Roger Federer, foiled once again one match from a first-ever US Open match against Rafael Nadal, said he just didn’t deserve to beat Juan Martin del Potro in the rematch of their epic 2009 final.
The Swiss third seed and 19-time Grand Slam champion was sent packing by Argentine 28th seed Del Potro 7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (10/8), 6-4 on Wednesday in Arthur Ashe Stadium. The South American meets Spain’s top-ranked Nadal Friday for a berth in Sunday’s final.
“I feel I have no place in the semis and he will have a better chance to beat Rafa, to be honest,” Federer said.
“The way I played or am playing right now, it’s not good enough in my opinion to win this tournament. It’s better I’m out and somebody else gets a chance to do better than me.”
On the same court where Del Potro ended Federer’s five-year title run and 40-match win streak, the reigning Australian Open and Wimbledon champion said, “Juan Martin fought like a lion.”
And the ruined possible first-ever New York matchup between Federer and Nadal, which had been a focus of attention headed into the match, was an afterthought to Federer in the wake of a comprehensive loss.
“I didn’t even think about it, as I lost that match, that it’s not going to happen,” Federer said. “I’m dealing with just trying to understand what happened and just to overcome this in the next few hours, days, weeks, whatever it is. I’ll be fine.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2017
“Of course it is a pity, but Juan Martin deserves it more.”
Federer said in some ways he wasn’t disappointed because he knew his game was weaker than it looked, having been aided by playing three rivals in a row who are a combined 0-40 against him.
“If I ran into a good guy, I was going to lose, I felt,” Federer said. “I don’t want to say I was in negative mindset, but I knew going in that I’m not in a safe place.
“Might have depended too much on my opponent, and I don’t like that feeling. I had it throughout the tournament, and I just felt that way every single match I went into.”
Federer made 41 unforced errors, nine more than his rival, and some of them were woefully off target and well off the court.
“I tried until the very end, “Federer said. “And smashing certain stuff in the net that I normally wouldn’t, smashing forehand volleys into the back fence, I mean, that stuff sucked. You know, honestly, it was terrible.”
HE CAME UP WITH THE GOODS
Federer’s 60 winners were 12 more than Del Potro, whose blistering serves and electric forehand winners took their toll.
“He came up with the goods when he needed to and I helped him a little bit sometimes too maybe,” Federer said. “But he was better today, especially on the big points.”
As for his four squandered set points in the tie-breaker, Federer said, “I don’t think those four points made all the difference. I missed too many balls.”
The 36-year-old Swiss said that he isn’t too crushed after two Slam titles about the disappointing defeat.
“It should hurt, and it does, rightfully so, but I think my perspective at this age and with the season I’ve had is easier to grasp faster, so I’ll be fine quickly,” Federer said.
“Sure, I would have liked to do more here, especially with the year that I had. It has been tough, you know, so it’s all right.”
A back injury from a Montreal finals loss to 20-year-old German Alexander Zverev strill hindered Federer at the Open.
“I just think it slowed down my rhythm and whatever it was throughout the tournament, because I was never really able to turn it on completely,” Federer said. “I played OK, but I never felt like I got to the great level I can play at, but that’s OK.
“I’m out of this tournament because I wasn’t good enough in my mind, my body and my game.”
Roger Federer survived a five-set battle to defeat American teenager Frances Tiafoe and reach the US Open second round on Tuesday, keeping his bid for a record sixth New York title alive.
The 36-year-old Swiss, chasing his third major of the year and 20th of his career, prevailed 4-6, 6-2, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 to avoid losing in the first round of a Slam for the first time since the 2003 French Open.
The fast and furious duel under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium was one of only nine matches to be completed as torrential rain swept 55 matches off Tuesday’s schedule.
At times, Federer also looked as if he was about to disappear with the deluge, struggling with a back injury as well as the all-out assault of Tiafoe, the big-hearted 19-year-old son of immigrants from Sierra Leone.
But the veteran survived to register his 79th win in New York and set-up a second round match-up with either Russia’s Mikhail Youzhny or Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia.
“It was more than a test. We enjoyed it out there, we kept fighting, trying and it was exciting,” said Federer, who finished with 17 aces, 41 winners and 56 unforced errors.
“I had a slow start. I was worried about the back injury. In the fifth set, it was a coin toss and it went my way tonight so I am very happy.”
“I am feeling extremely well. This will give me great confidence,” added Federer, who missed the 2016 tournament with injury and was playing under the $150 million Ashe roof for the first time.
The back problem, which Federer suffered in losing the Montreal final to Alexander Zverev and ruled him out of the Cincinnati tournament, restricted his movement in the opening set.
World number 70 Tiafoe claimed it on the back of an uncharacteristic 18 unforced errors by the Australian Open and Wimbledon champion.
Federer swept through the next two sets before Tiafoe leveled by storming through a 24-minute fourth set.
In the decider, Federer broke for 3-1 but wasted a match point as he served at 5-3 and was broken by the American.
But Tiafoe’s nerve failed him in the 10th game and the match was over when he dumped an off-balance forehand into the net.
The win took Federer’s first-round record in New York to 17-0 while world number one Rafael Nadal, a two-time champion in New York, went to 13-0 after the French Open winner claimed a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic.
Provided by AFP
Is Roger Federer the greatest player of all time?
It’s a timeless tennis debate and whether you think the Swiss, who is celebrating his 36th birthday on Tuesday, is or not – the numbers certainly stack up in Federer’s favour.
In 2017, the Fed Express has belied his years by winning two Grand Slam trophies – the Australian Open and Wimbledon – taking his major haul to a record 19.
That number puts him four ahead of rival Rafa Nadal (15) and seven in front of Novak Djokovic (12).
In the video below, six-time slam winner Boris Becker and former British no1 Tim Henman pay their tributes to a man they know well, while Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou also discusses the eight-time SW19 champion.
Federer is competing in the Rogers Cup in Montreal this week.