Courts In Miami May Be Faster This Year

It was nice to see so many responses to my last post. Even though I missed out on Rotterdam and Dubai due to computer problems, it is great to see that my blog is still very popular. I obviously want this to be the best Federer site out there and it bothers me that I couldn’t be there for my loyal readers due to circumstances beyond my control. So I am trying to make up for it now as much as I can by making posts before Miami starts. A couple of generous souls made donations to my blog too, which is something I appreciate immensely and inspires me to make this blog even better. Of course you don’t have to show your appreciation for my blog in monetary value. Just the fact that you read my posts is an inspiration to me.

Someone also posted my link on RF.com which is always nice to see. I don’t posts my links there myself or ask people to do so, but it is still the most popular Federer site at this point and the exposure helps. Can we rival Roger’s own site in terms of popularity? Wouldn’t that be something! Anyway it’s just nice to see that people there appreciate my posts too. Today I don’t necessarily have something specific to post about, but this is an exciting time for Roger and his fans and there are several things I want to post about. First of all there is a possibility of something very exciting which is that the courts in Miami may have been sped up this year. Brad Gilbert made the following tweet yesterday:

Heard from a very reliable source: Courts are playing much quicker this yr-not much grit-very unusual for MIAMI, big hitters will like that.

If this is true then it is very good news for Roger. Miami has always been a bit on the slow side which I didn’t like. It was never more apparent than last year when Roger lost 6-3, 6-2 to Nadal in the semis. You just felt the courts were giving him no assistance at all. Of course he wasn’t nearly in the same form last year that he is now, but still. If the courts are faster this year it definitely helps his chances to win the whole thing. Both Djokovic and Nadal are very tough to beat on slow hard courts. What I can gather from my own sources is that Miami is usually even slower than Indian Wells, which would make it tough for Roger to win the title there. I am pretty sure he will make semis either way, but Djokovic will be tough to beat on slow hard court.

Source

Nadal and Murray as well. So if the courts are indeed faster it just improves his chances that much to win the Indian Wells/Miami double, which would be some feat at his age. Djokovic will be a tough nut to crack anyway. He will not like the fact that he lost in his last to events. Is he really showing weakness at the beginning of 2012? He did still win the Australian Open and lost to a very good Isner in Indian Wells. I think in the end you would have to say he isn’t as confident as he was at the start of 2011. So there is a definite chance for Roger to take advantage of this if they meet in the Miami semis, especially if the courts are a bit faster. That would make Roger’s serve and first strike tennis more effective. The same goes for when he plays Nadal and Murray.

We saw what he did against Murray in Dubai and Nadal in Indian Wells. Against Nadal in Indian Wells he really took it to Nadal which was just delicious to see. Like someone commented on my blog, he broke down Nadal’s backhand instead of Nadal breaking down his backhand. It is about taking initiative and staying aggressive, which I believe is easier to do on fast courts. We are a long way from the semis or final anyway. There can still be upsets. Surprisingly Del Potro is not in Roger’s quarter of the draw this time. He is in Djokovic’s quarter and an upset is not impossible there. Murray on the other hand has Raonic, while Nadal has Isner. If the courts are faster it could really help Raonic and Isner too with their huge serves. Roger has the easiest quarter of the top four and deservedly so.

Last week he had a very tough draw and before that he always had to play Del Potro, who looks like he could be a top five player soon. The possible fourth round meeting between Ferrer, the current number five, and Del Potro would be interesting, and a Delpo/Djokovic semi would be interesting too. I think in the end Roger has another great shot a a title here if the courts have been sped up. I think he is hungry for a win over Djokovic and if he should meet Nadal in the final it would be a great opportunity for him to get two wins in a row. I suppose then we will find out how much of a breakthrough the last win over Nadal was. But like I said before, I don’t want to have too many expectations. It has been a fantastic start to the year for Roger no matter what happens.

Then I found an interesting video which highlights the different court tactics of Roger and Djokovic when they played against Isner:

I remember noticing how Isner was using his forehand to dominate against Djokovic. This video shows how Djokovic was playing too much into Isner’s strength by going up the middle. Roger on the other hand did go to Isner’s strength, but when he did so he made sure it was a shot that put Isner under pressure. I don’t think Djokovic is a very intelligent player. Last year in the US Open final I already noticed how Djokovic was not ending the points soon enough against Nadal, and it almost cost him in the Australian Open final. His transition game was pretty shocking, giving Nadal countless chances to get back into points he should never get back into. For me he doesn’t go wide enough to the Nadal backhand, and doesn’t rip the forehand to that side enough either.

Even though Nadal’s backhand is still a very solid shot, it cab be broken down. We saw that when Roger played against him in Indian Wells. You have to really pound that side against Nadal, and take him out of the court with angles as well. The main difference for Roger against Nadal was of course his backhand which was much more consistent and allowed him to attack Nadal’s backhand instead. He also used his backhand to attack. He really hit his backhand awfully well. It is the key shot for me against Nadal. We saw him use it effectively indoors as well where the bounce is lower. How was he able to hit it so well on a higher bouncing surface like Indian Wells, in windy conditions on top of that? Possibly the fact that it was overcast conditions made the ball bounce lower.

