Darth Fed Makes the Great Escape for 9th US Open Semi-Final Berth

Hey, folks. As I’ve said in a comment, my laptop won’t pick up my wi-fi signal so I won’t be able to make much of a post.  Not tonight at least. I am of course delighted that Darth Fed was back and won, but I am a little pissed off with him for how much urgency he lacked in the first two sets. Just looked very disinterested for a slam quarter-final. But a win is a win and thank God this is Fed 4.0 because he does have some good fight in him. Cilic is next of course and Roger better step it up or he is going to fall. Hopefully, the Monfils match was his one bad match.

The Darth Fed Rises

Thoughts?

Ps. I won’t be able to send emails to my newsletter subscribers so sorry for that. Also, check out my Facebook page for updates, live chat, etc. Please like, share, and comment.

Highlights:


2014 US Open 14 Roger Federer vs Gael Monfils… by dm_50fc4e9a83e91

Presser: http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2014-09-04/201409051409936198541.html

Posted in Grand Slams, US Open.

99 Comments

  1. Hey Ruan,

    We will all be waiting to learn your insights about this match as soon as your technical problems are resolved.

    I have a feeling of optimism about Roger’s match with Cilic because he had to dig deep to beat Monfils, got a bad day out of his system, worked through periods of poorer play, got to really test his endurance, and probably got a wake-up call as well.

    I hope he and Edberg had a nice chat after the match too. :-) Maybe a nice FIRM chat…

    I have a feeling of calm assurance at the moment, and I expect Roger to beat Cilic.

    And I expect a healthy dose of Glueckstern to be helping him along!
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha nice one Joe. Hopefully by tomorrow my connection is back and I can at least give my views in comments.

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  2. Agreed he needs to be playing better. That said Monfils was playing his a– off through most of the first four sets. Remember he hadn’t lost a set for the whole tournament and he was clearly feeling it until Fed broke his spirit with those MP saves. He can be a great player. He was just bombing some serves and his athleticism is unbelievable when he’s on. It was still a gutsy win by Fed and those two MP saves were deeply inspiring. One of his greatest comebacks of all time even if he had to clean up his self-created mess. He willed himself through. He’s 33 and is not always on. Also, the windy conditions are terrible for his precision game.

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  3. Nice! I like that he is fighting to pull off wins. Have not seen a single point yet but that sure does sound like 4-oh to me! Djoker will be tough though, count on it.

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  4. As promised, here are pics from yesterday! ;-)

    http://www.imgur.com/a/23qxk/titledesc

    Enjoy!

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    Chris Reply:

    Awesome Vily! Great quality pictures. After all was said and done, it must’ve been an amazing experience.

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    Kit Reply:

    I am a long time lurker here but almost never post, and I am a fan of your comments, Vily. I felt compelled to post a thank-you for sharing the pics. The way you dressed to go to the Open is awesome, shoes, sweater,…. If can be a little demanding, can I ask where’s the RF hat!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Cool Vily. I hope all my readers can have the experience.

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    veronica Reply:

    Way to go, Vily!! Really enjoyed your personal account of the Monfils match and what lovely very clear photos. For a moment, I thought I was starring at Roger himself! Wow! You are a fanatic, eh?! Just the RF cap missing as Joe said!! Good luck with your heart if you are watching the semis and finals!!

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    elizabeth Reply:

    Great pics Vily many thanks. I know why there is no cap, C’mon Vily tell us you just didn’t want to mess up the hair! Was thinking when I was watching the match that you were in the crowd. So nice Ru-an that you have a first hand account. Hope Darth Fed strikes again tonight C’mon Roger x

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    Dolores Reply:

    Hi Vily, The pictures are great, nice to meet you also Mrs. Vily (I take it is she?), what an exciting experience it was for you to see Roger playing live with all the hoopla to go along. Thank You for sharing, enjoyed it.
    Best,
    Dolores

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    steve Reply:

    Great photos Vily, thanks for sharing them with us. It must be fantastic to watch him live in a Grand Slam. Here’s hoping you get to see him in the final!

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  5. Guys, I had another weird feeling that Nishikori might actually take out Novak and then I checked their head 2 head which is 1:1 with the most recent meeting in Basel in 2011 with Nishikori beating Novak.

    Now, we all assume that Novak will reach the Final but this guy from Japan has defied so many odds.

    The guy almost pulled out of the Open – he felt not in form and just wanted to try it out. It’s crazy but beating Raonic and Wawrinka back to back is no small task. He’ll have had 2 days rest and he should be ready to go.

    I don’t know but this guy is something else. I actually think that Roger will have a much easier match – possibly win in 4 sets but I hope that he does start better and take control of the match early..

    But I’ll be curious about the Djokovic – Nishikori match. It’s gonna be a cracker. I mean the guy BAGELED Novak in Basel in the 3rd. If you’re bageling someone of the rank of Novak, you must HAVE game to beat him in slam too.

    Just my 2 cents…

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    Jiten Reply:

    Djokovic was injured in that bagel match in Basel and as such the scoreline is utterly misleading.

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    Alex Reply:

    The only problem for Roger as we have seen is that he has difficulty adjusting to the day conditions and the semi finals are scheduled at a much earlier time then he has played so far. Djokovic’s match is even earlier. Isn’t it also hot out there during the day? The truth is that we really don’t know, Kei is capable of beating Novak but in a best of five is asking a lot.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Roger is scheduled to play the second match after 12 pm, and 70% rain is predicted from 2 pm onward. He may have just gotten screwed with the schedule again. Two matches in two days seems like a strong possibility now. This means he will basically have to straight set Cilic. No more clowning around like vs Clownfils.

