Abu Dhabi 3rd Place Playoff: Nadal def Federer 6-1, 7-5

Well another pretty convincing defeat for the GOAT. Can we make a better conclusion now? Maybe. But that is a big maybe. We can say that Roger is not looking good at the start of the year as I’m sure many would say now. But it was obvious to me that he just didn’t care much. We are talking about the best grand slams player of all time here. And it kind of make sense that the best grand slam player of all time would be the worst exho player as well. I mean grand slams are what drives Roger. He lives for that big moment. So for me his poor performance in the exhos is a good thing if anything. It shows me that he is leaving his best for the slams. Am I over confident? Maybe. But like I explained in my previous post, I prefer Roger flies under the radar these days. This year he had his worst performances in slams when he was the favorite.

There was much expected of him at the Australian Open and Wimbledon this year, but he put in poor performances. At the French Open and the US Open he went in not looking very confident at all, and he played very well in those slams. So judging by recent times I think Roger actually does better when he is written off. That has been sort of the theme of the latter part of his career. Whereas he liked being the favorite and dominating in his prime, he now likes flying under the radar and surprising people. That is the way I like it too. I know there are some Fedfans out there who still believes or hopes that Roger can dominate tennis again, but to me that is just not very realistic. I also realize there were hopes that he can win two slams and reclaim the number one ranking this year, but I am not focused on those things.

If they happen it is just a bonus for me. But if Roger just wins one slam this year I’d be more than happy. He cannot play at JesusFed level all the time anymore. That is just a fact. So he needs to leave his best for the slams. Therefor I’d rather he doesn’t play that well outside of the slams and bring his best for when it really matters. He just has to play at JesusFed level in one slam, have some luck, and he has number 17 in the bag. Next for Roger is Doha. I don’t really know what to expect but judging from the exho, he probably won’t win it like he did last year. And once again I’m fine with that. I don’t want him to win Doha like this year and then go into Melbourne and basically stink up the place. I’d rather he surprise me. In the final Djokovic destroyed Ferrer 6-2, 6-1 today as I expected.

I think we can tell a bit more from this match. I think Djokovic is looking good and will be hard to stop from winning a third title in Melbourne. It is his favorite slam and he is just very difficult to handle on the slowish hard courts of Melbourne. If Djokovic is the favorite then there is no pressure on Roger either, and he can just play relaxed if he faces Djokovic and possibly cause the upset.

Happy new year everyone!

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33 Comments

  1. Hi Ru-an, good blog, again accept for the Roger stinking up the place at AO, just a little rough. At this point i’m not getting my hopes up but always hope for the best. Like you said if JesusFed shows up we may see him take anothe Slam and that would be wonderful. Reaching number one again isn’t going to happen unless Nole, for whatever reason, isn’t playing. Novak is too powerful now and will probably dominate again until end of season when his tank is empty again.Read today that Lendl is going to coach Murray, good for Murray but not Roger. If Lendl gets Murrays head together he might finally get a slam. Nadal says he is working hard to get back to number one but im not sure he can do it. Just going to sit back and cheer Roger on. I really think he has alot left to give and tournaments to win. Wishing you Ru-an and all a Good New Year filled with love, health and some happiness. Roger Federer Forever……..

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Susan. Stinking up the place may have been a bit harsh, but I meant in terms of what was expected and his own high standards. He still made the semi’s but I personally was not convinced about his performance. Thank you for the well wishes. I wish you all the best as well!

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    booya719 Reply:

    I feel Roger’s performance was very good in the AO SF with Djokovic last year. I’m not sure why you felt it was so horrible. It was very close and could have gone either way. I’d rather see Roger try hard for the entire match like he did in Australia for 3 sets.

    At Wimbledon, Roger tried hard for 2 sets and then did not put any extra effort into closing the match out against Tsonga.

