Djokovic def Federer 7-6(6), 7-5 In Masters Cup Final, But…

Hey, guys. I’m sorry Roger couldn’t get it done today, but don’t despair. It has been a fairytale year and although the ending wasn’t peRFect, it was very positive. I was at work today while the match was being played, but Jonathan kept me updated once more and I lived through some of the emotions of it. At first this loss stung, but it wasn’t long before I got perspective over it and felt better. As a Fedfan, I have high expectations and hoped Roger could end the year in the PeRFect fashion. That is the problem with expectations. If they don’t materialize disappointment sets in. I guess I never learn.

But like I said the disappointment was short lived. The biggest reason I felt better was the way in which Roger lost. This is the key. It was an extremely positive loss because the match was on his racquet. He broke Djokovic to love in his opening service game and consolidated for a 3-0 lead. Amazing. Yet he could not hold onto the break as Djokovic broke back at 3-1. At 4-4 Djokovic then took the initiative as he broke Roger. Djokovic was going to serve for the first set. He could not consolidate however as Roger break him after a lengthy baseline rally. The first set then came down to a tie-break where Djokovic got the first mini-break to take a 2-0 lead.

Roger broke right back though with a GOAT backhand down the line winner. It was one of those shots where time stood still for a second and you got lost in the pure beauty of it. Moving ahead now to 5-6 in the breaker and Roger serving to stay in it. Djokovic has Roger stretched to his limits at the net after a passing shot, but Roger comes up with a genius drop volley which Djokovic runs down. Roger then makes the pass. 6-6. Unfortunately, Roger then sprays a backhand wide which gives Djokovic set point, and Djokovic then wins the first set with an inside-out forehand winner. One feels it was a shame that he lost the set after being up 3-0, but the match wasn’t over.

Roger just needed to win the second set and things would be back on level terms. He goes on to break Djokovic in the opening game of the second set after Djokovic steers a backhand down the line wide. Roger then consolidates and once again he has the advantage in the set. He holds serve until 5-4 where he would serve for the set. He looks confident too, having hit a scary drop shot in the previous game. He takes a 30-0 lead in the game and even produces 2 sets points. Yet he fails to convert and Djokovic breaks back. With that he loses the momentum and Djokovic breaks again at 6-5 to win the match.

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So what does all of this mean? Nothing much. Just that Roger lacked the confidence to win the important points. I said yesterday that he needs to win the important points. He failed to do that and that is why he lost. Simple as that. It is not because he wasn’t good enough or anything like that. He was after all in winning positions in both sets. The match was definitely on his racquet, but he let it slip. Again I attribute this to a lack of confidence. Why? Because he has struggled with confidence since the US Open. He clawed his way back in the indoor season but stumbled over the final hurdle.

It was asking too much to come off a loss in the Basel final to beat Murray and Djokovic consecutively. So all in all I am delighted with how things worked out. Sure I would have loved it if he won today, but he showed me he is right up there with Djokovic. There really is nothing between them. And what more can you ask from someone who is 31 years old now? In fact, it’s not even necessary to mention the age thing anymore. Roger is a timeless player. It’s a mistake to measure him by years lived because he is the exception to every rule. Like I said, he is right up there with the best player in the world.

If Roger had more time to regain his confidence after the US Open there is no doubt in my mind he would have won this match. Simply because the match was on his racquet. So there is nothing whatsoever wrong with his tennis. It is right there. That is why I say this was a very positive loss. He is right back at that level that saw him win Wimbledon, regain the #1 ranking, and win 5 other titles. So I really can’t ask for more. I was a bit worried about his form after the US Open and the fact that he lost the #1 ranking, but I now feel very optimistic about his 2013 season. I was worried that he was starting to lose that Roger 3.0 status, but I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Roger will of course not play the exho in Abu Dhabi over the New Year, and there are rumors that he won’t return to Doha either. I think that would be a wise decision. After his showing this week, he doesn’t need any tour matches before Melbourne. He needs a rest first of all and then some time on the practice court. That would be the peRFect preparation for the first slam of the year. The early rounds will be enough to get him match fit again. That is the upside of what he achieved this week. His confidence is high enough now that he doesn’t need to play a warm up event to Melbourne. He can just show up there and start as one of the heavy favorites for the title.