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    Alex Reply:

    I guess that explains the really early starts. The tournament organisers are maybe hoping that the matches will be done by the time the rain starts to fall. NO CHANCE!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah that match in Basel means nothing tbh. Djokovic was burned out by then after that ridiculous 2011 season.

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  6. BTW Roger’s H2H with Kei is also the uncomfortable 2:2 with them splitting their last 2 meetings in 2014.

    The good news is that in both meetings Roger did win the first set.

    2014 Halle
    Germany Grass S Federer, Roger
    6-3, 7-6(4) Stats
    2014 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Miami
    FL, U.S.A. Hard Q Nishikori, Kei
    3-6, 7-5, 6-4 Stats

    I don’t know. This tournament has been pretty wild so far.

    A Nishikori – Federer Final?! You never know!!!

    BEL18VE

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I wouldn’t put any money at all on Kei beating Djokovic. He has already defied the odds twice. Don’t see it happening again tbh. Not against the world #1.

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    Charlie Reply:

    You never know though Ru-an, but I agree with you, would probably say 85% chance Djoker beats Kei. Similiar for Fed against Cilic. I think that they may both drop a set though, just don’t think either Cilic or Nishikori can keep it up for 3/4/5 sets over 2/3/4/5 hours.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Charlie. Fed is experienced enough as it is and he would have faced a situation like this many times. We will see. If Djokovic finish today and Fed’s match rains out it could hurt him, but too early to worry about that.

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  7. I’ve only just about recovered from that match! What grit and fight from Roger at 33! RESPECT. Monfils’ match is a better indication of where Roger’s level is at; and how his new aggressive game would stack up with quality players. The first 4 rounds were more like practice for Roger. I thought Roger actually came out of the blocks pretty fast; immediately threatening to break Monfils. But it sort of didn’t take off. Still it was a decent 1st set. What I couldn’t understand was the lack of intensity in the 2nd set. Isn’t it only natural to fight tooth and nail for 2nd set if you lose the first?!! After Roger saved those match points in the 4th, Monfils was completely deflated. Many say Roger was lucky he won because Monfils sort of gave up. But I think they fail to realise that Roger made Monfils glaringly aware that 2 sets up is very far from winning the match. Monfils had to fight so hard in 3rd and 4th and when he missed matchpoints, he had nothing left. I wouldn’t call Roger lucky but rather he created his own luck; that he has the capability to pressure his opponent into submission. As far as I’m concerned, Roger won the match. Monfils lost it. As someone said earlier, there are good players and there are great players. But Roger really needs to up his level tomorrow or he is not winning it. Cilic is no clown, very hungry and extremely motivated. I feel the wind maybe the biggest factor. Roger said he had problems with it in Granollers match. Really surprised to hear this because historically he had always played well in NY wind while other players struggle there. The bad news is Cilic handled the wind extremely well against Berdych. I hope it doesn’t come down to the wind and the day conditions and maybe even rain interruptions that stand in the way of Roger reaching the final. But hope never dies. The bad match is out of the way! It is time for God mode! C’mon Roger! Make.It.Happen.

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  8. Btw, thanks Ru-an for this post despite the weak wifi and your busy life. Can’t fault you at all for trying your best and you have the best blog lay out. User friendly, always tidy, and always, always fantastic pics! It gives readers the impression that a lot of care has been put into this blog. I hope you continue this labour of love. As I said before, no one can take this away from you, something that you own completely, and I’m sure will always be a source of pride, inspiration and encouragement for you. A shout out to Dolores! Grandma, how do you go thru a live match like yesterday’s? I really kowtow to you. I was turning the tv off, then on, off, on, off, on, off….God! My heart was beating like I just ran a marathon, haha! How was yours beating, grandma?!! I understand Vily completely when he said he shut his eyes at match point, haha! Funny thing is I can get over a loss quite well but I can’t hold my nerves in a live match. Thank god, Rahan has shown me “The Rahan Way”. I’m just going for the dessert tomorrow (Thank you, Rahan!) Hopefully, the dessert would be just as sweet as in the quarters!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Sure Veronica, my blog is a source of pride, inspiration, and support, and thanks for the compliments. But really what I am most proud of is the kind of people I have been able to attract to my blog. They are the ones that make the blog what it is. People like you. Classy, respectful, knowledgeable, and supportive. So thanks for that too.
    Oh and yeah I thought it was the end for Roger when he was those match points down. I have been able to detach myself from Roger’s results a lot more these days, but even I found that tough to watch. It was even tougher as I was at work and the stream kept breaking up, so I couldn’t even see what happened on those match points. I was just praying basically and when my stream came back thank God he saved the match points. But I had prepared myself for the worst by then.

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    Dolores Reply:

    Hi Veronica, Coming back to the Roger/Monfils match….oh, I was beside myself at times, watching this match…for this old Grandma, it got to be way behond my bedtime before the match finished, but I stuck it out ’cause I wanted to jump for joy when he wins. It all rattled me so much I lost a night’s sleep, but still could smile for Roger’s WIN.
    Now, we are waiting for the rain’s to stop???? may the Glueckstern keep following Roger.
    Kindly,
    Dolores
    PS. the win over Djoko was a shocker for me, too. Did not watch the match at all, too busy otherwise.

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  9. Ru-an, hope you’re getting plenty of rest and taking care of your health.

