Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Italian Open in Rome in his opening match. The recent father of boy twins was beaten 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (6) at the ATP 1000 event by world no.47 Jeremy Chardy in a dramatic match which saw the Swiss lose from match point up in the tiebreaker.
Federer started out the match looking as if he was going to get some valuable match practice after missing out on last week’s Madrid tournament to be at the birth of his twin sons. Federer sped through the opening set in 24 minutes for the loss of one game and the pair’s second meeting looked to go the way of their first which Federer won at the start of the season in Brisbane.
Federer though had to battle for three sets in that encounter. Chardy is a tour veteran of nine years and has won some big matches in his career, most notably beating Del Potro at the 2013 Australian Open. He broke Federer when leading 2-1 in the second set and then held firm to take the set 6-3.
The crowd at the Foro Italico stadium were then treated to some high quality competitive tennis as Chardy led 4-2 in the third before Federer broke back to level and the the two players battled both each other and the windy conditions until the tiebreaker.
It was Federer who proved to be the steadiest in the tiebreaker as Chardy double-faulted at 5-5 to go match point down. But Chardy came up with the point of his career to level the breaker as Federer hit an angled forehand approach shot which Chardy ran down from the other side of the court and hit a forehand passing shot that raced past the Swiss.
The passing shot that saved Chardy from defeat was so spectacular Federer could not forget it in his post match interviews as he paid tribute to his opponent’s skill in coming up with his best tennis when under the most pressure.
Federer was in a somewhat sombre mood after the loss, not only at losing to a passing shot of the kind rarely seen on the tour but also at the lack of match practice he would have before the French Open. With Rafael Nadal gaining match play and confidence from winning Madrid and making his way into the Rome third round with a hard fought win over Gilles Simon, Federer will be at a disadvantage when the French Open begins in less than a fortnight. Djokovic is also performing well, shaking off the rust from his recent wrist injury lay off in his tough win over Stepanek and with more matches ahead of him to work his way back into form.
Federer will also lose some of the ground he had made in the ATP rankings. The Swiss has climbed from eighth to fourth in the rankings this season and the clay court season, during which he has had great success in his career, could have helped him climb even higher.
However, despite the distraction of the birth of his twin sons, the Clay court season has been quite productive for the 2009 French Open champion. Federer was the Monte-Carlo runner-up and pushed Wawrinka all the way in that loss. Federer will now have a week and a half to get his head and his game together for the upcoming French Open where he will attempt to win his first Grand Slam as a father of two sets of twins. That achievement and this tough loss to Chardy might prove to be just the combination to push him to add another Grand Slam to his tally in Paris.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
ATP World Tour