Federer Match A Shocker

It almost seemed like an imposter was playing at the Open under the name of Roger Federer last night.

Fedrer lost in the quarter-finals to Czech Tomas Berdych 7-6,6-4,3-6,6-3, making his earliest exit at the Open since 2003.

Federer curiously won the opening toss and chose to receive. Things got worse from there.

Berdych hit winners from every angle on the court, seemingly leaving Federer defenseless. Berdych also had 14 aces.

Federer and the No. 6 seed had split their last 6 matches.

Federer had 40 unforced errors to only 21 by Berdych. Many of the unforced errors were forced by Berdych.

The crowd, very vocal earlier in the day when Andy Roddick played and lost his last competitive match seemed to sit on its hands during most of the match in stunned silence.

Berdych, never a winner in a Grand Slam will play Andy Murray on Saturday in the semis.

Fish Guts A Tough Night Match Out

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – You have to wonder if Mardy Fish took some Roger Federer pills before tonight’s match, since he came out smoking against No. 15 seed Gilles Simon, winning the first set 6-1 and was up 2-0 in the second.

But this is Mardy Fish we are talking about so nothing is ever easy for the American – or the Federer pills wore off – and he needed four sets to finish off Simon, 6-1 5-7 7-6 6-3 to advance to the fourth round of the US Open.

Fish was looked sharp early and there were a few rumbles about Simon’s shoulder, which some of the French media said was injured.

But Simon found his second wind and fought fish tough in the second and third sets, while Fish ended up with 75 unforced errors in the match to Simon’s 31.

It made the match closer than it should have because of Simon’s apparent injury, but Fish seems to be hanging around. After a five setter in the second, he now has this gritty win under the lights.

With a 1:10 in the morning ending, it was 10 minutes away from going into the top 10 latest endings in US Open History.

Too bad the Federer pills wore off early.

 

The Sharapova Express Derails

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The Maria Sharapova Express hit a derailment today.

The 2006 US Open Champion was supposed to go pretty far in this tournament after fully coming back from her shoulder surgery and receiving the No. 3 seed.

But Italian Flavia Pennetta had something else to say about that with a 6-3 3-6 6-4 win over the Russian by the way of Florida in the third round of the US Open.

“I made way too many unforced errors,” she said.  “I fought back to get myself back in the match in the third set.  I think the first three, four games on every game I had a chance to win that game, whether it was a breakpoint or it was a game point on my serve, and I didn’t win those games.

“When you’re done 1‑4 and you get yourself back in a position where can you win again and start making errors, it’s just too inconsistent to win the match against her.”

Sharapova committed 60 unforced errors with 29 coming in the first set and 12 double faults in the match compared to only 35 self inflicted wounds by her Italian counterpart and only six giveaways.

She said she didn’t “feel comfortable” all game and just couldn’t get on track.

And when she got it in the third Sharapova couldn’t sustain her undefeated 2011 in third set. And even with that kind of confidence, it didn’t matter.

“I never think I’m going to lose the match, no matter if I’m 1‑4 or 0‑5,” she said. “I don’t have that mentality that I’m going to lose no matter how bad or how good I’m playing.  You can’t have that mentality.”

And thus another disappointing Open for the Russian. Even though she went to the Finals at Wimbledon, the 24 year-old leaves Flushing before Labor Day with the hopes of maybe a better Asian season this fall.

“I’m not really looking forward to a 14‑hour flight in a couple of weeks,” she said dryly.  “Yeah, the year is not over.  We’ve still got ‑‑ I think I still have three tournaments to go or so.

“Yeah, once they come then it will be time to play again and raise my level.  Until then, I just have to, you know, keep working in order for me to go out in the match and raise it.”

Maria Through The First With Good Open Chance

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – It’s pretty easy for Maria Sharapova to blame her sluggish start today on the weather.

Sure today’s conditions were perfect, but this past weekend kept her indoors.

