Djokovic Wins 4th Dubai Title After Dismissing Feeble Berdych in Final

Hello guys. There is a lot more to be said for Roger’s loss against Berdych yesterday but let me get to the final first, which was of course concluded today. As was expected Djokovic took the title. When I joined the action Berdych was a break up in the first set, serving at 4-3. What? Was there and upset in the making? Of course not. Berdych feebly dropped serve after missing a sitter volley into the open court that a 2-year old could make. Utter mental midgetry. Even after that embarrassment he still had 3 break points in the following game to make up for it, but of course faltered on those too. Nothing else needs to be said about this match, aside from the fact that Berdych surrendered the first set with another feeble double fault. So yeah, feeble is the word that sums up this match from a Berdych standpoint.

I stopped watching after the first set because it was all over at that point. Very few people come back against Djokovic after dropping the first set, least of all mental midget Berdych. The final score was 7-5, 6-3. Congrats to Djokovic, who is now only one short of Roger’s record 5 titles in Dubai. It was a shame that Roger could not be in the final to at least test Djokovic and try to win double the amount of Dubai titles that Djokovic has. This brings me back to Roger’s loss to Berdych. No, this is not a post to bash Roger for losing to a mental midget like Berdych in a crucial match. I said what I wanted to say in my last post which was pretty critical. But I am a reporter so I will report the facts. Before I try to look at things a bit more optimistically I can’t help but feel like Berdych’s feeble loss to Djokovic today emphasizes what a bad loss the one against Berdych was in the semis.

Yes Berdych always seems to in the zone against Roger, but it is not like he becomes a different person. He is still Tomas Berdych. Seeing Berdych’s feeble performance today reminded me once again that mental strength is not Roger’s forte. Well it was Roger 3.0’s forte, but there is also Roger 2.0 to consider. One of my readers commented on my last post that he never believed in all this talk about different versions of Roger, and I thought I did a pretty good job of explaining to him why I believe there is such a thing. It goes back to the 2011 US Open where Roger suffered that shock loss to Djokovic after having match points for the second year running. It was obviously time for him to take a good look at himself and make some changes. Is this another such time? I think so. In that sense these losses aren’t necessarily a bad thing.

It is a kind of shock that can wake him up. Hopefully this shock against Berdych will wake Roger up again. But I was talking about the different versions of Roger. I think it was obvious that Roger became a different player after the 2011 US Open that lasted for at least a year. He went through a period where he never lost a match that you feel he should have won. The first match that he lost which I felt he should have won was the one against Berdych at the 2012 US Open. I think the Roger 3.0 tag which I myself gave him and has since been adopted by many a Fedfan was totally justified. And the main difference between Roger 2.0 and Roger 3.0 was exactly the mental strength which was so absent against Benneteau and Berdych. Roger just didn’t lose to players he should beat and he never lost from a winning position.

You could say he should have won the Masters Cup final against Djokovic where he was in a winning position in both sets, but for me he was burned out at that point. 2012 was a grueling season and I thought Roger started burning out after Cincy. I thus didn’t see it as the end of Roger 3.0. He fought his way back to confidence in the indoor season and then played almost the perfect Australian Open. Yes he didn’t win the title, but he lost to one of the very best on a slowish surface that didn’t exactly suit his attacking game. So I wasn’t under any impression that the end of Roger 3.0 was near. I was excited because I knew Roger 3.0 was right up there with Djokovic and Murray and that he would have another shot at a major. But the losses to Benneteau and Berdych quickly had me doubting his 3.0 status. Things change fast in tennis.

Now, in my last post my readers came up with all kinds of explanations for the Berdych loss, and I appreciated that you guys were trying to be optimistic. Personally I didn’t buy any of the explanations however. It was a demoralizing loss. Period. However, the outlook that some of you took that it is too early to write Roger off was a just one. Roger have suffered demoralizing losses like this in his career before. Many times in fact, and he has often hit back in the best way possible. So yes, it is too early to talk of retirement. I merely brought that up in my last post because I felt Roger really let himself and his fans down in his last two tournaments, and that if his heart is not 100% in it anymore then it is time to retire. That is something I won’t change my mind on. If he wants to keep playing he must do so all the way or not at all.

