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

Posted in Uncategorized.

61 Comments

  1. Hey, Ru-an! Thank you for another amazing post. I really liked your thoughts on the match and I like that you are optimistic about the Murray match.

    I am cautiously optimistic as well. I know that Roger can overpower Murray but the key for Roger and that has always been the story will be his serving.

    If he goes back to that high 68-69% first serve percentage, he will destroy Murray. But if it dips again, it will be a different story.

    Roger likes to play aggressive but in order for it to work, he needs to serve well. From what I’ve seen Murray is not serving lights out but Roger should first concern himself with just serving solidly, holding, and that everything else will fall into place.

    I have no doubt that there will be lots of breaks in this match but the key will be to just plug along.

    It might be close but I also think that Roger should beat Murray. I am not as confident as I was prior to the Tsonga match, but that’s ok.

    I really want Roger to push here. It’s really a golden opportunity for him no matter how tough the opponents are.

    Let’s go Roger, let’s Go! :-)

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  2. Superb post ru-an.
    Yes its business time.I think he can do it as he did in wimby’12.It was djoker first in wimby,only difference its murray first this time around.
    Go roger!!!

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  3. Great post, Ruan! I agree that it all boils down to what Roger is going to show up, and recently, he has been more stable in this department, so there are reasons for cautious optimism indeed. I have a strange feeling, though, that if things don’t go very well for Roger from the beginning, it can turn into another test of who is more hungry. I think you are right that Roger has improved a lot in this regard, too, and can play more clutch if needed. Really hope it won’t be needed with Roger’s form and faster courts, but if it is, it will be a real test for Roger 3.0 and we will learn a lot from it about what to expect in the future. If he plays clutch and fights to the very end, then I am happy no matter the outcome. If there are signs that he starts letting Murray to dictate how the match unfolds, it will be a bad thing for future matches as well. If he does win, he will finally bring his head-to-head with Murray to even (10-10), which is something I really look forward to!

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  4. I may not be as active a poster Ru-an, but I keenly follow both Federer and your blog (along with Jonathan’s blog, of course).

    The match I saw yesterday was quite a mixture of Shiterer, Lazyrer and an extremely average Federer. What worried me, even so much more than the unforced errors and all, was the ridiculous passive play of Roger’s against Tsonga. It was annoying to see how Roger would merely resort to a weak slice against a second serve. He wasn’t really dictating the play and I think he must avoid that sort of game particularly against Djokobitch. Roger’s shots also didn’t have that sort of zing that they had against Tomic or Milos.

    However, I’d say this match may be a boon for Roger since it’s a sort of warning to stop being slack and be more precise, aggressive and dictating. Credit to Tsonga, too, who didn’t break down and made Roger win.

    I think Roger can/will win against Murray. Murray doesn’t have such a pounding, explosive game as Tsonga and Federer can step it up a bit more. However, Murray is dangerous in his own right – he is faster and a better all court player, and I don’t expect he’ll make silly volley errors like Tsonga did.

    PS. As usual, Mr. Djoko-egg turns up as fit a fiddle after a marathon match against Stan, and that too just days after he was so, ahem, “enraged” about Lance Armstrong’s classlessness. It amuses me that people turn a blind eye even when the clearest evidence is presented before them.

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  5. Murray is playing good tennis but he’s had 5 easy matches. You can argue that Roger has only had one (or two) easy matches, because even the matches with Tomic and Raonic could have been different if they win those tiebreaks. So I think Roger is certainly more match ready and that could help him against Andy. The Scot hasn’t faced any tests and you know he’ll face a big one from Roger, bigger than his previous 5 matches combined. And as for the BP conversion, I never really worry and those numbers can be deceiving. For instance, if you hold 10 break points in one game and break on the 10th, that’s better than having one break point, not converting it, and losing the game. Yet the 1/10 number looks worse. It’s all about if and when you break. Fed is always going to get lots of break points against guys who aren’t the big servers, and as long as he breaks in the right moments, the numbers don’t matter as much.

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  6. The Sharapova v Li Na match is an illustration of what can go wrong when you go untested to late stages of a GS. Sharapova was the bakery queen up until SF. Then suddenly BOOM, got beaten 2 & 2.

    Looking at Murray’s match against Chardy, I really can’t help coming to the conclusion that if Chardy had been less erroneous and more clinical, he wouldve likely given Murray serious trouble. Perhaps still not winning, but a definitely tough test. So IF JesusFed shows up, I’m optimistic it can be done in 3.

    One disagreement with you Ru-an is that you prefer Djokovic for the final match — where glory is quite uncertain. My glory hunter side wants it to be Ferrer as Roger’s record against him is 14-0. Also, it’s late in Ferrer’s career, one GS final is something the guy deserves for all his hard work n consistency. Someone like Baghdatis or Gonzalez can be in AO finals and Ferrero can win a GS…so let’s give Ferrer at least one chance, he’s better than those 3. LOL.

