Just when I thought things are moving in the right direction again Roger goes and reaches a new low. Will this ever end? The most disturbing thing about this is that nothing seems to give Roger self belief. Even though the game is still there, there seems to be no life inside the body. In the past when Roger came through a tough match it always gave him confidence, like it would for any player. But these days he wins a tough match and it just has no effect. Take the match against Simon at the French Open for instance, after which he got destroyed by Tsonga in the next round. Or take the win over Seppi in in Shanghai even. After a confidence sapping loss to Robredo at the US Open it was a tricky match for Roger against a good player. He struggled a lot in the 1st set and I thought he did very well to win it 6-4. And clearly he took confidence from it because he played better in the 2nd set.
So I thought he would have gone into the Monfils match feeling pretty confident. But then he goes and drops serve right in the opening game against Monfils and loses the 1st set 6-4. OK so he needs some more time to build confidence. I forgive him. In the second set he gets broken again. I still haven’t given up, and neither has Roger because he breaks back and we go into a tie break. In the tie break Roger goes down a break again to trail Monfils by 4-5, with two serves to come from Monfils. Yet he somehow digs himself out of that hole as well to win the next three points and the 2nd set. If anything should boost his confidence that would surely do it. In his opening service game of the 3rd set he comes through another testing game. Good. He has learned his lesson from the 1st set. Yet in his next service game he drops serve again.
Really? What does it take for this guy to believe in himself? Even then at 4-1 Monfils has two break points at 40-15 on Roger’s serve, and on the first point he returns a ball which is far out but he doesn’t challenge the call. Roger somehow holds serve and must feel like this guy doesn’t want to win the match. I mean Monfils is notorious for his ability to throw away important matches. Surely Roger gratefully accepts this gift from Monfils and makes him pay in the next game. It even looks like he will when he goes up 40-15 on the Monfils serve. But no, he doesn’t want it either. Monfils holds serve and wins the final set 6-3. This is why I say it looks like there is no life in Roger. As far as the game does there were some very good tennis from him, but mentally he looks broken and lifeless. To me it looks like he is retired already.
It was another one of those days…
My first reaction after the match was that this is it. It really is over this time. I mean I really thought he has been on an upswing of late, and then he puts in a performance like this where there is just no signs of life at all. But at usual having some time to digest it all changes things. For one thing Monfils did play well, even though he tried to throw it away at the end. His serve was especially good on important points, which frustrated Roger. The frustration was all over Roger’s face in this match. He was clearly trying hard out there but the confidence level was still rock bottom. Monfils is at least giving Djokovic a tough match as I’m writing this, having won the 1st set on a breaker. That makes me feel a little better. The other thing I realized is that when Roger came through a tough match this year there was usually a good reason for him losing in the next match, other than the French Open.
In Indian Wells he lost to Nadal who is a tough opponent for him anyway. In Hamburg he had the back problem. In Cincy the match against Nadal was still a positive loss. Finally the match against Seppi in Shanghai was maybe not enough yet and Roger needs more confidence. I am not looking for excuses. There is no excuse for losing to Monfils the way he did. But I am willing to give Roger some more slack. Not much though. I think if he doesn’t make the Masters Cup he should probably retire. Even if he makes it as an alternate that would probably not be enough to launch another successful year from in 2014, and it will just be another year like 2013. And I for one won’t be interested in that. I can’t think why Roger would be either. It won’t be enjoyable and he would do his legacy a lot of damage if he goes out like that.
I didn’t think we would reach this point. I thought Roger would be playing Djokovic right now, playing with nothing to lose and maybe even cause an upset. But Roger has lost to yet another player he has owned in the past and we just have to deal with it. I didn’t even feel like making a post yesterday. Today I didn’t feel motivated to do anything either, kind of like I imagine Roger must feel like right now. I guess what happens to him really does affect me, which is something I don’t like. So I picked myself up and made this post. I hope Roger can pick himself up too and still qualify for the Masters Cup. Some people have suggested he should just call it a year and come back refreshed in 2014. I think that would be a mistake, and Roger won’t do it anyway. He badly needs confidence and the only way to get confidence is by winning matches.
On his way home. Doesn’t look too unhappy, does he?
He needs to at least qualify for the Masters Cup like I said, which would already give him confidence. Running away now would just compound his problems. He needs something to launch 2014 off of like I said. If he can’t even win matches in his favorite indoor season what would that mean for 2014? I’m not sure what Roger’s next move is. There has been talk about him taking a wild card in Vienna. Hopefully he does that and wins a couple of rounds at least. Then he will have Basel and Paris left to lock up his spot in London. Stan has overtaken Roger in the race by defeating Raonic yesterday but he actually did Roger a favor, because that hurts Raonic’s chances of qualifying. With Murray having confirmed that he won’t play in London it leaves five spots, of which two would go to Del Potro and Berdych surely.
That leaves three spots for Stan, Roger, Tsonga, Gasquet, and Raonic to fight over. Gasquet also did Roger a favor by losing in the 1st round, and by winning today Tsonga has passed him in the race. I think Stan will lose today and Tsonga will lose to Djokovic who has just beaten Monfils 6-4 in the 3rd. Good performance from Monfils in the end which like I said makes me feel better about Roger’s loss. Anyway that will leave Stan, Roger, Tsonga, and Gasquet all very close together in the race, with Raonic slightly further back. It won’t be easy for Roger to qualify and that should be his main concern right now. Basel and Paris will give him chances to make some more points, but I think he must take a wild card in Vienna for sure. He can’t afford to take any chances. If he qualifies for London as an alternate that won’t be any good either.
If that happens and he doesn’t somehow qualify for the semis he should seriously consider retirement. I’m not ready for it to be over though, and I don’t think Roger is either. 2012 was a great encore but I never thought it was the last one. I still want to believe that there is another encore left in 2014. Right now Roger’s confidence still seems shattered though. Another thing we must take into account is that Shanghai is not actually an indoor event. Vienna would be indoor and so is Basel and Paris. That is also something that can still work in Roger’s favor. So I am not ready to give up on Roger just yet. Yes this was another very disappointing loss but I will give him until the end of the year. I still think he can qualify for London, in which case I will be satisfied. Well I’m off to go see if Stan can win a set against Nadal!
Ps. I got the rankings and the race mixed up again, but it’s fixed now.