“I think the last couple days have been tough on players,” said Sharapova after she downed the unseeded Heather Watson 3-6, 7-5, 6-3. “Obviously none of us practiced yesterday.  The day before was raining.  Everybody was trying to get 30 minutes on an indoor court, which is always a little bit tough.

“So I think it was just going out there and trying to find that consistency.”

So the 2006 US Open Champion spent yesterday in her hotel room, playing with her dog, going to the gym and taking in what was open in New York City.

Yet, her dog may have been trying to tell her something during the storm yesterday.

“My dog kept like going back to his little bag,” she said.  “It kind of freaked me out because that’s a sign he wanted to go home.  Maybe the hurricane was going to be bad.  We were lucky, yeah, that it was just a little rain.”

New York was lucky yesterday and the No. 3 seed was lucky today when she survived the match with British Watson, even though she committed 58 unforced errors (39 in the first set) and eight double faults.

“I don’t think I did enough to make her feel like she had any pressure in the first set,” Sharapova said.  “You know, I’d hit one, two good balls, then hit an error.  Whether it was a centimeter or two out, it doesn’t matter, it’s still an error.”

Even with the slow start, Sharapova was too much for Watson. Using her power game, she was able to squeak by in the second set and then dominate the third to advance in this version of the US Open. She is the new Maria, someone who is older, wiser and out to prove she isn’t washed up at the tender age of 24.

Instead, after years of injuries and inconsistencies, Sharapova is ready to dominate again. A year of resurgence saw her win in Rome and then Cincinnati, while losing the finals in Miami and of course Wimbledon. It was good enough to rank her No. 3 in Flushing, and one of the odds on favorites for the tournament.

“Well, I just feel like this year I’ve improved,” she said. “Last year I felt like I would play a couple good matches and then I’d play a bad match.  I didn’t have that sense of consistency, and that’s something I felt like something that has changed this year.”

Even at her still young age, Sharapova is the grizzled veteran on the circuit. And much like any other sport, she has made adjustments. Where she was a pure power player before, the Russian by the way of Florida is now a more complete player, with a defensive game to go with her attack.

During her journey back, which she called it “the process” she had many pitfalls, but her hard work is now looking like it is paying off.

“Well, it’s just great to still be a tennis player,” she said.  “I’ve said this many times.  I’m very fortunate to do what I do, obviously, to do it at a high level and to win tournaments and to win big matches obviously.

“It gives you tremendous amount of confidence and delight that the work you’ve put in, you know, is paying off.  It’s the time that you spend away from the courts, the time that people don’t see what you put into the sport of trying to get back there.  Just to play a match, and then do it over and over again, not many people experience that feeling, see it.

“So to be able to prove to yourself that you’ve put in that work and there you are at that stage again, giving yourself these opportunities to win Grand Slams again, it’s a good feeling.”

And now with the first round hiccup out of the way, Maria Sharapova seems poised for her Open run.

Of course let’s hope there are no more hurricanes.

Aussie Kim Gets Aussie Win

She did it.

Kim Clijsters goal of winning a Grand Slam outside of the US Open came to fruition with a three set win over Na Li, 3-6 6-3 6-3.

“Yeah, [the Grand Slam wins are] all emotional,” Clijsters said. “Obviously, you know, I think what overwhelms me is that it’s so intense up until, you know, that last shot, and then all of a sudden it’s finished. Then it’s just like a big relief.

“Yeah, you know, the disbelief maybe a little bit too it’s over and that I was able to turn it around is what makes it all so special.”

It looked like the day wasn’t going to go Aussie Kim’s way as Li took the first set rather handily, but the Belgian roared back to take the crown.

“She did everything better than me in that first set,” Clijsters said. “I mean, obviously her groundstrokes were heavier, deeper. She served better. She returned better.

“So I think, you know, she was playing really, really well probably the best that I’ve ever played against her, or that she played against me.