    At the US Open, he tried hard for 2 sets, and then pretty much quit playing for 2 sets. He tried again in the 5th and ended up blowing match points to still find a way to lose, which to me is a far worse outcome than just losing outright when you tried hard the whole match. Roger did not try hard for this entire match – he only tried hard in 3 of the 5 sets which was not enough to win.

    Feel free to disagree but in my opinion Federer’s best performance of the 3 non-clay slams was in Australia for the simple fact that he tried hard and was in every set for the whole match with Djokovic even though he lost in 3. He lost 7-6, 7-5, 6-4. You usually make it sound as though he lost 6-2,
    6-1, 6-2 or some such.

    It could have easily been Federer leading 7-6, 6-3, 4-4 and two games away from victory with a difference of a few key points here and there. And I feel the way Roger was trying hard I feel he would have won with a bit more luck.

    At Wimbledon there was no such feeling that he could win…he had no chance at all vs Tsonga in the final 3 sets and did not muster any sign of winning the match. He surrendered the break early in each set as the wheels fell off and he really showed no signs of life in that match.

    There was much more fight and more effort from Roger in the Australian Open match. I definitely value this even though he lost.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I think it comes down to opinion booya. I just felt Roger was not looking good from early one when he almost lost to Simon, and then dropped a set to Robredo. Especially after his performance in 2010 there. But it could have been that the courts were slowed down even more. Obviously Djokovic was playing very well, but losing in straight sets is still losing in straight sets. You had the feeling if he won a set he still would have no chance of winning the match. He was basically shut out by Djokovic. That is not something that often happens to Roger in a slam, if ever. When he lost to Tsonga at Wimby he was at least leading 2 sets to 0. At the French he lost on the close four setter to Nadal and had a lot of chances. At the US Open he was within one point of beating Djokovic again. I was disappointed by the AO performance.

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    booya719 Reply:

    I’ll disagree until the cows come home. Getting through the draw is what matters. Roger was playing great tennis against Simon. He lost a couple sets to Simon because Simon was good. When it got to a 5th set Roger found that extra step and shut Simon down. That’s what he didn’t do in the Tsonga and Djokovic matches at Wimbledon and the US Open. Therefore in my books Roger’s effort in Australia was better.

    I feel you’re vastly under-estimating Simon and not giving him the credit he is due. When Simon is on his game in top form like he was in Australia he can beat anybody. Also just because Roger lost a set to Robredo doesn’t mean he was not playing well in Australia. He lost sets to other guys in other slams as well. I’d rather see Roger get through clutch situations and be tested before the SFs. The Simon match was good for Roger and helped him better prepare for the SF.

    Federer’s direct performances against Djokovic in SFs are what count the most however. He played a solid match in that SF from start to finish. If he had won a set with some better luck it could have easily gone to a 5th set the way he was playing. There was always a feeling that Federer could have won that match until the final point was played.

    He did not let down or drop his level at any moment in the match. He got unlucky on a few points and the bounces favored Djokovic on key points. Personally I would rather see Roger try hard for the entire match like he did in the Australian Open SF, instead of quitting his effort halfways through like he did in the US Open SF. There’s no point debating it any further though.

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  2. I don’t recall fed ever playing with a watch on(maybe I never noticed it before). If it really is so, then doesn’t it show that fed didn’t really care much?
    It’s also possible that fed was trying to a get a feel of his new racket. Although, I’m not too sure if there really is any difference between the new and the old one. Do you have any idea about this?
    Most likely, I’m just trying to make up ways to believe that he didn’t really play as badly as it looked.
    On another note, I didn’t think Rafa’s injury was bothering him too much. Nole is definitely still the best on the tour, and most likely going to win AO. Hopefully, fed doesn’t meet him till the final

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    marron Reply:

    Playing with the watch on is typical for Fed at exhos – this ‘loss’ didn’t mean anything as far as I’m concerned. He had a good time, got to greet the fans, spend some time in Abu Dhabi, and gain some $ for his foundation, plus play some tennis and feel out his game. Impossible to judge his form by this performance.

