Should Federer Reinvent Himself in 2014?

Hi folks. I hope you are feeling better after reading my last post and that you realize by now that Roger’s loss is not the end of the world. I received a comment a couple of days ago asking me what I thought about Roger changing his racquet and strings, because it was something Brad Gilbert said Roger should consider. That got me thinking. Ever since Roger passed his prime people have always been coming up with changes Roger should make after a disappointing loss. And then when things are going well again they have nothing to say. Well that was just silly. Losses are a natural part of tennis, and it doesn’t always call for a change. That doesn’t mean that there isn’t place for change, which is why I’m making this post. Roger just lost for the first time in 9 years before the quarter finals of a slam. If there was ever a time to make a change it is probably now.

When things weren’t really going well for Roger he hired Paul Annacone, and it has been a successful partnership. That was a pretty big change and it paid off. I’ve been thinking about this equipment change idea as well as a different fitness routine which would focus on strengthening the upper body. Lets face it. The game has become very physical and Roger is often getting overpowered. Berdych is one player who routinely overpowers Roger and in recent times Murray overpowered Roger in Melbourne. Nadal also overpowers Roger with brute strength. There are more examples I’m sure, but I just named a few off the top of my head. Roger has never been the biggest hitter in the game. But he had more than enough power in his prime to keep any big hitter at bay. What made him such a tough opponent is that he stood on the base line and took the ball on the rise.

He played very fast and his opponents were under constant pressure. It was just another level from what they were used to, which is why Roger almost never lost in his prime. It was only when Nadal showed up and used brute strength and unbelievable speed, as well as a match up advantage that Roger’s aura was infiltrated. Roger was as close to perfect as a player could come, and it took something extraordinary to make him vulnerable. Ever since then Roger became slowly but surely more vulnerable. The other players that started beating him more regularly were the power hitters like Berdych, Soderling, and Tsonga. Del Potro also beat him in the US Open final. Roger hasn’t always struggled with these guys. He does hold winning head-to-heads over all of them, and pretty convincing ones too. It’s not just these guys though.

Murray and Nadal are both strong guys and I have seen them both overpower Roger. It is just that extra upper body strength that they have. Just good old muscle. I think if Roger is going to make any changes from here on one of them would have to be strengthening his upper body. You can see strengthening his upper body was never really a priority for Roger because he is pretty skinny up there. That is not to say he is weak in the upper body. Of course he did some work there, but because he was such a natural talent and great timer of the ball he didn’t strengthen it as much as Nadal or Murray for instance. These guys can really muscle the ball. I’m not saying Roger should muscle the ball. It’s not how he plays. He plays with talent and timing. But strengthening the upper body could just give him that little extra to be able to compete better with these guys.

The other thing is the equipment. Roger plays with a Wilson BLX Pro Staff 90 racquet which you can view here. The 90 stands for the racquet head size, which is 90 square inches. That is pretty small folks. This is not a racquet I would ever recommend for a club player. I played with one of the first Head Prestige frames early on as a player and it had a 90 sq in head as well. The sweet spot is small and it is not easy to play with. Later on I switched to the 98 sq in Head Prestige, and played with it until the end. Check out this article in the New York Times about the racquets of the top 3 men. It was written back in 2011 but as far as racquets go the top 3 hasn’t changed much at all. It’s a very interesting article which you should read. What is so interesting is that Roger, Nadal, and Djokovic all have a different playing style, and therefor each uses a different racquet tailored to their specific needs.

I find this all very interesting. Roger’s racquet places emphasis on control, Djokovic’s racquet on counter punching, and Nadal’s on spin as expected. With the 90 sq in racquet head you obviously have to have impeccable timing and hit the ball very cleanly, which Roger does. Djokovic and Nadal’s racquets are more forgiving, but then again they are not as talented as Roger. Djokovic doesn’t hit with an awful amount of spin. His backhand is quite flat actually. So for him it makes sense to have a racquet which gives both control and spin.   Roger hits with the least spin while Nadal hits with the post spin, and therefor are at the opposite ends of the spectrum. The more spin a racquet gives you the harder you can hit the ball, because the more spin you hit with the less the chance is that the ball will go out. On the other hand Nadal’s racquet provides the least control, which the spin makes up for.

