Federer falters, Nadal advances
Right from the start, Roger Federer looked very little like, well, the Roger Federer who routinely reached the final weekend at Grand Slam tournaments.
In the opening game of his fourth-round match at the U.S. Open, the owner of 17 major titles got passed at the net twice, sailed a backhand long, then missed two forehands to get broken. In the second game, the man who has spent more weeks ranked No. 1 than anyone else dumped a backhand into the net, then shanked two other backhands wide.
No longer the dominant presence he once was, Federer lost in the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows for the first time in a decade, surprisingly beaten 7-6 (3), 6-3, 6-4 by 19th-seeded Tommy Robredo of Spain on Monday night.
“I kind of self-destructed, which is very disappointing,” said Federer, who made 43 unforced errors and managed to convert only 2 of 16 break points.
Only the latest in a series. This caps a poor-by-his-standards Grand Slam season for Federer, whose trophy collection includes five from the U.S. Open.
He exited in the semifinals at the Australian Open in January, the quarterfinals at the French Open in early June, and the second round of Wimbledon — against a player ranked 116th, to boot — in late June. That ended Federer’s record run of reaching at least the quarterfinals at 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.
This is the first season since 2002 that Federer did not reach at least one final at any of the four Grand Slam tournaments. That year also marked the last time Federer was ranked lower than he is now at No. 7.
The buzz at the U.S. Open was all about looking ahead to a potential quarterfinal between Federer and his nemesis, Rafael Nadal.
Owners of a combined 29 Grand Slam trophies, they have played each other 31 times — including in eight major finals — but never in New York.
The second-seeded Nadal advanced with a 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-3, 6-1 victory over 22nd-seeded Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany.