It was a day of firsts for Roger Federer. After a lengthy rain delay, Roger match with Tommy Robredo was put on Louis Armstrong stadium. It was the first time at the US Open since 2006 that he played a match outside of Arthur Ashe stadium. Coming into the match, Federer had not dropped more than 1 set in any match with Robredo, owning a 10-0 record. That changed, with Robredo winning in straight sets to claim his first victory over the Swiss legend. And finally, with Federer losing in the 4th round this week, it marks the first time in 10 years that he has failed to reach at least one Grand Slam final during the season.
However, the taste in fan’s mouths after the match can’t be as bitter these days. By no means was this a routine loss, but it wasn’t as shocking as should be. If you’ve watched Federer play the last few months, you’ll know that he looks great some days, and very bad on others. His first three matches at the US Open were nearly flawless. He was hitting his forehand like old times; smoking the ball with pin point precision. His serve was back to it’s normal dominance, and he was even hitting his backhand with confidence. But all that changed Monday night, with Federer looking mediocre at best. He was even out-aced by Robredo; I’m willing to bet that’s also a first.
“I felt like I beat myself; without taking any credit away from Tommy,” Federer said. He pretty much nailed it on the head with that comment. Robredo was standing at the fence for nearly the whole match. He was going to grind to the death if he had to, but usually grinders pose no threat to Rog, who will just move them back and forth until he finds the opening. Something was amiss with his forehand, as he was shanking what seemed like every other shot. That has been the pattern in all of Federer’s defeats this year; his once other-worldly forehand has come back down to earth, and he performs extremely poor on the big points. (2 for 16 on break points against Robredo)
It was a loss for not only Federer fans, but for tennis. Had Rog been able to come through the match, he would have set the first ever Rafa vs Roger blockbuster match at the US Open, the only major where the two have yet to play. Until next year I guess…