Roger can afford to hit the ball flat because his racquet provides the most control. He plays with an eastern grip on both sides as well which means a more open racquet face on contact, with less probability of a mishit. Djokovic and Nadal have western grips on their forehands and needs bigger racquet heads because the racquet head is more closed on contact, and therefor it’s harder for them to hit the sweet spot. It’s all pretty scientific and interesting. I had to just figure it all out for myself again because I always thought of racquets in terms of power and control, but if you bring the spin factor in it all makes sense. Anyway we all know Roger have started struggling more with mishits after his prime. Not entirely sure what the reason is for it. It probably comes down to footwork. When Roger is not feeling it out there his footwork suffers, and as a result he gets more mishits.

It is really quite incredible how Roger can take the ball on the rise from the base line and get so few mishits in his prime. Agassi used to take the ball on the rise too but he played with something like a 110 square inch head, and therefor a much bigger sweet spot than Roger. Sampras played with and even smaller head than Roger, an 85 sq in. But of course Sampras didn’t take the ball on the rise from the base line. Sampras was even more fussy about change than Roger. He wanted everything exact and there was no room for experimentation. I think there were people calling for him to make equipment changes when he started struggling at the end of his career too, but there was no way he was gonna change. Only after retirement did he experiment with bigger head sizes. Roger is more adaptable than Sampras because he is more talented and versatile.

Therefor I think it may not be a bad idea for him to try a bigger racquet head. There is a 95 sq in version of the racquet he uses which you can see here. Dimitrov and Dolgopolov uses this racquet as well, and this is the racquet I want to get myself. I haven’t picked up a racquet in years, and if I can find a place where I can play regularly this is the racquet I’m thinking about getting. I think if Roger tried this racquet we would see less mishits from him. It’s just a slightly bigger sweet spot. Maybe he will lose some power but it won’t be a lot and by strengthening his upper body that won’t be a problem anyway. So these are the two thing I think Roger can experiment with; strengthening his upper body and playing with the slightly bigger head. Sampras was too set in his ways to experiment at the end, and who knows what a change in equipment could have done for him.

Roger is however more adaptable like I said and I think he can definitely afford to make these changes. He is getting towards the end of his career and losing before the quarter final of a slam for the first time in 9 years would be a good time to think about experimenting. And I’m willing to bet my house on it that you guys are all for it too. The good thing about changes is that it gives you kind of a new start. A clean slate as it were. A little boost. I think Roger could do with something like that right now. Maybe not at this instant though. It may be a better idea to wait until the end of the year when he has some time off again and then make the equipment change. As for the physical change he can start right away. It will take some time to strengthen his upper body anyway so he may as well start right away.

Then by the start of 2014 he will be bigger in the upper body and have a new racquet. In that way he can reinvent himself for the 2014 season. Changes can be good. In fact it is crucial if you want to keep being successful and happy. I personally like change. It is not always easy because you face the unknown, but remaining in your comfort zone is no way to live your life. I am currently going  through a change in my personal life and although there is uncertainty it is exciting and necessary. I think it may be time for Roger to reinvent himself. This could potentially add years and success to his tennis career. It is always dangerous to take refuge in the known and stagnate. That is when the problems begin. I realize Roger is not a player who muscles the ball and being stronger could mess with his rhythm, but the risk may be worth it.

