Federer Loses to Hewitt and All Hell Breaks Loose(Again)

I would be lying if I said I was surprised by this result, as I was expecting something like this could happen. Federer just didn’t convince me in the match against Petszchner, and Hewitt was always going to be a dangerous opponent. That doesn’t excuse the fact that Federer can’t put away opponents these days. Not since the Australian Open anyway. In the second set at 4-4 Federer had three break points, but could not break. The old Federer would have broken there and won the match 6-3, 6-4, but the recent Federer allowed Hewitt to hang around long enough to win the match 3-6, 7-6(4), 6-4. Since this loss I have read several comments by fans about Roger not being what he used to be(like that is something new) and even that he should think of retirement. Let me just make something clear. Fans who say Roger should retire were never fans in the first place.

They have a name for those kind of people – glory hunters. They are not fans of Roger himself, they are fans of his winning. At the moment they find themselves in a precarious position, because although Roger is but a shadow of what he used to be in the best of three set format, he won a grand slam just a few months ago. But not surprisingly the glory hunters are getting tired of being in this position, because this has been going on for more than two years now. But they also want to be there for his grand slam success, so they are conflicted. The fact that Roger lost before the semi-finals of a slam for the first time in 24 appearances at the French Open makes it even harder for them. As they did at the beginning of 2009, they are calling for Roger to retire to spare them more heartache.

They don’t want to miss out on his major success but at the same time they don’t want the heartache that comes with Roger losing in the smaller events, so they are begging for retirement. This kind of person does not care at all for the person they support. It’s all about the winning. As soon as their favorite starts losing, the past is forgotten and they hate their favorite. It’s even more difficult for them now because even though Roger lost in the quarter finals of a slam, it’s not like he played bad. Would the old Federer have won that match against Soderling? Who knows. What we do know is that Federer did not play badly, it was his worst surface, and Soderling played exceedingly well. So as far as I’m concerned he is still a different animal in the slams. I already said one should wait at least until the end of the year to asses Roger’s form.


If he wins Wimbledon or the US Open, he has had another great year, and if he wins both, all of a sudden he has had an amazing year. The fact that Roger lost to Hewitt in the final of Halle is not ideal, but he lost in the semi-finals of Doha before the Australian Open as well, and went on to dominate the major. He lost to Davydenko in that semi-final, and went on to beat him in the four sets in the major. If he faces Hewitt at Wimbledon I wouldn’t be surprised if something similar happens. It would have been nice if Roger could go into Wimby with another title under his belt, but he goes there as the favorite nonetheless. Roddick, Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic all lost earlier and to worse opponents than he did at Queens. Despite this loss, I think Roger will feel happy with his preparation and bring his best form for the big one.

Presser: http://www.gerryweber-open.de/en/current-news/interviews/interview-roger-federer-2010-06-13/?jahr=2010&tag=06-13

Highlights: http://video.gerryweber-open.de/media.1133.0.106.html

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21 Comments

  1. It feels like a different Roger, yes. It doesn’t feel like the 2008 Roger. In 2008 he struggled physically. I saw him not being able to make the shots he usually pulled off.
    This Roger is different. He can pull off the amazing Federer shots like in his heyday & he has more variety (yes, he’s maybe slower)… but apparently his killer instinct isn’t there. What I worry is that he’s lost a bit of passion and concentration to the game. This could potentially be more detrimental to achievements.
    We’ll see what Wimbledon brings… but the big hitters are potentially more dangerous at Wimby.

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  2. so what’s your take on Roger – does it mean ANYTHING – at 4-4 40-0 on Hewitt’s serve, was it really Hewitt playing so well or Roger did lack that killer instinct? I was so emotionally invested in all roger’s matches sometimes it’s hard to keep a clear head!!!
    I must say I was very disappointed and shocked to an extent that he didn’t take one of those breakpoints at 4-4. I really thought the match would be over .***sigh***

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  3. In almost all important moments, on breakpoints, Federer played timidly, played not to win, but to avoid losing. He waited for the opponent to miss, instead of taking it to him.

    This may seem as something psychological, but IMO it’s stemming from something physical – he’s ever so slightly slower than before, unable to reach those sharp, low balls. From this, his overly cautious play arises.

    If his serve is not at his absolute 100%, he loses the match.

    Add to all this the pitbull grit of Hewitt, and Federer loses.

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  4. Roger should retire. He has lost his desire to be the best. He is not hungry anymore.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hope to see you back here if he wins Wimbledon.

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    jane Reply:

    chances are quite low that he will win but making it to the qf should not be a problem

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  5. This loss isn’t surprising, and I don’t think it augurs very much.

    Wimbledon will tell us a lot. It’s one thing to lose at Roland Garros, maybe since he finally has the title he no longer felt the same urgency to win there and he let himself relax just a bit against Soderling.

