Roger Federer's Loss To Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Foreshadows Inevitable Decline

Jesse ReedCorrespondent IJune 6, 2013

Jun 4, 2013; Paris, France; Roger Federer (SUI) waves to the crowd after his match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) on day 10 of the 2013 French Open at Roland Garros.   Mandatory Credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports
Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports

Roger Federer's decline is something nobody but his rivals wants to see happen, but it was bound to at some point. 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga beat Federer like a drum in the men's quarterfinals at the 2013 French Open winning in straight sets. After a valiant effort in the first set, Federer's game completely fell apart—it was like watching Federer in Bizzaro World.

The legendary tennis demigod looked surprisingly fragile—surprisingly human.

"It was a bad day," Federer said, via ABC Grandstand, "it's a crushing disappointment":

To Federer's point, it was a "bad day."

His movements were a bit sluggish, he made mistakes we're not used to seeing him make (including three double faults and 34 unforced errors) and didn't have the same eye-of-the-tiger look he's used to dominate the men's tour for more than a decade.

The worst part is that this wasn't the first time we've seen Federer looking a bit off. 

He nearly didn't even make it to the quarterfinals after going down two sets to one against Gilles Simon in Round 4. Yes, he took a bit of a spill in the second set, but he said it didn't impact him for more than "five minutes," according to Martyn Herman of

Before the French Open, Federer was attempting to shake off the rust after he took a two-month hiatus from the ATP Tour after getting hammered by Rafael Nadal at Indian Wells in early March.

He had been experiencing on-again, off-again back pain since Wimbledon last year. Though Federer would never admit the pain was causing him to play poorly, there was no doubt he was hurting. 

Federer's body is slowly breaking down. It's an inevitable process for professional athletes who have been dishing out punishment on their bodies for decades, and it happens to us all at one point or another. 

As Indian actor/director Rahul Bose aptly put it, Federer is experiencing "the inexorable fade":

Federer's legacy as the best player of his generation—if not all time—is already set in stone. He is a true champion, and that will never change. 

That said, the way Tsonga was able to manhandle him like he was but a child, it's clear that Federer's best days are behind him. He may yet conjure up some magic before he finally retires, but for all intents and purposes, Federer's time at the top of his sport is drawing to an end. 

C'est la vie.


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