Lets look at what the two changes that I suggested would do for Roger:

  1. Strengthening his upper body – It would allow him to feel less intimidated by the big hitters and powerful physiques like Berdych, Tsonga, Nadal, and Murray. And I am certainly not suggesting doping. The idea that you have to dope to become strong is a myth. With the proper work out routine at the gym and right diet you can build muscle fast. These players have routinely been hitting Roger off the court and it is time he did something about it. He is not too old and it is not too late. Muscle can be built by anyone at any time. The one thing about muscle is that it is heavy and increasing it will increase your weight. But Roger has always carried some weight around the midsection and he can turn that into muscle without gaining much weight. That way it won’t make him slower. How about a six pack?
  2. Changing his racquet to a 95 sq in head – This would reduce the amount of mishits for Roger and give him more consistency from the base line in a time when base line tennis has taken over the game. If Roger does become slower because of muscle gain in his upper body then the bigger racquet head will make up for it. In other words if he is not in position to hit the ball, the larger racquet head will be more forgiving and reduce mishits.

All of this will make Roger a more powerful and consistent player from the base line. And isn’t that what tennis has turned into? These days tennis is all about power and consistency from the base line. So in theory my suggestions make an awful lot of sense, if you don’t mind me saying so. Someone said in a comment in my last post that Roger should hire me, and I can’t say that I disagree with them. Changes are difficult because you don’t want to lose what you have gained. But sometimes in order to have something better you have to risk everything you have gained. Change is scary but we must all face it. If Roger makes these changes is could potentially cost him a slam title, but it could potentially make him gain two more as well. It is all about what you are willing to risk, and that is up to Roger. I just think this feels like a good time for some changes.

I was thinking of making a poll asking you whether Roger should reinvent himself for 2014 in the way I suggested, but knowing you you would all vote yes. So instead I’m gonna make a poll asking you whether you think I should become Roger’s personal advisor and motivator. That will be more fun and interesting. For me anyway. I will be able to see who voted what, but don’t let that put you off. Vote whatever you feel like voting. I don’t care either way. It’s not like Roger is gonna hire me. This is just for kicks!

Should Roger hire Ru-an as his personal advisor and motivator?

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Stakhovsky Breaks Federer Quarter Final Streak at Wimbledon During Eventful Day

Hi guys! It had to end didn’t it? I have a lot to cover here but I’m gonna try not to make this as long as my last post. First of all I watched the whole match so I know exactly what went down here. I know you guys are probably pretty disappointed but the first thing to realize is that the quarter final streak was going to end no matter what. It couldn’t be avoided. Roger was not going to retire while he still had a quarter final streak going at slams. It’s a bit of a shame that it had to end at Wimbledon, but the second thing to realize is that Stakhovsky played damn well and Roger was not disappointing. It would have been more disappointing if Roger played badly and he handed his opponent the match. That was not the case. It was far from prime Fed level but Roger has been struggling a bit all year. I was hoping after he won Halle he could make a strong run at Wimbledon.

Especially after Nadal lost. But you just have to give credit here to Stakhovsky who played a brilliant match and won 6-7(5), 7-6(5,) 7-5, 7-6(5). The disappointing thing for me from Roger’s side was that he dropped serve in the 3rd set and didn’t force the tie break at least. Also in the 4th set after Stakhovsky broke him he had a chance to break back right away with Stakhovsky clearly being nervous. He did break back afterwards but it just seemed like he was letting Stakhovsky off the hook at times. Stakhovsky was in the zone from the start. I don’t remember what I said in my last post, but I did write in a forum that this could potentially be a very difficult match for Roger because Stakhovsky is a talented player and plays well on grass, and that Roger better be focused. In hindsight it’s pretty ironic that I wrote that.

I never thought he would actually beat Roger because I haven’t heard much from him lately. I didn’t think he was in good form. But watching him play from the start I knew this could potentially be a tough match for Roger. Stakhovsky was serve-and-volleying and playing old school grass court tennis. That made it awkward for Roger. There just aren’t many players around today who does that. We know Roger is a good returner of big servers like Karlovic and Roddick. Stakhovsky doesn’t have a massive serve though, which may have made it harder for Roger to return well. Stakhovsky made a high percentage of first serves and backed it up really well with his volleys. He just kept the pressure on and kept asking Roger to come up with the passing shot. I don’t think Roger returned all that badly. I just think he didn’t play the key points well.

