Big racquet, small racquet, fact is Roger Federer is not the same Roger Federer anymore. Heck, the way he’s playing right now he isn’t the same guy from January, not after losing meekly today to Federico Delbonis 7-6, 7-6 in the semifinals in Hamburg.
The 22-year-old Delbonis might be a future star, but Federer’s looked like crap all week and this afternoon it caught up with him. Switching to a large frame to get more power – I move I frankly applaud – Federer’s level of play really hasn’t picked up much with the 98. Maybe it’s regressed.
He may be hitting with more power – hard to say – and serving with some extra pop, but there are still a hefty amount of errors and mishits. It just isn’t pretty and often, like a car crash, you just want to look away.
If there’s hope for the Federer faithful it is knowing that this was Roger’s first event with the new racquet (or maybe it’s his back again?). The guy is the greatest and with any equipment change – golf clubs, baseball bat, etc – there’s an adjustment period no matter how skilled the athelete, Federer included. That said, he’s been using it for a few weeks, and the size of the racquet doesn’t affect movement these days, does it? Because Roger is starting to move like a father of two who’s turning 32 in a few weeks.
To his credit, Federer is not blaming the racquet.
“I think he was a bit better than me today,” said Federer. “Both sets could have gone either way. So, it’s clearly a pity I couldn’t win either of the sets because I was starting to feel better towards the end of the match. But unfortunately I couldn’t push him further and create more chances today.
“I don’t think it had much to do with the racket today,” said Federer after losing to the 114th-ranked Argentine. “I tried everything I could at this tournament. It’s been a difficult week throughout. But I’m happy I fought through many matches. It gives me the matches I was looking for.”
It gives him a few matches, that correct, Federer’s initial goal, however, was also to get some confidence before colliding with the Big Boys in Canada and Cincinnati. Is losing today to Delbonis going to give him that confidence to beat Rafael Nadal next month?
Because of Federer’s style of play – timing based and not on raw power – I’ve felt his career would end swiftly and ugly if he so let it. After his second loss to a player outside the Top 110 in as many events, unfortunately I think we are starting to see the new normal. The question is how long does Federer let us watch?
Roger will now head to Gstaad with even greater expectations of victory.
The lefty Delbonis moves on to play Fabio Fognini in the Hamburg final tomorrow. Fognini has never played better winning his last nine matches and will be the heavy favorite to take out the youngster.
While Federer is near rock bottom, another 31-year-old is in peak form on this red surface. And that is Serena Williams. The World No. 1 blasted her way to the Bastad final today where she’ll meet Johanna Larsson.
Like Roger, no one thought Serena would be playing this week, but she’s made the most of it and upped her remarkable record on clay to 27-0.
It’s two ships crossing in the night: Federer and Serena.
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