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Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Roger Federer: Has father time finally caught up with ageless maestro?

Roger Federer has lost six matches this year. Nerves seem to let him down at crucial stages and he fails to raise his game when needed the most. Often, Federer cracks under pressure in a match after having a few easy victories in the earlier rounds. An analyses of the slide in Swiss fortunes over the current season.

Anatomy of upsets

Indian Wells final: Juan Martin del Potro (8) bt Federer 6-4 6-7 (8/10) 7-6 (7/2)
After levelling the match in a classic second set, many would have expected Federer to run away with the decider. But the normally composed Swiss lost his cool at the raucous crowd and the number of line challenges that went against him. Federer broke at 5-4 and was serving for the match, but the Argentine saved three match points to break back. In the tie-breaker, Federer totally broke down as Del Potro took a 5-2 lead and sealed victory.
Miami Round of 64: Thanasi Kokkinakis (175) bt Federer 3-6 6-3 7-6 (7/4)
The unheralded Australian showed no fear as he sent Federer, who had just taken over the No.1 ranking, packing. Kokkinakis became the lowest-ranked player to defeat a World No. 1 in 15 years. It seemed smooth sailing as Federer took the first set but as has often been the case of late, his level dropped off significantly allowing the underdog to square the match. In the decider, Federer made several inroads on his opponent’s serve, but the Aussie’s dogged resistance and his own errors prevented a break. Two break points came and went. Serving to force a deciding tie-breaker, Kokkinakis fell 0-30 down but fought back to hold serve, and was the better player in the shootout.
Halle final: Borna Coric (34) bt Federer 7-6 (8/6) 3-6 6-2
The talented Croatian brought Federer’s 20-match winning streak on grass. The Swiss had a break point at 5-5 in the first set, but couldn’t convert. He had two set points at 6-4 in the tie-breaker, but allowed Coric to bounce back. After Federer won the second set and the third was on serve in the early stages, an exciting climax seemed on the cards, but Coric won four games in a row to seal matters.
Wimbledon Quarterfinal: Kevin Anderson (8) bt Federer 2-6 6-7 (5/7) 7-5 6-4 13-11
Federer came into the match without dropping a set at the tournament and was soon two sets to the good, taking the number of consecutive sets won at the All England Club to 34. He had a match point on the South African’s serve in the 10th game of the third set, but Anderson saved it and it became the start of the turnaround. The underdog gained confidence, his serve and groundstrokes got more potent, and Federer was often on the back foot and did not have a single break point. Seven times Anderson had to serve to stay in the match, and each time he was up to the task. Federer finally cracked at 11-11 and Anderson served it out.
US Open Round of 16: John Millman (55) beat Federer 3-6 7-5 7-6 (9/7) 7-6 (7/3)

It is probably the first time the conditions seemed to get the better of Federer. The heat and humidity of New York had the Swiss feeling “happy the match was over.” He was serving at 5-4 in the second set, but couldn’t close it out from 40-15 up. His first serve deserted him, he squandered three set points and hit two double faults in the fourth set tie-breaker, taking his total for the match to 10.