In a match as close as this it’s always about a few key points. In the first two sets Roger kept giving Stakhovsky chances but kept bailing himself out of trouble. But eventually Stakhovsky started taking his chances and it resulted in him wining the next two sets. I thought it was over when Roger did not break back in the 4th set. Stakhovsky clearly looked nervous and Roger was 40-15 on his serve. In one of the points he missed a sitter of a forehand. That kind of summed up the match for me. Roger just wasn’t sharp like he was last year. Something was missing. He missed too many of his trusted forehands for one. The match stats for Roger is good. He made 72% first serves and winners outnumbered unforced errors by 57-13. That should give you an idea of how well Stakhovsky played. But the stat that stood out was the 1/8 break points converted by Roger.

Like I said there was something missing and he just was not clutch. Roger at his best won these kind of matches against players who were in the zone because his own level was just so high, and the players couldn’t stay in the zone for the whole match. But you won’t beat a guy who is in the zone if you are not sharp and take your opportunities. That is what it comes down to. Roger saved a match point at 4-6 in the breaker but then disappointingly lost the next point on his own serve to get knocked out. I wasn’t very disappointed by this loss to be honest. It’s all about perspective. He made 36 consecutive slam quarter finals. Shattered when it ends? You got to be kidding me. The guy is 32 years old and comes off a year where he won Wimbledon for the 7th time and returned to #1 in the world. Then he says at the start of 2013 that this will be a transitional year for him and that his last realistic chance to win a slam is 2014.

I mean at 32 are people seriously gonna expect him to dominate every year after all the mileage he has on his body? Surely a big effort like 2012 is gonna take a lot out of him. Hence why he said 2013 is a transitional year. Roger knows himself extremely well. He knows his body and he can basically predict the future. Of course I was hoping after Nadal lost that Roger can go all the way. It’s natural. You are always gonna hope the best for your player. But more and more I am realizing that this is a transitional year and that Roger is gathering his strength for one more big run at a slam title in 2014. I have already said I’d like him to win a record 8th Wimbledon title. It’s no secret. It’s gonna be hard but I think he can do it. I’d like to see one final hurrah. A crowning achievement. A cherry on top. Only because Roger has had such a fairy tale career.

It would just be fitting. But of course it may not happen so we have to be prepared for that as well. It’s been an amazing career no matter what. Lets face it. It would just be awesome if Roger won one more slam to prove the critics wrong one last time and kind of underline his GOATness. I still have hope for the US Open. I’m not gonna give up on his chances. Montreal is next and then Cincinnati. Losing this early at Wimbledon means more rest for Roger and time to work on some things in his game. I can see him having good results until the end of the year. It is a good time for the year for him and he will be rested. So the streak is over at 36 folks but do not despair. It has been an incredible run and it will probably never be beaten. The previous record was held by Connors at 27 and Roger obliterated that record.

This streak could have ended many times before if you take into consideration the following:

  • In the 140 matches that constitutes the streak Roger trailed by 2 sets to 1 on 6 occasions.
  • In 14 matches he lost the 1st set.
  • In 4 matches he lost the first 2 sets.
  • One time against Tipsarevic he was pushed to 10-8 in the 5th set(More stats).

You just have to go back to last year at Wimbledon when Roger played Benneteau and was within 2 points of defeat on 6 occasions in the 4th set, and Roger won the 4th set 8-6 in the tie break. So already last year it was close to ending. I am reminded of the match against Fella in the 1st round of Wimbledon 2010 too, where Roger lost the first 2 sets and won the 4th set in a tie break too. It was bound to happen. I was hoping Roger could come through this match and that it could be a confidence booster like the match against Benneteau last year. But it wasn’t to be and I don’t have regrets. In a way this works out for me because I have some stuff to take care of in my personal life and I didn’t wana miss the tennis if Roger was still in the tournament. As I said in the title, today was an eventful day at Wimbledon.

