Federer Loses to Berdych, Marks End of an Era

I was trying to be as positive about Federer’s Wimbledon campaign as possible, but in the end it was a carbon copy of what happened at the French Open this year. He lost to the same kind of player, in the same round, in the same fashion. I’m not going to criticize Federer as heavily as I did after he lost in Halle, because frankly this was always on the cards after that loss to Hewitt. It was kind of expected, so this loss didn’t bother me that much. I got over it pretty quickly. Also, I realized Federer had achieved basically what I wanted him to achieve, which is to win the career slam and beat Sampras’ 14 slams. What Federer has achieved by the end of 2009 was enough to satisfy me as a fan, yet I wanted more. After all, Federer was only 28 years old, and at the top of the sport. There was no reason not to ask for more.

Bonuses are always nice. And I got just that when Roger won the Australian Open. I even entertained such ideas as the calender slam. It seemed like the next logical step. Yet since the Australian Open Roger has been very disappointing. I mean lets face it. Not only has he lost before the semi’s of a slam for the first time, but he did so twice in succession. He also lost the number one ranking two weeks before passing Sampras’ record number of weeks at the top of the rankings. He will even slip to number 3 in the rankings come Monday. So even though Roger has given me so much as a fan and have achieved what I wanted him to, I can’t help but find all of this a little disappointing. I find myself caught between two worlds. In the one world I should be satisfied and not ask for anything more, but in the other world I should ask for more.

I honestly believe Roger is capable of winning 20 slams or even more. You never know what kind of freak is going to come along and challenge these records. No one thought Sampras’ records would be broken that easily, yet it happened in the very next era. Therefore while Roger still has the chance I feel like he should rack up as many slams as he can. If he could push it up to 20 he should do so by all means. But the way he is going now he is not doing it. He is on a slippery slope and he needs to get his act together fast if he is to pick up the last major of the year. It all now depends on what he takes away from these losses. This loss just confirms what I said in my post Does Federer Have a Problem With Big Power Hitters?‘. Will he finally be less stubborn and realize that he can’t match these big power hitters from the back of the court?

It comes back to something I have mentioned before, but this time I want to add something. Roger has always been the untouchable one. He was always the one in control and other players had to play out of their comfort zones to even get a set against him. Now, for whatever reason, that is not the case anymore. It could be due this new generation of big power hitters, or it could just be that Roger is aging. So now you have a situation where Roger has to be the one playing outside his comfort zone, and he is not prepared to do it. He is so used to being untouchable for all those years, that adapting is too much to ask. You can infer that from the excuses he came up with after both the French Open and Wimbledon losses. Against Soderling it was the conditions, and against Berdych it was the injury.


Federer never mentioned injury problems before when he was losing. In fact he said before the match with Berdych that everything was perfectly fine.

Q. Any concerns about fitness at all? There was a photograph with some strapping on your thigh the other day. Is that just precaution?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it was after my first‑round match. MY thigh was hurting a little bit, which already was the case in Halle. In the finals it was hurting me as well.

But honestly now I have no more problems, no more strapping. I’m happy I recovered that.


The he gets asked about these injuries and the big falt hitters after the 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4 defeat to Berdych.

Q. Some of these big, flat hitters seem to be having an effect on you. Do you need to alter your game to adjust to that?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, if I’m healthy I can handle those guys, you know.

I’m not out to criticize the best player ever, but this does seem very suspect indeed. It’s the same kind of aloof attitude he showed after the French Open when he blamed the conditions. I’d much prefer he admitted he had something to do with these losses and not act like he is still untouchable. Everyone declines with age and new players will always come along that trouble you. It is no shame. But Roger seems to think it’s a shame, and therefor he does not make adjustments. Against Berdych he was once again very rigid. There was very little room for creativity and flexibility. The times he did use angles, slices, drop shots, etc, it paid off. But most of the time he was content to go toe to toe from the base line with someone who was simply outhitting him. I said this after Roger lost to Soderling, and I am saying it again.

This loss to Berdych only confirms what I thought before. Again, I do not believe Roger is too old or burned out. I just think he’s not thinking clearly at the moment. Blaming the injuries after the Berdych loss is testament to that again. And he needs to change something fast because things are getting away from him fast. He is struggling very much in the best of three set format and now it is beginning to happen in the slams as well. If this continues until the end of the year, what started as a very promising year, will turn out to be almost a disaster. Kind of like the year Nadal had last year. As always it seems like Federer and Nadal’s fortunes are reversed. Nadal could well turn out to have the year Roger had last year, while Roger could turn out to have the year Nadal had last year. For me Nadal is now the clear favorite to win Wimby.

