Federer Foiled Again by Canas
by Sean Randall | March 28th, 2007, 1:43 pm

Turn around Tuesday lived up to its name for Andy Roddick, who avenged a Miami loss last year to David Ferrer, but for Maria Sharapova and Roger Federer, who had both lost to their foes in their prior meetings, it was more of the same.

Sharapova got an absolute ass-kicking from Serena Williams, showing again that Serena can show up and win just about anything she wants to when she puts her mind to it.
As for Federer, I guess Tiger’s not rubbing off on him. Two weeks after ending the Fed’s 41-match win streak, Guillermo Canas did it again yesterday winning a third set tiebreaker over the World No. 1. And this time Fed was playing some decent tennis. ADHEREL

First, you have to give a lot of credit to Canas. This guy was left for dead after getting busted for drugs a couple years back. He wasn’t allowed to play any events, or even attend them for a period of 15 months during his suspension. But he did his time, worked his ass off and now he’s back to giving players a lot of problems, especially Federer. Good for him.

And Canas doesn’t really do anything amazing. He doesn’t have any huge shots or a monster serve. He just gets the ball back, and with some good depth. That’s why I call Canas the Human Backboard. He makes you hit winners, because he’s not going to go for them himself unless it’s a sure thing. And against Federer, who’s fast enough to get a lot of balls back himself, Canas basically teased Roger into going for those winners or face the realization that the rally could go on for days.

As we saw last night, the longer to rally went on the more frustrated and impatient Federer became, and the advantage shifted to Canas. Canas just kept getting balls back and let an impatient Fed self destruct. Canas also served damn well and perhaps most importantly, really didn’t seem to be in awe of Roger like many other players are.

For Roger, it’s still not time to hit the panic button just yet, but if he doesn’t win Monte Carlo or Rome he might want to keep that thing handy. Let’s face it, no shame in losing. But losing consecutive tournaments to a claycourter on hard courts does not send a message of fear to the other dirtballers when your ultimate goal is to win the French in a few months.

My guess is the claycourters who play him at Monte Carlo are now not going to be in as scared of Federer as they would have been if Roger had won Miami. In fact, those guys should have signs stapled all over in the Monte Carlo locker room, “If Canas can do it on hard courts, I can do it on clay”. Heck, they should slap that slogan on their shirts, foreheads, racquets, bags, coaches, girlfriends, anything.

And you have to wonder, if Roger can’t beat Canas on hard courts, how the hell is he going to beat him on clay should they meet at Roland Garros?

Watching the Fed go up a break in the third set yesterday, I, along with pretty much everyone else watching, figured the deal was sealed. Roger was going to pull it out. But as soon as Canas got back on serve you could see the tension in Roger’s face.
Thing is with Roger, he’s so good and so much better than everyone else that he rarely gets into tight situations late in a match such as last night. When was the last time the guy was on the brink of losing a final set on a big stage? Last May in Rome against Nadal?

And I think that inexperience showed in that breaker as Fed tightened up a bit making a few too many unforced errors. And again give credit to Canas for being able to take advantage and close it out with that big serve at the end. A lot of guys would have folded at the start of that breaker.

So what’s up with Roger? Hard to say, but clearly this loss doesn’t help his cause in winning the French, and it may ultimately hurt it as these two defeats might give the other players some added confidence when having to face the mighty Fed on the clay this season. At least we get another interesting week of tennis, as Miami, like IW, is anyone’s title.

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50 Comments for Federer Foiled Again by Canas

backhander Says:

What\’s up with Roger? He got his arrogant Tiger-loving ass handed to him on a silver platter by a doping dirtballer. Canas dismantled Federer\’s :beautiful: game like a child\’s lego set, and it was beautiful to watch indeed. Vamos Willy!

cj Says:

backhander get a life quit referring to roger in the way that you just did.he is as human as the next so if he hasnt being doing to well so.

johnnhoj Says:

Federer tanks again! Well, I trust he knows what he’s doing. Gotta get ready for the clay-court season.

andrea Says:

Interesting. Alas, in cable TV deprived Canada, i was reduced to watching the match unfold on the live scoring screen on my computer – which, if anyone has ever used this, is almost as intense as watching it except you look a bit weird when you start yelling at your computer screen. I’m a big Roger fan and it’s good for him to lose once in a while; good for him to learn that it’s not always a walkover. The sport would be dull if he won everything all the time. We’ll see if Canas can get further than he did at IW where he got trumped in the next match after beating Roger.