The reason for that was that so many players withdrew due to injury, and of course the fact that Roger lost. It was strange that so many players got inured because the organizers maintained that they did not make any changes to the grass. Just a freak occurrence I guess. Darcis, Isner, Stepanek, Tsonga, and Cilic all either gave the opponent a walk over or retired mid match. It also came out that Darcis already got injured in the 1st set of his match against Nadal, and then here uncle Toni admitted that Nadal’s knees weren’t any worse at Wimbledon than it was when he won the French Open. That was kind of funny because Nadal is usually the one with an injury excuse when he loses, but this time his 135th ranked opponent was injured while beating him in straight sets. Anyway it was sad to see that Darcis couldn’t play after he played so well in the 1st round.

The 3rd quarter of the draw is wide open now, and Hewitt lost against Brown as well. The media was already hyping up a Fedal quarter final before the tournament even started, and neither of them made it past the 2nd round. That is tennis for you. Murray should come through the bottom half now, with Gulbis probably his biggest threat after he was leading Tsonga 2 sets to 1 today before Tsonga retired. I’m not awfully interested in what happens at Wimbledon from here on. The first thing I wanted was for Nadal not to win the title. The second was for Roger to win it. Neither is happening so I don’t care what happens from here on. Murray is still the favorite for me as I’ve been saying for some time now. This is kind of like Miami now where Fedal did not play. Maybe we will see another big upset for Haas over Djokovic.

There are many players now who has a chance to make a big impact and a name for themselves. Dimitrov is still in it as well and I hope he can make semis or something. I don’t think Ferrer will make semis in his half. Either way he is moving up the rankings to a career high #3 after Wimbledon, while Roger will fall out of the top 5 for the first time in 10 years. I’m not concerned about that because Roger is still better than Ferrer and will surely pass him again. It has not been a good year for Roger but I still consider him as a top 4 player, and I can see him winning another slam. He just needs to gather his powers for one last big push and of course the draw and other things have to fall into place as well. Roger was calm and collected as usual in his post match pressure and said there was no reason to panic.

And it makes perfect sense. Why panic after you lose before the quarter finals in 36 goes? It had to happen at some point. Now you just go back to work and come back stronger next time. Simple as that. Roger also said he has plans to play for many more year to come. And why not?! There is no reason at all to quit now. He is still having fun and has chances to do big things. I’d love for him to win a slam in 2014 and play until the 2016 Olympics. Lots to look forward to!

Highlights:

Presser: http://www.tennischannel.com/video/videoplayer.aspx?embedcode=53Y2t1YzrS2ABSCj7fVg4ENCOXM8upGR&lid=1&

Federer Starts Wimbledon in Impressive Fashion, Nadal Eliminated in 1st Round!!!

Wow. What a 1st day that was! Mind-blowing stuff. First Roger puts on a masterclass over Hanescu and then Nadal gets destroyed by Darcis! It doesn’t get any better than that folks. I wasn’t able to watch Roger’s match but I did catch the whole of Nadal’s match against Darcis. The highlights from Roger’s match was not made available in the US either so I won’t be able to comment much on it. All I know from what I’ve read in the forums and the match stats is that Roger played really well, which was great to see this morning. Roger made 70% first serves, hit 7 aces, won 21/25 points at the net, converted 6/8 break points, hit 32 winners, and made only 6 unforced errors in his 6-3, 6-2, 6-0 win over Hanescu. Granted this is just Hanescu, but still a very confident start and just what was needed. The Halle title clearly boosted Roger’s confidence.