“I tried to just, you know, think after that first set, you know, like, What can I do differently so I can maybe break her rhythm a little bit, try to make her think out there a little bit more? So I tried to mix it up a little bit, put some slices in, also hit a few higher shots that, you know, kind of just made her make some unforced errors.”

“Yeah, I saw her get a little bit aggravated, and just tried to hang in there.”

The win allows Clijsters to achieve the goal she set out for herself after winning in Flushing Meadows back in September. Because of her dominance at the US Open, she was gaining the reputation of a hard court specialist, who couldn’t win on the slower courts. She said at the time, Melbourne was the place she though she had her best chance of winning, and with her only dropping one set the whole tournament, she proved her point.

“Obviously, I mean, you know, if I could win another US Open it would also be nice,” Clijsters said. “But, no, I do enjoy this win, especially here in Australia, as well. It’s been a country where I’ve always loved coming to and where I’ve always been very well received.

“Yeah, I’ve been close to doing well, you know, a few years in a row, so it’s nice to finally get it this year.”

Now Clijsters will set her eye on the French Open and Wimbledon. She has gone one record saying she will probably either retire or reduce her schedule again after the 2012 Olympics. Yet, that’s so far away and there are other Slams to win.

“I’m not going to sit here and be like, No, that wouldn’t be nice,” she said. “But to be honest, I really haven’t thought about it. It’s a little early I think to already think ahead, focus on those kind of things.

“I’ve been really focused on this last month, you know, two months, to try and be ready for the Australian summer. And now I kind of just need a break from that whole, like, goals and preparing and all that.

“But, no, obviously the French is a Grand Slam where, you know, I would like to do well, as well. All of them, of course. But, uhm, again, yeah, I’m just excited that I won this one. Like I said, not really thinking in those kind of ways yet.

:That will probably happen after Fed Cup when I’m done and home for a few weeks. I’m playing Paris. Once after that, I’ll probably have time to sit together with the team and kind of just relook at the whole kind of schedule for later this year.”

Yet, that seems so far in the future. Right now, Clijsters is just going to enjoy her win with her husband Brian Lynch and daughter Jada, who seems to be getting used to mommy winning titles.

“She’s always excited,” Clijsters said. “Although when she saw the trophy, she was like, Who is that trophy for? And then she’s like, Did you win that? I’m like, Yeah.

“I mean, to her, she knows I play tennis, but that’s it. She doesn’t know everything else that comes with it, winning, losing. You know, obviously, I mean, she’s seen me like a little bit disappointed and stuff.

“She asks, Why are you disappointed? I explain to her that I lost. But, I mean, it’s not a big deal for her.”

Rather it’s a bigger deal for mommy who is rolling along in her second tennis career.

Caroline Big Under the Sunshine (With A Great Dress Too)

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The only thing brighter than Caroline Wozniacki’s game today may have been her dress. The exclusive adidas design features a florescent yellow inseam to go with it more earth tone appeal.

“Well, I’m so lucky that I am the face of adidas and Stella McCartney and I have my own special line that no one else is wearing,” Wozniacki said.  “I think that’s really nice. For me it’s important to feel good on court and of course to look good.  Then I can focus on my tennis at 100%.”

Of course, the size of the dress is something that has turned a few heads, which is a big tight compared to other outfits.

“I think it’s nice.  I definitely am sure I’ll get a lot of male fans now,” she laughed.

Actually Wozniacki could have worn a burqa out there and still turned won over fans after beating Maria Sharapova, 6-3 6-4, to advance to the quarterfinals. The 20 year old showed tremendous confidence on the court and fought back her toughest challenge to date.

“I was going out there and I knew I could win,” said Wozniacki, who now improves to 19-1 since Wimbledon.  “But I knew it was going to be tough.  I knew that I had to fight for every point.  I knew that she wasn’t going to go away.  I knew she was going to hang in there and keep fighting till the end.”