If he wins Wimby, he will have achieved almost exactly what Roger did last year at this point, while it is quite possible that Roger will continue to perform the way Nadal did last year after the Oz Open. I have serious doubts whether Roger can win the US Open. The way he blamed the injury after the Berdych loss shows me he is still not looking to take responsibility and change things. This will only serve to compound his misery. Things need to continue to go bad for him I think before he will look to himself for the solution. Maybe by the end of the year after he drops out of the top 4 and does not win another tournament he will think about some introspection. I say it again; he can beat these flat hitters, but he needs to become more creative and take more chances. The performance against Berdych was anything but that.

He kept hitting harder and harder from the base line and Berdych said  ‘ Thank you’. A player like Berdych thrives on pace and the harder you hit it to them the harder he will hit it back. Roger needed to be creative. He should have hit more short slices, angles, drop shots, and he should have come in more. Instead of playing a game where lateral movement dominated, he had to play a game where linear movement dominated. The power hitter’s comfort zone is at the back of the court, while they don’t like moving forwards and backwards. They also don’t like moving out too wide, because while they move well for big guys, they are vulnerable out wide. Therefore the short angle is effective. If I was Federer’s coach I would say all these things to him, but first of all I would want to smack him silly for being so stubborn.

The main thing is not to slug it out from the base line with these guys, which is what Roger thinks he can do. He needs to do whatever it takes to break up the rhythm of these guys. They must get no rhythm whatsoever from the back court, and I have already named several ways this can be done. He can also serve and volley more, which is another way to keep the points short and break up these player’s rhythm from the base line. It is not an easy task, but if anyone has the tools to do it is Federer. Another thing about the match that was shocking was how bad Roger was at defending break points. This showed me that he is still extremely low in confidence, especially when facing this kind of player. We have now reached the end of another era, with Roger losing before the final of Wimbledon for the first time in eight years.

I don’t have much expectations for Roger until the end of the year. I hope he gets it back together in time for the US Open, but I’m not putting my house on it. I think we may see him struggle until the end of the year like Nadal did last year, and then maybe that will be enough to humble him. It is not too late. I think he can still win slams, but he must really make some changes. Maybe he won’t win another slam, in which case I will still be satisfied, but not as satisfied as I could have been. Lets hope he can begin a new era like he did after the Oz Open ’09 loss in the not too distant future. I’d really like him to push that slam tally up to 20. We have seen how quickly things change. Roger have been here before and came back, just like Nadal has been down in the dumps and are making a successful comeback now.

Roger is smart and good enough to find the solution. Lets hope he does not take long to do so.

Lets end on a positive note here.

Q. Will this make you hungrier to make you come back and show you can lift this title again?

ROGER FEDERER: Sure. God, I can’t wait for Paris and Wimbledon to come around next year again, that’s for sure. So, uhm, because they’ve been frustrating tournaments for me, even though it wasn’t too bad.

Quarters is a decent result. Obviously people think quarters is shocking, but people would die to play in quarterfinal stages of Grand Slam play. It’s not something I’m used to doing, losing in quarterfinals, because it’s not something I’ve done in the last six years.

So I am winning my matches. Today was a different story than Paris. I mean, I think in Paris conditions were tough. Robin played fantastic. Today was different. You know, I was struggling with my own game and with my physique.

Yeah, I’m looking forward to a rest, and then attack again in North America.

Q. Do you feel you can get back to a position of domination in tennis?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I do think that. That’s why I’m here.

At least we can see that Roger is looking forward to next year and that he is not thinking of giving up his position of domination in tennis just yet. It’s not been an easy time for him but I believe he will bounce back. Maybe even sooner than I think…

Presser: http://www.wimbledon.org/en_GB/news/interviews/2010-06-30/201006301277912137533.html

Ps. Always remember these are my thoughts, and although I consider them to be an educated opinion, I by no means claim that they are absolute fact. I’m sure you don’t read only my blog, and if you do, then I urge you to gain info from several sources. This is what I do as well. Sometimes after I made a post I think I’ve been way too harsh, but then I make the post anyway because I don’t feel like doing a post over which took me like 2 hours to do. Make up your own mind.

Roger Federer

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  1. It happens to the best of them. The end of a era and it’s the beginning of a new era. It’s now up to Roger to figure out his game, since other’s are now passing him by.


