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

Tough loss for Roger and his fans today. But before I say anything else let me just say that Djokovic played God-like tennis and totally deserved this. From the first ball he was piling the pressure on Roger. From the base line he hit the heavier ball and was just more solid. He did to Roger what Roger normally does to his opponents. I guess now Roger knows what it feels like to be under constant pressure and not being allowed to play your game. Roger is normally the one taking the ball early and dominating proceedings, but Djokovic just didn’t allow him. He was hitting flat and hard and it kept Roger on the back foot. It is just very hard to defend against that kind of tennis. The first set was always going to be crucial. It was close as expected and went down to the tie break where Djokovic just edged Roger.

From there on it was always gonna be a tough ask. The first set was that important. After that Djokovic never really let up. Even though Roger broke in the second set and went up 5-2, you never felt that Djokovic let up on the relentless pressure he was putting Roger under. It was frustrating to watch because you always felt Roger was in trouble. Even when he went ahead in the second set. Djokovic got it together and reeled off 5 straight games to effectively put the match beyond Roger. Roger was never gonna come back from two sets down against a ruthless Djokovic. He got a break back in the third set after losing serve, but at that point the damage had been done. It’s hard to criticize Roger after the way Djokovic played. One thing that did bother me a lot was Roger’s backhand. Again he was shanking his fair amount.

That is not something you see that often from Roger and shows what pressure Djokovic was keeping him under. Dkjokovic has the more solid backhand which may have been the difference in the end. It basically came down to the two players going toe to toe from the base line and Djokovic was the stronger one on the day. I was waiting for Djokovic to go off the boil but it never really happened. Even when Roger got the break in the second you could just sense the pressure from Djokovic still telling on Roger. Who knows what would have happened if Roger managed to take the second set. It may have put a different complexion on the match but probably would not have. Djokovic would still probably have won in four sets. He was just that dominant. Djokovic has been in good form since Serbia’s Davis Cup win and this win confirms this fact.

Djokovic is such a talented player that it is about time that he had this kind of result. It is a  shame that he has beaten Roger twice in a row in slams now though. That is obviously something Roger won’t enjoy because Djokovic never threatened him in slams before. The last three matches that they played that Roger won was significant, but two slam losses is more telling than three losses in smaller events. And this was a much more dominant performance from Djokovic than in the US Open. At least there Roger had chances to win the match. But if you look at the form that saw Roger win the Masters Cup and Doha then you have to ask what happened to him at the Australian Open. Throughout the event he didn’t look very convincing. JesusFed was nowhere to be seen. Was it the slower conditions?

Did Roger not employ the right tactics? It’s just very hard to tell. But the fact is that he wasn’t the same dominant player that he was outside the slams since Wimbledon. Surely it can’t be the pressure of slams either. I mean this is Roger Federer we are talking about. And why is it that Roger does well either in slams or outside of them but not well in both of them at the same time? Is this just age catching up with him? Six months of great form doesn’t help you much if you can’t convert it into slam titles. This is now the first time in who knows how long that Roger doesn’t hold any slam titles. When was the last time he went a year without winning any slams? The one thing that helps me to deal with this loss is that Nadal lost to Ferrer. At least Nadal won’t win four slams in a row now and threaten Roger’s records more.

I was delighted when I heard about Nadal’s loss. I just wish Roger could take advantage of a great opportunity to add to his legacy. But think how much worse it would have been if Nadal now went on to win the event. I have said from the start that i would be pretty satisfied as long as Nadal doesn’t win the event. That remains true and I’m not about to go back on my word. If Nadal had won this event he would have been on 10 slams and he would have achieved something significant that Roger could never achieve. He already equaled Roger in achieving the career slam last year and winning four slams in a row would have been just too much to take. Given that the French Open and Wimbledon is coming up it would have been even harder to take. So thank God for that. At least Roger has some more breathing room now.

He will have his chances at Wimbledon and the US Open again. But this loss can’t be a good sign anyway. I know that on a given day anything can happen, but a second loss to Djokovic in a slam can’t be great for the future. It seems Djokovic is really reaching his peak now and will be hard to stop in future slams. Same thing with Murray probably. We have to face the possibility that Roger may not win any more slams. At least that way we can’t be disappointed. Roger is far from done however and it would surprise me if he doesn’t win at least one more slam. I’d love for him to add 2 more or even 4, but that is getting harder now. Him and Annacone will seriously have to look at some things. That backhand for one is not looking good. I don’t know how many times he totally shanked that backhand.

And that after his backhand has been as good as I’ve ever seen it of late. I’m sure this surface has something to do with it. Roger just doesn’t cope as well with the high bounce. I remember at the MC where they said there is something like a 30 cm difference in the height of the ball bounce from Australia.  I mean that makes a huge difference. Why was Roger able to beat Djokovic so easily indoors only to lose in a slam? It surely can’t be because of pressure. So my explanantion is to a great extent the surface and the height of the ball bounce. It is a shame that nowadays they have made surfaces so much slower and the bounce higher. I was just thinking yesterday of how Sampras dominated in an era which suited his one dimensional attacking game, while Nadal is playing in an era which suits his one dimensional defensive game.

