Remember a few years ago when Roger Federer essentially tore through an entire season without losing to a Top 10 play? I think he amassed some ridiculous number like 23-0 against his top foes during the streak. Well, times as we have seen, are a changing.
On a blustery afternoon at the Monte Carlo Tennis Masters, Federer dropped to 0-5 this season vs. the creme de le creme of the men’s tennis world courtesy of a 6-4, 6-4 setback to World No. 9 Jurgen Melzer.
Federer has never lost to Melzer in his life in their previous three meetings, nor had he lost a set that is until today.
“I don’t think I played terrible,” Federer said. “Obviously, it was still the first week of clay, so I don’t expect myself to play my very best. I think it’s been a solid tournament.
“I think I should have definitely gotten one of the sets. Every time I had this slight opening, things didn’t go my way. I thought he did well. He played aggressive, played the right way he was supposed to.”
The problem for Federer, who hasn’t won a title since Doha at the start of the season, is that he’s just not beating the top players, any of them. I can give him a pass or cut him slack for losing to Novak Djokovic – everyone has – and even to Nadal, although the effort was rather meek in Miami last month. However, a guy like Federer cannot lose to Melzer. Not when he’s trying to make a statement that he’s still a threat to win major titles.
“It’s always disappointing regardless against who you lose,” Federer said. “As long as you keep trying, test all the things out there, you feel like you gave it all the chances, that’s really what matters to me. Look, I wish I could have gone further in the tournament. You know, it was okay. I got three matches and I’m pretty happy.”
Happy to get three matches in? If you say so, Rog.
Not to be entirely overlooked, Melzer has had some big wins so let’s give him credit. Remember he beat Djokovic and David Ferrer at the French Open last year, and he beat Djokovic and Nadal last fall. But still, even though he says otherwise, Roger cannot be feeling to confident about where his game is right now.
Again, against Top 10 players this season he’s managed just ONE set!
In tennis, often you are only as good as who you beat. And through four months of the season Federer hasn’t beaten anyone! (w/apologies to Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka – twice, and JW Tsonga.)
After a great finish to 2010, it’s been quite the opposite in 2011.
“I’ll be back in Switzerland training on clay,” Fed said. “Hopefully the weather is going to be okay so I get some chances to hit outdoors. I’m looking forward to going back home.”
As for tomorrow, I think Andy Murray will get his beating from Nadal. And I think Ferrer prevails maybe in three sets in a tough, revenge match against Melzer.
“It’s a great challenge for me,” said Murray of playing Nadal who leads the Scot 9-4. “Obviously, a very difficult match. But I feel like I’m hitting the ball well. So I need to go in with the right attitude, the right game plan, and play my style of tennis on this surface. I’ve played many great matches with Rafa in the past. I always enjoy playing against him. Tomorrow I’ll give 110 per cent. I think I’ve got a chance.”
A chance? No you don’t. Sorry Andy, just because you beat a qualifier, a hobbled Simon and Nicole Vaidisova’s husband isn’t going scare Rafa. That said, it was a positive week for Murray and I think he’ll play well tomorrow.
SATURDAY MONTE CARLO SCHEDULE
COURT CENTRAL start 11:15 am
 B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs  M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL)
Not Before 1:00 PM
 D Ferrer (ESP) vs  J Melzer (AUT)
Not Before 3:00 PM
 R Nadal (ESP) vs  [WC] A Murray (GBR)
J Chela (ARG) / B Soares (BRA) vs  R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)
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