Djokovic Too Strong Again for Federer in London

You’re gonna have to bare with me in this post because my stream was very unstable in the 1st set, and I couldn’t find any highlights for this match. At first I thought this loss was no big deal and that Djokovic was simply too good. But after going over the match again I remembered that Roger had a break point I think at 4-4 in the 1st set, at which point he missed a very makeable forehand. Then in the next game he got broken himself to drop the 1st set. In hindsight that was the most important moment in the match. Roger should have broken at 4-4 and won the 1st set 6-4. But he failed to do so and the trend was set for the match. In the 2nd set he fought back admirably and broke serve at 2-2, but dropped serve again right away. He then broke again to love. And yet again at 5-4 when serving for the 2nd set he got broken.

He then had a lot of pressure when serving the stay in the match at 5-6, and did well to hold comfortably. When dropping serve at 5-4 I thought he had blown it, but he showed great mental strength to forget about it and win the 2nd set 7-2 in the breaker. After Roger showed a lot of guts to win the 2nd set, Djokovic came out in the 3rd set and broke Roger in the opening game like it was nothing. He was in complete control in the 3rd set and looked like he was almost toying with Roger. He broke a 2nd time at 3-1 as he breezed through the final set 6-2, same as he did in Paris. I said Djokovic may be tired after the Paris final and he did indeed look tired in the 3rd set, but instead of it costing him it made him play relaxed and better. I can’t find the stats on this either but there were way too many unforced errors from Roger.

The same can be said for the match between Nadal and Ferrer and I think it has to do with adapting to the new surface, because I think Djokovic also made a lot of errors. But the point is Roger made them when it mattered, like on break point in the 1st set. He also got involved in too many long base line rallies with Djokovic, which inevitably favored the Serb. Roger’s one-handed backhand becomes a liability in the extended base line rallies and he needed to mix it up more. Of course the conditions didn’t help because it was slower than Paris and the ball bounces higher. Roger said in his presser that the speed is the same as previous years, but it looks like the bounce is higher which would favor Nadal. Is the ATP really trying to help Nadal finally win this title? It looks like the bounce has become higher since the last two matches Roger beat Nadal in London, and Nadal’s group draw could not have been friendlier.

Showing off his calluses

In the end the conditions favored Djokovic more than in Paris, and given that the score was the same in the final set this match is probably an improvement on the Paris match for Roger. But the fact he is lost and he was thoroughly outplayed in the end. Had he made that forehand in the 1st set on break point things could have been very different. If he broke and held serve to win the 1st set he would have been in the driver seat. I know he won the 1st set in Paris too, but I can’t see how he would have faded towards the end so much this time. In Paris I just think he was flat in the 3rd set. In London he got outplayed. By losing the 1st set he was under pressure from there on. For him to beat Djokovic he must win the 1st set. Jonathan mentioned a stat last night that Roger had not won a deciding set against a top 4 player in 3 years.

He just isn’t very clutch, so that when it comes to a decider against Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray he just about always loses the match. There is no doubt Roger’s mental fortitude or lack thereof have been exposed in the last few years. And probably the longer he plays the more it will be exposed. I said he has the opportunity now to add that missing piece of the puzzle to his greatness, and although it sounds great, I find it hard to see him fulfill it. I just think he is kind of set in his ways. It is up to him though. If he wants to keep playing he either becomes more of a fighter and adds to his legacy, or his lack of mental fortitude when the pressure is on keeps getting exposed and his legacy gets tarnished. By now everyone already knows that Roger is not some untouchable god like many once thought he was in his prime.

He has lost too many close, important matches since then for people to still think that. Probably if he retired after last year things would have been different, but this year has looked pretty bad. Anyway I am getting side-tracked. Roger decided to keep playing and I am fine with that. I still enjoy seeing him out there and I believe he still has some good tennis in him left. I certainly don’t think this loss to Djokovic is the end of the road or anything. But like I said things do become more complicated now. The good news is that Roger won the 2nd set, which could become important for semis qualification. He needs to win his remaining two group matches anyway. He faces Gasquet next which I think is good because he will have a good chance of winning, and it will be nice to go into the all important match with Del Potro on the back of a win.

Roger still finding it hard to hide his love for Novak

I think Djokovic will win all his matches in group B while Gasquet will lose everything. He has already lost to Del Potro after winning the first set. The score was 6(4)-7, 6-3, 7-5 and Del Potro didn’t look in particularly good form. He is probably starting to tire after a good run post US Open. I’m pretty sure Djokovic will defeat him and Roger will defeat Gasquet. So the second qualifier will probably be decided between the winner of Roger and Delpo. I still like Roger’s chances of qualifying. The Djokovic match definitely wasn’t all doom and gloom. I think if he won the 1st set he could have won the match. It was probably a lot closer than it looked in the end. Also Roger’s mental strength in the 2nd set was impressive. So at this point at least he definitely looks like the second best player in group B to me. And who knows what could happen if he qualifies for the semis.

