Federer Rots In Rotterdam; Nadal Survives Sao Paulo Scare; Serena Secures No. 1 In Doha

by Staff | February 16th, 2013, 12:21 am

It was a shaky day for the two legends of the sport. While Rafael Nadal’s comeback was nearly cut short by the lightly regarded Carlos Berlocq in Sao Paulo, Roger Federer’s title defense was derailed by new nemesis Julien Benneteau who stunned the Swiss in straight sets 6-3, 7-5 in the quarterfinals at Rotterdam.

After a sloppy first set by Federer, who was broken three times in the opener – five times total in the match, things didn’t get much better in the second. Benneteau, riding a wave of confidence behind his ultra-aggressive play, raced out to what appeared to be an insurmountable 4-1 second set lead. But like he had last year when he led Federer by two sets at Wimbledon, where multiple times he was two points from the win in that match, he couldn’t maintain the lead. Federer briskly broke back and leveled the affair at 4-4.

Credit to the Frenchman, who buckled back in, shook off break chances and eventually broke Federer in the 12th game to close it out for his 200th career ATP win.

“Today, I knew I could do it because I had already done it in Bercy,” Benneteau said referring to his win over Federer at the 2009 Paris Indoor event. “I had to do a lot of good things. I prepared myself to play my game, not to try to play better than I can, but to be aggressive when I could. I needed to show physically and mentally I was here and that I wanted it.”

Federer, who was seeking a third title in Rotterdam, suffered his 200th career loss, and has been titleless since Cincinnati.

“Benneteau deserved to win”, Federer said after once of his worst performances. “He played strong and created more chances than I did.”

“Differences in the top of tennis are small,” he added. “I kept fighting, but I wasn’t able to make a comeback like last year against Nikolay Davydenko. I did not get the chance to. Julien kept me under pressure.”

Federer said the loss will give him the chance to go early to South Africa to do work with his foundation before his next event 10 days from now in Dubai. “I had a fine preparation, but that’s no guarantee for success. It is unfortunate for the people who hoped to see me play on Saturday and Sunday. Instead, I’m now going to South Africa to promote my foundation. Hopefully I will meet Nelson Mandela.”

In the semifinals tomorrow, Benneteau meets countryman Gilles Simon while in the earlier match it’s 2012 finalist Juan Martin Del Potro against Grigor Dimitrov.

Shortly after Federer’s loss, fellow great Nadal found himself in a similar circumstance. Facing Berlocq on a poor court in the Sao Paulo quarterfinals, Nadal rallied after dropping the first set and going down 3-1 in the third to pull out a tough, uneven 3-6, 6-4, 6-4 win.

Rafa, who’s been critical of the playing surface in Brazil, will play lucky loser Martin Alund in the late semifinal. The first semifinal marks the return of David Nalbandian who won a three-setter over No. 2 seed Nicolas Almagro. Nalbandian, who’s playing his first singles event since August, meets Simone Bolelli on Saturday.

In the final San Jose tournament (it moves next year to Memphis, which loses it’s event to Rio), one semifinal is already set between John Isner and Tommy Haas. The second semi will feature defending champion Milos Raonic against the Querrey-Falla winner.

In Doha, Serena Williams needed two sets to return to No. 1 and she got em. But it was easy. The 31-year-old overcame a 4-1 final set deficit to Petra Kvitova to win 3-6, 6-3, 7-5 and make her the oldest No. 1 on the WTA computer ever on Monday.

“I never thought I would be here again,” a teary-eyed Williams said of her returning to No. 1 for the first time October 10, 2010. “I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to get back to No.1. It has been a long road back and it’s a great feeling. It has been a lot of hard work but I don’t want to stop here.”

Next for Serena is a showdown with rival Maria Sharapova. In the other semifinal it’s Victoria Azarenka against Agnieszka Radwanska as all Top 4 women reached the semifinals.

“I’m playing a great player, and hopefully I can play better than I did today,” Serena said of Maria. “I’m happy to still be in the tournament at this point, and I just have to refocus now. I have a tough match tomorrow. We’ll see what happens. It’s not over yet.”

Serena leads Sharapova 10-2 having won nine straight since Maria’s shock win in the 2004 Wimbledon final when the Russian was just 17.

“Serena obviously I haven’t beaten in a while, but I had really tough ones against her last year,” Sharapova said. “I’m looking forward to it. No matter how many losses you have, a good thing is you have another chance against them. It will give me an opportunity to change a few things.”

