If you missed Part 1 of the Season Review Series, you can view it here.
5. Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid (1000 Masters)
Result: Lost in Round 3 to Kei Nishikori 4-6, 6-1, 2-6
Eventual Winner: Rafael Nadal (def. Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 6-4)
After having skipped the Miami Masters tournament, Federer played the ATP 1000 Masters event in Madrid where he was again the defending champion, but last year the tournament was played on blue clay for the first (and sadly, last) time. He beat Radek Stepanek easily in the first round but was upset in the second round by Kei Nishikori. Nishikori remarked that it was like a dream for him to beat his ‘idol’, but Roger played poor on the day. He played very aggressive in the second set which showed as he broke twice to take it 6-1, but could not find the range on his shots in the third. This was a major disappointment, and was rather unexpected.
6. Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome (1000 Masters)
Result: Lost in Finals to Rafael Nadal 1-6, 6-3
Eventual Winner: Rafael Nadal (def. Roger Federer 6-1, 6-3)
A third-round exit in Madrid saw Roger come to Rome on the back of a disappointing start to the season. He put up a good show in the Rome Masters, however, as he beat Potito Starace, Gilles Simon, Jerzy Janowicz and Benoit Paire in straight sets to set up a final with Rafael Nadal again. The path to the final was simple enough; the final itself was anything but. Nadal showcased his clay-court prowess and never let Federer build up a head of steam – he was simply too good on the day and beat Federer in straight sets to clinch his sixth title in eight appearances since coming back from injury. Federer said it didn’t go as he had hoped; he was missing too many crucial forehands and his serve wasn’t accurate enough. However, a final showing at a clay-court Masters event was a good result, and gave Federer some confidence heading into the French Open.
7. Roland Garros (The French Open), Paris (Grand Slam)
Result: Lost in Quarterfinals to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 5-7, 3-6, 3-6
Eventual Winner: Rafael Nadal (def. David Ferrer 6-3, 6-2, 6-2)
The draw Gods had finally taken Federer’s side in Paris – he was given a beautiful draw which pitted Djokovic and Nadal in the same half, and the highest seed in Federer’s half was David Ferrer. It seemed inevitable that Federer would reach the final, and many were hoping he could finally beat Nadal in his own backyard since he would be tired after a Djokovic semi-final. Nadal lived up to his side of the bargain; Federer could not. He breezed through the first three rounds like he always does (BUT did not in Wimbledon – more on that below), beating Pablo Carreno-Busta, Somdev Devvaraman and Julien Benneteau in straight sets. In the Round of 16, he was pushed to five sets (and was 2 sets to 1 down at one point) by Gilles Simon, who threatened to break The Streak, but Federer gritted out a win to make his 36th consecutive Grand Slam quarter-final. In the quarter-final, however, Tsonga played brilliantly and Federer had one of his off-days and lost in straight sets.
It was a major disappointment as herein lay one chance for Federer to make the finals of the French Open relatively unscathed and he blew it. Federer later commented that he thought Tsonga was better than him in all departments, and he was very sad with how he played. This would just be the tip of the iceberg however, as (barring the win in Halle) it marked a slump in form that would see him lose to unheralded opponents in low-profile tournaments.
8. Gerry Weber Open, Halle (250)
Result: Champion (def. Mikhail Youzhny 6-7, 6-3, 6-4)
Ah, Halle. The only title Federer won this year. After an unsatisfactory showing at the French Open, it was necessary that Federer bounce back on his favourite grass – he certainly started on the road to recovery very well. He double-bagelled Mischa Zverev in Round 2 and then beat Tommy Haas in a repeat of last year’s final in a 3-set comeback. He then beat Mikhail Youzhny in the final also after coming back from a set down, and clinched his sixth title at the Gerry Weber Open. It was a very positive result as it gave him the right momentum heading into Wimbledon, which represented his best chance at a Grand Slam title. What happened, however, was truly shocking.
9. Wimbledon, London (Grand Slam)
Result: Lost in Round 2 to Sergei Stakhovsky (7-6, 6-7, 5-7, 6-7)
Eventual Winner: Andy Murray (def. Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4)
This was the setback of the year for me – forget his first-round loss in Gstaad and his semifinal loss to Delbonis in Hamburg; they were unimportant tournaments that mattered very little to me. Wimbledon, however, was Federer’s always the highlight of the year and to lose in the second round to Stakhovsky, that too after winning Halle and winning the first round so comfortably confused me – it wasn’t a shock, it was just quite unbelievable. Add to that The Streak (of consecutive Grand Slams) being snapped, and I was incredibly disappointed. After some time however, I watched the match again and was forced to conclude that Federer did not have much of an off-day – Stakhovsky just played the match of his life. He probably would not play another match to measure up to this quality. Yet, Federer had given us a right to expect – we expected more from him, and Federer himself must have expected more. It was a huge disappointment, and it started a downward spiral of results for Federer.
More on Federer’s 2013 season will come in Part 3 of the Season Review Series, which can be found here.