It’s too early to look past the group stage but I haven’t completely given up on his chances to win the title. Yes Djokovic beat him comfortably in the end but like I said if he took the break point in the opening set and won the set, the outcome could have been different. Djokovic was a tough player to get in his first match. Ideally you want to start with a win but Roger just have to make sure he wins his next match now. I believe he is still improving. Never mind the loss to Djokovic. At least he can’t play Djokovic again before the final. If he qualifies it looks like he will probably play Nadal, who won his second match against Stan in straight sets today. In his first match he destroyed Ferrer 6-3, 6-2 in another low quality match. Looks like all the players are struggling to adapt to the courts and that the tennis will improve from here on.

Stan was trying to win his first set against Nadal today but in the first set tie break Nadal came up with another devastating defensive play, just as it looked like Stan will take his first set. In the 2nd set tie break Stan missed a forehand winner by the smallest of margins just as he was taking control again. So another devastating loss for Stan to Nadal and no sets for him in 12 meetings. Stan played well, but like 99.99% of the tour he lacks the mental fortitude to beat Nadal. Stan also won his first match against Berdych and I hope he qualifies for the semis. Nadal looks good here and I don’t know if Roger can beat him again should they meet in the semis, but I have hope. His record against him is 4-0 at the Masters Cup but it just looks like the bounce is higher these days which wouldn’t make it easy for Roger.

Roger plays the day session tomorrow.

 

Presser:

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21 Comments

  1. Djokovic and Nadal act so superior and Murray is getting that attitude also. They seem to forget that Roger is still playing after a back problem. He has earned many awards. Seventeen slams, etc. I think his confidence level is under the courts. He gets so frustrated now and is letting it show. I feel any day that he may just announce his retirement. Even not winning, he brings in the crowds. The tennis world will not be the same. The money he can bring to the game will not be there with any of the other players.

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  2. That not winning the decider in 8 years against top 4 stat while shows to an extent that fed is not clutch compared to the likes of djokovic and nadal, could be misleading becuase how many of those matches really went to a decider.matches against nadal rarely go to a decider becuase nadal just owns federer.
    Matches against djokovic well as far as I can remember have gone the distance only from may be 2009 onwards same with murray and its therefore no surprises that he has not won a decider because from then on he has steadily declined while others have well and truly entered their prime years.He did not have to play deciders against almost any player in his prime years because he was so dominant and when he was pushed during the latter half of his career,it was actually obvious that he would falter more times because he was not used to it and add to it that his age and steady decline in his game did not help him either.

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  3. On another note,congrats to rafa for becoming the year end world no 1.
    He deserved it with the year he has had,irrespective of what we think about it,he was was superior in the GS and simply crushed his opponents till end of USO.
    So, now the real problem starts for nadal.he has to defend these points next year.
    He has not been able to defend his no 1 ranking and that just shows his lack of overall consistency through out the year.
    Djokovic has already managed to defend his crown one time and that itself is a very big achievement and he will be more than fired up to get back his throne next year and will want to prove to everyone that he is still the best player on the planet by winning the WTF.
    So exciting week to look forward to as the players are finally starting to get used to the unusual high bounce on an indoor surface

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  4. Decided to watch the rerun of Wawrinka and Nadal. Stan played a great game against nasty. Yes nasty! I hope Stan goes to the semi’s. He certainly deserved to be here.

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    rahan Reply:

    I hope that Swiss will winn the final against Spain.

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  5. It’s not his game or his back or his fitness or the court speed, it’s his guts. It’s sad but true folks, Roger Federer has a glass jaw. When he’s in the flow and everything is going well, no one can stay on the court with him – even now. No one. But the big guys know now that all they probably need to do is keep as close as they can to him and abuse his backhand. Fed will eventually get frustrated and lose patience. He starts going for the winners early without setting up the opening. The unnecessary and unforced errors start piling up. Frustration builds. Doubt swells. Then just rip a couple of big cross court forehand winners and Fed will completely fall apart. First serves can’t be bought, forehands spray long and wide or just frame off into the rafters and all the glorious variety goes out the window. He thinks it’s just not his day and wants to go home. Game over, regardless of the score. I absolutely hate to say it because I am such a devout fan, crazy about him and his tennis but it’s simply undeniable. Glass jaw.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    It’s hard to admit because Roger is such a great champion and has achieved so much. But there is unfortunately a lot of truth to it. Roger just cracks under pressure a lot. It is what it is.

