The Greek Gods would never have imagined Roger Federer losing in the manner he did at the French Open on June 1st 2010 but yet when the clouds parted (or so they will) Roger had been overmatched and overplayed. Nevertheless, this is not the downfall of Roger Federer as much as his detractors hope it is.
The following are the five reasons why Roger lost and what was truly exposed at the French Open:
1. Strength : Soderling exposed Federer’s weakness in that the long court does not suit Roger. By playing from the baseline, Federer could not dictate the pace nor position of his opponent and was forced to move around more. By keeping Roger on the baseline, Federer was forced to play a long stroke game rather than his usual frenetic pace. Additionally, Federer was left back on his heels and unable to gain any literal leverage or confidence in his stroke.
2. Pace Control : Rain Delays/Break in the Action (Pace Control): Federer was further plagued by the inability to dictate the pace and the two key moments where rain delays occurred, undermined Federer’s relying on and usage of the structure of the typical match. Soderling was given the opportunity to analyze and gather himself in order to hold on to the match.
3. Focus : The weather exposed another issue in that Federer’s main vehicle is that of his unbroken focus. Here, Federer was completely thrown off his usual approach being that the match was not played straight through and leaving Roger little comfort in an odd pattern of play—to say the least.
4. Clay : This weakness was already known and with the mixture of rain with the clay surface along with the affect on the ball, Federer was likely even more thrown than usual. This is all relative in that Roger still usually makes at least the semi-finals but nevertheless, the surface was wet, slowing the ball down even more than usual and completely undermining Roger’s Timing.
5. Believing : Any opponent that plays Federer must believe in themselves more than they believe in the mystique of Roger Federer. He is a man like any other—aside from the super-human tennis skills—get into his head and keep him out of yours.
Basically, only one weakness was truly exposed—strength. Simply overpowering Federer is what a player has to be able to do. Suffice to say, Federer just is not a clay court player and nothing was really learned today except that Federer lost slightly earlier than we expected.