Roger Federer didn't exactly generate much momentum leading up to the 2014 French Open, and he's still seeking to find his elite form after losing in the fourth round to Ernests Gulbis on Sunday at Roland Garros.
Eurosport's Staff weighed in on the outcome while providing the final score:
SHOCK IN PARIS! Roger Federer is knocked out of the French Open by Ernests Gulbis. The 17-time Grand Slam champ loses 6-7 7-6 6-2 4-6 6-3.— Eurosport.com EN (@EurosportCom_EN) June 1, 2014
Seven of Federer's 17 Grand Slam titles have come at Wimbledon, including his last in 2012. While the All England Club may offer Federer some comfort or at least a venue to look forward to given his past success, it's hard to imagine his confidence is running strong at the moment.
After going on a very brief hiatus for the birth of his twin sons, Federer was implored to return to action at the Rome Masters to gear up for the French Open. Unfortunately, his clay-court tuneup was short lived, as he lost his opening match to Jeremy Chardy in three sets.
Perhaps that defeat was blown out of proportion, though, because Federer did have a match point and was trying to get his feel back amid blustery conditions, per ATPWorldTour.com:
I think we both struggled at times in the wind today and in the end a shot here or there decided the match. He gave me a double fault to give me match point. I missed my first serve, which was crucial, but credit to him to run around the second serve and give it a go. A passing shot is a tough one for me to take, because he's not going to make that [shot] very often. Credit to him for fighting his way back into the match.
Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times analyzed how the loss to Chardy wasn't as significant as perceived for Federer in the grand scheme of things:
Alternately, we could now say that Chardy has put Federer back on paternity leave. Guessing this is far from his most devastating loss.— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) May 14, 2014
And Federer's 2014 season has gone far better overall than last year did, as he's already matched his total of one singles title and had advanced deep in his tournaments prior to Rome. Roland Garros was going to be the true test as to how strong he'd be.
How will Federer fare at Wimbledon?
Unfortunately, the Grand Slam event that's been most elusive in Federer's epic career proved to be a tough test yet again. If not for Rafael Nadal's prowess on clay over the years, Federer would likely have more than his lone French Open triumph in 2009.
Even though Federer is not playing at the consistent, legendary level he did in his prime, few are more dangerous on Wimbledon's grass courts. No matter what type of form he's showing entering the third major of the season, it's never wise to count King Roger out. His 2013 exit in the second round was undoubtedly a shock, but based on how well he's done in the past, expecting that to happen again would be outrageous.
Federer has everything to prove to his detractors and had a chip on his shoulder when he last won Wimbledon in 2012. Now he's being questioned as much as ever in the twilight of his career. As long as he doesn't grow impatient and become out of character with an aggressive strategy, Federer's finesse should carry him at least to the quarterfinals.