You have to play better in the important moments. I didn't. He did. He won.That's David's brief but very much to the point analysis of his first-round match at Wimbledon yesterday that ended with his opponent, eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, prevailing 6-4, 7-6(4), 6-2. In tennis, often enough a few points, a few important moments determine the course and the outcome of a match. And even more so on grass. But whereas during almost all of those important moments Tipsarevic managed to raise his game, David failed to make the most of those chances that he had and despite playing a good match he ended up paying the price.
I had many opportunities but I couldn't get the break. He got the upper hand quickly during the sets, I was always trailing. But it was a tough match, one where anything could've happened.
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The second set began with David dropping his serve again in the first game. After that, a battle ensued with long and tightly contested service games on both sides. At 3-2 and then again at 4-3, David had further chances to break but it wasn't until 5-4, with Tipsarevic serving for the set, that David finally managed to get the re-break and draw level at 5-5. In the eventual tiebreak, he lost two points in a row on serve to go down 3-6, saved a first set point but then couldn't keep Tipsarevic from taking the second set 7-6(4).
At the start of the third set they stayed on serve until at 3-2 for Tipsarevic, David saved five break points (including three in a row, having been down 0-40) before Tipsarevic took the sixth he got in the course of this game to go up 4-2. With a final break against David, as he served to stay in the match, sealing Tipsarevic's victory, 6-2.
I don't think that I played badly today, I've been improving little by little during these last couple of weeks. I had a very good week at the Queen's [Club] tournament and today, in some moments during the match, I played very good tennis. It was a good match.
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But the problem, apart from Tipsarevic playing and most of all serving extremely well when it mattered, was once again David's serve. Or rather that unlike Tipsarevic, when it really mattered David often enough had to rely on his second serve and got punished for it, with deep returns from Tipsarevic drawing costly errors from David. The prime example of it was the second-set tiebreak, during which David failed to make a single first serve.
Another problem was that during the second set (which lasted 75 minutes), David apparently spent most of the energy and the strength that he had, trying to recover the break. Already by the time they reached the tiebreak there didn't seem to be too much left of either. And when he went down two sets to love it was pretty much clear that he wouldn't be able to recover from that. Still, all in all it was a good match from David. Just not good enough to beat Tipsarevic yesterday.
Apart from that, yesterday's match was David's first official match after the Queen's Club final.
It was a tough week for me, difficult and very sad. During those days I received support from people and it could be seen at the stadium today. It was nice that they treated me kindly. Apart from that, many players have told me that the punishment was excessive.The crowd at Wimbledon's Court 1 definitely seemed to understand. For it was not just a polite but a very warm welcome that he received from the people in the stands. And I don't think I'll ever forget the moment when after David had started the match with an ace the crowd erupted in a big cheer.
I think that I've paid the price. People have understood that the mistake I made was not intentional and it was comforting to be greeted with applause. And on my way out they treated me the same way again.
What happened to me at Queen's can happen to everyone. I know I did something bad but it was unintentional and I'm glad that people understand that.
Still, even with the worst of the drama now definitely behind David (and behind us), the fact remains that this has now been the second time in a row that David went out in the first round at a Slam. Even though after yesterday's match, he offered an explanation for his defeat at Roland Garros that's complete news to me:
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I won't be losing any sleep over these losses because those are completely different tournaments. In Paris I had food poisoning, I had a fever, I was feeling terrible. And here, not being seeded, I knew that something like that could happen to me in the first round. Tipsarevic is a great player.As I've said, the part about Paris is news to me, I can't recall him having said anything to that extent before. But whether affected by physical problems of a different kind or having to face a Top10 player in the first round, these can't be the results David will have been hoping for. Especially knowing that he might not have another chance to do better at Roland Garros and Wimbledon than he has done now. I've said it before, I think that the US hardcourt events and the indoor swing will be crucial for David's decision about whether to retire or play another year that he's going to take at the end of the season.
It gets tough now to fight against the players at the top of the rankings. That's normal. Young players appear on the scene and we still like to think that we're the greats but we no longer are. You have to come to terms with that, just like other players had to when we first appeared on the scene.So, what are David's plans now?
Keep on training, get some rest and try to be at my best for the Olympics.
(quotes via ESPN, Olé and Eurosport)