The No. 14 seed may have fought, but she made just too many mistakes today. With 36 unforced errors, 9 double faults and a putrid 1-8 on breakpoints, Sharapova essentially made it easy for Wozniacki.

“Against someone that’s playing really well, playing with a lot of confidence, it’s really important to take those chances that you have, the very few that come your way,” she said. “I felt like I played a couple of good points and then, you know, make an easy error, hit a return long or miss a first serve, give her many looks at second‑serve returns.  You know, didn’t feel like I put much pressure on her.

The biggest fight in the match came in the first set after Wozniacki went up 4-1. Sharapova raged back to bring the set back on serve with the Russian serving to tie it up, but the Dane was able to the break the 2006 Champion back and went on cruise control from there.

No matter what Sharapova tried to do, Wozniacki had an answer. When she won a few points with the light lob to bring her opponent in from the baseline, the winner of the Pilot Pen Championship was able to have an answer.

And even when she fell down, Sharapova wouldn’t capitalize, by shooting the ball over the line.

“Well, you know, at first I was like, Okay, I should have hit that first shot better,” Wozniacki said.  “But then I was, Okay, I’m at the net.  Then I see her lobbing me.  Okay, I have to go back.  Then I fall on my butt.  I’m like, Okay, well, tough luck, I lost this point.  Then I look back, and I couldn’t see whether it was in and out.  Then I look at the linesman, I see it’s out.  I’m like, Okay, I was pretty lucky.

“You know, I thought it was quite funny, too.”

But to Sharapova this was no laughing matter, as the former champion apparently still have a ways to go before she can get back to the top.

Today was just another step.

“Obviously, losing a match, 30 minutes later, you’re not the happiest person in the world,” said Sharapova who now falls to 12-15 since Wimbledon. “But at the end of the day, I’m sure you’ve heard it many times, but it’s a tennis match.  You’ve just got to look back at the match and what you should have done differently, what you need to work on.”

Power vs. Speed Highlight Sharapova and Wozniacki

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – One is a three-time Grand Slam Champion. She is a statuesque model on the court, who uses her power game to her advantage. A daughter of immigrants, who keeps her ancestry close to her hear, someone who is proud to be a foreigner in a foreign county. If she wasn’t a tennis player, she would be modeling in Milan or Paris.

The other was the runner-up in last year’s US Open and the No. 1 seeded player in the tournament. Her smile outshines her beauty on the court and uses her speed to break down her opponents. She is also a daughter of immigrants, but has embraced her new country as her own. If she wasn’t a tennis player, she would be a morning show personality or a weather girl.

The differences between Maria Sharapova and Caroline Wozniacki are clear cut. Yes, they may be the two most beautiful women in the tournament and when they face-off in the fourth round on Monday, it may be the true championship of this tournament, as both women may be on their hottest streaks of their careers.

“At the moment I’m feeling happy,” said Wozniacki who is now 18-1 since Wimbledon, after she disposed of Yung-Jan Chan, 6-1 6-0.  “I’m happy to be out there.  I’m happy to play, I’m happy to be fit, and that’s the most important thing.  I’ve really been practicing hard, and it’s giving me the results I want.”

Not to be outdone, Sharapova has won 12 out of 14 matches since the British championship. She is playing her best tennis since her shoulder injury in 2008 and maybe since she won the US Open back in 2006. Today she dispelled the Cinderella story of Beatrice Capra, 6-0 6-0 , almost a year to the day of getting knocked out by last year’s upstart Melanie Oudin.

“This was a new day,” said Sharapova. “And what happened last year, you know, I didn’t really want to go into the match thinking about it. Obviously I had lost the match and made way too many unforced errors.  On a day like today, I just wanted to make sure I was consistent and did the right thing, and, you know, maybe didn’t go for the lines as much and just played smart tennis.”

