Gulbis was always going to be a tough first round match, but as has been the case of late, I felt like this match was on Roger’s racquet. What happened after the first set? Just losing the second set 6-1 did not make any sense. The turning point came in the first game of the second set when Federer was in control of the point. He missed and easy forehand approach at 30-15 on Gulbis’ serve, which would have given him two break points. He did however get two break points of the Gulbis serve in that game, but could not convert. This is the Federer we have come to know of late. Playing well for stretches, but lacking confidence when it’s time to put away his opponents. Well at least in the three set format. The last three matches he has lost all of them either 7-5 or 7-6 in the third set, which points to the fact that he can’t win close matches.
As far as three set matches goes I think he has a confidence crises. He just makes mistakes which really doesn’t make any sense. Of course it doesn’t help when you keep losing close matches. To get confidence back he will need to win a couple of these. After this latest loss I’m not so sure all the time he has spent outside the game has been a good thing. He couldn’t help the fact that he got lung infection before Indian Wells, but he did choose not to play Monte Carlo. After losing early on at both Indian Wells and Miami, he surely needed match practice. If he lost early on at Monte Carlo, at least he would have had more time to play matches and get his confidence back. Now he only has two events left before his title defense at the French Open. It could still be enough, but it doesn’t help his quest for staying ranked number one for the most weeks either.
You can’t see the shoes here, but I liked the new attire.
Having said all that, we know Roger is always ready when the slams come around. Before the Oz Open this year I felt he played terribly, and we all know what happened afterwards. It’s just not much fun for us fans when he keeps losing in these smaller events, because we rarely get to see him play. I was a bit surprised with his attitude in the presser after the match.
“It’s probably good for me – it’s a wake-up call.”
“You have to have losses like that, they wake you up.”
“I have to do the hard yards now, win ugly, starting with Estoril (next week). I’m still in the doubles and that helps. Every match helps, it’s only training that’s tough but now I’m going to work like mad, I’ll be out on the clay every day. Roland Garros may be soon to you but for me it’s a long way away.”
I was under the impression that Indian Wells and Miami was a wake-up call, and that Federer was out on the clay every day since losing in Miami. He said the same thing in his presser after Miami. Maybe he did work hard but still lost due to lack of match practice. Sometimes training itself is not enough, and the only way to get your confidence back is by winning a few close ones. I think that is the situation Roger his finding himself in now. We have seen it before. He just needs to win one or two close ones to get his confidence back. He is still in the doubles, after winning his second match with his partner Allegro 4-6, 6-3, 10-8 today. They now play against the winners of the 4th seeds Buphati/Mirnyi and the American team of Querry/Isner in the quarter finals. This is a good thing because even though it is just doubles it will help his confidence.
Federer and Nadal cuts ribbon to mark the opening of the new center court.
After Rome Federer will be heading to Estoril, which is a smaller event and will give him a good chance to get some much needed singles wins under the belt. This is the thing about Federer though. You can never count him out because he schedules so well and is always ready for the slams. Having thought about it, this loss in Rome does not mean all that much. He can now steadily build up his confidence, starting with the doubles in Rome, then the singles in Estoril and then the singles in Madrid. This steady build up should be enough preparation for his titles defense in Paris. When Roger loses it’s always such a big deal because it’s not something that used to happen often. But it hardly ever matter in the bigger picture. So far this year he has been useless in the smaller events, yet he still won the first major of the year.
These losses do get very annoying, but one should not lose sight of the bigger picture. Federer has won 16 major titles, 2 more than the previous most already, and the career slam. That is why it surprises me that he appears so nervous still in the smaller events. I mean he is at a stage in his career now where he has achieved just about everything and should be able to really just have fun out there. Maybe that shows that he really still cares about these smaller events. Hopefully he can at least win one of them before the start of the French Open.