    But Wimbledon he loves above all other things in tennis. If he can’t get himself motivated enough to bring his A game there, where can he get himself motivated?

    I hope he will bring his best tennis to Wimbledon, if he does it means he’ll win the title, no matter how well anyone else is playing.

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  6. If this is Roger´s decline and if players find declines ugly to experience(as bad as fans or worse!) we´re in a wave of retirements from the likes of Roddick, Davy, Novak, Andy, Nadal, they are all losers.Seems to be a lot of hate towards Roger around.All of them has been so vulnerable.This is a sport and this is tennis and
    players come and go,Roger´s not that dominant likebefore,but still strong and motivated for the love of the game.Roger achieved and given to the game of tennis is way beyond measure.Real fans are for ever, the others root for glory.( as in life.)

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  7. Did anybody notice the three break points Roger couldn’t defend? The first one was a second serve in the advantage court and Hewitt took the risk of sending it in the middle. The second one was a really good serve. In the third one, Hewitt was really really lucky as he got a net chord in his favor. After that he played very positive. I think Federer was very lousy during the tie-break. We should also give credit to Hewitt for the way he played. Overall it was a great tennis match, worthy of a final.

    Of late, I have seen Roger losing concentration all of sudden during matches which of course cost him very dearly. The no. of shots hitting the frame is also (though not very alarmingly) on the rise. I completely agree with LongLiveKingRog that it is more psychological than physical. If Roger can concentrate a bit more during his own service games, I am sure, most of the matches he lost of late, would have ended in straight set victory for him. On the positive note, I am observing more variation in Roger’s game than before. With age, one will have to make up for the lost speed with the variation.

    I am sure 4th of July won’t betray us.

    Come on Roger, if you cannot do it, who else can?

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  8. The worry i have with Roger’s recent dip in performances is his poor serving under pressure and inability to lift himself up after winning the first set. More often than not he is winning the first set only to lose momentum and direction in the second set and consequently the match especially if its a 3 set affair.

    I am hoping he is doing a lot more work to get stronger mentally like he used to be in 2003 -2009 timeframe. Physically, i think he can easily play another 7 years but it maybe shortened if he is not dominating his opponents mentally.

    Agassi in his book “Open” talks about the pressure of playing Roger by saying 0-30 against Roger is unlike 0-30 against any other player which is why Roger is the best he ever played against.

    Currently, Rafa is showing great mental fortitude to fight through matches and i would like to see Roger bring that part back into his game. He could probably then end up with at least 28 slams – double Sampras!

    Ruan – this is a great blog and i love reading it. Many thanks for keeping this alive!

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  9. I am trying very hard to be objective about this but Roger played poorly during 2nd set. I do wonder if it’s lack of motivation, mentally tired, mid-season slump or just feeling tired from travelling with his young family. So many unanswered questions. As fan, I think its time for us to lower our expectations of Roger. As much as I love him to win everytime- some things are bound to happen, age and law of avarage. His H2H against some players are mind boggling. Its bound to snap just like his Semis streak and unexpected wins by his weaker opponents. I can’t bring myself to utter the word retirement and can’t believe this is coming out from his own loyal fan, where are your loyalty. Instead I want to continue supporting him and rallying him to overcome his current ‘problems’. I want to watch him play beautiful tennis as long as possible even if this means watching him lose uncharacteriscally. I want to see him take back No1 ranking, I want to see him winning 7th Winmbledon and 6th USO. I want him to win Olympic Singles Gold Medal. I want him to lead Switzerland to Davis cup victory and finally beat Nadal in RG 2011. Too many wishlist here and that is why I want to watch him playing till 2012.

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    jane Reply:

    i think if roger doesnt win anything this year, its hard to see him winning ever again cos then his morale will be so low

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  10. I hate putting these two together but in these situations it helps to be a fan of Serena Williams, she can lose to a nobody in the most frustrating manner and still win a major, I’m not worried, Rog will still win majors but just not as many, it’s bound to happen it’s impossible to dominate a sports for 5,6,7 years but even when he loses he can still produce some amazing shots, he just lost it in the key moments of the match, I think he’ll play better at Wimbledon.

    Hewitt is great on grass, it’s his best surface he was always going to be tough, I saw some stats on the ATP website, I was surprised that Hewitt has actually won more matches on grass than Federer and has a perfect record in finals on grass, it doesn’t matter who you are the one player you cannot afford to play anything less than 100% against is Lleyton Hewitt, he makes everyone pay. Congrats to him, people were staring to take him for granted recently, at least he can get some limelight now.

