I gave Roger Federer a pass for his performance at the start of year, buying into his mono as a reasonable explanation for his poor play. But after his loss moments ago to Ivo Karlovic, 7-5, 4-6, 7-6, you can hand me the shovel, I’m ready to help pile dirt on the guy.
Federer of course lost last week in Toronto to Gilles Simon, then should have lost to Robby Ginepri Tuesday before escaping in three sets. As I said, eventually having to keep escaping to get through these matches will catch up to him. Today it did as he went down in a third set tiebreak to a guy he should not be losing to in Karlovic.
Credit for Croat for staying cool in the heat, keeping calm and serving bombs. And in the end Federer has to win that match but his ground game inexplicably deserted him in the final tiebreak.
I also fully agree with ESPN’s Darren Cahill, who said Roger’s been “finding a way to lose these tight matches whereas before he was finding a way to win them.” Very true. He’s lost his confidence and his mental edge. I imagine the guys at the US Open will be licking their chops.
And I’m sure Roger will tell the press that there’s no need to panic, but there is if you are in the Federer Camp. It’s panic time. Yes, he played Ivo on an ice rink and yes he’s reached the finals at two Slams and another semifinal at the Australian Open this season as I’m sure he’ll point out to the press that those are great results. Indeed they are. So maybe he’s right, maybe that’s all we should expect of him.
Now I’m not saying Federer’s days of winning Grand Slam titles are over, etc., far from it. But rather that he’s now officially shifted into the Pete Sampras Gear, where he only concentrates on the Slams or Olympics going forward and not so much on the No. 1 ranking or Masters Events, etc.
And in my mind that’s not going to work for Federer like it did for Pete. Pete’s was a power game, Roger’s more of a timing and as Roger gets older it’s going to be tougher and tougher for him to maintain that timing. Power for the most part will always be there, but Fed plays his game on such a tightrope that the tiniest amount of slippage in his level can have great ramifications.
Again, no hard court finals through July which is startling for a guy who used to absolutely dominate this surface. And looking ahead, we are basically playing hard courts until next April.
So has the mighty Fed fallen? Sure as hell looks like it. Welcome to the Rafael Nadal Era.
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