Roger Federer’s loss at the Australian Open is certain to prompt people to question his present position in the sport and once again raise the “R” word and suggest he is on the slide and should consider hanging up the racquets.
The loss to Andreas Seppi does not for one minute suggest that he is sliding down the rankings again. What happened in the third round of the Australian Open came out of the blue. It was unexpected and it prevented him from making the second week and an opportunity to reach the semifinals or better at the Australian Open for twelve consecutive years.
The loss was Federer’s earliest exit at the Australian Open since 2001 when he lost in the third round. This was just one of those days.
“Just a bad day, yeah. I mean, I wish I could have played better, but clearly it was tough losing the first two (sets),” said Federer. “Had chances to get back into it. I let it slip, I mean, both times in some ways. I guess I won the wrong points out there today.
“I knew how important that second set tiebreaker was, so clearly that hurt, losing that one. The end wasn't pretty, you know. It wasn't easy to play with the shadow. But it was the same for both of us. Just a disappointing loss, you know.”
While obviously this is not the way he wanted to end things at the Australian Open, such results happen. He had been more than happy with his lead up to the year’s first Grand Slam having come off winning the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas for the first time and then winning the title in Brisbane.
“I was playing great in the practice leading into the tournament,” said Federer. “I don't want to say that I peaked too early, but I definitely was hitting the ball very well. I still believe I'd still be in the tournament, that I'd still have a chance to go very deep. Like I said at the very beginning of the tournament, I truly believe that. But then again, margins are small, and sometimes these things tend to happen.
“Clearly I'll have a look at it, but I don't think I did anything wrong honestly. I wanted to go to India. I wanted to go back to Switzerland for Christmas. I practiced as hard as I possibly could. Can't do more than that. Sure, the year ended late, but one week later than normal. At the end of the day, honestly I'm confident that what I did was the right thing.”
Asked if such off days have a bit more frequency, Federer refuted that and said its been the same for the last 15 years
“To me I don't read anything into that. It's just not the best feeling to have. It's not like I'm playing shocking or I'm feeling shocking. It's like one of those things you look back and maybe, yeah, I didn't feel so good. But if you win, you never even question it. If I were you, I wouldn't read very much into that,” he said.
Federer would be right. Just remember he was written off a year ago and his ranking dropped to eight but then he came so, so close to winning Wimbledon and almost took out the year-end world No.1 ranking.