Federer Scores Phenomenal Win Over Djokovic in Dubai

Impressed yet? I am. Very. As much as I still believed in Roger I didn’t know he had a performance like this left in him. I have always said to you that I believe the game is still there. That it is a question of getting it together mentally. Of finding the pure hunger and desire to make good on the game that is still left. But no doubt there were times I doubted my own words. I thought Roger has good tennis left in him but not this good. I mean you expect that with age he declines. And no doubt he has. But this may be one of the best performances of his career. Yes it’s not a slam and it’s best of three but that was simply mind blowing tennis. Going into this match I definitely thought Djokovic was the favorite, although an upset is always possible. Probably Djokovic would win in three sets I thought.

So when in the first game the two played one of the best points of all time probably and Djokovic won it, I lost even more faith. Djokovic was serving and Roger looked like he was up for the fight, taking almost complete control of the point. But unbelievably Djokovic found a way back in and won it. I thought this dealt a mental blow to Roger, seeing how hard it was to win even one point. I mean Djokovic destroyed Bautista-Agut in the second round, and he looked in unbelievable form at the beginning of this match. He then broke Roger in the next game and surged ahead 3-0. This was looking all too familiar. To Roger’s credit he did well to limit the first set to one break and lose it 6-3. The turning point came in the second set. I think it was at 2-2 probably. I thought Djokovic was going to break for sure but Roger showed massive balls the way he held serve.

Then in the next game he went up 30-0 on the Djokovic serve, after which incredibly rain broke out. It was just a short desert shower though and the players actually stayed on the court while it passed. Roger came back and broke serve, and importantly he consolidated the break. Huge shift in the match. That little passage of play showed me how strong the desire for winning still was with Roger. I didn’t know if he was still that hungry. It changed the entire complexion of the match because from there on Roger made it look pretty routine, winning 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Are you kidding me? Making it look easy against peak Djokovic at age 32? I almost want to laugh. The guy is so good it’s unreal. I mean we have known that for a long time but he proves it again and again. His talents know no limits.

This is certainly the best I’ve seen Roger play since 2012. Maybe the best I’ve ever seen him play. I’ve always been very positive about Roger but this surprises even me. No doubt it doesn’t hurt to be healthy. Ever since Cincinnati last year Roger have been rebuilding after a dismal 2013, and now here in Dubai 2014 it comes full circle. In all honesty I did say on a few occasions that the lower you fall the higher you climb, and given how low 2013 went this performance proves my statement 100% correct. 2013 was the lowest Roger ever went, so it would only make sense that he went higher than ever in 2014. This performance had that kind of feel about it, crazy as that may sound. Since when does Roger beat peak Djokovic 6-2 in the third? Maybe the French Open 2011 performance matches this one but the final set was not 6-2.

It was 7-6. Of course the surface was very different. This is one of the fastest courts left on tour, and clearly it doesn’t hurt Roger when he faces the base line grinders on faster courts. I’ve said this countless time as well. He is the attacking player that takes the initiative so of course faster courts would help him. Just a shame the god damn ATP does nothing about the slow courts. Anyway this man is so talented he can probably beat the grinders on quicksand. 32-year old Roger is fighting a lone battle out there against the rest of the big 4 who are all young and base line grinders and he is still beating them on today’s slow conditions. Phenomenal. The head-to-head with Djokovic is now 17-15, instead of 16-16. So at least Roger stays in front in the head-to-head with one of his major rivals. Well we have waited a very long time for this performance and finally we have been delivered.

It was a long and arduous road but worth the wait. This is what makes it worth it to be a Fedfan. Roger doesn’t just make good on your hopes, he surpasses them. He breaks new ground. He wows you. Up until this point I still found it hard to make out where Roger’s next slam would come from. But after this performance I now firmly believe he can win another slam, and probably will. Just very exciting and inspiring stuff. I don’t want to go overboard here. I know this was just one match and consistency is the key, but I feel this match justifies my excitement. It really was a God-like performance. Roger now plays one of his difficult opponents in Berdych in the final. A sixth Dubai title is not a foregone conclusion, but I like Roger’s chances here. He is just in brutal form and if he plays anything close to the way he played against Djokovic he is a certain winner.

The man, the myth, the legend…

I think Roger will probably seize his chance here. It’s been a long title drought since Halle last year and he wants it bad. Never mind Berdych standing in his way. A sixth Dubai title would be another phenomenal achievement and give Roger some much needed ranking points as well. Berdych himself has been on a high of late, but my vote still goes to Roger. Well I hope you guys have really enjoyed this win from Roger and feel inspired like I do. This is for the ones who stayed true and kept believing during the hard times. I was just made aware again today of the enormous power of belief. Through all this time Roger kept believing despite countless naysayers and critics. He believed he had the game left and that is all that mattered. And we couldn’t have had a better demonstration of unrelenting belief when Roger came back from a set down for the first time against Djokovic today.

Belief conquers all.


Highlights with crazy point in first game: 

Better Quality:

Federer Sends Warning to Rivals in Dubai

If it’s not official by now then it is after this match: Federer means business in 2014. I caught up with this match when Stepanek was serving for the second set at 5-4 after having dropped the first set 6-2. I seem to have a knack for joining matches at the right time because that is really when the action began. Roger broke right back to level at 5-5 and at 6-6 I felt he was the obvious favorite to win the breaker. But Stepanek was playing some inspired tennis. He meant business himself. Stepanek is a talented player who can hang with the very best on a good day. And this was no doubt a good day. Stepanek won the breaker 7-4 to set up a decider. It was gonna be interesting to see Roger’s response. Breaking back in the second set was not enough. He had to dig even deeper. But Stepanek was about to make his task even harder.


