I had a lot of high hopes going into Melbourne. After his tremendously successful season in 2014, ending officially with the incredible victory in Davis Cup, he started his year in amazing fashion with his 1000th win, which just happened to coincide with his 83rd title in Brisbane. It was a very happy moment for Roger and his fans, producing a great emotional high heading into the first grand slam of 2015.
His second round match in Melbourne ended up being more difficult than anticipated, losing the first set to Bolleli, who was playing some insane tennis and giving Roger almost no chances. But as expected, Bolleli couldn't hold that level and it was cruise mode for the rest of the match. When I heard that Chardy had lost his match to Seppi I was breathing easy, feeling the 3rd round was going to be a routine match, as Seppi has never had success at all against Roger. Roger came out looking a little flat in the match, though, and just couldn't seem to find his "A" game. The nine double faults, too many break point opportunities that he didn't take advantage of, and missing shots he would normally make showed that he just couldn't find his usual flow. Losing the 2nd set in a tiebreak he should have won, letting a shot go that landed in that he could have put away, was incredibly disheartening. When he won the 3rd set, though, I thought he had it figured out and would go on to a five set victory, but he still just wasn't finding that breakthrough. The 4th set tiebreak again he should have won - up a minibreak, then losing it on a basic error. But then on match point to have him let a shot go again that he could have gotten was just crazy (and discouraging).
As I processed the disappointment I had to come to the conclusion that this win just wasn't meant to be. He actually won more points in the match than Seppi did (probably from all the break point opportunities he didn't take), which is always a little strange, and the fact that he let two shots go that landed in that would have made a huge difference in the match was just too weird. As sad as I still feel that he lost so early in a tournament I thought he had a good chance to win, and another opportunity for #18 missed, I have to go with this feeling that this is the way it was supposed to happen.
See, here's the thing. He only had 8 days off during the off season. His season was extended by Davis Cup, in which he was dealing with an injury, which had to be exhausting, then he did the whole travel thing to India and more matches (though I know he loved doing it and had so much fun), then hard practice in Dubai followed by his charity match in Switzerland with Stan, then quickly back to training hard after a few days off for Christmas. He also threw in another tiring charity match against Hewitt right after his difficult title match against Raonic in Brisbane. It can't help but catch up with him, regardless of his age. He also has a very busy life between his lovely family who he spends a lot of time with, plus his many commitments with all his sponsor companies. So whether he or anyone else would agree or not, I think he overextended a bit and it was just a bit too much to expect him to play seven difficult matches with a hard draw.
To be honest, I would rather have him lose early than end up losing to Nadal in the semis. Even though Rafa has looked vulnerable so far, he tends to gain confidence as a tournament goes along, so to me it would be a nightmare to have another loss in the semis to him. Better to have a longer rest time, which he so desperately needs, and come back fresh for Dubai before heading over for Indian Wells. As long as he can stay healthy there is still so much to look forward to, so much to be encouraged about. But for right now recuperating and taking care of his body is of utmost importance. So while I'm still very disappointed in the loss, I'm trying to look at the positives and I will still be enjoying the tennis in Australia while thinking of the Federer family enjoying a wonderful vacation together, preparing to come back strong in another month.