By any objective standard, Roger Federer was one of the best tennis players in 2019. But compared to the lofty standard he has set for himself, he fell short.
Roger Federer in 2019: A Year Of Disappointment
2019 was arguably a year of disappointment by the Swiss’ standard. The 20-time Major champion’s biggest title came early in the year by beating John Isner in the final at the Miami Masters. A few highlights included winning his 100th career title and a semifinal showing in Roland Garros after skipping it for three years. Also, needless to say, *that* Wimbledon Final. But that pretty much sums up his achievements this year.
Grand Slam Performance
The Swiss’ title defense started off his year strongly at the Australian Open. He reached the third round without dropping a single set. With the good performances, he was a heavy favourite to win back-to-back-to-back Australian Open titles for the first time in his career. However, then 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas caused one of the biggest upsets in Australian Open history by knocking out Federer in four tight sets. The 38-year-old had twelve break points in the entire match, but could not convert a single one. This was the Swiss’ second time in sixteen years where he failed to reach at least the quarterfinals here at Melbourne.
Not much expectation was put on the Swiss as this was the first time he decided to play in Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. The first test was where Federer faced his countrymen, Stan Wawrinka, in the quarterfinals. Wawrinka was arguably a slight favourite coming in, due to his clay-court prowess. However, Federer looked in control throughout the match and advanced to the semifinals comfortably.
Rafael Nadal awaited in the semifinals. A highly anticipated match, but Nadal was the heavy favourite to come through. The Spaniard dispatched the Swiss in straight sets and that ended Federer’s dream for a second major title in Paris. Overall, it was a good tournament for the Swiss.
It will be best to keep this section short. As the wound has not healed for most, if not all, of Federer’s fans of what happened at this year’s Wimbledon final. The Swiss was one point away from perhaps the sweetest victory of his career. Not only winning his 20th Major title, but by beating his two biggest rivals, Nadal and Djokovic, back-to-back for the first time in his career. It was not to be as the Swiss became the second man in history to lose a Grand Slam final after holding Championship point.
New York: Disappointment
Like at Melbourne, the Swiss was impressive throughout the tournament. He and Nadal were the heavy favourites to win the title when Djokovic was forced to retire against Wawrinka in the fourth round.
Things were looking good for the Swiss until he had to play Grigor Dimitrov. Considering the poor season Dimitrov had, Federer was heavy favourite to come through. However, with a mix of both Federer’s off day and Dimitrov’s good performance, the Swiss could not find a way through and eventually lost in a five-setter. This ended any hopes of Federer winning any Slams in 2019 and could not redeem himself after the disappointment at the All England Club at Wimbledon.
A pattern that is developing towards Federer’s later stages of his career is his tendency to get nervous at big moments. A clear example of it was this year at the Wimbledon final.
Other matches include the Indian Wells final this year where he was a few points away from the winning the title against Dominic Thiem, but could not find a way through. Also, last year at Wimbledon where the Swiss held a two sets to love lead and had match point to finish off Kevin Anderson in straight sets. However, somehow found himself locked in a five-set tussle and eventually losing the match.
Expect a similar pattern. Winning a Grand Slam? Maybe. His only chance will be at Wimbledon–and Roger Federer knows that himself.