Roger is the only guy who had to adapt to both types of conditions. It just gos to show what a legend he is. But the fact is it is harder for him to dominate with slower surfaces and higher bounce and it may cost him slam titles. Whatever the case may be, there is still a lot to look forward to. Roger is at least still very motivated and hungry for more slam success, and just seeing him still play tennis is great. I really hope he can add at least two more slam titles just to break some more records and make it that much harder of rNadal to catch him. We will just have to wait and see.

Presser: http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/interviews/2011-01-27/201101271296131995805.html

Highlights: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5j9LWbZRmgc

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61 Comments

  1. It was sooooo painful to watch. The Fed haters may call this a Roger slam — not being in the final of the last 4 GS :-( Am sooo depress, sigh….

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  2. Hi Ruan.
    Djokovic played very,very good and Roger was totally outplayed. But today, Roger did not played on his level.

    But I think that Roger still have a quality to win at least 4 Grand Slams , and he will do it, I’m 100% sure in that.

    Sorry for my English.

    C’mon Roger !!!!

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  3. Pretty bad loss. Last year at the Aus Open Fed’s backhand was more stable. Fed lost his tough in the 3rd set against Simon. The problem is Australia is that night and day sessions are completly different. During the (cold) nights the courts here are awfully slow (Fed doesn’t feel like being able to put the ball away) and low bouncing for topspinn balls. For some reason the slice doesn’t stay low either (at least Federer thinks so). This basically dismantels Fed’s backhand. To win a point you need to play flat, hard and stable off both wings. That’s Djoko’s strength….

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    Bragi Reply:

    Micheal, Nelson and Glen make strong points. Compared to the near-perfect conditions when Federer beat wawrinka, The court at night turned into Mr Hyde; especially this year. Cold, damp and heavy. Such conditions favor players like Soderling, Murray, Simon and Djokovic, who take huge backswings and require more time and a slower surface to maximise these strengths. In today’s match, it often looked like the ball was heavy and it was taking it’s own time to cross the net. It also appeared that federer, for all his effort, was at a loss as to why his aggressive, fast-court tactics were not working. It seemed to me that Annacone and federer had focused primarily on Federer’s strengths, but they had underestimated court and conditions and had therefore not prepared for an alternative approach to counter it, or embrace it. In a perfect indoor court like the 02 Arena, with constant temperatures, even bounce and quicker surface, Federer is like Bradman on a perfect wicket; he is miles ahead of the pack. Hence the difference in the two court performances, hence the shanks on the backhand side against a heavy ball and loopy bounce that threw Federer’s game into a tangle. Djokovic loved these conditions as he acknowledged later on in the presser ‘It gives me time to set up’ he said. The Simon match was a warning of what to expect in the Semis; I don’t know if Annacone-luthi and federer took it seriously enough. I hope at least now they will have the foresight to tune Federer’s game as per the court and conditions, not just the opponent. That said, i agree with Ru-an about Djokovic. He played exceedingly well and deserved his victory. I am also excited to see the second tier battle it out. It’s a refreshing change. I have a feeling it will be Murray’s AO.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good points Bragi.

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    Jiten Reply:

    I may be wrong, but I noticed that on those backhand shanks, Federer was not watching the ball close enough. On one or two occasions, they were like Rafa’s defensive shot with his back facing the court while being forced to outstretch. Also his preparation at the net after playing the drop-shots was poor. Yes, the condition was cold and slow; otherwise the very first break point Fed had on Nole’s second serve in the very first game, his ferocious forehand down the line shot would have been a winner and it could have set a different tone for the match.

    I still believe Fed could win at least one Grand Slam this year.

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    Bragi Reply:

    Jiten, federer is one of the best watchers of the ball, however, he was trying to take a slow, looping ball on the rise instead of waiting for it to dip. IN short, he was trying to play indoor court tennis in swamp conditions. If you see how Djokovic dealt with the same, you will notice how he had all the time in the world to whale on his forehand. That’s because, unlike federer, he waited for the ball to come to him, let it dip and then he let it rip.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well i think its the fact that the ball as bouncing higher and that fact that Roger lifted his head to early.

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  4. Nice, Ruan, agree that it was Djokovic winning this more than Fed losing it. Fed was pretty calm and gracious in the post-match presser, which I think is a very good sign.

    One thing that’s puzzling me. In the first set, I thought Fed was pretty aggressive and looking good going into the breaker, which I feel he lost by being too passive on a couple of key rallies (down 1-2, and 1-3 I believe). Lesson: stick with the aggressive game plan (something he also failed to do at 30-all at 4-5 I think).

    Then, in set two it was the shift from aggressive, baseline hitting to stepping back a bit and offering up more slices and higher kickers that seemed to get the break at 1-2. And then Djokovic’s comeback that set accompanied a return by Fed to the harder hitting approach. Lesson: vary it up and, in particular, don’t give Djokovic all pace all the time. Indeed, this was be Wilander’s take (who I know has a spotty Fed history but I actually think his AO commentary on Fed has been pretty astute): that the aggressive game plan is right against Nadal and most other players but against effective hard-court pace-absorbers like Djokovic and Murray, the older Fed game of some offense and some defense/variety is better suited.

