A Loss in Rome

‘Philosophical Federer accepts Rome reality check’ was one of the headlines summing up Roger’s 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 defeat to heralded talent Ernests Gulbis.

That’s certainly what he sounds like when you get to the quotes. Said Federer: “I’m not worried. It’s always like that when you touch a new surface and lose. I think there could have been some good tennis at the back end of the tournament if I’d made it through.”

Thinking about it, he’s right. There’s notable recent example of an early wobble meaning nothing when it came to the final result – Roger’s four-set victory over Igor Andreev in the first round of the Australian Open, where Andreev had a point to take the match into a fifth set. He was coming into that one with more match practice than here, too, having just played a warmup tournament in Doha.

Federer obviously knows what he needs to work on. “I wasn’t up to speed, my serve was poor and it was frustrating. I wasn’t good from the baseline. There was no rhythm in the match and I couldn’t build from deep or get the right height on the ball. Clay is great when you’re in a rhythm as it’s easier to move your opponent around, but I haven’t played enough on clay yet this year.”

The plan of action? According to @DrewLilley on Twitter, Roger is “going to work, practise on clay every day, work some more, play doubles here, Estoril and Madrid then head to the French Open.” And when it’s all laid out like that, it seems obvious he’ll get his match practice, one way or another.

Chin up, Fed fans. In moments like this, it’s time to slot in a DVD of the Australian Open final, and look forward to next week’s Estoril, a tournament boasting seven players inside the Top 50 on its entry list.