© Ella Ling

Federer 2

New York gets another rough deal as Federer loses

Five thoughts on Roger Federer’s defeat to Tomas Berdych. 
Sometimes it feels as though New York City gets a rough deal. Federer and Rafael Nadal have played at every other slam, but not at the US Open. And now the city has been denied what would have been the concluding, fascinating part of a Federer-Murray summer trilogy. Federer had beaten Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final, then Murray had thrashed Federer when they played for the Olympic gold medal, so there had been much conjecture about who might do what to whom in their projected semi-final. We will never know how that would have played out, after Federer experienced his earliest defeat at the US Open since 2003 (when Murray was still a junior, and a year before the Briton would win the boys’ title at Flushing Meadows).
Still, New Yorkers should at least be grateful that Murray, who came within a point of going two sets down against Marin Cilic, dodged a defeat. The expected Federer-Murray blockbuster almost became a Berdych-Cilic showdown, which, apart from for those watching from behind the old Iron Curtain, would have been extremely disappointing. There were moments on court when Federer thought to himself, “Man, how is this happening to me?”; it was “a let-down”. It was also a let-down for New York.
So, just one last time, Federer intruded on Andy Roddick’s career. Roddick has often joked that he can’t get through an interview without someone mentioning Federer. On the day that Roddick played his last match, his moment was over-shadowed by Federer’s defeat. The Swiss had been hoping to become the first man of the modern era to win the US Open title six times. There’s always next year for that.
Now for the debate as to whether Federer’s defeat is as helpful to Murray as it initially appeared. First off, Federer’s departure means that Murray could win a first slam by beating just one of the big beasts of the men’s game (he could even do so without facing any of them, if Novak Djokovic were to lose before the final). Had Murray ended up with Federer in the semis, he could perhaps have played with a greater degree of freedom. But that’s just speculation, and here’s hard fact: Berdych has won four of his six previous meetings with Murray, including the only time they played at the slams, at the 2010 French Open. No one should make the mistake of fast-forwarding through Super Saturday to put Murray in his first US Open final since 2008.
When Berdych is in the mood, he can rough up anyone he chooses. Sometimes he’s plainly not in the mood – see his results at the All England Club this summer, where he lost in the first round of both the Wimbledon Championships and the Olympics. But, when he’s keen, he clouts the ball hard enough to unsettle anyone on the scene. In his hands, a tennis racket is a piece of military hardware. “There is something in my game that he doesn’t like,” said Berdych, who, in 2010, smacked Federer around in the quarters of the 2010 Wimbledon.
Some things happen every summer in New York – the rich flee to the Hamptons, the middles classes melt in Central Park and Federer wins tennis matches under the lights. But his astonishing run had to end at some point. This was the first time he had lost at night at Flushing Meadows, so ending a 23-match run which began in 2000. Berdych, playing a night session in New York for the first time, decided he wasn’t going to be dazzled by the bright lights of Federer’s genius, ambition and super-stardom.
  • jjp

    “The Swiss had been hoping to become the first man of the modern era to win the US Open era.” – What does that sentence mean?

  • Dan

    “This was the first time he had lost a night match at Flushing Meadows, so ending a 23-match run which began in 2000.”
    WOW…tennis must be the sport with the largest number of possible records

  • PKS

    You left out the six times part. It means that he would of been the first person to win the U.S Open six times. The U.S Open era I think means since it first started.