Roger Federer was beaten in the quarters of Wimbledon
by a great performance from Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Should this loss bring the quality of his tennis into question again?
No, because in reality he's back to a very good level, as we saw last
month in Roland Garros. He seems also in a great shape and he's moving very
well again like in the good old days.
And it's a very important side of his game for him to be able to
mix it and to deal with change of pace and sequences.
Yet it wasn't enough this time. Why not?
Simply because the former world number one doesn't inspire fear in
his opponents like he did before. As Tsonga did on Centre Court, the best players are now
coming into a match against Federer feeling like they can win.
Before 2010, coming back from two sets to love down against Federer
at Wimbledon would have been unthinkable
because the Swiss player's confidence was out of this world.
The key to his next big victory is going to be if he can put
together a streak of wins because right now he hasn't got the required confidence
to regularly beat Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the majors. His game is there
but his disappointing last 18 months has hampered his mental strength.
I think this loss is going to hurt him in the next few days because
losing so early in London
is tough for him.
But I'm sure he's not going to be discouraged by it at all. Roger
is driven by tennis, he's still hungry for more and enjoys it on a daily basis.
And he still believes in his ability.
There's just a single worrying point: against Tsonga he looked
resigned on the decisive points.
Regarding Jo, I said before his match that anything would be
possible for him because at the moment he is serving as well as he ever has
done. We're seeing again the Tsonga of the Australian Open 2008, this player who
loves short points, whose serve is the key to his game and who also comes up
with those great forehands.
After the Australian Open final against Djokovic, he lost his way
by trying to become a more complete player and accepting longer points. But
that didn't suit him. It was done at the expense of his strongest weapons.
Breaking with his coach looks like it has pulled the trigger and helped him to
rediscover his best attacking play. He's showing more and more pleasure at being
on the court and that's maybe the most important thing for him. It's totally
influencing his game.
As far as I'm concerned Tsonga is the "shots" player.
It's not in his nature to be 100 per cent motivated for a whole season, week in
week out. He needs goals at the biggest events in order to get prepared in the best
possible way for them.
His future success is tied to his ability to deal with his
schedule. If he achieves this, he has the will and the ambition of all the
great champions who can dream of the biggest prizes. It could be right now in Wimbledon.
Can Jo beat Nole?
Regarding his semi-final against Novak Djokovic, there is one sure
thing: the solutions he found to beat Federer will be the same thing he needs
to beat Djokovic.
He will need a great percentage of first serves, not only to
protect himself from the outstanding return of his opponent, but also to be
calm and confident on his own returning games.
He will also have to keep his touch of unpredictability and
spontaneity which are key if you wish to upset a world number two, who is of
course very able to adjust but who will be under even more pressure because
he's playing for the number one ranking.