Doha Rd 1: JesusFed Destroys Davydenko 6-2, 6-2 to Prove the Doubters Wrong

I don’t have much time so this post won’t be long, but I definitely wanted to say something about this match. I hope everyone understands now why I made nothing of the exho in Abu Dhabi. Roger was looking utterly different than he did in those exhos. I wasn’t happy that Roger missed an easy forehand to breadstick Davydenko in the second set, and as I said Davydenko is not the player he used to be. But still I think this could be classified as JesusFed. There was great intensity while the serve and forehand were in great shape. Roger made a staggering 85% of first serves. I can fully understand why Roger did not care much about the exho. If he gave 100% and lost then Djokovic and Nadal gains a mental edge over him before Melbourne. If he wins then it’s just an exho and it means nothing. It’s a lose-lose situation.

At this stage, it is about proving doubters wrong and messing with the minds of his opponents. Losing to Djokovic and Nadal in Abu Dhabi gives them a false sense of security. Roger has always been an intelligent tennis player. He knows what he is doing here. The way he was playing today you feel he has a great chance to win this event again. If that happens then it happens. But for me it is certainly not important. The more people write Roger off the better as far as I’m concerned.

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If he wins Doha then he has a lot of expectations going into Melbourne again and I don’t like that. We saw how he is able to raise his game today when it matters and surprise everyone who wrote him off after a silly exho. I feel it’s better if he goes into Melbourne in a similar situation and then raise his game again. Last year there were a lot of expectations after he won Doha and I wasn’t impressed with his play in Melbourne.

He just looked vulnerable from the start. We will see. If he wins Doha then it is still a title and a confidence boost. I’m not gonna write him off for Melbourne if he wins Doha. It is after all not a very important event. Today Nadal beat Kohlschreiber in three tough sets while Tsonga also needed three sets to beat a wild card. So neither of them is looking in amazing shape. They will improve with every round though. If Roger does happen to play Nadal in the final and win then it could be a good thing going into Melbourne. But there is a lot of tennis left to be played in Doha. Roger now plays a guy called Zemlja who I’ve never heard of. Should be another easy win. I hope you enjoyed today’s display from Roger and for those who doubted him I hope will have a bit more faith next time(or less expectation).

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22 Comments

  1. I agree Roger played fabulously well. I loved the kick serve to Davydenko’s BH and Fed was hitting his FH with wicked pace. But I don’t think we can say he’s in Jesus Fed mode with such a lackluster opponent. Davy didn’t even look like he was trying that hard. I just hope Fed can meet Rafa in the final and beat him twice straight. That hasn’t happened in years and will give him more confidence heading into Australia!

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  2. ..and the first one is in the bag!! :-) well done rog!

    I think the most positive thing about the match was the way he served! also it’s not easy to stay focused for the entire match when your opponent is not playing well (basically, non playing at all..)! other than that, in my opinion it’s too soon for predictions..I wasn’t too worried after the abu dhabi exibition and now I’m not too relieved for what’s to come..

    today nadal didn’t impress me..too many unforced errors with his forehand and too much passivity..but as always he found a way to come through and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him reaching the final..

    I’m eager to see what is gonna happen, especially down under..I hope Roger will work his magic once more!

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  3. Roger looked great out there.Shots, serving-all of it.We are lucky for his great training.As you have said a match for the doubters.We have to believe in Roger.Just take that confidence and win the title.
    Keep going!!!

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  4. I missed the start of the match, and then took a shower, thinking there would still be plenty of tennis left afterward. When I finished, it was practically over!

    Davydenko isn’t the player he was at the end of ’09 but he’s still not a soft opponent and for Federer to quickly seize control of the situation and stay in charge the whole way is a good sign.

    Davydenko threatened a comeback in the last couple games but Federer was able to serve it out without facing a break point.

    On to the next round!

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  5. Koyla played like Fed of Miami Semi Finals 2011. He was not in the match at all; as somebody pointed out, rather than not playing well, he was “non-playing” What I really liked about Fed in this match is his hitting through the lines. Barring one or two shots his backhand was also solid. Like Ru-an, I also didn’t like him missing that easy forehand at matchpoint that denied him breadsticking Koyla. He will need to close it out against tougher opponents.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    That will come Jiten. I’m just glad he put in a solid performance.

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  6. God I am happy about Federer’s performance. He played the same raquet as in Adu Dhabi. So Roger, keep it. You can never be sure about Davidenko’s performance. Usually it depends on the odds :D .