Otherwise the only thing I can think of is confidence. For Roger to hit his backhand that well he has to be in JesusFed mode. He has to be hitting the ball very cleanly. If he is just slightly off he will mishit a lot of those backhands against Nadal.

The next thing I have for you is Roger’s outfit for Miami, which I like a lot. I like the normal t-shirt without the collar.

What do you think?

Finally here is the top 20 shots from Roger in Indian Wells. Some incredible stuff in here(best enjoyed with Swiss chocolate):

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21 Comments

  1. Hey, Ru-an. I just love how you read my mind here. I was thinking of writing on the previous post about the courts being faster this year. But you beat me to it, which is great! I also live Roger’s outfit.

    It’s just unbelievable to see what’s happening here. Roger has really elevated his game and that Indian Wells victory will propel him forward. He has totally a HuGe chance to take Miami here. He can beat Djokovic in which I have absolutely no doubt – and then in the final there is no 100% chance that it will be Nadal. In fact I doubt it if in fact the courts are faster.

    This year is just unfolding so nicely. I don’t want to jump the gun yet but if Roger really gets to top 2 – can you just imagine having Nadal and Djokovic fighting it out in the semis of the French and then Federer to meet Novak in the FO final! It will be absolutely amazing. That is why Roger is taking every tournament very seriously si that he can give himself a chance in the slams.

    If he can avoid Nadal he can win more. In the French he list because of him. In Australia, if it wasn’t for Nadal, Federer would have gotten Number 17. I think Miami will reiterate my opinion. If Roger beats Novak – this is it! He’ll be ready for some MAJOR SiLverWare this year!!! Go Roger!!!

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  2. Hello Ru-an, you are on a roll and i’m loving it. Thanks for posting the clip of plays at IW. I’m excited again and i watched most of those matches twice. Roger was/is so brilliant. Seriously, who can play like that, no one. I hope Roger is healthy and can keep up his game. Come on Roger, Miami Title is waiting.

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  3. Hi Ruan,

    I posted this on your essence of Roger Federer article or reflections on Indian Wells, but since there are so many comments, I expect you might not see it.

    So, here I go again:

    I enjoy reading your blog from time to time.

    But – sometimes you have way too little faith in Roger. Saying that Nadal would win it with 99 % certainty if he made it to 5-5 in the fifth is just ludicruous to me.
    It echoes the Nadal fan boys, who say say their boy will always win, no matter what.

    Yes, Nadal has a special strangehold on Federer. But Federer does win from time to time and he does not always choke. And when he’s playing well, usually, Nadal cannot compete. So this 99 % certainty – at 5-5 in the second with Roger leading a set is, to be frank, just bulls…

    I’m stating this, because this is not a one off. You have been proposing this line of thought earlier, i.e. it’s good that Roger lost in the US semi’s so he wouldn’t get beaten by Nadal in each and every slam. If you truly are a Roger fan – which I believe you are – you would want him to face up to any challenge, Nadal included, and you would not expect him to fold meagerly – perhaps except at Roland Garros. But even there, you would expect him to put up a decent fight.

    Not this – oh – we are, almost, 1-1 in sets. I’ve lost this match, kind of thinking as you are more than indicating.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m just looking at past trends, which indicates that what I am saying is true. We have seen Roger let it slip countless times against Nadal. He already gave up one break. You honestly believe Nadal would not have won if he gave up another break, given the history of the rivalry?

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  4. Darn it!

    I got excited to quickly. I twitted Brad Gilbert to find out if in fact the courts are faster this year and this is what he had to say:

    @bgtennisnation Hey, Brad! Are the courts really playing fast this year? I think Roger must be smiling if it’s true!

    Brad Gilbert‏@bgtennisnation

    Answer about Courts-Center court playing slower alot like last yr, but surprisingly the outside courts are way quicker & nothing like Center

    According to that it may or may not help Roger. It may actually help him indirectly because it will increase the chances of Tsonga and Isner to go through in their section. But CENTER court is slow – DISAPPOINTED!!!

    Oh Well!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah that’s disappointing. Should have known I can’t trust Gilbert in these matters.

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    michael Reply:

    damn it.
    Two options:
    1. lets get sandpaper and rub the courts plain. Is any reader of this blog near Miami?
    2. Put Nadal’s matches on the outside courts. Who wants to see him on center court anyways…

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  5. I completely agree with your comments about Roger’s backhand. He was striking it really well all week, along with his forehand. The backhand was so solid against Nadal who couldn’t exploit it, like he often used to. I think it was a real sign that Roger’s mental attitude could have changed against Nadal. He played him like he would play any other guy. Without fear. He said he wasn’t going in with a losing mentality, which meant Nadal would have to beat him, he wasn’t going to beat himself. If that’s how Roger now feels about Nadal then he might have finally found the answer to his nemesis. He’s basically saying to Nadal, I am going to put my best game against yours, and I think it’s good enough to beat you. I think he now believes it. He also showed that when Nadal came back at him, as he knows he will, he just put his head down and resumed the attack. Game, set and match, Roger. On to Miami.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I hope that is true rich, because I have always believed Roger at his best is better than Nadal at his best. It is a question of believing on himself.

