French Open Rd 3: Darth Fed def Mahut 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5

Ok guys this might be my last post before I leave for the US, so I will try to fit in as much as possible. Again I didn’t see all of this match due to my sports channel. I think they started broadcasting in the second set. I thought this would be a straight set win but Mahut was playing well out there for a serve-and-volley player. He broke Roger at 5-4 in the second set to win the set. Roger broke twice in the third set to go a set up once more. Roger then went a break up in the fourth set as well but Mahut broke back. It was getting pretty close, but I never had the feeling that Roger would lose the fourth set. He then broke serve at 5-5 and held on to move into the fourth round. Fedfans got nervous when things got close in the fourth set, but like I said I never had the feeling that it was close.

This was the second time that Roger lost a set now, against an opponent that wasn’t expected to take a set off him. And of course several Fedfans are now convinced that Roger is either injured or that he is back to 2.0 level. I mean if you are Roger you just can’t win with your fans. They expect him to win every match he ever plays and comfortably so, or it is all doom and gloom. I feel sorry for Roger in that sense. I mean he has the easiest first four rounds of the top four players, and it must be hard to stay motivated. But other than that Ungur and Mahut actually played very well by their own standards. The match stats for Roger was actually not bad at all. His winners easily outnumbered his unforced errors by 54-25.

His first serve percentage was also good at 58%. This is why I say he can’t win with his fans. I mean it’s only the third round and he is playing a guy he is supposed to beat easily. Does people want him to peak in the third round already? Surely he has to pace himself. I’m actually glad Ungur and Mahut played so well, or else Roger would go into a possible quarterfinal with Berdych without having been tested at all. And that can really cause a quarterfinal exit. We don’t want that. It is already a difficult situation with Berdych as he had a fifth set scare against Anderson in his last round, just like he had in the third round against Istomin at Wimbledon 2010. And we all know what happened in the quarter finals that year.

So a quarter final with Berdych won’t be an easy match for Roger. Berdych has to get through Del Potro first however, while Roger now faces a 21-year old lucky loser called Goffin. The difference in strength of opponents between Roger and Berdych are immense. Roger needs to beat Goffin as easily as possible, and hope that Del Potro and Berdych plays a long match. Berdych has played a lot of tennis of late. He played the World Team Cup the week before the French and now he had a long five setter. Another five setter against Del Potro will surely tire him. But Del Potro could win too, which would be a slightly better opponent for Roger. Berdych is just so dangerous, especially when he plays against Roger. He always seems to be in the zone against Roger.

The claims that Roger is not at 3.0 level anymore is of course ludicrous. It never ceases to amaze me how easily Fedfans lose faith. I feel sometimes that Roger deserves better fans. I mean he couldn’t have had a better year so far at age 30. It has been a revelation. Yet when he loses one match against a Roddick who was on fire, on a surface that doesn’t suit him, together with a semi-final loss in Rome when he would have been even more tired, and the a couple of matches at the French where he loses a set against players who are playing above themselves, he is suddenly a failure. It’s pathetic to see this attitude from fans. This is not the definition of a fan. They have a name for it. It’s called glory hunting and it ain’t pretty.

There is absolutely no reason at this point to believe Roger is back to 2.o level. I think I’ve said before the tournament even started that the French Open are the least important of all the big tournament coming up. After it there is still Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the US Open, which are all more favorable conditions for Roger to win in. There is even more tennis to be played than usual with the Olympics this year. Is it really a smart move to go all out on the most brutal surface of all with all those events coming up? Isn’t that what he did last year? And what happened then? He had to skip Halle and he lost in the quarters of Wimbledon. When Roger plays a tournament he wants to win it. Knowing that Nadal will probably be waiting in the final again, how motivated would he be for the French Open again?

Lat year he was in JesusFed mode throughout the tournament and still could not beat Nadal. He gave it it his very best shot and it wasn’t enough. Do you really think he should put in all that mental and physical effort again when he has already completed the career slam? I don’t. I think he should keep winning and try to make the semis. If Nadal somehow miraculously loses before the semis, he still has a good shot at the title. But if he knows he is facing Nadal in the final again I am not saying he should tank, but I think he will be slightly less motivated. Yes, beating Djokovic would give him confidence and he would defend his final points from last year. Beating Djokovic is not a bad thing at all. Roger should definitely try to win. I’m just saying if he does not then it’s not the end of the world.

