Djokovic Wins 4th Australian Open Title to Equal Federer and Agassi

Before I get to the final I just want to clear something up about my last post. After watching the highlights of that match, I knew something was off about the 4th set. The highlights never showed that Roger was broken at 5-5 and that Murray was serving for the match! Pretty pathetic highlight package. After being reminded of what happened by a reader, I remembered seeing Roger broken at 5-5. At this point, my eyelids were so heavy that I gave up. I went to sleep. I guess I figured that it was the end and I wasn’t very interested in seeing it. I then woke up again in the 5th set to find that Roger broke back at 5-6, and then won the tie-break. Amazing! Unfortunately, he had nothing left in the 5th and I watched as Murray broke for a second time at 5-2 to win the match. I wish I could see the part where Roger broke back in the 4th set, as well as the tie break.

That was a pretty heroic effort from Roger to win the 4th set, even though he lost the match. It emphasizes the difference between Roger 2.0 and Roger 3.0: Passion. Roger 3.0 goes all out. He leaves it all out there on the court. There are no regrets at the end of the day because he gave it his all. At 5-6 and Murray serving, he may as well have thrown in the towel and checked out. But that is just not how Roger 3.0 operates. He sets a great example in the sense that he goes all out and leave no room for regrets. If only we can live our lives that way we would never have any regrets. I came back to this because I left it out in my last post and it was a very important point in the match. I don’t like to miss things in my posts because this is Ruans Federer Blog 2.0 and I like to go all out too. With that out of the way let me get to the men’s final.

Novak-Djokovic-won-his-fourth-Australian-Open-title-after-beating-Andy-Murray-in-Melbourne-final

Bravo Mr. Djokovic, bravo

It seems a lot of people were disappointed with the final. From what I saw on the highlights it didn’t look bad. But highlights don’t tell the full story of course. It is, after all, the best parts of the match. Djokovic and Murray have very similar styles, and that never makes for the best match ups. It doesn’t mean it’s not interesting. As a true tennis fan, I still appreciate their matches. But it’s not like Federer/Djokovic or Sampras/Agassi. Their styles don’t compliment each other because it is the same. Murray won the first set in a tie-break and that must have had people on the edge of their seats. The semi-final last year between Djokovic and Murray was a classic after all. But when Djokovic won the second set in another tie-break, Murray was all but a beaten man. Djokovic ran through the next two sets and won 6-7(2), 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-2.

The match against Roger simply had to have an effect on Murray. You don’t beat Roger when he is playing that well and not come out of the battle without pains and bruises. So yes, I think Roger did Djokovic  favor. And of course Djokovic was fresh as a daisy after destroying Ferrer in his semi. If it was Nadal there it would have been another story. But I’m not complaining. Roger seems to be in a better state of mind when Nadal is not around, and I don’t mind Djokovic winning another Australian Open. It would have been nice if Roger won a record 5th title in Melbourne and Djokovic was still stuck on 3, but it wasn’t to be. Djokovic is just the king of plexicushion. If it was still the green surface Roger might have won this year, not to mention other years as well. He would have for sure have won at least 1 or 2 more.

article-2265790-1711B214000005DC-544_634x437

Pinkerer will be missed

But times change and things have slowed down. It is just how it goes. A few years back the likes of Sampras and Ivanisevic were contesting Wimbledon finals, with the average rally probably being between 2-3 shots long. Now it is the age of the baseline grinders and long baseline rallies are the order of the day. It doesn’t exactly favor Roger, but he is so adaptable that he is still at the every top of the game. Well, that’s a wrap from me. Despite the final not exactly being a classic, I still felt this was a very exciting slam. From my perspective anyway. Roger played very well and all his matches were entertaining. There was the Djokovic/Wawrinka match and the Roger/Murray match, as well as several other five setters. As far as my blog goes I have made a good comeback. My blog stats and comments is back to where it was before I came to the US.

And that just after covering two weeks of tennis as Ruans Federer Blog 2.0. From here on I plan on making it bigger and better than it ever was. I didn’t call it Ruans Federer Blog 2.0 for nothing. Roger 3.0 is taking it to a new level and my blogging will follow suit. I am very excited for 2013 and I think it will be another great year for Roger and my blog. Let’s take this blog and our support of Roger to a new level!