So now both Sharapova and Wozniacki will have a titan matchup. They have only met twice (both back in 2008) with the 23 year-old Russian holding a 2-0 edge. And this fourth rounder will be a showcase of Russian’s power versus the Dane’s speed with Wozniacki catching up to as many balls on the baseline trying to force the aggressive Sharapova to make errors.

“She can run all day and get a lot of balls back and make you hit tons of balls,” Sharapova said.  “She changes the pace really well, and gets her opponents off-balance.  She does many things well, you know.  That’s why she’s at the top of the game.”

Although Serena Williams is the No. 1 woman in the world, Wozniacki can claim that title with a win on Monday, especially after Jelena Jankovic out of the tournament. The 20 year-old will have her toughest fight of the summer against her Russian opponent, because of her mental toughness and ability to break down opponents.

“I think we’re different players,” Wozniacki said. “I feel like I’m maybe moving a bit better.  I don’t know.  I’m placing the balls better a little bit, but she’s maybe hitting the balls harder.

“I don’t know.  You know, she has won Grand Slams; I haven’t.  Yeah, I don’t know.  It’s tough.  I think it’s up to you guys [the media] to find out what you think.”

Prediction: Wozniacki In Three Sets

Down Goes Roddick

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Andy Roddick stepped on the line then tumbled out of the US Open second round tonight. Janko Tipsarevic out served, out fought and out hustled Roddick, scoring a stirring 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 7-6(4) victory that sent Roddick to his earliest Flushing Meadows exit since he lost to Gilles Muller in the opening round five years ago.

The tattoos that adorn his arms combined with with the sports spectacles on his face make Tipsarevic look a little bit like a biker moonlighting as a philosophy professor. The explosive Serbian stood up to the ninth-seeded American and a pro-Roddick crowd cracking 66 winners against just 30 unforced errors.

“I thought I hit the ball pretty well,” Roddick said. “I thought he played very high-risk and executed for four sets. I kept telling myself this has to have an expiration date on it. Unfortunately, I needed another set for that.”

In the fourth-set tie breaker, Roddick sent a backhand beyond the baseline and Tipsarevic followed with a backhand volley winner for 4-2. Attacking net again, Tipsarevic forced Roddick to come up with a pass, but his backhand found the net and it was 5-2.

On the longest point of the set, a 19-shot physical exchange, Tipsarevic sent a backhand long as Roddick creeped closer at 4-5. But Tipsarevic launched his 5-foot-11 inch frame into a stinging serve down the middle and Roddick flailed a forehand return into net giving the Serbian, whose black beard seemed to grow longer during the three hour, 18 minute encounter, a match point.

Tipsarevic again attacked, anticipated Roddick’s reply and blocked a backhand volley winner down the line to wrap up his second win over Roddick in a major. He beat the former World No. 1 in the second round of the 2008 Wimbledon.

At net, Roddick congratulated Tipsarevic with both praise and a playful death threat.

“He said ‘Well done, man. You played great,’ ” Tipsarevic recalled. “And he said ‘If you lose early, I’m going to kill you.’ He said ‘You beat me at Wimbledon and now if you lose early, I’m going to freaking kill you.’ ”

Roddick says he’s recovered from the case of mononucleosis that plagued him earlier this summer yet the malaise continues to cripple his game.

The 2003 US Open champion played some of the best tennis of his career in reaching successive Masters finals in Indian Wells and Miami where he dispatched Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych back-to-back to capture the Sony Ericsson Open.

He returned to New York to contest his 11th consecutive US Open leading the ATP Tour in hard-court wins but looked reluctant to unload on his forehand and didn’t consistently delve into the corners of the box on his second serve. It was as if Roddick was waiting for Tipsarevic to tumble out of the zone, but that moment never arrived.

While Roddick rightly gave Tipsarevic the credit he deserves for producing some spectacular winners on down the line drives, the truth is Roddick simply did not take enough risk and play with enough aggression and ambition when it mattered most.

