Hello guys. There is a lot more to be said for Roger’s loss against Berdych yesterday but let me get to the final first, which was of course concluded today. As was expected Djokovic took the title. When I joined the action Berdych was a break up in the first set, serving at 4-3. What? Was there and upset in the making? Of course not. Berdych feebly dropped serve after missing a sitter volley into the open court that a 2-year old could make. Utter mental midgetry. Even after that embarrassment he still had 3 break points in the following game to make up for it, but of course faltered on those too. Nothing else needs to be said about this match, aside from the fact that Berdych surrendered the first set with another feeble double fault. So yeah, feeble is the word that sums up this match from a Berdych standpoint.
I stopped watching after the first set because it was all over at that point. Very few people come back against Djokovic after dropping the first set, least of all mental midget Berdych. The final score was 7-5, 6-3. Congrats to Djokovic, who is now only one short of Roger’s record 5 titles in Dubai. It was a shame that Roger could not be in the final to at least test Djokovic and try to win double the amount of Dubai titles that Djokovic has. This brings me back to Roger’s loss to Berdych. No, this is not a post to bash Roger for losing to a mental midget like Berdych in a crucial match. I said what I wanted to say in my last post which was pretty critical. But I am a reporter so I will report the facts. Before I try to look at things a bit more optimistically I can’t help but feel like Berdych’s feeble loss to Djokovic today emphasizes what a bad loss the one against Berdych was in the semis.
Yes Berdych always seems to in the zone against Roger, but it is not like he becomes a different person. He is still Tomas Berdych. Seeing Berdych’s feeble performance today reminded me once again that mental strength is not Roger’s forte. Well it was Roger 3.0′s forte, but there is also Roger 2.0 to consider. One of my readers commented on my last post that he never believed in all this talk about different versions of Roger, and I thought I did a pretty good job of explaining to him why I believe there is such a thing. It goes back to the 2011 US Open where Roger suffered that shock loss to Djokovic after having match points for the second year running. It was obviously time for him to take a good look at himself and make some changes. Is this another such time? I think so. In that sense these losses aren’t necessarily a bad thing.
It is a kind of shock that can wake him up. Hopefully this shock against Berdych will wake Roger up again. But I was talking about the different versions of Roger. I think it was obvious that Roger became a different player after the 2011 US Open that lasted for at least a year. He went through a period where he never lost a match that you feel he should have won. The first match that he lost which I felt he should have won was the one against Berdych at the 2012 US Open. I think the Roger 3.0 tag which I myself gave him and has since been adopted by many a Fedfan was totally justified. And the main difference between Roger 2.0 and Roger 3.0 was exactly the mental strength which was so absent against Benneteau and Berdych. Roger just didn’t lose to players he should beat and he never lost from a winning position.
You could say he should have won the Masters Cup final against Djokovic where he was in a winning position in both sets, but for me he was burned out at that point. 2012 was a grueling season and I thought Roger started burning out after Cincy. I thus didn’t see it as the end of Roger 3.0. He fought his way back to confidence in the indoor season and then played almost the perfect Australian Open. Yes he didn’t win the title, but he lost to one of the very best on a slowish surface that didn’t exactly suit his attacking game. So I wasn’t under any impression that the end of Roger 3.0 was near. I was excited because I knew Roger 3.0 was right up there with Djokovic and Murray and that he would have another shot at a major. But the losses to Benneteau and Berdych quickly had me doubting his 3.0 status. Things change fast in tennis.
Now, in my last post my readers came up with all kinds of explanations for the Berdych loss, and I appreciated that you guys were trying to be optimistic. Personally I didn’t buy any of the explanations however. It was a demoralizing loss. Period. However, the outlook that some of you took that it is too early to write Roger off was a just one. Roger have suffered demoralizing losses like this in his career before. Many times in fact, and he has often hit back in the best way possible. So yes, it is too early to talk of retirement. I merely brought that up in my last post because I felt Roger really let himself and his fans down in his last two tournaments, and that if his heart is not 100% in it anymore then it is time to retire. That is something I won’t change my mind on. If he wants to keep playing he must do so all the way or not at all.
I feel very strongly about this. And I still don’t know why his heart wasn’t in it 100% against Benneteau and Berdych. And yes it concerns me. It is something that he must look into and straighten out fast. Otherwise we are looking at more losses like these and a disappointing 2013. Take a look at this article:
The link to the actual article is not there but is legit all the same. Roger sounds very optimistic in that article and believes that he can win more slams and even get back to number one. I think it’s important to take a long term view and not to get lost in the moment. Yes we are at a low now but it has been a great run and we first of all have to appreciate that. We thus can’t just write Roger off after two bad matches. He was still playing at a very high level against Berdych I felt. It is just that he faltered at the crucial moment. He didn’t go in for the kill at 6-4 in the tie break and instead floated a feeble backhand slice long. I am trying to understand what went on in his mind at that instant, compared to Roger 3.0 who would have taken the opportunity with both hands. A tennis player’s mind is a complex thing. It’s not that black and white.
Maybe something has been on his mind. Maybe the loss to Berdych at the US Open was still fresh in his memory. We must not be too quick to judge. But we can’t dismiss this as just another loss either. I did not see the presser after the match but I can imagine Roger was not exactly beaming with confidence. I hope he takes this loss as seriously as I do and that it serves as a wake up call. I remember Roger saying before 2013 that this will be a kind of transition year. I don’t remember the exact reason, but I think he meant that after the hectic 2012 he needs to adjust his schedule and play less, because he is aging and has to get enough rest and practice. That is another thing about these last two events. He didn’t prepare well for either. He took some time off after Melbourne and didn’t prepare well for Rotterdam.
Then before Dubai he went to South Africa for his charity and obviously his preparation would not have been ideal either. So actually that may have been a factor. As I said, we should not be too quick to judge. If you have followed my blog for a while now you will know that I usually do a post where I criticize quite a bit after a disappointing loss, which hasn’t happened much of late(the Australian Open 2012 SF loss to Nadal comes to mind), after which I try to be more optimistic and rational. That loss to Nadal was another good example of how Roger can hit back after a tough loss. I actually kind of forgot about that match in terms of a match that Roger 3.0 lost that he should have perhaps won, but it was his nemesis Nadal so that is a bit different. Anyway that was another disappointing performance where Roger came back in impressive fashion.
Maybe we will see something similar happening in Indian Wells. Maybe as Roger gets older we will see him being more up and down like this. I just liked the consistency of Roger 3.0. My tennis coach used to say you are only as good as you are on your worst day and there is a lot of truth to that. Roger 3.0 was not so good because of all the titles he won, but because of how he played on his bad days. He still found a way to win. This was not the case against Benneteau. Against Berdych I did not feel he had a bad day. He was still playing at a very high level and should have won in straight sets. So in the end there are many things to consider. Roger said that 2013 will be a transitional year and maybe he is still finding the balance between enough rest and enough practice. But at the same time this loss to Berdych must serve as a wake up call.
Lets see what happens in Indian Wells.