Highlights:

Australian Open SF: Murray def Federer 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-7(2), 6-2

I underestimated Murray, didn’t I? I got up at 2:30 am to watch this match, and had to work at 7 am the next day. And today. So I was too tired to make a post last night. These posts takes energy, believe it or not. I thought this was a great match, worthy of a final. The key to this match for me was the first set, not the third set like against Tsonga. Murray came out in dominant fashion, and after he won the first set Roger could never quite caught up. Murray drew first blood as he broke at 1-1 after a heavy forehand that Roger could not return. He was serving big and dominated from the ground. Roger could not break back and lost the first set. Murray was overpowering him and I felt he needed to use more variation coupled with aggressive play. He needed to break down Murray’s rhythm. He started doing that in the second set, slicing more off the backhand side.

It paid dividends as he broke the Murray rhythm and did some domination of his own. He could not break serve however and the set boiled down to the first tie break. I was nervous because I knew Roger had to win the set to stay in the match. As we know Roger 3.0, he was clutch in the breaker. At 5-5 he made a great defensive lob which Murray could not put away. Roger took the opportunity with both hands as he hit a delicious cross court backhand passing shot. The crowd roared and Roger pumped his fist. He had set point and after a Murray forehand sailed long he let rip with a loud ‘ALLEZ!’. The crowd roared again, because the match was tied up at a set all and it would go to four sets at least. Murray was starting with his negative body language again and I was wondering whether Roger was  starting to take control of the match.

It wasn’t to be. Murray broke at 3-2 and took a 5-2 lead. He then served it out at 5-3 with an ace. He was the dominant force again. Of course the third set was a pivotal set in the match as well, but it wasn’t really close. If it went to the breaker I’d be more inclined to say it was the key point in the match. But it had an air of inevitability about it after Murray dropped the second set. He just stepped it up and took control of the match again. In the fourth set Roger staged another comeback, as I was struggling to keep my eyes open. He broke at 2-1 and looked in superb form as he held serve to take a 4-1 lead. But at 4-2 Murray broke back. It was around this time that I drifted off into sleep. Things finally headed for the tie break once more. Would Roger hold off Murray this time? The answer is a resounding yes as he won the breaker by two mini breaks.

It showed great heart after gaining the momentum with a break and then losing it again when Murray broke back. In the fifth set Roger was still bravely fighting on but there was nothing left in the tank. Murray thoroughly dominated this set and broke Roger twice. Of course the result was a disappointment at first, but it didn’t take me long to get over it. In fact I soon started feeling very satisfied with Roger’s whole Australian Open performance. It was like winning another slam without the cup and the official title next to his name. I was really proud of the way he played this whole two weeks. He could not possibly have done better. I’ve heard many people say that he was not as his best against Murray. What these people fail to realize is that you play only as well as your opponent and conditions allows you to. Murray is a heavyweight now.

There can be no doubt about this fact. He is the real deal. Given the court surface that suits his game, you can now start to understand why I say Roger could not have done any better. Roger is 31 years old and played against a very talented player who is in his prime, on slow hard courts. Do you honestly think he could have done better? He was beaten by the better player. Simple as that. That doesn’t mean he can’t beat Murray in a slam. But as I said earlier this year I still think his best chances at a slam is Wimbledon or the US Open. Melbourne and Paris just doesn’t suit his game that well. If Murray beat him in Melbourne then Djokovic would probably have beaten him easier. The surface just doesn’t suit his attacking game as much. He doesn’t get enough free points off the serve against good returners like Murray and Djokovic.

Some people said the reason he lost is because his serve was off. Again I can’t agree. He was still serving at 61% first serves which is high. Murray is simply a very good returner and didn’t allow Roger to dominate with his serve as much. It’s not like this is the first time it’s happened. We have seen what happens against the likes of Nadal and Del Potro who put pressure on his serve. In those instances his serve actually started to fall apart. That was not the case against Murray. You see, people still want to believe that every match Roger plays the match is on his racquet. Well he is not in his prime anymore and the competition has caught up. Yes, the match may be on his racquet on fast hard, grass, or indoors, but that is not the case on slow hard and clay anymore. Not against the very best anyway. But this is really a minor.

I would be a really greedy and unreasonable fan if I still expect Roger to dominate the very best on every surface out there. That wasn’t even the case in his prime! At 31 years of age he is still right up there with Djokovic and Murray. How can I possibly ask for more? I am 100% satisfied with Roger’s performance in Melbourne, and I mean that when I say it. Towards the end of last year Roger was struggling somewhat due to tiredness. He ended the year well however by beating Murray in London and losing to Djokovic in the final, after he was up breaks in both sets. Now there was a match which you could say the match was on his racquet. And why was that? You guessed it – the surface. I think Roger raised his level since then, which is what I was hoping for. He is at his best possible level right now, which I didn’t feel was the case there.