A  cranky Roddick erupted in anger when hit with a foot fault call while serving at 2-5 in the third set. The lineswoman correctly called the foot fault but incorrectly claimed Roddick’s right rear foot dragged on the baseline when it fact replay showed his left lead foot slid across the line.

An irate Roddick continuously harangued the lineswoman throughout the rest of the game, and was fired up enough to hold for 3-5. Roddick’s problems began before that call as Tipsarevic took advantage of Roddick’s timid tendency to hit straight down the middle.

A half-step slow to a slice backhand, Roddick shoveled that shot long and fell into a 0-30 hole. Roddick slapped a stiff-armed backhand beyond the baseline to face triple break point then bounced his blue Babolat frame off his court in disgust falling into a triple break point hole. Roddick saved the first break point but on the second he was stranded at net and stuck his racquet out like a man waving a cane in vain at a passing train as Tipsarevic blew a backhand pass by him down the line to break for 4-2.

With the exception of a few plaintive “come on Andy” exhortations, the crowd was as deflated as Roddick when Tipsarevic fired his 10th ace past a lunging Roddick to hold for 5-2.

The foot fault call came in the ensuing game inciting an incredulous Roddick to ask chair umpire Enrique Molina “Have you ever seen my right foot step over the line?” Molina shook his head.

“That is unbelievable! My right foot?” said Roddick, who wandered around the back of the court posing variations of that question to Molina, the lineswoman, coach Larry Stefanki and even in th direction of Tournament Referee Brian Earley, who was camped out in the corner of the court.

“Tell me one time my right foot has ever gone ahead of my left foot in my entire career,” Roddick said, seemingly unaware that in fact it was his left foot that touched the baseline. “If it’s my left foot don’t say it’s my right foot,” Roddick said.

Tipsarevic, who had lost only two points on serve in the third  set, fell to 30-all when serving for the set. Roddick had a shot to break back, but Tipsarevic hit a forehand volley winner to earn set point. Roddick attacked net but did not do enough with a volley, Tipsarevic ran it down and rifled a pass to seize the set.

The fired-up Serbian celebrated with a Lleyton Hewitt-esque viche, pointing his finger tips toward his eyes and fist -pumping to his box.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

Safina Ousted Early In China

Dinara Safina’s struggles continued. A week following an early exit at The Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, the No.1 ranked Russian fell this time in the second round at The China Open to hometown wildcard Zhang Shuai 7-5, 7-6.

Last week, she fell in the second round after a bye in three tight sets to 132 ranked Kai-Chen Chang. At least the enigmatic younger sister of Marat Safin could take solace knowing Pan Pacific was marred by many upsets including Venus Williams, Elena Dementieva and Caroline Wozniacki, who got sick.

This time, Safina lost to No.226 in the world by committing 20 unforced errors and a dozen double faults which were her undoing. It probably spells the end of her reign as No.1 with second ranked American Serena Williams needing only a Round Two win over Ekaterina Makarova to take over the top spot. Perhaps the recent disappointments that also included a third round Open exit to Czech Petra Kvitova have finally taken their toll on the emotional Russian who was reduced to tears and cancelled her post match press conference.

“I’m just having some bad losses right now,” she said in a statement.

“So many matches that are very close, ones that I should win, having set points or match points every time. It’s very disappointing. I would like to take a break now, and I’m very upset with myself.”

Who could blame her? It’s been an emotional roller coaster that included her rise to No.1 getting to two grand slam finals before wilting, plus a Wimbledon semifinal appearance. Perhaps that’s what she needs.

“I wasn’t thinking about the result, I was just thinking about learning as much as I could from her,” a more pleased 20 year-old Zhang said. “She was not on her best form, she was impatient and made lots of mistakes.”

Staying with the upset theme, Venus was eliminated by Russian teen Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. Ironically, it was the second consecutive week Pavlyuchenkova sent the seven-time slam winner out of a tournament.

