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.Update
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)|