January 23, 2015
Roger Federer went crashing out of the Australian Open in a surprise four-set defeat to to the Italian journeyman, Andreas Seppi.
It was the first time since 2000 that Federer had been knocked out so early – and the first time since 2003 he had failed to reach the semi-finals in Melbourne.
Roger said: “It was just a bad day. I wish I could have played better.” Instead he let the underdog seize the momentum he needed to win 6-4, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 7-6 (7-5).
For Seppi, who produced a stretching, curling forehand to close out the match in its second tie-break, this was a dream come true. The 30-year-old hadn’t beaten Federer in ten previous meetings – and had lost his last 23 matches against top ten opponents.
“It was one of my best matches for sure, otherwise I wouldn’t have beaten Roger,” he admitted. “The last point was great! I didn’t think I’d get the ball. I don’t know how I played the winner. It was strange.”
Federer clearly felt the same way, because he didn’t try to reach for that winner, apparently preferring to gamble on the ball drifting long or wide.
Poor Roger actually won more points than Seppi in the match. But he reflected philosophically: “I guess I won the wrong points out there today.”
It brought back memories of the late, great British comedian Eric Morecambe, who once answered criticism of his piano-playing with the remark: “I am playing all the right notes. But not necessarily in the right order.”
With nine double faults, Federer’s serve was clearly out of tune. Fifty-five unforced errors didn’t exactly represent the usual symphony from the master-composer of our sport either. Although he led that fourth-set tie break 3-1 and 5-4, with serves to level the match, Roger couldn’t quite find the ruthless touch when it mattered. “I had chances to get back into it. I let it slip both times in some ways.”
So Federer’s search for a first Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2012 goes on. We will have to hope he hits the heights again later this year.
Murray In Cruise Control
Andy Murray needed little more than cruise control to see off his Portuguese opponent Joao Sousa 6-1, 6-1, 7-5 – although the match ended controversially.
Sousa had run out of challenges by the time Murray’s winning lob flirted with the baseline. The ball was called out… and Sousa was out-raged. Murray smiled and appeared ready to replay the point.
“He says it was out, it’s out!” screamed Sousa at the umpire.
“The match is over,” he was told by the official. Finally Sousa gave way gracefully, perhaps wishing he had brought as much fire and passion to the rest of the occasion.
Many have tried to write off Rafa Nadal and it was no different when he appeared to suffer from illness during his previous match. He must have some doctor!
Rafa ripped through his opponent, Dudi Sela as though he were at the very peak of fitness. Nadal remains a contender for the title itself after his 6-1, 6-0, 7-5 romp under lights, though the Israeli did have break points for the chance to serve for that third set.
Nadal, who will play the South African Kevin Anderson next, said afterwards: “I think I started well and in general I think I was playing better and feeling better. In the third he had some chances and I was lucky in the end. The other night was one of the toughest I’ve had on court and I thought I’d have to take the plane back to Mallorca. What did I do to recover? I slept! And I don’t like sleeping because I feel I’m wasting time.”
Nadal refused to put a percentage on his fitness. “I was never very good at mathematics.”
But how good will Rafa be when he considers himself to be fully fit and starts to enjoy sleeping at night?
So what did we learn from another stunning day’s tennis?
1/ Try to win the right points not the wrong points in a tennis match. (Federer’s lesson).
2/ If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try, try try and try again! (Seppi’s lesson)
3/When a match is over, it’s over – whether the fat lady is singing or not. (Umpire’s lesson for Sousa)
4/ When Nadal says he’s not fit, it means he’s fitter than almost every other human being on the planet – including a dude called Dudi. (Rafa’s lesson)
5/ Sleep is good for you! (Life’s lesson for Rafa)