    Your thoughts?

    Final point: I know it sounds like sour grapes, but Djokovic (who I generally like) simply cannot be allowed to continue with this absurd ball bouncing before the serve. It really throws off the returner’s rhythm. And clearly peeved Fed – notice not just the exchange in the third but rather the key point at the breakpoint in 1-2 in set 2 where Fed interrupted the bouncing to get the feather removed. Gamesmanship countering gamesmanship I think.

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  5. Tough loss….eesh. Just had that feeling of impending doom from the start – kind of like the Soderling match last FO.

    From where am I sitting there are 3 factors to this loss:

    1) Playing conditions. The surface/ball combo at the AO has now got beyond a joke…at least as far as the beautiful attacking game Roger likes to play, and us watch. Couldn’t hit through the court, it doesn’t take a slice and the dropper pings up. In short it perpetuates anti-tennis: endurance based, error-fuelled stuff.

    2) Djokovic played a fantastic match. He was returning fantastically (as ever), and punishing Rogers backhand…and showed good mental strength in the key points. The bouncing thing is very bad form and was more pronounced today….but whatever, I guess some players get away with worse.

    3) Fed looked a little flat most of the tournament. Blipped out against Simon in the 3rd and never seemed to regain composure. One feels he possibly peaked too early, playing such a great tale end, and even taking some great form into Qatar. In Australia, he never gave the confidence of last year…those great matches against Hewitt, Tsonga and Murray. You know things aren’t right when, as a fan, you are half waiting for the wheels to fall off….rather than the feeling we had in London, where you couldn’t wait for him to tear through the next opponent.

    Overall, I think what it came down to today was who wanted it more. Clearly that was Djokovic. He feels it is his time now, and it should be.

    As for Fed, of course the knives will come out again. Another non-final showing. I would be worried, but for the fruits of the Annacone partnership we have all witnessed. There is Champagne tennis left in the Maestro yet. Plenty to show, plenty to work on, plenty to come. Even still a chance of regaining the no.1 spot. Sure he has lost a lot of points here, but think of the point swing for every slam Nadal now loses that Fed wins…..at least 2500 swing per slam….not to mention all those non-slam point Nadal has to defend. All on the back of questionable health and increased pressure. Anything can happen.

    Let us be happy that our champ is still motivated and happy to play on in his illustrious career. His best tennis is still the best…and we still get to look on in amazement! :-)

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  6. I had thought that Fed simply road-tested the London/Doha form in the first round here and then pocketed it till it was needed for the semis/finals. But in hindsight I guess you’re right Glen – just peaked too early.

    As for points, though Fed loses ground to Rafa here, I like how Cahill thinks of the points race: forget the rolling system and just start from 0 on Jan. 1 because by the end of the year that’s what will actually count. By that measure, Fed’s doing alright and as long as he doesn’t duff Indian Wells and Miami like the last couple of years, should be able to hold the fort against Rafa’s clay court onslaught.

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  7. Dear Ru-an

    I have been very sad all day about this loss but ur wonderful post has put a smile back on my face. Roger’s period of domination at the Majors was record breaking and will probably never be equalled. He will always be a threat from now on but we shouldn’t expect too much of him. The joy of watching him play should be enough.
    I’m happy for Novak- whoever wins this event now will gain confidence and hopefully will go on to steal many more majors (but not too many!) from Nadal.
    Thanks for cheering me up. Am already looking forward to Dubai and the American hardcourts. Then some more drop shots on clay! I also wonder whether Nadal will recover. I think his hamstring went and if they are torn once they can go again often.

    Regards

    Andrew

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  8. It didn’t look good from the first mid-court forehand in the first game, that made it barely half-way up the net. Then there was the missed break-point on Djokovic’s first service game; in retrospect, that would have given Federer the first set, as he held his own serve through to the tie-break. But something definitely wasn’t right in the tie-break with the champion. Where he once raised his game, it now slipped precipitously from his grasp as he gained only 2 points to Djokovic’s 7 in a flurry of sprayed shots. There was an ominous statistic in that first set – Djokovic was htting his groundstrokes at least 10kph faster than Federer: Roger was being overpowered.

    It didn’t really change from there, even after Federer broke Djokovic twice in the second set; that seemed more like the rub of the green than the outcome of sustained pressure on his opponent. We kept hoping but somehow, it wasn’t surprising he failed to hold serve once more at 5-3. It was a strange performance – not least for Federer, who looked much like a man trying to remember what it was that he used to do and do so well; a look of increased perplexity that eventually turned to dismay. The much-vaunted ‘Annacone effect’ was meanwhile nowhere to be seen.