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39 Comments for Federer Rots In Rotterdam; Nadal Survives Sao Paulo Scare; Serena Secures No. 1 In Doha

The Great Davy Says:

What this mean, “comeback” ?

I got secret massage from Boris I must throw match.

Michael Says:

Julien has always been a thorn in the flesh for Roger. Roger hates to face certain type of players like Julien, Simon, Canas etc. against whom his game doesn’t jell together. You cannot say why ? But it happens. So, it is a disappointing year for Roger so far despite his semis at the Australian Open. As regards Rafa,he needs some time to settle down.

Wog boy Says:

This loss widenes the gap between him and Nole for 410 points, that is over 3000 points from next monday and he still has to defend Dubai, IW … Madrid and I am pretty sure he can feel Andy breading down his neck. My opinion is that Andy has a chance to be #2 by FO, pretty good chance by the look of it.

jane Says:

^ Yes, a pretty good chance I think Wog Boy.

Humble Rafa Says:

When life gives you a lemon, make a lemonade.

Here is lemonade for Arrotards:

17 is good enough.

We are happy to live and witness the greatest tennis player ever.

He will bounce back and win the French, Wimbledon and US Open (sorry, i had to laugh at this one).

madmax Says:

“If you lose your serve five times, like I did today, you can’t win indoors,” said Federer.

“Julien played great, created more chances than I did and fully deserved to win. I fought back at the end of the second set and had chances to take it into a third but that would have been more luck than I deserved.”

Julien has always been a thorn in the flesh for Roger. Roger hates to face certain type of players like Julien, Simon, Canas etc. against whom his game doesn’t jell together. You cannot say why ? But it happens. So, it is a disappointing year for Roger so far despite his semis at the Australian Open. As regards Rafa,he needs some time to settle down.

February 16th, 2013 at 1:46 am

Hardly disappointing Michael. Fact is Fed only lost to Julian twice, this being the second and when you have over 1050 matches in your legs, and a shed load of slams, they going to catch up at some stage.

No expectations really. Bit disappointed, but then again, as a fed fan, I have been spoilt. Very spoilt.

As for the rankings. Andy has a good chance of being No. 1 by the end of the year, that’s the aim, I would hope.

Fed going to his foundation: I remember last year or was it the year before, when he caught the lung infection in Ethiopia? Hopefully he doses up on all the right meds before he goes. Would really to watch him play in Dubai.

mat4 Says:


I doesn’t change much for the FO. Novak still could face Ferrer/Rafa in the semi (because I am quite certain that Rafa will land in Ferrer’s quarter), then the winner of Federer/Murray.

For me, the most important thing is that Novak works on his FH. With a lighter racquet with more swingweight, he can add spin and speed to his forehand.

I believe that the matches against Harrison, (Berdych) and Ferrer were the most important to gauge what the new stick has given Novak: a slapping, flat FH, a higher kicker, more control. But he can’t “push” the ball, he has to hit it, and hit it hard.

Wog boy Says:


I believe Novak is in better place now than last year at the same time, gamewise and otherwise. When I said Andy has a good chance to become #2 by FO it wasn’t because of making it eaisier for Nole to win FO, it was just my opinion about Andy and Roger ATM. I am pretty sure Nole and his team do know what he has to do to win FO, regardless who is #2, #3 and so on. Whether he is going to do it, well that is two millon dollar question?

trufan Says:

Anyone with any serious expectations from Federer now, is being delusional.

if you have forgotten, he is over 31 years old!! Remember what happened to Sampras after he turned 29? he never won anything after 2000 until the surprise lucky 2002 USO win, and then he retired. He had dropped to 14 or so in his ranking before the USO. At the same time in his life, Fed was ranked No. 1 in the last USO!!!!

So far Fed hasn’t had any luck in slams the last few years. Even the Wimbledon he won last year was after beating the reigning No. 1 (Djokovic) and no. 4 murray.

Perhaps he will get lucky and win his last slam this year at the Wimbledon or USO. Perhaps he won’t. Other than that, he might win a title or two here and there, but is not likely to remain No. 2 for long – Murray will take that spot by the middle of the year.

2013 is the change of the guards year. I don’t see either Federer or Nadal being strong contendors in slams any more. For Nadal its normal to be like that at 26/27 years of age, where most players have stopped winning slams.

