Roger Federer 2013 Season Review (Part 4)

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.

If you missed Part 3 of the Season Review series, you can view it here.

15. Swiss Indoors, Basel (500)

Result: Lost in Finals to Juan Martin del Potro (6-7, 6-2, 4-6)

Eventual Winner: Juan Martin del Potro (def. Roger Federer 7-6, 2-6, 6-4)

2013_Basel

This was Federer’s hometown tournament, one that he had been a ballboy in many many years ago. After the disappointment in Shanghai where Federer again failed to win a match that was considered relatively easy for him, expectations had dropped. We were intent on taking it one match at a time and so was he. His qualification for the World Tour Finals had not been secured yet and he needed a good showing in Basel and Paris to make it. Fortunately, Federer did not disappoint. Federer won his first round match easily in straight sets against Adrian Mannarino. He lost the first set in his second round match against Denis Istomin, but was never troubled in the last two sets; he won it in three. In the quarter finals, he faced ‘Baby Fed’ Grigor Dimitrov – a man touted to have a style of playing much like Federer himself. Federer responded magnificently in the match, though – beating him in straight sets. He could have sealed the second set earlier in that match, but it is always the result that counts. In the semi-finals, he met Vasek Pospisil who was having his best tournament of the year. That showed when he took the second set after losing the first, based purely on good accurate serving and some hard forehands. Federer clawed his way back into the match and took the final set 7-5 to set up another final in Basel; this time he would face Juan Martin del Potro. In the final, the first set was very tight with either men holding serve – Federer lost the set in a tiebreak, but seemed ready to up his game. He did so in the second set, winning it comfortably 6-2 and the hope for his second title had just gone up a notch. Unfortunately, it was not to be and del Potro gritted it out in the final set. Even though he lost, this was a very positive week for him – he was able to beat the players he was ought to (something he had not been able to do this year consistently), and lost only to a Top-10 player having his best year since an injury.

16. BNP Paribas Masters, Paris-Bercy (1000 Masters)

Result: Lost in Semifinals to Novak Djokovic (6-4, 3-6, 2-6)

Eventual Winner: Novak Djokovic (def. David Ferrer 7-5, 7-5)

2013_Paris

Federer only needed to beat his second round opponent Kevin Anderson in Paris to qualify for the World Tour Finals; but he did so much more. He started well, winning his opening two matches in straight sets and displaying the sort of indoor form we know him to have. He was hitting stinging forehands and his serve was coming back, but it was still not as consistent as it was in his prime – but that’s obvious, since he’s not in his prime. When you get older, the luck factor is a bit more of a necessity for you to win matches against people who are in their prime. In the quarter-finals, he met Juan Martin del Potro again and this time, you knew Federer wanted to exact revenge. He came racing out of the blocks and completely outplayed del Potro in the first set taking it 6-3. del Potro weathered the storm in the second set, however, displaying his own brand of smashing tennis to take it 6-4 and set up a thrilling decider. In the final set, Federer did not lose it like he did in Basel, and he held his nerve to come up with the goods when it was needed; he had finally beaten a Top-10 player after such a long time. He would draw much confidence from this win and this set up a semi-final with Novak Djokovic; this was to be their first match this year. Again, in the semis, Federer raced out of the blocks and was hitting everything within the court – the forehand, the backhand, the serve, everything seemed to be working and he won the first set 6-4. However, Djokovic showed just why he has been dominating the sport for the past 2 years (save for Nadal’s comeback this year) and he simply was too hard to beat – in the second and third set, he made almost no unforced errors and Federer’s shots started becoming more wayward. With a break early in the third, he sealed the win. Federer again had a good tournament, and two good results back-to-back meant he would enter the World Tour Finals with a lot of confidence.