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    Kyle Reply:

    Ferrer deserves a final, but he has a very, VERY slim chance of winning. You need weapons to beat Fed, Djokovic, and Murray.
    Andy’s match with Chardy was iffy. He almost lost a 4-0 lead in the first set and was broken a few times. Really, from what I’ve seen of the Scot, he hasn’t looked THAT great and has looked very beatable.

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    jason Reply:

    Yes, Ferrer’s chance is very slim indeed. I’m just hoping some sort of a miracle happens. LOL.

    We share the same views regarding Murray. In some of the good rallies I watched, Chardy mostly dominated them until he committed errors after the balls keep getting back. Even though Chardy was erroneous, he still managed to break Murray several times. It kind of tells that Murray’s serve wasn’t strong either, at least for yesterday’s match.

    Bring an in-form Tsonga or Delpo, Murray would’ve been blown out of the court.

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    Kyle Reply:

    Jo would have beaten Andy if he played the kind of tennis he did against Fed against Andy in that QF. Jo was going for it all on Fed’s 2nd serve and Andy’s 2nd serve is of a lower quality than Roger’s.

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  7. Kyle, you stole my thunder, but I’m glad you see it that way as well. The rest of the tournament will be tough, but he is very, very close and definitely capable of winning. I’d certainly hate to be a Ferrer fan. LOL GO ROGER!!!

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  8. 5 matches won, 2 left. Federer has progressed through a very difficult draw to give himself a shot at the two players that are ready to dethrone him for good. Both Murray and Djokovic have done all they could to develop into opponents capable to match Federers’ shotmaking, stamina and tactics. They want to collect their trophies and make history themselves. They are both in their prime, while Federer belongs to the previous generation of players of which most have already retired. Yet he still sticks around at the business end of the slams, ready to spoil the party and hungry still to add to his own, largest ever, collection of titles. It’s such a big difference if you face Ferrer or Federer in the semi final! But the most incredible thing is, it is not enough for Murray or Djokovic to just go out there and play their best tennis, because if Federer also brings his best tennis, chances are high that they end losing the match. Federers’ best tennis is still the best out there. So they always have to hope for a Federer not being 100%. I cannot be disappointed if Federer loses against Murray. This is what is supposed to happen. But Murray is nervous. You never know with the ‘old’ man. He can just blow you off the court on a given day. And this is the kick Roger and we all are looking forward to. Allez Roger!

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    Vily Reply:

    I feel nervous and uneasy about tonight’s match but at the end of the day I felt similar prior to the Nadal match in AO 2012 as well as the Nadal match in Indian Wells, 2012.

    Roger lost the first match but he won in the second.

    The key and that comes to who will be nervous and won’t will be the Roger’s 1st serve %.

    It’s the most accurate predictor of all. JesusFed mode occurs when the 1st serve % hovers the 67-68-69% percent line.

    Anything below that and Roger will have to rely on tactics, running and mental strength.

    And since this is only a semi-final, I’d rather see a JesusFed mode tonight and leave the 4:30-5 hour battle for the final.

    If we see the battle tonight, I just don’t think that Roger will have enough left in the tank for the Djoker.

    So let’s hope that he shows up to play, Murray is beatable but it’s up to Roger to beat him.

    We can only watch and “try” to enjoy this as nerve-racking as it will be.

    Come on Roger!!! Come on! You con do it!

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    Chris Reply:

    At least you can watch, I can’t because of work, can just try to keep an eye on the live-ticker while being in meetings and workshops… This match can go both ways, we’ll see… but I think that Roger has a slight advantage because of his being thorougly tested through the draw, being used to evening conditions and having beaten Murray in all previous GS meetings. But we might see a Murray 2.0 after his break-through…

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    jason Reply:

    Writing at 6-4, 4-4 Murray here. Not looking good at all. Roger not in JesusFed mode. This 2nd set is likely going to TB and if it does… my God it will be down to a few points. Lose this set and most likely it’s all over for Roger.

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    Chris Reply:

    From what I read on the live ticker it does not look good at all, Federer again facing break points in the third set…

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    jason Reply:

    I am ‘watching’ this through that ticker, too. Now it’s 4-6, 7-6, 2-3. It’s like watching your stocks go up and down.

    There’s still hope with that 2nd set win. But Roger doesn’t seem clinical from what the score ticker says. Perhaps still in the same mode as the Tsonga match. Quite clutch in the TB, though. He needs Murray’s level to drop a little.

    I suspect if he doesn’t break, he will lose this 3rd set.

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    Chris Reply:

    Seems we are lucky to only suffer this looking at the numbers. 3rd set gone. Can’t see Federer win the next two sets…

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    Chris Reply:

    Federer not giving it away easily, Murray has to take him out over 5 sets. Whoever wins will get a beating from a well rested, ice-bathed Djokovic. But I’m proud of RF 3.0 for his fighting spirit!

