. Del Potro finally took it 10-8 after Roger served and volleyed down set point.
Into set 4 and after exchanging back to back holds for 2-2 Roger's hopes of a comeback took a blow as he missed a routine smash en route to dropping serve. Del Potro held for 4-2 and stood firm to see it out, Roger pinging a volley to the back fence at 4-5, 30-30 to sum up his day.
|Match Statistics||R. Federer||J. del Potro|
|First Serve % In||84/137 (61%)||80/119 (67%)|
|Win % On 1st Serve||61/84 (73%)||65/80 (81%)|
|Win % On 2nd Serve||30/53 (57%)||20/39 (51%)|
|Net Points Won||34/53 (64%)||10/18 (56%)|
|Break Points Won||2/3 (67%)||3/6 (50%)|
|Receiving Points Won||34/119 (29%)||46/137 (34%)|
|Total Points Won||125||131|
|Distance Covered (Ft)||6856.2||6589.3|
|Distance Covered/pt. (Ft)||26.8||25.7|
Thoughts on the Match
I think there are definitely things, you know, that happened in the preparation and throughout the tournament that led to my performance today, because I can play much better but I can play worse, too. So it was one of those matches where if I ran into a good guy, I was going to lose, I felt. I don't want to say I was in a negative mindset, but I knew going in that I'm not in a safe place. Might have depended too much on my opponent, and I don't like that feeling. I had it, you know, throughout the tournament, and I just felt that way every single match I went into. I didn't have that feeling at Wimbledon or at the Australian Open, and that's why rightfully so I'm out of this tournament, because I wasn't good enough, in my mind, in my body, and in my game to overcome these three pillars.
Tough day at the office for Fed here as he failed to set the record straight from the 2009 final against the Tower of Tandil. I had Roger going in as the big favourite after Del Potro went five against Thiem, but after the first few games, it was evident this was going to be a very even encounter.
I said in my two previous posts that despite him winning in straight sets, it was still too early to say he was ‘back in form' as both Lopez and Kohlschreiber played very poor matches against him. Once he ran into someone who can tee off, unfortunately, he came up short. Not by a huge margin or being blown off the court but by losing the key points and just not being able to play the instinctive free flowing game that's won him so many titles. It was almost like the 2013 Fed out there, still able to compete and stay close but too many routine misses and bad decisions cost him in a game of fine margins.
So disappointing loss aside, it's not been a bad 10 days in New York to make the Quarters after being forced out of Cincinnati. All the signs point to him still not feeling great physically, but we'll probably never know to what extent as he'll only reveal that later in the year if pressed about it. But even against Del Potro, he was out of his chair from changeovers long before the umpire called time so there's obviously still a niggle that's affecting his overall play. That's not to take anything away from Del Potro who served big but Roger's level was a far cry from the match he played vs. the Argentine in Miami earlier this year.
Anyway, enough from me, below you will find the full press conference transcript. Roger reveals a bit more than usual in summing things up so it's a good read. Just click the toggle to open it. As always thanks for reading and lLet me know your thoughts in the comments.
Federer US Open Quarter Final 2017 Press Conference
Q. How do you explain what happened? Especially in the tiebreaker? Four set points.
ROGER FEDERER: It happens. I don't know. I mean, it's hard to explain. Sometimes you do the right things and he does, too. Then it matches up badly your way.
I didn't think I played bad. You know, towards the end of the breakers, you know, I can do better maybe, sure, but I think the decisions that we both took, me serving, him returning, or whatever it may have been, you know, it just didn't go my way.
But I don't think those four points make all of the difference. There was more to it that led to me being down two sets to one and being down two sets to one, and the break, I missed too many balls to keep me maybe ahead in the match or didn't put me into so much trouble where I needed luck or I needed him to take poor decisions.
You know, he came up with the goods when he needed to and I helped him a little bit sometimes too maybe. But he was better today, especially on the big points.
Q. Is it more frustrating, maybe you were thinking about the semifinal…
ROGER FEDERER: I wasn't. You were.
No, it's not more frustrating, to be honest. It's been a tough tournament throughout. I honestly was only thinking about tonight. My head didn't even wander during the match. I knew it was going to be a tough one. I had struggled too much throughout the tournament to think too far ahead.
