I think Roger was match sharp enough to win this. He just really played a bad match, period. He displayed a clinic in the second set, and almost ran away with it in the early 3rd set, then just suddenly tuned out. No excuses. He played bad from game 4 onwards in the 3rd.
Cañas is a regular guy on the draw he faces week-in, week-out. Nothing special. The guy's only redeeming feature is he ran down everything Fed threw at him. In Indian Wells, he played a great match against Roger and then almost meekly submitted to Carlos Moya (6-3, 6-4).
The tour's motto these days is - even if I don't win anything this year at least I can say that, of Roger's only 3-4 losses this year I gave him one. (In his case, 2.)
Posted by edma1022, ESPN message board
edma, it's been a mighty long time. Good to see you.
Why did Roger "tune out" and "play bad" from game 4 onwards in the 3rd? Precisely because Cañas "ran down everything Federer threw at him" and sent much of it back with interest. Which wasn't all Cañas did, by the way. He served well when he needed to (including on match point), and went for his shots when the stakes were raised. Fending off those break points to fall behind two breaks in the third was crucial. I would argue that was Federer's penultimate undoing.
Add to that, Federer got tired. Having to change his game and attack the net in the second set and hit the ball harder than he did in the first tired him out. (Federer was actually bashing the ball in the second set which took time away from Cañas, disallowing him from running everything down.) Which is why Roger only comes forward when he has to or when he doesn't fear his opponent's passing shots. He rarely attacks the net on his own terms against Lleyton Hewitt because Hewitt is, in Federer's own words, "a passing shot artist." I've also noticed that against players such as Robin Soderling, who whack the ball at will, Federer plays first-strike tennis as well, hitting bigger returns and groundstrokes than usual.
But back to Cañas.
Cañas showed some artistry of his own in the passing shot department. Those well-struck topspin lobs that Federer couldn't handle were executed to perfection. That defensive lob Federer flubbed at 4-5 in the breaker which gave Cañas two match points had everything to do with Cañas, whom Federer could clearly see out of the corner of his eye, running for his life into the open court. That's why Roger didn't let the ball bounce, that's why Roger tried to angle the shot too short in the court, that's why the ball found the net.
Cañas is mentally tough. His head is his biggest weapon, to go along with his fight, his sneaky fast serve, his deceptive forehand, and his wheels. Twice, in two events, in less than two weeks, Cañas won the mental battle against the best player in the world. It certainly helped that Cañas believed he had the game to defeat Roger before each match that he played, even though he lost to him badly the last time they played, even though he's just returned to competitive play on the ATP after a controversial and rather unfair (as far as I'm concerned) suspension.
Cañas is, indeed, something special. So special, in fact, that he's on a very short list of players that have been able to dismiss Roger Federer in back-to-back events since he turned pro and only one of two who have done it since Roger ascended to No. 1.
I think it's a discredit to the sport, to Cañas, and to Roger himself to suggest that Roger lost simply because he "played bad" without giving credit to a player who had a whole lot to say about making Roger play that way.
But Roger hit a whopping 58 winners against 51 unforced (he dictated play, and you can't hit 58 winners against any opponent if you're not playing well) and won more total points than Canas. I say Roger played very well.
But Canas, who also played well, just played the biggest points better.
You insist Federer played worse "than usual." I say he played only slightly worse than he's usually allowed to play. No more; no less.
And this time, like last, he faced the (same) opponent who didn't let him get away with it.
Which is exactly why he stated before his round-of-16 opponent was decided that he would prefer to play Richard Gasquet.