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  9. So glad to see him win, at least his match against Mugray will offer more than Djoker’s match today. Its so painful to watch a lopsided men’s semis while WTA, with their emotional/hormonal issues has a lot of offer with upsets and controversy. Go Roger!!

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    Chris Reply:

    … they even have some ladies with more muscles than Nadal… :-)

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  10. Roger’s serve will in my opinion key in his level of performance against Murray, because Roger’s serve works a bit as an air-valve controlling the release of accumulated air in a pressurized pipeline system. If Roger’s serve is on fire, the rest of his game will be flowing smoothly as well, because the tension finds a way out. However if his serve is off or less effective than it should be, the pressure accumulating on his game can’t find a way out and will displace itself to other parts of his game, including to his stronger FH-shot and his net-play, and will in this manner provoke errors at the most inconvenient moments.
    Therefore in my opinion it is very important for Roger that he will be serving well against Murray over the entire match, not only in terms of percentages of first serves in, but also in terms of pace, accuracy and variation of his serve. He has to keep varying his serve and not reduce at all the variation in the pace, spin and orientation of his serve, even in case Murray is making some winners on Roger’s first or second serve. Because it is the only way to prevent good returneres like Murray (as well as Djokovic and Nadal) from making more winners.
    Come on Roger, you can do it ! Show them who’s the boss here!

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  11. really weird match is going on. roger is playing maybe his 50% but still in the semi-final, or maybe credit goes to murray. he really should have finished the match by now and deservedly so. i was wrong to think that murray could not be offensive, he is absolutely a changed animal right there.

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    steve Reply:

    It’s over. No rhythm on Federer’s serve, which affects his whole game and forces him to run more. By the end Murray was killing his second serve.

    True Murray was more aggressive, but if Federer is playing well and taking the initiative, Murray has no chance; he’s always the more reactive player and requires more time to work the ball and play long rallies in order to win.

    Murray out-aced him by 21-5. That’s more than five games’ worth of aces. If Federer had had those kinds of serving stats against Murray, he’d have won in three easy sets, not gone five.

    The quality of tennis was kind of desultory, I thought. Although there was nothing desultory about Federer’s fighting spirit. He hung in there and scrapped and fought to the limit like the champion he is.

    So Federer’s quest for a fifth AO title comes to an end, but he still outlasted a very game Tsonga and stayed with a top-form Murray for five sets. Not bad for the old man.

    Time for him to relax and recover, then prepare for the spring hard-court run. He’s got Rotterdam in a couple weeks so it won’t be too long before he’s on court again.

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    MJ-Ruban Reply:

    completely agree with you, steve. was a bit emotional while watching this, actually the match can be described as a classic from a different perspective. where king roger’s weapons betrayed him while facing young prince, murray’s passing shots or aces had that zing which reflected his desire to reign. roger looked dejected throughout the match as if he could see the writing on the wall ,yet fought back time and time again defying all the odds. still he couldn’t seize the initiative, he would set up numerous points with his beautiful game, but the last forehand or volley would cling onto the net, all the drop shots would fall short today. at the final set, roger knew he could go down now, with all the pride that personified him. his body wouldn’t give anymore.

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  12. Incredibly, Roger Federer has made it into the fifth set after Murray served for the match! As with Tsonga, his ability to raise his game in the tiebreaks despite being not at his best for much of the match is proving decisive.

    Just hope he can find something special in the fifth.

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  13. Guys,

    I am so proud to be a Fed fan! What an incredible match! And what a fighter Roger is! Simply incredible! Even though he lost, he showed me that he will forever be the greatest and a great champion.

    When he broke at 6:5 in the 4th to send it to a tiebreak I head tears in my eyes. What a fighter! What a champion!

    We all know he is not 25 anymore but he still pushed the young, fresh and pumped up Murray to the brink.

    Obviously, the serve wasn’t consistent, there were no free points, no aces and absolutely nothing was easy for Roger! And yet he pushed, he pushed and pushed again!

    He showed me that he is just an amazing person, amazing fighter and a great champion!

    I am so proud of him! Somehow I just don’t feel that bad about this loss!

    Just the way Roger clawed back time and time again! Climbing the summit, and then sliding down, and then climbing the summit again just showed his amazing resolve!

    And I know that there is a limit to everything and we can see that being 31 and not getting any younger has its limits!

    Nonetheless, Roger gave his heart and soul and he should not have any regrets! None at all!

    And that is why we love him!

    Good luck, Roger and God bless you!

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    Chris Reply:

    AMEN! A fighter just like Ru-an himself. Proud to be a fan of the GOAT and a reader of the GOAT-Blogger!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha thanks Chris. I appreciate that.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Great comment Vily. I feel the same.

