Jul 21, 2013, 5:36:33 AM

Is there cause for concern over the recent losses Roger Federer has incurred? Where is his game?

Is it time to hit the very concerned button for Roger Federer? Is he now at the crossroads of the highway? Well these are the questions starting to rise once again as one Fed from Argentina beats the real Fed, the GOAT.

Federer’s status has been questioned every time there have been a couple of losses and I for one have jumped to his defence but I’m just wondering if this is really the start of the slippery slide down.

When Federico Delbonis, ranked 114 defeated Roger Federer 7-6, 7-6 in the semis of Hamburg he said it felt “like I'm dreaming”. Maybe for him, but for Federer it was a nightmare as it marked the first time since 2002 (Ancic at Wimbledon and Stepanek in Gstaad) that he has lost to players ranked outside the top 100 in consecutive tournaments he has played. Remember at Wimbledon he lost to Sergiy Stakhovsky who was ranked 116.

For all those who were literally using the event’s title sponsor to “bet-at-home” it would have been a sorry afternoon. You would have to reckon more than a few betting tickets were ripped up and thrown up in the air across lounge rooms.

Sure Delbonis played well, he would have to have done so and sure Federer has only just started using a new racquet but it is just baffling that such a loss occurred. He had been struggling most of the week with the wins he had, but at Wimbledon he was using his old racquet, so go figure. 

Roger had a break in the first set and he had set point. He even had a chance to break in the second set. The Federer of the past would have crunched such a situation. He would not have let those opportunities slip by.

“I think he was a bit better than me today,” said Federer. “Both sets could have gone either way. So, it’s clearly a pity I couldn’t win either of the sets because I was starting to feel better towards the end of the match. But unfortunately I couldn’t push him further and create more chances today.”

It’s the first time since 2005 (Gasquet) that he has lost to a qualifier.

He added: “I think the conditions were totally different to last night. It was wet and heavy last night, under the lights. It’s a quick turnaround to quick conditions today and a totally different opponent. But that’s no excuse.”

C’mon Rog, you say it is “no excuse” but really you should not be losing to some like Delbonis, as good as he might be. This was a massive upset and in my mind a way bigger upset that the Stakhovsky one at Wimbledon even though Stakhovsky is ranked two spots lower than the Argentine. Stakhovsky at least has experience on his side and he was able to serve and volley on the grass.

Is it a case that Federer needs to be playing more? He has cut back his schedule to allow for more rest and training periods but that old adage says “there is nothing like match practice”. Getting out there and playing and being in the grip of things. Sure he has done that more than any of the current crop of players but now, for so many more players, the aura around Federer, that sort of invisible halo that was above his head, is really no longer there.

He says he is happy he fought through many matches and it gave him the matches he was looking for and that these are the matches he needed. That sort of talk surprises me a bit with Federer. I know you have to accept losses graciously but heck that comes across as “oh well, there’s another event coming up never mind about this one”.

“It’s disappointing, but defeats like that happen sometimes,” he said.

Are you kidding … disappointing? It’s not some Joe Schmo here, it’s Roger Federer. As I said Ifeel players do not necessarily fear Federer as much as they used to and can see their opportunities to grab the scalp of the GOAT. It’s a prized trophy in itself.

Federer is at his lowest ranking in a decade, he has not been at No.5 since 20 June, 2003. This was a chance to pick up 500 ranking points and close the gap on Rafa Nadal at No.4. Coming up he has 1000 points to defend in Cincinnati so it’s not going to be easy, he may just go into the US Open as the fifth seed, which is not great.

So you tell us at what your thoughts are on Roger. Should he start to feel concerned, can he come back to be among the top two or three and will he hang around till the Olympics in 2016 as he said he would?