As the defending champ Roger opened proceedings on center court today and Nadal still had to play his match after Roger was finished. So Roger was playing well regardless of whether Nadal was still in the draw. He has been very positive in his pressers and I really don’t think the fact that Nadal was in his quarter affected him. And rightly so because there was still a long way to go and he had no reason to be afraid of Nadal on grass. In my last post I mentioned Nadal could be upset before the quarters. I didn’t know much about Darcis so I didn’t entertain the possibility that he could upset Nadal. But given the fact that Nadal has made all the finals of the last 9 events he played, and looking more vulnerable than ever at the French Open, this loss shouldn’t come as totally unexpected like the one against Soderling at the French Open did.

Last year Nadal was also pushed in the French Open final by Djokovic and he ended up losing to Rosol in the 2nd round of Wimbledon. You had the feeling that he was almost relieved to win the French Open after all the beatings he took at the hands of Djokovic. Djokovic has done serious damage to Nadal. Make no mistake about it. He is not the player he was before all those beatings from Djokovic. You just feel like Nadal’s dominance outside of clay is slipping fast. He still dominated the clay court season, but only marginally. Djokovic is pushing him around on clay too. So it takes more out of him to dominate on clay and he feels more vulnerable outside of it. This is now the second year running that he gets eliminated before the 3rd round. I find it funny how people made Nadal the favorite for Wimbledon this year.

I mean 9/9 finals since his return on apparently fragile knees. Who plays that much? Something had to give. Of course I thought he was a possible danger at Wimbledon too, but the possibility of an early upset was always there. Clearly Nadal still hasn’t learned how to schedule properly. Even Nadal, who seems to have limitless physical powers, can’t keep grinding it out forever. Today he got straight setted 7-6(4), 7-6(8), 6-4 by world #110 in the 1st round of his 2nd favorite slam. And again it underscores the one-dimensional nature of his game. This match was great entertainment. Darcis is a pretty short guy, but he has a good all round game. Definitely a talented player, like most Belgians are. He was just ripping the ball out there and playing freely. He also has a very good slice. But maybe the most interesting thing is that he has a one-handed backhand.

Usually Nadal can exploit the one-handed backhands, but Darcis’ backhand held up extremely well. I was really impressed with it. The fact that it is grass and it is still the first week doesn’t hurt of course. The ball stays lower and the bounce is even. The main thing for Darcis was to keep it together mentally. In the first set he had a ridiculous amount of break points but could not convert. Darcis then finally broke serve at 5-5, but Nadal broke right back to force a tie break. Darcis did well to win the tie break, but of course it was far from over. In the second set Darcis kept up his good play but this time it was him who got broken at 5-5. He managed to break back as well and forced another tie break. Darcis was up 6-3 but Nadal broke back and evened things up. This was a crucial stage in the match and I thought Darcis was about to choke, but he stayed mentally strong and won the 2nd set.

It still wasn’t over, but after Nadal’s early exit last year you felt it just might happen again. And when Darcis broke serve at the start of the 3rd set it was becoming a very real possibility. Darcis served for the match at 5-4 and played a terrific game for a spectacular victory. Nadal badly needed to win this Wimbledon to stay in touch with Roger’s slam record and he failed miserably. I think the GOAT debate is over. Nadal has lost before the 3rd round of his 2nd favorite slam in the last 2 years. It was unbelievable how he went on a tear of 7/9 titles since his comeback, but all of a sudden it becomes clear how he has declined. Djokovic basically ripped Nadal’s heart out over a 12 month period from Indian Wells 2011 to the Australian Open of 2012. In this period he defeated him in 7 consecutive finals, including 3 slam finals, and threatened his clay dominance.

GOAT serve

Was it not for some luck going Nadal’s way in Paris, Djokovic would have shattered his clay dominance as well this year. That could have been Nadal’s last slam title. Probably not but it’s not impossible either. It’s hard to see him being a threat at a hard court slam with the state of his knees and with Djokovic, Murray, and Roger who will all stand in his way. It’s equally hard to see him win Wimbledon now. The clay court season is taking more out of him than in the past and by the time Wimbledon swings around he seems burned out. The only slam I see him winning still is of course the French Open, and I think Djokovic is coming very close indeed to slaying the monster there. I can easily see Djokovic winning the French Open in 2014 and Nadal winning no slams. In 2015 he will be pushing 29 and his body will break down even more.