    Djokovic however was able to find every line when he needed to and even his occasional lapses and errors seemed but punctuation marks towards an inevitable conclusion. Both players depend on self-belief to play their best: the match acquired a strange symmetry as Djokovic’s chest-puffing assertiveness became a mirror to the treacherous doubt that seemed to invade every part of Federer’s game. The much-practised drop shot cost Federer every point but one; again the backhand proved frail against Djokovic’s more solid stroke; the forehand was but a ghostly shadow of the weapon that had assembled 16 grandslam titles through its sheer potency, and even his old friend his serve recognised it was time to leave.

    I don’t think I shall recall much of Federer at this championship; he was not much in evidence. The game I shall remember that came closest to evoking Roger’s sheer ebullient brilliance came instead from the flamboyant racquet of an unheralded young Ukrainian. Dolgopolov – not a name easy to remember, unlike his game – ultimately lost to experience but his talent impressed; he was better in many ways than his opponent, Murray, but had yet to learn that tennis matches are also won through dull application; a lesson that Roger never fully absorbed. Doggedness has never been a Federer virtue but without it the genius is left with nothing in those times his talent deserts him.

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    Glen Reply:

    Neil, I just can’t agree with the sentiment that Fed can’t scrap. He has had days when he hasn’t had it going on at all….hell even whole tournaments like FO 09. Fed’s legacy is littered with these matches where he was unable to bring the heat, and yet found ways.

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  10. I had a feeling he wasn’t ready to win this title.

    Djokovic was playing absolutely fantastic, the same fast-hitting baseline tennis he was showing in 2008. He was regularly beating Roger forehand-to-forehand, and whenever that’s the case, it’s really tough for Roger to make anything happen.

    He made poor tactical decisions. He tried to outhit Djokovic with pace and that’s not going to work. He seemed passive, staying back way too much, and at times impatient, going for low-percentage shots.

    Bragi makes some good points. I hate to say it, but Federer should have played this hard-court match more like a clay-courter. He’s capable of attacking without hitting hard, using slower, loopier/slicier shots with no pace on them, but precisely placed, to open up the court and create opportunities for him to come forward.

    Against Simon for the first two sets he was doing this beautifully–giving his opponent no pace to feed off of, yet opening up the court for his attacking shots. But he departed from that gameplan, and never really recovered in the tournament. Even in the Wawrinka match, he seemed to be forcing things, trying to blast the ball through the court instead of working the point more patiently, and getting shanks and mishits.

    Against Djokovic, this tendency was exposed even more glaringly. And it tired him out a little bit, trying to beat Djokovic to the punch all the time.

    When he adjusted to Djokovic’s aggression by slowing the pace and playing more patiently, he managed to wrest the momentum back in the second set. But he went away from that and Djokovic came back.

    He’s basically having to relearn how to be a Grand Slam champ. That doesn’t happen overnight. A few months with a new coach and a new game plan isn’t enough. It will take some months more.

    He and and his coaches are smart enough to learn from experience. They’ll analyze this match and take what they need out of it. This wasn’t just a mental blip, like in USO; it was a match where Federer picked fundamentally the wrong tactics and was overwhelmed from the beginning.

    I think of him as having returned in some ways to the position of a talented journeyman, as he was in 2002. He’s trying to figure out how to break through in a major after some good performances.

    All he can do is work hard and do well in smaller tournaments, and keep experimenting with his game and pushing himself out of his comfort zone. At some point it will all come together and he’ll go on a long winning streak again.

    I’m hoping he can win a title during the spring hard-court run and produce a strong showing during the clay season. He has a good shot at the French Open this year, if he can stay fit. Of course, Wimbledon is all-important. US Open, I would love to see him win there.

    I am confident he will win all four majors at least one more time before the end of his career.

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    MS Reply:

    Great post,Steve.
    You are one of the few people who still believes Federer has another FO left in him. I hope he gets it this year !

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  11. I never get over how much it hurts when Roger loses especially in slams.I did take heart from his presser.What an amazing guy!He said “it´s not the surface it´s not the night, Djoko was the better player”.It´s not the end as some of the media will tell, it´s only a tennis match.Watching how Roger survives his losses is making me a stronger person.Hope
    he goes and has a nice holiday.
    At the end of the day he´s still Roger Federer.He has 16
    Slams.He has records that will never be surpassed,some who are claiming will never achieve.Who cares about Nadal?, its not a matter of ¿how many Slams?Roger is the greatest champon ever…
    He will be back because that is what Roger Federer always does.Nothing to prove nothing to lose…

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  12. Roger Federer interview SF

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UmuHna-mNs

    So emotionally involved in this great sport. We’ve had our share of joy, and occasional dissappointments, but the old saying goes, you can’t win them all. This interview lets us know he will continue to be playing for a long time. I’m 45 and honestly felt physically great almost up to 40, and still feel pretty good, but I notice changes. That being said, there were quite a few players, Agassi and Connors for ex. who won tournaments in their mid 30’s and late 30’s. This guy is truly a player, who I believe has a goal of playing into the mid 30’s as well. He knows he has work to do, and can win a few more majors as well. Best of luck to Roger. We all appreciate you. G

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  13. Hello everybody!
    Win in Davis cup has clearly boosted morale of Djokovic who has not lost a set at AO 2011 and because he did not play this year before AO he could conserve energy for this big event. Federer played those exhibition matches and in Doha and in the early rounds he got tricky opponent in Gilles Simon, and to top it all he played with an in-form guy 5 years younger.Even then how valiantly did Federer fight! Although I am sad but I am very happy with Federer

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  14. Hey guys is there any official info that this years` conditions of play (mean surface) had been changed in any way cause i see lot of you explain Roger`s “poor” performance with that?And why is the best player ever affected so much – cause its phisically not as strong as the youngsters or else? cause i do not consider jockovich untill this game to be any better than roger on any surface…or might be just totally wrong tactics?