He is playing with more confidence and assurance. So I have very high hopes for 2013. Roger 3.0 is here to stay. And Roger 3.0 is right up there with Djokovic and Murray. Make no mistake about it. They won this round, as they should on a surface that suited them. In the clay season it will be interesting to see if Murray can match Roger. We know Djokovic is a tough customer on clay, although Roger beat him in 2011 in that epic French Open semi. On grass I still very much like Roger’s chances against Djokovic and Murray. Same thing on the faster hard courts of the North-American swing and indoors. I don’t think Roger will win Wimbledon again this year. I think it will be Djokovic or Murray. I think his best chance for a slam title this year will be at the US Open. I just have a good feeling about it.

Yes, I do believe Roger has another slam left in him. He is just too good a player still. I like to see his slam count end on an even number, and he has some unfinished business in New York. Then I guess I have to address the issue of Roger’s swearing at Murray in the fourth set tie break. I won’t spend much time on it because I don’t view it as a big deal. There was a shot from Roger that was close to the line and Murray sort of stopped to see if the lines person is gonna make a call. When the call didn’t come he resumed play. Roger then said ‘Fucking stop!’ or ‘You fucking stopped!’ to Murray after the point, to which Murray made a face that can be translated as ‘Oh, so that’s the way it’s gonna be’. As usual some people are pulling this way out of proportion. If this stops you from being a Fedfan I have news for you: You were never a Fedfan to begin with.

This is sport for crying out loud. Sport is just a modern version of war. In the old days in Rome their sport was watching gladiators kill each other for entertainment. And not long ago Mcenroe and Connors was at each other’s throats. As an ex tennis player myself I enjoyed the moment, even though I didn’t see it live. It worked for Roger anyway, as he won the tie break. If you want to whine about how players conduct themselves on court then go whine about Nadal. I assure you there there are a 100 more things to whine about. And if you want tennis players to be angels then you should find yourself another sport. Or stop following sport altogether. It goes with the territory. Ok I think I have said enough about that. As for the final tomorrow I think Djokovic will win. He is the king of plexicushion and I think he will tie Roger and Agassi at 4 Australian Open titles tomorrow.

Nothing is set in stone but I think he does everything just that little bit better than Murray. It has been a fantastic Australian Open and a fantastic one for Roger as well. I hope you guys enjoyed it as much as I did and I look forward to a good final. I don’t think it will match the Roger/Murray match in terms of entertainment but it will be interesting nonetheless. I will make another post after the final.

Highlights:

Presser: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2013-01-25/201301251359121946973.html

Australian Open QF: Federer Fends off Tsonga 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(4), 3-6, 6-3 to Make 10th Consecutive Semi

In my previous post I didn’t give Tsonga much of a chance in this match. I didn’t give him much of a chance to even win a set. But I failed to filter in Roger’s ‘off’ day. And the match against Tsonga was the perfect opportunity for just that. Don’t get me wrong. Tsonga played extremely well and he deserved to win two sets. But it just makes sense that Roger had to ‘sit this one out’. He played two unbelievable matches back to back and he needed to give JesusFed a rest. He will need him for two more matches if he is to win his 18th slam after all. So in hindsight this result was not surprising at all. Tsonga is a very dangerous player and if Roger was going to beat him in straights or four sets, then JesusFed had to be around. The important thing is that he progressed to the next round. Only the people who doesn’t know Roger will now claim he is beatable.

And that doesn’t matter in the least. In fact that is a good thing because he still stays under the radar. Since the beginning he wasn’t given much of a chance. Djokovic and Murray was considered bigger favorites, and that has worked out well for him. He doesn’t want to go into the Murray match as the favorite and then lose. He doesn’t need the added pressure. Murray has had it very easy thus far. He has had a cakewalk draw and that didn’t change in the quarters when he faced Chardy. He had another routine 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win and haven’t dropped a set thus far. This plays into Roger’s hands. Not only is Murray the favorite, but he has not been tested once. Roger on the other hand has had an unbelievably tough draw and was well tested against Tsonga. It’s similar to the match Djokovic had against Wawrinka.