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    Vily Reply:

    Btw Ru-an, In the US they are showing The 100 Greatest Players of All-Time on Tennis Channel – both men and women though. I think on Friday is the countdown for 10-1! I hope Roger ends up on top and not Navratilova or Graff or something.

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    Gary Reply:

    Graff is pretty awesome, but I think it would be best to separate the sexes for those type of rankings. Graff was one who was unbeatable for many years too. One of my favorite matches was her playing against Hingis at the French Open. Strange match. You can check it out on Youtube btw. G

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  6. Hey Ruan. Its nice to see you come back again & putting up a comment here. Also im glad to see u back & start blogging amidst ur toght work schedule. Normally whenever loses gainst nadal i’l turn off the internet for somedays & wait for ur post. Then after reading ur post i’l get back to normal coz its really hard to digest roger’s losses especially against nadal. Now im enjoying ur posts (post federer wins) & i’l say really loved it the way u describing federer’s art of excellence.
    Here im jus rocking the nadal fans with ur blog comments & posts.(They used to do this when fed loses). Im enjoying the tennis & very excited to know that fed could become No.2 this week if everything goes well. Kudos to you. All the Best to Federer.

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  7. Hey Ruan, welcome back. I have been missing your post recently. Both Djoker and RF played to Isner’s FH but there is vast difference between Djoker and RF’s FH quality. RF not only creates angles, flat, spins and sometimes comes back with interest. Djoker, while his FH has improved but he is still behind RF and Delpo. Suffice to say RF is definately more intelligent player, some of the ‘set pieces’ are amazing. I am really rooting for him to get a rare ‘Treble’ here.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Dippy, been missing the posting as well.

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  8. good to have you back Ruan,
    i didnt like your last post, to say the least, but i didnt want to get into that… sufice to say i thought it was way too harsh and sanctimonious.
    about your popularity vs Fed’s website – i think you win hands down coz lets face it – rf.com sucks big time. i believe an international superstar like fed deserves a much better site. rafa, djoko and murray all have supperior sites and it is a shame that no one in feds camp realises how important that is.

    now on to miami: i agree with everythin you wrote. any result at all will be great but of course i do hope that fed will keep up his good run and i am hoping for Fed-Djoker semi… also you didnt mention that fed has a chance to overtake nadal in the rankings!! that will be so important for him as it will put a lot of pressure on rafa heading into the clay season and also means that nadal might meet nole in the semis.
    so best of luck for fed and for use all, i cant wait for another sleepless nights full of RF !!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Sorry that you didn’t like my post FeddyBear. I did the have the ranking situation in mind when I wrote the post but the post was already getting long. I will do a post about it tomorrow perhaps.

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  9. Here is a brilliant analysis of Federer’s lethal forehand at the Indian Wells final:

    http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2012/03/11/Indian-Wells-Sunday-Federer-Final-Analysis.aspx

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    TD Reply:

    There are some benefits in slow courts for Federer. His superb footwork allows him to use his deadliest weapon more often. That what made the difference in Indian Wells. Combine it with patience and a good game plan (especially against Nadal) and you have a winner.

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  10. There is so much intelligence behind Federer’s shots, they’re well-chosen to put the opponent in precisely the position in which he’s least comfortable, and deprive the opponent of his most effective plays.

    He was able to find Isner’s backhand a lot more often than Djokovic was, keeping the big man pinned in his backhand corner with precisely placed inside-out forehands. Isner can’t run around the ball quickly and so he didn’t dare try to hit too many inside-out forehands himself, lest he open the court for Federer to go down the line or hit an inside-out forehand at an even sharper angle for a winner.

    Isner was clearly mindful of Federer’s attacking prowess and so he had to be more careful not to move too far out of position than he did against Djokovic. His options were more limited and he was forced to go for more big serves than he had to against Djokovic.

    When Federer did attack Isner’s forehand, he was often standing in the center of the court, rather than getting into crosscourt forehand rallies, in which Isner’s hitting power might have given him the advantage.

    Djokovic returned with sheer power, giving Isner more chances to hit his one-two punch or start the rally with a big forehand. Federer returned much smarter, putting the ball with no pace deep to Isner’s backhand, which was awkward for the big man to get to.

    When Federer broke Isner, he used a play that he’s employed more often recently against taller players, the short, low dink to bring the opponent to net. This gives him more time to set up his passing shots and he did so brilliantly, hitting behind the big man. Isner has trouble changing direction at the net and so he wasn’t able to volley Federer’s passing shots.

    All in all it was a comprehensive tactical masterclass to defeat a very tricky opponent.

    Djokovic hasn’t been the same player since winning AO; it appears that mental fatigue (more than physical fatigue) is getting to him.

    In trying to grind down the ultimate grinder, to become a better machine than the ultimate machine, he’s paying a mental price. That price may cost him the #1 ranking this year.

    Federer is playing very well and hopefully he can continue to build momentum through Miami and carry it into the clay season so he can capitalize if Djokovic falters.

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