Australian Open Day 7: Djokovic Survives Simon Despite 100 Unforced Errors | Ultimate Tennis Blog

In my last post, I said literally anything can happen in tennis, and it almost did. The world number one almost lost to Simon but scraped through 6-3, 6-7(1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in spite of 100 unforced errors. Extraordinary scenes.

In tennis terms, Simon is really the ultimate troll. He takes huge pleasure in dragging opponents down to his despicable level of pushing and counterpunching tennis. Even Nadal is more entertaining to watch. That shit made my eyes bleed.

I really took no pleasure in watching the tennis, but the fact that Djokovic won gave me immense satisfaction. Aside from the quote I posted yesterday Simon also said the following before the match:

“Players start being fed-up (with Djokovic’s dominance), it’s annoying. It’s a bit humiliating for everyone. It’s not that Novak has become arrogant but, on Sunday, there will be many people rooting for me in the locker room. Almost everyone.”

More trolling from Simon but it’s nice to know that Djokovic defeated almost the entire ATP Tour despite making 100 unforced errors. And in the end, he did it through sheer willpower. Simon ruined his game so badly with his repulsive brand of tennis that it was the only thing left he had to win with.

Literally nothing was working for Djokovic as he made unforced error after unforced error and yet he fought on and flat out refused to surrender. I have massive respect for that. It was nasty conditions in the heat against the nastiest of opponents but he endured and tasted victory.

Many people will claim this is the worst match Djokovic has played in a long time, failing to recognize the ‘little’ role Simon had in that. For me, it’s one of the best matches he played in recent times because of his sheer will to win.

That said, I have asked myself why he wasn’t much more aggressive and energetic throughout the match. He appeared very lethargic and subdued throughout but, of course, that is exactly what Simon aims to do to his opponents.

Yes, they are friends

Like a parasite or virus, he feeds on his host’s life force until they are utterly spent. Fortunately, there is an awful lot of life in the world number one and he was going to prevail one way or the other.

So I guess in the end you can ask why didn’t Djokovic play like he did in the fifth set throughout the match when he was more aggressive and energetic. But you also have to take previous slams into account and Djokovic never peaks throughout a slam.

No one who wins it does. To win slams you must pace yourself and leave some of your best form for the latter rounds, or else you will run into trouble like Federer did in the last couple of slams.

  • Goffin Dares to Win 7 Games Against Federer

Speaking of Federer, Goffin had the nerve to win 7 games off his idol in a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 defeat. More extraordinary scenes. Given the Fedfanatic that Goffin is I was expecting him to be more submissive than that, but I guess with the match fixing rumours going on he had to be careful.

In all seriousness, though, can you imagine two more contrasting opponents than Simon and Goffin? Here you have a guy who before the match even began made it abundantly clear that he wants a piece of Djokovic.

Then he drags him into a kind of tennis hell in the heat of the day while Goffin softly submits in the cool of the night to his idol Federer. To be honest, Goffin should be fined for his disgraceful behaviour. It is not becoming of a professional tennis player.

But hey, I’m not complaining. Unknowingly, Goffin is doing Federer more harm than good. He is giving him a false sense of security which can come back to bite him in the ass. Now I’m hearing about a ‘masterclass’ from Federer again.

How hard can it be to display a masterclass when your opponent is subconsciously(or maybe even consciously) trying to make you look good? Now suppose for a second Federer played against Simon instead. I think anyone can imagine how ugly that could have gotten for Federer.

This is, of course, nothing new. We have seen the same thing happen over and over again lately with Djokovic and Federer. Djokovic looks down and out and comes back to cruise to another slam title. Federer, on the other hand, looks in prime form only to come crashing down in the final.

But don’t listen to me. I honestly don’t know a single thing about tennis. I just think there is a good possibility that Djokovic will come out and school Nishikori like he did Cilic after the Wimbledon fourth round against Anderson.

And as far as Federer goes I can see him really struggling against Berdych. But again, that’s just me. Who knows with tennis.

  • Elsewhere in the Draw

So like I said Berdych and Nishikori both won. Nishikori destroyed Tsonga 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 while Berdych needed five sets to defeat Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3. Bautista Agut was a kind of dark horse but this was already his third five-setter of the event.

In the end, a good win for Berdych who like I said I can see giving Federer serious problems but who knows. I’m just not going to take a straight-set beatdown of a Federer fanboy very seriously. If Federer can maintain the same level against Berdych then all credit to him.

But Berdych has given Federer plenty to think about in the past and he will be an actual test. If Federer wins in straight sets then I’ll be willing to admit he is in good form. But for now, the jury is out.

Nishikori did well against Tsonga and apparently he said he is ready to defeat Djokovic(referring to the 2014 US Open semis) again. Maybe he will, or maybe Djokovic will destroy him in straight sets and embarrass him. The jury is out on that too.