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    Vily Reply:

    Thanks, Ru-an! Can’t wait for your post!

    Take care and get some sleep when you can!

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  14. Still a good slam achievement from RF. Given his age and what he has achieved, I’m still impressed. I’m just expecting him to still play his A game once in awhile and hopefully get lucky and find the energy and strength to beat Novak, Andy and Rafa in the slam. I’m exhausted and a bit sad but I know I should not take this defeat too seriously. Anyway, thanks Ruan and Fed fans for keeping the Roger fix alive!

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  15. Hi,

    It is just so deflating :-( . It beats me how all of a sudden, in the middle of great form through a grand slam, his form just dips to a low, his serve leaves him throughout the match and he starts making so many unforced errors.

    Yes, he hung in there, fought back in 4th set but, just dropping his serve (I would call it that instead of saying he was broken by Murray) in the 4th set after having a break up and then in the first game of the 5th is something that I am not able to understand. Can someone explain it to me ?

    I think this is more of Fed defeating himself then Murray clinching a victory.

    I also wanted to say that showing a better spirit to fight back when down is something that stood out for Federer today, and is a good sign. Something that Djoker thrives in.

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    bartelbe Reply:

    Oh that is easy, age, the Tsonga match and Murray’s quality. Federer had just played a draining 5 set match, and now he is in the fourth set against Murray. A player of great quality, mobility, that gets to every ball. He simply ran out of energy in the 5th, which is understandable.

    He can still turn it on for brief periods, like the 4th set tiebreak, when he looked unplayable, but to ask him to do it across 5 sets at the wrong side of 30 is asking alot.

    You must also give credit to Murray, he is a class above Tsonga, and would be a handful for any player. Especially now Lendl has finally got his head sorted out. Many players would have fallen apart after failing to close out the 4th, but Murray just carried on.

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    Vily Reply:

    Guys, Let’s just savor what we just witnessed! An incredible match in which Roger was outplayed and yet he pushed it to the 5th set!

    There are just couple of things that just shocked me today!

    1. Murray was serving lights out for most of the match.

    2. And this is a big one! And very demoralizing: Roger had inconsistent serve, but even more depressingly, when he hit a good amount if first serves, Murray managed to return a RIDICULOUS amount of them back in play.

    It’s like even if Roger served well, he still had to fight every point. No easy points. No gimmes. Nada!

    And that’s why it was so special to see how Roger pushed so much even when the chips were down!

    And trust me, the chips were down all the time! There was no hope throughout the match and yet the Zen Master pushed it to the 5th set!

    At the end it was it not enough but the fact and the way Roger just refused to lose in the 4th set, the way he just did not give in tells the whole story!

    Here in the US on ESPN the commentators Patrick McCenroe and Brad Gilbert agreed with me!

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  16. JOLLY GOOD SHOW :-) :-) :-) :-) Come On! Guys Do U all Still BELIEVE Fed(17 time Gs Chpm) winning more slams is what ATP want!! :-* The script has changed Djoker-Murray r going 2 be great RIVALS :-) :-) that Fed-nad were ;-) And Federer’s largess(as in 2day’s match) will see to that it is that way ;-)

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  17. Unfortunately Roger could not beat Murray2.0(he seems to got upgraded to this level since he won the Olympics),part because of too many errors. He was at 4-1 in the forth and should have finished that quicker, to have enough strength for the fifth. Instead he consummed his energy trying to level the game at 6-6.In the same time I am sad that Roger had such a difficult draw and Murray didn’t have any real oponents until this semifinal.
    This AO slam is closed, I give only 20% chances for Murray to win the final.

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  18. Federer was too passive today, even on his own service games. I don’t know if anyone observed this, but Roger was not hitting the usual, clean forehands we’re so used to see. I didn’t see full extension on the execution of his forehand; he just could not do it properly. He was also struggling to get to Murray’s balls during the rallies. And I’m talking about the neutral rallies in the match. There were even a few bh slices by Murray that Roger could not reach. I’m not necessarily implying there was an injury. Perhaps he was just feeling some pain, which nonetheless might have affected him to stamp his authority on the match. Did you like / Were you satisfied with Roger’s footwork? I honestly think he was far from his best in that department. Well, except for the TB’s and some more, very few games. Also, I feel it took Roger very long to realize he had to start attacking Murray’s 2nd serve. When he eventually did it, Roger started feeling better on the court. It was clear that he was gaining confidence. Inexplicable why Roger didn’t employ this strategy by the start of the match. But the truth is that Roger could never take real control of this match with the way he was serving today. You could feel it, Fed was guaranteed to give Murray plenty of opportunities to break him. It’s not only the fact that he served 5 aces in a five-setter(quite negligible?), it’s also the way he was serving. There wasn’t much quality on his serves today. If you noticed, Roger was rarely serving to the T. I didn’t like his anticipation at the net either. Anyway, I had hopes for a glorious victory but that didn’t happen. It’s a shame cos Roger managed somehow to take Murray to five sets despite his mediocre play overall.