    It still hasn’t sunk in yet. I keep checking news websites to make sure he really did it and that it wasn’t just a crazy dream.

    As Vily said, it’s karma after the years of close, bitter defeats where he had match points against Djokovic and failed to close the deal. This time his opponent was the one who had match points and he was able to come up with the miracle shots to save the day.

    When he looks back on this tournament, that forehand DTL to save the second match point may turn out to be one of the most important shots he’s ever made, similar to the inside-out forehand he hit at RG ’09 when he was two sets to love and break point down against Haas.

    He took matters into his own hands, gambled the whole match on that shot, win or lose, live or die, went for broke, put total trust in his trusty forehand, his greatest weapon (after his serve)—and it worked. The effect of that shot was incalculable.

    After he made that shot, nothing that happened afterward–Monfils, Del Potro playing insane tennis, the intruder who ran onto the court during the final, the rain, Soderling’s best efforts, his own nervousness— could stop him.

    I fervently hope the same thing will happen here. During the on-court interview he was giddy, as giddy as he is after winning a big tournament, and he rambled a bit. He was feeling incredible relief and happiness all at once, overflowing with emotion. I imagine he’s bubbling over with confidence right now and can’t wait to take on Cilic.

    This tournament could be as important to his late career as RG ’09 was to his earlier career. If he wins this title, it would be the supreme validation of the changes he’s made this season—the racket switch and his post-Edberg, net-rushing game plan.

    It would give him a huge boost of confidence to know that he could still beat the very best players in the world to win Grand Slams, and he’d be ready and raring to go for next year. By contrast, if he makes the final but doesn’t win, it wouldn’t be the end of the world, but he’d have to do some further thinking and readjusting for next year.

    Back to more immediate concerns: Cilic is a much more consistent player than he was four years ago, and he knows how to use his shots much better, especially the serve. Still, I expect Federer’s greater variety will prove too much for him—assuming Federer plays better than he did against Monfils. Cilic still lacks mobility and Federer knows how to keep the ball low and neutralize big serves with his block and slice returns.

    I hear the rain might screw up the scheduling and Federer might have to play two days in a row. Hopefully that won’t happen. But even if it does, I think he should still be OK.

    The racket allows him more reserve in his service and helps him generate more power and play closer to the baseline and implement a net-rushing gameplan. All this means the strain on his body is lessened and he can recover quicker. And it’s not like Cilic will prolong the rallies and track down balls the way Monfils did. There’ll be a lot more short points.

    So hopefully, he can come through this one and be in good shape for the final. C’mon Roger!

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  10. Told You!!!

    BEL18VE

    PS. Nishikori will be Extremely difficult to beat in the final by the way! Let’s hope that Roger has a clean match today!!!

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    steve Reply:

    I was totally wrong about Nishikori. He just ground down three very tough players in a row, and he’s not tired at all, even though Djokovic was on paper the toughest of the lot. I think this makes him the first Japanese man ever to make a major final!

    He’ll be a real handful for whoever comes through the second semi. Hopefully that’ll be our man!

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  11. Rain delay. Roger is screwed.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well Kei just won, didn’t he? Lets not be negative. I’m off to bed anyway.

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    steve Reply:

    They’re on court now.

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  12. Here we go again—Roger goes down a set. Cilic man-handled him. If the big man keeps serving like this, it’s all over for Fed, unless his return game hits the stratosphere. And now Roger is broken to open the 2nd set. Things are looking bleaker and bleaker. Can Roger turn this around? Does he have another miracle in him?

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    Dolores Reply:

    Oh, no, not again…oh, please, Roger, turn this around…
    Hope he can do so, Balthazar.
    Dolores

    [Reply]

  13. Very frustrating. Cilic is playing great and Federer hasn’t been able to make a dent. Seems like he has no idea how to return Cilic’s serve, and the wind is once again wreaking havoc despite his remarkable ability to play in the wind. He threw away his serve just like that at the beginning of the second set, and Cilic rode it all the way to a two-set lead.

    He had the equivalent of two practice sets in the wind against Monfils, but it seems not to have made the slightest difference.

    For now, all I hope is that he can win a set.

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    Dolores Reply:

    Oh, Steve, is it over? This guy, Cilic, is too good…..at the moment, am sad…

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    steve Reply:

    It’s over, Dolores. I guess he used up all his luck getting past Monfils. That and his stamina.

    It’s sad, but what can you do? Just wait till January for his next chance at a major.

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  14. It just seems that something will always stop Roger from winning another major. Scheduling, injury, pressure, fatigue, a top player, or just some inexplicable bad day. This is just how it is now.

    I just find it hard to swallow that Djokovic lost, seemingly leaving the tournament on Roger’s racquet. Wimbledon was a big, big opportunity for Roger, but even that wasn’t as big as this. It’s going to be tough for Fed fans for the rest of his career.

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    steve Reply:

    Having to go five sets against Monfils and save match point didn’t help. It was incredible enough that he won that one. Another miracle was too much to expect.

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  15. Cilic was too good. Roger never had a chance. He was not playing bad, he was just overpowered. It was similar to a Fed-Nadal match on a clay court except he was outhit on both wings, not just the BH. 43 winners by Cilic and countless near-winners / forced erros + incredible serving and returning. Cilic just played the match of his life. Too bad. Maybe Roger in his prime could have raised his game, not today.

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  16. I don’t mean to make it THIS sad, but at least we have each other in these tough situations. It’s nice to come back here and see so many that feel like I do about Roger and tennis in general. I gotta thank you guys for making me feel a bit better, and Ruan especially of course for bringing us all together with the blog.