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  3. “The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.
    Surely some revelation is at hand;
    Surely the Second Coming is at hand…”
    Sure, we don’t know when, where and how it will be, but we’re all looking forward to it…and we want to be ready when this moment arrives.

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  4. Happy New Year, Ru-an and all Fedfans!

    This was the expected result, Nadal will always go all-out against Federer and if Federer is off his game it may end badly. Nadal’s game is simple and ultra-consistent, Federer’s game is complex and high-risk and there’s more chance of him making mistakes.

    In exhos Federer sometimes experiments and tries new tactics he wouldn’t risk in a tour match. Add that to the rust he acquired after a month off, not surprising he might look a shaky.

    I hope for a solid performance at Doha, in order to get more matches. He has a very good chance at AO, and like most I see Djokovic as his biggest obstacle (though Nadal is of course always very difficult for Federer to beat).

    Nadal’s win shows that his “injury” was BS, as usual. He was walloping the ball today with something close to his customary brio. He probably will not be in-form at Doha, but Super Nadal will return at AO. After Nadal lost two straight major finals to Djokovic, his team is surely desperate to take any chance to add to his Grand Slam total.

    I am one of those optimists who thinks that Federer can dominate again. But the first step is AO. For Federer, winning begets winning and it would be huge to get the first major of the year under his belt.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Steve, as always i like your optimism. That is after all the Federer way.

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  5. I’m still not worried about Fed looking lackluster in this exho. When the meaningful matches come, he will be the Roger we all know and love, and that is almost guaranteed. He has a tough draw in Doha with Davydenko in the first round, but maybe a solid win over Davy will be a great thing for him. Even if he doesn’t win, Doha will be key for his AO prep, much like Abu Dhabi was for Nole.
    Also, I think you are a little harsh on Roger’s performance in last year’s AO. He played some great tennis throughout the entire tournament and played decent enough in the semis. He just rain into an extremely confident Djokovic and had we known that he was going to be so great in 2011 we probably would have predicted it.

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  6. The Second Coming—nice touch, Wilfried…. Okay, these meaningless practice sessions are now over, and Roger is definitely a bit rusty. I will be a bit concerned if this sloppy trend continues at Doha. My sense is that Roger will buckle down now, and maybe even win this little tournament. I also think many of you are over-estimating the Djoker’s form—these exhibitions mean absolutely nothing! For all you know, his shoulder injury will flare up again after a few Australian Open matches. My intuition tells me the Serb will have great difficulty defending all those points next year, and that his arduous style of play will wreck havoc with his body much sooner than it did in 2011.

    [Reply]

    Veronica Lee Reply:

    Silly games and goofying around the courts are Roger’s favourite past times. And it is one of the reasons we love him so much. But, like you, Balthazar, I will be concerned too if he doesn’t buckle up in Doha. It’s really good that majority of you are very positive about Roger’s chances and not overly concerned about these silly exhos. Let’s keep our chins up for him. I don’t agree about Djoko slowing down though. But I hope, really hope, he does.

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    Dave Reply:

    I agree, I think the Serb is going to have a very difficult year defending all the those points. I’ll bet anyone that Novak will bow out of a slam final this year and blame it on a recurring injury. I know people want Novak to do well so Nadal gets owned again but I want both Novak and Nadal both to fall and Federer to go to the top.This exho. doesn’t mean anything as far as Roger is concerned. Federer will dominate this year!

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    Veronica Lee Reply:

    OK, Dave, I wanna be cheeky. I’m taking up your bet. I bet Djoko will make it fine in every slam final he enters in 2012! But I don’t want an egg for every slam!!!!!!! Please,Fed,JUST.DESTROY.HIM.PLEASE!