  2. I guess our emotions are still raw about his quarterfinal exit. I believe the same goes for him, after a heartbreaking loss he has to face press. I humbly think he is still trying to rationalize his loss, quick easy way out is put excuses on injury and conditions. It might not actually sink into him that changes need to be made especially now that he is not longer young and able to bash opponent from baseline anymore. For everyone’s sake I hope the 1 month break will help him to do soul searching and comeback strong. Question – is it really end of an era? I hope to see begining of 2nd age.


  3. I refuse to believe the genious is gone.It has been present in AO. and will come back.No doubt.The same has been daid in 2008(coach, retire, end of an era…)then he got the USO. and in 2009 he was in the 4 GS finals.
    If I was there for the good times I hae to be there for the bad times.He gives me the passion for the sport,and
    whatever happens in the future I´m still be there.This hurts but that´s life.
    In today´s newspaper (La Nación) says it has been a contact with Franco Davin for coaching,but Davin didn´t
    accept.(off the record of course).


    Ru-an Reply:

    Davin is Delpos coach though…


  4. I’m sad, but I’m not as pessimistic as you are.

    He’s perfectly capable of playing the kind of varied match to beat these big hitters: Del Potro at AO/FO ’09, Soderling FO ’09. The question is whether he still has the fire, the will to fight and win. Only he can answer that for himself.

    As for Wimbledon, now that Federer has bowed out, I find myself in the shocking position of rooting for Andy Murray for the first time in my life. It’s an alien feeling, but I hope he can win the title this year. I’ve been warming to him ever since AO, as I realized the kind of crazy pressure he must be under from his home country’s media, more than any other top player like Federer or Djokovic or Nadal. It can’t be easy.

    With Federer gone he has a real shot, and he has beaten Nadal the last two times they met in a major. He is younger and hungrier than Nadal, who would merely be treading familiar ground if he were to win. Last time they played at Wimbledon, Murray was just happy to get past Gasquet and be in the quarterfinals. Now he has more grass-court experience, has made it to two Slam finals, and he thinks he can win this.

    I don’t know if he has enough to do it, maybe Nadal has too much for him on grass or maybe he will buckle under the pressure. But after losing at AO we saw how much he really wants it. We’ll see tomorrow if he has the heart of a champion.

    Finally, I will mention an interesting parallel: Fedor Emelianenko, the MMA fighter who had never lost a match (except by stoppage due to a cut), finally was beaten recently. Like Roger he’s a natural genius with every move in the book (and some that aren’t) and he can outthink more powerful opponents whom he can’t outhit. And like Roger he has dominated his sport like no one before him.

    After losing, Fedor said:

    “The one who doesn’t fall never stands up. It happened that people made me an idol. But everybody loses. I’m just a human being. And if it’s God’s will next fight, I’ll win.”

    I hope Roger is listening.

    I think it is not the end of an era, but the beginning of a new one. Instead of Federer the dazzling prodigy, overwhelming his opponents with a stream of winners, we will see Federer the sage tactician, outfoxing them with inventive combinations of lovely shots and playing all-court tennis at the highest level ever seen.

    Flushing Meadows saved his year in 2008, I hope it can do so again. I think he plays his freest and most relaxed tennis there and enjoys himself there. On to New York!


    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘As for Wimbledon, now that Federer has bowed out, I find myself in the shocking position of rooting for Andy Murray for the first time in my life’. :lol:

    I think Nadal will be too strong for Murray.


    steve Reply:

    You were right.

    Murray missed his golden chance during the second-set tiebreak when he couldn’t convert that set point. After that, he was never going to dig his way out.

    Pointless to watch the final; no way Berdych has enough to even take a set off Nadal. He’ll probably come out firing, but slip up at the end of the first set and then that’s that.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Well i think Nadal is the favorite but i dont think the final is pointless to watch. Id say Djokovic and Murray is about in the same league and Berdych and Nadal has similar winning scores. If anyone can give Nadal problems it will be Berdych. He plays very attacking tennis which is what you need to beat Nadal. I said the same thing about Soderling before the FO final, but this is obviously a different surface. Look at what Haase and Petz achieved…


    steve Reply:

    It’s the final. Berdych will have a few nerves and be emotionally and physically drained from having come through Federer and Djokovic, which is more than enough to let Nadal into the match.

    Nadal is just too relentless, and he’s raised his level as the tournament has gone on. He’s serving better than he ever has, and getting every ball back. Whatever injury issues he supposedly had are gone. Unless the tennis gods allow Berdych the match of his life, I don’t see him winning a set.

    Like I said, of the power hitters I think only Del Potro (maybe Cilic in future) has the game and mental strength to outhit Nadal in a Grand Slam final. Everyone else will freeze up and miss a few forehands on the important points, and that’s all she wrote.

