All-England Notebook: Slipping off the throne

There is no escaping from the fact that something has changed.

This is by no means a eulogy.
Roger Federer is still arguably the greatest player of all time and he certainly remains one of the best players in the world.
However, there is no escaping from the fact that something has changed. Wednesday’s quarterfinal defeat at Wimbledon to Tomas Berdych makes such a conclusion unavoidable.
Federer will in all likelihood claim more Grand Slam titles. Few doubt that. He will turn 29 next month and looks set to challenge at every major he plays until the day he retires. But nevertheless, Wednesday’s heartbreaker will go down as a landmark loss in his career.
Federer’s dominance in Grand Slam events is well documented. His streak of 23 straight semifinals, which was ended last month in the quarters of the French Open by Robin Soderling, is a record that seems set to stand forever.
But the defeat to Soderling combined with the loss to Berdych could well have marked the end of an era.
The Swiss master’s supremacy in Grand Slam events is perhaps best represented by his accomplishments at the All England Club and Roland Garros.
Federer had won six of the last seven Wimbledon titles, with his only loss coming in the 2008 final to Rafael Nadal. Federer may have only claimed a single French Open title in his career, but until his defeat last month, the only player to beat him on the Parisian clay since 2004 was Nadal.
The Spaniard used to be the only player capable of getting the better of Federer on the big stage, but that has all changed.
Federer said that back and leg injuries limited him against Berdych andthat the overcast conditions are what cost him that quarterfinal matchin Paris.
He may well be right, but somehow it is hard to believe he willcontinue to win Grand Slams events at will in the future in the way hedid in the past six years.
More and more players seem to believe they have a real chance ofbeating Federer, even in majors, meaning the defeats of the past monthcould well become the norm.
“I think I can get back to a position of domination in tennis,” Federer said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Only time will tell if that will indeed prove to be true, it’scertainly not looking that way at the moment, but Federer willcertainly not stop trying.