Roger Federer reacts as he leaves the court following his defeat by Tomas Berdych
Roger Federer raked through the wreckage of his largely unforeseen quarter-final dismissal by Tomas Berdych and struggled to come up with the requisite answers.
Most of it was put down simply enough to his opponent.
The World No.7 had played inspired, first strike tennis against the 17-times grand slam winner, just as he had done with the same outcome when they had met at Wimbledon in 2010. He made just 21 unforced errors to Federer's 40, and won 80% of his first serve points. But could the Swiss have done more?
At times he had led his giant opponent a merry dance with his touch and finesses. But was there some stone left unturned in his preparation, or some element in the heavy, wet conditions, which had led to this outcome?
The 31-year-old agonised over such matters at Flushing Meadows in the early hours of yesterday morning, after a 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 defeat which suddenly displayed his mortality and placed hitherto question marks over his aim to retain his No.1 ranking until the year end.
"I don't think the schedule was a problem for me," the Swiss said. "I mean, I should have come in here with tons of energy and been ready to go. Who knows, if you get that day, that match in with Fish [he was handed a walkover in the last 16 when the American player withdrew] and come through with more confidence, maybe the first three matches didn't quite give me that. But who knows?
"I don't put that down as a negative, really. I just didn't come up with the goods. It was unfortunate. I'm sure it was a combination of many things. I mean, obviously I rarely go through matches where I have no chances, you know. So obviously I missed some again, but that's normal. When you end up losing at the end, you always hope that you made every chance you had but it's just not possible.
"He probably created more than I did, and that's why he ended up winning. The power is not really the issue here. The problem was elsewhere. I don't have any regrets. Regrets were early in my days."
Federer then offered his prognosis on how his victor would fare against Murray in the next round. Berdych has a winning record against the Scot, having won four and lost two of their previous six meeting. "Obviously he's got a good chance," Federer said.
"I think if he plays well and serves well and makes the right decisions before and during the match against Murray, then obviously he's got a chance. He's beaten him before. Then again, it's going to depend on the conditions, day or night. Obviously it's going to be a day session, but you never know with the rain now. So it's an interesting match-up, for sure."
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