Well, he looked to be in control of that match heading to the fourth set and even through-out much of the fourth. But a couple of double faults at 40-0 at 5-6? This was a bit of a disaster for Roger. I thought the match was over once he handed that set to Raonic. You have to get to a TB there. Even if Federer rallies in the fifth, another five setter?
There’s not much more to say, although I will certainly have a few things to say – you can count on that. Federer had another WB finals appearance in hand. I think getting to a TB in the fourth would have put even more pressure on the Canadian who started to look pretty vulnerable. Instead, Federer appeared to feel the pressure. Again, two double faults?
This fourth set choke along with the fifth set break of serve by Raonic initiated a reading lesson for my twelve-year-old son who was watching with me. Roger, in either case, would save a BP (or SP in the 4th) and let loose his standard “Come on!” The crowd would get excited, my son would feel the energy, move forward on the couch cushion. I would interrupt this nonsensical exuberance by pointing out that he is still in massive trouble, barely hanging-on despite the brilliance of that one point.
One of my astute readers characterized the big 3 once in a comment, months ago now – sorry to have forgotten who it was. But the characterizations were solid, the one of Federer focusing on his brilliance about the point, playing the perfect shot, the artistry of the game exhibited in that momentary flash of genius. But it’s just one point. That has been, in my humble opinion, part of the problem with Federer’s game – the aesthetics sometimes supersede the competition. The crowd, my son, many tennis fans (even me on occasion) can get caught-up in this artistry. I heard Courier talk about it the other day calling a match, and Cahill brought it up in today’s call. I was not interested in those flashes of tennis intelligence. Roger needed to bear-down, get to a TB, put more pressure on Raonic. Or in the fifth, hold serve. Don’t blink. Roger blinked.
Nadal and Djokovic have become famous by acknowledging that they can’t match Federer’s shot arsenal and athleticism. Instead, they have adopted the more practical game of creating pressure and rising to those moments when one has a break opportunity, has to hold serve, has to jump on the opponent early here, all in order to win the competition.
Sure, Federer is competitive. But this image of Roger wilting in a big match has become a somewhat familiar sight. Solid run from the 34 year-old, but congratulations to the Canadian.
Murray is up a set in the second SF, as we speak. Lendl is licking his chops.