I feel very strongly about this. And I still don’t know why his heart wasn’t in it 100% against Benneteau and Berdych. And yes it concerns me. It is something that he must look into and straighten out fast. Otherwise we are looking at more losses like these and a disappointing 2013. Take a look at this article:

http://www.menstennisforums.com/showthread.php?t=235617

The link to the actual article is not there but is legit all the same. Roger sounds very optimistic in that article and believes that he can win more slams and even get back to number one. I think it’s important to take a long term view and not to get lost in the moment. Yes we are at a low now but it has been a great run and we first of all have to appreciate that. We thus can’t just write Roger off after two bad matches. He was still playing at a very high level against Berdych I felt. It is just that he faltered at the crucial moment. He didn’t go in for the kill at 6-4 in the tie break and instead floated a feeble backhand slice long. I am trying to understand what went on in his mind at that instant, compared to Roger 3.0 who would have taken the opportunity with both hands. A tennis player’s mind is a complex thing. It’s not that black and white.

Maybe something has been on his mind. Maybe the loss to Berdych at the US Open was still fresh in his memory. We must not be too quick to judge. But we can’t dismiss this as just another loss either. I did not see the presser after the match but I can imagine Roger was not exactly beaming with confidence. I hope he takes this loss as seriously as I do and that it serves as a wake up call. I remember Roger saying before 2013 that this will be a kind of transition year. I don’t remember the exact reason, but I think he meant that after the hectic 2012 he needs to adjust his schedule and play less, because he is aging and has to get enough rest and practice. That is another thing about these last two events. He didn’t prepare well for either. He took some time off after Melbourne and didn’t prepare well for Rotterdam.

Then before Dubai he went to South Africa for his charity and obviously his preparation would not have been ideal either. So actually that may have been a factor. As I said, we should not be too quick to judge. If you have followed my blog for a while now you will know that I usually do a post where I criticize quite a bit after a disappointing loss, which hasn’t happened much of late(the Australian Open 2012 SF loss to Nadal comes to mind), after which I try to be more optimistic and rational. That loss to Nadal was another good example of how Roger can hit back after a tough loss. I actually kind of forgot about that match in terms of a match that Roger 3.0 lost that he should have perhaps won, but it was his nemesis Nadal so that is a bit different. Anyway that was another disappointing performance where Roger came back in impressive fashion.

Maybe we will see something similar happening in Indian Wells. Maybe as Roger gets older we will see him being more up and down like this. I just liked the consistency of Roger 3.0. My tennis coach used to say you are only as good as you are on your worst day and there is a lot of truth to that. Roger 3.0 was not so good because of all the titles he won, but because of how he played on his bad days. He still found a way to win. This was not the case against Benneteau. Against Berdych I did not feel he had a bad day. He was still playing at a very high level and should have won in straight sets. So in the end there are many things to consider. Roger said that 2013 will be a transitional year and maybe he is still finding the balance between enough rest and enough practice. But at the same time this loss to Berdych must serve as a wake up call.

Lets see what happens in Indian Wells.

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24 Comments

  1. Ru-an, I do agree that it was not “just another loss” as you say. It was quite a blow and obviously reminiscent of 2010 where he lost many matches from match point up. I give credit to Berdych for hanging tough and playing well enough to win that second set (which he would have 7-5 if he challenged his set point).

    I think Fed has been reeling from the AO defeat to Murray. He gave everything he had in that tournament with nothing to show for it, and that cannot be easy to handle afterwards. I really do hope that this loss is a wake-up call for him and I think it could be in the same way that the loss to Djokovic was for him a year and a half ago. It is clear that he hasn’t been the same confident force since the US Open, but the same thing could be said about him before the USO 2011 loss, as he had quite a bad year by his standards with the exception of the French Open.