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    rahan Reply:

    Thanks , Chris…

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  17. Well, guys! Father Time doesn’t Forgive anyone, even the Mighty Roger Federer. This must have been truly his last Truly BEST chance to win his 18th Major. We always knew that he wouldn’t be able to win more but feel down I dreamt and bel18ved in him.

    But this is truly the changing of the guard. The next generation of players has arrived. Truly!

    And fittingly, Roger was the last to exit the door. It’s a depressing loss because a win in New York could only add to his legacy and cement his status as the Greatest of All Time.

    But as we can see, the next generation if Grand Slam Champions has arrived.

    Cilic, Nishikori, Dimitrov, Raonic, etc, etc.

    We all would have love for Roger to cap off an amazing career with #18 in New York but simply it was too much. He looked tired and out of gas… That Monfils match took a lot out of him. I really thought that when he escaped there, the fates will give him the win. But it simply doesn’t work like that. There are only few moments in life that work out like the perfect dream. Unfortunately for Roger and for us fans, that cold reality appears to sink in every year now.

    I mean look at the progression of players that have beaten Roger now:

    Nadal
    Djokovic
    Murray
    Tsonga
    Berdych
    Cilic???
    Robredo????
    Stakhovsky?????

    You can certainly see that with each year that passes, more and more players who were once owned by Roger are now beating him or pushing him to 5 sets.

    I mean a straight set loss to Cilic who has never beaten Roger. And to break him back right after he was broken. And to break yet again. Not even one tie-break played. Sad!!!

    Obviously his performance at Wimbledon is one for the ages. Cruise control to the final without a sweat on his face and only broken once. An epic performance and only lack of luck cost him the title.

    I think that overall this US Open didn’t hurt Roger’s legacy but if it only kept it intact, it could have really added to it. Going down 2 sets was once again an impossible task.

    I think that Cilic played great but I think losing the first set was pathetic. Losing your serve after being 40:Love up.. Terrible. Roger couldn’t answer Cilic. Crazy! Roger simply ran out of gas. This kind of reminds me of the Murray match in the Olympics.

    Also, I’m going to stop with this obsession for #18. It will probably never happen! But that’s ok! The next thing we’ll need to prepare for will be the inevitable bowing down and the hanging of the racquet in the next couple of years.

    At least I was privileged to watch him play Live!

    Good night everyone! :-)

    [Reply]

    muhammad Reply:

    Great comment,Vily!

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  18. Nishikori vs Cilic,who would have thought!
    Shoddy display from Roger,chances of another major are gone I guess but he is still playing.Right!

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  19. Thank God I’m used to this. I truly think we just need to be thankful we saw him make it to the semis. Cilics serve was just too much. I can’t decide who will win this thing, and right now, I really don’t care. G

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    rahan Reply:

    Yes this is one of the reasons I am alsosad: I really don’t care who will win this title.

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  20. I think that this stat really sums up this era. The end of the Golden Era of Tennis: This is the First a Grand Slam Final in which there is no Federer, Nadal or Djokovic.

    I actually believe that Nadal’s run at the French Open will finally end and we’ll be able to enjoy Roger’s tennis for his remaining years.

    Obviously, I would love if Roger wins the Davis Cup this year and pretty much enjoy his small titles here or there and that’s about it. I am sure that even he’ll realize this and will start to wind down next year. His ranking is good enough for him to enjoy his tennis career for 1 year or 2 and move on.

    We all know that the day will arrive. We just wanted 1 more. But life gives and it takes. At least, I live with the orca that I was able to watch one of the greatest players if not the Greatest of all time. But as we saw, how crazy was that?!!! Both Djokovic and Federer knocked. And both in a convincing fashion. I saw the Nishikori coming but never expected Cilic.

    I mean the match in Toronto and here is light and day. Roger was on top and allowed Cilic back in the match there. Here it was Cilic all day long. And Roger didn’t necessarily play terrible but just on the big points he kept losing his 2nd serve.

    To me the biggest problem this whole tournament was how bad Hus serve was! All year Roger had a great serve. Always held easily. Always in control. Here I think he was broken almost 15-20 times in the tournament. You can’t win if you keep getting broken. Sooner or later it catches up to you. I am sure that Roger will accept the defeat because apart from us (me) he’s not as obsessed with winning #18. So in that regard, I think that he’ll get over this rather quickly. It’s that time of his career anyway where defeats are more common..

    [Reply]

    Chris Reply:

    First time since 2005 Australian Open that Federer, Nadal, or Djokovic hasn’t been in a slam final. LOL they just couldn’t make it ten years, could they?

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    elizabeth Reply:

    Cilic was awesome, Roger was just not at the races today! I thought at least one person will see a silver lining in this….Davis cup caption. Am I right in thinking next Davis cup tie starts on Friday , I’m then thinking if Fed had managed to get to the final, play on Monday night win or lose be frazzled, get home say Wednesday first match for DC is Friday too soon for even a younger Roger! Not making excuses just thought Federer wasn’t there tonight and I wondered why…..is it the silliness of the timing of the DC tie? I just rembered when Fed lost to Novak at US open he flew to Australia. Now I have no idea who will win the US open Cilic played great tonight but I think Kai maybe just get there.

