Roger Federer’s star continues to fade. A tough summer hardcourt season has apparently (and for many, unfortunately) carried over into the fall as the former No. 1 was dismissed from Shanghai by Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-7, 6-3 earlier this morning.
I haven’t watched the match but it sounds like Roger really was never in it. He lost the first, then went down 5-3 in the second at which point Monfils, who had just one win in seven tries against the Swiss coming in, probably tightened up some.
Then after trailing 5-3, Federer won the last four points to take the breaker. But Roger was unable to ride any subsequent momentum and mount any challenge in the decider against the Frenchman.
Monfils, who’s long been one of my favorites, can be a tough guy to beat but a primed, motivated Federer should win that match. And the result just fits the pattern of sub-par losses for Roger starting with Wimbledon.
“[It was] one of those matches that could have gone either way,” said Federer. “I think I was a little lucky in the second set to get back, to be quite honest. I played a solid tie-break.
“I had chances early on in the third set I think to make something happen. He kind of recovered, then started to serve a bit better again towards the end of the third set, which made it difficult for me. It’s a bit of an up and down performance for me.”
Up and down performance? Yup, that seems to be the new status quo. It’s either “down” or “up and down”. Rarely ever just “up”.
Offered Monfils, “He’s still strong. It’s just a matter of confidence, I think. I have no doubt that he will get back to the way people expect him [to play].”
Federer then added to an already trying day by later losing in doubles to Dodig/Melo.
Looking ahead to next month, with guys like JW Tsonga and Stan Wawrinka, who beat Milos Raonic today, nipping at his heels, Roger has feel lucky that Andy Murray’s withdrawal will make it a little easier to qualify for London. Because without Murray’s pullout, based on what I’ve seen I don’t think he would have made that final eight.
“I hope I don’t have to rely on it. If I have to, I have to. But that’s not really what I want,” Federer said alluding to the Murray opening.
“I’m just going to focus on trying to play well. I’m just going to try to have a good tournament in Basel and Paris. In the end, if I get the invite, I’ll be there.”
While Federer continues to flounder, top dogs Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal look good. Djokovic, who just won Beijing, hammered Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-3.
In a match I saw the end of, Nadal overcame a 4-1 second set breaker deficit to beat Carlos Berlocq 6-1, 7-6.
“[I was] happy the way I played at the end,” said Nadal. “I think I played a fantastic first set. [In] the second [set], I felt a little bit more tired. He had a big opportunity in the tie-break with the 5 2. So I was lucky I played three great points in that moment. Unfortunately for him, he hit a double fault. At the end [it] was close, emotional. [I’m] very happy to be through.”
Nadal’s win sets up a good one tomorrow against Stan and I think with the amount of tennis Rafa’s recently played on hardcourts and his poor history this time of year, I think this sets up well for Stan to score the upset.
Djokovic now gets Monfils and as much as I’d like to see Gael get through I think the Serb will just run him around like a rabbit. Plus, after beating Federer how’s Monfils really going to refocus mentally?
“He’s somebody that has a lot of talent, moves around the court quite fast [and] makes you work,” Djokovic said of his next opponent.
“He’s always tricky when he serves big, as big as he served today. I think, he’s one of the most interesting tennis players to watch because he’s so athletic, he’s so fast, he moves around the court well. He’s somebody that feeds off the energy of the crowd. He loves to play big matches on a big stage.”
Also today, the flu-bitten Juan Martin Del Potro got a break when his opponent Tommy Haas withdrew with a bad back (seems to be a lot of back issues lately). Delpo now gets Nicolas Almagro who beat Tomas Berdych in a third set breaker.
Florian Mayer added to David Ferrer’s recent misery beating the Spaniard 6-4, 6-3. So the two oldest guys in the Top 10, Federer and Federer, have really hit the skids lately – Father Time catches up to everyone.
Mayer moves on to face JW Tsonga. After missing the summer with a knee I expect JW to have a big finish to the season. He’s 10th right now in the London standings but with the indoor circuit coming up I think he’ll get into London along with Stan. That will leave the final spot up for grabs between Federer, Raonic and Richard Gasquet.
Tennis Channel has complete coverage of the quarterfinals tonight starting at 11:45pm ET.
FRIDAY SHANGHAI SCHEDULE
STADIUM start 11:45 AM
F Mayer (GER) vs  J Tsonga (FRA)
Not Before 3:00 pm
 J Del Potro (ARG) vs  N Almagro (ESP)
Not Before 6:00 pm
 N Djokovic (SRB) vs G Monfils (FRA)
Not Before 8:00 pm
 S Wawrinka (SUI) vs  R Nadal (ESP)
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