All I can say is that Djokovic can only get better from his last match while Federer has already peaked. For Federer to win the title he now has to peak in all of his remaining matches as well, while Djokovic is still far from his peak.

  • Day 8 Matches

Well, finally there is something to get excited about in the bottom half of the draw again as Stan plays against Raonic and Murray plays against Tomic. Those matches should be interesting but especially Stan vs Raonic.

Raonic won Brisbane of course and hasn’t dropped a set thus far in Melbourne. Neither has Stan, although Raonic had tougher competition. Stan leads the head-to-head 4-0 so he is probably the favorite but Raonic may just be ready to cause the upset.

Murray vs Tomic could get interesting too but I guess Murray will win in four sets.

  • Highlights
  • The Djoker

The Djoker’s response to Simon’s ‘locker room’ comment:

The  is in your court.

Australian Open Day 5: Djokovic and Federer Reveals Form | Ultimate Tennis Blog

G’day tennis fans. I missed the post for Day 4 of the Australian Open because my sleeping pattern is a mess and I didn’t think there was anything particularly interesting happening anyway.

The biggest stories were that Ferrer retired Hewitt, Verdasco lost to Sela as expected after playing one good match, and Sock lost in straight sets to Rosol, which means Stan’s draw opens up even more. A good example of draws being only a rough guideline.

They rarely work out as you expect.

  •  Federer’s Uninspiring Performance

First of all, let me just say congratulations to Federer for his 300th grand slam win, the first man to do so in the open era.

The third round is usually the point in a slam where you start to get a better of the top players’ form. I think after Day 5’s matches we can make a distinction between the respective forms of the top two players in the top half of the draw.

Djokovic played Seppi, the player who defeated Federer in four sets last year while Federer played Dimitrov about whom I said in my last post that he hasn’t showed me anything to even suggest that he can win a set off of Federer.

Well, I was wrong. Federer won 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. I only watched the first seven games since I couldn’t sleep and went to sleep after Federer had just broken to take a 4-3 lead. But from what I read and looking at the match stats, it was a mediocre performance from Federer.

So although I was wrong, Dimitrov won a set not because of playing extraordinary tennis, but rather because Federer was below par. I mean 13 aces and 5 double faults, a negative winner/unforced error ratio of 44-58, 4/15 break point conversions, and 29/40 at the net tells you all you need to know.

Nothing special there at all. Very concerning form from Federer in fact if you are a Fedfan. This is nothing surprising of course. Not if you’ve been reading my posts at least. I’ve been going on for some time now about my doubts around Federer’s form.

Sure it’s just one match, but it was another flat and uninspiring performance from Federer. And it’s been pretty much that way since the US Open final. Since then Federer has hardly impressed. And of course, that is to be expected if you keep losing big matches to the same player.

Since the US Open he lost another big final in London to Djokovic, and that was routine. What toll does that take on your morale? Not a good one I would imagine. But like I said it is still only one match so let’s wait some more and see what happens.

Federer now plays Goffin who defeated Thiem 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5. I certainly expect Federer to win just because Goffin is such a lightweight and worships Federer like one of the Federer cult. But I can see Berdych giving Federer real problems if he doesn’t drastically improve.

Berdych defeated Kyrgios 6-3, 6-4, 1-6, 6-4 which is a solid win. He now plays Bautista Agut who upset Cilic 6-4, 7-6(5), 7-5. Not that much of an upset in my mind though as I view Cilic as a one-slam wonder.

I think Berdych will defeat Bautista Agut and then we would have a very interesting quarterfinal between two old rivals. Berdych has given Federer plenty to think about in the past and Federer would have to be at his peak to get through that.

But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. They both have to win first.

  •  Djokovic’s Inspiring Performance

What was inspiring about Djokovic’s performance was not so much the quality of the tennis as it was the fact that he saved two set points in the third set tiebreak to win 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(6) and still hasn’t dropped a set in the tournament.

Don’t get me wrong. It was high-quality tennis and the match stats are still good for Djokovic, but I wouldn’t say he was at his peak. But you also have to credit the opponent for that. Seppi is a very awkward opponent as he showed last year against Federer.

Back then I thought it was just Federer who played poorly, but after watching him again against Djokovic today, I realized just what a tricky opponent he is in these conditions. He hits the ball hard and flat and doesn’t make many mistakes.

He is deceptive in that way because he is not a physically imposing player but his technique is such that he hits the ball very cleanly. The tiebreak in the third set was pretty special with Djokovic getting the early break and going up 4-2, then losing four consecutive points to fall behind 4-6 and face two set points, and then winning four consecutive points to win the breaker and the match 8-6.

I don’t remember ever seeing that before. The point at 4-6 in the tiebreak was pretty special but the point of the match came in the second set at 5-5 and break point for Djokovic. It was a 33-stroke rally which ended with Seppi being forced into error and Djokovic triumphantly raising his first in the air.

