Federer lost to John Isner in 4 sets today to hand a 2-0 lead to USA in the Davis Cup tie. No doubt Isner played well but what was noteworthy to watch was the way Federer wilted under pressure. It has been long known that when it comes to playing pressure points, Federer has the tendency to become defensive and more often than not, he ends up losing the game or match against the top players.
Even today in the third set, inspite of having many break points, he lost the set. In the fourth set, after being unable to break Isner in the 5th game (3 break points opportunities), it was evident from his game that the desire to fight was missing. Result- Federer gave up and lost the set and match 2-6.Even his languid body language in itself pretty much told the entire story. Imagine the boost it must have given to Isner to see Federer so demotivated!
If anyone who has been following Federer's matches off late, he/she will agree that the motivation to fight back is somehow on the downhill. It's amazing when you compare it with Nadal/Nole who seems to give more than 100% on each and every point irrespective of the situation. Remember Nadal fought back against Isner in a similar situation last year at French Open in the first round after being down 2 sets to 1.
If one must have observed Federer even during his SF match against Nadal, after the 10 minutes mandatory break due to firecrackers, Federer came back as a rattled player and lost the second set easily without a fight. For Federer it's now more of a mental fight than physical as on the tour he is still one of the fittest players around. If he really has to win tough matches, he will have to dig deep and find the motivation to give his 100% on every point rather than giving up so easily.
It's pretty surprising to see arguably the greatest player in the history so low on mental toughness. When it comes to holding up their end and not giving up, Nadal and Djokovic really are one level up than Federer. Things are not looking good for this aging champion and if he has to really win his 17th GS, he will have to pull himself up and get to the level of Nadal/Djoker to give his all on each and every point rather than getting rattled by his inability to break on pressure points.
That's what champions are all about- To fight and fight till the end! Isn't it?
In the end I will just end with this quote: Nothing could be worse than the fear that one had given up too soon, and left one unexpended effort that might have saved the match!
Lost Hope? (Maria Sharapova)