Getting past the quarterfinals will already give him some confidence. Losing in the semis would ensure that he can play Halle, which he had to skip last year due to making the French Open final. No matter what happens at the French, Roger can’t be seeded second at Wimbledon anyway, since they do their own seedings. After Wimbledon he will have a great chance of being #2, since he has lots of points to gain at Halle, Wimbledon, Toronto, and Cincy. He could easily be second seed going into the US Open, which could mean that Nadal and Djokovic have to play in the semis. Nadal is less of a factor on hard courts anyway. So the US Open may just be his best chance for a slam this year. Winning Wimbledon is obviously the ideal, but if Nadal wins the French he will have huge confidence there as usual.

A final at Wimbledon would already gain Roger a lot of points. I am looking far ahead now but I am trying to put the French Open in perspective. I’m not writing it off, but you just can’t ignore the Nadal factor on clay. For Roger to know that he has lost five times to Nadal in Paris without ever taking him to five sets, must play on his mind. This is possibly why you haven’t been very impressed with Roger so far. He doesn’t really look into this. I think he is basically just hanging around to see what happens. You never know if Nadal might get upset, even though the chances are 0.000001%. Come semi-final time he will have a better idea of what is going on. I don’t think losing in the semis is a disaster like many Fedfans do, for the reasons I outlined above.

And no, it doesn’t mean he is back to 2.0 level if he does. Well I have said about all I wanted to say. We will just have to see how it plays out. I will try to fit in another post tomorrow after Roger’s match, but I can’t promise anything as I leave Monday morning. If I don’t speak to you again I will do so from the US, but it could take a while as I have to buy a new laptop first and will be very busy.

Highlightshttp://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=372271972830483

Presser:

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127 Comments

  1. Ok, I was hoping for Ferrer to upset Nadal, but my hopes were pointless. Nadal was broken only once on his way to the final, and obviously wasn’t even close to dropping a set. What a demonstration of superiority! And talking about constant dominance, the record of Nadal at RG is mindboggling. What happened to his knee problems? Whatever it is that makes him such a dominant player, if you think that most of his opponents are probably using similar means to maximise their chances of winning, you have to feel a certain awe about this guy and the aura he brings to the court. A James Bond movie is only good with a great villain, and for me Nadal is playing that role to the perfection in the Roger Bond movies

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    Chris Reply:

    this is the list of players that have managed to win sets against Nadal in RG: Federer (4), Söderling (3), Isner (2), Hewitt (1), Puerta (1), Mathieu (1), Grosjean (1)

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  2. Chris shut-up! You are not Ruan, Can you get that? Quit sending so many blogs. Your opinions are empty and meaningless!!!

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    spaniel Reply:

    Get some class. You should probably shut up. It is only 2 comments (not blogs actually)

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    rich Reply:

    Hey, Chris. You go for it man!

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    Chris Reply:

    Dude, you’re offended too?

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    rich Reply:

    No way. I’m amused at the reaction you have provoked.

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  3. The whole clay season was no good and was sending a message that will end like this. He doesn`t have physical problems just his mentality again now we have Djoker in the list of who will continue beating him in slams in the future. He doesn`t need to prove us anything but its really sad he couldn`t adjust his game to nadal`s since 2005 so many years and now same with Jokovic.Its not age thing either. he doesn`t wanna change – i doubt his coaches are teaching him to play like today.Forget the unforced errors – he didnt have a plan for the whole match and didnt change a thing .Again couldnt serve out the set like in earlier tournaments. Sloppy games after breaking serve and basically he handed the match to Nole i hope subconsciously not to face nadal.If thats true at least we can expect another Fed on grass and US Open…

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    spaniel Reply:

    Agreed except with that part that he did not have plan and did not try to change anything. He tried to come more to net in 3rd but did not work. Without 1st serve and forehand it was mission impossible.

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  4. Overall I think Roger played a terrible match. He had chances in the first. He let that go by. But to lose the second in the way he did was disgusting. He had a 3:0 lead with a chance for 4:0. Then at the 4:2 when he had three chances for 5:2 and he didn’t take them Si
    knew he’d get broken right back. And then 5:4 choking yet again.

    I know it’s a slow surface and Djokovic returns well but come on. In the third there was no point left to fight so it’s understandable that he lost in straights. He lost the belief after failing to take the second set miserably.

    I just hope he plays MUCH MUCH better at Wimbledon.

    Now, in terms of the FO Final in a way I have mixed emotions. Obviously I don’t want any of those two to win but unfortunately someone will have to. I really don’t want Nadal to have 7 and I don’t want Novak to have all four but whatever happens it will be destiny I guess. I just knew that Novak saving match points against Roger at the US Open and now against Tsonga here would have contributed to his Novak Slam so if he takes it it would be God who helped him win and chose him to dethrone both Federer and Nadal.