Great entertainment.

Djokovic plays Simon next who destroyed Del Bonis. Simon used the recent match-fixing controversy to try some tongue-in-cheek mind games on Djokovic:

That is quite funny actually and all credit to Simon for his originality. Knowing him, it doesn’t surprise me at all. He is a smart guy who knows very well how to get under the skin of his opponents, both on and off the court.

That said, I don’t know how meaningful it is to try it against Djokovic. Djokovic seems to be immune to any distractions and probably couldn’t care less. He is so focused on the job at hand that he probably didn’t even notice.

Either way, Simon is a tough opponent and this is tennis so literally anything can happen. Djokovic would do very well just to keep his record of not losing any sets intact.

  •  Elsewhere in the Draw

The only players I didn’t mention then is Nishikori and Tsonga who won in four sets and straight sets respectively and now play each other for a place in the quarterfinals. I guess Tsonga is looking better than Nishikori and could win that one.


Then I also want to say that I watched most of Thiem’s match and his mental fortitude disappointed me again. Just not nearly clutch enough on the big points and he has a lot of work to do in that department to become a top 10 player.

His backhand, in particular, is terrific to watch but mentally he is too unstable still and he needs to stop looking over to his camp after every point and become more focused.

  •  The Bottom Half

Personally, I find the bottom half of the draw boring and uninspiring, especially with the departure of Nadal. I don’t even see one match tomorrow that I am interested in watching. Not that I mind. It gives me a chance to get some other things done.

But don’t expect a post from me. Sunday is top half again and then there will be plenty of tennis to watch.

Until then!

  •  Highlights
  •  Match Stats


The  is in your court.

Australian Open 2016 Draw – Nadal Falls in Wawrinka’s Quarter | Ultimate Tennis Blog

HALYS, Quentin FRA
[28]SEPPI, Andreas ITA

[14]SIMON, Gilles FRA

[9]TSONGA, Jo-Wilfried FRA
[17]PAIRE, Benoit FRA

[26]GARCIA-LOPEZ, Guillermo ESP

[27]DIMITROV, Grigor BUL

[19]THIEM, Dominic AUT
MAYER, Leonardo ARG
[15]GOFFIN, David BEL

[12]CILIC, Marin CRO

(W)NISHIOKA, Yoshihito JPN
[6]BERDYCH, Thomas

[5]NADAL, Rafael ESP
BECKER, Benjamin GER
[30]CHARDY, Jeremy FRA

MAHUT, Nicolas FRA
RAM, Rajeev USA

[13]RAONIC, Milos CAN
[21]TROICKI, Viktor SRB

[25]SOCK, Jack USA

[8]FERRER, David ESP
(W)HEWITT, Lleyton AUS
[31]JOHNSON, Steve USA

[18]LOPEZ, Feliciano ESP
(W)EBDEN, Matthew AUS
[10]ISNER, John USA

[16]TOMIC, Bernard AUS
[20]FOGNINI, Fabio ITA

[32]SOUSA, Joao POR
ZVEREV, Alexander GER

I am back with my Australian Open draw analysis as promised. I hope you are all excited and looking forward to the first slam of the year which I think of as the friendly slam.

Not just in terms of the atmosphere but also in terms of the weather and scheduling. Although I must say in terms of the time zone it is not so friendly to me but I am willing to endure a few early mornings to watch some great tennis.

The first thing I was looking for in the draw was where Nadal would land since he is the 5th seed and would, therefore, play against one of the top four seeds in the quarterfinals. As fate would have it he fell in Stan’s quarter.

The other thing to look for was in who of the top two seed’s half of the draw Federer and Stan fell, and Federer fell in Djokovic’s half while Stan fell in Murray’s half.

  • Djokovic Got a Favorable Draw
  • R1: Chung
  • R2: Dodig
  • R3: Seppi
  • R4: Karlovic/Simon
  • QF: Nishikori/Tsonga
  • SF: Federer/Berdych/Kyrgios
  • F: Murray/Wawrinka/Nadal

Not that he needed it, but Djokovic got almost the ideal draw. Why? He got Federer in his half who he leads 6-0 in sets on Plexicusion, having won the 2008 and 2011 meetings in straight sets.

On top of that his biggest threat, Stan, has a very tough draw. It’s just about the opposite of what happened at the French Open last year. There Djokovic had to play Nadal in the quarters, Murray in the semis, and Stan in the final.

It was a brutal draw and I guess you could call this karma. If Stan is to win the title it is likely he will have to go through Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic. Almost impossible. But not only that, he gets Sock(who is in the Auckland final) in the third round and Raonic(who won Brisbane) in the last 16.

Absolutely brutal. If there was one guy who could possibly trouble Djokovic in Melbourne it was Stan. They have met three times in Melbourne.

