3 times when Roger Federer blinked on the cusp of a title
- The 3 times when Federer blinked on the cusp of a title and lost to a fierce rival
Roger Federer is the biggest name in men's tennis. The 38-year old has won the most Grand Slam titles (20) and has had most consecutive (237) as well as overall weeks at no. 1 than any other player.
Following his maiden title run on the carpet of Milan in 2001, Federer has lifted a title in every subsequent season on the tour except 2016 (when he lost his only final of the season in Brisbane). Only American Andre Agassi (18) has had as many different title-winning seasons in the Open Era.
He was the title leader as well as match-win leader at Masters 1000 tournaments, a series of 9 tournaments introduced in 1990, till Rafael Nadal surpassed him in both categories. Federer became the oldest winner of a Masters 1000 title by beating defending champion John Isner in the final at 2019 Miami.
Federer, whose 1242 singles match wins and 103 titles are only shaded by American legend Jimmy Connors (1274 singles match wins, 109 titles), has saved match points on 23 different occasions while going on to win a match. However, on the flip side, the Swiss great has squandered match points on no less than 22 occasions while going on to lose a match.
Let us have a look at the 3 occasions when Federer blinked on the cusp of winning a title.
#3 Rome Masters Final, 2006
Lost to Nadal 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 6-7
After falling to Nadal in the Dubai and Monte Carlo Masters finals earlier in the season, Federer met the Spaniard for the third time in 2006 with a title on the line - the Rome Masters.
The then 23-year old Swiss, determined to break his duck on clay against Nadal, having lost to the Spaniard in the 2005 Roland Garros semi-final and 2006 Monte Carlo final, Federer took the opening set on a tie-break where he conceded no point. However, Nadal evened the contest by grabbing the second set on another tie-break before taking a two sets to one lead.
Federer fought back to reclaim his ascendancy, dropping just two games in the fourth and leading by a break in the decider. Even though, the Spaniard got back on serve, Federer had 2 championship points on the Nadal serve at 5-6 15-40 only for two errant forehands to arrive at the most inopportune moment.
In the ensuing tie-break, Federer led by a mini-break and could have led 5-2 with two serves to come but pulled the trigger early as another forehand failed to land on court. Nadal, making full use of the reprieves, took four of the next 5 points to become the first teenager to successfully defend multiple Masters 1000 titles.