Agassi was the exception in the open era, who had that brief resurgence at Age 32, but that was also a time without a big time champion in full form. Right now with Djokovic the way he is, and Murray becoming stronger, there’s no hope for Federer and Nadal.

trufan Says:

Of the last 9 slams, Federer has won 1 and Nadal 2 (his usual French titles).

If that’s not clear enough, what will be?

Fed’s last hard court slam was 3 years ago. that surface now belongs to Djokovic, and then Murray.

Clay? We will see this year.

Grass? That’s where perhaps Fed MIGHT have a shot.

the interesting questions now are:

1. Will Djokovic win the French this year?
2. Will Djokovic win 10+ slams in his career?
3. Will Murray back it up and win 5+ slams in his career?
4. Will there be a new slam winner this year?

mat4 Says:

@WB, Trufan:

WB, I understood what you meant, and my remark about the draw wasn’t related in this sense.

Then, it could be that I always play a kind of “spoiler”, maybe I am too cautious also, and, finally, perhaps I also like to always have a different opinion, but, I don’t really feel that Federer is in such a decline.

The age factor, yes, is relevant, but gamewise, I think that Roger has improved a lot, and at his best, plays some of his best brand of tennis.

His problem is the level of Djokovic, Murray and the bad match-up with Nadal: he was dominant for so long, that he started to work on improving his game a bit too late. He lost two years without a coach, then hired the wrong one and when he started to work with Annacone it happened to be a bit late, because Djokovic finally matured.

But I still see him near the top, able to win a slam: a good draw, an easy path to the semi, and he could make it.

About Trufan’s questions: I feel that Jamie is probably the only one knowing all the responses, because, for me, it is all murky.

1. Will Djokovic win the FO? There are to factors: Djokovic’s level — he could play much better than last year — and Nada’s level — we still don’t know if he can regain his form, and his last results are a bit troubling.

2/3. I wanted to mention one of my favourite player, Mats Wilander, but there is no need to. Only a few years ago, at the end of 2010, everybody that Rafa would beat Roger’s records; Roger’s decline has been predicted time and time again since 2008; after the FO in 2011, one of my favourite blogger wrote that Djokovic wouldn’t ever win at Wimbledon… There are so many examples of wrong predictions.

The second and the third questions are related, in my opinion: I don’t see Novak at 10+ and Andy at 5+. It is difficult to explain, but their respective games are in full progression, change, and I expect that one of them will dominate the other. Murray has more power and a great serve, Djokovic has, at least, a stronger will.

4. No. I can’t see that.

Brando Says:

Re FO:

Dubai / Acapulco

Indian Wells


Monte Carlo

Barcelona Open



+ OVER 3 months till opening match say hi to folks who are just jumping the gun looking at a slam that is a long, long way off in the tennis world!

Rafa for one has said he is not even thinking about it since it’s a long way off.

And i bet even nole right now couldn’t care less since he fully well knows that Dubai, IW, MI are very important assignments for him.

And guess what? They are not even on clay!


FO NEVER get’s decided on on an online blog in february!

LOL, let’s saw the coronation of the winner for when it’s due- until then stick to the tennis that is more than interesting enough until then!

Sirius Says:

These are some reasons of federer’s decline to in my opinion.

1. Speed : He is 31. He’s not FLASH of Justice league. He can’t be as fast as he once used to be. (somewhere I read that the mono affected his lightning reflexes and reduced his speed, not sure. But at 31 years of age, u don’t need mono to get slower, thats for sure)

2. Lack of motivation : When you’ve played so many matches (1085!) and have won almost everything in the game (17 slams should be enough though), I doubt that there will be the same WILLPOWER TO WIN in you. Federer can’t be as hungry as he was in 2004-2007. Even sampras was burnt out at age 30

3. Lack of Power : I might be wrong here, but I think that federer’s forehand is not so strong as it was early in his career. Is it because of anything with his racquet or is it because of his aging i don’t know

skeezer Says:

I would not rule out Fed for Clay. If Rafa continues to look shaky and gets booted out , and Fed gets in a favorable draw to navigate. I would not count him out.

Sirius Says:

“FO NEVER get’s decided on on an online blog in february”

Agree. no tourny EVER gets decided on on an online blog :)

Brando Says:


Thank goodness it doesn’t either! :-)

Re Fed:

I think he will play much, much better in the clay swing than he shall at Dubai or IW.

That is my BIG PREDICTION regarding fed.

I think he’ll be a real contender for FO.

I can very easily see him in final to be very honest with you.


He shall have a long break, almost 2 months in which he said he shall practise and train hard.