    At this point, the time off should help as it will give him lots of time to work on the kinks in his game (serve and return) and it will give him a fresh re-start in Madrid. He has been awfully busy since the end of last season (and he is the busiest player anyway), so the rest and practice will be much needed.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Kyle, why don’t you post your blog link in the space provided? I’m sure people here are interested to read you blog too.

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  2. Ruan–I think you are spot on about the mental reserve that Fed had last season. What was key to me in 2012 was that Fed looked like he was enjoying his tennis, and seemed sharp and eager. He just seemed a bit distracted and tired in the Berdy match. And I bet a friend that if it went to a third, Fed would be out. I do think that a long rest and lots of practice is key for Fed at this stage. I, for one, am not holding out much hope for things turning out at IW. I think we need to give Fed more time, and he might even turn it around in the clay season. For now, I think these next couple of years are ones we should just enjoy and I think Fed will pull out some surprising victories, and some equally surprising losses. And remember, he’s always had trouble against the consistent and resilient guys (remember those insane losses to Canas!) and against big hitters (he lost to Berdy for the first time in 2004 when he had just become #1).

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  3. Speaking of my blog Ru-an….

    I was going through some of my old stuff and remembering a time when my writing was better. I wrote this last year after Dubai and the more I think about it the more some of the points I made make sense.
    http://leftyadvantage.blogspot.ca/2012/03/key-to-federers-confidence.html
    He hasn’t been as confident with his movement in my opinion since the AO and it again goes back to the rest factor. And physically he looks more sluggish which is what we saw in large part in 2010 and 2011. He said after the USO in 2011 that the 6-week break was very important to his improved play as he could gear up to play many tournaments in a row at a high level. Perhaps taking off Miami could have the same effect as skipping Shanghai did in 2011.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes maybe he did not have enough rest in the off season going to SA and all. I don’t think we should expect much at IW. After that 2 month break we will get a better idea what’s going on. He needs a long break.

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  4. Nice post. I agree with you. I think what drove Roger to become 3.0 was a frustrating hunger. Perhaps these two silly losses will spark that desire again for him. I still think physically he has time left. It’s not like Berdych blew him off the court. I just think that it actually goes back to Wimbledon. Winning it and returning to #1 was huge, but when you’re older it costs more from your body and mind. i mean these people are five or six years younger. Anyway, he also has 17 slams so it’s not like Dubai or Rotterdam is going to feel like oh my god what if I don’t win this. It’s really all about the slams though you can’t really win them without doing well at these other tournaments. You need that confidence and he won a lot of smaller tournaments before Wimbledon. Well, let’s hope for more inspired play upcoming. He’s still a joy to watch. I found almost all the players so boring.

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  5. Good to see you’ve slightly changed your perspective Ru-an. I think Indian Wells will be a better tournament, especially if Novak gets Murray in the semis and Nadal pulls out, or even makes it to the semis that is…

    the break after Indian Wells is what I believe helped Roger during the grass season. He hadn’t wasted crucial energy at Miami and Monte Carlo, tournaments he has stuggled with and instead played a solid clay season, winning a tournament and then avoided slugging it out with Nadal at the French and went in optimistic at SW19. To me, Wimbledon is Roger’s ultimate focus this year. Simple as that, I think post Wimbledon season is where we will see Roger blossom, until then, just enjoy the tennis and not get too down on the losses. Roger 3.0 is coming soon.

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  6. Just some questions to all Fed fans
    What should be the goal for Fed from now on..is going deep into every tournament the only goal?
    Is #1 that important now especially after taking it back last yr and going past Pete?

    From my point of view, if he can win one more Wimby and beat Nadal once in a Slam i would be more than happy.

