Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Federer loses the US Open. Ok, so he is human. Bugger

As I sort of predicated yesterday, Juan Martin Del Potro beat Roger Federer in the US Open final. Sigh… deep breaths… I can get through this…

Del Potro started slow, but played some excellent tennis in the 4th and 5th sets to take the win.

Federer played so-so. He only got in 50% of his first serves. Del Potro by contrast got in 65%. That pretty much is enough to be the difference between a win and a loss. That Federer was able to get to within 2 points of winning shows how good even his below par performance is.

But all credit to Del Porto, he was brutal in the 5th set and you can’t say the better player on the day didn’t win.

Here’s Federer’s take:

ROGER FEDERER: … I got off to a pretty good start, and had things under control as well in the second set. I think that one cost me the match eventually. But I had many chances before that to make the difference. So it was tough luck today, but I you thought Juan Martin played great. I thought he hung in there and gave himself chances, and in the end was the better man.

Q. How disappointing is this not to get No. 6?
ROGER FEDERER: Five was great, four was great, too. Six would have been a dream, too. Can't have them all. I've had an amazing summer and a great run. I'm not too disappointed just because I thought I played another wonderful tournament. Had chances today to win, but couldn't take them. It was unfortunate.

Q. How do you look back at the Grand Slam results of this year? You got two titles of Grand Slam, two finalists. How did you look back?
ROGER FEDERER: Unbelievable. Unbelievable run. Being in all major finals and winning two of those, I'm losing the other two in five sets. Sure, I would have loved to win those two as well. Being so close, I think was two points from the match today. That's the way it goes sometimes. But year has been amazing already and it's not over yet. Got married and had kids, don't know how much more I want.

Q. With all the good that's happened this year, will that eventually help ease the sting of this?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, this one I think is easy to get over just because I've had the most amazing summer. I tried everything, you know. Didn't work. I missed chances. He played well and in the end it was a tough fifth set. It's acceptable. But life goes on. No problem.

Q. You were fully in control early on, and then the match start to change. Was there a moment where you said, uh‑oh, I got to get more serious or things aren't going the way I need them to go?
ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I thought I had him under control for the first two sets. I should never have lost so many chances. It was just a pity. I think if I win the second set, I'm in a great position to come through. Unfortunately, I didn't win that and that was it.

One of the reasons the loss wasn’t too hard to take (ok, I lie, I was shattered) was that Del Potro is a nice guy. Here’s his post match comments:

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: I don't know, I just want to live this moment. Of course I will be in the history of this tournament. That's amazing for me. I have new opportunities in the other Grand Slams to win, because if I did here, if I beat Nadal, Federer and many good players, maybe I can do one more time. But of course, will be difficult, because I was so close to lose today.

Q. You double faulted twice to go down two sets to one. How did you get yourself back into that match? What were you telling yourself?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I was so...
Q. Were you momentarily down?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, but that moment I start to think the final, playing with Roger, the best player of the history, nothing to lose. And be two sets to one down, but I think, okay, you never lose until the last point, so keep fighting. The crowd help me, and they saw my fight in every point.
So I think that's help me.

Q. You came this close to almost breaking the racquet after the third set. All of a sudden there seemed to be a new spark in you.
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I was so nervous. But for respect to me and respect to everyone, I don't do that, because maybe when I feel nervous I saw Roger and he's a gentleman player, you know. We have to learn many things about him. Many times I do that today.

Q. In the first set, he handled pretty well. Was it nerves on your end that you got a little nervous playing the first set? In the second set, what adjustments did you make to your game?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yes, the beginning of the match I was so nervous, I can't sleep last night. I don't take a breakfast today. That's part of the final, you know.  But Roger start very good. I start little down. I miss ‑‑ I was bad with my serve, and that's important weapon of my game. When I broke his serve for first time, I start to believe in my game. To change.

Q. Does this victory, is it even more special because you beat Roger in the final?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, of course. Beat Roger for first time here in my favorite Grand Slam, and two sets to one down, everything, I think it's the best final ever in my life, of course.  But if I beat Roger if three sets straight will be better. But it's impossible.

Q. Do you think the match you played against him in Paris helped you here?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Yeah, sometimes help me, but sometimes no, because I was 4‑5 serving and I did two double faults, same like Paris when I was 3‑All in the fifth set. I think that, but fortunately it was early. I have two more set to fight. Maybe that's help me.

Q. The fact that you in your first Grand Slam final beat Roger, who is in the prime of his brilliant tennis career and the way did you it, what did you learn about yourself today and throughout the course of this tournament?
JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO: Well, I think everything is to learn about this match. I have many things to improve to be better. Of course I would like to be in top 4, top 3, or top 1 in the future. But I have to play like today many, many weeks in the year. If I still working and still going in the same way, maybe in the future I can do.

A very gracious and humble response.

The tennis blog GoToTennis, came up with a great post for Federer fans struggling to cope with the loss. It argues the fans need to go through the 7 steps of despair. Here’s the last – acceptance:

I accept that Roger Federer holds the all-time record of 15 Major titles. I accept that Roger Federer is the Greatest Tennis Player of All Time. I accept that he’s had an unprecedented 2009 – reaching the finals of all 4 majors, completing the career slam at Roland Garros, regaining his beloved Wimbledon title and retaking the No. 1 ranking. Oh, and he got married and fathered twin girls, to boot. I accept that Federer’s beaten his main rivals – Murray, Djokovic and Nadal – more recently than they’ve beaten him.  I accept that Roger’s hair will always reign supreme. I accept that his practice t-shirts will always make me smile. I accept that he’s richer, more talented and better dressed than I am. I accept that he can’t win every match, even though I really, really want him to. I accept that he lost the US Open to a nice young Fed fan named Juan Martin del Potro (and not one of the infidels – you know who I’m talking about!) I accept that even Roger Federer can’t have it all.


And for those wondering, one of the infidels is Andy Murray.

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