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  7. Good post, Ru-an, this one and the previous one. I like your optimism. I don’t think you are harsh about Roger stinking up the court in AO last year. Why you say that is, maybe, I think because of the expectations we have of him; we were so confident of his form that when he couldn’t quite bring it on in Melbourne, we were so very deeply disappointed, we felt he stank. I was right up there expecting great things from him and was left hanging; so, everything stinks! Lol! So, Ru-an, I’m going to take your advice : don’t have too high expectations (even if Fed goes on consecutive JesusFed mode matches), then I don’t have to deal with the awful pain of being thrown back to earth. Although I want to be positive this year and I still tip him to win AO2012, I will not have high expectations (does that make sense?!) Happy New year Ru-an and all you lovely people here! May 2012 bring us lots of happy Fed moments! Ru-an, may 2012 be a breakthrough year for you, bringing you joy, peace, friends and meaningful success in all that you do!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Veronica, you are too sweet :-) I need to have a breakthrough year. I have become too isolated and closed off. And you are right about having the expectations for Roger at the AO last year. That’s why this year I am definitely lowering my expectations and hoping Roger can surprise me. I wish you everything that is beautiful in the new year.

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  8. i admot i am concerned with Fed’s performance this weekend. he looked slow, heavy and indifferent. certainly not ready for the challenges ahead. i hope you’re right and it is just rust, and the fact that it is hard to face 2 of the worlds best players on your fisrt appearance after a month off.
    keeping my fingers crossed. dont care so much about doha, he just needs to use this event to get the rythem back and show up for the big stage at AO.
    i wish all of us a great 2012, full of Fed-joy and Slams trophies. and a gold medal!!

    [Reply]

  9. hi ru-an,

    I’ve loved your postings, been negative in the past, but I do find a little consolation here. I think Roger must be thinking at this very moment, ‘what the hell am i up against’ and seriously analyzing every facet of his game.

    I read something about a new racket roger is trying right now…if it is true, then we are in trouble. If it is not true, then I think that Roger must just be in some kind of post end-of-the-year joy and probably was not taking this tourney too seriously. I cannot see that Roger’s season will be in a decline as equivalent to the absolutely terrible performances in this tournament – if it is, then Roger will win not a single tournament. I have always had a feeling that Roger plays a more psychological game than any other player on tour and sometimes uses matches to test some new methods and theories. I believe he has done so in this tournament. I believe somehow that his lackluster performance in this tournament is somehow going to work negatively against both Djoko and Nadal because they think they will be able to steamroll Roger. I do not believe that is true. There is no way in the world that in a matter of one single month Roger’s game has declined equivalently to what these performances show. If that were true, we should assume that Roger won’t be able to get past the third round in any major tourney or Masters tourney because he is going to have to face Djoko or Nadal at those levels.

    I really, truly believe that this tourney was a mix of some new tactical tests and some new thinking about his equipment and fitness. His first serve percentange last year was better than ever (first serve won) and his last year was his best season ending ever, so I cannot believe that he is going to decline so quickly as to believe he is a mere top 100 player.

    I believe there is something else going on here, something far more psychological, deeper than we all know.

    I have faith, strangely, because in the past of his various ‘declines’, I have lost faith. I do believe Roger will win at least 2 of 4 slams if not all four. Mark my words that the French Open will be one of Roger’s bright points. Though Nadal is the GOAT on clay, Roger’s natural, true, youthful surface is clay and I do firmly believe that he will win a second FO this year.

    [Reply]

    Veronica Lee Reply:

    Very well said, Mark. Like you, I also find his poor performances really puzzling. He can’t just dip after being in such fine form just a month ago. And like you, I suspect there’s something deeper than what we see. While it could be the new racket or he is trying out things, I really hope it is not physical – that he has some injury or he is sick; because, as Feddybear say, he is heavy and slow and the nonchalant attitude is a little disturbing. From his up beat press conferences, I thought he would come out firing and continue to send messages to the rest of the tour and it also seems that he wants to keep his winning streak alive, even into the exho according to his press conferences. And then I see his lame performances. It’s like he builds up people’s hopes and expectations, then he leaves them cold. It doesn’t add up. Something is just not right. I hope, as you say, Mark, that it is indeed psychological warfare and that he is trying out new theories/methods. If JesusFed suddenly shows up in Doha and/or AO, then all I can say is, “All Hail King Roger!”

