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Thoughts On Federer’s Loss To Julien Benneteau

Thoughts On Federer’s Loss To Julien Benneteau

Roger Federer lost his 2nd round match at the Paris Bercy Masters 1000 to Julien Benneteau 3-6, 7-6, 6-4. I watched the whole match and here are some tennis thoughts on it:

Roger Federer’s backhand (Photo by AP)
Roger Federer’s backhand (Photo by AP)
1. Roger Federer played many more drive and top spin backhands than he did last week in Basel.

Some possible reasons can be:

a. The court in Paris is slower and Roger had more time to set up for his backhand

b. Roger saw that his slice backhand didn’t do much damage to Djokovic in the final and wanted to start working on the backhand to get it in form for the Masters Championship in London where he has to be in top form to win.

2. Roger still isn’t in his top form but it seems to be improving. He missed some very important shots (forehand approach shots) and was unwilling (afraid?) to play winners down-the-line with his backhand when he had a chance.

3. Julien Benneteau played the match of his life. He took many chances on his returns and on many shots from the baseline and it was one of those nights where almost ALL of the high risk shots went in.

Julien Benneteau (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Julien Benneteau (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

It can be very frustrating if you’re on the other side playing good tennis and someone is just going for broke and scoring time after time.

I personally believe that Roger was willing to lose this match if needed but he decided that he will play a top spin backhand no matter what. He returned many more serves with the drive backhand and he played many more drive backhand from the baseline.

His backhand needs to be in working very well if he is to beat Djokovic, Murray and Nadal at the London Masters who will all play to his backhand over and over again.

Julien Benneteau had his match of life and Roger had a minor hickup which is insignificant compared to what he has already achieved – and what lies ahead of him.

Your thoughts on Roger’s loss?

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 11th, 2009 at 5:39 pm and is filed under Roger Federer. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

9 Responses to “Thoughts On Federer’s Loss To Julien Benneteau”
Jonas Lindgren Says:
November 11th, 2009 at 11:53 pm
As always Tomaz, I find your take on matches the most interesting around. I didn’t see the match, but I’m happy to hear that Federer’s working on the drive backhand. It’s something I’ve felt that he should have used much more throughout the season – especially when returning second serves. I’ve felt that his chip backhand returns often lets the opponent off a bit too easily, when he had the opportunity to apply pressure.

Not too upset about the loss, keeping my fingers crossed that Robin Soderling will find his range quickly after missing Valencia last week with a wrist injury. I would like to see all the top guys in London, and in my view Robin is more of a threat to the top 5 than is Verdasco. Davydenko and Soderling both have the ability to beat most guys in the top 5, whereas Verdasco seems to come close but never quite gets there.

Keep up the good work, looking forward to your next match analysis!

/Jonas (Göteborg, Sweden)

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Leonard Griffie Says:
November 20th, 2009 at 6:31 pm
I did see the entire match and I honestly think it was just a case of Benneteau playing inspired tennis, way above his usual level. Once in a while you’re just “in the zone”. I think Benneteau was able to feed off the Paris crowd. We’ve seen this time and again during Davis Cup matches, when lower ranked players play way above their usual level with the emotional support of the home crowd. You could literally see him gaining more and more belief as the match progressed. I like Roger and all, but I must admit I couldn’t help rooting for Benneteau. That win meant far more to him than it would have to Roger.

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Feizai Says:
November 21st, 2009 at 1:13 pm
Interesting analysis. Always an enjoyable learning from your thoughts. Personally, I didn’t catch the match, so I can’t analyse much (in fact, anything).

Nontheless, I have followed Federer’s post match interview snippets, and I think it’s pretty evident that he’s turning down a gear notch or two. Don’t get me wrong, not to discredit Benneteau’s success, but Federer is obviously less tensed up about winning nowadays. He still has that inner desire to win, but he’s got less to prove now. And judging from your observations about he working on his backhand, I think it just shows how he intends to modify his future game plan as he enters the mature phase of his tennis career.

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Nior nti Says:
November 21st, 2009 at 11:53 pm
That is a question that lingers in my mind everytime I lose to player with a lower ranking than me. I need more mental practice to see the problem. Or possibly, I understimate the opponent that I lower the quality of my game.

I don’t know what was in Roger’s mind at that time but I think the age factor is coming to the fore. Benneteau’s win was probably due to his inspired play before a home crowd.

Thanks to your analysis that Roger really needs to improve his backhand. More power!

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Tomaz Reply:
November 22nd, 2009 at 2:59 am

Hey Nior,

As you can see, all players sooner or later lose to lower ranked players. You cannot play every day at your 100% and sometimes you lose.

The first thing is to accept this as normal and not dwell on it. If you keep thinking and worrying about, it won’t be just a small chance that it happens, but now YOU will be the cause of the defeat.

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Peter J. Marc Says:
November 22nd, 2009 at 4:39 pm
I watched this match in Paris. My impression was that Roger wanted a quick out from this tournament in order to rest for the Masters in London. He did not seem very unhappy in loosing.

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Jean Landry Says:
November 23rd, 2009 at 11:17 am
I saw part of the match and I have to agree with J.Marc
Federer seemed to have his mind wondering, probably in a hurry to rejoin his new family members and to refocus himself for London. I dont agree with Nior on the impact of his age. He is a fit and still youg man.

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Leo Says:
November 25th, 2009 at 4:13 am
Just saw Federer beat Murray last night at the O2 arena. What an amazing venue and a breathtaking atmosphere. It was a great match and fulfilled a long ambition to see the great man (Federer) play live..it’s just not the same on TV is it? Somehow I had always ‘missed’ him when going to Wimbledon each year.

As the O2 will be staging the World Championships for the next 5 years I urge anyone to visit, you will NOT be dissapionted.

Federer’s display of tennis was awesome. What struck me most watching him live was his incredible and graceful movement. He was rarely ever caught out of position, always in the right place, and his shot selection and execution…out of this world.

If you are a die-hard tennis fan, like me, and enjoy playing the game, then
watching Federer ‘in the flesh’ is a surreal experinece, you can learn so much from it!

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Nishant Says:
June 13th, 2010 at 3:51 am
Hey Leo,

Your comments reminded me of my visit to the Arena to watch the same match. And I used precisely the same word (‘surreal’) to describe my experience to a friend. I’d bought the ticket thinking that there was a 50% chance that Fed would play in the evening slot. He did and it was really a superb match and truly one of my best experiences. It was the first live match I’d seen and to get to see my Tennis Hero play in person was a dream come true.
The best thing was that since Murray was playing as well, there was equal support from the crowd for both players. The atmosphere truly was electric. And the way Roger moved and his sublime backhands and the precision and control of his forehands were really, as you put it, out of this world. I hope you get to see him at Wimbledon this year.