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  21. This loss isn’t sad as much as it is just facing reality now I think about it. I was going to be very broken up if Roger lost to Monfils, but oddly enough, it’s not as bad today. Maybe it’s the thought that Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray are being left behind for the new era as much as Roger. I hope that’s true. The only thing worse than Roger declining would be for the other three to stick around and continue to be successful without him. But as I said, I’m not all that sad, now that the initial ten minutes of pure disappointment have worn off. I like both Nishikori and Cilic. If the new era has finalists like them, it won’t be so bad. And it’s not like Roger won’t still accomplish things. I’m sure he’ll leave us speechless at least a couple more times before he’s done. Maybe not with #18, but he’ll find a way, (I would just LOVE for him to win the Davis cup this year. He wants it so badly). It’s not the end of the world. There are still adventures to be had, with Roger and without.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    I am with you Chris! I am sure that Roger will put more smiles on our faces. Maybe not by winning another Slam but who cares. Davis Cup?

    Couple of titles here or there. Epic performances in Slams?! You name it! The Legend lives on. But I think that the new players are here and are here to stay.

    Cilic, Nishikori, Dimitrov, Raonic, Thiem, Kyrgios. The list will grow with each year as the likes of Berdych, Tsonga and others will slowly bow down. Roger, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray will soon follow. I am very confident that Nadal will not surpass Roger’s record. And that’s because there are so many players that can beat him now. Maybe this #18 is like that quest for the 4th trepeat of Phil Jackson. He won two trepeat a with the Chicago Bulls, then won one with the LA Lakers and then got to the finals again for the 3rd time after winning twice in a row again and finally lost.

    I actually think that Nishikori will go all the way here. Even if Roger won today, Nishikori might have beaten him.

    But it is what it is. We move on. Little sad… Knowing that the end is near. Next year or the year after – at some point we need to say good buy.

    It happens to everyone. I used to watch Sampras, Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher, a Tiger Woods, now Federer. Everyone’s star fades.

    Maybe of all of them, Roger’s star shined the brightest and the longest, but eventually it will also fade.

    Love the memories. I feel like he’s been a huge part of my life even though I never really met the man.. Since 2006/07 really. Crazy when you think about it….

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  22. OMG are you freaking kidding me? Straight sets??? What the hell happened??? And Djoker too???? I feel like I just woke up in the twilight zone.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Yep, Eric! Welcome to the sadness centre here! :-) LOL! It’s still sinking in… At least it was relatively quick..

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    I think that the moment you start losing to players to which you have a convincing head 2 head record, that is the moment where you gotta rethink this.. Berdych, Tsonga, Del Potro, Soderling, now Cilic… Something tells me there will be more names added to the list before it’s all said and done.

    Nonetheless, I am pretty convinced that Roger’s Grand Slam Record will remain untouched as all the young guns consolidate on this next year… Nadal’s done at the French Open…

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    Jiten Reply:

    I am sure Eric, you didn’t keep your promise of not cutting salad :-) :-) during Fed’s matches.

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    Eric Reply:

    But I did keep my promise. I didn’t get a chance to see a single point of this us open and now I don’t want to. Got back to the hotel pretty early tonight. Am gonna read all of your comments and see what the heck happened.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Eric. Didn’t get to watch Fed’s match myself and I’m glad I went to bed too. I will be making a post tonight if you wana wait for it.

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  23. I believe #18 will happen. I believe he can still meet his ultimate challenge and defeat the Spanish bull on the terre battue of Roland Garros. I believe he can win Shanghai or Rome or Monte Carlo. I believe he can mix it up with the up-and-coming generation of players and give at least as good as he gets. Why not? There’s no reason he can’t break new ground even now. Why, just a couple days ago he won a Grand Slam match after saving match points. He’d never done that before even after nearly fifteen years of playing in the majors.

    We’re spoiled because when Federer was in his prime, there was no suspense, except against Nadal. Other great champions of the past would still lose every now and again, but not Federer. He always made it to Grand Slam semis or finals and once he was there, he nearly always won. That was unprecedented, unthinkable, but he made it look the easiest and most natural thing in the world.

    It’s no longer that way. He’ll win some and lose some these days, just like “ordinary” great champions. The best of the young guns—Cilic, Dimitrov, Nishikori, and Raonic—are going to start getting their share of victories over him in the Grand Slams, now and again.

    Great champions like Sampras lost regularly in the Grand Slams even during their prime, even if they usually made one or two finals a year. If Federer is down to that level, then he’ll have his chances to win majors even if he won’t always be making all four major finals a year. If he’s very lucky, he might still do it and if he’s very lucky he might do the Calendar Slam, even now.

    And remember, it took Federer more than a year and a half to win a Grand Slam after he took Annacone on board. In the meantime, he made and lost a major final and had some puzzling and deflating losses like this one. Considering that he lost in the fourth round of this tournament last year, semis is big progress.

    I firmly believe that the new racket will allow him to play a brand of all-court tennis that hasn’t been seen since the mid-90s (and even then not at the level he can produce) and that will allow him to prolong his career a few more years, and that he’s got a way to go before he hits his ceiling. This is the first time he’s done the summer HC run with the new racket, after switching from a racket he’d used for more than a decade. All things considered, he did pretty well—final, win, and then semis.

    This summer hard court season we mostly saw the scrappy Federer—in Toronto, against Cilic and Ferrer; in Cincinnati, against Pospisil, Monfils, and again Ferrer, and in New York, against Monfils again, the Federer who hastily put together whatever happened to be in his toolkit on the day in order to win. Not so much the elegant magician Federer, who constructed points perfectly and finished them off with a fluent series of clean winners while dominating from the first ball to the last.