    [Reply]

    Fedfan Reply:

    To be quite honest, I don’t think Roger has a particular goal set in stone this year like he did last year and that’s probably why he looks a bit confused out there on the court concerning motivation. I’d say Wimbledon is the one he knows he has an absolute chance and that’s where he will prioritise everything else around.

    I don’t think number 1 is important any more, he broke the record and proved that he is still among the best. If Roger can keep up playing well in tournaments, defend everything else he’s won this year and Djokovic or Murray fault then the ranking will take care of itself no doubt. Most federer fans do not care about the ranking anymore. However, it would be nice to see him get it one last time, we’ll see.

    Lastly I don’t know about others, but as a Fedfan, I only want to see Roger play his best in every moment he plays and that’s why I have been a little disappointed in the last two tournaments. I thought AO would be telling of the rest of the year, especially the Murray match where he had the grit to take it to five. But the Benneteau match and now Berdych looked like he didn’t give it is all and when it came down to the crucial moments, his focus wasn’t 100%. I think he will wake up now and play a solid year, one that includes another slam hopefully.

    Also if there was ever a year to finally beat Nadal at a slam after 6 years, this is the one. Let’s see if Roger can take the opportunity, maybe even at Roland Garros? if that were to happen and he didn’t win a title, it would still be a successful season in my point of view.

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  7. A fine and somewhat unspectacular win for Djokovic, with the expected feeble performance from Berdych. I totally agree with Ru-an’s assessment. But there was no magic touch in the match, I didn’t hear any ‘nooo wayyy’ comments from the reporters, there was no sublime play. A simple, solid, error free performance from Djokovic against a challenger who willingly choked in the important moments. This is what is left of Tennis after Federer drops out.
    The worst thing that could happen, from my point of view, was if Federer suddenly agreed to the previous post done by Ru-an, admitted that he was not 100% motivated anymore, and therefore decided to withdraw immediately. Even if I knew that he will not collect another title in the remainder of his career, I would be devastated. So I am ready to accept that he will lose ever more often, and the opportunities to feel disappointed will be much more frequent than the opportunities to celebrate. Especially if you are going to be disappointed with every single loss, no matter at what stage of the tournament they occur, but you are only willing to celebrate when he holds a trophy in his hands. I don’t join those who will lament themselves each time Federer loses, and who continuously expect him to win every single match. I don’t want to be full of negative energy, disappointment and frustration every time Federer goes out of a tournament. Rather I will celebrate individual wins, like the ones he had at the AO over all they young pretenders. And I am looking forward to those matches where he will take out other Top Ten players at Grand Slams. And I will cheer for him each time he plays one of the sort of Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, DelPotro, Berdych, even if the outcome will, more often than not, be in favor of the opponent. But Federer is not the best player anymore, and it is very unlikely that he regains the #1 position. And there is no need to, he got the record. He will go down the ladder, fall out of the Top 5, eventually of the Top 10. Maybe he will choose to play doubles one day, because he wants to stay on tour but can’t compete for the single titles anymore. I don’t expect any of this to happen in the next 1-2 years, but it is not a very distant threat either. I think there is only one legacy that he needs to protect, which is the one of being a class act on and off court, which makes him different from many other great players that scored lower when it came to popularity. And there is only one thing he can do to add to his legacy, which is winning more Grand Slams than anybody else. He can do this by winning more himself, or preventing others from winning them. I believe that he can win maybe one more, if he gets on another run maybe even two. But most likely he will not win another Slam. So my hopes are for him to win against Nadal. I want to see him face his Nemesis, and I want to see him beating Nadal.

    [Reply]

    Fedfan Reply:

    Already talking about falling out of the top 5 and 10 at the beginning of the season? Well that’s quite sad. I think reducing his schedule ensures that something like that doesn’t happen.

