Federer Out for the Remainder of 2016

Some pretty tough news for Fedfans here as their player had to pull out of the remainder of 2016 due to the knee injury Federer suffered the day after losing to Djokovic at the Australian Open.

Since then, Federer played five events including Wimbledon where he lost in a five-set semi-final to Raonic. Still pretty incredible how close he came to making the final despite his lack of match practice coming into the tournament.

Clearly, Federer is still capable of playing at a very high level but recently I remarked that his health may not play along which happened to be the case. Thus, I am not very surprised at this news.

Federer’s best shot at winning that elusive #18 was the last couple of years where he made three slam finals and three slam semi-finals. During that time he played some of the best tennis of his career but Djokovic kept getting in his way.

It now seems quite unlikely that Federer will win another slam but who knows. He already hasn’t played much this season and now he is missing the rest of it. That makes me wonder whether he wasn’t too eager to come back at Wimbledon.

Now he will have even less match practice when he comes back and he loses a lot of that momentum he gained in the last couple of years after reinventing himself. The most that can be hoped for at this point is to see him healthy and playing tennis again.

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Nevermind winning another slam or a Masters event even. It is sad to say but that is the reality of it at this point. I will miss his rivalry with Djokovic because the Djokovic vs Murray rivalry just isn’t very interesting.

There is no Djokovic vs Nadal rivalry either given how routinely Djokovic defeats Nadal these days and the fact that Nadal is getting more and more injured. It’s a bit depressing and some new players have to start stepping up.

But let’s face it, even though the Djokovic vs Federer rivalry will always produce great tennis it was becoming more and more one-sided. Djokovic won the last four slam meetings and most of the other important meetings.

With Murray winning Wimbledon and Federer losing to Raonic I felt there was a shift occurring at the top of the game. I already said after the Wimbledon final that Murray is now officially Djokovic’s main rival and there can be no doubt now.

Unfortunately, we may never see Federer scale the heights of the last couple of years again but it can’t be forgotten how talented Federer is and that he can still do damage when he comes back.

Not to be the bringer of bad news but all of this means several streaks of Federer will come to an end like consecutive years in the top 10, consecutive years of winning a title, and consecutive years of making the World Tour Finals.

Wishing him a speedy recovery!

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Toronto Masters Draw Analysis

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Greetings. I made a post recently but didn’t post it(yet). You probably know by now that Murray, Federer, and Nadal all withdrew from Toronto. Nadal said his wrist is not recovered yet while Murray and Federer withdrew because of the Olympics I think.

Murray and Federer both had deep runs in Wimbledon and probably felt with the Olympics in Rio that they had to skip Toronto. That is not so good for Murray who closed within 1090 points of Djokovic in the race.

Djokovic now has a chance to pick up a pretty easy 1000 points in Toronto and get back to winning ways after the early exit at Wimbledon. I’m surprised Murray is that close to Djokovic in the race given that Djokovic won the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, made the finals of Rome, and won the French Open.

But of course losing in the third round of Wimbledon while Murray won the title wouldn’t have helped. The upside of that is that Djokovic got some more much-needed rest and is more ready for the four big events which lie ahead than the rest of the big four.

Rio is out of the way but at least there will be a week between Toronto and Rio and a week between Cincinnati and the US Open as usual. It’s a tough schedule and it will take some doing for Djokovic to win all four events but if anyone can it is him.

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You would think he has a great shot at winning Toronto and he desperately wants to win all the other three events for different reasons. Rio because he is patriotic and hasn’t won the gold medal yet, Cincinnati to complete the career Masters, and the US Open to complete another three-slam year.

The US Open is probably the most important of the three but anyone of them would be a big deal.

As for the draw in Toronto, Djokovic still has a tough one with Wimbledon semi-finalist Berdych in his quarter and finalist Raonic in his half. The top seeds in the bottom half are Cilic(who parted ways with coach Ivanisevic after that enormous choke at Wimbledon), Nishikori, Thiem, and Stan.