All three matches went to five sets with Djokovic leading 2-1 but one of them he won 12-10 in the fifth set. So it’s been extremely close and Stan was the one guy who had a chance of upsetting Djokovic.

But with his draw, it seems very unlikely. It would take a special effort just to make the final. Stan is not the grinder type and he will get tired from long matches. So if he does somehow make the final he will probably be tired.

As for the lead up to the semis, you’d expect Djokovic to come through without too much trouble. Nishikori has beaten Djokovic at the US Open but it’s hard to see him pull it off here.

  • Federer Gets Potentially Tricky Draw
  • R1: Basilashvili
  • R2: Dolgopolov
  • R3: Dimitrov
  • R4: Goffin/Thiem
  • QF: Berdych/Kyrgios/Bautista Agut/Cilic
  • SF: Djokovic
  • F: Murray/Wawrinka/Nadal

I say potentially tricky because while at first I thought Dimitrov is basically a walkover in the third round I see he has all of a sudden made the final in Sydney and has won three matches in a row for the first time since Madrid last year.

So unfortunately for Federer, he may actually have a tough third round here. We know about Dolgopolov’s talents too and although he tends to be inconsistent on a good day he can do damage.

If Federer makes the fourth round he shouldn’t have much trouble in disposing of Goffin or Thiem. Thiem would do well just to survive his first round against Mayer, but if he does make the fourth round I hope he can, at least, make it more competitive than in Brisbane.

It’s a bit tough to call Federer’s potential quarterfinal opponent. Berdych is the favorite but it can easily be Kyrgios. Bautista Agut is also in the final of Auckland while Cilic’s capabilities are also well known.

I hope Federer plays well anyway and makes the semis. But I have a lot of doubts around him. We will see how the first three rounds go after which I will be in a better position to assess his form.

  • Wawrinka’s Brutal Draw
  • R1: Tursunov
  • R2: Qualifier
  • R3: Sock
  • R4: Raonic
  • QF: Nadal
  • SF: Murray
  • F: Djokovic

It doesn’t get much tougher than that. Sock is currently in the final of Auckland after defeating Ferrer while Raonic just straight-setted Federer in the Brisbane final and then he gets a big four member in his quarter.

Just ridiculous. I’d love to see Stan make at least the quarterfinals for a repeat of the 2014 final against Nadal but I can already see him having very tough matches against Sock and Raonic. I mean Raonic looks primed to do serious damage especially.

Whatever the case may be, this is a fascinating part of the draw.

  • Murray Handed a Decent Draw For Once
  • R1: Zverev
  • R2: Mannarino/Groth
  • R3: Sousa/Young
  • R4: Tomic/Fognini
  • QF: Ferrer/Isner
  • SF: Wawrinka/Nadal
  • F: Djokovic

I think Murray tends to get tough draws in slams. But aside from getting rising star Zverev in the first round, Murray should not really be troubled until the semis. Not that I think Zverev can beat him.

Tomic is potentially a difficult fourth round but he just withdrew in Sydney so who knows about his health. Murray’s chances of making another Australian Open final looks pretty good but I’d rather see Stan or Nadal in the final.

I thought last year’s final was pretty good but I’m not really interested in seeing a repeat. I expect Djokovic to make the final and I’d rather see him playing Stan or Nadal than Murray again.

  • First Round Matches of Interest
  • Djokovic vs Chung
  • Thiem vs Mayer
  • Nadal vs Verdasco
  • Muller vs Fognini
  • Murray vs Zverev

The above matches are what I think will make for good viewing in the first round. Honorable mention to Nishikori vs Kohlschreiber. Chung is a rising young star from Korea who got an unfortunate draw but it will nonetheless be interesting to see how many games he can win off Djokovic.

Thiem has a tough draw as well with Mayer in the first round. He would do well just to pass the first round, but if he does I hope he can make it count and, at least, make the fourth round. He was playing quite well in Brisbane.

Verdasco is insane and although I don’t think he can beat Nadal if he has a good day he can make it a competitive match. Nadal struggled at times in Doha as well and I’m interested to see what his form is like early on.

Muller vs Fognini is interesting simply because of the contrasting styles and Fognini’s craziness. Fognini will probably win but the match could provide some interesting tennis.

Finally, like I said I expect Murray to win and probably easily, but like Chung against Djokovic it will be interesting to see how many games Zverev can win.

  • In Conclusion

After going over the draw in detail, I find it quite interesting. It’s quite well-balanced because Nadal is in the opposite half of Djokovic. Given that Djokovic is the favorite, Nadal had to be in the opposite half to balance the draw.

Stan’s quarter is going to be particularly interesting. I will be keeping a close eye on both Federer and Nadal’s form. Nadal has been consistent since the fall season last year while Federer has been the opposite as is usually the case.