    You know what sucks? Roger keeps on telling everyone that he is motivated, hungry to win more slams over and over and over again and no one, not even his fans seem to believe him. The guy loves the sport, and when you love something as much as Fed loves tennis, the motivation is still there Chris believe me! All Roger needs and maybe Berdych has already done this is that ONE match that wakes him up and lets him play the tennis we all know he is capable of. It’s only the beginning of the season, Roger’s season begins come grass time. Don’t lose hope Chris, however I totally agree that the final and along with Australia and pretty much every final without Roger is pretty dull, will be a sad day when he finally chooses to hang up the racquet, tennis will never be the same ever again.

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    Chris Reply:

    I tried to look at the big picture, at the next few years in which Federer will still play on the tour. I don’t see him decline quickly. As you say, he hates to lose, especially when he knows he could have won a match like the one against Berdych. I agree with you, this kind of loss is what makes him fight back

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  8. I have always wondered about Roger’s mental strength after he lost the Rome final in 2006, when he had match points in the 5th set against Nadal – and then fired a series of forehands long. The match went to a tie-break, which Roger lost. So it was with his loss to Djokovic at the 2010 USO, and at Dubai yesterday with Berdych. In such situations the match is on Roger’s racquet, but his nerve fails him. You know too that after Roger fails to convert match-point opportunities the match will slip from his grasp – even against mentally fragile players like Berdych. Contrast that with Novak, who has either prevailed against players (like Murray – and Roger) who have had match-points against him, and recovered after dropping serve when serving for the match (as in his semi)and failing to convert match points, to ultimately prevail in the third set. We are unlikely to see that kind of self-belief or grit with Roger.

    As you have noted, Ruan, in the clutch Roger is not the toughest player, whereas the once-dubious Djokovic has become indomitable. Partly it is a difference in their style of game. Novak is an implacable defender, with a return of serve and counter-punching skills to blunt the best attacking game; Roger’s sliced return is often weak – and hence he doesn’t have a good break-point conversion rate – and as an attacking player he sometimes takes risks that don’t pay off.

    But the key difference now is mental. Roger is playing good enough to win – goddam it he has match-points on his own racquet! – but it seems he has forgotten how to get over the finishing line. I can only conclude that Roger’s nemesis is not another player – not Nadal nor Djokovic, or even it seems Berdych – but in his own head. So it has always been I think. But increasingly the fragility is much more there for all to see – including his opponents like Berdych yesterday. They don’t give up – and Roger does the rest.

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  9. Agree with what Rich said above…while i dont say Roger is mentally weak, but his nemesis is surely his head…
    Just curious to know has Roger won any matches from being matchpoints down?

    [Reply]

    Kyle Reply:

    He has won 12 matches from match points down and has lost 13 from match points up.

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Kyle, it might be a big ask but it would be interesting to know when the losses came and who they came to.

    [Reply]

    Kyle Reply:

    Match Points lost:

    2000 – Henmen 2 (Vienna SF).
    2001 – Rafter 1 (Halle QF).
    2002 – Haas 1 (Australian Open RD of 16).
    2003 – Albert Costa 3 (Miami QF).
    2005 – Safin 1 (Australian Open 2005), Gasquet 3 (Monte Carlo QF).
    2006 – Nadal 2 (Rome 2006).
    2010 – Baghdatis 3 (IndianWells RD of 32), Berdych 1 (Miami RD of 16), Djokovic 2 (US Open SF), Monfils 5 (Paris SF).
    2011 – Djokovic 2 (US Open SF).
    2013 – Berdych 3 (Dubai SF).

    Total 13 Matches, 29 Match Points.

    Match Points saved:

    2011 – F. Lopez 1 (Madrid RD of 32).
    2006 – O. Rochus 4 (Halle QF), Roddick 3 (Tennis Masters Cup RR).
    2005 – Ferrero 2 (Dubai RD of 16).
    2003 – Scott Draper 7 (Cincinnati RD of 64), Martin Verkerk 4 (Paris RD 16), Agassi 2 (TMC RR).
    2001 – Massu 3 (Vienna RD of 32), Johansson 1 (Miami RD of 16).
    2000 – Ljubicic 2 (Marseille QF), Hewitt 1 (Basel R16).
    1999 – Guillaume Raoux 2 (Rotterdam RD 32).