    He seemed tentative and almost bemused at times, of two minds about what to do—especially when it came to returning his opponents’ serves. And I think that’s largely due to the fact that he’s trying to push himself to play a different way and produce a new style of tennis. It’s a testament to his tenacity and courage that he did as well as he did despite his unfamiliarity with his new instrument and his new tactics.

    This year there’s still a lot left to play for: Davis Cup, then the whole indoor season where he always plays great and can really hone his attacking game. After doing so well there during his slump, I’d imagine he’ll be eager to better his showing there and try to win a couple more tournaments. At the beginning of the season, he said five tournaments was a reasonable goal for the year, and there’s still plenty of time for that. He could even win a 7th title at the WTF, which would be amazing.

    The important thing is, he’s happy and healthy and playing well. Got two bouncing baby boys to add to his family. Life is good, even if he didn’t win a major this year.

    And we’ve got each other to share our thoughts and feelings with, thanks to Ru-an who has created this blog as labor of love.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    This is very well said Steve. Articulately put, and with class. In fact I wish I could claim that you are actually one of my aliases, but that wouldn’t fly, would it? :-)

    Anyway, thanks for saying these things; they needed to be said. I haven’t lost faith in an 18th major either, and I’m frankly surprised that some have.

    I won’t dwell on all the things you said I agree with, but I do want to thank Papa Ruan for this wonderful site and for his dedication to it, to Roger and to the rest of us.

    I am sure there are more celebrations to come!

    Best to all,
    Joe

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Well,

    To be quite honest, I agree that Roger has a lot to play for and that the year isn’t over.

    But Number 18 appears at least to me to be very difficult, if not impossible.

    Think about it:

    Wimbledon 2012 – Roger pulled it off after beating BOTH Djokovic and Murray

    Wimbledon 2014 – Roger ONLY had to beat Djokovic and still couldn’t do it – albeit it was an EPIC

    US Open 2014 – Roger didn’t have to beat Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Tsonga, Berdych, Del Potro and still NOTHING.

    I mean I just don’t know. He’s been pretty consistent in Australia but at 33 going on 34 – yep he’ll build up and he’s been reaching semis like for 7-8 straight years.

    But I just don’t know. You just mentioned all those players coming up.

    It’s going to be close to impossible to do.

    The WTF and the Davis Cup are still possible. Basel is doable. Shanghai – maybe.

    Wimbledon – ??? I doubt it but you never know. Probably not though.

    This year I felt was an amazing opportunity at the US Open. Only if he had reached the final. I always worried that reaching the FINAL would be the tougher task.

    I just read the post-match Interview. Apparently, ROger is not as obsessed with #18 as we are. So, let’s just relax..

    [Reply]

    Dolores Reply:

    Hello Steve, As you stated at the end of your uplifting comment, we are ever so fortunate and thankful to Ru-an to give us a voice on his blog of our thoughts on tennis and Roger. I like what you said, Steve, it is positive thinking…after Roger’s loss today, I felt sad, I feel much better now. GS #18 is still a possibility for him to win. We shall be thankful for the joy of watching Roger play, win or lose. He has already accomplished the ultimate unthinkable in his tennis career, all in style and grace. He is admired and loved the world over. Thank You, Roger.
    Thank You, Ru-an, thank you, Steve, and especially all Fedfans that come here.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

    [Reply]

  24. Roger came out flat 2nd time in a row, maybe the long north American hard court season finally got the better of him. We were happy after Wimbledon defeat but today it was frustrating since he couldn’t make it to the tie-breaks at least. US Open will probably remain as an un-finished business because it seems to need a certain amount of physicality to conquer it. But there will be outside chance to glory at Wimbledon again if he sticks to his game-plan and Edberg.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    That pretty much sums it up MJ. The chances of #18 now very slim you would think.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Maybe skipping Cincy might have given him more gas for the US Open. Perhaps we’ll never know.. I guess moving on to the Davis Cup Semis.

    Staying at 17 Majors won’t be the end of the world but only if Nadal stops at 14 or 15. I sincerely hope that Nadal doesn’t win any majors at 2015 and one last one in 2016..

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Nadal may find it hard to catch Fed as it is. But #18 sure would have been nice for insurance…

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Yep, Roger will look back on 2014 as year filled with great opportunities and missed chances. Still, he’s got Davis Cup as well as possibly doing well in Basel and possibly Shanghai if he decides to play. I am not expecting much from him in 2015. If he makes another Slam Semi and possibly a Final – great if not. Oh well! My evocations for 2015 were always going to be very low even if he won. I do have some expectations for the remainder of 2014 although really apart from Davis Cup – what is there else to achieve? Getting another Masters 1000 – nice but don’t see it happening. Basel would be nice but OK considering the missed opportunities at Majors.

    And Auastralia – it’s so far away. Sooner or later, Roger will get beaten there too. So, really it’s a bitter sweet day today..

    The only consolation is that Roger did make 3 SF and 1 Final this year in the slams so at least he’s putting himself in a position.

    But then again we should never be fooled by how Roger looks in the early rounds. We’ve done that before and we’ve been burned. We’ll see what happens. And I guess I’ll have low expectations for Roger unless he does something special again and makes it to another Slam Final again – which is a distinct but low possibility in 2015. I guess we can dream. But we should not get obsessed with it because it only makes the dissapointment bigger. If it happens great and if not – move on.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well said Vily. I think he is done winning slams. If he wins another one, great, but I don’t expect it. I mean he should have already lost to Clownfils, and then he gets straight setted by Cilic. That’s just not good enough to win slams anymore.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Btw Vily, you were always so sure Roger would make the final. Do you understand now why it is important to take one match at a time and not always worry about the other half or Roger’s future opponents? He never played a top half opponent and never will after all this talk about it.

