It’s a well known fact that even the greatest champion can’t last forever, whoever you are, whatever you have achieved, a reign must always end even if your name is Roger Federer.
To his many fans who watched their idol lift 17 Grand Slam titles, the man who stepped on to court against Tommy Robredo at the US Open last night will have seemed like a bewildered imposter who robbed them of the real Federer for the second Slam running.
But it was the manor of his defeat that was so disheartening, as the man who has claimed five US Open titles over the years made a premature fourth round exit in straight sets 7-6 (7-3) 6-3 6-4 to Robredo - a man he had never lost to in the past and had beaten on ten previous occasions.
The worrying thing for Federer fans is that the result was no fluke, just like his astonishing defeat to world number 116 Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon this year Federer was outplayed and performed by a lower ranked opponent.
But as well as Robredo played, it couldn’t be avoided that this wasn’t the Federer we have all watched and admired over the past ten years.
It was painful to watch as the Swiss continuously fired his usually imposing forehand long, wide or in the bottom of the net. His whole game leaked errors, 43 in total compared to 26 from Robredo who soundly deconstructed the Federer game.
Time and time again Federer found himself at the net where he was either passed or unable to put the ball away, converting only 2 of his 16 break points. Even his serve couldn’t save him as Robredo broke on four occasions.
The result leaves the question will Federer ever recover to compete for his eightieth major or is it only a matter of time before he drops out of the world’s top ten?
Federer must now rely on a strong finish to the year to remain in a top eight spot and qualify for the ATP Tour Finals in November, where he has made twelve consecutive appearances.
It seems unbelievable for a man who made 36 Grand Slam quarter finals to then miss making the last eight twice in a row.
2013 will be the first year the Swiss hasn’t appeared in a Slam final and the chances of him making another one seem to be diminishing by the day.
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