Will that continue? Will Federer lose early and Nadal will go from strength to strength? Or will Federer put Brisbane behind him and get back in the Australian Open semis? I hope so because I want to see a Djokerer semi but I am not counting on it.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Kyrgios makes a move but you can’t count Berdych out either.

In the bottom half, I’m hoping for a Nadal vs Stan quarterfinal and looking at Nadal’s draw it’s not that hard to make quarters. Nadal has Anderson but Anderson has been injured of late and lost in the quarters of Auckland.

I don’t care who wins between Stan and Nadal but like I said I’d prefer a different final than last year so I hope the winner defeats Murray.

In the end, any knowledgeable tennis fan who does not have Djokovic as the favorite needs to have their head examined but, of course, that does not mean he will win a 6th Australian Open.

I just think with the draw he is even a bigger favorite. And as a fan, I don’t think that is jinxing. I’m just telling the truth. Djokovic also won Doha so if we are being honest then he is the overwhelming favorite to win the title.

Again, that doesn’t guarantee anything. It just means taking everything into account he is the most likely to win the tournament. Just that.

Now let the games begin.

The  is in your court.

Australian Open 2015 Draw Out – Nadal in Federer’s Half | Ultimate Tennis Blog

Hey, friends. You know I don’t put much stock in draws as they hardly ever play out the way you expect, but I will indulge you. The first question was on whose side Nadal would be, and unfortunately it turns out he is on Roger’s side. And it pisses me off that it always seems to be the case in Melbourne. I don’t like to talk about rigged draws because there is no proof, but sometimes you wonder. And what pisses me off even more is that Nadal got the easiest quarter final opponent of the top four in Birdshit. Birdshit is his absolute bitch and if he ever needed Berdych in his quarter it was now. Also, Roger got Murray in his quarter who is one of the top two most difficult quarter-final opponents for the top four. The other being Nishikori who is in Stan’s quarter. I am just overall pissed off with this draw but like I said it hardly ever plays out the way you imagine and Nadal, for instance, could lose before the semis.

I find it hard to imagine to whom though. Maybe first round to Youzhny if Youzhny plays a blinder but after that it’s hard to see him lose. Maybe Rosol but once Nadal has two wins under his belt he already becomes hard to stop. Nadal lost his first match in Doha to Berrer, but he did win the doubles title with Monaco which would have already helped his confidence. If Nadal makes fourth round I don’t see him losing to Gasquet or Anderson who is both massive chokers. If Anderson wins it would be the biggest win of his life anyway. Then should Nadal play Birdshit it is almost impossible for him to lose. Birdshit will do whatever it takes to lose to his hero. So it is difficult to see Nadal lose before the semis but not impossible. If Roger does play Nadal in the semis then he will just have to win. His record against Nadal in slams is poor and given his new found mental strength and Nadal’s lack of tennis it would provide a good opportunity to get one back.

But of course, there is no guarantee Roger will make semis either. His path to the title is Lu, Monaco/Bolelli, Chardy, Karlovic/Kyrgios/Robredo, Dimitrov/Murray, Nadal/Berdych, Djokovic/Stan. That is a pretty tough draw right there. The first three rounds are not that tough but then it gets difficult. After my last post, some people have brought up the fatigue factor for Roger. My view was optimistic about it all, but I suppose he could feel the effects of not having taken much of a break after the long 2014 season. It’s not gonna change my optimistic outlook though. I’m sure some Fedfans have thrown in the towel as far as winning the title goes after having seen the draw, saying that Roger is too tired to get through it. Personally I don’t see much excitement in taking such a stance. As I said in my last post Roger’s game is in peak shape now and if he can conserve some energy early on he will have his chances.

He also said in an interview which someone posted on my blog that he is actually intentionally playing more at the recommendation of Edberg, with the argument that as you age it is easier for the body to keep playing than to take long breaks and come back. He is also focusing on playing more points in practice. Someone also made the remark that sometimes Roger gets an easy draw and loses while a hard draw can work out. It once again comes down to the fact that draws don’t mean much and that it is useless to look much further than the next round, which for Roger is against Lu. As long as Roger keeps focusing on what is in front of him and takes care of it well he will have his chances at #18. I have already said I am quietly confident and I am not concerned about the draw. As long as Roger keeps playing the way he has been playing I believe in his chances.

A List of Court Speeds | Ultimate Tennis Blog

I’ve been wondering for a while now about the different court speeds and the above table pretty much sums it up. In the table the court speed is determined by the percentage of points won on serve, which I think is pretty accurate. As expected Paris is number one and is probably the only event on the list which is still conducive to serve-and-volley play. Interestingly Paris has probably been Roger’s worst Masters Series event. Last year was his best result yet where he made semis and lost to Monfils after having match points. I think it shows that he hasn’t really worked that hard on his attacking game over the years. Last year when he joined up with Annacone he started to work more on coming to the net which could be why he had his best result yet in Paris. I wish Roger gave more attention to his net game over the years.