    [Reply]

    MJ-Ruban Reply:

    The good thing is with the new racquet, Roger will be able to play close to top-rankers until 2016. What disappoints me more Cilic may still remain one slam wonder who smoked his opponents during a hot stretch like Del Potro in 2009. I sincerely hope he proves me wrong in future and Del Potro should rise again. It will be extremely difficult to watch the same Nadal at full vigour in hard courts after all these during WTF and Australian Open. However, I can see Nishikori is there for the future, also Wawrinka should step up and play to his full potential.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    What frustrated me the most this tournament was how OFTEN Roger got broken. The biggest positive of the new racquet was the SERVE. Roger served great in Australia and absolutely amazing at Wimbledon. So what happened here? He got broken in the first match of the tournament. That set the tone. I kept defending him due to his freestyle of play. However this is a double edged sword – on the one hand he was schooling his early round opponents and then as the competition picked up he kept digging holes for himself. By far, the Wimbledon performance was a better one. I sincerely hoped that even when he played crappy, he would find a way.

    But it didn’t happen. His serve let him down. I don’t remember Roger getting broken so many times in a slam in a LONG time. Must have been at least 10-15 times the whole tournament. That is not gonna get it done..

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t know. I thought his serve has been good, apart from a few doubles that started creeping in. I just think he is not good enough on HC anymore probably. Losing so many sets in Toronto, Cincy, and the USO before getting destroyed by Cilic. He used to be the HC GOAT. He is far from that these days.

    [Reply]

  25. The simple fact is that, Cilic simply played lights out tennis even by his own standard. He himself agreed that this is the best match of his life. Give him some credit as well. At this point last year, Fed had barely 3000 ATP points. This year it is around 8000. That is a huge huge jump. Most Fedfans had zero expectation last year at the same juncture. Despite him providing us lot more than enough, we are still greedy. Come on guys. Give him a break. After all he is also a human being. Of course not an ordinary one. I am very happy for Fed for whatever he has achieved this year considering last year’s setbacks. Life has to go on! Let us wish all the best for the new guns :-) ;-) .

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Yep! 17 is a good number! We should accept it and just enjoy Roger’s tennis. I doubt that Nadal or anyone else will come close to it. It’s incredibly difficult to win a major nowadays.

    7 Matches… So so tough. One can look amazing for the first 4 and lose. Or play amazing 6 and lose the last one.

    Or one can scrape through 5 of them by the nick of their teeth and then win the last 2 comfortably. It’s crazy! But that’s how it is.

    To me 2010 and 2013 were major turning points despite the comebacks! 2010 was the last time a Roger a “fun” and enjoy full to watch major in Australia. It also marked the end of his incredible 23 consecutive semi-final streak. That was the furs sign that Roger won’t always be in the final weekend of every major..

    Then in 2013 it marked the end of the 36 consecutive quarterfinal streak. That basically set the pattern that we see today.

    Roger has slowed down his demise and 2014 was a much better year in all aspects as the ranking has improved. Roger has played a LOT of matches and I just feel that 2015 will be yet another of those disappointing loose years.

    It’s crazy how winning 1 Major can turn a mediocre season into great one and how winning 3 titles and being in 8 finals is considered somewhat inferior to it. Maybe Roger should just play around with his schedule and concentrate specifically on the slams. Even though that’s hardly how it works… It’s really a young men’s game. Roger will have another of those runs to the quarters and semis. But will he reach another final???? And who will stand across the net?! And will he even have a tiny chance to win?

    Time will tell but I personally don’t want to put that added pressure on him. It’s been fun as it is and that’s life and that’s sports. Sometimes things are just not meant to be..

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Jiten.

    [Reply]

  26. The only problem with your analysis is that Nadal’s a virtual lock for RG. We keep saying Nadal won’t win another slam or 17 is too much but every year he closes the gap by ATLEAST 1 slam if not more. A slam gap might not be enough and the way the universe is rotating, it seems Nadal seems to have all the luck and Fed seems to have none so it looks like Nadal will equal/surpass Federer’s slam record.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I hope this comment is not addressed to me as I have never said Nadal won’t catch Fed. In fact I have said many times I am sure Nadal will catch Fed. I am less certain now though.

    [Reply]

    Monfed Reply:

    That was directed at Vily, Ruan. Apologies for the confusion.

    [Reply]

  27. Disappointed, but not terribly so. Why was Federer getting broken? The fact is he was exhausted from the Monfils match. It’s not just physical, but also mental. Even if he was 25 that would be taxing, but at 33 I am sure his legs and arms were still sore. The reason why Federer was so good even in his late 20s is that he could win those type of Monfils matches in 3 or 4 and save energy.

    We could all see he was flat today, as McEnroe said ‘there was no spring in his step’. Just a small difference in energy level and you can’t handle the pace of Cilic, who played a great match.

    It was as Vily said, quite similar to the 2012 Olympic finals loss – a flat Federer, exhausted after a long match , gets straight setted. Even though he looks fine and says he’s recovered, it really seems he was gassed out there.

    Cilic was eating his 2nd serve alive and that is what prevented it from going to a tiebreak. on top of this he showed no nerves. Damn it the last game he served 3 aces. Federer has no chance to even get a ball into play.

    Ruan said it, Federer is not a HC lock anymore.

