You gotta love the chatter that follows a Roger Federer loss. Tennis.com has a couple interesting articles analyzing the Federer vs. Baghdatis match at Indian Wells on Tuesday night. Click here for Steve Tignor’s “Federer’s anger proves he still cares.” I like Bodo’s, too, “Hold the Violins!” (click here) a good companion to my “It’s not Wimbledon, it’s Marcos” mantra . Most media reported that Federer was angry or at least peeved after losing, though accounts differ. Diane Pucin of the LA Times wrote from the pressroom: “Afterward Federer was not overly upset.”
Hopefully we can judge for ourselves when the video comes out. Until then, we can read his own words and compose our own theories. Was Roger devastated that he failed to convert those three match points? Does he really not care about the Masters 1000 events? Or let’s put it this way: Does he really not care about winning the Masters 1000 events? Is he a sore loser? A gracious champ? Or a hard nosed realist, win or lose?
Commentators and reporters have noted that Roger didn’t give much credit to Marcos for his win last night. I know we all have our own feelings about what qualifies as gracious in defeat. Serena Williams is often an example of someone who doesn’t give enough credit to her opponents when they beat her. Even nice-gal Kim Clijsters was reluctant to give props to Nadia Petrova after being blitzed in Melbourne. (In that case, I think it might have been due.) I don’t mind this kind of sour lemons talk. It’s easy enough to just say “Credit to her, s/he played better than me today,” but is that really what we want to hear from the Great Champions after they lose a wonky match? Personally, I’d rather hear their disappointment and excuses, their disbelief and wounded egos. And most of the time they’re right – it’s a very rare thing when a lesser player can take out a Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Kim Clijsters or Rafael Nadal without a little help from across the net.
Enough of my rambling! Here’s what Roger Federer had to say on Tuesday in his post-match press conference after losing to Marco Baghdatis in three sets:
ROGER FEDERER PRESS CONFERENCE: MARCH 16, 2010
INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA
M. BAGHDATIS/R. Federer
7-5, 5-7, 7-6
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. That got away from you, the match.
ROGER FEDERER: Say again.
Q. What got away from you in the match?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, many things, I guess. You know, I used up too many chances. Comes backs and haunts you. But he hung in there, obviously, otherwise he wouldn’t be there. That was the result. But, no, I mean, I think it wasn’t the worst match, you know. Conditions are quick, it’s tough to return, but I did many good things tonight but also many bad things. It’s just a question of not letting that happen too often.
Q. How tough is it, Roger, after coming off the back of the Australian Open and to be sick and regain that kind of edge straightaway? How demanding is that?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I could be sitting here an hour earlier and saying how comfortably I won the match in straight sets not playing great, but moving forward. Always a very fine line. That’s not why I don’t like to now beat myself up too much after a loss like this.
It feels like something the Tsonga match last year in Cincinnati, you know, what happened after that. I played great. Or was it in Toronto and I won Cincinnati. So it’s just like one of those matches that just happens, you know. You play good most of the time, and then you just don’t play so well when you really have to. The match almost looked like I wasn’t playing all that great, and then I could have still won the match. That was one of those matches that happens, and it’s a pity because I wasn’t terrible, you know, so…
Q. You had three match points throughout the night. Can you take us through the two in the second set and then the other one you had in the third.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I think that’s the tough part, you know. When you come back from a long break, sometimes it happens automatically that you’re back in it; and then sometimes I already felt against Hanescu I was doing many right things, but then the next thing you know I’m stuck in a third set and you never know what’s going to happen.
It was the same thing tonight, and I just couldn’t find the way to win. I was maybe one shot away. That’s how much it takes sometimes from winning or losing. That’s why you can’t say I played a bad match, and if I win I’m going to tell you it’s a good match.
It was a decent match, but maybe wrong choices at the wrong time for me. Maybe going for too much, maybe playing too passively. You can’t even — that’s not something you can really work on. That comes through playing matches, and that’s what I need.
I hope to get more of it in Miami, but I will definitely play a lot of practice sets, that’s for sure, until then.
Q. Did you feel like you had your rhythm at all any time during the evening, or was it up and down, in and out?
ROGER FEDERER: No, it was not so bad. I had very good spells on my serve, you know, holding comfortably the whole time. But he was serving well, too, so you don’t really get a rhythm out there too much, you know, because there’s hardly any rallies.
So that was for both of us. Then the tighter it gets, the more rallies there are all of a sudden. So this is when you start thinking about it a bit too much, and take wrong decisions.
Q. What about his level? Is this the best Marcos has played compared to the other times you’ve played him, or what was your thought on his game tonight?
ROGER FEDERER: Close match, you know. It wasn’t the greatest match of all time I think from his side, either. I think the Australian Open final was much higher quality. Just because he beat me doesn’t mean he’s played the match of his life. He’s a good player. He’s played many of the top guys. Tonight he just hung in there, and that was enough.
Q. Can you talk about big shots in the breaker? He really held his own.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, kind of, I guess. If you want to see it that way you can; you can also see it the other way. That’s the way I see it.
Q. At any stage, it’s keeping a real sense of perspective, isn’t it, and a level head and not getting too downhearted with one defeat when you’ve got a potentially — well, you have one great tournament and potentially some more to come.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Yeah, I mean — yeah, it’s fine, you know. I tried. I came here, gave it a shot. It’s a pity. I wish I could prepare for my next match. I don’t know who I would have played tomorrow, but I would have had a great time playing another match here.
I think as the tournament would have gone forward I would have found my groove more and more, and who knows what would have happened? But I don’t need to worry about that anymore. It’s about resting, you know, because I do feel the first match in my body. It’s something that always is tough, you know, coming from a long layover and all of a sudden playing matches. But, yeah, I mean, the season is long, like you say. There’s no need to panic here.
Q. Back to the tiebreaker, do you feel like you played a bad tiebreaker? Because he came up with some pretty big serves there on the end. Were there just a couple points where you felt like…
I should never be in a breaker, you know. So why analyze the breaker? That’s my — the way I analyze tennis.
End of FastScripts
And here’s a nice interview with Marcos Baghdatis before he lost his next match to Tommy Robredo. He had some nice things to say about his own future and about Roger Federer, who he thinks is the greatest: