Roger Federer lost to 18th seed Ernests Gulbis at Roland Garros on Sunday: 6-7 (5), 7-6 (3), 6-2, 4-6, 6-3.
I hate writing these “Roger lost early” type of posts. I’m forced to go back and review the other doozies – Stakhovsky? Robredo?? – and realize that these Taser-grade shockers have been piling up at the Majors (to be fair, it’s not like Roger’s the first or only top player to find himself in this position, lately.) Much has been made of Roger’s record-making streaks at the Majors, and we may as well recount them for the comfort of it: 10 straight finals, 23 consecutive semi-finals and 36 quarters in a row, oh my! Until Sunday’s loss, Roger still had an impressive run of nine straight quarterfinals going at Roland Garros (take that Rafa!), but the heaviest fallout of this defeat is that it means he hasn’t made the quarters in three of the last four Majors. How, well, average of him!
Want to keep piling it on? Take these glum comments from Roger’s presser (via RolandGarros.com)”
“Stakhovsky [in last year’s Wimbledon second round] was a shock because I did not expect to lose at Wimbledon in the second round after so many years. And the defeat against Robredo [in the fourth round at the US Open] difficult. But this time I was in good shape, and I could have done better.”
“A lot of regrets,” he said. “I just couldn’t figure it out.”
Well if Roger can’t figure out what’s going on, I’m not going to try either, though I’m sure many of his fans share his current mindset: “Mentally I have already switched to the grass, to be quite honest,” (via The Telegraph) “For me, it’s like, ‘OK, clay-court season was fun, but we are moving on.’ Clay doesn’t need me anymore, I got flushed out here.”
Well, he had me until “clay doesn’t need me anymore”, which I don’t have the courage or energy to analyze right now.
One thing that I don’t regret is missing Roger’s match today – living on the West Coast means I didn’t get any live tennis on my television set until 10a.m. local time, Sunday morning – just in time to catch a pretty thrilling set and a half of tennis from the Sharapova/Stosur match. I was rooting for Stosur, who was force fed a bagel in the third, but I still got a kick out of watching Maria at her enraged-Godzilla-stomping-over-everything-while-emitting-an-earth-shattering-nuclear-screech best. Anyway, John McEnroe and Co. gave away the Federer result in the first two minutes or so of the broadcast and I’m not the kind of selfless (or is it masochistic?) Federer super fan who will sit and willingly watch him lose in the hopes of finding some silver lining or gaining a better understanding of his game. Are you out there, super fans? I’d love to hear how you manage this. Another bonus of the bogus NBC coverage: I missed Novak Djokovic ravaging Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Oh, how my favorites are failing me this tournament! It is with some apprehension that I muster a muted “Go Carla!” before the tennis Gods.
So a quick peek into Week Two at Roland Garros:
Gulbis better do us all the courtesy of beating Berdych. After his two day, five-set epic, will Murray be inspired or hampered versus Verdasco, who has to be feeling like this is his big chance? Rafa vs. Who? As much as I’d love to see Raonic go far, I can’t wish Nole anything less at this point than a clear path to a career Grand Slam.
On the women’s side, there are a lot of fun character actors and ingenues taking the spotlight now that the big seeds are all gone. I’m really happy that Garbine is backing up that career-making upset over Serena, and am looking forward to her quarterfinal versus Maria. Now that Ivanovic and Stosur are gone (not to mention Schiavone, who I think lost in the first round), my sentimental favorite is Jelena Jankovic. Could this be the Major where she finally proves all those “slam-less number one” haters wrong? Which reminds me of some ladies who’ve been on my mind this tournament: Dinara Safina and Elena Dementieva. I wonder if they are watching this tournament with their own set of regrets catching in their throats?