That can ONLY help him IMO.

He did not do that during decemeber due to his exho tour in SA.

Then his clay tournies are: Madrid, a court that suits him big time, and Rome- a place that he loves to play at.

Perfect preparation for him.

Fed is definitely a top title contender for FO, IMO.

Rule him out at your peril!

madmax Says:


I don’t understand your comment here? Makes no sense to me.

“So far Fed hasn’t had any luck in slams the last few years. Even the Wimbledon he won last year was after beating the reigning No. 1 (Djokovic) and no. 4 murray”….so what are you trying to say?

Having beaten BOTH novak and Murray for the wimbledon title, well, just brilliant is what I say. End of.

I appreciate his brilliance and excellence over two of the best players right now in the game, and particularly beating the world number 1 too!

Humble Rafa Says:

Playing 3 sets with clay court midgets sucks.

Sirius Says:


i hope that the long break before madrid helps roger

Giles Says:

HR. don’t worry too much. You need the practice!

Cupcake Says:

What I’d already witnessed at Rotterdam this week was a Federer whose serve was not working well right from the first round – for whatever reason I do not know. He played a very messy game against Benneteau and, even as well as Benneteau played, Fed was the architect of his own destruction a lot of the time. He looked pretty lacklustre most of the time in Rotterdam. How motivated deep down he is in the smaller tournaments now he’s reached 31 and regaining the No 1 spot is not in his sights this year, is perhaps, open to question. Also open to question is how that back of his will stand up to the rigours of the modern game now he’s 31 and has has had to endure over 1000 matches. Federer’s back has always troubled him on and off throughout his career … he hasn’t made a big deal of it and has largely been able to cope with it. But over 30, it will become less manageable.

Giles Says:

Vamos Rafa. On to the final!

alison Says:

OnlyTwo tourneys back,and already two finals,most people would probably not agree with me,but all ready thats some achievement,regardless of what happens tomorrow,thats nothing for Rafa to be ashamed of.

Sidney Says:

Roger’s loss to Julien is due to Julien’s level of play. This according to Roger himself in the after-match presser. It wasn’t Roger’s age, because they are both 31!

Julien was very aggressive and returned very well. And Roger seemed to have missed a lot of ‘easy’ shots. This happens to the very best of them. Nole also has spells when nothing goes right.

End result: Julien won.

On to Dubai for Roger. For me, Rotterdam was not that important anyway, in the big picture. Neither is Dubai. I wonder what the appearance fees are in these 500 events?

IMO, Roger should focus on grand slam, year-end and a few but not all 1000 events. I don’t remember the schedule he released earlier, but I hope he skips either Madrid or Rome (these events are too close in the calendar), and also Bercy (too close to year-end event).

Appearance fees at the lower events are just gravy.

Giles Says:

alison. Agree!!

Wog boy Says:


Agree with you about Roger but there are two problems, firstly he was and is defendenig to many points since he won those tournaments last year (Rotterdam, Dubai, Madrid) so I don’t think it is money though I read last year that he was paid one million to play Rotterdam whether it is true or not I don’t know.
Secondly, he cannot miss to many of them because he will be too rusty, like some people said about his games at AO and now in Rotterdam. Everybody says he is master when it comes to scheduling (not just tennis master) so I guees he knows what he is doing. I am looking forward to see him in Dubai and hoping that both of them (Nole and him) will make final so we can enjoy another great match between these to great players, or to be precise between the greatest and great player.

Wog boy Says:

^these two great players

trufan Says:

Fed won 52% of serve points, 33% of second serve points again Benneateau. Can’t win a match with those serve stats. His serve just wasn’t there.

Seems like he was more keen to meet Mandela in South Africa.

He can’t just stop playing masters and 500 tournaments, since that means he won’t be in shape or in touch for the slams. I think all he will do now is to play a couple of tournaments before each slam, to be in good shape for each slam, and then hope lady luck smiles a bit. Plus he needs some points to keep up his ranking at least in the top 4 – if he drops out of that, he anyway lowers his chances at slams.

Lets see. I think he stays in the top 4 this year, and tries (seriously) for each of the remaining 3 slams, including the French (if Nadal loses early, he does have a great shot at another French title!).

Next year is completely uncertain. If he goes deep in each slam, and maintains top 4 ranking, I think he will play next year to give it another shot to get one last slam. Otherwise he will retire. I don’t think he will continue playing once he drops out of top 4.