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  6. Ruan, first of all i dont get the stat Roger hasen’t won a decider against top 4 in 8 years. I can think of 2 such matches streaightaway both vs Nadal. First the wimby final 2007 and the WTF 2010 final which went to a decider. As far as this years wtf i think its just Djokovics tournament to loose. Hes already in semis and hell play Stan there and Nadal or Roger in final. I still rhink hell prefer Roger over Nadal in final. And i agree with the Atp organisers helping Nadal theory. I mean Uncle Tony could not have handpicked the draw better and they want the Nadal story to end well. And what about Nadal bringing the wtf final on other surfaces issue. I mean the guy is just undescribable in words. Although Roger gave him a pretty good answer. So hope Roger wins his 7th title.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I apologize. It was a typo and I fixed it. Yes Nadal is an embarrassment for tennis and mankind.

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    Vily Reply:

    Finally a good description of Nadal. LOL!

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  7. “…Jonathan mentioned a stat last night that Roger had not won a deciding set against a top 4 player in 8 years….”

    Maybe I am missing something, but here are some data:

    Wimbledon 2012
    W Andy Murray W 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4

    Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2009
    RR Andy Murray W 3-6, 6-3, 6-1

    ATP Masters Series Hamburg 2007
    W Rafael Nadal W 2-6, 6-2, 6-0

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    Ru-an Reply:

    It was a typo. It’s 3 years not 8. Already fixed it. And Wimby 2012 vs Murray didn’t have a decider. A decider is a 3rd or a 5th set.

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  8. I agree with many of your comments about Roger’s game. Others here have realised much the same. Watching him yesterday I found it difficult to remember the player who transfixed me with his brilliance 5-6 (even longer?) years ago. Everything used to look so easy for him. Now he constantly seems at the edge of his game, struggling to keep pace with an opponent, like Djokovic, playing well within his own limits. Roger still plays some brilliant points but just as often his basic execution lets him down; he regularly fails to hit the ball – any ball – forehand,backhand, volley – cleanly. This is not the player I recall so impressed us with the wonderful smoothness of his game when he dispatched the reigning Wimbledon champion in 2001. No wonder Roger struggles with his confidence; his game is no longer at his command.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    We have to remember not to equate Roger’s mental fortitude with how he performs when his confidence is low either. Even Nadal has had lows in his career where he looked like a mental midget. By the same token we must not equate Roger’s mental strength to how he performs when everything is going his way. But at the same time mental strength is really shown when the chips are down and things are not going your way. It’s easy to dominate when you are winning everything and you have an untouchable aura. But as soon as Nadal came along and started breaking down that invincible aura of Roger other players followed. Then the real test came. Could he still perform when everything wasn’t going his way? In some cases yes and in some cases no. He has certainly shown this year that he is mentally fragile under pressure. But we can’t just take this year as the norm either. He was injured and his confidence was at an all time low. We should guard against being too hard on him. He has after all won 17 slams and achieved an awful lot in the sport. You certainly can’t be mentally weak to do that. It is like I have always said. He is not mentally weak, but mental toughness is not his strength.

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    rich Reply:

    I am suggesting the mental fragility he increasingly shows stems directly from the decline in his skills; the confidence factor is based on how well he is executing. Nowadays he can’t play like he used to, hence his confidence has fallen and without confidence his mental fragility is exposed. In his heyday his skills were such that he had the confidence to turn any match around, and he was incredibly good on the big points – as his tie-break record showed. That is how he won his 17 slams. But in those days he knew he could execute in the clutch. No longer. Now there are always the doubts. Heartbreaking defeats by Nadal and injury have played their part, but the biggest villain is age.

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    Vily Reply:

    Well said, Ru-an!

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  9. Federer defeated Djoker in Basel in best of 3 and Nadal in 2010 WTF! I guess that was the last match where he had to beat a top 2 player in the deciding set.
    Lets hope for the best I believe he ll have a good season in 2014

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  10. These are my thoughts: yes, Fed isn’t as mentally strong anymore as we would all love him to be. But the decline in his physical abilities has hurt his confidence and all those shanks and mishits are a direct cause of him not being able to get into the perfect position any longer on every shot. Plus, he has a racquet that is badly outdated and he needs a bigger one to give him more margin when he isn’t stroking the ball greatly. He certainly doesn’t have a “glass jaw” though, I’ve seen him fight a ton this year when his confidence has been down and his body has been killing him to suggest otherwise. He is very prideful and doesn’t just give up, though it may seem that way. He does lose it in important moments and he doesn’t have that overwhelming belief anymore against the best guys, but a lot of that has to do with being put under so much pressure from these elite defenders who just don’t give anything up. We know Fed is a first-strike tennis player and he’s most vulnerable when he gets into long rally after long rally. In the match vs Djokovic, he was moving him around the court and working the ball well from the baseline but the slower courts made it so that it was harder to get the ball by him.
    Overall, Rich is right. He doesn’t have the same big game anymore and that puts him under more pressure in the big points, when he’s forced to win a long rally against a tough defender like Nole instead of being able to play 1-2 punch tennis. The serve has also declined dramatically in percentage and speed, and that’s obviously had a big impact on his confidence and big-point play. He can’t rely on a big serve to get him out of trouble like he used to.

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