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  15. “a second loss to Djokovic in a slam can’t be great for the future”

    Not a second, but a third loss.

    The first one was at 2008 AO SF (7-6, 7-5, 6-4). The other two are 2010 USO SF and 2011 AO SF.

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  16. Check the weather forecast Stoyan. That will explain how the conditions were different this year. It’s been a very unusually cold Aussie Open. Which has helped the game’s best 2 defensive baseliners on hard courts to prosper. A Murray v Dj final should be very interesting.
    I always think about how every match will help Roger in the long run. Who would you prefer to win Ru-an? A second slam for DJ or Murray’s 1st?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I dont care really. I guess since Djokovic beat Roger i want him to lose. But it looks like Djokovic will win.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    Hmmm, wouldn’t you want (as I do) Djokovic to win, and not just win but wins soundly, just so Fed (and others) see that Djoker is just on a hot-tear form? I.e., hurts the confidence less to lose to someone in such form that they’re beating other top players too at the moment?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah that was kinda what i was getting at.

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    Jiten Reply:

    I too want Murray to win as in that case the gap between Nole and Fed in ATP points will be a bit wider than Nole winning it.

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  17. Not surprised by the results – I thought Djokovic looked good all tournament. I must say, Fed looked a step slow at times during this match. I don’t think the court surface and cooler conditions should be used as excuses for Fed’s loss. From what I saw, Nole outplayed a good-playing Roger. And I agree with the poster upthread who mentioned Roger not sticking with his second set tactics, but going back to trying to outhit and rally with his younger and more flexible opponent. Gad, didn’t Nole look like Gumby out there? Legs and arms and body twisting into all sorts of stretched positions?

    I have to give kudos to Roger for his postmatch presser – very gracious. It’s not as hard to lose a match when you played as well as you could, you could see Fed was reasonably satisfied with himself, and looking forward to more in 2011.

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  18. So, what’s next for Federer? A holiday in the Maldives? A trip back to Africa? When is his next tournament?

    Not interested in the AO final much now. I guess I’d like to see Murray win it, but I suspect Djoker will get his second slam here.

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  19. hi all…throughout all of roger’s career, i’ve never believed in the people who have called his career over, but i am closer than ever to swallowing that now, maybe if only to easier take what will be more and more losses than he ever would have had in the past.

    roger’s spraying of the balls is so bizarre and commonplace now that i come to a match, almost any match against a top twenty player, and believe rog has a legitimate chance of losing the match.

    i think what we must all do, certainly what i must do, is consider his career on the long downslide and just enjoy his early round matches now. i don’t think he’ll ever, and i do mean ever, lose in the first round of any tournament he enters, but i do think that in most all likelihood, roger doesn’t have the hunger any more. it is pretty clear that is all gone.

    that said, i do believe roger is focusing almost entirely on olympics 2012 now. i think he has about six to ten more titles in him, no majors most likely, and he’ll get the gold in london.

    i say all this with the slight, deep, hidden hope that roger might beyond all odds do what agassi did after 30 – win a few more majors. the only thing holding him back is the record he has set and the fire he has put into all other players on tour to get better. this might be the hardest thing on his chances of winning majors – that other players have really stepped up everything in their arsenal just to match his abilities.

    it wouldn’t entirely surprise me, i suppose, if roger somehow changed things even more and dug into a well of tennis training and skill that has never been opened before, hit the gym, matched speed training to whatever djoko and murray do, and come out with a kind of third wind that people will be writing about in a hundred years. but it would have to be akin to other major sports stars ascending to previous exceptional heights that they themselves set and to which all others compare themselves to – like michael jordan or brett favre or tiger woods. if roger is able to do this, and i believe it may be humanly impossible, he would indubitably go down as the greatest, but i think roger might very well be reaching the twilight, and fairly dim at that, of his career because of the bar he has set for other players.

    we’ll see.

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    mark Reply:

    i also wanted to add that i am right now watching djoko murray and about to shut it off and go to bed. the one thing, the most important thing, the brightest thing, about roger, is that he has made tennis a beautiful sport and there has never been another player to bring such grace to the game. ALL other players pale in comparison to him. once he’s done, i’m done watching tennis. it’s just too boring and standard to be even remotely exciting without him.

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    mark Reply:

    okay, just brushed my teeth and did one last check. djoko up five love in the second. murray will never win a major and i’m a little relieved that djoko continues like this because it is so much easier to swallow fed’s mild choke in the sf to djoko, mainly his second set choke. ok, all. i’ve spent two days bummed out about seeing roger’s best days behind him. i’m done now. can’t take it anymore.

