Defending champion Roger Federer after losing in his hometown Basel to Juan Martin del Potro, didn’t catch an optimistic mood and withdrew from the last 1000 event of the year to rest and prepare for the ATP World Tour Finals in London the following week: “It’s just too much. I was trying to make up my mind and I had some niggles I didn’t want to take a chance on. I feel very disappointed as I had one of the best weeks of my life there last year, but this is just a last-minute decision.” Federer was replaced by Victor Hanescu, who spent most of the season participating in Challengers, so in some sense he automatically reached his 2012 peak in the consequence of Federer’s withdrawal (the Romanian didn’t pass second round six times this year in smaller ATP events). Federer’s decision means he won’t tie Pete Sampras‘ record of six years finished at the top (1993-98), and Novak Djokovic has secured No. 1 at the end of the season second straight year. Perhaps this new pleasant awareness was the main reason of a weird Djokovic’s match on Wednesday afternoon. The totally relaxed Serb was breaking one of the best servers (Sam Querrey) time and time again, but the streak was finally stopped at 6-0 2:0 for him. “It was a little embarrassing. I walked over to where Casey, my physio/chiropractor sits with my girlfriend and Casey’s wife, and I said, ‘I hope I can get two games in this set.’” Said the American, who broke back in the following game, and still relaxed Djokovic couldn’t focus to deal with better adjusted opponent, actually he looked like someone who doesn’t care too much. At 5-all in the tie-break he produced a casual backhand error which cost him the set. At 2-all in the 3rd set he was broken after two ‘deuces’, and didn’t show signs of his tremendous fighting spirit until the end. Querrey was striking 1st serve with impressive speed (everything around 220 km/h, especially as he faced 5 break points in the 8th game) to produce a huge upset: 0-6 7-6 6-4. It’s tough to say whether Djokovic had some physical problems or he simply wanted to leave Paris as soon as possible to prepare himself for London, these quer(r)ies will be solved next week. Ivan Dodig had defeated two top 20 players (Philipp Kohlschreiber & Marin Cilic) after identical scoreline (6-2 7-6) last week in Valencia; this week in Paris the pattern was repeated with almost exactly the same outcome by Jerzy Janowicz . The young Pole, who scraped through qualifying rounds, ousted Kohlschreiber 7-6 6-4, and Cilic 7-6 6-2 coming back from behind in both tie-breaks (2:4 & 1:3 respectively). Janowicz didn’t face a break point in four consecutive matches in Paris thanks to outstanding service performance. He doesn’t serve ace after ace (7, 9, 9, 9 respectively in those matches), but his serve ensures him plenty of service winners and weak returns, which allows generating the pace with powerful forehands. It’s the best result for a Polish player in Masters 1000 events, a just dethroned best Polish player of the last few years, Lukasz Kubot, lost four times in the second round at this level. Beside Cilic, also Richard Gasquet has definitely lost a chance to play in London. The Frenchman was ousted by Kevin Anderson , whom had beaten in their three previous meetings, every time in straight sets. In one of the most entertaining openers, Paul-Henri Mathieu came back from a *1:4 (15/40) deficit in the 2nd set against Roberto Bautista Agut, and serving at 5:4 was involved in an extraordinary game # which lasted exactly 27 minutes 19 seconds: 13th ‘deuce’ of that game was witnessed after a rally when both players fell on the court (Mathieu won the point with a dive-drop-volley), 14th ‘deuce’ when the Spaniard played a moon-lob that the ball hit a very high ceiling of the Paris-Bercy Centre Court! Bautista fought so furiously that his left shoe was trashed and shoes must have been changed when he leveled at 5 games all. Mathieu, known many years for his choking abilities, this year came back after a long injury with a different mentality though, he held his nerve perfectly winning the following two games quite easily, and the match in 2 hours 18 minutes.
# The longest games of the Open era:
28 minutes: Alberto Berasategui d. Marcelo Filippini 6-2, 6-3 (Casablanca ’96) Berasategui breaks Filippini on 7th break point and leads 2:1 in the 2nd set (20 deuces, 46 points; Filippini had 14 game points) 28 minutes: Ivan Lendl d. Joakim Nystrom 2-6, 6-1, 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 (Roland Garros ’87) Nystrom breaks Lendl on 7th break point at 3:5 in the 3rd set (15 deuces, 36 points; Lendl had 9 set points) 27 minutes: Paul-Henri Mathieu d. Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-5 (Paris ’12) Bautista breaks Mathieu on 12th break point at 4:5 in the 2nd set (15 deuces, 36 points; Mathieu had 6 match points) 24 minutes: Andy Murray d. Igor Kunitsyn 6-2, 6-3 (Dubai ’10) Murray breaks Kunitsyn on 9th break point at 2:0 in the 1st set (14 deuces, 34 points; Kunitsyn had 6 game points)