Wow, that was some match! Not only in terms of the tennis but the consequences of the outcome. The importance of the result of this match can’t be overstated. It is currently 4 am in South Africa, so I won’t analyze this match too much. But in the end the how’s and the why’s is insignificant compared to the what. Somewhere deep down I knew Roger could not afford to lose this match. I even vowed that I would quit blogging if he lost. That sounds extreme, but not if you understand the context of the match. Roger came out looking fantastic. He held serve with ease in each service game and had Berdych at least at 0-30 on every service game. He broke in the sixth and eighth games with precision serving and impeccable ground strokes. At this point I even allowed myself to comment that we are seeing a new Federer.
But things were about to take a turn for the worse. Berdych’s game picked up. He drastically improved his first service percentage and as a result Roger was not able to put his serve under pressure anymore. Berdych also started finding his range from the back of the court and was able to create several break opportunities on the Federer serve. Roger did well initially to fend them off and I thought we are heading for a tie break for sure. But it was not like Roger did not have his own break chances on the Berdych serve, and at one point had two break points which he squandered with tentative play. This was looking all too familiar. The pressure was increasing once more, and the fragile Federer psyche would crumble once more as has been the case against Berdych in their last two meetings. Roger dropped serve at 5-6 to lose the second set, and the momentum was right back on Berdych’s side.
Berdych would go on to break in the fourth game of the third set and would soon take a 4-1 lead. HUGE LETDOWN. I was mad at myself for even suggesting that Federer is a new player. It was not deja vu, it was deja deja vu. It was very painful to watch at this point, and if you were thinking about giving up being a Fedfanatic at this point you could certainly be forgiven. How many times have we been here before? It gets to a point when it’s just not fun anymore and it starts to influence your life in a negative way. Losing to Berdych for a third time in a row would have been utterly humiliating and a sure sign that Federer needs to start thinking about retirement. Berdych was threatening to bring Roger’s new beginning to an abrupt and utterly painful halt. But the GOAT would have the last say.
At 5-3 Berdych served for the match, and at this point I was very certain that Roger would lose the match. Even though he somehow manufactured a break point on Berdych’s serve it didn’t give me much hope. Roger’s break point conversion has been his Achilles Heel of late, and the 1/11 break point conversions at that point was a clear sign of it. Yet on his fourth break point I made the following tweet on Twitter:
just incredibly mentally weak under pressure. but still i cant help but hope 4 him.
I didn’t have much belief at this point, but at least I could muster hope. After all, there is always hope. And then he did it, he broke. At this point both the crowds in Toronto and Twitter was going absolutely ballistic. Blind hope turned into reality, if only for at least a few more games. Yet as a Fedfanatic you couldn’t help but set your hopes even higher. A tie break was inevitable in a match as close as this, and Roger got off to a great start thanks a service return that clipped the net and dropped dead over the net, out of reach of a bewildered Berdych. God was on Roger’s side this time, I told myself. He held serve to go up 3-0, and even broke Berdych once more to go up 4-1. He then drops one serve. 4-2. They changed sides and my prayer for one service hold got answered. 5-2. Berdych managed to hold both serves somehow. 5-4.
Now things were getting tight again. Roger then loses serve. 5-5. You see Federer doesn’t let his fans off the hook that easily. They have to suffer for their triumphs. From leading 4-1 and being up two breaks of serve, things are now back on serve. At least he manages to hold one serve which brings up that illusive match point. And thank God he takes advantage of it(don’t ask me how it was all a blur at this point), thereby crucially breaking the Berdych spell. As I said before, the significance of this win can’t be overstated. First of all if he lost, Berdych would pretty much have owned him, and Roger’s new beginning would have gotten off to the worst start possible. In fact I’m not sure he would have ever recovered if he lost. The fact that he won puts doubts about his abilities to beat the big power hitters to rest, at least for the time being.
It also sends a message to the locker room that Federer is back in the hunt. He is now well and truly a threat going into this American hard court series. If he had lost we could have kissed at least the rest of this year good bye. That much is sure. A loss here would have been so bad that honestly I don’t even want to think about it. He got the job done(don’t ask me how), and that is all that matters. I have said a few times before that Roger needs to get through a really tight match for his confidence, and this was it. I really think he will gain a huge amount of confidence from this match. Sure he came back against Falla at Wimbledon, but this was against a certain type of player who he has struggled against of late. He had to prove to Berdych, everyone else, and himself, that he was still capable of beating these players.
It did not matter how he got it done. His confidence was still in such a crises that it’s not like he could really play out of his comfort zone. He simply had to win ugly for once, through sheer guts and determination. Not that it was a bad quality match, but both players missed a number of opportunities that’s for sure. From here on I see things only getting better for Roger. It looks like he will play against Djokovic next, which is a player who he has a good record against. I don’t want to think ahead to the final. Of course I think he has a great chance to make it, but for now I just want to enjoy this win and realize how big it was. Here are some more tweets I made in the heat of the moment. Make of it what you will, I’m off to bed…
if federer loses here im done blogging.
we just knew federer cud now afford 2 lose this.
now federer will win the USO. check it out.
well fedfans, we did it again. we did it ugly, but we did it. thats all that matters.
i dont think theres anything like being a fedfan. its a completely unique experience. i just felt pain in my heart.
Final set tie break: