Saturday, June 25, 2011

Wimbledon R3: Still a Work in Progress - David loses to Federer

He gave the best that he could, he had the courage to attack and take risks and he played his best match in quite some time. But against Roger Federer it was still merely enough to take ten games, keeping the scoreline respectable - 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 for the six-time champion.
After an intense and close first set, which included the only break David managed against Federer in this match, the second set saw David having troubles with the adductors in his right leg and several visits by the trainer. In the third set however, David was able to raise his game again and he kept it open until a break towards the end of it sealed his fate.
But although after the match, David had to admit that Federer's "level of play was superior" to his own, he also thought that he did "pretty well". And of course he enjoyed being back on the big stage. (Highlights here.)
It was the best match I've played since my return to the circuit, though I lost. When you lose it's hard to enjoy it but I liked playing on the Wimbledon Centre Court again, which is the cathedral of tennis.
David's press conference transcript you'll find here.
I'll take a couple of days off now...

From the first game on it became clear that today, it was a different David on court than in his previous match against Haider-Maurer. Playing with the kind of focus and intensity he usually reserves for Davis Cup matches. Determined to attack Federer as much as possible, mostly with aggressive play from the baseline, but also occasionally coming to the net. And especially in the first set, David was able to keep up with Federer, the set where he had the most success, returning Federer's serve. But also in the third set David managed to keep things open - until the decisive break at 4-4.
Still, this match showed the kind of play David is still capable of. As he got to display both his strategic abilities and his entire repertoire of shots, from his trademark down-the line-backhand to angled shots off both wings, lobs and drop-shots. The problems he had with his forehand today were, I think, the result of his attempt to play as aggressively as possible, of taking risks with that shot. Though perhaps, his adductor problems also played a part in this. Finally, David served well by his standards, gaining a fair amount of cheap points and committing only three double faults.
To be honest with you, before the match, I thought that David might get steamrolled, based on his recent performances. But he was able to raise his game and play better than I thought he'd be able to. And even if it wasn't enough to beat or just take a set off Federer, I still think that David really did a pretty good job today.
It was an extremely tough match. At some point I had a minimal chance but I wasn't able to take advantage of it and at this level you cannot afford to have any slumps or slips because you end up paying a high price for them. I think the only moment when where he had a little slip was when he failed to take those two match points.
All in all, David played as good a match as he was able to under the circumstances. But these circumstances not only include the far too few matches he's been able to play in the past few months. They also include the biggest problem at this stage of David's career - his physical fragility. Injuries have always been a factor with David. But whereas in the past, it used to be different injuries (wrist, knee, back, abdomen etc), ever since his hip surgery it's been muscular problems in his legs that have plagued him. Today, it was the adductors in his right leg and he's had trouble with them before. But although he had surgery on his adductors on the left side, David still sees today's troubles - he called them troubles, not injury - as a consequence of his latest visit to the operating room.
I didn't happen to me during the other matches but I think it's normal after having had surgery. Today, I had to play at a higher level than on the other days and it became clear that everything still isn't quite right.
Which of course raises the question when everything will be right and whether it will be in time for the US hardcourt swing, when David will get to play on his favourite surface again.
It's difficult to feel good now, these are the first matches I'm playing and I still need some more match practice but that's the road I have to take. It just takes some more time, that's all.
(Photos: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images & AP Photo)


  1. Good report. :) I like the way David came out too, determined to go toe-to-toe with Federer. It was exciting for a while with all the close service games in the first set, then unfortunately David's game went down a level after he finally broke back.

  2. thank you Julia :)

    "When you lose it's hard to enjoy it but I liked playing on the Wimbledon Centre Court again, which is the cathedral of tennis."

    this quote tells a lot about how motivated David was yesterday, and happy he was "granted" to play on a big court, against a prestigious opponent. The kind of big match he really needed to be back on track.

    he said it, still a long way to go but I'm happy he's still motivated to be back on the top rankings.

  3. also, yeah you're right. his forehand wasn't well adjusted... but he had to take risks and be aggressive, so it's somewhat understandable.

  4. Nice post, Julia. The match really was closer than the score would indicate. The stats bear that out. I was also fearful of a blowout. But David performed very well. Bring on the Kazakhs.

  5. Well done david!That was a great match according to the circumstances.His forehand warmed up for the third set.He needs more match to be able to compete with federer again I dont want to mention the other 3 top players! i think this level from federer would been enough against any other players on grass except maybe nadal!

  6. I am afraid that there is nothing serious with him and he can play his Davis Cup and the upcoming tournaments without problems

  7. sorry, I wanted to write "I hope"
    The last game of the match was very enjoyable, when he didn't played so high the stop at 15:15 he could break but after so pity that he didn't won his last service game after 40:15 where he had big chances.

  8. I'm happy that he played well and with more practice and matches on his back he can beat him.
    And I also hope that he is fit no serious injury, but perhaps it is normal to have some pain after playing not so much. Gonzo also had pain in his match against Tsonga and said that his doctors told him that it's normal after playing not so long and no several matches.

  9. since his comeback his results were mostly disappointed because he was not solid enough, I can only hope that he will do it better gradually

  10. His serving was just ok, but he was returning pretty poorly at times and wasn't too consistent in that department, even though he had some nice service return winners

  11. federer's serve is his biggest weapon these days. did you think nalby was going to break it at will? cut the man some slack.

  12. So we move on to Davis Cup...I'm so glad Rafa managed to beat Del Potro yesterday, and that neither of them seemed to pick up serious injuries during the match. Del P looked very, very good - which is great news for Argentina. I hate to tempt fate, and I remember the final in 2009 all too well, but this is one highly winnable tie.

  13. I don't like Rafas tennis (high balls, high spins, hardly near the lines)

  14. I am not a fan of Rafas tennis (high balls, high spins, hardly near the lines)

  15. Short funny interview with David:

  16. Seems like well have to become rally fans in the future haha.DC coming up in a week.Cant wait.