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    muhammad Reply:

    mark,i was about to say exactly the same…i mean roger is the guilty here for not making it to the final and also making us addictive of his class and now what; we are watching this pathetic tennis display…roger step it up please…

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    Jiten Reply:

    I think Joker just raised his level to the maximum possible (for him) to beat Fed in the semis. Don’t think Fed played that bad. In the final today, Nole was a rare combination of Fed and Rafa. I have never seen him play so well. Just raising the level of his game at the right moment unlike a relaxed Fed who just thinks that his normal game is enough to beat the best in the world. Most of the time it works, but not always. On those particular days, one has to press something extra in the pedal which Fed failed to do in the clutch moments like when he was serving for the second set in the semis.
    But I still think, Fed has at least two slams left in him. Who knows, may be French open this year itself.

    COME ON FED. ONLY YOU CAN DO IT.

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  20. The only positive from this loss is its history. rmb back in 2005 roger won Doha but then loss in the sf of the oz open. he however bounced back and had a successful year in the end. hopefully it will be the same for him this year. The only thing is that he lost in straight sets..which could also mean a repeat of 2008 )’:

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  21. No Fed in the final but Murray could not capitalize on it. The guy is so boring…Absolutely Boring match it didn´t seem a final.That´s what you get when the top two are not in the final.Felt no excitement.Did no really care who won this year.
    The expectations we have of Roger is perhaps too high
    indeed.He´s fantastic but he´s not super-human.The price of being the Best.Nothing is ever good enough!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I agree without the top two is pretty boring. You can always count on Murray to choke in a final.

    [Reply]

  22. The official verdict on the brave new “post-Federer era” the media is talking about: it’s craptacular.

    The last four major finals have been very dull affairs, thanks entirely to Roger’s absence. Djokovic played very well in this one but Murray was never there mentally.

    This is the aftermath of genius. Barren, exhausted, enervated tennis. No one else can reproduce the magic, nor make it look so effortless and beautiful.

    Even he sometimes falls short of the standard he’s set for himself.

    I believe that Roger will continue winning majors into his thirties. I think he is just as hungry as ever, and free of the pressure now of having to chase others’ records.

    The first-strike, bang-bang style he has been honing works well on faster surfaces, but not so great on the slower stuff. I’m sure he’ll learn from this loss and make the necessary adjustments.

    I hope he can win Roland Garros. If he can win there he’ll have massive confidence for Wimbledon no matter the opposition.

    [Reply]

    Ilya Reply:

    I like your verdict a lot and agree with it: “craptacular. This is the aftermath of a genious.” Sad but true, the bar has been set really high by Fed, and it is really difficult now to watch matches with monotonous 30-point rallies one after another.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Thanks! The word “craptacular” comes from The Simpsons, I can’t take credit for it.

    [Reply]

  23. Looks like more work for Annaconne, there was factors they need to consider now – court conditions. Tough loss but at least he is reached his second successive semis. Lets hope he gets his groove back for RG. It was a boring AO match. Murray was too passive and even Djoker do not have penentrating shots like Federer or Nadal. While tennis world rejoice that they have different GS champion but honestly the match was uber boring. Hope that Roger bounce back at RG and at least be present on the final sunday.

    [Reply]

  24. I agree with and applaud the previous observations that the final had an unbearable dullness to it. Craptacular, lol :-) I guess we could say Djoko played really well, except that in his best moments he looked like Fed’s apprentice who is trying hard to do the right things he learned from the master, and ends up beating another apprentice, who did not learn well. Djoko seemed to have appeared with an attitide of “This is the chance of my life, and I am going to take every chance I have and play aggressively. Like Fed, I will vary the pace of shots, mix up flat hits and slices, and try to set the pace myself. I’ll be focused and relaxed, like the great master, and then I’ll have a chance to win like he did.”

    It worked, however, to a large part because Murray’s attitude, on the contrary, was something like this: “Being in the GS final is an honor in itself, I’ve defended my points and will get a $1 mill check, so I really have nothing to worry about. I’ll just relax, come out there and see what happens. Maybe Djoko does not show up and I’ll will by walkover. And if he does show up, well, no Brit has won a GS in 75 years, so who am I to break this amazing streak and make history?”
    The rest of the match he was yelling at his box who tried to wake him up from his lethargy. Have you guys ever seen a player who channeled his energy and aggression to fight his own support group rather than the opponent? Just pathetic. I start missing Rafa, actually!

    [Reply]

    muhammad Reply:

    murray is pathetic…he will never win a grandslam unless or until his opponent breaks his leg…what a bore final…i hated him even more for making the sport dull…

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    It was so obvious that Murray was just marking time, and could barely be bothered to pretend otherwise.

    I don’t think he would have made the effort to hold serve at 0-5 in the second, except he wanted to avoid the embarrassment of a bagel. And when he broke in the first game of the third set, he immediately dropped serve.

