I was at the Canadian Open tennis Wednsday night and got to watch the great Roger Federer go down in a shocking defeat in the secon round.
[Note: It will always be the Canadian Open to me and not the Rogers Cup. Or, more simply, the week it is on, “the tennis”. For example: I’m heading to the tennis tonight.”]
This was the great man's first match since losing the epic Wimbledon final to Rafa Nadal. Perhaps he still had a Wimbledon hangover [he had a first-round bye in Toronto]?
I said to a friend just after Nadal had won the fifth set at Wimbledon that this was the beginning of the end for Federer. She scoffed and rightly pointed out that he was still No. 1 in the world.
Fair enough, but the end can come quickly at the highest level. Federer looked like his classy self in dominating the first set against Simon.
Then the uncharacteristic unforced errors—particularly on the forehand, where he shanked a number of shots—started to pile up. He also struggled mightily on his serve and then, suddenly, a third set seemed possible and finally, a reality.
Still, Federer came out guns ablazin’ in the third set and seemed poised for a 4-1 lead which we then assumed would quickly be a 6-1 set. Alas, it wasn’t to be and we had an all-time upset on our hands.
The most damning piece of evidence for me was that, on the court, Federer seemed somewhat disinterested. Sure, he competed, but there was a general malaise to his game. He was able to turn it on at times, but on the whole he just seemed off the pace.
Is this the beginning of the end or just an annus horribus that can be redeemed at the U.S. Open in September or with a fresh start in 2009?