Roger Federer:The Fall Of The Champion

178-0 record (after being 2 sets up); the streak has now been broken by a Frenchman known as Tsonga. Seeing Federer 5-4 down in the fifth set and his lifeless shots with no will to fight back, one may realize that the legacy of the champion has started to show cracks and is slowly on the decline. I have been a core Federer fan for last 5 years. And to see him on the down roll now is heartbreaking. More than other players’ better play, he must be disappointed with himself. 

5 reasons for his defeat today:
1) Complacent Fed: They say a game is never over until you have won the last point. After being 2 sets up, one could see how complacent he had become. He must have thought of an easy 3 sets victory and gave up on the match. At 1-1 in the third set, after a volley error and a careless overhead shot, he hit a routine net point on the third break point straight to Tsonga who hit an amazing passing shot to get a break up. Deadly sin that ultimately allowed Tsonga to get back to his game.

2) Lack of Variety: I had said earlier also that Fed needs to come to net more often and use his drop shots more effectively. This game was a perfect example of how Fed became defensive after the second set and stopped attacking the game. He became too predictable for Tsonga who was mixing it well with his serve, volleys, chips and charge shots. Fed did try to attack in the last two games of the match but it was too late (the lion had already woken up). Even the drop shots got extinct after the second set from Fed’s arsenal today.

3) No answer for Power Hitting:  Thrice now we have seen when Federer has been outplayed by Power hitting. Del Potro in US Open 2009 Finals, Djokovic in US Open 2010 Semi Finals and Tsonga in Wimbledon 2011 Quarter Finals. Tsonga increased his shots speed by 9 MPH since the third set. His forehand winners were hit so powerfully that inspite of Fed standing right there, he could not hit it back.

4) Will to continue?: This is a debatable reason but as we saw in the fifth set, the body language of the champion betrayed his legacy of dominance. With his shoulders dropping at crucial points, one could see that he was down in his spirits. Is he the same Fed we saw until a couple of years back ready to fight for every point in every set? He did not even try to change his game (move a little backward on Tsonga’s serve, chip and charge, drop shots etc.). Today was a stark contrast of the classic Federer we are used to seeing. Does he really want to fight it out? Only Fed can tell.

5) Age Factor & Lack of Confidence: Has age started to show its ugly signs on his body as well as mind? Has he become emotionally and physically exhausted after so much of grinding and hard work? Today we saw signs of no emotions from the Champion even on points when he won and when he could have used his famous COME ON to motivate himself. He seems to have lost confidence in himself.  It was evident from the fact that inspite of being 0-30 (in Tsonga’s serve) in two games in third and fourth sets respectively; he could not take advantage of his opponent. Throughout the match, he had only 1 break point on Tsonga’s serve.

Federer when asked about his grand slam drought, told the journalists at Australian Open – “We will see in 6 months”, and now at the end of 6 months, we are seeing a less dominant and emotionally drained Federer, someone who is human, susceptible to making errors. But still in my heart, I would like to believe that the great champion that he is, he will be able to motivate himself to make a strong comeback just like Agassi did in 1999.

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