With Nadal the way he is now, his lead over Nadal in slams (17-11) seems safe. Djokovic started so late that even against him (17-6) his lead is safe – since Djokovic will also be 26 this year, no spring chicken.

Even Sampras’s 14 seems untouchable for Nadal and Djokovic right now.

trufan Says:

BTW, it was incredible for federer to win Dubai last year at 30 years of age. I don’t think he will win either Dubai or IW – these slow outdoor hard courts are not very suitable for him. The old man will play these just to keep the points tally healthy and get some appearance money from 500 tournaments (even masters – since he doesn’t have to play all masters, I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets something there as well, just to play).

I remember the days when Tiger Woods was at 14 slams (in golf) and Fed was at 12 slams (in tennis), and the debate was who will reach their target firt (14 for Fed, 18 for Tiger).

Tiger is still at 14, while Federer is at 17, quite close to Tiger’s target!

Seth Says:

There is no reason in this universe that Federer should ever lose to a spare like Benneteau. Just shouldn’t happen. Somewhere in the cosmos, a tear in the space-time continuum just opened up.

M Says:

Benneteau is not a spare – he’s made it to the final, which is more than anyone in the field other than his opponent can say. And he’s had tough matches with Roger in the past; he’s a bad matchup for him (and anyone in the ATP can have one of those) – not to speak of the fact that Roger elaborated in his interview on how well he played.

A little respect for the vets this weekend, please – they are four (if you count Rafa, which I do – he will be 12 years on the tour this year) of them out of the six in the lineup of this weekend’s finals.

M Says:

“FO NEVER get’s decided on on an online blog in february”
Agree. no tourny EVER gets decided on on an online blog :)”

Thanks be to goodness it doesn’t. Because … *smh at some commenters*

Also, those drooling over Rafa “not doing well”? If it’s slipped your mind that São Paulo is his second of two finals in as many tournaments following a *7-month layoff*, please it also to remind yourselves that São Paulo is an *indoor*, and not an *outdoor* clay court, to distinguish it from the RG courts in just an elementary way. If you have no idea what the ramifications of such might be, perhaps some of your time might be better spent reviewing Tennis and Movement 101, as opposed to, you know, premature gloating.

You all have a nice rest of your weekend. :-)

jane Says:

Agree about Benneteau. He’s a solid player. I know Nole has struggled against him in the past, and hasn’t Rafa had some tight ones versus Benny? Seems to me he has. He’s got a lot of flair!

Seth Says:

I still say he’s a spare. And Federer should never lose to a spare.

Sirius Says:

” *smh at some commenters* ”

why is that? would u explain?

M Says:

@Seth –
“I still say he’s a spare. And Federer should never lose to a spare.”

Such a thoroughly-researched and well-supported opinion.

I’m also so happy Roger agreed with you, since he said himself in his interview that he was outplayed in the match. *smh*

Seth Says:


Never claimed it to be a “thoroughly-researched and well-supported opinion.” Benneteau is certainly no Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray. He’s not a Del Potro or a Berdych or a Tsonga either. Hence, he’s a spare in my book. In his thirties. Never won anything of significance. Yep, a spare. Roll your eyes all you like.

Michael Says:


That is the price you pay for Greatness. Roger has set the bar so high that it is disappointing whenever he loses. But now-a-days much to the dismay of himself and his fans, he is losing relatively regularly than in his hey days. That is to be expected considering that he is nearing 31 and his best years are behind him. But still he has been able to consume the players other than top five with ease. However, this one will hurt Roger considering that Julien is not even a seeded player. I hope Roger picks up his form and show what he is capable of. I think Wimbledon will be the best chance for him to win another Slam.

Brazil Federer Fan Says:

It is all gravy for Roger. With Djokovic crushing nadal to a pulp, Roger can relax about his legacy and enjoy his game. No expectations from the Fed. He has done the hard yards, it is time for him to enjoy his game that has brought happiness to millions all over the world.

Bennetau deserved a win over fed. Better fed lose at rotterdam than in wimbledon/olympics [he beat benetteau in both places].

Enjoy Federer. Remember that quote from a church in England? God Made Roger Federer. He is the greatest/smartest sportsman of our times. Not a cheater like armstrong/woods or a guy who is empty in the head like most sportsmen are.

He is not only civilised/classy/suave/majestic but he can tame the talent/skill God gave him without being crushed by them like Safin/Murray/Gasquet/Rios.

Federer – King of the Court.

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