    The FO final was a very close match despite being straight sets. Soderling had something like twelve break points and converted none of them. Nadal’s perfect defense and Soderling’s nerves made the difference. Soderling was outhitting Nadal on many of the rallies, just not on the important ones.

    I’m guessing this final will be a lot like that.


    jane Reply:

    hey steve, u are right, nadal comes up with unbelievable shots at the most crucial of times.Andy murray played great, but nadal…is just awesome.its down to a few points that decided the match and andy converted non of the break points.berdych has powerful shots but and a good serve, but does not move as well as andy,overall i will rate andy murray a better player.if nadal can return berdych’s serve, most rallies will be won by him and i predict nadal in three sets.


  5. Roger will not be at the top for ever an ever.I supposed
    this is realistic.This hurts but it´s the truth.Time to support Roger, there are many haters, about the injury I have seen his leg strapping since last week, if it is Nadal”his knees after a loss”, if it is Roger everybody gets to judge.From tennis x newsletter:”Thanks to T.B.
    R.F.will not be winning Wimbledon again” Sean Randall.
    Now I love Roger as I never have done, sure he will be back ! If Murray wins the whole thing Roger would be N4?
    I´m not sure…


  6. think the biggest problem federer has is his ego, maybe pp peceiving him as gracious was when he was always winning last time, but ever since rafa came into the picture, i think he hasnt been very gracious,he prob thinks he is above everyone but the reality is , everyone has move with the times and improved while he stood still,ego is his biggest downfall,infact i think very few players are scared of playing him nowadays, look at falla who has lost to him for the past few times but came out fearless,berdych and soderling and alot of players all have talent but the reason why they cant perform last time was due to confidence but once u allow them to win over u, they could only get better just like murray who could not win over fed of nadal few yrs ago,now he has the believe .federer really dun look very motivated to me,dun think its the age its just the mind is old,we will have to see what happens at the american hard court season


    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Jane. Its that ego that is bothering. As long as he was winning it was easy to be gracious. But now that he is losing the ego is showing its ugly face.


  7. When Rafa is feigning injury everybody believes he is really injured and when Federer tells the truth nobody believes him. The world is funny. Here is no place for sincere people. Before play which idiot would say publicly that he has physical problem , which would give his opponent a mental age? And Federer is so severely criticized for saying two different things before and after play, which to me is just natural.And judging from his poor movement that is evident I see no reason to suspect his sincerity.Furthermore, I suspect that he may have been affected by mono or some ill-effects of the lung infection that he caught while in tour in Africa, since to me he is so different from what he was back in January where he played fantastic before achieving the fourth AO crown.


  8. I’m new to this blog, but both most if my family and I have been fans of Roger for many years, he’s pretty much the reason I first became interested in tennis, but I have to admit I was quite concerned about this match and the loss against Soderling at Roland Garros. I wouldn’t necessarily assume he was just making excuses in mentioning the injuries as he doesn’t seem one to do that the way other players do, but at the same time I still think he does need to make some much needed changes to his game. I’m still confident he’ll be able to regain a good form, after the AO final this year I was so confident about the year to come, but I’m not sure if it’ll be in time for the US open or not. Still, I think it’s good to be optimistic, and surely if there’s anyone to put our faith in it’s Roger!


    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Lydia, thanks for the comment and welcome to my blog. Make yourself at home :-)


  9. ruan, who are you rooting for in the nadal-berdych final?


    Ru-an Reply:

    Good question Casey. I think Nadal is destined to win this so i might as well not cheer for Berdych. But i guess i wouldnt mind of Berdych wins.


  10. I also think Roger needs changes.

    The changes do have to be well thought out though. The wrong changes ( like Novak seeking Martin’s serving help) will set him back further.

    One thing I wonder is if is eyesight is diminishing causing delayed reaction time ( which translates to slower movement.

    The eyes are also required for proper balance.

    Sometimes Roger has complained about the sunlight ( most motably wrt the Davydenko match at AO this year). He has also complained about inability to read the serve a few times. It was strange he had this problem against Falla, a guy he faced 3 times in 3 weeks.

    Perhaps corrective contacts or laser surgery is needed.
    I don’t know Roger’s condition so I am not saying he has to do this or even should do it. I am just saying diminishing eyesight is a definite possibility.

    Certain medications ( which Roger may have been taking during mono and/or lung infection ) do have possible side effects of changing the shape of the cornea, which would obviously affect eyesight. I have taken such meds before and temporarily needed glasses while I was on those meds.


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