Here’s presenting Part 1 (14-Jan to 7-Mar) of the Season Review Series of Roger’s 2013 tennis season.
1. Australian Open, Melbourne (Grand Slam)
Result: Lost in Semifinals to Andy Murray 4-6, 7-6, 3-6, 7-6, 2-6
Eventual Winner: Novak Djokovic (def. Andy Murray 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2)
Having skipped the 250 tournament in Doha, Federer started his season at the Australian Open in Melbourne, where he made the semi-finals. He routined No. 46 Benoit Paire in the first round 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 and then beat No. 40 veteran Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. His Round 3 match was against upcoming star and hometown hero No. 42 Bernard Tomic who had been cocky in speaking to the media about his good chances against Federer. Inveitably, Federer schooled Tomic 6-4, 7-6, 6-1 and shut him up for good. His Round 4 match was a good test against upcoming No. 15 Canadian Milos Raonic, but Federer passed that test with flying colours (6-4, 7-6, 6-2) to set up another Grand Slam quarter final against No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. This match was a real nail-biter and it went the distance, with Federer eventually prevailing 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 3-6, 6-3 in five sets to set up a blockbuster quarter final against Britain’s No. 1 and World No. 3 Andy Murray. This match spelled heartbreak for Federer fans as he fought back so well from 2 sets to 1 down to force a decider, but could not stay with Murray”s consistency and lost 2-6 in the fifth.
2. ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament, Rotterdam (500)
Result: Lost in Quarterfinals to Julien Benneteau 3-6, 5-7
Eventual Winner: Juan Martin del Potro (def. Julien Benneteau 7-6, 6-3)
After heartbreak in Melbourne, Federer then played the 500 tournament in Rotterdam which he had won just the previous year. He defeated No. 64 Grega Zemlja 6-3, 6-1 and No. 123 Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-4 in matches that did not even make him sweat, which was good to see. However, in the quarter finals, he was stunned in straight sets by Julien Benneteau, the man who almost put Federer out of Wimbledon in 2012. Federer said he had a lot of regrets in this match, and was very disappointed to get broken so many times indoors. He also credited his opponent, but felt he could not produce the goods when he needed to.
3. The Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships, Dubai (500)
Result: Lost in Semifinals to Tomas Berdych 6-3, 6-7, 4-6
Eventual Winner: Novak Djokovic (def. Tomas Berdych 7-5, 6-3)
After the blip in Rotterdam, Federer was determined to get a good result in the 500 tournament in Dubai, his second home. In the first round itself, however, this resolve was tested as an unknown No. 128 Malek Jaziri took the first set 7-5 and set off the alarm bells. Federer responded brilliantly though, winning the next two sets 0 and 2. It was smooth sailing in the next two rounds as he beat No. 34 Marcel Granollers and No. 46 Nikolay Davydenko easily in straight sets 6-3, 6-4 and 6-2, 6-2 respectively, to set up a semi-final against Tomas Berdych, a player who historically has proven a difficult opponent for Federer. He started brilliantly, however, winning the first set 6-3 and had three match points on his serve in the second set but Berdych saved all of them and overturned the deficit to beat him in the third set. Federer again said that he had a lot of regrets in this match, as he had match point on his own serve; he also credited his opponent’s ‘big game’ and gave a hint of his anguish at the trend in the modern day game to slow the game down to ridiculous proportions.
4. BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells (1000 Masters)
Result: Lost in Quarter-finals to Rafael Nadal 4-6, 2-6
Eventual Winner: Rafael Nadal (def. Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 6-3, 6-4)
Federer was the defending champion again at the Masters Event in Indian Wells, which was really an ode to how good his 2012 season was. Rumours of a niggling back issue were circulating in the media, but did not really show as Federer routined No. 43 Denis Istomin and No. 60 Ivan Dodig in straight sets – 6-2, 6-3 and 6-3, 6-1 respectively. They did, however, surface big time in the 3rd round when Federer was pushed to three sets by fellow countryman No. 18 Stanislas Wawrinka. He dug deep, however, and came out as the winner 6-3, 6-7, 7-5 to set up a blockbuster quarter-final with long-time nemesis Rafael Nadal. The match proved to be a straight-forward affair, however, with Nadal easily winning in straight sets, 4-6 and 2-6. Nadal commented after the match that Federer did not ‘fight’ as he normally does in the second set, and Federer himself complained of a back issue that restricted his movement. However, being the magnanimous personality he is, he did not use that as an excuse for his poor performance.
More on Federer’s 2013 season will come in Part 2 of the Season Review Series, which can be found here.