Thomas Berdych beat Roger Federer today in the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. This is a BIG deal in the tennis world. BIG:
Federer’s loss was the second in a row against Berdych and his second consecutive defeat in the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam after setting an unbelievable record of 23 straight semi-finals or better in majors. It also continued a worrying tendency of defeats against big-hitters: Berdych, Robin Soderling at the French Open, Ernests Gulbis in Rome and stretching back to Juan Martin del Potro at the 2009 US Open.
On top of all that, it’s the first time since 2002(!) that Federer will not be in the FINAL of Wimbledon. And for the first time since November 2003, he will not be ranked #1 or #2. Think about that. Where were you when Federer was last not in the #3 spot or in the Wimbledon final? It’s been so long, it’s hard to remember.
I think this picture of Federer in his after-match press conference says it all:
Here is what he said post-match:
“I couldn’t play the way I wanted to play,” said the No.1 seed ruefully. “I’m struggling with a little bit of a back and a leg issue that just doesn’t quite allow me to play the way I would like to play, so it’s frustrating, to say the least. When you’re hurting, you just don’t feel as comfortable. You can’t concentrate on each and every point because you do feel the pain sometimes, then you tend to play differently than the way you want to play. You don’t for example try to hit a running passing shot because you think you won’t be able to pull it off. Under the circumstances I think I played a decent match, but I’ve been feeling bad for the last two, three matches now. It’s just not good and healthy to play under these kind of conditions. […]
“If I’m healthy I can handle those guys. Obviously it’s a pity that Del Potro is not around (due to a wrist injury), because I think he would have a run at world No. 1 or a run at another Grand Slam. It’s unfortunate for him. These guys do play very well, but I’ve played these guys 10 times and they’re not going to reinvent themselves in a year. I’ve got the keys to beat them. Soderling and Berdych have got more consistent and they can be more relaxed now when they play but I had the keys to win today. I just made some shocking decisions. That forehand in the final game where I was up for a break – totally the wrong decision.”
What now for the deposed champion? For the first time in eight years, he finds himself with an empty calendar for the first weekend in July. “If there’s anything good about this, it’s that I’m gonna get some rest, that’s for sure,” said Federer. “I don’t think (I’ll watch the final on Sunday). Two weeks’ vacation. The injuries will calm down after three, four, five days off. Losing here at Wimbledon will no doubt hurt more, but it’s good to stop playing. It’s what I need at the moment.” […]
The bigger they are, the harder they fall, and in recent years there has been none bigger than Federer. He proved in 2009 than he can bounce back from adversity, and now he has to do it all over again.