I’m sorry for the late post again, but I needed some time to process this loss. This was obviously another very disappointing loss, given that it was the fourth time this year that Roger had match points and lost. And this time he had no less than five of them. And although all those match points were on the Monfils serve, it was all on second serves. I find that pretty disturbing. Since Wimbledon Roger’s results have really picked up, which is a very positive thing. But even since then he has lost two matches where he had match points. First it was Djokovic in the US Open where he was a point away from winning the match on two occasions, and now Monfils. This is something that probably never happened to Roger in the past. Personally I can’t remember one such occasion, and now it has already happened four times this year alone.
It is not a sign of confidence, whichever way you look at it. After looking flat from the start, Roger fights back from being a set down to being 4-1 up in the third, only to lose serve again and waste five match points at 6-5. But this was an all too familiar scene. That is what really bothers me. When Monfils was serving at 5-6 to stay in the match, somehow I just knew this was going to a tie break. I just knew Roger would not close out the match there after what I have seen in the past. I even knew it when he gave back the break in the third. It was all over when that happened. The situation was all too familiar. It concerns me because these kind of matches is a true test of a players mental toughness. It’s easy to win when everything is going your way and you are playing well. But the true test is when you are having a bad day.
Then the best still find a way to win. And it seemed for all the world that Roger would do just that after fighting back in the second set and going up a break in the third. Right there the match should have been over. But there is something hesitant in Roger these days which deeply concerns me. It’s like the killer instinct is gone, and I don’t know what the reason is for it. One of my theories is that the heart breaking defeats that Roger suffered at the hands of Nadal has made him mentally fragile. But if that was the case, then how did he manage to win three slams since then? This all basically started after he won the Australian Open this year after that loss to Baghdatis in Indian Wells. I thought his recent run of form would give him enough confidence to come through a match like the one against Monfils.
Apparently not. This loss will hurt his confidence badly. It’s as if all the hard work of late have been undone again. If you can’t trust yourself to come through the tough ones, you really can’t trust yourself at all. This whole recent run of Roger started when he grinded out that win against Berdych in Toronto. And what happened to Berdych after that match? His results have been dismal to say the least. The importance of winning these kind of matches can’t be overstated. The loss against Djokovic at the US Open didn’t seem to have too bad an effect on Roger at least. He had good results after that. But personally I felt that was almost a positive loss, given what was at stake if he lost to Nadal in the final. I really had high hopes for Roger in Paris and the Masters Cup. The fact that Roger lost in the semi’s of Paris may be a bigger deal than you think.
What concerns me is the effect it will have on his confidence going into the MC. Just as grinding out a tough win can put Roger on the path of success(Berdych Toronto), so can a loss like this put you on the path of failure(Berdych Miami). I really hope this loss to Monfils doesn’t have the same effect. If Roger had won the match against Monfils, he would probably have won the final as well and be the overwhelming favorite going into the MC. But now Nadal is a bigger favorite. He had a chance to send Nadal a serious message before London, which could have made the difference between him getting an all important victory over the world number one or not. But now he isn’t the clear favorite anymore and it’s really anybody’s title. Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, and Soderling all come into the picture now.
It will be tough to win it now on the back of this loss to Monfils. I wanted Roger to make the finals in Paris at least. That way there would have been a 1000+ points swing at the top of the rankings, and a loss to Soderling could have been excused due to tiredness. But losing to Monfils of all people after having five match points is certainly not the boost he was looking for going into the all important MC. I’m trying to find the positives here but it’s not easy. The positive is Roger’s general from of late. He did win three titles and beat Djokovic three times since Wimbledon, while losing to him once in a major. He also beat Soderling twice. But again, I can’t help but regret the fact that Roger did not become the first player to reach all the Masters Series finals. By making the finals of Paris, he would also have become the first player to reach five consecutive MS finals.
It deeply saddens me, but it is as if Roger lacks the edge these days. It is as if he keeps falling over the final hurdle. If he had taken advantage of one of the five match points in his match against Monfils, then everything would have been perfect, regardless of what happened in the final. All Monfils did was get everything back with his ridiculous speed and made Roger play that one extra ball, very much like Murray does. On one match point it looked like Roger hit a winner, but Monfils made an amazing get. Still, the court was wide open. All Roger had to do was stroke the ball into the open court, but he hit the ball into the tape. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Roger got several lucky net tips which won him the point outright. Despite all of that he could not close out the deal. It is very disappointing to say the least.
Because of this Roger is not my favorite to win the Masters Cup. Even though he is currently the most in form player, I don’t know if he has the mentality to win this event anymore. The onus in now on him to prove me wrong. If he does win the MC, I will be pleasantly surprised, but I’m not setting myself up for failure again. My current stance is that he can’t do it. I know this may sound very harsh and negative to you, but frankly I had enough of having my day spoiled by another inexplicable loss. For once I’m going to set my expectations low. That way I can only win. Prove me wrong, Roger.