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    WIlfried Reply:

    I agree with part of your comment.
    ANdy Murray played very well and deserves credit for the way he served whilst Roger got out of the blocks very slowly and was a bit too passive, particularly during the first set. He waited very long with moving around his backhand to hit inside-in or inside-out shots, and kept slicing his backhand most of the time, thereby giving Murray lots of time to set up for winners. I dond’t recall seeing one single inside-in forehand during the entire first set. And Roger also refused to attack Murray’s second serve in that period. It looked like he wanted to slow down the game all the time instead of speeding it up a little bit, like he usually does when he feels confident.
    Roger’s game improved a lot though during the second set. Much better serves, more agressive return game, and more pace in his shots in general. He didn’t face any breakpoints either in that set, and played very well in the tiebreak.
    The victory slipped out of his hands in the third set when his serve abondoned him again.

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  19. Nicely summarized. Those were exactly the same thoughts that ran through me as well. To me he seemed a little bid jaded throughout the whole match; he indirectly agreed to this also during his post match interview where he said that the Tsonga match took a little bit out of him. But still it shows that even without his A game on, he can give a real run for money to the young pretenders. I also like his upbeatness despite this 5 set loss: “So I go from here with a good feeling for the year. I didn’t play a tournament leading in, so now obviously I know where my level is at. Also knowing I have even more time to work on my game, work on my fitness this year. It’s something I’m excited about.”

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  20. I think that Roger’s biggest opportunities to win came at the beginning of the 3rd and the beginning of the 5th sets.

    After winning the tiebreaks in such fashion after being down and out, the momentum was clearly on his side and he had chances to stamp his authority in the beginning of each set. Credit to Murray however, who hanged tough to not allow Roger to get a break early in these artsy

    The take of the tape us that Roger did not have a great match while Murray played amazingly. But the fighting spirit and unwillingness to give up is what impressed me the most.

    Obviously is much easier to hit freely when you are up than when you are down. Everybody knows that and that’s why Murray and Nadal and Djokovic always go for the jugular in the first set because they know that if Roger wins the first, he’ll take control.

    It just shows how much respect they have for him knowing that on numerous occasions all three have admitted that at his best Roger can beat any of them.

    It didn’t happen today but whereas last year that loss to Nadal lingered and hurt, this one for some reason doesn’t nearly as much.

    All I wanted was a 5th set and boy, did Toger show us what he is made of. At 6:5 in the 4th after the squandered 4:2 lead that Roger had, for sure I thought that it’s over. For sure. But Roger said no!

    To me that was the biggest moment. Roger has always been known as the classy, amazing front-runner. But just like in that tiebreak against Nadal in Wimby 2008, he showed me that amazing champion’s spirit.

    And that’s what will keep me positive going forward! :-)

    Allez Roger!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey guys. I got up at 230am to watch the match and had to work. Gotta work again tomorrow. So I won’t be making a post today. I’ll share my thoughts with you tomorrow.

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  21. Very surprised no one has mentioned this, I’m a Fed fan but not a blind Fed fan.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/01/25/roger-federer-shout-andy-murray/1863767/

    When Murray was serving 6-5 for match 4th set, any need for Federer to be swearing at Murray. I know Fed doesn’t like Murray but was dissapointed at his behaviour.

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    Vily Reply:

    I don’t care. For all the swearing that Murray does, the shirt ripping that Djokovic does, and the Nadal celebrations after each point, I am willing to forgive Roger for this.

    Especially seeing how it pumped him up to push to get to that 5th set. He really wanted it and did everything he could to get there. I would call it a little gamesmanship but nothing as redicilous as what Azarenka did the other day just because she couldn’t close.

    Roger fought tooth and nail and sometimes it takes a little extra to get pushed over the limit.

    I’d rather see that than see him lose without a fight.

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    Jiten Reply:

    Both Roger and Murray said it was no big deal. You can read the transcripts of their interviews in AO official web-site. What I really liked about Murray in the interview was that even after being pressed by the scribes on that issue repeatedly, he refused to bog down and insisted continuously that it is just no big deal and opined that Fed also probably thinks the same way. And Fed said the same in his interview as well. This also shows that Murray definitely has some class.

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    Chris Reply:

    Good article about this: http://straightsets.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/for-federer-anger-goes-only-so-far/?ref=tennis

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  22. The curse is being blown way out of proportion. It happens. It was a tense moment and Fed snapped after Andy slyly delayed like he was going to stop play, which Fed saw and that broke his rhythm.

