I guess in retrospect calling Roger Federer’s Toronto draw “dicey” was being kind to the Swiss after he got bounced just a short while ago in three sets by Frenchman Gilles Simon.
Federer, in a very rare display, looked about as agitated and irritated as I’ve ever seen him. Up a break in the third set, seemingly back in control and serving at 4-3, 15-15 Federer got an out call along the baseline on a perceived forehand winner. With only one challenge left and following a brief chat with ump Norm Chryst, Federer opted to forgo using the challenge thereby losing the point, and eventually the game and his break advantage. But more importantly, at that point mentally Federer simply lost the plot. A rarity.
Per shotspot replay, the ball was on the line so had Federer challenged he would have won the point and kept his challenge, and maybe things would have worked out differently. Would have, could have…
But it looked like the call and his lack of challenge just ate away at Roger as he sprayed forehands all about the court, giving Simon a very well-earned 2-6, 7-5, 6-4 win.
Credit to Simon who I thought going in figured to be very rough customer for Roger. It didn’t look like that early but Simon steadied up and ultimately let Roger self-destruct.
Overall, I’m not really stunned that Federer would lose in this situation to Simon, but I am stunned by the way Roger lost – a mental meltdown late in the match. I just have never really seen that from him in such a crucial time in a match. And I have to think it’s in part due to the sub-par year he’s had and the fact that Rafael Nadal’s is ever so close to his precious No. 1 spot. It seems to be all closing in on Roger, and as I said before we are going to find out a lot about the Swiss the next 45 days. And right now it doesn’t look good.
Nadal meanwhile didn’t look great this afternoon in a 6-4, 6-2 win over Jesse Levine, but he dug out of a 4-1 hole in the first set and unlike Roger, he got through in the end. And with Federer now out Nadal has got to recognize and take advantage of the situation. No. 1 is now there for the taking. And I have to think he’ll be the top seed at the Open now.
In other matches today, James Blake needed a surprising three sets to beat Jonas Bjorkman. Igor Andreev, Nadal’s foe Thursday, sent home Tomas Berdych. Robin Soderling, Jose Acasuso, Dmitry Tursunov, Marin Cilic, Nikolay Davydenko and Richard Gasquet were some of the other winners.
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