Hey guys, I've been a little delayed in getting this post out due to the late finish on Monday and then playing tennis myself yesterday evening so it's not quite fresh in the aftermath of Roger's loss to Robredo.
That's probably a good thing though as it's sometimes good to let the dust settle on tough losses especially when fans are emotional so things actually worked out pretty well.
I won't break this post down into point by point and set by set detail as I'm sure most of you won't want to recap how it went down. There's little point in doing so anyway, the match analysis is simple – he didn't play the big points well enough and that's why he lost.
2 of 16 on break points, it can't really get much worse than that.
Especially when you consider that the 2 successful break point conversions came in the first set which he lost meaning he went 0-12 over the course of the next 2 sets. Painful viewing.
Other than that shocking statistic it wasn't a bad match from Roger by any means, he actually played quite well when it wasn't an important point as the stats show. He created plenty chances, hit some nice shots and didn't look troubled on the vast majority of service games.
The big problem was that when he did get into slight difficulty on serve, he folded rather meekly, usually straight after he'd blown multiple break points in his previous return game.
It's not something we're accustomed to just yet to but it's been creeping in time and time again this year. And it really boils down to confidence.
Once the wasting break points and struggling in the very next service game became the set pattern of play it was a difficult to break the habit and one that ultimately proved too much for Roger.
Even in the very last game where Robredo had almost zero composure and Roger just needed to keep the ball in play he couldn't do it and the match ended how it started – badly!
What went wrong for Federer?
This one is another simple answer – nobody knows exactly what went wrong except Roger himself, and there's also a chance he doesn't know either. Complex huh.
I've read quite a few comments on various blogs, some newspaper articles and on Twitter and there are so many theories. Decline, he's lost a step, sub-conscious tank, mental focus is harder with age, Robredo is doping, his heart isn't in it anymore, injury and playing on Armstrong have all been thrown into the hat by fans as to why he lost.
The problem here is that all these reactions are based on emotions or the need for a headline and you tend to lose all rationale when that happens. It could be any one of those but inevitably most people just side with the reason that best suits their agenda.
All I know is that I wasn't shocked by the loss nor did I start over thinking it. I even had to laugh at some of the overheads he hit into Robredo's path on break points it was so bad.
The way I see it, this match is already in the past. From here on in it's either going to get worse, stay the same, or get better and it might even fluctuate between all 3. The unknown is how big a say Roger has in those outcomes. As long as he's willing to put in the hours and at least try we'll find out.
When you've won as much as Roger has won no fans really have the right to say what he should do. I'm not going to pretend I'm going to enjoy him losing early in slams from now on if that becomes the trend, but the choice is his. Simple.
As for my take on Roger right now, I just think he is struggling big time for confidence, it's exacerbating any internal demons he has (Nadal factor) and he's going to have to go through a rather extensive rebuilding phase.
When you look at the bigger picture, it's kinda obvious the US Open was a rebuilding tournament too really, it's just that Roger has the canny ability to give fans large amounts of hope seemingly out of nowhere.
Track back 2 months, he's getting beaten by the likes of Stakhovsky, Delbonis and Brands. Suddenly he comes back from the brink vs. Haas in Cincy, plays well against Nadal, defeats 3 mediocre players at the USO and suddenly he's a lock for Quarter Finals vs. Nadal.
In fact some fans even thought he could win the whole thing. I have no issues with that, optimistic fans who support their player are the best type of fans afterall, but you also have to be realistic. And when you do that – and look at the season as whole you can't really call the loss unexpected or a shock to the system.
If anything the match just sums up his year again – wasted chances, mentally absent and dejected when things don't go his way.
|Roger Federer||Stats||Tommy Robredo|
|52/86 (60 %)||1st serves in||88/125 (70 %)|
|38/52 (73 %)||1st serve points won||61/88 (69 %)|
|16/34 (47 %)||2nd serve points won||17/37 (46 %)|
|125 MPH||Fastest serve||129 MPH|
|111 MPH||Average 1st serve speed||106 MPH|
|89 MPH||Average 2nd serve speed||89 MPH|
|32/52 (62 %)||Net points won||11/17 (65 %)|
|2/16 (13 %)||Break points won||4/7 (57 %)|
|47/125 (38 %)||Receiving points won||32/86 (37 %)|
|101||Total points won||110|
Remove the break point conversion statistic and this looks like a pretty tidy match from Roger. Include it and it changes pretty sharply…
What Happens Next?
In terms of results and titles? I have no idea but that's what makes it interesting to be a Fed fan right now. Over the next few months and heading into next year we will find out if he sinks or swims.
It's pretty obvious he's not in his prime anymore, if you can't see that then you need help 😛 but it's not quite over just yet. There's still quite a few matches in his legs I feel before things finally come to an end.
The poor run of form might continue or it might not, the most important thing is that when he steps on the court is that he's motivated and gives himself a chance to do well.
I haven't seen that missing from him in recent months, he's just lacked the mental strength and that will to get over the line. The defeats aren't coming through lack of trying, just a lack of overall consistency in the crunch.
If he can sort those things out then he has a punchers chance at winning some decent titles. Grand Slam? Big big ask but still possible. Come the end of 2014 we'll know more about that as a possibility, but that's long term. Short term is to start rebuilding, win matches and get some self belief back. Confidence can solve a lot of problems pretty quickly but it takes work.
As for his immediate next steps then I think he picks up the new racquet, hits the courts and trains hard for the end of year run in. The season is still half salvageable even after the disaster fest it's been so far so he may as well try and string something together to head into 2014 with. Allez!
I'm interested to hear your thoughts too, so let me know your thoughts on the match + what's next. And do you think Roger makes the World Tour Finals?