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  11. Hello!
    Very interesting blog Ru-an. Thank you for this oasis of silence where I can put my expectations in order. On the homepage of Roger there are so many people that just want to see their posts published that I really cannot follow the useful posts.
    The fact is, as you and Dippy already said, that we have to evaluate our expectations regarding Roger’s career. I am sure that in every fan is hidden a “glory hunter”. Why? Because he simply didn’t give us the chance to prove whether we are real fans or not. We can say that 2008 was a rather bad year but still he defeated twice Nadal and won a Grand Slam Title. How many players in the tour can say that about their “worst” year? Probably that now is the moment when we have to be honest with ourselves and check deep inside why we were Roger’s fans and if that part of “glory hunter” is over 50% to try to find another “target”. Hard job anyhow. Who will dominate in the future the masculine tennis as Roger did in the last years? Nadal? That “muscle man” that is “improving” his game all the time with different ways of getting his shorts out off his muscles?
    Roger played always a beautiful tennis and had the variety and the “choreography” that a real art lover can enjoy. Nadal can win points by reaching balls that nobody can even think that are reachable… But is not enough. Compared with Roger is just like a hamburger compared to a real Italian meal (not a French cuisine that is full of pride but leaves you at the end hungrier that at the beginning – this looks like Murray for me). Italian meals can have class, even higher than the French ones, have very good, but not extra sophisticated taste, and the digestion is simple and natural.
    The bad point with Roger now is that I could not “digest” very well his defeats. I am suffering like a dog and the worst part is that I have argues with my wife and friends just because he is losing.

    Well after all is just a game and the idea is to lose with style if you can not always win. Roger is doing this he is losing with style…

    I hope that he will win with the best style that he is capable off at Wimbledon this year. It is after all the only tournament that tried to keep the style that tennis had at the beginning.

    Thank you again.

    Dragos

    To be honest the symptoms of what is happening now were visible even during the final of Wimbledon of last year. He lost concentration and he made simply too many unforced errors with the forehand. Thank God that he manged to keep that excellent first serve. With Soderling due to the conditions I can really say that he played well but the Swedish played unbelievable. He risked and he won. Disappointing anyhow the humble attitude off of Soderling in the final.
    Coming back to Roger…

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  12. I only saw the first set when Federer broke on a very lucky net point, so I can’t judge the rest of the match. There isn’t much to learn by Nadal’s loss at the Queens either.

    Only after Wimbledon will we be able to know more about Federer. It’s his favorite and best tournament. While losing in the final against an opponent like Nadal wouldn’t make one question his form/confidence/motivation, anything less may be too much to handle both for him and his fans. So I think Roger may have a lot of pressure going in that tournament. Wait and see.

    However, like you said the thing is that Nadal and Federer are rarely playing well at the same time. Whatever happens, next season will be very hard for Nadal with the points he has to defend, just like this year is tough for Fed.

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    jane Reply:

    what did federer win last yr tat was so hard to defend this yr?as far as i knw its only wimbeldon n FO, n forthe rest it was as bad as right now.

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    Dragos Reply:

    The idea is that Roger won a lot of points last year that at the same date of this year are deducted from his total ATP points. So for Nadal that practically didn’t played at the second half of last year is much easier because the points to be deducted till the end of the year are almost zero. On the other hand Roger won Madrid (only finalist this year), FO (only QF this year) and Wimbledon. Until now the difference in points between Madrid and FO last year and this year made him lose the number 1. So in order to regain his natural place (number 1) he has to perform better than he was last year. He has to win Wimbledon, US Open and the Champions tournament. Still if Nadal is going to gain some points it is not going to be easy to regain number 1 this year.

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    jane Reply:

    but i guess,federer is getting older,losing to pp that u normally dun lose to is a sign , anyway things have to come down at some point.

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  13. Some years ago one fan was talking with Lynette Federer
    about his stress.(after Roger loss).
    Lynette with the wisdom of a mother told him:”Better you are going to be used to this sort of things, Roger is not going to play like these years his whole career”.
    So simple and wise.

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  14. I think it’s a bit harsh to say that everyone who wishes Roger would retire is a glory-hunter who doesn’t care about him as a person.

    As painful as losses may be to his fans, they are surely more painful for him and his family. If you care about Roger you don’t like to see him in pain.

    Of course I don’t want Roger to retire right now, as he still has plenty of good tennis left in him and loves the game too much to leave. But honestly, I’d be pleased if he’d keep to his original idea of retiring after the 2012 Olympics (or at least the end of that year). It’s gonna be diminishing returns after that point, and his back is not in great shape. Pete Sampras has written about how unhappy he was towards the end of his career, Agassi about in now much physical pain he was in. Who would wish that on Roger?

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  15. I think Roger spoiled us,with age the decline is inevitable and Lynette’s comments just show how grounded that family is.Roger’s tennis is a gift to us all, it is difficult to ignore the despair when he loses simply because we are terrified that this wonderful gift that has brought so much joy in our lives will be taken away from us…..after all Roger winning slams was the one constant in this unpredictable and fickle thing called life.

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