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  23. Enjoyed reading the posts by everyone. This was a hard match to take: the last 3 SFs here Fed has lost to Djokovic, Nadal, and now Murray. If the Fed of 2012 SF had shown up he would have dealt with Murray in 3 or 4. He was hitting hard flat and clean then. I don’t think it’s just completely age here: Federer also went away in the 2009 AO final, the 2009 US final for example, at age 27 and 28. The fact is that his game relies on footwork and preparation, he plays very close to the baseline and that single hand backhand requires precise timing and that disappears after 4 hours. But he had the momentum after that amazing 4th set.

    I watched with the match with a sick feeling as it was clear that Federer was the passive one. It felt his serve and forehand had no zip on the court, while Murray’s shots were like lasers. Maybe Fed decided to hit lots of topspin. Or maybe with age the serve is the first to go. Almost every service game was a fight. As someone said above, no cheap points at all. Sadly there was no magic moments, very few moments of sheer brilliance as we saw in Wimbledon when he hit some crazy drop volleys to break Murray. (by the way I don’t think Murray hit any drop shots, while Fed, probably showing tiredness, tried that one a few times but they failed each time).

    Partly this is due to Murray being a great returner of course. And maybe Fed’s serving looked better versus poorer returners like Tomic and Raonic. Still, it’s a very bad sign to see Federer get fewer forehand winners and many less service winners.

    Is it just age? Tiredness from the Tsonga match? Probably both. What a great fight for him to come back twice in those breakers.
    Murray’s joke draw was really a help. If they had switched Chardy for Tsonga the outcome might have been different.

    Fed has a lot of points to defend. I hope he can rest and then I look forward to a stronger Fed at Rotterdam and Doha, where the courts are faster. He looked kind of skinny out there, hope he strengthens up.

    Everyone says it’s the end of an era, etc. but it’s been the end since 2009 and the guy keeps going. We will have to accept that he loses more and more, his head to head records will fall vs. the other young players. Is it worth it? Are we asking too much of him just for our own selfish enjoyment of watching a few sublime moments of genius? As long as he’s happy and enjoying his time, that’s fine with me.

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    Vily Reply:

    I agree. The writing has been on the wall for some time now! Ever since that loss to Del Potro at the US Open in 2009. I was there in the final actually and I remember how everyone was saying how it’s the end of an era.

    Roger has won 2 slams since then but he has started to show his age, not so much in the matches themselves. Roger can still show moments of brilliance. His mental toughness has improved dramatically as well.

    The problems is his recovery.

    You could just Djokovic last year at 24-25 playing a 5 hour match against Murray and then backing it up by a 6 hour against Nadal.

    Roger at 31 won a 3 and a half hour match against Tsonga and then played as much as his body allowed him to play against Murray for another 4 hours.

    I know that when Roger is rested, he can beat anyone.

    But with these redicilous draws now it’s so hard to win majors.

    Just in comparison to 2010 when he won the AO!

    Davydenko in QF – 2010
    Vs

    Davydenko in 2nd Round – 2013

    Tsonga in SF – 2010
    Vs

    Tsonga in QF – 2013

    Murray in Final – 2010
    Vs

    Murray in SF – 2013

    So as you can see the competition has increased.

    I realized that if Roger had Djokovic’s draw he might have made the final with the caveat of the Berdych QF.

    And if he was properly rested, he might have won.

    But it wasn’t to be. He said in the aftermath that he wants to work on his fitness so we’ll see,

    Can he win another major? Most definitely, but he’ll need done help from the draw.

    He can’t just rely on his own abilities because it’s that much more difficult.

    Btw, I predict that Murray will win tomorrow.

    If he serves lights out, he’ll beat Djokovic.

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    Chris Reply:

    Hi Vily! You look really different when you use the account of your wife!
    Just for the fun of it, I hold against and predict a Djoker win in 4: 6:4, 7:6, 6:3, 6:4.
    Did you guys really expect that Federer would win the AO 2013? Honestly, and being realistic, chances are rather slim that he will win another GS. Maybe a Wimbledon or French if Nadal is not around, but he only gets older and competition only gets better. Let’s just have fun watching him while he has fun playing, it will be only to soon when he retires from the tour. I guess I won’t keep watching tennis then, no other Swiss player likely to replace him, already I’m not interested to watch tomorrows final. Especially since I already know the result :-)

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    Wilfried Reply:

    I don’t have a clue how more slams Roger will win, maybe none, maybe one or two, who knows.
    What I know is that Roger at his best is better than Murray at his best, despite Roger aging. And when we talk about that last facet, we may as well start talking about a possible imminent decline of Djokovic who’s still playing very well at the moment, but who won’t keep that level for ever either.
    The most difficult opponent for Roger remains in my opinion a fit Nadal, not Murray nor Djokovic.
    I think Roger is not done yet. I’m happy to hear that Roger wants to improve his fitness. But I think he also should work on how to improve his return of serve game. Because that part of his game is obviously not at the same level of his main opponents.

