As you know by now, Federer was upset again by Albert Montanes in Estoril yesterday, going down 6-2, 7-6(5). That was not part of the plan. I’ve mentioned before that winning this tournament would be an important part of his preparation for the French Open, and that it was a good tournament to get some confidence going. I did not get to watch the match, and thank God not. Montanes’ winner to unforced error count was -21, yet he still beat Roger in straight sets. So Roger must have played particularly bad. Roger’s winner to unforced error count on the other hand was -33. And let me not forget to to mention the fact that he was up 5-2 in the breaker. It must have been particularly painful to watch if you are a Fedfanatic.
“I’m disappointed to have played a match like this, where I got off to a bad start again. I didn’t play that badly in the second set, I had my moments but my movement was a little slow. I didn’t have confidence in my movement. I have put in a lot of work.”
The thing with Federer is that there isn’t too much middle ground with him. He either plays really badly or really well. This is because he plays a high risk game. He plays at an incredibly high level when he plays well because of this. But if something small is off or his confidence isn’t quite there, everything kind of falls apart. And it doesn’t make for good viewing, which is why I’m glad I didn’t see this match. Seeing someone of Montanes’ level beat Federer like this makes it even worse. I don’t want to take anything away from Montanes, but Roger used to beat a clay court specialist like Guillermo Coria without a problem. This is just awful. This is a new low for the GOAT. Losing to Baghdatis or Berdych in tough three setters are one thing thing, but being beat on like this by a guy with hardly any weapons is…well I’ve run out of words to describe it.
Instead of using this tournament to gain confidence, Roger has now actually lost even more confidence. All is lost right? Well, not quite. Lets not lose perspective here. We’ve seen it all before, haven’t we? In fact we just saw it earlier this year when he played terribly before the Oz Open, and ended up winning the title in fine style. And what is more is that a turning point is often reached when a player is at their lowest. I’ve found this often in my playing days and in life as well. I’ve performed my best when I was feeling completely down and out. Federer seems to feel the same way:
“I’m not worried,” Federer told the official Web site of the Estoril Open. “My goal isn’t to win 12 tournaments a year, it is the big events: the Masters, the grand slams and keeping the number one ranking.
“My decision to come to Estoril was the right decision. I would like to return again in future. I know that good things are around the corner.”
Interesting to see his goal isn’t to win 12 tournaments a year. That goal obviously went out the door after his recent performances. The thing is he would not say it if he was worried, so one can’t be sure how he feels. He tends to play well when it matters most, but nonetheless he should have won Estoril.
“I’m lacking matches,” said Federer. “I’ll keep practicing hard again. Conditions will speed up in Madrid and Paris [at Roland Garros]. I must take positives into the next few weeks.”
No kidding. This is what happens when you take long breaks and keep losing in first or second rounds! You gotta kind of feel for him though because he keeps working hard and it’s not paying off. Not yet anyway. I was hoping he would go to Madrid with the Estoril title under his belt, but at least the faster court surface and the couple of wins in Estoril will help him a bit. But as far as confidence goes he is struggling. He is gonna have to get lucky or something. Maybe if he wins a really close match it will help him. But even if he does not do well at Madrid, you certainly can’t write him off. I don’t really get it when people write him off for the French Open. It makes no sense given his track record. Earlier this year I was sure he was gonna lose his semi-final streak at the Oz Open, but he was a different player in the best of five set format.
Sure his confidence have probably never been this low, but he looked very out of sorts at Doha as well. It is like he undergoes a metamorphosis when he enters a slam. It brings something out in him. Fact is the semi-final streak has to end at some point. I hope it doesn’t happen at the French Open, but it’s always a possibility. Having said that, I don’t see any particular reason to worry about that. I learned my lesson at the Oz Open…
The Madrid draw has been out for a while as well and you can view it HERE. He doesn’t have the worst draw, but it’s now just about winning matches. With his confidence as low as it is there’s no need to look to far into the draw. He could win his first round, but then he already comes up probably against Wawrinka, which will be a tough test the way he is playing. Lets just leave it at that for now. No expectations = no disappointment.