BG Says:

I find comments like backhander revolting…and ignorant.
For those of us who love the game, and have enjoyed the emergence of Federer’s “beautiful game”, I wonder if the firstnloss to Canas had a “dumb luck” factor; top ten players are rarely expect tough qualifier. I also think the Federer looked shaken by the SouthAmerican football/oops,tennis crowd and the chair did a truly terrible job of crowd control, which can affect a game when unexpected & negative. The effects can last for months – see titans like Borg, MacEnroe…I would miss Federer badly if he is mentally shaken. “Dirtball” druggies you can keep,if that is you taste in tennis.

johnnhoj Says:

pfft! Nobody needs to worry about the Miami loss either. Seems that Fed is filling in his ’07 match-loss quota kinda early, but he knows what he needs to do. He didn’t fall apart after losing four times to Nadal last year, three of those being consecutive. There remains more to be seen. I’m not selling my Federer stock any time soon.

Agassi fan Says:

Federer definitely needs to move it up a notch for the clay season. Even as a big fan of his, I must say I am disappointed that he is not heeding to the lesson that he needs to learn if he is to win the French – sometimes, you can only win by making less errors, not by hitting more winners. Nowhere is it more important than on clay.

Unless he is patient, unless he dares his opponents to grind it out for 5-6 hours if need be, he is always going to be vulnerable on clay. Canas is just a right handed Nadal. Fed has to believe in being able to win a physical match if it comes down to it. He has to go out there and beat some grinders in long matches.

Otherwise, he will only be marginally better than Sampras, never the conqueror of all on all surfaces (which he has the ability to achieve).

What a pity.

Ryan Says:

Look Sean, I like the way you write articles and i always look forward to it but you really need to update your info regarding roger federer.You wrote
” When was the last time the guy was on the brink of losing a final set on a big stage? Last May in Rome against Nadal? ”
There was this time in Japan open Tokyo 2006, where Federer was nearly beaten by this player called Suzuki whose rank was outside 1000.The final set tiebreak score was 7-5.Imagine the shock for Federer if Suzuki had won the match even though the tournament was not a big stage masters series event.This shows that Roger can keep it together even in the end but unfortunately it didnt work out with Canas.

lou Says:

Ryan, you just said it : “…whose rank was outside 1000”. More likely the Suzuki guy got scared when he got the advatage and lost by himself. That is not a good example. That situation dit not prove anything regarding Federer resilience. For all his luck and talent combined, Suzuki is not an elite player.

Fact is, Federer is rarely chanllenged and when he’s against the ropes sometimes he delivers , sometimes he does not. The problem for the other player is to take Federer to that last break point and get a chance.
The overpriced Andy Roddick for that matter, maybe never will have a chance to battle a healthy Federer because Roddick has a reception equal to null. That’s why Nadal strolled over him in hard court. God be merciful if Roddick has to play Nadal in clay.

Looking forward to Roland Garros, that’s where we’ll see which place among the greats Federer is really heading to.
BTW regarding Roddick, he is a stronger, hyper version of Sampras. A rocket launcher with not much else. If Roddick came along in the 90’s, we would be thinking on him not as a underachiever , but as a multi-Grand Slam winner. But tennis has evolved. For all his fame, and good game, I don’t see Sampras winning outside Winbledon on this age of ball-chasers and Agassi-esque ball returners. Agassi style of play is the one that prevailed. Sampras shoot and gunning, was only a fashion.