In some ways I'm actually happy I made the quarters, so I'm not disappointed, because it's been a good run this year already. Unfortunately I ran into a guy who was better than me today.
Q. The fans were thinking of a potential matchup between you and Rafa. Do you think at all, like, maybe it's never meant to be, or is it just bad luck up to now?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Funny, again, I didn't even think about it, as I lost that match, that it's not going to happen. I'm dealing with just trying to understand what happened and just to overcome this in the next few hours, days, weeks, whatever it is, you know. I'll be fine.
Of course it is a pity, but, you know, Juan Martin deserves it more. I feel I have no place in the semis and he will have a better chance to beat Rafa, to be honest. The way I played or playing right now, it's not good enough in my opinion to win this tournament. It's better I'm out and somebody else gets a chance to do better than me.
Q. When you lost to Juan Martin in 2009, you said it wasn't a very difficult loss to get over…
ROGER FEDERER: Well, in some ways because of the great summer I had, yeah.
Q. Does the same thing apply to this year, in some ways?
ROGER FEDERER: I think only time will tell. But I think definitely — of course you're always disappointed when you lose, you know, in the very moment. It's terrible to think of what lies ahead, packing bags, going home.
It's just annoying, you know, as a tennis player. It's just not the fun part. You'd rather think about how you're going to relax tonight and have a massage and think about the match, you know, think about the great shots you hit.
Now you see all the bad stuff, you know. And it's just not so much fun, so, I mean, it should hurt, and it does, rightfully so, but, you know, I think my perspective at this age and with the season that I have had is easier to grasp faster, so I'll be fine quickly.
But, sure, I would have liked to do more here, especially with the year that I had. It's been tough, you know, so it's all right.
Q. Did the struggles you had before the tournament and through the first round cost you any energy or intensity today? It explains some of the shots you missed that maybe you don't miss?
ROGER FEDERER: I think there's definitely things, you know, that happened in the preparation and throughout the tournament that led to my performance today, because I can play much better but I can play worse, too.
So it was one of those matches where if I ran into a good guy, I was going to lose, I felt. I don't want to say I was in negative mindset, but I knew going in that I'm not in a safe place. Might have depended too much on my opponent, and I don't like that feeling. I had it, you know, throughout the tournament, and I just felt that way every single match I went into.
I didn't have that feeling at Wimbledon or at the Australian Open, and that's why rightfully so I'm out of this tournament, because I wasn't good enough, in my mind, in my body, and in my game to overcome these three pillars.
If you're missing all three, it's going to be tough. I'm okay with it, and I tried until the very end. And smashing certain stuff in the net that I normally wouldn't, smashing forehand volleys into the back fence, I mean, that stuff sucked. You know, honestly, it was terrible.
Juan Martin did well. He served well, had some big shots when he needed to. That was the part, that he did so much better tonight, and that's why he deserves to win.
Q. You seemed restless or stressed out there. Is there a reason you didn't have your usual cool to overcome it?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think I just explained it. I think those three things make you edgy. If you set up to a forehand, you don't know where it's going to go, I mean, you know it's not going to go where you want it to go, you're, like, Hmm, doesn't feel great. If you know you're going to hit it decent, then he's going to hit a rocket forehand after that. So you get the double whammy.
Yeah, you're not going to just walk coolly to the chair, like, Yeah, that was fun.
It just was a bad feeling. I think I stayed very calm throughout, because there is a lot of opportunities out there today and I missed a lot of them, which is a pity.
Q. It was possible you could have reclaimed the No. 1 ranking. May that have an impact? What are your plans from now on?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. My schedule is similar towards the end of the season. Good thing is that I need a rest. I have a rest now, so that's good. That's actually the thing when I walked off the court, I was, like, Finally, I can rest. Because I'm tired. I put a lot into it. I was not sure I could play, to be honest, so I'm happy I get a rest now.
Now I have Laver Cup, Shanghai, Basel, Paris, and London. That's my schedule, and it won't change. I hope I'm fully recovered and 100% fit when Laver Cup comes around. When that's over, I hope I'm going to arrive really early in Shanghai to really get ready and make it a priority for me to win that tournament. So that's the schedule there.
