By Jane Voigt
Roger Federer’s campaign in Shanghai is over. He fought bravely today against an always iffy Gaels Monfils; however, the Frenchman sparked a streak of good serving and aggression late in the match to push Federer out of the draw: 64 67(5) 63.
But that’s not the news.
Federer’s chances of getting an invitation for the Barclays ATP World Tour Final, which he dearly wants, are narrowing. Even with Andy Murray’s withdrawal from the tournament, Federer might not win enough points to get him to London for the 12th consecutive year.
“I feel a bit sorry for him because I know he’s running for London,” Monfils said after their match. “But it’s tennis. He’s going to have more opportunity those weeks coming up.”
Federer plays Basil next. It is his home-town tournament where the love overflows from every possible angle. However, much depends on the draw. Being seeded No. 5 in Shanghai increased his chances of meeting a dangerous floater, like Monfils, before the quarterfinals. The outcome was a disappointment for Federer.
But his performance was up and down, which he admitted to the press.
Federer went for winners immediately, in the first game. He stood on the baseline, aimed for lines and did not back off. Monfils broke. “The break in the first set hurt me,” Federer said. Down 3-5 in the second, he came back to force a tiebreak where he was down, again. “I played a good tiebreak, even though I got a bit lucky in the set,” Federer added.
In years past, Federer would have rolled over Monfils or anyone across the net, having come off an upbeat second set. But, he could not.
The 90 points he would have earned, if he had won, seem insignificant. But, at this moment, every one would bolster his chances. Stanislaus Wawrinka, Federer’s friend and countryman, edged Milos Raonic today and bumped up his race-ranking possibilities. Others that could qualify before Federer are Richard Gasquet, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, or Milos Raonic.
After Basil, Federer is scheduled to play the Paris Masters 1000. It’s the last frontier for ranking points. Since it is a Masters 1000 event, all players are entered. However, since Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have qualified for London they could chose to rest that week. That scenario would create an opening for Federer.
Federer’s situation is not dire, yet. But he will be tested beyond his experiences. Asked in his press conference how he plans to get back on target, Federer said he would work hard and get his confidence back. He added, “And don’t worry too much.”
That is a tough assignment. With only two tournaments remaining in his schedule Federer could turn his London goal into a pressurized situation. He can handle pressure. But can he handle pressure when his confidence is low, his movement is declining, and his consistency is off?
The time crunch would make any athlete of his caliber wonder if they could achieve that which is but a grasp away. However, you don’t win 17 Grand Slams without a belief that that certain moment when his tennis mix clicks is out in front and all he has to do is work toward it.