    There is not much else to it. I guess we’ll wait and see. At thus point I don’t like either of them so I won’t root for either of them. It is what it is. Let the chips fall as they may.

    Onto Grass and hopefully better results soon. In a way Roger will play Halle now and if Novak and and Rafa also chose to show it would be a good indication of what will happen at Wimbledon as well!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Vily. It is disappointing that he could not win the second set at least. Lets keep the faith.

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  5. This is the the one court that Roger has had trouble on for years. I will always pull for Roger. He is the greatest. (Chris by now you should know the definition of greatest). I felt sorry for Ferrer against Nadal this morning. Nadal is a monster/animal. I do not want Djokovic to win because he might win 4 slams-BAD. No, I do not want Nadal to become #1, but, Djokavic making 4 straight slams is not good either.

    Chris, your insults do not bother me. I am a Southern Belle in America and Roger is a real gentleman from Switzerland. You are not a classy person. Who are you! Do you have any expertise in anything! I took the day off to watch this match. You just comment all day everyday. It is boring. Get a life!!!

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    Chris Reply:

    Good morning Pat, just saw your messages. True, I’ve been commenting a lot these days. Just shows how many times I visited this site to see if Ru-an was posting. Don’t we miss him in our daily Fedfan routine when he’s busy elsewhere instead of writing nice blogs ;-) I’m not aware I ever said something about you in any of my comments, though. Whatever it was that got you so upset, I hope and guess you’re feeling better now!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Chris, I miss you too! I am just extremely busy and under a lot of stress so I hope you will understand. Go to Perfect Tennis Blog to my friend Jonathan because we have similar views and he has a good blog. At the moment I am just a commenter like you guys because that is all I have time for. I hope eventually I’ll be able to make some posts again.

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    Chris Reply:

    Don’t worry!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    :-) I have always appreciated your support of my blog Chris. It’s crazy days but if you were the only one sticking around for my posts and comments I’d be happy.

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  6. obviously roger tanked consciously or sub-consciously, but i’m afraid there may be that nagging back injury again, otherwise he can also hit hard and deep shots of both wings without errors, hit lines with his serve. djokovic just kept balls to roger bh and extracted error after error, that was not the case in the previous year sf. the prospect is not looking great for wimbledon either. hope he may be fully fit coming olympics and us open

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    Vily Reply:

    Obviously whatever happened happened already. I am not going to say that it was for the best because a lot was on the line but it is what it is. As by Roger’s own admissions, if he had won the second set as he was supposed too, it would have been a different match.

    I hope that he plays Halle and if the top guys are there and he still manages to win, he’ll have a big boost going into Wimbledon. Losing in the SFs on his least comfortable surface is not the end of the world. I am not going to give up on Roger now…

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    MJ-RUBAN Reply:

    ruan’s prediction was exactly right, roger wasn’t that motivated out there. but still i think there was a strain on his body, otherwise surrendering service games in the 2nd set in such a tame note is quite inexplicable (despite keeping in mind it’s clay , windy conditions, and how well djokovic returned) :-(

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey guys, couldn’t watch the match and sad about the result but this was pretty much what I expected. I predicted this would happen before the tournament started and I am fine with it. Roger just wasn’t that motivated throughout the event, and it looks like he tanked sub-consciously to avoid Nadal. Lets face it, Nadal is in scary form and there was very little chance for Roger to beat him. In fact it could have been another drubbing like 2008 and he doesn’t want that before Wimby. Djokovic is the only guy that stands a chance against this Nadal but I am still favoring Nadal to win like I said before the event. Now Roger can get some rest and he will be ready for Halle. Like I said before this loss won’t be all bad. He will raise his game in the grass court season I believe.

    Ps. I appreciate all the comments despite my absence. I will do my best to make a post in the near future.

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  7. Only managed to see the first half-hour of the match but perhaps that was for the best.

    His form in this tournament wasn’t great, he dropped a whopping five sets on his way to the semis. It was a bit of a miracle that he made it this far, given that he was down two sets against Del Potro. No rhythm on his serve + misfiring forehand = straight sets loss.

    The fundamental issue with his game is that his margins for error are so tiny that if he’s a little off you get disaster against the super-consistent players like Djokovic and Nadal. To get the ball by them he has to attack more vigorously, but that opens him up to the possibility of more unforced errors.

    He has to play more aggressively, but he can’t just swing out blindly on every shot and hope for luck. He has to be ever more precise in his shotmaking and point construction and that’s extremely demanding mentally. His ability to spot serve in the toughest conditions is becoming ever more crucial, and evidently he wasn’t able to do it today.