    [Reply]

  10. ru-aun,

    also, i want to thank you for all your good analysis and discussion and time you put into this site. i firmly believe that roger himself reads your blog because he is so intricately aware of discussions about his game.
    i enjoy your views on roger’s game because it is true, honest, devoid of hyperbole and well-written. yours is one of the only blogs about anything that i read.

    thanks,
    mark

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks mark I appreciate that. It would be cool if Roger ever read my blog.

    [Reply]

  11. Happy New Year to everyone!

    I have to admit that I am shocked by Roger’s performance. It just doesn’t feel right. His game was way off even compared to other exhos. Roger looked heavy, slow, not fully fit. I just hope that he had heavy legs from a built up training. Anyways, even if Roger doesn’t care Djokovic and Nadal will take motivation out of their easy wins. Especially Nadal who was schooled at the masters cup.
    Let’t see how Roger performs at Doha. In his current form Davidenko might be out of reach.

    If he tried a new racket he should throw it away as soon as possible.

    [Reply]

  12. Why bother? RF lost two absolutely insignificant, non-competitive showmatches against the current #1 and #2 of the world. Do you guys still think that RF has something left to prove? And if you really answer this question with yes, do you think RF should do so on exhibition matches with a sponsored Rolex on his wrist? Come on, relax a bit! Maybe he was trying a couple things, maybe testing some new racket, maybe a bit rusty, maybe not 100% fit. If he wants a win against a healthy and motivated Djokovic or Nadal, he needs to put up a fight, all simply because he is the ‘old’ guy out there. Well thank God he is not foolish enough to waste his energy by putting up a fight in an exhibition! That would make me worry. But RF knows he has nothing to prove, and so should we all. Face it, if everything goes its normal way, RF will most probably not win another slam, and his future will be on lower ranks, not on higher ranks. Everybody who does not accept this will risk some serious disappointments, and some might even become haters as a result of such unmatched, unrealistic expectations. Saying that Roger Federer “stinks up the place” because he lost against Djokovic when the latter was reaching his highest levels is a questionable thing to do, in many ways. I don’t expect RF to win anything in 2012. With all he has already achieved in his career, the fact that he still wants to fight and keep trying in the absence of any need to do so, for the simple joy and love for the game, and doing all the hard work and disciplined life of a top athlete despite being filthy rich already, all this is enough reason for me to keep admiring him as long as he is out there. And if he surprises me (and others) by really achieving more titles and still competing at the highest level with all the youngsters, then I’ll be celebrating. But I won’t care about neither performance nor results of exhibitions, not from the GOAT, not in 2012.

    [Reply]

    FeddyBear Reply:

    i often think about adopting this tactics – lower expections to none and just enjoy the show. but it is so hard to let go of TMF. the legend. so i made a deal with myself: i am aloud to expect great things from RF as long as he is expecting them from himself.
    but good post chris, you calmed me down. no need to stress to much coz of an exo match

    [Reply]

    Veronica Lee Reply:

