He started with break points on Nishikori's game and I was hoping it was going to take a similar route to the second set, which he won 6-1. However, he was unable to capitalize on break points and, as so often happens in those situations, once those chances are gone they may not return. His error rate picked up tremendously and pretty soon he was missing all the important points. It was very disappointing for all those hoping he may finally defend a title this year when he meekly went out in the 3rd set 6-2, losing once again this year to a player ranked outside the top 10.
So where do we stand now in 2013? He has now played four tournaments that he won last year where he has lost before the final. Is it time to panic? I have found that I take losses a little easier than I did a couple years ago. I used to be devastated for even a couple days sometimes. However, I try to keep a few things in mind these days when he loses: 1) He is 31 years old and we can't expect him to keep winning all the time like he used to. 2) He has accomplished soooo much already in his career and everything else that he adds is icing on the cake at this point. 3) I think from now on he will have times like in the last six months which leave us all confused when he experiences mysterious losses, but I think he will also have those moments of glory where he all of a sudden becomes the GOAT, showing us everything he still has in his arsenal, and wins tournaments against the top guys just when we had resigned ourselves to the fact that it isn't going to happen anymore. And I think one or two of those glory moments will be another major or two to add to his resume.
At the end of the day I am still very disappointed that he is out in the third round. But I'm not going over the edge and saying he should hang it all up because he lost early after having a two month break. I had already told myself this was going to be a lean year with him deciding to take more extended breaks and practice times, and to bide my time. I would love to hear some comments on what others on feeling on this topic.
Here is his press conference after the match, looking subdued and clearly disappointed:
On a positive note, we did get to see some adorable shots of his girls watching their daddy. Here's one more to add to my previous post:
So for those who consider themselves Federer fans, let's not despair. Roger has a lot more in him and I think there are good things ahead in the next year.