Twenty time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer has not won the US Open title for more than a decade. Federer last conquered the final Grand Slam of the season in 2008. Federer triumphed in New York for five years in a row from 2004 to 2008, then he never managed to lift the trophy again.
The Swiss Maestro is the only player in the open era to have won the US Open title consecutively 5 times, a record no one has even come close to tie and are far away from breaking it. In 2009, Federer was just one game away from capturing a record sixth consecutive US Open trophy, but he collided against Juan Martin Del Potro. Since then, the 38-year old never came this close to the US Open crown.
As Roger Federer is aiming to his drought at the US open 2019, which is scheduled to start from August 26, let’s look at the reasons behind Federer’s demise at the Flushing Meadows.
1. Brutal matches against Novak Djokovic
Roger Federer had the best chances to win the US Open in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2015. In three of those matches, Federer was stopped by Novak Djokovic with some brilliant tennis. After losing the finals in 2009, Federer reached the semifinals at the 2010 US Open where he was facing Novak Djokovic. The Swiss was defeated by the Serbian in a thrilling five-setter as he was broken by Djokovic at a very crucial moment at the end of the final set.
In a rematch between Federer and Djokovic at the 2011 US Open semifinals, Roger Federer was cruising through the match as he won the first two sets. However, in a major turnaround, Novak Djokovic saved a match point with an excellent forehand shot and came back from two sets to love to claim the victory.
In the 2015 finals at the Flushing Meadows, Djokovic was once again standing between Federer and the title. The Swiss player had no chance whatsoever as Djokovic defeated him in a course of four sets. Federer was the inferior player when it came to the breakpoints conversion rate as he won only 4 breakpoints in the 23 opportunities that he created.
2. Back Injury
Roger Federer is further exposed to injuries by the end of the season given his age. Most of the top players enter the US Open after playing after approximately 40 or 50 matches, the wear and tear already affecting their bodies. The 38-year-old has been more prone to injuries in the past few years.
In one of the shock defeat for the 20-time Grand Slam champion at a major event, Tommy Robredo stunned him in the round of 16 in straight sets. However, Roger revealed after the match that he was struggling with back issues.
In 2017, having picked up a back injury in the build-up to the US Open, Federer then had to come through two five-set matches in the first two rounds. However, he lost to the 2009 US Open champion, Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarterfinals. “I had struggled too much throughout the tournament to think too far ahead,” Federer had said in a post-match press conference.
Federer was also forced to skip the 2016 US Open, though not because of the back issue. Roger Federer did not participate at the last grand slam of the season in 2016 because he was recovering from knee surgery.
3. A lapse in level against Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic
The five-time US Open champion was only one game away from clinching a record sixth consecutive US Open title against Juan Martin Del Potro in the 2009 finals.
Federer was serving for the second set at 5-4, 30-0 to 2 sets to love but Del Potro took it to tie-breaker and won the second set, denying Federer to dominate the match, which was a turning point in the match. From there on Federer’s serve was malfunctioning as Del Potro defeated him to claim his first Grand Slam title.
Roger was defeated by the eventual champion, Marin Cilic in straight sets at the 2014 US Open semifinals. The match was well below Federer’s standards as he was broken four times in the course of three sets and could manage to break Marin’s serve only once.
4. Low second serve return winning percentage
In all of the matches that Federer lost at the US Open for a decade, the second serve winning percentage was below 47%, except against Tommy Robredo in 2013, when his second serve winning percentage was 54%. The statistic certainly shows that the Swiss needs to capitalize on his opponent’s second serve in order to win the match.
5. Low breakpoint conversion rate
Roger Federer was always the inferior player when it comes to breakpoint conversion rate in all of the matches that he lost at the Flushing Meadows in the past 11 years.
His breakpoint conversion in all the matches that he was above 50% when he created 7-8 or less BPs opportunity but the problem came when he created more than 10 breakpoint opportunity in 4 of his matches as his conversion rate well below 15%. Federer’s inability to capitalize on the breakpoint was certainly one of the reasons for his defeats at the US Open in the past decade.
6. Different night and day conditions at the US Open
Federer also suggested that there are different condition between day and night sessions. He revealed that in the past it was very windy on the court.
However, after the coming of the retractable roof at the Flushing Meadows, the atmosphere there has completely changed. With the roof closed, the temperature inside the stadium rises and the voice of the audience gets extremely loud.
In an interview, Roger Federer said, “Now with the retractable roof it’s unbelievably hot and it’s so noisy. There are fast conditions and you need to stay there.”
7. Hot climate
Roger Federer was simply struggling in the suffocating humidity and heat during his fourth-round defeat against John Millman in last year’s US Open.“I just thought it was very hot tonight,” Federer said after his defeat. “It was just one of those nights where I guess I felt I couldn’t get air.”
He further added, “There was no circulation at all. I don’t know, for some reason, I just struggled in the conditions tonight. It’s one of the first times it’s happened to me.”
8. Many distractions in New York
Federer compared the US Open with the Wimbledon and the Australian Open. He suggested that there are more distractions in New York City than in Melbourne and London.
He said, ” ‘There is a lot to do in New York. In Australia, you are far away from home and you are always there with the same people. At Wimbledon, you are like in a bubble. At the US Open, you have contact with people, you travel a lot. You may go to nice restaurants or you attend a Broadway show.
The Swiss further continued, “There are nice distractions. You don’t want to go to New York and always stay in the hotel room, but you do not even want that these things affect your possibilities.”