the legend

joyful rogger fedder

Monday, June 29, 2009

Federer makes fear factor count

Photo Titled Federer and Kohlschreiber sit it out
Third round opponents Philipp Kohlschreiber and Roger Federer in between games on Centre Court.

The anticipation of the Grand Slam draw must be immense, particularly for the lower seeds who do not always enjoy the privilege of protection at the Masters 1000 tournaments. What does my path to the second week look like? Can I avoid a dangerous floater who is coming back from injury or good on this particular surface? And of course, how far can I theoretically get before Roger/Rafa comes along and spoils my party?

For 28th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber, that fateful day came in the third round here at Wimbledon. “When the draw came it I thought it was probably the worst one I could have got,” he said with a philosophical shrug after his 6-3, 6-2, 6-7, 6-1 defeat to the de facto top seed in the absence of Rafael Nadal. “You look to see when you’ve got Federer and then think ‘well that’s the end of the line’.”

Federer, like Nadal, is famously magnanimous about his opponents, toeing the “the match starts at 0-0, you have to respect everyone, anyone can beat you on their day” line as often as not and using those very words in reference to Robin Soderling, against whom he will take a 10-0 head-to-head record into their fourth round meeting next week.

Kohlschreiber, however, was forced to approach the match from the opposite perspective. “When you come out on Centre Court against one of the top guys, you know that 99% of the crowd are for the star. If you play give it your all, you might get some of them on your side, and I think that the applause that I got at the end of the match proved that. I feel they enjoyed the match so I’m very satisfied.”

The match turned at the start of the fourth set. The German had just played some sparkling tennis to come back from a break down to edge a tiebreak and halve the deficit. What happened next was experienced in two entirely different ways by the protagonists.

As far as Federer was concerned, it was an everyday occurrence: “I’ve lost a lot of sets in my career and the main thing is not to lose the match. You just start again and try to get off to a good start.”

Again, Kohlschreiber saw it through different eyes. “I won a set, but that doesn’t pay the rent! And then he did what he always does. He's coming out from the changeover or the toilet and starts with a really good service game. His serving then was unbelievably good.

“It's tough. He always starts everything looking so easy and smooth, but for the opponent, for example me today, I always felt the pressure so much that he's starting the matches very aggressive and puts a lot of pressure [on you]. It's always nice to play against him. It’s just unfortunate that most of the time, you’re going to lose.”

For the lower seeds, it really is a case of the luck of the draw.

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