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Down but surely not out for Federer

Udayan Nag |

Updated: May 14, 2011, 11:36 AM IST
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Down but surely not out for Federer
Fedex goes into the French Open with two defeats against lower ranked players on the red dirt.

New Delhi: Another between the legs shot by Swiss maestro Roger Federer at the Rome Masters turned out to be nothing more than a flash of brilliance as the 16 time grand slam winner was dumped out of the tournament by Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Currently ranked number three in the world, Federer could have done with a better showing at the event he has never won as the clay court season heads to Roland Garros for the second major of the year.

Still harbouring thoughts of the number one spot, Fedex goes into the French Open with two defeats against lower ranked players on the red dirt.

He went down to Jurgen Melzer of Austria in the last eight stage at Monte Carlo but competed well against Rafael Nadal in the semi finals of the Madrid Open before coming up second best.

Life on the tour is by no means going to get any easier for the Swiss ace who turns 30 in August this year as it's no longer just Nadal that he has to contend with.

With Djokovic having a realistic shot at the numero uno position and younger players coming to the fore, Federer may well face his ultimate tryst with destiny.

However, Fedex has on numerous occasions in the past managed to dig deep and come up with the answers whenever there has been any kind of a question mark on his supremacy.

Critics were unsure of his ability to win the French Open with Rafa around and then after back to back losses to Nadal in the finals at Roland Garros and Wimbledon in 2008 there were some who wondered whether the champion was on his way down.

Federer was back with a vengeance at the US Open soon after where he swept aside British hope Andy Murray in the finals to capture his 5th successive title at Flushing Meadows.

After his loss to Rafa in an emotionally draining final at the 2009 Australian Open, he was all but written off and many felt that it was the end of the road for arguably the greatest player to have stepped on the tennis court.

Although common consensus attributed Nadal's troublesome knees to Federer's success at the French Open which had eluded him for so long, it was actually the contrasting styles of play which was responsible for one being injury free while the other was injury prone.

An athlete's ability to stay fit cannot be undermined in modern sport and the maestro once again took advantage of Nadal's absence at Wimbledon a fortnight later to beat Andy Roddick in the finals and break Pete Sampras's record of 14 majors.

There was nothing much to prove for Fedex now but he showed the benefits of playing with a free mind at the 2010 Australian Open by rolling over Murray once again in the finals of a grand slam event.

But since then it has been all about a fully fit Rafa who took the game to new heights last year by winning three majors in a row and more recently Djokovic.

Federer had earlier made it clear that he has the London Olympics in his sights and that he wants to see his twin daughters watch him live in action.

Perhaps, that's the driving force which will lead to yet another twist in the Federer saga.

First Published: May 14, 2011, 11:36 AM IST
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