Going back to Federer, for me, Federer is still behind Laver and Borg. Sampras, overestimated in America is not even in the picture. For my money Agassi was a better player. And no American can brag seriously about being better than McEnroe.
Laver, Borg, Federer, McEnroe, Agassi , then Sampras.
For me, right now, March, almost April 2007, that’s the final order.

Seth Says:

Still not sure what to make of this other than to ask, “How in the hell does Roger Federer lose to Guillermo Canas, a clay specialist if there ever was one, on hard courts not once, but TWICE within two weeks?!”

Yeah, yeah, props to Canas and all that, but really, he’s nobody that Fed shouldn’t be able to handle comfortably without kicking it up any higher than about third gear.

Agassi Fan Says:


I agree with you a 100%.

bjt Says:

Canas was playing great tennis when he was suspended (doping aside, his strokes have always been consistent, like Davydenko). And like Nadal, Canas is a great mover. Against Fed, he was digging out shots like Nadal does. So Fed will have to adjust, like he did for Nadal. It’ll take him a couple more matches, then he’ll own Canas. Problem is there isn’t much time between now and the French.

LOU’s comment about Sampras is a bit off. Sampras was very very good at the net. Not perfect form, but he was such a great athlete, he made a lot of tough volleys. Roddick does not have any natural skill up there. Also, Pete’s serve was better than Roddick’s. His serve down the T was flat and hard, less spin than Roddick’s. Same with the into the body. Roddick’s 2003 second serve was better than Pete’s second, but that serve is gone now, replaced by some kind of loopy spin serve that no one seems to have trouble with anymore.

It’s actually kind of nice to see other players getting to the later rounds in major tournaments. And will also show everyone that Roddick is not being denied titles by just one guy as he would like everyone to think. Men’s tennis so deep right now, it’s great!

Helen Says:

Federer has really been surprised by Canas and lost his focus during the match, and lost,,,,It’s time for someone else to show up, even though I am a sport and love the game…but the best should win…not because he is a legend but because he is better…. Anyone knows what happened to Roche, who was not present at any of the last losses Federer/Canas???

Helen Says:

I would like to add to my above comments that there is no doubt that Canas was superb against Federer. It was as though nothing else mattered but to win against Federer…

dodo Says:

canas is king. he is the best now, i hope he plays roger on clay. bow down to canas you mere mortals.

James LaBrie Says:

bjt, you said all he has to do is adjust to canas game like he did(!?) for nadal? he may adjust to canas by grinding, but nadal will always have an edge on him, no matter the adjustments (except possibly grass).

bjt Says:

James, Fed hasn’t played Nadal on clay since they last tangled last year at the French. But it seems like Fed’s backhand is much more consistant during rallies against Nadal, at least on hard courts and grass. Although it was way off against Canas, and I think it cost him the match. We’ll see… I think it’s going to be an exciting spring.

Roddick Girl Says:

WEL WELL WELL , Fed lost ‘n Canas did it again “Good 4 U” , very intresting and surprising 2 despit the fact that it’s amazing some how , I don’t think those 2 loses will affect Fed very much , but now I can say I’m 50% sure he won’t win Roland Garros .
I don’t think this season will be like the 3 last ones , I think things r gonna get a bit harded 4 Fed especially on clay courts , but we all know that he can come ‘n win whenever he really wants to .
hard luck roger it’s not ur year .
I think roger should watch out coz his next loss is gonna be against Roddick .
Roger u’ve been warned

Responder Says:

Lou the problem is if you ask Laver, Mac, borg samp et al, they will say fed is the best.

Andrew Miller Says:

I don’t think Fed. will make the cover of Sports Illustrated unless he wins 2/3 of the rest of the grand slams. He just did too poorly this time around at the U.S.-based Masters tournaments just as his profile in the U.S. was rising with favorable comparisons to Tiger Woods. If Roddick wins this year’s U.S. Open he’ll automatically make the cover of SI – such is the nature of the U.S. sports establishment!

Joker Says:

Federer’s days of glory are in the past. Definitely not a good sign with French open up ahead.

