Murray Withdraws from Basel

It’s my off weekend and I won’t be home tomorrow when I think the Basel draw comes out, so I thought I’d make a post now. The biggest news about the draw is that Murray withdrew anyway, so there won’t be much more to say about it. The fact that Murray withdrew is great news as far as I’m concerned. You can find the entry list here, before Murray withdrew. Murray was really the one guy who stood in Roger’s way to an incredible 6th Basel title. With his withdrawal Roger becomes the overwhelming favorite. Roger may have been the favorite anyway, but he has been struggling a bit of late and Murray would have been a real threat.

It was important for me that Roger wins his home event. The US Open semi loss halted his momentum of 2012. It was a tough loss and his performance in Shanghai showed that he had not recovered yet. He looked emotionally tired. So it was important for me that he stopped the slide before the end of 2012. The 2012 season has been so good for Roger that it’s important for me that he needs to carry some of that momentum into 2013. If he doesn’t perform in his favorite indoor season it would spoil a lot of that momentum he gained. I’m always looking at the bigger picture rather than just living for the moment.

If Roger wants to keep playing until 2016 he needs to plan ahead. Yes, 2012 was amazing. But if he fails in his favorite indoor season his rivals will sense that he is self-satisfied with what he achieved in 2012, and that he will be there for the taking in 2013. I have accepted that Roger will lose the #1 ranking to Djokovic. That is inevitable. Therefor it is even more important that he makes a statement at the end of the year. If Roger wins Basel and the Masters Cup it will take a lot of shine off of Djokovic’s #1 ranking, and he will be in a good position to reclaim the #1 spot. It’s important to stay mentally on top of the competition.

Yes, Roger is mentally tired after a long year. But I feel if he wins Basel it will give him a shot of adrenalin and he will have a great chance at the Masters Cup as well. So the withdrawal of Murray plays into his hands. It will make it just that little easier to end the year on a high. Even if Djokovic is the year end #1, the year would still belong to Roger if he wins Basel and the Masters Cup. It would give him the mental edge. I mean if Roger wins 2 more titles it would give him 8 for the year, including Wimbledon, the Masters Cup, and Olympic silver. That would would win the year for him over Djokovic and Murray.

So even though the season is close to over I feel there is a lot on the line still. Roger is the reigning indoor king and I have a feeling he can really make that count by winning Basel and London. Forget Paris. I think Roger should definitely not play there. Playing three weeks in a row would be a mistake. Win Basel, take a week off, and come back to win London and the best player of the year title. This is the peRFect scenario and you know I am an optimistic fan. Yes I get it wrong sometimes, but that will not stop me from believing in my player. I think Roger has one more push left in him to make this another extraordinary year of his unrivaled career.

Federer Loses to Murray, Djokovic Wins Shanghai

Hi guys. I finally have a day off again which means I can now sit down and make a proper post about what transpired in Shanghai. My last post was about the quarter final where Roger beat Cilic. In that post I said it was JesusFed in that match. Although I didn’t watch the whole match, the highlights looked good. I think the only thing that didn’t look good was the percentage of points Roger won on his first serve. Who knows whether it was JesusFed? It doesn’t matter, because against Murray it clearly was not. JesusFed does not serve three doubles in a row to drop serve. Neither does any Fed for that matter.

Roger dropped serve in the first game of the match. He broke back in the next game however. Then at 2-2 came the moment where he served three doubles in a row to drop serve to love. It was the first time I ever saw Roger serve three doubles in a row, and keep in mind I have followed his entire career. I think he said he has done that once before, but that was probably early on before he ascended to the top of the tennis world. It just showed me that something was off. Roger is clearly mentally tired after a long year. It all comes down to the Olympics, which is played every four years. It takes an extra toll.

Roger usually has enough energy left for a final push during his favorite indoor season, but he looks really tired at this point. The Olympics also cost him against Berdych at the US Open. The Olympics was an emotional event for Roger and drained him. Personally I would have preferred another US Open title over an Olympic gold but of course Roger did not know he would not win the Olympics. It was important for him and he still won a silver medal. He couldn’t just skip the Olympics anyway, even though he would have had a great chance at winning the US Open if he did. My personal preferences as a fan doesn’t matter much anyway.

But the fact remains that the Olympics took a mental toll on Roger which took a toll in New York and now in the indoor season. That loss to Berdych was kind of inexplicable. But I now finally realize it was just mental tiredness. If he was fresh he would not have let Berdych win that match. But like I said Roger couldn’t just have skipped the Olympics. To get back to the match with Murray in Shanghai, Murray held on to the break Roger gifted him to win the first set. At the start of the second set there was an unreal point when Roger faced break point on his serve in the first game. Roger ended up winning it and held serve.

Then at 2-2 Murray played a great game with some amazing returns and broke Roger again. Again Murray held on to the break to win the second set and the match. One thing that stood out from the highlights was Murray’s returning. Together with Djokovic he is now the best returner in the game. It is tough to always tell from the highlights, but it didn’t look like a bad match. Aside from the three straight double faults from Roger which was ugly. There was that one incredible point and there were many other quality points. So it’s not like Roger completely stunk up the place from what I can tell.