When Wimbledon was still fast he was right up there with the best serve-and-volley players. Then as the surfaces became slower he became a base liner and his net game basically died. I think that hurt him especially against Nadal. He was too stubborn and wanted to dominate Nadal from the base line. I don’t think it was as much the slowing down of the courts that hurt him against Nadal as his stubbornness to go to the net. Now that Annacone is helping him to be more attacking it is at a pretty late stage and a lot of the damage has already been done. To get back to the table, I’m a bit surprised that Wimbledon is still in second spot. Wimbledon has been slowed down some, but I think it is mostly the height and consistency of the bounce that has changed, which have helped someone like Nadal. The surface itself still seems to be pretty fast.

Cincinnati is high up as expected. Cincy has been one of Roger’s best Masters Series events especially of late, having won it the last two years. This to me shows that he does enjoy the faster surfaces, coupled with the fact that he has done so well at Wimbledon over the years. Canada is also pretty high up, although I’m not sure if the stat is conclusive since they alternate between Toronto and Montreal. Anyway Roger has won it twice and made two finals. It’s also quite interesting to see the US Open having about average speed, but I suppose that’s more or less expected. The US Open have been slowed down along with all the other courts, but is still a surface which Roger loves to play on. Then it’s quite surprising to see a clay court event ahead of Miami, Indian Wells, and the Oz Open.

The altitude in Madrid obviously has a lot to do with it but it also shows how slow some of the hard courts have become. Indian Wells, Miami, and the Oz Open are classified as slow hard court. In Indian Wells and Miami Roger was doing really well earlier in his career, while the results have dropped off a little of late. And this year at the Oz Open he lost in straight sets to Djokovic. In that match it looked like the slower courts really got to him because he was unable to penetrate Djokovic’s defenses. Finally at the bottom of the list we have Roland Garros and Rome, which is to be expected. It is worth noting that Roger beat Djokovic on a slower court than the Oz Open when he beat him at Roland Garros this year. How could he not get through Djokovic’s defenses at the Oz Open but was able to do it at the French?

It’s a hard question to answer. Maybe the clay helped him to vary his game more with drop shots and slices. The crowd also played a role as they were really behind Roger. Roger looked inspired on the day, like he was out to prove something. Finally he played a really good tournament throughout, not dropping a set until that match. At the Oz Open he lost two sets to Simon earlier on and wasn’t exactly full of confidence. It looks like from here on if Roger is going to win a slam he is going to have look really confident from the start. Coming back to the surface speeds, Roger have done well on all surface speeds throughout his career. But as he gets older he seems to favor faster courts. That could have to do with the fact that he is trying to play more attacking these days and the fact that he doesn’t move as well as he used to.

Therefor he needs to play first strike tennis and keep the points short. With guys like Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray around who all have amazing defenses, faster courts will obviously help him. It means he gets involved in less long rallies where there is a better chance of him making unforced errors. So it doesn’t work in his favor that things have been slowed down so much these days, but at the same time he left it pretty late to start working on a more attacking game. If he did so earlier it may have been easier to deal with the rise of the defensive base liners and for him to make up for his lack of foot speed as he grew older. My overall conclusions are that Roger started neglecting his net game as surface speeds slowed down and it cost him, in his prime as well as now.

Agassi Praises Federer in New Book | Ultimate Tennis Blog

“Walking to the net, I’m certain that I’ve lose to the better man, the Everest of the generation. I pity the young players who will have to contend with him. I feel for the man who is fated to play Agassi to his Sampras. Though I don’t mention Pete by name, I have him uppermost in my mind when I tell reports: It’s real simple. Most players have weaknesses. Federer has none.”

Since I was ‘let go’ at my previous job and will start my tennis coaching career only on Monday, it gives me some time to make up to you for the period when I wasn’t blogging much. I found the above excerpt from Andre Agassi’s new and controversial book at Men’s Tennis Forum. It seems like the Agassi book will be a stimulating read, and hopefully I will get my hands on it soon. The quote from Agassi’s book apparently pertains to the 2005 US Open final, where Roger beat Agassi in four sets. If you read the comments of the poster who started the thread, you will see that he also refers to their meeting in 2004, where Roger won in five sets. But of course as a Sampras fan, he conveniently leaves out the fact that there was a gale force wind blowing that day, which is the ultimate equalizer.

He also says that in the 2005 final Agassi was 35 years old and that he had played three five set matches to get to the final, and still gave Roger a run for his money. But again he fails to mention that if a player gets through close matches like that, they often become very confident. It just goes to show that people will always change the facts in a subtle way to make the player they support look like the best. I don’t need to change any facts to show that Roger is better than Sampras. Anyone with half a brain can see that. And if you don’t have half a brain, then I’ll point out to you that Roger has won more grand slam titles than Sampras, as well as the career grand slam which Sampras couldn’t manage. And on top of that Roger is not finished with his career.

