Well that’s the end the US Open dream folks, as Berdych upset Roger 7-6(1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. It won’t be #18 and a record 6th US Open. Not this year anyway. It is disappointing but lets not forget what I said after Roger won Wimbledon. I said that I am now satisfied no matter what happens. And that still holds true. I also said we shouldn’t stop asking for more. Roger was after all the favorite to win the US Open for me after winning Cincinnati so convincingly. So it is no doubt very disappointing. But it’s important not to become greedy. There is a difference between hoping for more and expecting more.
If you get your expectations up too high you will crash. In a sense that is what happened to me after Roger lost, but I am also content with what Roger have achieved this year. Lets just wind the clocks back a year for a second. Roger lost for the second year in succession to Djokovic in the US Open semis after having match points. He was serving for the match, and yet managed to lose. At that point he hadn’t won a slam for almost two years. It started to look unlikely that he would ever win that illusive #17. It really looked like he was in decline. But after that US Open Roger took some time off and came back a new player.
He won three straight indoor titles including a record 6th Masters Cup. Amazing. We had reason to have expectations for him in 2012. Yet he had a stellar indoor season in 2010 too, but nothing much came of it in 2011. Djokovic was too strong for him in Australia and New York, Nadal at the French Open, and Tsonga at Wimbledon. The one at Wimbledon was the one that was really disappointing, as Roger had a two sets to love lead. Something was lacking. Something which was needed to win that illusive #17. He just wasn’t motivated enough. He wasn’t ready to grind out a win when things got close.
And that was the big change we saw after the 2011 USO. That burning desire was back, and it showed in his results. He won Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Madrid, and then that illusive #17 on the grandest of stages at Wimbledon. His career had come full circle. He won #17 where it all started for him, after some disappointing losses there in 2010 and 2011. We couldn’t ask for more. In doing so he also reclaimed the #1 ranking and equalled Sampras’ record of 7 Wimbledon title. It was a peRFect moment. Since then he also broke Sampras’ record amount of weeks at #1. He achieved three things which we started to think he never will.
To expect more is mere vanity. Of course there is nothing wrong with hoping for more. Personally I thought he would win the US Open. It took me some time to process it all and get over it. About two days. I have thought about it a lot and to explain his loss to Berdych is not easy. My first reaction out of pure frustration was to blame his loss on the Fish withdrawal. That is what cost him the first set I feel anyway. Having said that, he was out of the starting blocks surprisingly fast. He broke Berdych early on, but then got broken back. They headed into a tie break, where Roger made the crucial mistake of losing the first point after missing a very makable volley to an open court.
I am a strong believer that the first point of the tie break is a very important point. It often sets the tone for the tie break, especially if you can break the one who serves first. If Roger made that volley he would have broken Berdych. That would have been a great way to start the tie break. But missing the volley gave Berdych confidence and he reeled off 6 of the next 7 points to win the tie break. Are you kidding me? Still, I was willing to oversee the first set due to the fact that Fish withdrew. Roger was just lacking a certain sharpness, which I expected him to get back in the second set.
In my last post I said that the Fish withdrawal is a blessing, and that Roger may start out slow against Berdych. So i was not worried after the first set too much. I thought Roger would bounce right back in the second, but he didn’t. He went a break down and never got it back. He once beat Berdych in Australia after going two sets to love down, but this was just madness. The chances of you doing that twice against the quality player that Berdych is is very slim. So in hindsight Roger lost this match in the second set when he really needed to bounce back. In the third set Roger broke and won the set. He finally got some momentum going.
I thought what happened in Australia might come back to haunt Berdych, but to his credit he stayed the course and got a huge win. As for Roger he flirted with disaster once too much. Like I said, he should have bounced back in the second set but instead he surrendered serve. So that was a bit disappointing. In hindsight I don’t think that the Fish withdrawal did him any good. He would have been sharper for battle had he faced Fish. But these things happen and it shouldn’t be used as an excuse. Roger would have played Murray if he won, who currently seems to be beating Berdych in very windy conditions.
Murray escaped against Cilic after being a set and 5-1 down. He almost lost to Cilic again. But credit to him for this time turning the result around. After losing the first set against Berdych I think Berdych would win, but it seems Murray is gaining the upper hand now. I think Berdych was the favorite was it not for the wind. He likes a consistent ball and the wind is messing with his rhythm. In the bottom half Djokovic beat Del Potro in straight sets playing 2011-like tennis. He has got to be the clear favorite for the title now. I don’t see him being stopped after Roger lost. He will play Ferrer in the semis who won a marathon five setter against Tipsarevic.
As far as the number one ranking goes Roger will hold on to it no matter the outcome of the US Open I think. But if Djokovic wins the US Open it will be hard for Roger to end the year ranked #1, since he has so many points to defend in the indoor season. If Djokovic wins the US Open he will deserve to be #1 anyway. Two slams beats one slam. It’s that simple. Another explanation for Berdych beating Roger is that the competition is just catching up. How long can you stay ahead of the competition anyway? It’s astonishing for how long Roger has done it. I mean he is 31 and still world #1 with Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Berdych, Del Potro, Tsonga, etc around.
No doubt it would have been awesome if he won the US Open. It would have been unreal. But it wasn’t to be. Not surprisingly Roger was grumpy in his presser. Like me, he obviously believed he was the favorite to win the title and felt he let himself down. But we know Roger doesn’t dwell on losses and he probably over it by now. He now has to look ahead to the indoor season and somehow try to hold on to the #1 position until year end, which would equal another amazing record of Sampras of six year end #1’s. But even if he doesn’t, this has been an incredible year and I’m well pleased no matter what happens.
I know we get greedy and always want more, but just think how you felt this time last year. Winning #17 was the dream that seemed out of reach at the time and the fact that it happened at Wimbledon was just amazing. If it was Roger’s last slam title I am content. I really can’t ask for more. Like I said the field is catching up and it’s hard to know for how much longer Roger can hold them off. At the moment the Olympics in Rio looks kinda doubtful. I’m not sure Roger can win another slam. He may try for two more years and if it doesn’t happen retire. Well that’s the end of the year as far as grand slams go folks. What a ride it’s been!