There is so much left that I want to say about what transpired the last two weeks in Melbourne. I feel like I can write seven more posts about it. It really was one of the best slams I’ve ever watched. Roger was in great form before he imploded against Nadal again, Murray came to the party in a big way, and the final was one for the ages. These are just a few of the highlights. There were many other like the Tomic/Dolgopolov match, Berdych’s impressive match against Nadal, and Hewitt’s good run at 30 after having been plagued by injuries. But let me get back to my last post for a second. I was quite surprised by some of the reactions to it. I thought I was being extremely honest and unbiased and felt proud about it, yet I was met with a lot of resistance by some of my readers. On the other hand, there were some of you who thought it was an excellent post.
That is what I though too and I still do. I think I have been too biased and predictable in the past. All of you were probably expecting me to make a post saying how ridiculous it was that Djokovic and Nadal could play such a match and insinuate all kinds of things. Also you probably expected I was mainly gonna post about how happy I was that Djokovic stopped Nadal from winning another slam and therefor protected Roger’s legacy. While I was very happy about that and in a great mood after the match, I felt there was a more pressing issue to deal with. Of course I would have loved to make a post just saying how happy I was that Djokovic owned Nadal even more, and that this was probably Nadal’s worst defeat ever. There is a lot more to be said about that, but first I had to get something that was bothering me out of the way.
I felt Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray really left it all out there on the battlefield, but somehow Roger did not. In a sense he folded like a cheap tent against Nadal again, after being in incredible form against Karlovic, Tomic, and Del Potro. I already summed up in my previous post how in every set he let opportunities slip. He was also spraying errors from his favorite forehand side all over the place. We know he has a mental block against Nadal, which causes some of these things to happen. But lets look at how Nadal fared against Djokovic. Nadal already lost in six consecutive finals to Djokovic before the Australian Open final. Of those six finals two were in straight sets on his favorite clay, and two were in grand slam in four sets. I predicted that there was basically no way for Nadal to win this match.
And at 3-4 and 0-40 on his serve in the fourth set, it looked like this would be yet another routine four set win for Djokovic. Yet incredibly Nadal held serve and forced the tie break. In the tie break he was once again two points away from defeat at 3-5, but won the next four points to take the fourth set. What happened to Roger in the fourth set when he had break back points? Nadal made a ridiculous lob, Roger lost his cool, and steered and easy base line smash wide. It is like he said: “Ok I hand it to you. That lob was just too good. Here you can have the match. You deserve it.” I don’t care how good the shot was from the other guy. If you have a play on the ball you make the best of it. This happened in the US Open against Djokovic last year too. Roger lost his cool after Djokovic made that unreal return.
He still had a match point after that but then missed a regulation shot and served a double to drop serve. He also dropped serve again thereafter. In other words he disappeared. Djokovic made one amazing shot and Roger said: “Too good old friend. Here, the match is yours.” Again, I am not trying to say that Roger sucks or anything. I was amazed when some people said in their comments that I said Roger had ‘no balls’. I never said that. I was merely comparing him to the best in the mental department and he was found wanting. Now there is the other issue to consider which is the doping. No, I did not forget. Lets assume for a second both Djokovic and Nadal is doping and Roger is not. We don’t know that for sure which is why I say we assume it. The lob that Nadal made against Roger may be due to doping because it was almost impossible to even reach the ball.
But still. Even if it was from doping, was that a reason for Roger to miss the smash? A true champion must play through the pain, even if they know their opponent has an unfair advantage. Lets look at the return Djokovic hit. Was that because of doping? Clearly not. That was just pure talent and confidence. Or if you want to call it a fluke you are welcome to call it that too. It doesn’t matter. The fact is Roger let it rattle him again. He completely fell flat after that shot after having fought for five sets to finally get to match point. Now before you get all depressed on me again and say that I think Roger has no balls, let me just debunk that notion off the bat. Roger did have a lot of mental strength to win 16 majors and break almost every record there is to break. But the mental part of his game is not his strength.
