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Tennis Update • Don’t Press The Panic Button: Federer Fine Following Shanghai Semifinal Loss To Coric

Photo by @ATPWorldTour via Twitter



By Ricky Dimon


It’s not quite time to go off the deep end if you’re a Roger Federer fan. If there was ever a time for that, it was in 2013 (see: Stakhovsky, Sergiy and Robredo, Tommy).


Compared to those shockingly early exits at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, Federer’s semifinal loss to Borna Coric at last week’s Shanghai Masters is nothing at which to wave the white flag. For mere mortal 37 year olds, reaching the semifinals of a Masters 1000 event would be an Earth-shattering accomplishment.


The only reason why it is even remotely alarming is because it came on the heels of losses in the Halle final (also to Coric), the Wimbledon quarters (to Kevin Anderson from match point up in the third set), the Cincinnati final (in routine straight sets to Novak Djokovic), and the U.S. Open fourth round (to John Millman). The setback against Anderson was bad given the circumstances of that particular match, but only the upset at Millman’s hands was especially dreadful on paper. Consider: Coric has been on fire, Anderson is now an established force in the top 10, and Djokovic has been by far the best player on tour throughout the second half of 2018.


And now back to Coric. The current world No. 13 served at a ridiculous 78 percent against Federer in the Shanghai semis and fired nine aces without double-faulting a single time.


“It’s one of the best matches I have ever played,” Coric assessed. “I was just feeling through the ball. I think I served the best in my life, for sure. I was going for the angles. I was going for the body. Everything was going in. No, that’s much above my standard level. I mean, my standard level nowadays is better than in the last year, that’s for sure. But again, to say this is my normal level, no, it’s not, for sure.”


This is a 21-year-old Croat who has now defeated three members of the “Big Four” twice (also Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray). Throw Stan Wawrinka into the mix and Coric has taken down four of the “Big Five” during what are still the early stages of his budding career.


It’s true that Federer was an obvious favorite going into last weekend’s match. But not many–if any–37-year-olds have ever been favored against red-hot 21-year-olds. So it only make sense that Federer was relatively encouraged after beating Tokyo champion Daniil Medvedev, world No. 28 Roberto Bautista Agut, and world No. 12 Kei Nishikori before succumbing to Coric.


“I must say I felt overall actually pretty good,” the 20-time major champion said. “So I’m happy about that. I’m happy how the body has felt this week. I feel like I’m explosive out there…. It’s definitely something I can build on now for Basel and then for London and maybe Paris.”


And even if Federer does not have time to improve significantly enough to triumph in Basel or London, it hardly matters. At 37 years old and with all that he has accomplished, all that matters now are slams. By the time the 2019 Australian Open rolls around, this current “slump” will be a thing of the past.


So don’t ship just yet. It was merely a fall-swing Masters 1000. And it was against a worthy opponent. It’ll be fine.


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

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