    I don’t anticipate any majors now. But this year he is playing well and I hope for an indoor tittle, preferably the WTF (my guess is he skips Paris to save energy).

    Also, we must accept that Nadal will pass him – all this talk about the next generation rising, etc. strikes me as too optimistic. Nadal will be back, rested as ever, He will focus on Paris and then everything else as bonus. He surely has 2 French Opens left in him. He has about 3 years left on tour, barring ‘stomach flus’ and other magical problems.

    that being said, he will never be sticking around to slam finals and semi finals like Federer at 33. Well done, champ. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    The thing is Nadal MUST get beaten at the FO soon. I mean he was already lucky in 2013. Surely will happen in the next two years, and when will his other slam come from? Clearly not Wimby. He has only won the AO once due to a choke from Roger, and I feel he was lucky to have won 2 USO. It will be tough for him there now. That said, I can see him at least equaling Roger now.

    [Reply]

  28. My hopes for Fed from now on will be, in order of importance:

    1. Win the Davis Cup
    2. Beat Nadal again in some decently important match (tournament semi/final, clay court match, WTF)
    3. Win WTF one more time.

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    These are fair and realistic goals, Chris!

    I am not an expert but can someone explain to me why Roger served so well and with ease at Wimbledon and with such struggle at the US Open. In fact, he even served better in Australia.

    Is there a reason for it? Is it the surface or us it just based on current form?

    I am thinking about because everybody keeps saying how Wimbledon is Roger’s best chance to add to his Grand Slam Total and I get it about the fast surface and supposed low bounce. But there’s got to be something else there that makes Roger serve so well.

    I am sure that he’ll give it another go. I guess Australia and Wimbledon are the only realistic chances but even easy draws are deceiving nowadays as we just found out. Just because a big seed lost, it doesn’t mean anything. In fact it only means that the player that beat him will be even harder to beat! ;-) )

    [Reply]

    Bharata Reply:

    I’m not sure, but I think Federer has a lot of variety on the 2nd serve (slices, topspins) and the grass makes that much hater to return. Everyone’s serve is better on grass, but maybe pure flat serves are less effective than angles and spins. So you return based more on reaction and reflexes. The hard court is so regular and relatively high bouncing.

    Of course you are right, he does serve better in Australia. I wonder if that has to do with the air dryness (New York is probably more humid and windy, which affects the serve). The australian court is definitely slower than the US Open.

    That said, Cilic yesterday used his great wingspan to easily handle the wide serves from Federer. And unlike the other big men, who moves very well.

    That, and the fact that grass is played on quite rarely, so players aren’t sued to it. So a player like Federer is has more innate talent handles it easily.

    One thing I noticed yesterday by the 3rd set – Federer was grunting on 1st serves and even on groundstrokes. He almost never does that (we all watch him a lot) . Even as his career has went on, you only usually hear him grunt on a 2nd serve . So this really makes me think he was physically spent.

    [Reply]

  29. John McEnroe at the beginning of the USO made an interesting prediction. He pointed out that Fed had an easy draw (which became even easier once Berdych lost), but he thought “something will prevent him from winning this title, even if Djokovic doesn’t make the final as well.”

    Turns out Mac was right. I was gutted by the Wimbledon final because Roger had a BP in the fifth and SHOULD have won that match. But this Cilic match was just a demolition, Roger was lackluster and disinterested from the get go. Peak 2004-06 Fed would have beaten this chump in straights. All this talk of Cilic’s “massive serve” by the media is BS. He was generally hitting his first serve at 125-128 MPH. Fed annihilated Roddick several times at the USO and we all know Andy served WAY bigger than Cilic and Roddick was the vastly superior player. Young Roger effortlessly returned 135-140 MPH serves, but at 33 just can’t handle serves of 128.

    Fed just looked ancient out there. The hands of time stop for no man. Just as he had nothing left in the Olympics final in 2012, he had nothing left for Cilic, even with a full days rest. I knew something was amiss when Fed foolishly admitted in his Thursday night presser, “I don’t know if I can approach the net against Cilic.” WTH? Why not? Why telegraph your intentions of trying to outhit a monster like Cilic from the back of the court? Especially when his net game was superlative against Monfils!

    Of course whenever Roger approached the net against Cilic, he was burned. He wasn’t anticipating anything and again looked just plain old out there. Every single time he hit to Cilic’s BH and came in, Cilic passed him down the line. Why wasn’t Fed anticipating this shot?

    We can all hope for #18 but the chances of it are slim to none at this point. Nadal will come back from his “injury” (cycling down from his latest steroid rampage), like a beast, as he always does. Even if Djoker loses interest because of the baby, now Roger has to deal with new guys and Kei already is 2-2 against him.

    At least Rafa didn’t beat him here, that would have been DISMAL.

    [Reply]

    Bharata Reply:

    I think this sums it all up. It’s sad, but you have to accept it. I didn’t know he said he was going to think about going to the net vs Cilic. On paper that seems rational. Federerr assumed Cilic hits big, but makes a lot of errors, and his superior defence would extend rallies to the point Cilic makes an error. But Cilic was too good.

    The good news though is that it’s not like the skills have disappeared, just the stamina and a bit of the reaction time. No shame in that, he is human after all.

    Now that I think of it, it’s amazing he even beat Fedrrer in Cinncy, thank heavens for that.

    I think as someone said above, a realistic goal would be Davis Cup, and a good showing at the WTF. On an indoor court he is still effective, and assuming he is physically fine and rested, he can do damange.

    I hope he can end the year at No.2. That would be a remarkable achievement.

    [Reply]

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