    Chris, spoken like a true fan. It’s the best way to deal with being a Fed fan at the tail end of his outstanding career. And we should all be just enjoying Roger as long as he steps on the court, regardless of how he plays for the day he hangs up his racket would be a dark day indeed. But, as Feddybear say, TMF is TMF. No one, and I repeat, no one, in the history of sport has created such a monster of expectation as Fed. Winning and dominating is synonymous with TMF. It is really not easy to let go although it is and should be the way; as you so rightly pointed out Fed has nothing left to prove. To have reached your level of acceptance is great maturity as a true fan. Many fans are in the process of this maturity that you have reached. I certainly am one fan in the process of maturity. However one thing I can say is I will certainly not become a hater. In 2008/9, I had zero expectations for Fed and could really enjoy his successes. When he won his 15th in Wimbledon, I even spoke to the TV screen, “Fed, enough is enough, give others a chance!”. I felt so bad for Roddick and at the same time, I felt so full and contented and I wanted nothing more from Fed. Then when he won his 16th in AO2010 and was in such fine form, great expectations reared its ugly head in me; and since then, it had been hard to relax and just enjoy TMF. As long as Fed chooses to play, I would desire him to win. And as long as he steps on the court, there will be something left to prove; to himself, to others. If he looks out of sorts, I will be looking for signs and reasons. In a way, it is a more interesting journey as a fan if we talk, comment, analyse, rant about our favourite player; regardless of whether the discussions are positive or negative as long as we are civil and respectful. I only discovered this blog after AO2010 and since then, I have become a more “active” fan reading materials in the net, commenting, sharing my joy with like-minded people. It has indeed made my fan journey richer although more nerve-racking and sleep deprived! But the joys are also so much more than being an “inactive” fan. Honestly speaking, I don’t give a darn about these exhos and Fed would be stupid to put in any effort especially as Djoko and Nadal were SO serious. He needs to save his energy for what is important to him. But what worries me is how really badly he played in this exho. Therefore I see his poor form as more than just not giving a darn. I really hope it is not physical. Anyway, Doha, here we come! and I will continue my process of maturing into the kind of Fed fan that you are, Chris!

    [Reply]

  13. Happy New Year, Greatest blog ever created! May 2012 be full of health, love, peace and happiness for all fedfans. I must say I can’t share the doubts over Roger’s form. Come on guys, have you forgotten Roger’s recent thrashing of Nadal and his record 6th(!) World Tour Finals title? Have you forgotten the match he played against Berdych(probably Berdych’s best performance in 2011) in the semifinal in Paris? Personally, I’m extremely happy and optimistic about Roger’s condition. Federer has given me reasons to believe that he has found a way to actually FOOL his biological clock. I mean, it’s insane to play at this level at age 30. INSANE.

    [Reply]

  14. Happy New Year, Ru-an and all Fedfans!

    Liked your post a lot, Ruan, but I believe Roger’s horizon is not entirely ours: are Abu Dhabi, Doha and even the AO 2012 really that decisive for Roger’s career as we make it look here? Aren’t we then making the same mistake as the relativists of the Absolute who – by the law of compensation – are absolutizing what is relative ? Roger’s performance in those tournaments may after all not have the same weight for him as it apparently does have for us, because his goals are not ours. Roger’s horizon is not as short-term oriented, I believe, and his final sportive goal is, if slightly possible, to return to the top spot. Is winning the AO 2012 an absolute, necessary condition to return to the number one position? Maybe, but maybe not. Capturing the AO title could certainly help him… but in general the top spot is rather gained or regained by winning the slams during the summer season. This thought should incite us not to attach too much weight to his AO results, as we don’t know when the fullness of time will come for Roger.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Wilfried, it is always good to look at the bigger picture. I have in fact already stated that the AO is a question mark for me. I don’t really know what to expect of Roger there. I feel like Djokovic is much more of a favorite than him there.

    [Reply]

    Wilfried Reply:

    Thanks for the answer, Ruan. By the way, did you read my message on your mailaddress Ruanz292@hotmail.com ?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Wilfried I replied. Sorry for the delay.

    [Reply]

  15. Federer once again has a very hard draw getting Davydenko in the first round of Doha – a rematch of last year’s final.

    Roger will need to shake off his rust right away or he could be one and done in Doha. Unfortunately he doesn’t get a lesser opponent for his first match which would have helped him to get back in rhythm.

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  16. Great comments from all the Fedfans on this site. And now, let’s just all relax, have a spiked egg nog or two, and let the Gods, in their infinite Wisdom, decide the fate of Roger Federer for 2012…. Cheers to everyone! And a Happy New Year!

    [Reply]

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