Roger Federer: A Tale Of Two Rogers
a) be cooling off in the locker room with a "these-things-happen" attitude having already put the match behind him
b) be kicking himself repeatedly for letting go of five match points as well as a break in the final set.
c) be greedily wondering why the net cord didn't do more for him than it already did.
The first is what probably happened. With over 900 matches to his name and a good few of them lost after holding a match point or more, it's obvious that Federer did exactly that. It's simply the way that professionals mentally condition themselves to react to a loss.
Let it sting and then banish it!
The second is what he probably wanted to do but knew better, from experience, not to.
And the third, well...wasn't a viable option but it was just to let you know that while Monfils had the blessings of the home crowd, the net cord had its own ideas more than once.
Now Federer doesn't need to be told how to play match points. He knows they're special and rare and must be taken care of as quickly as possible. Against Djokovic in New York, he didn't even have a chance. The Serb's forehand was ferocious and fearless enough to have rendered Roger's play almost meaningless.
Against the Frenchman tonight? I think he did have a chance.
There was a rally where Monfils was on the defensive after a stinging Federer shot into the forehand corner forced him to somehow get the ball over the net into mid-court which prompted the Swiss master to opt for the invaluable inside out forehand-into-the-net winner that he executed to perfection.
There were a couple of second serves (because the Frenchman's first serve deserted him) to Federer's backhand one of which floated gracefully to the bottom of the net while the other cleared the baseline by a foot or more.
And in between on the deuce side? Roger was simply the Roger of old. Putting the ball back in play carefully but craftily, nurturing the rally from the baseline for a couple of strokes before pouncing with his forehand on a slightly loose Monfils return and dispatching it for a clean winner.
It was at once a tale of brilliance and a tale of woe. A tale of calm and a tale of nerves.
Quite simply, it was a tale of two Rogers as I've come to accept him.
One that narrates a glorious moment as he skips around the ball daintily to his forehand and unleashes a perfectly-timed "liquid whip" that leaves his opponent rooted to the ground.
And the other that sends shots closer to the bottom of the net than to the cord, shanks balls into the tenth row of the crowd and fails to put second serves back into play.
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