One wonders what will be his next move after this loss. During the match he was grabbing his knee and ran around his backhand because it was hurting his knee to hit a backhand, but it’s always hard to know with Nadal. Didn’t he just win the French Open where he chased down balls like Superman? Then he skipped Halle to take a 2 week break. Why would he be injured in the 1st round of Wimbledon? But lets say he was injured, then why didn’t he play less since his comeback? He could have at least skipped Barcelona during the clay court season, but instead he plays every event he could squash into his schedule. So in the end if he is actually injured, then once again it is because of bad scheduling. He never learns. Will he take another 8 months off the tour now? Probably not. He will probably make the best he can of the rest of the season.

It’s not exactly his favorite part of the season though. My last prediction was that he could probably win 2 more French Opens, and then I started thinking he can chase down Roger’s record. Things change fast in tennis. So we probably shouldn’t be too quick to make judgments. I guess I’ll stick to my original prediction that he can win 2 more French Opens, but even that isn’t sure anymore. At 27 the years of grinding must start to take its toll. It is just inevitable. He will be back next year for the clay season and be a threat as always. Maybe if he plays a reduced schedule from now on he can stay injury free. Clearly he needs to try and avoid hard court. Whatever the case may be things aren’t looking great for Nadal at this point, and his last chance to catch up with Roger most probably just slipped away.

It’s a glorious day. I have always enjoyed Nadal’s losses immensely and I am not afraid to admit it. I guess it’s the competitor in me. And of course being a Fedfan this feels like sweet justice. Nadal has done a lot of damage to Roger in his career and it is clear now that Djokovic has done the same to Nadal. And I for one am just loving these early round exits from Nadal. Especially at Wimbledon which is the sacred grounds of tennis, and which Nadal has made ugly with his ugly base line game and gamesmanship. He even went as far as to criticize past Wimbledon greats like Sampras and Ivanisevic, calling their game styles ‘not really tennis’. He doesn’t respect past greats and tradition, and he felt like a dark cloud hanging over Wimbledon. So I feel like today was Nadal’s karma and Wimbledon has been liberated.

The loss to Rosol hurt Nadal, but this one against Darcis destroyed him. I always thought it was such a shame that Nadal won Wimbledon in 2008. Roger was still recovering from mono and was never even took the lead in that final. I think that match is highly overrated and had Roger not contracted mono at the start of the season, he would have beaten Nadal. Nadal, the eternal opportunist, saw his chance and took it with both hands. Then his other title came against a pathetic Berdych in the final. Nadal not only took advantage of sick and useless players, but he also took advantage of something which could be referred to as ‘green clay’. He has always been vulnerable in the first week of Wimbledon when the grass was not warn out yet, and in the last 2 years he couldn’t even beat journeymen on it.

Imagine what would have happened to him on 90’s grass which was much faster and lower bouncing. But ok Nadal won his titles fair and square. I’m just glad it’s over. As for Roger it’s not over. I can see him winning an 8th Wimbledon title. I have already said that would be the ultimate. In the past I wanted him to win one more US Open to get the record there, but that was before he equaled Sampras’ record at Wimbledon. I now want more than anything for him to get that Wimbledon record, and it already feels like it’s written in the stars. And at the same time it feels like I am getting very greedy. Do we dare ask for one more slam, a slam that would be the crowning glory and establish Roger once and for all as the undisputed GOAT? It just seems so peRFect. The greatest player ever winning the most titles ever at the most important tournament ever.

Loving the colored soles. Nice touch.

