Roger Federer losing in the Quarterfinals at Wimbledon. Now there's a proposterous, unprecedented, and even downright silly idea.
Or is it?
Everyone who follows the game closely saw this coming. I'll let you in on a little secret... I saw it coming too.
Maybe those crazy, utmost fanatic Roger Federer worshippers—who upon witnessing the Swiss Superstar fall off a cliff would claim he still has four or five Grand Slams left in him—didn't see it coming. Even if they did they would refuse to admit it, but that's beside the point; everyone saw this coming.
So, is this the beginning of the end for Federer?
There are a few reasons to be inclined to believe just that.
- Federer had won six of the last seven Wimbledon Crowns—he lost in the Quarterfinals on Wednesday.
- Federer had made it to 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinals prior to the French Open where he was ousted by the hard-hitting Swede, Robin Soderling. In his postmatch interview he pointed out rather blandly that he still had the quarterfinals streak going. Wednesday's loss to Tomas Berdych put an end to that too.
- Federer will fall to No. 3 in the world rankings for the first time in nearly seven years come Monday morning.
- Federer's postmatch interview Wednesday was more than a bit untasteful, as he seemingly out-of-nowhere dropped a bomb on the media that he was injured the last few months. Failing to give credit where credit is due is just another sign of how uncomfortable the Swiss is with his current play.
- Let's face it, he has failed to go deep into the second week at almost all of the tournaments he has played the last few months, Grand Slam or not.
- He is losing to players he used to routinely wipe the court with, most notably Berdych and Soderling in the last two Grand Slams.
That's more than a few negatives for someone who by many experts in the game is considered to be the best tennis player ever.
It's partly unfair, however, because Federer has set the bar so high in achieving what no other player has. If the year were to end right now, almost any other player on tour would be more than satisfied with Federer's current results solely because of his victory at the Australian Open.
Federer clearly has come to a shrieking halt this year. There are inumerable reasons as to why he has not dominated this year as much as in previous years. Either way, this scenario was going to play out sooner or later.
The Swiss was not simply going to dominate the game into his mid 30s the way he did back in his prime in '06 and '07. The surprising aspect here is how abruptly he has fallen from grace. Losing in the Final to Nadal is one thing, but dropping to No. 3 in the rankings and losing Slams in the Quarterfinals is another.
There was no gradual dropoff despite a few poor performances. All Fed fans alike were atleast a little startled when Falla nearly clipped him in the first round at the All-England Club.
It's clearly time to regroup. Federer has said he will take a two week vacation after his unorthadox exit, and that's probably for the best. There will be added pressure to make one more final stab towards Sampras' consecutive weeks at No. 1 as well as what many think will be a "salvage the year" type victory at the U.S. Open.
Sure, Federer may respond to the recent happenings with renewed vigor, committment, and resolve leading him miraculously back to his dominant position.
If not, the pressure to keep winning will slowly fade, and the former No. 1 will most likely take advantage and capture another one or two Slams.
Is this the beginning of the end?
Nobody really knows. But anyone can attest to the fact that it has been a great pleasure to watch such a remarkable talent dominate the way Roger has the last decade. New and deserving faces will start to see their names engaved in Grand Slam history in the near future.
Until then I'm sure Federer will have more than enough fans hanging tough with him, urging him to fight back at the up-and-coming stars so eager to move in on his throne.