If you missed Part 1 of the Season Review series, you can view it here.
If you missed Part 2 of the Season Review series, you can view it here.
10. bet-at-home Open, Hamburg (500)
Result: Lost in Semifinals to Federico Delbonis (6-7, 6-7)
Eventual Winner: Fabio Fognini (def. Federico Delbonis 4-6, 7-6, 6-2)
Federer made the huge decision of playing a mid-season racquet change when he shifted to the 98 sq. cm. one in Hamburg. Both Hamburg and Gstaad were not originally on his schedule, and many people were surprised that he would add clay court tournaments to his calendar. Federer later explained that it was so that he could get match practice, and he hoped that he would go a winning streak by winning both of them back-to-back. Sadly, that was not what transpired. After a poor first round match against Daniel Brands in which he recovered from losing the first set, he beat Jan Hajek in straight sets in the second round. He was again tested in the quarter finals by Florian Mayer, who pushed him to three. All along, Federer said the racquet ‘felt fine’ but the results were not what some of us had anticipated. This was supposed to be the weapon that would take him back to glory – a more powerful weapon, necessary to keep with the times – but in hindsight, perhaps it was ill-timed; it would have been better to introduce it in the off-season. In the semi-finals, he was beaten in straight sets by little-known qualifier and No. 114 in the world Federico Delbonis, which topped off a poor week overall. The racquet change had not worked.
11. Credit Agricole Suisse Open, Gstaad (250)
Result: Lost in Round 1 to Daniel Brands (3-6, 4-6)
Eventual Winner: Mikhail Youzhny (def. Robin Haase 6-3, 6-4)
If Hamburg was any indication that the racquet change had not worked, Gstaad surely put the final nail in the coffin. Federer lost in straight sets in the first match he played here, to No. 55 Daniel Brands. This was the period that separated the gloryhunters from the true Federer fans – so many of them left his side in his darkest hour (of the season) that it was appalling. The guy has given you nothing but joy for the best part of 8 years, and you leave his side just as the first poor season comes along? Federer deserved better fans than this. Nevertheless, it was a disappointing performance from Roger, and this was the time critics were calling for his retirement again – mindless banter, of course. Roger would also later say that with the niggling back problems that he had throughout the season, it was perhaps an incorrect decision to play Hamburg and Gstaad.
12. Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati (1000 Masters)
Result: Lost in Quarterfinals to Rafael Nadal (7-5, 4-6, 3-6)
Eventual Winner: Rafael Nadal (def. John Isner 7-6, 7-6)
Roger skipped the Montreal Masters and came to Cincy where he was, once again, the defending champion. He reverted back to his trusted 90 sq. cm. racquet, and many viewed this as a cowardly step; I was happy, however, as I felt Roger needed a strong run-in to the 2013 season to start the 2014 season with confidence, and I wasn’t counting on him winning the US Open – you don’t win a Grand Slam playing like the way he had been playing. In the end, it was a good step as it meant he was able to pull together a string of (relatively) good indoor results, qualify for the World Tour Finals and make semis there. Anyway, he disposed of Philipp Kohlschreiber easily in the second round in straight sets, but was tested in the third round by German veteran Tommy Haas. He fought from a set down, however, to take the match 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 and set up another showing with Nadal. This time, however, the performance was much improved – he won the first set 7-5 and was looking very nice. But Nadal was once again too good for Roger – you kind of knew it, with the year that he was having – and he lost in three sets. But for the first time in many tournaments, Federer’s play looked good enough to beat the best, and that was comforting going into the US Open.
13. US Open, New York (Grand Slam)
Result: Lost in Round 4 to Tommy Robredo (6-7, 4-6, 3-6)
Eventual Winner: Rafael Nadal (def. Novak Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1)
As mentioned previously, Roger came into the US Open off a good showing against Nadal in Cincy, and experts had already labelled Federer the ‘dark horse’ to win the title – an ode to how fickle these people are. A couple of tournaments ago, he was old and had to retire; one good showing, and suddenly he has an outside chance of winning a Grand Slam. Hypocrites. Anyway, he started in US Open in the best possible manner – he won his first three rounds in comfortable straight-sets victories – the shots were flowing off his racquet, and a quarter-final with Nadal seemed imminent. He simply had to dispose of Tommy Robredo in Round 4, a player against whom he had a 10-0 record. Easy, right? What transpired was just unbelievable. He lost in three sets, and it was completely his own undoing. Robredo did nothing but put the ball back into play and Federer set up millions of opportunities – the disappointment was that he missed all of them. My fellow blogger Ru-an (click for his blog) called this a subconscious tank, as he did not want to face Nadal. While I don’t think Federer’s psyche is so weak that he is afraid to face Nadal, he may be right as it is the only explanation to a bizarre match. He was playing so well, and then he tanks a match completely. Federer said after the match that in this form, he couldn’t even beat Kohlschreiber in the quarter-finals (the other quarter final pitted Nadal against Kohlschreiber and had not been played yet). He was disappointed with his own showing, and so were each and every one of us.
14. Shanghai Rolex Masters, Shanghai (1000 Masters)
Result: Lost in Round 3 to Gael Monfils (4-6, 7-6, 3-6)
Eventual Winner: Novak Djokovic (def. Juan Martin del Potro 6-1, 3-6, 7-6)
After the debacle at the US Open, Federer did not play any tournaments in September. He came into Shanghai with little expectations – it was a testing time for him and his fans, a time which many of his fans couldn’t bear. This separated the true fans from the glory-seekers, however, so at least some good came of it. Coming to Shanghai, he beat Andreas Seppi in the second round in straight sets but lost to Gael Monfils in the third round in three. There had been too many of these losses over the course of the year to be disappointed again, but it did pinch. Federer said after the match that he felt he was getting close to the point where he could get some consistency into his game, but just couldn’t do it today. These ‘todays’ had happened a bit too frequently over the course of the season for his own liking, and Federer now turned to the indoor tournaments in Basel, Paris and the World Tour Finals (should he qualify for it) to get some confidence back. The indoor season did not disappoint.
Note: Federer also played doubles with China’s Zhang Ze in this tournament.
More on Roger Federer’s 2013 season will come in Part 4 (last part) of the Season Review Series.