Q. Obviously you just had a tough night, but can you step back and just talk about this incredible year, the two slams and two Masters Series? It's still a deeply gratifying run for you.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes (smiling). We could talk about it at the end of the year, but we can also wrap it up tonight. I just explained my schedule. So it's not over yet. There's hopefully more to come for me.
Of course it's all a bonus at this stage. I've had a wonderful year. This is part of the game, you know, I can't win them all. You run into guys who are better than you on the night.
Juan Martin fought like a lion, so it's fine there. But for me, you know, I'm upbeat what's to come. Sure, I regret that I didn't get the opportunity to fight for world No. 1 in Cincinnati, now again, but that's maybe also part of the process, and I'll be fine even without No. 1. Like you said, I have had a great year thus far.
I have big priorities for the rest of the year, and I usually play very well towards the end. Now I just really need to recover and go back to the practice courts and hopefully just finish strong. Whatever that may be, I just want to play good tennis and enjoy myself.
Q. You mentioned your body being a little off. How much of a factor was the back after all?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I was serving okay, you know, finally. It was getting better, you know, as the tournament progressed, so that was positive.
I'm happy I was able to overcome that, and that all the hard work we put into it with my team, that was what I was looking for throughout the event is actually it was going to get better, my back. Otherwise I wouldn't entered the tournament if I knew that the back was going to get worse.
There was a relief there that I was able to play a lot of tough matches, you know, and a quarter here. That gives me confidence.
But did it take away something from my overall performance? Maybe not on the night. But leading into the night, you know, I just think it slowed down my rhythm and whatever it was throughout the tournament, you know, because I was never really able to turn it on completely. I played okay, you know, but I never felt like I got to the great level I can play at, but that's okay.
Q. You have seen Juan Martin play tonight, and I don't know if you've been watching Rafa how he's been playing? Can you predict what kind of semifinal match we can see on Friday?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, in a way it's been a struggle for everybody here, except maybe Carreno Busta. He's just been cruising. The rest of us have all been fighting something, you know. I'm sure other players are fighting injuries, you know, but they're not talking about it. I unfortunately had to because of the Montreal and Cincinnati situation. Otherwise I wouldn't have talked about it, either.
No, I think it's going to be an exciting match, you know. Both are great shot makers. They have, you know, some of the best forehands in the game. They are both winners. They know how to get it done. I think it should been an exciting semis.
Yeah, I mean, Rafa now is playing within himself a lot. I think he was very focused here, in practice and also in the matches. I assume we know what we're going to get from him.
Juan Martin, I hope he recovers, you know. It's big for him now to have a day rest tomorrow, because again, it's an emotional night and all that stuff. Rallies weren't very long, so he did well to bounce back from his Thiem match, you know. That was nice for him. You know, I think it should be an exciting match. I'm sure the crowd's going to get into it.
Q. Do you feel like the third set tiebreak was a turning point in the match and that you let go the opportunity there and that played against you for the remainder of the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, sure. We can look at it in many, many different ways. Yes, I mean, if I would have won, I would have told you it was the key for the match. Now losing, I feel like there were multiple keys lost along the way (smiling).
It was unfortunate. You know, I put myself in a good position throughout the breaker, had chances to — I was always kind of ahead the whole time, and then at the end, you know, I got caught.
I don't know if it was because of him or because of me. I thought it was more probably because of him because I didn't play a poor tiebreaker. I have played way worse breakers and I have won them. I just think it was a poor matchup at the backhand and that little magic was missing at the end to flick a half volley or hit a half volley, maybe serve the other way when I needed to.
Maybe I wasn't clear enough in the head. I'm sure I lost a little bit of momentum even though I got into the fourth set okay, but I just didn't have a good returning day on his first serve, and that throughout hurt me the entire match.
It was just hard getting into normal rallies, to be honest. Once I was in the rally, I was not playing good enough, you know, to match Juan Martin's power.
That was definitely a turning point, no doubt about it, because breaking back and getting into that third set was big, and then it would have been nice to maybe break his spirit a little bit, but I couldn't do it.