Sean Randall Says:

Thanks for the post Ryan, but I do not consider Tokyo a “big stage” event like Miami. Sure Roger’s won a few tight three-set matches in those smaller events like Tokyo and Basel, but in Slams, Davis Cup and Masters Series events there haven’t been as many of those type of wins. That’s why I think if you can get Roger deep into a final set, say 4-all or 5-all, your odds of winning are pretty good given Roger’s track record.

Lou, I would have to disagree with you on a few of your points. First, if Roddick and Nadal played 10 times on hard courts, Roddick probably wins 3-4 times. And Roddick is nothing like Sampras. I won’t even go there.

Seth/bjt, I agree with you guys. Fed should be able to handle Canas but right now he lacks the patience. I’m sure he’ll eventually get the upper hand on Guillermo.

Andrew, my guess is Fed will be on the cover of SI at some point this year, maybe before the French or certainly after if he wins it. I figure it will be a sort of a “makeup” for SI after they bagged him for player of the year.

I also liked the subdued reaction of Canas after both wins over Roger. Almost like a “what’s the big deal?” reaction. Most guys would have dropped to their knees as if they had won Wimbledon, etc., but Guillermo took it in stride like it was a win over a no-name.

Mario Says:

Federer hasn’t adjusted to the new Wilson k-factor racquet, both losses to Canas have come since Federer switched. Loss of confidence in his shots due to a new racquet is understandable.

Agassi fan Says:

Fed’s not a grinder. With today’s fitness levels and racquet technology, sometimes (unless you are on a very fast hard court or on grass) the only way to beat a grinder is to grind him out.

Fed needs to become a grinder sometimes, if the match calls for it. Definitely something he needs to work on.

Deuce Says:

Have to realize that Canas is what they call a ‘power pusher’ much in the same style as a Michael Chang or Arantxa Sanchez Vicario or Lleyton. Playing opponents like these can be perplexing and frustrating.
Roger played much better this time around then when he played at IW. Agree that when you can push Roger late into the match staying even, then you have a chance. Especially as Roger has a penchant to try to put opponents away in the third set. He lacked patience and actually lost his concentration serving at 3-2 in the third which is why Canas broke him back. He needed to rally and setup points as he did in the second set but got away from that. This is why he has not won the French up to now.
A match like this is good for him, keeps him grounded, and actually will force him to be better prepared for the clay court circuit leading to the French. However you feel about Federer, it was an exciting match to watch!

johnnhoj Says:

Wow! You guys really believe this is the end of Federer??? I can’t believe what I’m reading here. I think it’s cool that other players are in the picture a bit more right now, but c’mon, the year’s still young. I’m behind Federer because I think he’s the player who can achieve what hasn’t been achieved since Laver in ’69. Correct me if I’m wrong, but weren’t all four of Laver’s grand-slam finals on grass?
Doesn’t matter. People like who they like.

Jason Alfrey Says:

I wouldn’t say that this is the end of Federer, but what he does have to be careful of is losing his Fear Factor. How many matches do you think he’s won just by showing up? Other players will start to believe they can go outgrind Federer and he needs to silence those thoughts.

suspicious Says:

Something’s weird about Canas. He comes out of his ban on fire. He’s more ripped than ever, and beats the best player in the world twice in 2 weeks. He looked out of it in the second set (in Miami), and comes back in the third fresh as a daisy. Most guys are EXHAUSTED against Federer after 3 long sets. Anybody else think he might be on drugs?

PS: What’s with the facial expressions of pain during the warm up?

johnnhoj Says:

Well, Suspicious,
I’m not detracting from other players efforts and achievements against Federer, but I find it highly probable that Fed blew both tournaments in different rounds so he could get a bit of extra rest and preparation without it appearing as though he deliberately tanked. I’m just speculating.
Too bad about Rafa, I thought he’d get to the final.

michela Says:

I’m not suspicious, but I am intrigued. Something really isn’t right about that Canas guy. He is creepy as anything.

Let’s just put it this way – he looks like a druggie. Seriously, if I saw him on the street, I would cross it to avoid him.