    Total 12 Matches, 32 Match Points.

    [Reply]

    rich Reply:

    Thanks, Kyle. Interesting. The data suggests that he struggled to close out tight matches early in his career, and in more recent years. However there is a period of several years, from 2006 to 2010, when he tended not to be in the situation of either losing from match points up or winning from match points down. That period probably conforms more closely to some of his peak years.

    It does however tend to confirm my view that a tendency early in his career remains with him, particularly as some of the later losses came at the hands of opponents who have gotten into his head – like Nadal in 2006, and then Djokovic and now Berdych.

    For any other player a fairly even balance of wins and losses from these match-points situations might be expected. But from the winner of 17 Grand Slams it shows a surprising vulnerability under pressure. You would think the ratio would clearly be in favour of him winning in pressure situations (as it has been shown in his tie-break record.) Hence his fans frustration at his inexplicable losses, and comments like Ruan’s that Roger isn’t a great clutch player. He either dominates (as he did against Davydenko this week), or loses (such as with his thrashings by Murray last year), but rarely scraps his way to victory. Bloody Berdych.

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    Kyle Reply:

    He’s won more tight matches than he I can remember and his fighting ability is highly underrated.
    I don’t put much weight into these numbers though. Whenever a player loses he faces match points, so Roger is 12-201 when facing match points, and he’s 888-13 when he has match points (more or less as there are retirements in some). The facts show that Fed has closed out his opponent many, many times over the course of his career when he has match points in close matches where the opponent still has a chance. Obviously if Roger has MP at two sets up and 5-1 40-0 he has a very high chance of winning the match but if it’s a set all and 6-5 in a third set breaker the margin gets a lot slimmer.

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    Kyle Reply:

    Also, just realized that Fed had 3 chances vs Gasquet in 05. If he won that match and won the title he would have only lost 3 matches in 2005.

    [Reply]

  10. Ru-an, thanks again for taking the time and effort to provide such a lengthy post right after the last one. You’re on quite a roll at the moment!

    There is no blueprint for the pattern of Federer’s later career. He is in territory that no player has ever explored before, so there is no template for him to follow. We should thus not be surprised if he seems sometimes to stumble as he makes new adjustments to preserve his longevity and ensure that he continues playing at a high level. He is a pioneer blazing new trails.

    Each player is different, anyhow–there is no reason his late career should resemble that of Sampras or Agassi or Connors or Becker or Edberg or McEnroe or Wilander or anyone else, because they were all different individuals. Judging however by Federer’s year-round dominance in his younger days on all surfaces, and his varied and efficient game, it’s reasonable to believe he can perform at a much higher level than those other players could, even in his later career. He is sufficiently committed to and passionate about the game that he can continue to produce that highest level of tennis. And now he is managing his schedule in order to minimize the chance of burnout.

    Unlike Sampras who played a ton of tournaments towards the end of ’98 to ensure he stayed year-end #1 for a record sixth year in a row, Federer doesn’t chase rankings points for the sake of chasing them. If #1 is to come, it will be through sustaining a level of performance high enough to win a few Grand Slams and some Masters. Unlike virtually all other players around, I think Federer will always be capable of being #1 until he retires. Once other players have lost the #1 ranking and cease to play at their highest level, they’ve never been able to regain it. Federer may lose it from time to time, depending on how his performance fluctuates (and luck of the draw and other factors), but he will always be able to get it back. Since he can still do well on all surfaces, he won’t have to stuff one part of the season with tournaments in order to gain points and thus is less likely to burn out.

    As you have pointed out, this is something of a transitional year for Federer as he has trimmed his schedule and said he wants to prioritize quality of play over quantity. Surely it’s required him to make some big adjustments. I think his skipping Doha, while necessary given his exhausted state at the end of last year, may have meant he was undercooked coming into AO. He was forced to overexert himself in his last two AO matches, and now he is sort of playing catch-up mentally and trying to recover his equilibrium.