There are three aspects to the game as far as I’m concerned. Physical, mental, and skill/talent. Talent or skill wise Roger is just about perfect. Physical and mental are very closely connected. Roger is very good in the physical department, but Djokovic and Nadal is even better. They are also better in the mental department. For those of you who said that doping and mental strength are connected I do agree. But it is a shallow mental strength because it was acquired through dishonest means. True mental strength is backing yourself even when the odds are stacked against you, like for instance when you know your opponent has an unfair advantage over you. So even if Roger thinks Nadal and Djokovic has an unfair advantage over him, it doesn’t give him a reason to give up when they make an unreal shot.
I am just calling it as I see it folks. That doesn’t mean Roger is not the GOAT or anything. He is still miles ahead of Nadal and Djokovic. It also doesn’t mean he is not my favorite player of all time. But there is a point that must be firmly grasped about my blog. It is first of all a tennis blog. No player is bigger than the sport itself, not even Roger. Tennis came before Roger and it will be there after Roger is gone. I myself was a tennis fan long before Roger came along and I will be a tennis fan long after he is gone. I don’t believe I will ever be as big a fan of anyone as I am of Roger, but I will still be a fan of other players. I am for instance a fan of Djokovic. I like his game(although not as much as Roger’s) and I like how clutch he is. I also like the fact that he is protecting Roger’s legacy. It almost makes sense to support him as a Fedfan.
He is the nemesis of Roger’s nemesis. It is almost impossible not to like him if you are a Fedfan. He is doing everything to Nadal that Roger could never do, and I am very grateful that he is protecting Roger’s legacy. There has always been bad blood between Roger and Djokovic but I am hoping Roger will change his attitude towards Djokovic. If it wasn’t for Djokovic Nadal would be on 13 slams now and on his way to crushing Roger’s slam record. Djokovic is also a very good sportsman. He takes losses very well and doesn’t show any bitterness afterwards. Roger is a better sportsman on the court but we have seen that he can be pretty bitter at the handshake and in the press afterwards. Like after he lost to Djokovic at the US Open last year. He acted as if that return from Djokovic was pure luck, while in truth he was in denial about the fact that he checked out mentally after that shot.
Take a look at this thread at MTF. No, I did not start that thread. But it may as well have been me since I agree with everything the thread starter says. Djokovic is Roger’s best friend whether he would like to admit it or not. Nadal would have become the GOAT without Djokovic. He only had to win 16 slams, which he would have easily done without Djokovic, and he would have already been the GOAT with his head-to-head against Roger. I also agree that Roger will probably not beat Nadal in a slam again. If he wants to win a slam, someone needs to take out Nadal. Don’t worry Fedfans, I’m not writing Roger off. His form was very good before he played against Nadal and I am still optimistic about his year. But if he wants to beat the likes of Nadal and Djokovic again he needs to make some drastic mental adjustments. More so against Nadal than Djokovic.
Just to make it clear, I am not now all of a sudden a Djokovic fan and writing Roger off. I know how quickly some people jump to conclusions. Roger will always be my favorite player. He has the best game to watch in the history of the sport. I have always preferred attacking, first strike tennis over defensive, counter punching tennis. I also like Roger’s integrity. In other words I like everything that Nadal is not. I am a fan of Djokovic because he does play good offensive tennis, although it is not as good as Roger’s. I also like that he is a good sportsman. Finally I like the fact that he is a character. I find his personality entertaining. To me it makes perfect sense to be a Djokovic fan if you are a Fedfan. But I am not here to tell who anyone should be a fan of. This is still a Federer blog and I am hoping Roger can pick up another slam before he retires.
Let me just say a few more things about being a tennis fan. It seems to me there are a lot of Fedfans who will stop following tennis when Roger retires. I just want to make it clear that I am not that kind of tennis fan. Tennis moves on and it keeps fascinating me. Roger hardly makes any slam finals these days, but I still love seeing Djokovic owning Nadal in them. It makes sense to me to be a Djokovic fan because he is owning Roger’s nemesis and he is protecting his legacy, while at the same time I like his game. This is the way tennis moves on. There is always someone to be a fan of. If someone quits watching tennis because Roger is not around anymore, it just shows they were never really a fan of tennis. Believe me Roger is still gonna follow the game when he retires because he loves the sport. It is the same for me and I hope it will be the same for you.