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Let me just say something about his win against Murray which I left out in my last post as well. That was the crucial win really. He couldn’t afford a third straight loss to Murray after the Olympics and Shanghai. The head-to-head would have slipped to 7-10 and instead it is now 8-9. Roger ends the year with a 3-2 winning record over Murray then and a 2-3 losing record against Djokovic. It is clear after today that Djokovic was the best player of 2012, that Roger was the second best, and that Murray was the third best. But these three are now very close together at the top. Nadal has a lot of work to do if he ever wants to get in contact with them again.

So 2013 will be fought out between these three players. Then it will also be interesting to see what Nadal and Del Potro does. There are five very good players who promise to make 2013 another epic year in tennis. How fast do things change? Just a few days ago it looked like Fedal was over and done with and that 2013 will belong to Djokovic and Murray. Yet with his last minute heroics Roger 3.0 played himself right back into the fray and will be one hell of a force to be reckoned with once again in 2013. There is just no stopping this GOAT and neither is there stopping me as a blogger. Here we come 2013!

Masters Cup SF: JesusFed def Murray 7-6(5), 6-2, Sets Up Epic Finale to 2012 with Djokovic

This is it folks. The year of 2012 has come down to this one match. Forget the rankings, forget the slam winners, forget everything. The Masters Cup final between Federer and Djokovic will decide once and for all who was the best player of 2012. The best player of 2012 has been a contest of epic proportions which has simply been too close to call until now. Yes Djokovic is #1 and he has had the more consistent year, but if Roger wins tomorrow he has done better. If he wins tomorrow he won the most important slam, the Masters Cup, a silver medal at the Olympics, he wins more titles than Djokovic(7-5), and he wins the head-to-head 3-2 against Djokovic for 2012.

It’s not always about consistency. It’s about winning, not coming second. If Roger wins tomorrow he has won more when it really mattered, and that is why he will be the best player of 2012. But let me get back to today’s match first. Incredible! Roger has looked burned out ever since his loss to Berdych in the US Open quarters. But he has slowly but surely clawed his way back during the indoor season. I was doubtful about his chances in London, but I had not lost hope. I saw enough improvement in the Del Potro match to believe there was hope. And my hope was justified. JesusFed showed up one more time when it really mattered.

Once again I could not watch, but Jonathan from PeRFect Tennis Blog kept me updated on what was happening. It was very exciting, even though I saw no live action. The start wasn’t so exciting however, as Roger got broken in the opening game. Then at 2-4 Roger held serve confidently to 15, and broke back in the next game. There was hope finally. Roger was playing better and at 6-5 and 0-30 on Murray’s serve he hit maybe the shot of the tournament – a backhand half-volley down the line from the base line off a deep forehand drive from Murray. It was a clean winner and left Murray watching helplessly.

Murray held serve though and we headed into a tie break. It was crucial for Roger’s chances to win it. It didn’t start well for Roger as Murray got the mini break. But at 2-3 a long rally ensued which Roger won with an inside out forehand winner. He was back in business. He held both serves and at 5-4 got the all important mini break. Then at 6-5 he forced Murray into error and he had that all important first set in the bag. After this it clearly wasn’t over, but Roger started to relax and broke Murray at 1-1 after trailing 0-40, with another sweetly timed inside out forehand. At 4-2 and 30-30 Roger produced another break point with a beautiful chip-and-charge play.

He then break Murray with a sweet backhand passing shot. It was the insurance break and Roger went on to hold serve to 15 for a very impressive win indeed. How good is it to be a Fedfan guys? I mean he just doesn’t fail to satisfy us, which is amazing considering our high expectations. For all intents and purposes we had pretty much given up on Roger’s indoor season. He just looked burned out, and that was to be expected after such a long and emotional year. Yet you just can’t ever count this GOAT out, as he came to the party right in the nick of time once again. He is now my favorite to win the title too.

