I know there is many disappointed Fedfans out there tonight, but you will soon feel better. I promise When Roger lost today I was disappointed of course, but then I realized what a fantastic year it has been for Roger and I actually started feeling really good about it. Also the fact that he lost to someone that I like made a big difference. If Roger had lost to Rafa tonight it would have been a very different story, so thank God that didn’t happen. Come to think of it this match had quite a few similarities to the final in Australia when Roger also lost 6-2 in the final set. But after winning his first French Open and reclaiming his Wimbledon crown, coupled with the fact that it was Del Potro he lost to, I have to say this loss has an altogether different feel about it.
When Roger lost to Rafa in Australia earlier this year I was literally crushed. This time I almost feel the opposite. I’m happy that this has been an awesome year for Roger and I am happy for Del Potro getting a deserved win. Today Roger lost to the better player. He definitely didn’t lose the match, Delpo won it. The only thing that I regret a little is that Roger did not make Delpo serve for the match, especially after he saved two match points in that final game. If R0ger somehow pulled that game out of the bag, I think Delpo might well have choked when serving for the match. I console myself by telling myself that the only way Delpo could have won this match, was by breaking in the final game of the match. I think if things got close in that final set, it would really have been a tall order for Delpo.
But he did what he had to do which was to break Roger for a second time, so that he didn’t have to serve for the match under immense pressure. So all credit to him. At the beginning of this year, if you told me that Roger would have won only one grand slam, but that it would have been the French Open, I would have been satisfied. Before this year it wasn’t clear if Roger would ever win the French Open, and if he did not it would have left a hole in his legacy. So for him to have won that title already made this a successful year in my mind. The fact that he went on to regain his Wimbledon crown, and pass Sampras’ grand slam record this year already, made it an amazing year. But not only that, he took back his number one ranking.
That was like the icing on the cake. Lets not get greedy people. We tend to get spoiled as Fedfans. I have no doubt Roger will end the year ranked number one now, and keep gaining on Sampras’ record amount of weeks at number one. This was a monumental year for Roger already, no matter which way you look at it. After losing in Australia, things were looking pretty bleak if I may remind you. Rafa was a lock for the French Open and most people thought he would win Wimbledon too. So this season has been a huge turn around for Roger really, and it sets him up well for the future. Losing to Delpo in the US Open final is a minor. You can’t win every single match. Roger had the most amazing run at the US Open in open era history, which will probably never be surpassed.
I still want him to win the most US Open titles in the open era and I am positive he will do so. I’m also positive he will pass Sampras’ 7 Wimbledon titles. Who can really stop him there? Ok let me look more closely at the match then. A lot of people will say that Roger didn’t play well today, but that is only a half truth. Roger played as well as he was allowed to play. So you might as well say he played really well, because he played the best he could play under the circumstances. His first serve was only at 50% which is low, but I think that has a lot to do with pressure. Of late I have noticed that Roger starts his matches with a low first serve percentage anyway, and then it gets batter as the match go on. But because Delpo won the second set and put pressure on Roger, he couldn’t really up his first serve percentage.
I mean the same exact thing happened in the Australian Open final. In Australia his first serve percentage was 52% against Rafa. This is a match up issue I feel. Look at the match stats in Australia:
Now look at the match stats from today:
Quite similar isn’t it? The point is that Delpo and Rafa both put pressure on Roger’s first serve because he knew if it isn’t good, he would get into an extended rally with them in which case he could well lose the point. Especially towards the end you could just feel how much Roger needed to get a free point from a first serve, and the more he needed it the more he started missing it. That is what pressure does. The first set was vintage Roger I thought, as he broke in the second game with a stunning cross court passing shot on the run, after an excellent rally. At this point it looked like Roger was bringing his A+ game, as he won the first set and went up a break in the second set as well. Then at 5-4 and Roger serving to go up two sets to love, there came a huge turning point which set the trend for the match.
If Roger had held serve there the match would have been over 99% certain. Even though I didn’t realize it at the time, that was a huge turning point. It gave Delpo the chance to win the second set and even things up, instead of being two sets to love down and pretty much out of it. Delpo only needed one break at 3-3 in the tie break which would be enough to take the tie break 7-5. At 3-3 in the second set Roger lost serve again as it looked like Delpo was gaining in confidence. He would break up right away to even the score at 4-4 though. Then with Delpo serving at 4-5, he pretty much choked away the third set with two consecutive double faults. At this points the odds was stacked pretty heavily against Delpo to win the match, but I wasn’t counting him out quite yet.
Delpo went on to break serve at 2-2 in the fourth set, but at 3-4 Roger broke back. From here on Delpo started holding serve more comfortably than Roger until the tie break. This continued into the tie break as Roger served a double fault the first point of the tie break, and you could start to sense that the pressure was increasing on Roger. That double fault would prove to be crucial as it was all Delpo need to take the breaker 7-4. I said in my analysis of the Soderling match that it’s extremely hard to win two tie breakers against Roger in a grand slam match, and when Delpo managed to do it the danger signs were showing. Then in the final set Delpo served first which was another important swing, and Roger lost serve at 0-1. At 2-5 Roger went down 15-40 on his serve, but he managed to save those two match points.
I was really praying at this point that he would at least hold serve to force Delpo to serve for the match, but it wasn’t to be. Roger did his best to fight off a third match point, but eventually floated a backhand long after another penetrating forehand from Delpo. It was a sad sight, but the run had to end some time. A sixth straight US Open was always going to be a stretch. It has never been done in any grand slam in the open era. Roger lost to a worthy opponent today who played an incredible match. Even though the stats doesn’t reflect it, this was a very high quality match with some amazing rallies. A match like this is about taking your opportunities because there is no second chances. If Roger held serve at 5-4 in the second set, I believe the match was over. But he did not.
Also if he did not serve a double on the first point of the first set tie break, things could have been different. And the if he held serve in the final game of the match, things could have been different as well. But the point is Delpo played really well and on the day he was the one who took his chances. On another day things can be very different. In a match like this the margins are small, and like I said it is about who can grab a hold of their chances. By no means does this match mean that he now has a problem with Delpo or whatever. Next time he just has to make sure he makes better use of his chances. Simple as that. I hope my readers will not lose any heart because of this loss, because this really means nothing.
Roger’s level is not down by any means. In fact I am amazed by the fact that his level has hardly dropped at all since his prime, and I think he will still be around for a long time winning slams. This is a minor set back and like I said it had to happen at some point. Here is to an awesome year for Roger which is not over yet!