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Perhaps Roger Federer’s loss today had less to do with his spirit and more to do with his sole – shoe sole, that is. Federer was reportedly asked by organizers at Wimbledon to change his orange-soled shoes after his first match on Monday against Victor Hanescu. Officials at SW19 enforce the notoriously strict dress code even upon past time champions, it would seem – but was this change enough to throw off his game?

In Round 1, Federer retired his opponent in just 69 minutes, in decisively straight sets. His clothing from Nike was easily “almost entirely white,” as the rules at the All England Lawn Club state that they must be, but his Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour Tennis Shoes were – well, not. A bright orange sole covered the entire bottom of the shoe and, though it was only visible when his feet left the grass, it certainly caught the eye. Federer was “advised to make changes for the next round,” according to a Wimbledon spokesperson. And change, he did – from orange bottoms to white bottoms, and from victory to defeat.
Nike, who has since sold out of the special edition shoe, said in a press release that Federer was “making a bold style statement” – too bold, it would seem, for Centre Court. But one has to wonder – new shoes, and a reprimand from his beloved English club – could it have been enough to upset the delicate balance of Federer’s mental game between his powerful first round performance and his lackluster second? Roger has mental acumen and toughness, to be sure, but tennis is a sport in which the smallest details often have huge ramifications. Even the best of the best have bad days, and in tennis, one bad day is all it takes – just ask Maria Sharapova. Did his shoes make the Swiss Maestro stumble in his quest to take home his eighth Wimbledon title? Or is there something much deeper than a bad day and a stiff pair of shoes standing in the way of Federer’s attempt to re-ascend the ranks?