Well I have said most of what I wanted to say in the comments of my last post, but I feel obliged to make a post regardless. No one expected Roger to lose to Robredo, especially by a scoreline of 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-4. Most people thought a Fedal quarter final would happen this time, at least after what happened at Wimbledon. But unfortunately Roger could not hold up his end of the bargain. Some of my readers already had the Fedal quarter final booked, which is why I kept warning that it is not a reality yet. Things have gotten pretty weird in the last few years with Fedal. Take those two US Open losses of Roger to Djokovic in 2010 and 2011, after he had match points and was going to face Nadal in the final. In 2010 Roger knew Nadal was waiting in the final and he let Djokovic off the hook after having two match points. In 2011 he played the first semi and didn’t know he would face Nadal.
So I think in that instance it didn’t distract him. It was purely that return from Djokovic that threw him off. This time Roger almost beat Nadal in Cincy and was on a great run of form I thought, but against Robredo he simply collapsed mentally. The 2/16 break points converted says it all. My first reaction was that the possible meeting with Nadal was once again in his sub-conscious, causing him to lose it mentally. But he started his match before Nadal and wouldn’t have been assured to face Nadal. Also these mental collapses are not something entirely new. I have always thought some of the past losses to Nadal have scarred Roger deeply, even though he has moved on well from those losses. He never came to terms with Nadal, and knowing that Nadal is ahead in his draw must have an effect on him.
Another slam loss to Nadal at the only slam they haven’t played against each other would not be much fun. And Nadal is playing like an absolute beast. Kohlschreiber actually took the first set off him in a tie break because he was playing the best tennis of his career. He kept up his good play in the second set but Nadal is simply impossible to hold off. He relentlessly presses forward until he gets his way. So he ended up bread sticking Kohlschreiber 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. I am not sure anymore exactly what effect Nadal has on Roger emotionally, but I have realized that it is not important. Too much analysis gets you nowhere. The bottom line is Roger lost to Robredo and therefor he is not facing Nadal. If Nadal had no effect on Roger’s mentality in the Robredo match then we can also conclude that he is not ready to face Nadal.
To have a chance to beat Nadal he had to beat Robredo in 4 sets at worst. We can’t be sure why Roger collapsed mentally. He didn’t even play badly. I thought he played well enough to win this easily, but every time there was an important point he choked badly. Maybe in the end it is a combination of not having enough confidence yet and the idea of having to take on Nadal? Like I said it doesn’t really matter because we can’t know the answer for sure. We don’t know Roger personally. What I did realize is that Roger is still in a building phase. He played well in Cincy which would have given him confidence, but confidence don’t just come back after one event if you have been struggling as long as Roger did. His confidence was at an all time low after Gstaad, which is why I was surprised he did as well as he did in Cincy. Then he continues his confident play in the first three round in New York.
All of a sudden our hopes are raised back up and we think he can beat Nadal and win the US Open. It’s normal to feel that way and believe in your player, but it’s also quite ridiculous if you think about it. It takes time to build your confidence back up after it was basically shattered, which is why I am not writing Roger off just yet. There is the Nadal factor as well. We know by now Roger and Nadal’s fortunes alternate. Nadal is currently on a hot streak. He has been on one since his comeback and it won’t last forever. I think he has a good chance of winning the US Open, but after that he may begin to slump again. It doesn’t make sense to assume he is gonna win the US Open and Australian Open and all of a sudden be very close to Roger in the GOAT debate. Not even wining the US Open is a given. We know how good Djokovic is and Murray has firmly come into his own now.
You think they are just gonna stand by while Nadal snatches two hard court slams in front of their noses? I’d be very surprised if Nadal can pull it off. I think Roger is currently on the rise despite this setback and he will continue to rise in the indoor season. The important thing now is getting more matches, more wins, and as a result more confidence under his belt. Then he can go into 2014 with a good foundation. So contrary to the ones with weak to no faith who are writing Roger off and think he should retire, I am actually optimistic. The 2012 run of form was not Roger’s last encore. He won’t play that well again for that amount of time, but he will have another high and do something good. Whether he will win another slam is another story but the point is there is more to look forward to. I think his main goal now should be to make the Masters Cup.