    You’d think that NOT playing against the all-time Grand Slam champion would have given him more confidence, but he was far more competitive against Roger last year. He broke in the first set, was up 5-2 in the third, and had set points in the third-set tiebreak.

    It added fuel to my suspicion that Murray is a lot more concerned with beating Federer in a major than he is with actually winning a major.

    My theory is that he cried last year because he gave his best to beat Roger and was outplayed, and that really hurt him. This year he didn’t cry because deep down he knew he didn’t give his best and I don’t think it really mattered that much to him.

    All the people who were bellyaching and moaning last year about how Murray choked so badly against Federer are totally mute now that he glaringly, obviously choked against Djokovic. Some commentators have gone so far as to suggest that Murray played more valiantly this year than last and it was so one-sided because Djokovic was simply too good. When I come across such rubbish I just have to stop reading.

    Roger brings out the best in the competition. A lot of players are extra-motivated against him, because if you manage to take a set off of the greatest player that ever played the game, or even beat him, it’s a story you can tell to your grandkids.

    As a fan this is sometimes nerve-wracking, but it makes things more interesting. And ultimately it’s better for more tennis if more players play to their best level instead of phoning it in.

    [Reply]

    ines Reply:

    I absolutely agree,last year at the Master Murray said he prefered to beat Roger than win the tourney, poor inmature guy!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah Murray was obviously psyched up against Roger. I didnt watch the final but it seems he was content with losing to Djokovic. Pathetic really. He just doesnt have the temperament for the big stage. You can see it in how he celebrates sometimes as well. He takes it over the top.

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  25. A friend told me he finds it increasingly difficult to watch Federer now because he appears so fragile. Even when Federer is playing well, or leading in a match, he said he can’t relax and be assured that Roger will maintain his consistency. At any moment there is the fear that there will be a sudden splurge of inopportune errors and sprayed shots, and he will hand the match back to his opponent. I think of it as like watching a tightrope walker who we know has become susceptible to problems with his nerves or his balance when once we had no concerns that he might fall.

    As I saw Djokovic overwhelm the increasingly distressed Murray in the final I was impressed by the Serb’s tenacity in returning every ball that he could, and yet when he attacked he strove to ensure the ball was over the net and in the court – he didn’t waste his opportunities by rushing, becoming over-excited, going for too much or simply being too casual. It was a gritty and masterful performance and too much for Murray, who depends on his opponent gifting him errors. I wished Federer played more like this more often – it wins big matches.

    However, as I later watched two Indian players both aged over 35, one of whom had a little paunch, contesting the men’s doubles with their accurate serving, exquisite volleying and superb returns I remembered tennis as it used to be – a racquet sport for those with great hands. Somehow the game of singles has become a contest pre-eminently of physical skills between latter-day gladiators, whose aim is to outlast the other guy and pound his brains out from the baseline. I guess I miss tennis and don’t care much for its modern substitute. Oh, and the Indian guys lost to a couple of giant servers.

    [Reply]

    Ilya Reply:

    Now with the retirement of Henin, women’s tennis is turning into the same thing: just endless pounding from the baseline.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Neil. Tennis isnt whet it used to be, and im not sure it suits Roger much.

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  26. After having witnessed him play for so long & with an elegance so unique,he has achieved something no other Tennis player or even any Sportsman ever would!!! But its become a case of “MANIA” for us fans ever enchanted & wanting more from him.All those GS,Masters…etc have become mere numbers.We should remind ourselves of how the likes of Goran Ivanišević had to toil long for a Grand Slam,showing traits of perseverance & will!!We take things for granted that we want Roger reach every Grand slam final & try win it.Lets enjoy the things he has done that changed the way people world over see TENNIS!!!

    And i am sure he has good 4yrs in him to add to his growing collection!!

    Go Roger!!!!!!

    [Reply]

  27. When I watched Djokovic-Murray final although reluctantly, I didnot know who to root for. From one side I wanted Djokovic to win because he was already a Slam player and Murray was not there yet but from the other side since Murray had a winning against Federer head to head I was inclined to get him the win. But in the end the result convinced me that it was for the better. Next time should Murray come to face Federer in a GS final he will still have the disadvantage of not defeating Federer in slam and that is good. Except the US open 2010, Federer has not lost in any GS semifinal to a player who did not eventually win the title. That itself speaks volume and the way Djokovic dispatched Murray shows how on fire Djokovic was and I think no Nadal at his best or any other player for that matter could stop the Serb from taking the title this time and that has given me consolation despite Federer’s loss.

    [Reply]

  28. Hey, Ruan,
    I just wanted to say I had some trouble on my photobucket. You will see some icon spaces empty, but the pictures are all now back on track.
    Keep enjoying Roger, your blog writing and “my” icons.
    Cheers,
    Annemie

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok thanks for letting me know :-)

    [Reply]

  29. hI RUAN
    i wanted to ask you about wimby.how come nadal is seen as favorite to win wimbeldon.why isnt roger so dominant on grass?
    or is it just made up?
    also the courts in wimby.they have been slowing it down.is this the reason guys like nadal are the favourites to win

    aloso have you noticed the great hue and cry caused by rogers loss in the semis
    some calling it curtains for him.how could this be happening
    before the Oz open federer was red hot and the fave to defend his title.now all the talk about him declining sharply

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    Seems to be a truism, the saying that ‘you’re only as good as your last tournament results’.
    As soon as any of the top players lose unexpectedly, or before the media/fans think they ‘should’, it’s End of An Era talk, or Is He Too Old, or His Body Will Fail Him, or other stuff.