He broke Roger in the second game after a sensational dive volley lob to set up break point. Just inspired tennis. But Roger was about to play some inspired tennis of his own when he broke Stepanek with a scintillating backhand return pass down the line. 2-1 Stepanek. Roger then struggled quite a bit to hold serve, upon which he broke Stepanek to love. He also got the insurance break to take a 5-2 lead, but there was one twist left in the tail of this entertaining match. Stepanek broke back and served to stay in the match at 5-3, but this time Roger closed the door on him. I thought it was a terrific display of mental strength and clutch tennis from Roger. After breaking back to stay in the second set, losing the tie break must have been a disappointment. But then he even got broken by Stepanek in the third set.

Then after all this he won five games consecutively to effectively put the match beyond Stepanek. I thought that showed great character and refusal to lie down. Like I said Stepanek was really on his game tonight, and to just go ahead and win five straight games after being a break down was something special. This was a high quality and entertaining match and I’m sure the crowd feels like they got their money’s worth. There was some particularly good net play. Stepanek is one of the best volleyers in the game and Roger is no slouch in the fore court either. In fact he outplayed Stepanek at the net wining 17/25 in that area while Stepanek won 14/27. So Roger continues his great net play on the volley-friendly Dubai courts. Roger also continued to surprise us with his break point conversion ratio which was 8/12.

Smilerer is back!

This is usually a sign that Roger is on the right path. We will see how it goes next against Rosol, who upset Tursunov in straight sets today. Rosol is another talented Czech who of course upset Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012. We know from that match that on a good day he can beat anyone. But if Roger continues in the vein of today he will be tough to beat. It’s about winning the important points and being clutch, which Roger seems to be doing well. It reminds of the beginning of 2012 where Roger 3.0 came to power with matches like the one against Stepanek. It really comes down to the mental side. Yes the body has to play along and certainly in 2013 it didn’t do so. But there has to be a desire and a hunger to win when the chips are down. Today was yet another performance that gave me hope that 2014 is going to be a very positive year for Roger.


How Important was the Australian Open Final in the GOAT Debate?

Since Roger is not playing today and I have some time on my hands I felt like pondering this question. Let me just make it clear that I don’t believe there can be a GOAT, but that it is OK to debate it. There is no harm in speculating. It is fun and interesting. I think without a GOAT debate tennis would not be as interesting. I think there is a pretty good argument for either Roger or Nadal to be the GOAT because this is clearly a very strong era for tennis and both these players could have achieved even more if they didn’t play in the same era. But like I said we will never quite know who is the GOAT. I was just wondering in terms of the Fedal GOAT debate what the effect of the Australian Open final of this year had. I would say a pretty drastic one. It was almost a foregone conclusion that Nadal would win the title after the departure of Djokovic.

He faced Djokovic’s conqueror in the final who he held a 12-0 head-to-head record against going into the final. No one gave Wawrinka much of a chance but he stepped up and played the match of his life which would have far reaching consequences. Not only did he step out of the shadow of his legendary compatriot and friend once and for all with his first slam title, but he stopped Nadal from almost certainly eclipsing his friend in terms of all time greatness. Not only would a second Australian Open title have given Nadal a second career slam(something Federer could never achieve), but it would have given much needed balance to the Nadal resume which is so dominated by his clay results. It would also have put him within just 3 slam titles of Federer’s all time record.

He threw a spanner in the works…

Given that Nadal basically holds a monopoly over the French Open, it surely would have been just a matter of time before he surpassed Federer. He may even have ended up with something in the region of 20 slam titles. But the Australian Open final was a double victory for the Swiss. Stan assured another slam title for the Swiss but he also gave his Swiss friend a chance in he GOAT debate. With his head-to-head record over Roger and the straight set beat down in the semi-finals, the second career slam would have already put Nadal ahead of Roger in the GOAT debate in the minds of some people. But thank God Stan threw a spanner in the works. Not only is it good for tennis but as a fan of Roger I definitely don’t want to see Nadal surpass his records. By beating Nadal in Melbourne Stan was also able to do something that Roger has not been able to do in 7 years.

My respect has dramatically increased for Stan in Melbourne as well. I always thought he was a bit weak in the mental department but he has showed he is anything but by defeating both Djokovic and Nadal to win a slam, a feat no one has ever been able to achieve. I definitely think he is a slam contender from here on, and it makes tennis more interesting. With Nadal losing in the final of Melbourne he slips to 13-6 in slam finals too, while Roger is 17-7. Another big game changer. Roger now clearly has the better record in slam finals, and that after Nadal was 10-2 at one stage. Clearly it is not getting any easier for Nadal to win slams. If only Nadal could be defeated in the French Open again that would be a big blow to him. Djokovic has been knocking for a while. Last year he came extremely close.

…and it caused another twist in the Fedal GOAT debate.

Can he make it happen this year? Or can Stan cause another shock upset? I still think Nadal will catch up with Roger, but it is now a lot less certain. You just know at the end of the day there is gonna be a lot of debate about these two. In the head-to-head Nadal is the better player but as far as overall records go Roger’s is by far more balanced and he is still ahead in many of them. For instance he was more dominant than Nadal who relied mostly on one surface for his dominance. He has many more weeks at number one. He has 6 Masters Cup titles while Nadal has none. He has the more balanced slam resume. I think if Nadal catches up with Roger in slam titles he will probably be recognized by most as the better player, because of the dominance in the head-to-head. So I think Stan has thrown Roger a lifeline here in the Fedal GOAT debate.

Now he needs to make it count and try to win that one more slam…