Djokovic had a good win over Del Potro in the semis after being a set and a break down, although Del Potro never consolidated that break. He broke right back and won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Del Potro was on fire in the first set, hitting bomb forehands winners. But at 2-1 in the second set he started running out of steam and Djokovic took over. Del Potro is good enough to outplay Djokovic for a set but he is just not fit enough to keep up the pace. That is something he will have to work hard on if he wants to break into the top four in 2013. He clearly has the game to do so. Now back to tomorrow’s all important final.

I really believe this final will decide the best player of 2012. The rankings don’t always tell the whole story. So I think this is a very exciting match. These two players have been going at it all season long and it has been very close. Djokovic beat Roger in Rome and Roland Garros, but Roger hit back by beating Djokovic at Wimby and bageling him in Cincy. Now for the decider. Both players looks in top form so there are no excuses. Roger lost the #1 ranking to Djokovic recently and if Roger wins tomorrow he will all but erase that disappointment. Djokovic’s #1 status would be in serious doubt heading into 2013.

It would be just what Roger needs to make a strong start in 2013 too. He has had an incredible 2012 but just lost momentum towards the end of the year. A win tomorrow would officially make this another incredible year for Roger. Probably the best he has had since his prime in 2007. Yes he won two slams in 2009, but only four titles. Yes he completed the career slam and broke the slam record in 2009, but this year he won a record 7th Wimby title and broke the record amount of weeks at #1. He didn’t win the Masters Cup in 2009 either. If he wins tomorrow he will have seven titles, an Olympic silver, and a Masters Cup on top of it.

So in my mind he has an opportunity to have the best year he has had since 2007. It has been almost prime level this year. I think Roger can win tomorrow. The match stats today was not that impressive but his net play and break point conversions were the key. If he does the same against Djokovic tomorrow he will probably win. He just needs to win those important points and use the conditions to his advantage, by playing attacking tennis and dominating at the net. Of course serving well and not making many unforced errors won’t hurt. It’s all come down to this one last match folks. I believe in you champ.

Masters Cup RR: Del Potro def Federer 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3

Well it’s my off weekend which means I can make an earlier post than normal. Like I said in my last post, the result of this match will be interesting. We can now tell a lot more about the direction Roger is heading in. In the match against Ferrer he did just the necessary. He got the one break in the first set and in the second set he served well in the tie break when it really mattered. It seems he did something similar against Del Potro. He needed to win only a set to qualify for the semis which he did. The difference this time was that the match stats were much better. For one thing his first serve percentage improved by 10% from 53% to 63%.

That is a significant improvement and an important one. His winner to unforced error ratio was a positive one this time too(43-42), whereas last time it was negative(28-39). So even though Roger lost this match there were some significant improvements. When I first saw this result I was pretty negative, but after I analyzed the match I felt more optimistic. I don’t all of a sudden believe Roger will win the Masters Cup, but at least there is some hope. He is clearly still burned out to me. But maybe that is the reason he is not trying to exert himself too much and doing just the necessary. It doesn’t matter whether he finishes first or second in the group.

Playing Murray or Djokovic in the semis is about the same. Playing Djokovic may be even better since he has lost to Murray the last two times and doesn’t want to make the head-to-head any worse. On the other hand if he beats Djokovic in the semis he will gain a lot of confidence from it, and will like his chances in the final against Murray or Del Potro. So actually I hope Tipsarevic beats Ferrer, in which case Roger will play Djokovic in the semis. He has beaten Djokovic the last two times and is far enough ahead in the head-to-head to afford a loss, whereas against Murray he trails the head-to-head 8-10 at this point.

So there is one more match left in the round robin stage which will decide the semi-final line up. Of course with today’s win Del Potro has qualified for the semis and Ferrer will go home. The semi-finals is about right now, with the four best players in the world having qualified. The important thing about Roger’s match today is that he raised his game, even though he lost. If he can do that again in the semis he may have a chance. I’ve said I don’t think Roger will win the Masters Cup but I will try to stay optimistic. Being burned out, he can’t play his best tennis every match. He has to conserve his best form for when it matters the most.

Lets see if he left his best for last.