You will also see that this genius of a poster made the thread title so that it makes Roger look bad again. Now this post of mine is not about debunking some clueless Sampras fanboy, but the things he wrote gives me a good place to start at. Again he conveniently leaves out the fact that more than half of the meetings between Roger and Rafa have been on Rafa’s favorite surface, just because of the fact that Rafa is not good enough to make it far enough outside of clay to meet Roger on a regular basis. We saw it again this year at the US Open, where Rafa was crushed 2, 2 and 2 by Delpo in the semi’s, while Roger kept his end of the bargain again by being in the final for the sixth consecutive year. If Sampras and Agassi had met more then half of the time on clay as well, I guarantee you Agassi would have led the rivalry as well, but only five of their thirty-four matches was on clay.

Again, jealous haters will take things out of proportion and twist the facts to suppress their jealousy, but in the end they can’t deny the facts and it eats them up inside. Roger is the most complete player in history. Sampras was always known as the complete player, but when Roger came along he gave a new meaning to that word. Firstly Roger has a much better backhand than Sampras had, and his return game is better as well. Roger also has more variety to his game, which is why he has done so much better than Sampras on clay. Roger has many different ways to beat an opponent, while Sampras relied heavily on his serve to overpower opponents. Moreover, Roger is in another class than Pete when it comes to base line play, although it must be said that Sampras was a slightly better net player.

To come back to the Federer/Nadal rivalry, I’m not gonna deny that Rafa has gotten under Roger’s skin on several occasions. But again you must take into account the effect of losing many heart breaking matches to a player because it was played on their favorite surface, and it happened to be Roger’s worst surface. That is not exactly going to help your confidence against a player. Add to that the fact that Rafa is left handed, and his game is almost perfectly suited to exploit Roger’s weaker side with the highest bouncing forehand in history, and you can start to understand why the head-to-head is 13-7 in the favor of the Spaniard. Another thing one must take into account, is the fact that many of Rafa’s wins against Roger came during Roger’s slump during 2008.

Now it is Rafa who is in the slump, and we shall see how the head-to-head meetings go now. I have a feeling if they had met recently that Roger may have gotten some more wins back over Rafa. Still, you have to hand it to Rafa for being able to get under Roger’s skin. There is something about the way he never gives up and is not afraid of Roger that made Roger uncomfortable. So in the end my conclusion is that Roger is indeed the most complete player of all time. Physically, mentally and talent wise he pretty much has it all. I don’t know enough about Laver and he played in too much of a different era for me to compare him with Roger. But I think Sampras is an ideal measuring stick for this, and it is clear that Roger has the edge.

Additional Thoughts On the Rome Masters and Upcoming French Open | Ultimate Tennis Blog

The Rome Masters was an interesting event and since I haven’t blogged a lot of late I wanted to make one more post before the French Open draw comes out. There is an exciting time ahead in the tennis world and there is a lot more to be said.

I have already made it clear what I think about Djokovic’s week in Rome as well as the others for that matter. But I want to go into some more detail here because I didn’t say everything I wanted to say. A lot has been made of Djokovic’s ‘bizarre’ week in Rome.

I think there has been a certain amount of overreaction from fans. I admitted in my last post that he had a bizarre week but I also made it clear that he did what needed to be done. He could not have done any better under the circumstances.

This must be clearly understood. Someone commented on my last post that Djokovic not only had a brutal draw but he also had a tough schedule by playing at night and then having to play the final with less than 24 hours of rest during the day.

It was reminiscent of the French Open last yeat where Djokovic had to play the semis and the final over three days after the semis against Murray were delayed due to rain. It proved to be his undoing because he was not fresh enough in the final.

And that was on top of the fact that he had to play Nadal, Murray, and peak Wawrinka in consecutive matches. It was ridiculous but the upside of that is that his draw can only get better this year.

There is simply no way that he can have as tough a draw as that and have no rest day before the final again. I mean the tournament organisers couldn’t make that happen if they tried. Make no mistake about it: this is Djokovic tournament to lose.

If he loses it, it is very likely that he will only have himself to blame. Sure the pressure is huge and the odds have been against Djokovic at the French Open thus far but that can’t be used as an excuse. You may as well say he is due for some good luck there.

It all depends on how he looks at it. If he believes deep down that he is just not meant to win the French then he won’t. But it is hard to believe this is the case. He showed an immense faith in his own abilities when he won the US Open last year.

Now that was the perfect preparation for must be done in Paris this year. As a champion, you are always looking for the next challenge. This is it for Djokovic. This is the ultimate challenge. And I bet he relishes it.