I’m sure they tested him, but something tells me that he’s finding a way around it – as druggies tend to do – and when it’s exploited, it will be the biggest scandal and embarassment to rock the tennis world in 30 years.

Plus he has an obvious disrespect for other players, like the way he makes for the server wait. Totally rude.

And he shouldn’t wear such tight shorts. It’s gross. I don’t want to look at his druggie ass.

sanirogers Says:

fed will fire …. as usual

guys dont write toomuch, i cant spend time

Agassi fan Says:

Fed wants to win EVERY tournament, so he would never tank on purpose.

He lost. twice. period. He needs to improve.

johnsonjohnson Says:

Canas is so obviously on drugs, like the whole Argentine squad – how many of them have been suspended in the last few years?

Agassi fan Says:

Who was the other Argentine player who was suspended for like 8 years?

FloridaMan Says:

Yes, I wonder the same thing: WHY ARGENTINA so much of the time?? Does that country have a particular issue with following the rules compared to other countries? It’s got to be more than just a mere coincidence.

FloridaMan Says:

By the way, I have also started to post comments in the tennis section of ESPN’s website. Because the screen name I use in Tennis-X was already taken, I am under the screen name FloridaTao on ESPN. Hope to see some of you there.

Agassi Fan Says:

Mariano Peurta was the other one (drug suspension from ARG).

FloridaMan Says:

I am picking Canas to beat Djokovic on Sunday. I disagree with Patrick McEnroe’s assertion of how much he “likes Djokovic ALOT” in Sunday’s final. I think it will be very tough for him, just like it was for Federer, Robredo and Ljubicic. I think Djokovic is a great hitter of the ball, but he can be prone to errors. This is something which Canas will exploit. On the other hand, if Djokovic can really be aggressive and consistent at the same time, like he was against Nadal, he does have a chance. But either way it should be a close match. It’s a much harder prediction for me than the Nadal-Roddick match at Indian Wells, where I knew from the beginning Nadal would win. This final is definitely not as easy. It should be a good one.

johnnhoj Says:

Fed won Indian Wells and Miami back to back two consecutive years, plus he won Indian Wells three years in a row. Right now he cares more about winning these upcoming clay-court titles than these two hardcourt tourneys he’s already won repeatedly. I saw how he played like crap at IW, really lazy. Too apathetic. Clay (mainly Roland Garros) is the last big challenge of his career, especially since the rise of Nadal. If he conquers that, he dominates across the board. It’s not out of the ordinary to lose a few matches here and there. We’ll see about Canas. Seems like a legitimate threat, but too soon to say, even after two straight wins over Federer on early-year hardcourts.

johnnhoj Says:

Sorry, I know I’m stating the obvious (above), but it’s just in an effort to give back to the doubters their capacity for consideration.

yellowballspanker Says:

When watching Djokovic, does anyone see signs of a certain Russian player who is probably the most gifted athlete to ever hit the yellow ball?

If Djokovic continues to improve, and if Safin can muster up the will to compete at his full potential… that would be a match to see.

Canas is going to have a hard time grinding down Djokovic because Djokovic has Canas’ game + the elite weapons of a top five player. Djokovic has the patience, the defense, the stamina of a grinder, but he also has the big serve, the big strokes, volleys, and an extra quickness gear. If Djokovic can keep it together mentally, he’ll win impressively.

Sean Randall Says:

Great comments. A few things.

First, there’s no way Federer “tanked” the match. The French Open is too far off for this event to have any impact on Roland Garros by losing early. And it’s certainly not the end of Federer, though a fair question could be asked, “has he peaked?”

Agassi Fan, you are right, Fed is not a grinder and probably never will be. And it’s clear when he faces a grinder he lacks the patience, although he’s usually able to overcome it by slugging winners.

Suspicious, I’m guessing Canas is getting tested like crazy, plus I doubt he’d risk it after having just served a suspension. As for his demeanor and tight shorts, I guess that’s his M.O.

