It looked so routine.
Roger Federer was on cruise control with a two sets to love lead. After closing out 179 straight matches with a 2-sets to none lead – Federer sputtered, blinked and choked away a relatively easy path to the 2011 Wimbledon semis.
The Swiss star was down a break at 3-4 and 4-5 in the third set. On both occasions, he jumped to love-30 leads on the Tsonga serve and seemed poised to break back. But somehow – IT NEVER HAPPENED!
It seems that all good things must come to an end. Federer was a mere shadow of himself in the quarters breaking down with the finish line well in sight and giving Tsonga the victory.
I really don’t know what to make of Fed any more – this was his match to take. And when you watch it, he seems to have the upper hand. But he let it slip away – without question the worse loss I’ve ever seen from him. Fed actually seemed complacent - he didn't seem interested or inspired enough to close out the Frenchman.
This wasn’t Rafa on clay or DelPo/Djoko on a hard court – it was Jo-Willie on grass and Federer may never be the same. I’ve seen him out of sorts before, but never was the 16-time grand slam champ so in control and then so lost.
The killer-instinct we took for granted for so long seems to have lost its edge. After the French, I was a believer that Federer had one or two slams left in the tank – now, I’m not so sure.
Tsonga didn’t play badly, but he didn’t light up the court either. Tsonga served well, but not well enough to knock Federer off of his favorite surface. Tsonga gained confidence only because Federer fizzled out.
The irony here is that Federer, who saved the number one ranking at the French for Nadal – has now for all intents and purposes handed it to Novak Djokovic. Djokovic will batter Tsonga and claim the number one spot, even if Rafa claims the Wimbledon title.