Time to Stick a Fork in Federer to See if He’s Done?

by John on September 3, 2013

Fed U.S.Open 2013

Perhaps not yet, but soon. Tommy Robredo might not have said it, but he must have thought it: “Nobody beats me 11 times in a row.” So true. The 31-year-old Spaniard knocked out former world No. 1 Roger Federer 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 in the fourth round of the U.S. Open Monday night, improving to 1-10 lifetime against the Swiss legend. The humiliating defeat, Federer’s first before the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows in a decade, sent shockwaves throughout the tennis world. Federer, now ranked No. 7, has been on a downward spiral since starting the year at No. 2, losing five times among his 12 defeats to players who had never beaten him before. Things started coming unglued for the 32-year-old Swiss Maestro in May when he lost for the first time to Kei Nishikori at Madrid. A trifecta of puzzling maiden losses followed — Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon, Federico Delbonis at Hamburg and Daniel Brands at Gstaad. Clearly the aura of invincibility had been stripped. There were definitely chinks in the armor. Could it be that eroding skills, flagging confidence and the effects of Father Time were catching up to the Swiss icon? Federer seemed to be righting the ship last month when he had Rafael Nadal on the ropes in the quarterfinals at Cincinnati. Playing with the free-flowing Federer form of old, he took the first set 7-5 and was serving at 4-5 to level in the second when he was broken for the first time in the match. Things went downhill from there, as Federer couldn’t seem to pull the trigger when he needed to. Couldn’t win the important points. Nadal prevailed 5-7, 6-4, 6-3. Still, it appeared Federer was regaining a semblance of his mojo. Yesterday disproved that supposition. “We all know the way he plays, how easy he can do everything,” Robredo, generous in his praise, said afterward. “But I think the difference today was the break points conversion.” Robredo, ranked No. 22 and having a dynamite year, converted four of seven break-point opportunities, while Federer was just two for 16, including zero for 12 in the last two sets. Time after time, Federer would get an opening and a chance to get back in the match, and couldn’t deliver. He did hit 45 winners to 31 for Robredo, but committed 43 unforced errors to 26 for the Spaniard. “I kind of feel like I beat myself, without taking any credit away from Tommy,” Federer said. “I kind of self-destructed, which is very disappointing, especially on a quicker court. I just couldn’t do it. It was a frustrating performance today.” Yes it was. I see more of these kind of days for Federer. Can he return to the Top Four? Don’t think so. Stay in the Top 10? Yes, for a while.





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