Roger Federer may have suffered a shocking upset in his opening round defeat on Wednesday to Tommy Haas at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, but he isn’t ringing alarm bells just yet.
Although he squandered a match point in the second-set tie-break in losing to the home favourite, the match was filled with plenty of winners and high-quality hitting. However, Federer said that simply hitting well isn’t satisfying enough without it translating into a win.
“Coming here and losing in the semis last year, now the opening round this year, it’s not what I was hoping to do. Especially on grass courts, close to home, in Germany, which has been a good hunting ground for me. It’s not good enough,” said Federer. “If you don’t take your chances like I didn’t, leading a set and a break, you really only have yourself to blame at the end.
“I would have liked to stay here longer and given myself the best possible chance to win the tournament, so that’s a letdown,” he added. “I really enjoy my time here in Stuttgart.”
The result may not have been what Federer envisioned, but several of his shots were in vintage form after a long layoff. He hit 23 aces, fired forehand winners from all parts of the court and snuck into the net for winning volleys on numerous occasions.
But while it’s clear that Federer had been putting in work on the practice court, he admitted his lapses in form came from a lack of match play.
“It wasn’t all bad, not at all. There were definitely some good moments, but I definitely was not as sharp as I was hoping to be in the big moments, or the moment when I had the lead and feel I should have been cruising,” said Federer. “I definitely made some crucial mistakes and judgment errors.”
Despite suffering his first opening-round loss at a grass court event since Wimbledon in 2002 (l. Ancic), the Swiss star is always optimistic and immediately recognised potential benefits to an early exit. Even if Federer lifts the title next week at the ATP World Tour event in Halle, he won’t have overplayed heading into Wimbledon. He’ll have nearly a week of additional time to train on grass and fine-tune his game before his next match.
Competing in his first match since 2 April, when he defeated Rafael Nadal to prevail at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event in Miami, his body also responded well to the physical test of a long three-set match.
“It gives me more time for Halle. As a positive thinker, that’s what I see,” said Federer. “I’ve been on grass for over two weeks… It’s good to play a match again. I really feel the body. It feels different right now than it does after practise. It just makes you tired. There are some positives to take away. It will give me good preparation going into Halle and then Wimbledon is soon.”