I’m looking forward to some tennis again and there is now quite an exciting time ahead with the Olympics being part of the calendar this year. Should be an interesting time for tennis heads!

Who will win Toronto?

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Federer Doesn’t Get the Credit He Deserves

Greetings. I didn’t forget about tennis now that Wimbledon is over. Did you? I was once again reminded during Wimbledon how Federer either gets too little praise or too much praise. I thought it would make for a very interesting topic to write about.

This is nothing new of course. For a long time, Federer has been viewed as some kind of tennis deity. He has amassed a cult-like following in whose eyes he can’t do anything wrong. And yet, this same cult-like following won’t give him the credit he deserves when he doesn’t live up to their hopes and expectations.

This just happened again at Wimbledon where Federer almost made the final after hardly playing any matches since the Australian Open this year and coming into Wimbledon undercooked.

I was once again astonished by his level of tennis after all that time out like match fitness hardly affects him. He had no right to defeat a rampant Cilic but came back from two sets to love and three match points down to do it.

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In the semis, he was on top of Raonic too before what I thought was mental fatigue set in and he had a mental collapse in the fourth set. And that is completely understandable after a lack of match practice and the effort it took to overcome Cilic.

You don’t even have to bring age into this. Given the fact that Federer was out after the Australian Open until the grass court season he had an amazing run at Wimbledon. Nothing less.

He wasn’t far off from winning the title but in hindsight, that was simply unrealistic.

  • It Is Not the First Time This Happened

I don’t think Federer ever really got the credit he deserved for the level of tennis he displayed since the beginning of 2014. And the only reason for that is the fact that he didn’t win the 18th slam which had become an obsession with his fans.

If he won only one of those three slam finals against Djokovic you would have never heard the end of his miraculous comeback. Federer never really got the credit he deserves for adapting his game to make up for his diminishing movement and fitness.

He is an extremely versatile and flexible player. With a change of equipment and coaching staff at the beginning of 2014, he improved his serve, backhand, and volleys to shorten points and make up for his loss of speed and fitness.

He needed some time to adapt his game but already in 2014 his results started improving drastically from 2013. It was only in 2015 that his new playing style started to really click. The match against Murray in the semis of Wimbledon was some of the best grass court tennis he ever played.

He was on fire throughout the championships destroying everyone in straight sets but big-serving Groth who he lost one set to in a tiebreak. During the US hardcourt swing, he was at it again not dropping serve once during his title run in Cincinnati and only dropping it once in his run to the final of the US Open.

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He was even more destructive in his US Open run than at Wimbledon not dropping a set until the final and only entering two tiebreaks against big-serving Isner. In Federer’s peak year, 2006, he wasn’t even able to do that when he dropped a set against Blake in the quarters.

In fact, 2015 was the only time out of his seven runs to the US Open final that Federer did not drop a set before the final. Let that sink in for a while. Federer’s level of tennis at the US Open last year may be the highest level of tennis he ever reached.

I’m not saying that to make Djokovic’s win look more impressive. I think it is impressive enough as it is with the drunken and fanatical crowd that was against him. But you can’t deny the numbers.

That was the most dominant Federer has ever been in the run-up to a US Open final dropping serve only once and not losing a set. In fact, it may have been the most dominant run-up to any slam final he ever made.

I want people to recognize that and give Federer the credit he deserves.

  • Getting Too Much Credit Cost Federer Several Slam Titles

Like I said at the beginning, Federer either gets too little credit or too much. There doesn’t seem to be an objective middle ground with him. Just as Federer has not gotten the credit he deserves for reinventing himself, he also gets too much credit when he lets himself down mentally.

Because he was praised so often and praised as some kind of tennis deity it eventually went to his head and he became stubborn when players started exploiting his weaknesses. Nadal was the first to do it.