17. Barclays ATP World Tour Finals

Result: Lost in Semifinals to Rafael Nadal (5-7, 3-6)

Eventual WinnerNovak Djokovic (def. Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4)

2013_London

Federer was drawn in the tougher of the two groups – his group had Gasquet, Djokovic and del Potro whereas the other group had Nadal, Wawrinka, Berdych and Ferrer. His first match was a rematch of the Paris semi-final as he faced Novak again. This time, he did not have such a good start and ended up losing the first set 4-6. But, this was the O2 arena, a place where Federer had won and had been a finalist, respectively, for the past two years, and he was not going to just give it up. Federer fought back in the second, winning it in the tiebreak 7-6. But then, it fell apart. Just as in Paris, Djokovic got the early break in the second set, and Federer just could not fight back from that. Another break, and Djokovic won the match 6-4, 6-7, 6-2. It was a good performance nevertheless, and it was against the No. 2 player in the world. In his second match, Federer played Gasquet and routined him 6-4, 6-3 which was very uplifting – Gasquet was a Top-10 player, and the ease with which Federer dismantled his game was pleasing. With Djokovic beating del Potro in their match, it meant that the final match between Federer and del Potro was a straight shoot-out for a place in the semis. del Potro won the first set in that match 6-4, but you could see it in Federer’s eyes and his demeanour – he wanted it. His desire was apparent, and he showed a lot of emotion on-court, which as you would know, he hasn’t been known to do. He won the next two sets 7-6 and 7-5 and sealed a place in the semis. Federer said after the match that he was very happy with his performance, and so were all of us. Two Top-10 victories in the space of two days – this was a real high for Federer.

In the semifinals however, we felt he had no chance against a rested Rafael Nadal – Federer had just played a marathon three-setter against del Potro the previous night. However, he started well and even saved set points in the first set at 4-5 down to claw his way back to 5-5. But, he lost his serve again in the next game and Nadal served it out. In the second set, the tiredness showed as his forehands started becoming more wayward, and his serve percentage dropped. Eventually, Nadal won 7-5, 6-3 but this was not a blemish in Federer’s record – his confidence was on the rise, and the indoor season had certainly contributed to that.

In the final, Nadal was schooled by Djokovic – a source of great pleasure, personally.


The indoor season certainly gave Federer fans (and Federer himself) many reasons  to be optimistic about 2014. Federer starts his 2014 season in Brisbane, a tournament he has never played. The surface there is very similar to Melbourne, so I expect that a good showing in Brisbane will be the perfect preparation for Melbourne. The field in Brisbane isn’t anything Federer can’t handle, with Nishikori, Simon and Anderson the Top-20 players there.

I still expect Federer to make the quarter-finals in the Australian Open – he will be well-rested after the off-season, and if he manages to shrug off any and all injury problems, he should be primed to win four matches at least. Since he won’t be a Top-4 seed this year, he would ideally like to be drawn in Ferrer’s quarter because the surface at Melbourne means it would take something superhuman to beat either of Nadal, Djokovic or Murray there.

This is the last part of the Season Review Series for 2013. Hope you liked it; please leave a comment below – they are much appreciated. My next post will probably be when Federer releases his schedule for 2014. Do you think Federer will play Davis Cup in 2014?

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Roger Federer 2013 Season Review (Part 3)

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)

2013_Hamburg

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)

2013_Gstaad

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)

2013_Cincinnati

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)

2013_US_Open

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)

2013_Shanghai

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.

Roger Federer 2013 Season Review (Part 2)

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)

Federer of Switzerland leaves after being defeated by Nishikori of Japan in their men's singles match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament

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)

2013_Rome

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)

2013_French_Open

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)

2013_Halle

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)

2013_Wimbledon

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.

Roger Federer 2013 Season Review (Part 1)

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)

2013_Australian_Open

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)

2013_Rotterdam

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)

2013_Dubai

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)

Roger Federer of Switzerland tosses his towel to a ball boy as he gets balls from him to serve against Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan during their match at the BNP Paribas Open ATP tennis tournament

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.