The prior week, the No.3 ranked player fell in two tightly played straights. However, this time she came out firing capturing the opening set.

“She started way aggressive today. She wanted to kill me, I guess,” Pavlyuchenkova said. “I had nothing to lose. I just tried to move her around as much as I could, just hit as hard as I could in the court and just enjoy the match.”

It was the younger Russian who controlled the final two sets by playing cleaner tennis while Venus went off. In particular, her serve unraveled with the 29 year-old American finishing with an uncharacteristic 14 doubles.

“She played really well, unfortunately sometimes I made errors too soon in the play,” Williams lamented.

For Pavlyuchenkova who’s highly thought of, it was another step in the right direction as she prepares for a big 2010.

“I want to win a Grand Slam really so much,” she expressed after advancing to a third round encounter against Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak, who bested Frenchwoman Alize Cornet 7-5, 6-4. “[Maria] Sharapova won it when she was 17, really quite young also. And others before. So, why not? I can do this.”

Another first round upset victim was Wozniacki, who fell in three sets to Spaniard Maria Jose Sanchez Martinez, 6-7 (5), 7-6 (2), 6-0. Perhaps the U.S. Open runner-up wasn’t fully recovered from her sickness that forced her to retire last week in a loss to Wozniak. Open semifinalist Yanina Wickmayer fared no better dropping a three set decision to Russian Alisa Kleybanova 5-7, 6-3, 6-3.

Daniela Hantuchova advanced to a second round meeting against Nadia Petrova by posting a straight sets win over Carla Suarez Navarro. Meanwhile, advancing to the third round were two-time slam champ Svetlana Kuznetsova and China’s Li Na as did Alona Bondarenko.

One player not participating is Ana Ivanovic, who’s had a forgetful season. She pulled out with an upper respiratory problem. It’s just as well.

Federer Still Shows Class In Defeat

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Not much bad can be said about Roger Federer. Even in defeat, he was as gracious as ever and that’s even after the tough five-set loss in the US Open Finals in the Juan Martin Del Potro, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

“I thought it was a tough match from the start,” Federer said. I think even the first set was, you know, pretty close. I think both getting used to the conditions. It was kind of tough starting around the 4:00 time because the shadows moving in and stuff.

“I got off to a pretty good start, and had things under control as well in the second set. I think that one cost me the match eventually. But I had many chances before that to make the difference. So it was tough luck today, but I you thought Juan Martin played great. I thought he hung in there and gave himself chances, and in the end was the better man.”

Federer just had a bad day. His serve was off and he had an uncharacteristic 62 unforced errors in the match as well as 11 double faults. Del Potro admitted his first set was nothing but nerves, and he caught himself in the second, which means the Maestro was having even a harder day than the score indicated.

“I thought I had him under control for the first two sets,” Federer said. “I should never have lost so many chances. It was just a pity. I think if I win the second set, I’m in a great position to come through. Unfortunately, I didn’t win that and that was it.”

Although he composed himself after the match was over, you have to believe Federer was frustrated. In the third after holding to make the score 5-4, he was caught by the television cameras cursing at the chair umpire about the allowance of Del Potro’s challenge. The five-time champion makes no bones about his disdain for the “Hawk-Eye” system used in replays. And this time was no different.

“You know, what I think about Hawk-Eye,” he said. “Shouldn’t be there in the first place. So then second question shouldn’t happen. It is what it is.”

As is Federer who is the same classy player win or lose. And this loss will mean nothing for his legacy. Federer is still the best ever, even with the 2009 record of 2-2 in Grand Slam finals.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “Unbelievable run. Being in all major finals and winning two of those, I’m losing the other two in five sets. Sure, I would have loved to win those two as well. Being so close, I think was two points from the match today. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

“But year has been amazing already and it’s not over yet. Got married and had kids, don’t know how much more I want.”