Federer’s arrogance and stubbornness became so strong that at the French Open he believed the appropriate game plan against Nadal was to hit him off the court from the baseline. Of course, that was never going to work and eventually Nadal started beating him on faster surface slams too.

Federer was always praised for his greatness and hardly ever criticized(except by me when this was still a Federer blog) which caused him to become ‘soft’. When he started losing to the likes of Nadal and Djokovic he was too stubborn to adjust.

It took him a long time(2010-2014) to realize that he may have to adjust his game, by which time it was too late because Djokovic had transformed into a monster. If Federer had adjusted earlier he would have won many more slams including some of the slam finals he lost.

One of the most astonishing slam final losses for Federer was the 2009 Australian Open final where Federer had six break points in the third set to effectively put Nadal away but he failed on all of them and the rest is history.

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Federer should also have put Del Potro away in the 2009 US Open final when he was serving for the second set to go two sets to love up. In the 2011 French Open final Federer blew a 5-2 lead in the opening set to lose it 5-7.

In the second set, he broke Nadal back after being broken early on only to lose the set in the tiebreaker. He ended with break point conversion rate of 5/15. And let’s not forget the slam finals against Djokovic where he had his chances as well.

In the 2014 Wimbledon final, Federer missed a costly overhead in the fifth set after a heroic comeback in the fourth set. In the final of 2015, he was pretty much outplayed but who knows what could have happened if he held onto the break he got in the first set.

In the 2015 US Open final Federer had a shocking break point conversion rate of 4/23 with a rampant and drunk New York crowd behind him. If that was not choking I don’t know what is.

The point I’m making is that Federer gets too much credit when he is upheld as some kind of tennis deity because he comes up short in the mental department time and time again and has a terrible break point conversion rate.

  • Djokovic Is Not Cursed With the Same Problems as Federer

In tennis and in life, it is not so much talent but hard work, a constant drive to improve, and the ability to stay humble which results in success. Federer was blessed with immense talent but it came at a price.

He was almost too talented and it caused him to become complacent which is a recipe for disaster in professional tennis. Djokovic doesn’t have that problem. He is talented but doesn’t have unlimited talent like Federer.

He also has a very different background from Federer which allows him to appreciate things more and not to become complacent. Moreover, Djokovic leaves no stone unturned. He is always looking for ways to improve.

He is hungry and humble. You can see it in the way he takes losses. He is known for being one of the best losers on the tour if not the best. Even in that US Open loss where he was abused by the crowd, he praised their favorite Federer afterward.

I happen to think Djokovic has everything it takes to become the greatest tennis player of the modern era. Sure Federer is great to watch and hits entertaining shots but, in the final analysis, it is not talent or great shots that make a player the greatest.

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It is the effectiveness of their game, the amount of winning they do, and the numbers they rack up. Mental strength is the most important thing in tennis and in life. Not talent. Talent means nothing without work and constant improvement.

Talent fails all the time. Hard work and persistence never fail. Djokovic may be pushing 30 but he is not in any danger of becoming complacent because he is immensely driven and is still seen by many as the villain.

He doesn’t have that cult-like following of Federer which will give him an inflated sense of self and besides he comes from too tough a background for that to happen. Nadal also had the right work ethic but he has too little talent.

Djokovic has found the right balance between Federer and Nadal with enough talent and hunger to improve to become the greatest. It is too late for either Federer or Nadal to become the undisputed modern era GOAT of tennis.

Djokovic can do it.

  • In Conclusion

Federer either gets too much or too little credit. He deserves better but that is just the kind of society we live in. We are a society who worship idols and celebrities and we believe the hype. Federer would have been better off if he wasn’t idolized so much.

That said, he is still playing at a very high level given that he was injured for a large part of the year. The Wimbledon loss to Raonic seemed to be tough on him though and it is hard seeing him winning #18 from here on.

He has had many tough losses since reinventing himself and he may just be getting tired of it. His mind may want to carry on but his body may not want to. I hear he is currently in good health at least and it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from the latest loss.

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