    I wouldn’t call Berdych weak-minded for losing to Djokovic. Federer and Djokovic pose fundamentally different challenges.

    Berdych does well against Federer because Federer is an aggressive, shotmaking player, not primarily a defensive player. Federer’s footspeed is not what it was six years ago, his ability to hustle and play defense and counterpunch is slightly lessened. When his offensive game falters, he can no longer rely on his defense to get past a power player like Berdych. For him to win, he has to have a clear game plan to counter Berdych’s power, and be able to execute it. He can’t hope to just hit his way out of trouble; if it degenerates into a slugfest, he isn’t going to win.

    But Djokovic is younger, and his speed and endurance surpass even Federer’s at that age. His defense is so impenetrable that he can just retrieve every attempt at a winner until Berdych is worn down. His groundstrokes are also heavier than Federer’s although Federer’s are more varied and precise. To penetrate Djokovic’s defense, Berdych deliberately tries to hit harder and play super-aggressive, but this results in his making more UEs. Djokovic doesn’t have to do anything special to win; the burden to come up with a new game plan is placed on Berdych, and though he is a powerful and explosive player, his game is quite limited. So he has quite a poor record against Djokovic, unlike Federer who can still match it with Djokovic 2.0 even at age 31.

    I don’t expect that Federer will have been able to recalibrate his game by IW. He needs some time off to train and recuperate. That he will have after IW, and I am sure he will make good use of it. He spoke of his disappointment after losing to Berdych, which is good. If he weren’t disappointed, it would be a sign that he lacked motivation.

    Who knows, even Madrid’s switching back to red clay might ultimately help him. Last year, adjusting to the novel, slippery blue clay and then transitioning to red so quickly seemed to put a strain on his body and he was never quite right the rest of the clay season. That won’t be an issue this year, nor will the Olympics, so he will perhaps have more energy left to devote to the clay season. After that, defending Wimbledon is all-important.

    I think we’ll have to wait some time to judge whether this is a good season or not. But I’m not too discouraged just because he failed to replicate his fantastic spring hard-court run of last year. There’s still plenty of tennis left to be played.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Steve. Yes it could have been tiredness like you suggested. That’s why I thought going to SA was not necessarily the wisest decision. He didn;t have much time to rest in the off season after a grueling year and now he is paying for it. It looks like he was rested enough to give it his all at the AO but then became really flat. He still played well in Dubai however. After destroying Davydenko I felt he was ready for Berdych. I don’t know. We will just have to wait and see if the 2 month break will change things. It will be the first extended break that he had in a while.
    I agree with you that Roger and Djokovic poses very different challenges to Berdych as well. Berdych likes the pace that Roger gives him, while he is not good at handling the ball coming back all the time against Djokovic. All good points from you.
    Also I don’t think we can expect anything special from Roger at IW. Probably SF at best. I didn’t know Madrid is changing back to red clay either. That is disappointing to me and I wonder what is the reason. Not sure it made a difference for him last year. The win in Madrid gave him confidence if anything and there was still time to prepare in Rome. I just think the fact that Nadal was in the final made him not care as much.

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  11. I really don’t understand most of the comments.
    Ofcourse I don’t like it to see Roger lose a match but I never be disappointed in him.

    The last blog of you Ruan I find disappointent to say he wasn’t motivated and in decline.
    That’s what they said in 2008 and 2011. You may be a reporter but you are also a great fan of Roger. That makes it even more difficult for me when you say “Personally I didn’t buy any of the explanations however. It was a demoralizing loss. Period”

    For more than a decade he plays great tennis in a way never be seen before.
    In 2001 he won his first title in Milan and now has 76 including 17 majors.
    At the age of 31, nearly 32 he is still the nr. 2 player in the world.
    Still loves the game is motivated and fighting.

    I don’t think Novak and Rafa are playing at that level when they are that age.

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