Roger Federer had his 12-match winning streak at the World Tour Finals snapped as he lost to Juan Martin del Potro 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3. It was the Argentine's second straight win against the Swiss great.
There was nothing separating the world #2 and world #7 in the first set, and just as they did twice in Basel, it went to a tiebreak. Federer was playing solidly enough up to that point, but he imploded and got down 5-1 in dropping the set in disappointing fashion.
The second set was much more solid from Roger as he got a break in the very first game, and rode his serve to victory. It was a very solid serving performance as he never let Delpo into any of his service games. However, the big man turned the tables on Fed in the third set and broke early to take a 3-0 lead, one which he would not relinquish, and he held out from there to assure his place in the semifinals.
Janko Tipsarevic put in his best effort at this year's World Tour Finals, but it was to no avail as he lost to David Ferrer 4-6, 6-3, 6-1. Unfortunately for the Spaniard, he does not make the semifinals. It has to be a disappointing end to a fantastic season.
My thoughts on Federer:
It is obvious that Roger is burned out after the long season. He does not have the same stout mental ability that he usually does, and his game can be described as inconsistent and frustrating - he plays superb in stretches and then looks completely lost at others. Against del Potro, that was the case in the first set tiebreak.
However, I have watched too many Federer matches to count, and at this given point in time, Roger is far from playing his worst. I understand that he is not lighting it up, but he put together two very solid performances (in different ways), and then had a letdown against a very good del Potro. Considering the big guy is in the prime of his career and Roger is at the tail end of a season where he has won 70 matches, the most since 2006, when he had his greatest season ever.
Breaking down the match, Roger was definitely overpowered by the strong Delpo serve. He was rarely in any service games and had trouble returning. Juan Martin doesn't have the fastest serve, but it is very heavy. The same can be said of his groundstrokes. We must remember that Roger has had trouble with Delpo many times before, so we shouldn't be surprised that he lost to a guy that needed the win much more than he did.
When you look at the match really closely, Roger could have won it 6-3, 6-4 if he had taken the break at 4-3 when he had two chances to break. And even without that set won, he forced Delpo to stay strong on the serve in the third set as he kept putting on the scoreboard pressure and kept it a one-break lead. Statistically speaking, he served very well, especially in the second set, when his entire game came together.
Andy Murray is the next opponent for Roger in the semifinals. Andy is playing some great tennis at the moment, but I really do believe Roger will raise his game because he'll have to. He usually brings his best when he needs it the most, and I hope that is what happens.
I hold the belief that Roger's game is right there, and he just needs to dig a little deeper to find it. His defense has been class all week, and regardless of the unforced errors, he has put together a vast array of amazing, jaw-dropping shots.
He is also getting frustrated more easily than we usually see him, but I think against Murray that may change as Andy could be the one blowing a gasket or two at any given time, and Fed stays cool against those kind of guys. Plus, Fed's anger can be attributed to his passion - he really wants to win, and knows that the level he's playing won't be good enough to win.
We know that Federer loves challenges. He will be forced to play his best against Murray and it shall be interesting to see if he can. I know many are saying he can't, but I am too experienced a Roger fan to ever write him off. He has proven me wrong too many times in the past.
I wouldn't be surprised to see a Djokovic/Murray final, but I also wouldn't be shocked to see another Federer vs del Potro match. In fact, if that did happen, it would be their 9th match of the season!
For those doubters and cynics out there, remember the fighting champion spirit that perhaps drew you to Federer in the first place. Even if he doesn't beat Murray, you can be rest assured he will give it everything he has, because he cares about winning this event that much. That is all.
This is my tennis blog, Lefty Advantage. Tennis is my biggest passion in life and I started this site to discuss the great game. I mainly follow the career of Roger Federer, but I truly love watching all tennis, whether it be the final of a Grand Slam or a junior tournament on the other side of the world.
I have played tennis for 13 years. If you ever met me, I could talk your head off about all things tennis for hours on end if you would let me. Welcome, and enjoy the writing!