Roger Federer’s glittering tennis career appears to be drawing to its conclusion after the former world number one suffered a bad early exit in his home tournament in Switzerland to add further disappointment to a season of underachievement.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion proved ineffectual in front of expectant fans at the Swiss Open, crashing out 6-3 6-4 to Germany’s Daniel Brands. The result followed a meek performance at Wimbledon and a semi-final defeat on the Hamburg clay, meaning he heads into the US hard-court season with little form to rely on.
In fact, the US Open later this year could prove the final nail in the 31-year-old’s Grand Slam coffin, for the way he is playing there seems little chance he will ever lift a major trophy again. Tennis betting fans know he’s won just one title in 11 tournaments this year (Halle) and has struggled to put a series of results together. His Roland Garros exit in the quarters to Jo Wilfried-Tsonga was a sign the Swiss cannot keep up with the increasing power of the game, a concern exposed in full glory during his second-round Wimbledon defeat to Sergiy Stakhovsky.
While Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic push the fitness bar for Grand Slam champions – a level Rafael Nadal is close to competing at – Federer’s reliance on technique and nous to play through games is failing him. Clay is a gruelling surface and his performance against Brands was of a man who cannot last out those rallies as he once did.
The US Open is less than a month away and before then Federer must play two mandatory Masters 1000 events: Montreal and Cincinnati. Few fans that bet on tennis will give him any hope of clinching a title here and Federer may not even make the quarters of either tournament. The rest of the field is just too good and have exceeded his brilliance, which is why, for the first time since summer 2003, Federer fell out of the world’s top four. He won’t be back.