    To add to the difficulty, he clearly needs a separate game plan for Djokovic and Nadal. What works against one player won’t against the other. And he needs to be able to quickly switch mental gears and implement these game plans in back-to-back matches, which imposes an additional challenge.

    It seemed like he might be making progress against Nadal this year but against Djokovic he appears to have regressed somewhat. From a four-set victory + loss after match point to two straight-set losses, he clearly needs to rethink his strategy for Djokovic.

    This was a golden opportunity for him to upset the apple cart but what’s done is done. Like Vily I can’t bring myself to root for or against either finalist, though I have to agree with Federer’s assessment that Nadal is the prohibitive favorite. I guess I’ll have to accept the possibility that some other player will attain a particular record that Federer may never achieve.

    Federer’s clay run is over, time for grass now. Maybe he will be able to find his serve and timing again there. Given his post-Rome form, he definitely needs whatever matches he can get in Halle.

    Anyhow there’s still plenty of tennis left to play this season. He’s only really lost if he gives up. As long as he fights, he has a chance.

    This period is the toughest challenge of his career and it’s the time when I’m proudest to be a fan of his. I am sure he will continue to work and train to get back into the winners’ circle.

    C’mon Roger!!!

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    Jiten Reply:

    I am sure this loss is A BLESS IN DISGUISE for Fed in the long run. If memory serves me right, Fed has never won two clay court tournaments in a single year except 2009; 2010 was even worse. In 2011 also he did nothing spectacular except for the great semi final against Nole in the FO semis. This year has been better than average for Fed on clay. One win and two semi finals is much better than what we anticipated at the start of the season (though all of us, the greedy Fed fans would never stop complaining for much more). From now onwards, with the season in his worst surface being over, it can only get better for Fed.

    Have faith in our man. He will certainly deliver. COME ON FED.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the comments Steve. I rely on you while I’m gone because people love your comments. I will make space in the forum in the future if I can’t post so that we all can discuss things there together.

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  8. Roger certainly didn’t look himself out there. I was half expecting this loss. It almost looked as if he really didn’t mind losing. I don’t think Djokovic played that well. Federror just handed him the match. Was Fed feeling embarrassed by his errors.
    Hopefully, he will get back to form for the grass.
    My money is with Nadal but it could be interesting.

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  9. I’m definitely not going to say I know what will happen, but I still say Nadal is scared of Djoker. Djoker is one motivated SOB at this time, and I sure as heck hope he kicks Nadals famous ass. In case you were wondering………http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=acNUrlKp8t0

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    fry Reply:

    I don’t think Djokovic will win at least the odds are against him but I think there are good reasons for Federer fans to root for Nole:
    1. No. 2 ranking will be Federer’s if Nadal loses.
    2. Nadal is actually a bigger threat at Wimbledon+Olympics than Djokovic if he regains his aura and builds on it by surpassing Nole again.
    3. legacy (although I don’t put stock in this0
    4. Between two commercial break servers Nole is probably the more sporting (how many points has he conceded on “bad calls” and even in big points he’ll concede quickly. Also, hits out on big points like no other player even Nadal.)

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  10. The test for Federer is going to be the next two slams plus the Olympics. He had maybe a ten percent chance here and that was before Nadal showed his ridiculous form with his recent change in racquet – if you told me Nadal romped to the final while Federer looked mediocre in every round then I’d have given Federer a one percent chance. And that’d be generous.

    No, RG was never going to be the final exam. It wasn’t something he could make happen just by playing great. He needed Nadal and Djokovic to play badly as well. Asking to much really. Semifinals is a pass.

    Match itself: Djokovic didn’t make the same mistake as last year by trading blows with Federer. He was content to grind and play solid. And Federer had spurts of good play but, whereas last year it lasted for almost two sets, it barely lasted two games. He’s like a star scorer in basketball: he’ll keep shooting until he gets on a roll or he’ll keep bricking and it’ll be a blowout because he needs to score for the team to have a chance. Conditions didn’t help but not the real reason but Djokovic is just a very complete player and the only one with the mental strength and physical skills to challenge Nadal on clay.

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  11. I think we saw the same Roger as played earlier in the tournament, when he often struggled. He couldn’t take his game up to another level yesterday, except in brief brilliant patches. In the semi I was hoping to see something of the old ’04-’07 Roger once more. But what we saw was simply – an old Roger. He couldn’t really hurt Djokovic from the back of the court (unlike Tsonga) and he wasn’t consistent enough to stay with him, even though Djokovic was far from his best. I have never seen Roger broken 4 consecutive times before. Djokovic played him as though he were ranked 50 places below him. It was humiliating. After he lost the second set that was enough for me. You could see too well what was coming.

