Before I start my analysis, let me just congratulate Soderling(aka The Giant Killer) for this win. He really deserved to win this. Roger came out today looking mightily impressive as he dropped only two points on his serve in the first set. It also seemed like he had listened to my previous post as he was using the drop shot at the start of the match. Then in the second set he lost concentration in the second game as he dropped serve. Also, for some reason it didn’t look like he was experimenting with the drop shot or short slices much. In the third set it was a similar game plan from Federer. He did have his chances though. At 4-3 Soderling was 0-30 down on his serve, and at 15-30 a second serve from Soderling caught the line and caught Roger by surprise. So that was a bit unlucky. At 5-4 Soderling was 0-30 down on his serve again, and at 30-40 Federer had a set point.
He almost got it with a smash/lob from the back of the court, but Soderling managed to make the backhand smash for a winner. At 5-5 and 40-15 on Federer’s serve, rain brought a halt to play. I thought this was a good chance for Roger to talk to his coach and maybe change a few things when he came back, but instead he squandered his lead in that game and got broken. This is where the match started getting away from him. He wasn’t out of it at this point, but it was time to change his game plan if he was going to pull this one out of the fire. He then got a break in the fourth set and it looked like he was back in the match, but could not consolidate. He played a service game where he was just looking to slug it out with Soderling from the base line. But today Soderling was too accurate and powerful from the base line, so I thought that was the wrong tactic.
I don’t want to over analyze this match and criticize Roger too much, because I know how well Soderling was playing. Yet I can’t help wondering what would have happened if Roger mixed things up more. Sure it was hard with the way Soderling was playing, but if you are losing anyway you may as well try something different. It was just as if he was losing and wans’t bothered to do much about it. It reminded me of when he played Nadal at Roland Garros before where he was just stubbornly slugging it out with Nadal from the base line. There is nothing wrong with being overpowered by a big hitter. The same thing happened to Roger last year when he played against Del Potro, but he found a way to win. He kept chipping away until Del Potro started making unforced errors. I just feel like he had no game plan. He was just content to slug it out from the base line with someone who was more powerful than him.
In the final last year he beat Soderling in straight sets. He used short slices and mixed up the play then. Why not do it this time? Sure Soderling was not as nervous as he was back then, but to go from a straight set win to a four set loss? Seems odd to me. Moving on, Soderling played aggressively all the way through and kept Roger under pressure, so he deserves the win. The outcome of this match means that possibly the most amazing record in tennis history, 23 consecutive grand slam semi-finals, comes to an end. It doesn’t matter all that much, because I can’t see it ever being broken. Still, it’s always sad when something like that comes to an end. The bigger problems I have with this loss is the fact that Roger can now lose his number one ranking if Nadal wins the title. Also, his chances to win the calender slam is gone.
At least it is for this year, although you would think this was probably his last chance for that. In a way this win from Soderling is almost appropriate. Last year he did Roger a big favor by eliminating Nadal and paving the way for him to complete the calender slam. I think of it this way: If I was given the promise last year that Roger would win the French Open at the condition that he had to lose to the guy who took out Nadal the next year, I would most certainly have taken it. Lets just hope that Soderling does the GOAT another favor now by beating Berdych and then Nadal. I must say a Soderling/Nadal final is not a bad consolation prize for Roger losing either. I really hope that match happens. Given the way Soderling played today, he must have his chances to beat Nadal again.
So what does this loss mean for the Roger’s future? I have said before that once Roger start losing before the semi’s of slam that we may start talking about serious decline. The first thing I have to say is that this loss to Soderling shows just how amazing Roger’s record of 23 consecutive grand slam semi’s really is. He has run into players like Soderling on many occasions throughout this run. Also, clay is Roger’s worst surface. If this happened at Wimbledon I would have been a bit more worried. But I think we should give it time until the end of the year. Roger’s best grand slams is still coming up and he already has one in the bag this year. So no, I don’t think there is any real cause for concern. The semi-final streak had to come to and end at some point, and that is all it is to me; the end of the semi-final streak.
Presser: Suffice to say Roger didn’t like the conditions…http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/news/interviews/2010-06-01/201006011275423725470.html
May the Fedforce be with you.
Please click HERE. Thank you.