I don’t think it’s asking too much. I think it’s asking destiny to fulfill itself. It just seems right somehow. But of course it is important not to become attached to the outcome. It is still gonna be very difficult. Will it happen this year? Not necessarily but the sooner the better. It would also be fitting if Roger does it right after Nadal won an 8th French Open. I think the departure of Nadal does take some pressure off Roger. Whether Roger was excited about playing Nadal or not, the idea of having to face his nemesis as early as the quarter finals does add pressure. Now that Nadal is a goner he can just relax a little and maybe play a little more freely. Not that he didn’t look relaxed against Hanescu. The draw is just a little less daunting now. Instead of having to beat the 3 toughest opponents in the world to win the title, it is now only 2.

Having to beat Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic in succession is a near impossible task. I don’t think it’s ever been done. At least now the task is possible, all be it still very difficult. Roger beat Djokovic and Murray in succession last year to win the title, so he knows he can do it. Of the two players Murray is the biggest obstacle, as Roger admitted himself. But as usual I am getting way ahead of myself. I am just delighted with Roger’s form today and the fact that Nadal lost. I said in my last post I would be satisfied if Nadal did not win the tournament. Never did I imagine that wish would be granted so early. So I am a happy camper. But seeing that Nadal is out and Roger is looking ready to rumble, I am of course gonna hope for more. Right now I just want to take it one match at a time and enjoy all of it. Anything can still happen, as we were reminded today.

Next for Roger is Stakhovsky. They have played once before at Dubai in 2011. Roger won 6-3, 6-4. Stakhovsky is a pretty talented player who can do some damage on a good day, but I don’t see him being a serious threat for Roger as long as Roger keeps his good run of form going. Elsewhere in the bottom half Murray won easily over Becker and is still looking like a big threat. It was also good to see Hewitt who is from Roger’s prime era having a straight set win over Stan. He still has great intensity and loves playing at Wimbledon. A Hewitt/Roger quarter final is not out of the question. Hewitt struggles to go deep in slams these days but I think he will get past Brown in the next round. Then probably Isner who would be his toughest test. I’m not sure who will make the 4th round in Nadal’s bracket. Probably Darcis or Paire, and Hewitt could beat either of them.

Or who knows, Darcis could continue his impressive run and make the quarters. So it’s probably between Hewitt, Isner, Paire, and Darcis concerning who Roger will face in the quarters if he gets that far. I’d love for it to be Hewitt. Isner could be difficult although Roger handles big servers well. Paire or Darcis won’t be much of a threat. The quarter finals is still a long way to go. I just thought a Federer/Hewitt quarter final would be awesome. Anyway it’s nice to see players like Hewitt and Haas from Roger’s prime era still flying the flag. Well this post has become awfully long. I am having so much fun writing it that I hardly noticed. This is one of the longest posts I have ever written, never mind in recent times. I hope you didn’t get bored. I haven’t had this kind of time to blog in the last year and I miss it. Guess I am making up for lost time!

This Wimbledon has started off in the best way possible and I intend to enjoy every moment of it. I have a good feeling folks. I am starting to think Roger has a real chance here. But of course there is still a long way to go. I just like the energy that Roger has brought to the 2nd part of the season and Wimbledon. It bodes well for the rest of Wimbledon and the season.  Wimbledon is also special and brings something extra out of Roger. I am now more excited about this Wimbledon than ever and I am gonna try my hardest to watch all of it and keep you guys updated. As always, one match at a time!

Highlights(I finally found some!): 

Stroke of genius:

Pre-Wimbledon presser: http://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/news/interviews/2013-06-23/201306231372007073991.html

‘For me it’s great to be back here with a shot at defending my title 10 years on, but it’s gone by in a heartbeat it seems.

‘There has to be some anxiety, the drive to achieve great things.

‘I’m not here to get to the third round, I’m here to do exceptional stuff and make the latest stages of the tournament, going through incredible atmospheres out on Centre Court. – RF