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    Vily Reply:

    I also think that Roger needs to work on his serve again. To be able to be out-aced by both Tsonga and Murray is not good.

    Plus, to have a low 10 aces count in the amount of 10 sets is very low for Roger’s standards.

    In comparison, in the 2009 Wimbledon final, he had like 50 aces in a match.

    So he’s got to get back to that level of serving to have more success.

    He needs to use more variety I think. It seems like it’s become very readable and not as a potent weapon as it used to be.

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    Wilfried Reply:

    Hi Vily, It could be that Roger’s serve has gotten worse than it used to be in 2009 but I’m not so sure about that. The amount of aces Roger can hit in a match depends also – to a great extent – of the returning qualities of his opponent. Roddick is/was in this area not in the same league as Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. Therefore Roger’s 50 aces can imo partly be explained by Roddick’s lesser skills in that matter. But I agree with you that only 10 aces in 10 sets is not particularly normal for Roger.
    On the other hand I have been investing some serious effort and time – in december last year – at analyzing Roger’s 2012 AO-semi final match against Nadal and crunching the numbers to understand better Roger’s problems. And I also analyzed Roger’s first set against Murray – yesterday and this morning – in the same way, and have been comparing the patterns.
    One thing that both matches have in common, is Roger’s problems with the serve of his opponents. In last year’s semi final Rafael Nadal was targeting Roger’s BH all the time with his first and second serve. I will save you the numbers but Roger lost plenty of (very short 2 or 3 shot) points because of his inability to return Nadal’s serve effectively. Roger’s problem was not the long rallies but rather the shorter points, emanating from his ineffectiveness in returning the serves. Now with Murray, in the semi final of the AO 2013, the same thing has happened. Roger had tremendous problems with returning Andy’s serve properly, which is to me one of the main reasons that he lost his match from Andy. The only breakpoint Roger managed to fashion in the first set, in the game after he was broken himself (4th game), was aced away by Andy Murray in the next point. On the other hand, they were break even in the longer rallies (Roger won 7 and Andy 8 of the 15 rallies with 10 or more shots in the first set).

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    Vily Reply:

    Very Good Analysis!

    To me, I was really shocked by how well Murray served. Throughout the tournament, Murray was broken like 9 times and that’s why I was so surprised that Roger managed to break him only a couple of times.

    That, and the fact that Roger had only few easy service games while Murray was holding serve quite easily contributed to the loss.

    I think the key to the match came in the beginning of the 3rd set. After stealing that 2nd set, Roger was oozing with confidence.

    I remember that in the first game of the 3rd set, Murray missed like almost all his first serves, but Rogef only attacked the first one with a forehand winner. I think if he attacked those second serves, and he broke Murray early, it could have been a different story.

    Also, that 4th set took a lot out of Federer. If he didn’t get broken at 4:2, it would have been 5:2 and most likely the set would have been easily won and he would have enough energy to make a push in the 5th. But it wasn’t meant to be,

    In any case, the coming months will tell a lot about Rogers’s motivation.

    To me, Roger will want to just concentrate on the Slams from now on. He’s got the weeks at number 1 record, so he might start treating those lesser tournaments with less respect. Hopefully, I am wrong but I could see that easily happening.

    I can also easily see Murray bypassing him sometimes this year in the rankings.

    Also, Nadal’s return to the tour will have a lot to say about the complexion of the Big Four.

    I still think that Roger’s got enough game to win another Major! Maybe even this year! But like I said, he needs to improve a few things in his game like the serve, fitness and return game.

    The backhand has improved although after 5-6 hours of continuous abuse, it will fail. But that’s to be expected.

    The mental aspect of his game is excellent / much improved since that 2011 loss to Djokovic.

    The fighting spirit was shown to me so I am happy with that.

    Obviously the age factor will play a role, and not do much in a match itself but in a recovery afterwards.

    That is why I feel that a tough draw can cost Roger the tournament whereas it wouldn’t have when he was younger.

    But I feel that if properly rested, Roger can still be a threat whereas in 2011 that wasn’t the case when Djokovic was absolute machine.

    In any case, I am looking forward to the next few months to see what will happen. Roger will be in the mix and will have to wait for his chance to strike again!

    Murray in 5 tonight btw! I have a feeling about it!

    Plus, I want him to win cause I don’t want Djokovic to equal Roger’s record of 4 AOs.

    It will be a grindfest but Murray’s serve may prove to be the difference.