    The only good thing about the loss is that I don’t have to see Nadal rub Roger’s face in the dirt – again. But that will be Djokovic’s fate, I am picking. After Nadal’s annihilation of Ferrer, who is currently one of the very best clay-courters on the tour, Djokovic will be playing for respect only. He will be lucky to get even a set in the final.

    Nadal has lifted his game to another absurd level. Absurd because the guy struggled through the first half of the year with (he said) bad knees, shoulder and the rest, until the onset of the clay season had not won a tournament in nearly a year, and then as each match goes by this fortnight he lifts his form as though he is on rocket fuel. Yep, he does it every year. It will last through to Wimbledon and the Olympics, and then later in the year he will probably not win a tournament, will lose to nobodies, and get bundled out of the ATP finals – like last year (and every other year) and all the while will complain about his knees – again. Can you see the player we saw at the end of last year (or at Indian Wells and Miami) crushing players like he is now? It’s not just surfaces – during the clay and grass court seasons he simply isn’t the same player that he typically is at the end of the season, when he becomes a mere mortal. Despite 7 consecutive losses to Djokovic last year (on all surfaces) Nadal has found an extra injection of power speed and strength so that the world no.1 will probably have no answer to him tomorrow, as we saw in MC and Rome. Nadal’s cycles of form are so predictable and so transparent it beats me how anyone can think the guy isn’t on something. Yet Roger’s sad loss yesterday suggests the complete opposite about him.

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  12. Ruan, you are so missed. Thanks for sharing your opinions about Steve. I will read his comments more closely. When Nadal and Djokovic play I prefer not to watch. Therefore, I will not waste my time tomorrow. I will just check the scores. There have been some great games during the FO. Tsonga and DP played good games. In my mind , Nadal was on something yesterday. With his many self proclaimed injuries, most human beings cannot come back that quickly fiscally. And you can bet Djokovic has and will spend much time in his egg. As for me I will try to pull Sharapova to victory today. I do hope Roger plays Halle and wins so he can regain his confidence. He is so missed when he is not playing. When he is not, the feeling must be like a person going through with drawals.
    Not sure if it is New York, but it is a wonderful city. If you find yourself in New Orleans just eat. The best food in the US. I hope you will get back to writing by Halle. Good Luck in your new endeavors

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Pat I appreciate that. I’m sure Roger will play Halle and be just fine.

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  13. Seems like a pattern …every time Fed can face Nadal in a slam final after AO 2009 he “makes sure” he doesn’t`t pass the test vs Jokovic or whoever has to face him at the semifinal. If Nadal doesnt reach the final he wins the slam – RG 2009, Wimby 2009, AO 2010.
    I think he has a strategy to protect his legacy as avoiding those matches cause they would have been all lost by now since AO 2009 that his greatness would be almost erased by now if u look only at h2h`s. Fed doesn`t mind play him at semis like in AO2012 but they rarely will be placed in the same half of the draw. Probably till the end of his career he will wait for a weaker nadal to reach finals (was expected at AO2012)or to be eleminated earlier so he get get his last slam or more (if nadals gets injured seriously :-) He won`t reach any Final in Wimby and US Open if is too meet Nadal but he ahs good chance in a 2-set format at the olimpics.
    I think is not serious to excuse him with the age difference like many of us tend to do – basically since 2005 Fed never found a way to beat him and get the upper hand in the “rivalry”.
    After Roddick loss at IW he`s not in the old Fed 3.0 mode anymore and actually he never needed to meet Nadal or Jokovic in some of those tournaments so he basically raised his level and gained some fighting spirit but against lesser players (IW win vs nadal was due to excellent play of him and the wind which didnt help yesterday :-) . Some were excited how he won vs Raonich but Berdych final showed he was not even close to his previous form earlier this year. He looked tired troughout Rome and disinterested in RG first 4 matches. Didn`t show up for Djoko (besides few games)who was playing his normal old level before the space egg got involved in his training.Some say he was have an injury and he mentioned something but that doesn`t matter cause its been two years he cannot find a game to loose like a champion.Giving up playing in 3rd set say everything.Today Del Potro pulled out of his next grass event because of the knee problem so make conclusions about what could have happened if Delpo was fit to finish the match …
    if fed had injury during rome and RG there is no time to recover for Wimby….
    Doesn`t seem good what`s coming….

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