A match like that is almost indispensable when you want to win the title. It gives a player confidence because they know they can trust themselves when the chips are down. I mentioned the Benneteau match at Wimbledon last year too and there was a good discussion about it. The match with Tsonga was not exactly that close but it didn’t need to be. Roger has been on such a roll that he didn’t need to be tested that thoroughly. So I think Roger’s preparation for the semis couldn’t possibly have been better. Murray on the other hand has a serious problem. He is about to face JesusFed(and you better believe he will show up), and he hasn’t even been pushed to four sets. But let me get back to the Tsonga match momentarily. The match stats were good but not spectacular. It reminded me a little of the Davydenko match.

That was another match where JesusFed took the day off. Having two ‘off’ days in a slam for Roger is enough. Federer 3.0 can play five matches in a slam at JesusFed level. Actually I have coined another term(Goderer) which is just above JesusFed level, and he may need to scale those heights if he is to beat Djokovic. But I don’t want to get too caught up in semantics. The point is Roger can’t/doesn’t have to play at his highest level throughout a slam. If ordinary Roger(which sounds absurd when referring to him) is good enough to get the job done, then there is no reason not to use that version of himself a couple of times during a slam. Against Tsonga Roger’s first serve percentage was 61%, which is comparatively low compared to his incredible serving of late. Crazy as that might sound. The winners outnumbered the unforced errors, but only by 2.

As for the break points it was a pretty poor 4/18 conversion rate(22%). Roger’s break point conversion rate has never been his strength, but you’re not gonna complain too much when he has won 17 slams. He creates so many break point opportunities anyway that it makes things look worse than it is. In the end it’s about breaking and winning, and Roger is good at that. When he played against Raonic he needed to have a high break point conversion rate because of Raonic’s serve, and all of a sudden he did. So I definitely don’t see the break point conversion rate as a problem. I’m not gonna go over this match set by set as I usually do. It’s too long and not Roger’s best level. I will however say that the key point was probably at 5-4 in the third set breaker where Roger hit a superb backhand down the line winner to get the mini break.

The third set was always going to be key after they split sets, and that shot won the breaker for him. At 2-1 in sets Roger was always going to be the favorite to win this. Tsonga came back to win the fourth set, but the writing was on the wall. Roger had match point on the Tsonga serve at 5-2 in the final set , but Tsonga saved it spectacularly. The result was unavoidable for Tsonga though. Roger sent him packing after a classic match point. When I say Roger was not at his best I don’t mean this was a disappointing match by any means. It was still a high quality and dramatic match. Something that I really liked about this match was Roger’s backhand. He hit some crackers off that side and at important moments as well. It was a nice embrace at the net from both players at the end of the match too.

When I was doing my previous post Ferrer had already advanced to the semis, but Djokovic still had to play against Berdych. I warned in my last post that the Wawrinka match doesn’t mean Djokovic is vulnerable, and he proceeded to double breadstick Berdych 6-1, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4. He now faces Ferrer and I can see only one result there. But I guess you never know. I kinda want Djokovic to win anyway so that Roger can have the opportunity of beating him in the final. But of course Roger has to get past Murray first. Murray won’t be an easy opponent but I predict a four set win for Roger. Again, nothing is certain, but I like Roger’s chances here. I just think he has been in unreal form and that he has too much fire power for Murray. With his serve, forehand, net play, defense, and variety, he may be unbeatable.

Even his backhand and returns can be a viewed as a weapon the way he has been playing of late. It is just a very intimidating scenario for any opponent to face. Murray has never beaten Roger in a slam in three attempts, which adds to the intimidation factor. Of course Murray is a different player these days, and the slowish hard courts do favor him, but I still like Roger’s chances very much. Roger also twice remarked in pressers that the courts is playing slightly faster, which is another positive. I actually think that the Murray match provides the ideal preparation for a possible final with Djokovic. They have similar games. Both have incredible defense, return of serve, and backhands. Djokovic is just slightly better in most departments. The game plan against Murray is pretty straight forward: Dominate with the serve, forehand, and net play.

Roger has been a model of consistency in these areas which is why I like his chances here. We have reached the business end of this slam folks. If Roger wants to win his 18th slam he most likely has to do so beating the two most difficult opponents in the world today. It is a mammoth task but one I believe Roger can complete. One match at a time though.

Good luck champ.

Highlights:

Presser: 

Presser: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2013-01-23/201301231358951306038.html