Calling Roger Federer's quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych an upset is the understatement of the 2012 tennis season.
Going into Wednesday's match against Berdych, Federer had not even lost a set in the 2012 U.S. Open. It was pretty much unthinkable that he could lose a match this early in the tournament. He was on too much of a roll.
And yet it happened. In four mostly uneventful sets, Berdych made Federer look rusty and even a little bit old.
Yes, Federer forced a tie-break in the first set. After losing that set Federer struggled to regain any momentum in the match. He managed to stave off elimination, winning the third set 6-3, before bowing out in the fourth, 3-6.
It was the kind of match Federer fans have been dreading, one where Federer's age finally catches up to him. For Federer-haters, if there are any, this is what they've been looking forward to, the day when Federer looks like he just might be over the hill.
More important, though, than his quarterfinal loss is the fact that at 31 years of age, Federer simply cannot do this forever. He appears to still be in great shape, yet it is clear that younger, more powerful hitters give him problems, as was the case late Wednesday night with Berdych.
Some may say Federer should take the rest of the 2012 season off to rest and get emotionally healthy going into 2013 and the Australian Open.
The problem with such a statement is that Federer's game is a game of rhythm. Thus, if he can play, he needs to play as much as possible. The fall hard-court season will be a great opportunity for Fed-Ex to maintain his rhythm and continue his success as one of the top three players in the world.
Perhaps Federer will choose to play every other tournament, since he's been going pretty much nonstop this summer with the irregular addition to the schedule of the Olympic Games. Taking some time for rest wouldn't be the worst thing for him, his family and even his tennis career.
But look for Federer to play competitively throughout the fall part of the tennis schedule. Look for him to win. Look for him to keep his eyes on the world's No. 1 ranking.
Though he may not verbally state it, all of those types of accolades and awards are important to Federer, and are part of the motivational piece he uses to continue to work hard as a tennis player.
For that reason, and so many others, Federer will continue to dominate men's tennis. Don't think his upset loss in the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open to Tomas Berdych indicates the end of the road for him.
He's seemingly been down before and come back to life. Don't count him out this time.
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