Hello guys. Not what we wanted, is it? This was an especially disappointing loss from Roger for me since I had three days off in which I could watch some tennis for a change. I joined the match at 6-3, 3-1 for Benneteau, after which Benneteau held serve to take a 4-1 lead in the second set. I had overslept my alarm clock and after seeing the scoreline I was glad I did. I could hardly believe my eyes. I thought Roger would want to make it clear that the Wimbledon match against Benneteau was an anomaly and beat Benneteau soundly. But of course I forgot about the Olympics since I could not watch it, and there he destroyed Benneteau 6-2, 6-2. Anyway it looked like I joined the match at exactly the right time, because Roger broke back to love at 2-4. I was convinced I was Roger’s lucky charm. But how did Roger end up in this position to begin with?
He got broken in the first game of the match and Benneteau was obviously feeling the ball well out there, because he also consolidated the break for a 2-0 lead. Roger did break back however at 1-2 after a Benneteau double fault. It looked like the usual order of things were restored, yet at 3-3 Roger surrendered serve again after an uncharacteristic forehand error. This reminded of Roger 2.0 whose heart wasn’t quite in it. Something was lacking. But I don’t wana take anything away from Benneteau. He really was playing well. Benneteau held onto his serve two more times as Roger shanked a backhand to drop the first set. It was time for Roger to restore order. Yet at 1-2 Roger found himself another break point down and dropped serve again. He was going to 30-30 on his serve too often which gave Benneteau the opportunity to create break points.
It just wasn’t the clean serving performance from Roger that we have gotten used to. This is the point where I joined the match. Roger went on to break back to love at 2-4 and I was convinced he had woken up and that the match was turning around. Especially after he went down 15-30 at 3-4 and then came up with a clutch backhand winner down the line. It looked like Roger 3.0 was back. His work was far from done though. He had to get another break or at least force the tie break which would make him the favorite to win the set given his superb tie break record. It went to 5-5 and in Benneteau’s next service game Roger’s chance came for the break as he had two break points at 40-15. Benneteau saved both. Roger then created another break point opportunity. I was convinced he would take it this time.
It wasn’t to be. Benneteau held on and in the next game created a break point of his own which was of course match point. An extended rally ensued where Benneteau made his way to the net and hit an angled backhand volley cross court. Roger had a very makeable backhand passing shot but steered it wide down the line. He challenged the call but it was all over. It was a very disappointing loss. It was the Roger of old who lacked passion. His heart just wasn’t quite in it. Why? I can’t tell. I have heard rumors that he didn’t pick up a racquet since the Australian Open until last Sunday. Did he not prepare well enough? Who knows. The bottom line is his heart wasn’t in it. After breaking back in the first set he could have restored the order. He did not. After breaking back in the second set he had another chance to do so. He did not.
This is a tough one for me to explain, especially given how optimistic I was after Roger’s Australian Open performance. You can write it off as a bad day, but that doesn’t quite explain it. We know Roger 3.0 is a total professional and finds a way to win even if he is having a bad day. He definitely had his chances to get back in the match and win this. It was not like he was getting blown off the court. I know you want a more definitive explanation from me than this but I don’t have it. Rotterdam is one of the few indoor events and Roger had a friendly draw after Tsonga lost. It was a great opportunity for another title and to keep the momentum after what I thought was a very positive Australian Open. Who knows what is going on now. Next for Roger is Dubai. Will he play Miami to make up ranking points?
Maybe not the worst idea since he couldn’t defend his title in Rotterdam and have two more titles to defend now in Dubai and Indian Wells. He lost in the third round of Miami last year so there are some points to be had. He may have to play it. He sure has a lot to do in the next few weeks now if he is to hold on to the #2 ranking. So yeah this has been a disappointing loss. I am disappointed that I won’t be able to see Roger in action on my off weekend, but I’m not letting my emotions get the better of my objectivity. I have been totally honest with you in this post. I just can’t explain this loss. Spare a thought for my friend Jonathan from PeRFect Tennis Blog who traveled from the UK this weekend to watch Roger in Rotterdam. After saving up money and being excited to see Roger live in the semis and final Roger puts in a lackluster performance like this.
I am disappointed.