I also have to say that Murray looked like a different player after his US Open win. He just have a new confidence about him, which is to be expected after such a big breakthrough. So I don’t think Roger should be too disappointed with his performance in Shanghai. He played some good tennis but he was mentally tired and Murray was playing well. After Djokovic took care of Berdych 6-3, 6-4 in the other semi, it was onto another Djokoray final. Murray took the early initiative as he broke Djokovic at 5-5, after which Djokovic broke his racquet. Murray held serve to win the first set. The momentum was on his side and he used that fact to break ay 3-3 in the second set.

It looked like Murray would get another big mental win over Djokovic when he served for the match at 5-4 and went up 30-0, but Djokovic was about to perform another one of his great escapes. A point then ensued which would change the complexion of the match. It reminded me a lot of that point in the US Open semis last year where Djokovic hit that ridiculous return against Roger. In this case Djokovic found himself at the net and Murray lobbed him. Djokovic ran back and hit the tweener. He was back in the rally. Finally Djokovic hit a drop shot winner as the crowd went crazy, and the nonchalant way Djokovic celebrated also reminded me of that point in the US Open semis.

Murray then produced a match point on his serve but Djokovic saved it with a forehand winner. Djokovic broke back and the second set would go to the breaker. In the breaker Murray would once again serve for the match at 6-4 after getting the mini break. Once again Djokovic came up with some amazing clutch play as he hit an inside out winner that dropped right in the corner. Djokovic went on to save three more match points and won the tie break 13-11, after which Murray was the one that broke his racquet. Djokovic had saved the match from the brink and now had the momentum. He broke twice in the final set to win it 6-3.

This was a very impressive win and confirmed what a clutch player Djokovic is. Murray didn’t choke in this match. It was Djokovic who snatched the title from under his nose. So in the end it was a very exciting final and the Djokoray rivalry is very much alive. Djokovic has hit back hard after that disappointment in the US Open final and looks like the man to beat at the moment. By winning Beijing and Shanghai Djokovic also pretty much locked up the year end #1 ranking. I’m sure Roger won’t play Paris, but even if he does Djokovic will still end the year #1. Next week is of course Basel and Murray will be playing, but not Djokovic.

I think Roger will be very pumped up for his home event, even though he is mentally drained. He knows he will lose the #1 ranking and he will want to prove a point. He will also want to win at least one title in his favorite indoor season, and Basel will provide the best opportunity. Finally he has some unfinished business with Murray, and it’s important that Roger ends the year on a high. If he meets Murray in the final it won’t be easy though. Like I said, Murray did not choke the Shanghai title away and he will still be very confident after his US Open win. Ideally Roger must win Basel and London to end the year.

But it won’t be easy at all, given that he is mentally tired and Djokovic and Murray is playing so well. Roger really needs to win Basel. That will give him some confidence that he can win the Masters Cup for a seventh time. You can be mentally tired but winning will always give you a boost. Roger must give it one final push now. He lost pretty easily to Murray in Shanghai, but he is tougher to beat at his home event and it is indoors as well. So I feel he must win Basel if he wants to have any chance at winning the Masters Cup and end the year on a high. Anything less would be a somewhat disappointing end to a phenomenal year.

Shanghai QF: JesusFed def Cilic 6-3, 6-4, Sets Up Appointment with Murray

As I predicted a straight set win for Roger. I heard some less than great things about this match, but when I watched the highlights and checked out the match stats I saw that this was JesusFed. I don’t care that Roger was broken twice. Cilic played well and Roger still broke him five times. Judging from the highlights Roger looked really sharp. And that is what I would have expected after that close encounter with Wawrinka. The match stats were good as well. Roger made a fantastic 68% first serves. He did however win only win 64% for first serve points, which is a bit unusual. I guess Cilic returned well.

Roger also won 5/7 break points. I think this Roger will be very hard to stop from winning the title now. He will now play against Murray who needed three sets to beat Stepanek. It doesn’t sound like Murray was playing very well either. Roger is the firm favorite for me against Murray. He lost to Murray in the 2010 final but I think the court surface has changed since then. I don’t see how Murray could have won that match so convincingly if it was played on the current Shanghai surface. It looks pretty fast and low bouncing. This really counts in Roger’s favor. The head-to-head with Murray currently stands at 8-9.

I think Roger will even things up at 9-9 tomorrow. In the bottom half of the draw Berdych defeated Tsonga in straight sets and Djokovic did the same against Haas. Djokovic’s win was more comfortable however. Haas is playing really well at the moment and Djokovic still beat him 6-3, 6-3. I think Djokovic will definitely take care of Berdych, so this looks like a Djokerer final to me. That would be the most exciting final too. Like I said in my last post, the two had an appointment in the US Open final to decide who is currently the best hard court player in the world, but Berdych spoiled that party.

Murray won the US Open but I don’t think he is the best hard court player in the world. I still think Roger and Djokovic is better. Both Roger and Djokovic is looking in best possible form so I think a Djokerer final would be a good indication of who is currently the hard court king. Yet it is not a certainty that they will face off yet. Murray is no push over and neither is Berdych. But it would be terrific if Roger can defeat Djokovic in the final. It would confirm that he deserves to be #1, whether he ends the year as #1 or not. If Roger can win Shanghai I am convinced he can win Basel and the Masters Cup too…