FloridaMan, obviously there are some issues in Argentina. Puerta, Chela, Canas and I’m sure I left a few others out, have all been busted. Coincidence? Doubt it.

Johnnhoj, certainly Fed could have been looking ahead to Roland Garros during these last two losses. Obviously the French is the focus for Fed in 2007.

As for today, as yellowballspanker points out, Djoko does have the complete game. But Fed has that, too. If Djoko can play within himself, stay patient, he should win. Plus I like that Djoko is not afraid to hit that drop shot which will bring Canas into the net, a place he wants no part of. However, if Canas can get under Djoko’s skin, and frustrate him early, then Canas could pull it out, especially if it goes four/five sets and the South American crowd gets involved. Canas won’t get tired, Djoko could. And this time the pressure’s on Djoko to win. He’s the favorite.

The betting line is Djoko in four. I would agree with that.

FloridaMan Says:

Indeed, it was Djoko in three sets. But the match was much closer than the score. It wasn’t going to be easy for Djoko, no matter what. But the good thing for him is, he beat Canas when Canas played well. Djoko indeed displayed the patience and composure that many of you were referring to. He was able to sustain his great groundstrokes and shotmaking ability over a best-of-five-set match, which I think says a lot for him. And what was even better is, Canas began to play better as the match wore on, but Djoko did not try to do too much. If he keeps up his mental toughness plus his great shotmaking and consistency, he has a great future in the game.

Deuce Says:

Djoko is the man. As Pam Shriver stated on ESPN, he is the prime candidate to succeed Roger as the #1 player in the world. He is so quick and has the all-round game to compete with anyone. Plus, like Federer, he is fun to watch.

yellowballspanker Says:

Best not to annoint Djoko as the “next #1” just yet. He’s still playing with little pressure and has had nothing to lose. But guys will be going after him now, so watch out. Murray has enough game to give him a lot of trouble, so does Nadal as we saw at IW. Gonzo can also get hot and take him down. Blake, when he’s hitting flat and hard, can also do damage as Djoko likes a little more time than Fed to set up his shots. BUT… Djoko has what it takes to consistantly win, and that could put him in the league of the great one. If everyone can stay healthy, it’s going to be one of the greatest dirt seasons since the days of Guga or Muster. There won’t be much of an American presence, but the tennis will be fantastic!

Agassi Fan Says:

Ya, this time the French open is much more open. Nadal’s not winning this time!

Agassi Fan Says:

About “has he peaked?” Fed won nearly everything last year. 8300 points. a few points and one set away from a grand slam. There’s nowhere but down from there.

Agassi Fan Says:

The point is – his peak was so much higher than everyone else’s peak, that even if he does 2/3 this year of what he did last year, he will still equal Sampras’s best year ever.

johnnhoj Says:

Fed seems have a thing about rotating his tournament wins. He might win Cincinnati and Paris this year, perhaps Monte Carlo and/or Rome (ya never know). More importantly (to him), Fed just might pull off the improbable: a calendar slam on different surfaces. He’s in position to do it. He’s probably more prepared this time around for the clay struggle. I don’t see him letting up. He knows he’s still got alot to do. Indian Wells and Miami are small potatoes compared to the next six months. I believe in him. (I don’t believe in jinxes.) It’s gonna be exciting. I gotta be supportive. This is about making history, big time.

bogledance Says:

I can’t believe someone said Roddick would have been a multi slam winner in the 90s, and that he is a stronger hyper version of Sampras, lmao! Roddick couldn’t even win a slam when Sampras was on his last legs, and he got thoroughly thrashed by Sampras when Pete got himself back in form for his final US Open. Roddick would have been lucky to be in the top 10 in the mid 90s, especially if he were playing with the racquets of that time.

The only paralell between Roddick and Sampras is the big serve. On all other counts Sampras was far better – volley, forehand, and backhand – all weak points for Roddick.

As for Federer he’s going to be fine. I don’t think he’ll win the French this year but he’ll probably be back to winning almost everything he enters once clay season is over.

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