    [Reply]

  30. Hi Ru-an, hope you are recovering well. So nice to hear from you again. Roger just wasn’t top form when he met Djokovich. As we all agreed, if Roger is top form, nobody can beat him. Although Djokovich was in the zone, if Roger had been top form, I think, Roger still might have won; in tight sets. Anyway, whatever the comments about Roger : not aggressive enough, wrong tactics, blah, blah, blah, at the end of the day, I feel, it comes back to the service. Roger has one of the most clutch service. But that night against Djokovich, it let him down badly. If his first serve percentage had been better, he would have taken the 2nd set and who knows what could have happened. Momentum could have changed and he would have been more confident. As it was, he was struggling to hold on his serve although he broke in 2nd set. If you see all matches that he lost, usually, generally, it is because he couldn’t get enough first serves in. Without first serves in, it is impossible to play aggressive. Roger is just not as solid/reliable on groundstrokes as many other players, not just the top players. The moment I see him engage in a rally more than 4 strokes, my heart is in my mouth and I know he is in trouble. During his “slump” 2008 and 2009, it’s his service that helped him hang on a thread. There were matches when he couldn’t hit a ball inside the net at all but he could at least get a first serve in. However, against top players, even if he plays well but couldn’t get a first serve in, then he is most likely to lose. My questions, Ru-an : 1) Roger has always had a good serve (from the start of his career) and it has improved, I believe. But why has it not become a consistent, dependable weapon like how Sampras has developed his? You can count on Sampras to always deliver his first serve. And this has allowed Sampras to be constantly aggressive. Why can’t Roger bring his serve to that kind of solid/consistent/dependable level like Sampras? 2) Why is Roger’s groundstrokes not solid and dependable, like, Djokovich, Nadal, Murray, Davydenko, Ferrer? These guys get every ball back and within the lines. Sorry, Ru-an, if I’m naive about tennis because I’m not a player. I hope you can explain to me and help me understand. I know Roger takes the ball early so because of that, it’s more risky. Then why can’t he not take it early and play a bit safer sometimes? 3) I can’t understand Roger’s lack of confidence when he faced Djokovich. He has beaten him soundly 3x before coming into the semi. He came into the match rather lamely. Or is it a case of over-confidence, naively thinking that he could handle Djokovich? Roger is an enigma sometimes. I do get the sense that sometimes he is over confident. I wonder if he watches matches or not of the players who threaten him. Does he study their every move, know exactly how dangerous they can be for him? Does Anacone do that for him? He sometimes gives me the impression that he is naive or maybe too proud and not really registering in his mind that these players are all out to get him and they have the weapons. Then there is the case of Simon sucking confidence out of him. I don’t understand. He overcame Simon, he should be superbly confident. Instead, he seemed drained by it mentally. Maybe once age sets in, it’s harder to recover. I hope Anacone gets into the mental side of Roger. I think it’s not easy coz Roger doesn’t really let people get too close to him although he seems an easy going guy. He is also still very proud and stubborn. Yet if he chooses to keep on playing, he has to open himself up and embrace new ways to improve/solidify his game. Maybe he is caught between wanting to play the game and swallowing his pride. I know it takes time, as Steve always remind us. Let’s all hope 2011 will be the year that Roger is truly emancipated. 3)Why are courts all over the world being slowed down? Why do people do this? Is it slower courts are easier/cheaper to maintain? I really would like to know why. I don’t understand why courts are always slowed down but hardly ever hear them being made faster. Would appreciate your comments. Thanks Ru-an. You and your country in my prayers always.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Veronica. 1) Sampras had the best second serve in history. Its just a motion that gives him a better serve. His first serve was also bigger than Roger. I also think Sampras was more clutch than Roger. He could come up with great serves when he most needed them. And then finally he played in faster conditions which would also help the serve. I don’t know why Roger’s serve percentage drops sometimes at crucial moments. This could be because he isn’t as clutch as someone like Sampras. More mentally fragile. 2) For one these guys you mention have two handed backhands which make them more solid. As you said Roger is also more offensive minded than all these guys that are taking advantage of the slower conditions. 3) Roger had a bad overall tournament at the AO and i still cant quite figure out why considering his form coming in. The loss to Djokovic was therefor not all that surprising. He was already struggling against the likes of Simon and Robredo and Djokovic was playing much better than these guys. 4) I remember there was a time when everyone was complaining how the big servers dominated so i guess thats why they slowed down the conditions. But it seems they are taking that a bit far now. The game keeps changing.

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    Thanks Ru-an! Really appreciate your comments. I understand a bit better now.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No problem :-)

    [Reply]

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