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    Chris Reply:

    My suspicion is that Federer played with some pain that was hampering his free movement. It’s the little injuries that come more often and heal a bit slower at his age. Nothing to boast with saying he lost because of injury, but I think that it is the reason why JesusFed goes away. His serve was impeccable at the beginning of the AO, and his returning against Tomic and Raonic was great. I did not read here on this blog that Federer should work harder on his serve and return during the first 10 days of the slam. But comes the time when Federer feels that his body gives only 90% (no surprise after this draw), and that is just not enough to take a 100% Murray out, though fighting spirit and clutchness allowed Federer to take him to 5 sets. I also don’t believe that Federer can improve much on his fitness, these pains and small injuries are naturally more frequent at his age, the mileage of his body is much higher. And the young opponents use special diets, oxigen eggs, ice baths, all kinds of legal things that help them physically which were not yet commonly known 5 years ago, when Federer was their age. And I really hope that Federer will not try illegal things to stay with the other top players. Don’t get me wrong, I also hope for more titles especially at slams, and I also think that a Federer at his best can still beat all of them except a Nadal if the later is also at his best. But I accept that Federer is not able easily to play his best for 7 matches, he feels the wear and tear and comes the business end of a slam, he is what he is, the older guy. I also keep my word, I am satisfied with what the glory hunter in me got from being a Fed fan, anything to come is just bonus. I enjoy to see his magic, his girls in the box, the fans go crazy, the opponents outplayed, but I refuse any feeling of frustration when he can’t make it all the way. He was still able to give Djokovic the edge over Murray by taking the latter over 5 sets and one day less to recover. By the way, I think Roger has good chances of winning Roland Garros this year!

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  24. Fed is definitely going to be focusing on the majors from here on out, but he also has to remain steady at the Masters tournaments as he’ll want to stay in the top four for as long as possible so he doesn’t have to play Djokovic, Murray, or Nadal in major quarterfinals.
    As for what to improve the most, I think it’s the return of serve. The movement looked great against Tomic, and while his serve definitely struggled a lot against Jo and Andy, it is still among the best serves in the world and isn’t an issue for me at all. What is an issue, however, is the return. He NEEDS to be aggressive on every 2nd serve he sees, especially when a guy is serving well like Tsonga and Murray were. His reflexes on the return aren’t what they once were so he must take advantage of every 2nd serve he gets.

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    Dave Reply:

    What about fitness and leg strength.? I think Roger should amp up his fitness more and work on his backhand down the line. His court coverage should be a tad better.Stop with chip return! No more short balls for these ass clowns.Roger should pull an Agassi and start running up mountains.that what Reyes had him do at the late stages of his career.

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    Kyle Reply:

    His leg strength is out of this world and his backhand down the line was actually his best shot against Jo and Andy. Definitely agree with the chip return part – the play works against lower-ranked guys but not Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal.

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  25. These are all valid points. It’s just crazy to see how the young athletes (Nadal, Djokovic, Murray) are pushing themselves and our “old” Roger is staying neck and neck with them at his age.

    The game has become so physical now and since the courts are so homogenous now, it’s about physical endurance and ability to sustain great level of play and recover quickly.

    At the same time Tsonga, Berdych and De Potro are knocking on the door and also Tomic, Raonic and Dimitrov are pushing to make their breakthrough.

    It’s really a Golden Era if Tennis and to claim that Roger was on Top for so long, with so many rivals, is so remarkable.

    Roger might not be able to get back to Number 1 again but he doesn’t have to as he already did last year.

    As long as he stays in the top 4 in the next couple of years he’ll have a shot in the Majors. As long as his game doesn’t dip dramatically he’ll be OK.

    I trust that his amazing scheduling as well as his renewed interest in Practice will pay off for him long-term.

    As we all know, “Practice Makes Perfect!”

    BTW, I can’t wait for Ru-an’s take on all this…

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  26. Hey Ru-an, I definitely agree that this tournament has been extremely positive for Roger. I was so impressed by his mental strength and resilience. He could have so easily accepted a defeat with Murray playing at such a high level but he fought with everything he had until nothing was left in the tank. However, I still don’t think we saw JesusFed during this semi-final. His ground strokes were definitely not very “crisp” and his serve has definitely been off since the Tsonga match. I know that he was playing against one of the two best returners on tour but his serve has usually been much more effective against Djokovic and Murray in his past matches with both of them. This was the first time in the last few years that I saw Roger win almost no cheap points. Also, Roger was very content to let Murray be the aggressor and rally back and forth. This is not something Roger is known for but maybe he realized his ground strokes were off and it was a better bet to take the match as far as he could. But another thing I noticed, and wanted your opinion, was about his drop shots and backhand slices. He is usually much more effective with the drop shots and backhand slices but they both seemed to be really off during this tournament. It seems like Roger hasn’t been practicing these shots as much and changing his tactics to more rallying. That being said, I still think it’s unfair to expect Roger to win every single match. I am extremely happy with his resolve and determination during the Australian open. If he can take this grit forward, he can definitely win another major and at his best, he is still a threat to Djokovic and Murray. Thanks for your post Ru-an, I really appreciate the time and effort you take to make these posts and your comments are very insightful like usual :-)

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