But make no mistake about it either: there is no bigger challenge in tennis at this point. Neither Federer nor Nadal has been able to win four consecutive slams and Djokovic’s opportunity to do so comes at his cursed slam as well.

It is a seemingly impossible task and of course, he can fail. But just the fact that he is in this situation is exciting and great for tennis. If he does win the French he would gain tennis immortality.

He would finally have completed the career slam but he would also have done something Federer or Nadal could not do. It would be the greatest achievement is tennis since Laver won the calendar slam in ’69.

Djokovic would be well on his way to becoming the GOAT. The ruins among Fedal fans would reach unprecedented levels. That only adds to the intrigue of the upcoming French Open.

If Djokovic fails it will be tough on his fans too but since neither Federer nor Nadal won four slams in a row their fans will have nothing to gloat about.

  • Was Rome A Sign That Djokovic Will Choke At The French Open?

Something else that is worth looking at again is the irritation Djokovic showed on the court in Rome. It that a sign of what is to come in Paris? Not necessarily in my opinion. Clearly it is was a result of the pressure he is feeling to win the French this year but it doesn’t all of a sudden mean he is doomed to fail again this year.

He may as well show up in Paris and look very comfortable. Of course, there is a big mental barrier for him to overcome but like I said he has already faced the worst conditions there. It can only get easier than last year.

At the same time with every passing year that he does not win the French, it seems a little further out of reach. I’m not saying it will be easy. Everyone knows it won’t be. Will he choke when the moment of truth arises?

That is the question on everyone’s mind. The way I see it he didn’t necessarily choke at the French until now. A lot of it was just pure bad luck. And then that bad luck seems to gain a momentum of its own.

For this reason, it is very important that Djokovic keeps the faith and keeps visualizing himself lifting the trophy. Your luck is bound to turn if you keep believing. He must realize he is currently by far the best player in the world and the clear favorite for the title.

Nevermind the past. The only obstacle is the one you set up in your mind. And I think Djokovic is very much aware of the power of his mind which is why I have faith that he can get the job done.

Judging by what happened in Rome you might be inclined to believe he is getting ready for another ‘choke’ at the French but maybe that was just a way of releasing some of the tension. I’m not going to assume anything.

Djokovic is an extremely experienced player with immense faith in his own abilities. The more people say he can’t do something the more he wants to prove them wrong. He faced astonishingly difficult circumstances at the US Open last year and got the job done.

He was not only playing against a red hot Federer but also a fanatical crowd and his history at the US Open. I have been over it all before. If he can come through that situation he sure as hell can come through the French Open as well.

Yes, it is probably an even tougher challenge in terms of his history at the French but it is hard to believe he will have to deal with a crowd like that again. As far as the opponent goes if he plays Nadal in the final that would be about on par with Federer at the US Open.

But at least he destroyed him last year in the quarters and just defeated him in straight sets again. I don’t think he would fear Nadal much. I don’t think he will fear anyone much. What he would fear is another draw like last year. But what are the odds?

For one thing, it would have to rain again in the semis so that the match gets postponed to the next day. I don’t think the odds of that happening are too good. And then he would have to get a draw like Nadal, Murray, and peak Wawrinka in succession too which is highly unlikely.

The only way in which he does not win the title this year is if he gets another ridiculous draw or chokes. In the first instance, it would be fair to conclude that there is some conspiracy against him.

As for the second instance, I don’t think there is really a reason for him to choke. Yes, he is trying to do something incredibly difficult and you can’t really blame him if he fails, but I think he relishes the opportunity and has the champions mentality that it takes to get the job done.

Can’t wait for the draw!

About | Ultimate Tennis Blog

OK so it’s time to update this page since this it’s not Ru-an’s Federer Blog anymore but Ultimate Tennis Blog. Tennis has always been a big passion of mine. I started watching tennis at a young age. The first match I remember watching was the 1985 Wimbledon final when Becker had that historic win. I remember watching Edberg, Lendl, Wilander, Mcenroe and all those legends too. The first time I picked up an old wooden racquet was around the age of 8 years and it was love at first shot. I spent hours just hitting against the wall and acting out imaginary matches in my head. Strangely enough, I started out with a one-handed backhand. That’s right. I never had a two-handed backhand! And, in general, I tend to be a fan of one-handers

Anyway, to skip ahead a few years I tried playing some professional tournaments for a while, beat some players with ATP points, but that was as far as it went. I never had an ATP ranking myself. I don’t think I reached anything close to my full potential, but then again I probably wasn’t talented enough to make it anyway. I’ve tried some tennis coaching since but for me that love was always in playing and competing. I have however found something which I enjoy quite a lot which is writing about tennis. In the past it was more like a hobby I did on the side while I did other full-time jobs. But I didn’t find anything I was really passionate about so I want to try and make writing into something more full time.

I love following the very best in the men’s game, writing about it, and interacting with my readers. I hope you join us!