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  7. There we go! Well done RF, you successfully messed with the minds of your fans during the exhibitions ;-)
    Tennis is a dueling sport, where the mental part is crucial. Winning or losing between the greatest players is mostly decided in the head. Therefore, to win, you need to get into the opponent’s head, and strike him in the mental department, by deliberately sending wrong signals that will later allow to catch your opponent by surprise! As Ru-an puts it so clearly in this post: “mess with the mind of the opponent”.
    So every top player needs some sort of strategy on how to position himself in the mind of the opponent, to use the opponent’s thoughts and feelings in his favor. The best strategy, evidently, is to create an aura of ‘the unbeatable’. RF was the best at this, and no one could maintain that message in the mind of his opponents longer than him. Only one guy was better in this department, Nadal. While RF was still considered unbeatable by pretty much the rest of the field, Nadal did the incredible thing, he positioned himself just in the same way in the mind of RF. Nadal became unbeatable in the mind of “the unbeatable RF”, and the results are known to us. It was the most effective weapon Nadal ever had against RF, and it was painful to watch!
    For some short period after claiming the #1 sport, Nadal also managed to extended the aura of unbeatable to the rest of the field, but then came Djokovic and just completely outplayed Nadal in 2011, leaving him obviously vulnerable to all players. So Nadal, no longer the ‘unbeatable’, had to find another strategy to mess with the mind of his opponents, and it’s quite an obvious one. Poor Rafa is not fit. He suffers some pain. His game is affected by some injuries. No matter that the guy plays one tournament after the other, running around like a rabbit and hitting the ball like a boxer, everybody talks about his physical decline and how much his injuries affect his play. Whenever he loses, it’s because of his injuries, because a 100% fit Nadal is unbeatable. Such a bullshit! But it works, the opponent believes that the guy runs a bit slower, therefore they take less risks, play the ball not so close to the line, and then, surprise, surprise, get a winner back.
    Djokovic had an almost fabulous season 2011, he almost created his own area of ‘unbeatable’. Almost! Because he ran out of gas at the end of the season, and had a poor finish, as compared to RF best years. Yes, he’s considered to be the guy to beat out there, but is he considered unbeatable? Not just yet, I would say. So Djokovic also needs some other strategy. Obviously, he loves to use the medical treatment time-out to break the opponent’s rhythm, to make the opponent wonder if the player across the net is ok and if play will resume, and then get caught off guard when the medical treatment did wonders and the guy just comes back firing powerful winners.
    This approach worked quite well for Djokovic when he was the hunter. I wonder however if, when being ‘the hunted one’ in 2012, such cheap tricks will do any effect to the opponent which smelled the blood.
    Now here is my question: What is the strategy of RF? He obviously is no longer ‘the unbeatable’ out there, and he is not using the health issues to create false messages. On the opposite, part of his aura of unbeatable was maintained by not telling anything in case he felt sick or hurt, and you would only learn about his injuries or diseases when they were basically over. Some call this FairPlay, as opposed to the other top players. So how does RF mess with the mind of his opponents nowadays? What is his trick? What do other players think of him, how does he position himself in their minds? The old one? The guy who is on decline? The family man who lost the edge? Have you ever wondered how much has been written of the famous decline of RF, his being done and over, his obvious end and no more slams for Roger, over the past two years? What happened, did he drop out of the Top 10, of the Top 50, of the Top 100? How many times did he get upset in a first round match? Bullshit, the lowest ranking was #4, and he already reclaimed #3! Now call this is a decline! I believe that RF is creating this perception on purpose, as a strategy, his opponents should believe that he is not this dangerous player anymore, that he is loosing it, that they don’t need to play their best to put him away. And suddenly JesusFed shows up, when it was not expected anymore, and the opponent gets blown away! I love it. But how can you create such an aura? By playing poorly on not so important matches, by using the exhibitions to send a wrong message to the #1 and #2, so they feel safe? Just the way that Rafa is always hurt and in pain and in every tournament people wonder how this guy still makes it to the final? Roger wants to be the underdog, he wants to be the hunter, he wants the pressure on others. So far he achieves this quite well, I think

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  8. Ruan, when you say at the top of this post that Roger’s latest win “proves the doubters wrong” I think you may be over-reacting to one win in the same way you suggest some of us have over-reacted in response to his most recent losses. I am not particularly convinced that a win against a much reduced Davydenko cancels out consecutive poundings from two vastly superior opponents(and, yes, I know exho’s don’t officially count but they are matches nonetheless and his opponents were certainly trying to win.) Perhaps what we can more safely conclude is that Roger’s form is currently variable – unless he goes on to convincingly win the tournament, and then put on a good show in Australia. I also don’t think that “flying under the radar” necessarily helps Roger’s chances as he generally plays better when he has confidence in his game, and when he is playing like that his opponents tend to lose theirs. So, here’s hoping that the “A-grade” RF shows up for Melbourne.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Right, I don’t think there was really a case to be proven right or wrong. Federer’s effort in Abu Dhabi was no good and that’s a plain fact whether it’s a “meaningless” exhibition or not. You can also say Doha is just a “meaningless” 250 series warm-up tournament for the Australian Open. Any tournament can be meaningless depending on how you draw up the argument against it. In theory Monte Carlo could be considered meaningless because it’s not mandatory. To further the argument one with that opinion could also say the rest of the clay season and the French Open could be considered meaningless because it’s a secondary surface where the majority of players don’t thrive on. Wimbledon could be considered meaningless to Roger now because he’s already won it 6 times and has nothing to prove there. An argument could be made for pretty much anywhere, therefore I really don’t like to call any match or any tournament meaningless because the fact of the matter is is that it’s tennis no matter where you play or what series you’re playing in. Peaking for the majors is important but I feel if you’ve bothered to show up somewhere to play the object should still be to play with effort and win.

    In this match, it was more so that Davydenko was really, really terrible and played uncharacteristic tennis compared how he is capable of playing on this surface. Taking Davydenko with caution was not panicking and is not doubting in Roger – it was giving Davydenko the respect he deserves. He’s beaten Nadal and Roger both in this tournament and was a past champion. I never underestimate players in places where they have had good success.

    Davydenko has always had strong showings in Doha, but in this match he really could not have done more wrong from his side of the net. It was more of a case of Davydenko being awful rather than JesusFed showing up. But hey, we’ll take it. Federer should be able to make the SF now without too much problem. Seppi would be a decent test before Tsonga but Roger should come through to the SF.

    As it stands now, I really think we’ll see Nadal and Federer in the final here in Doha. That would really, really be an interesting way to start off the season and gives Roger another chance to make the H2H more respectable.

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  9. Oh, so now, when Roger blows someone away in a real tournament, the palm-wringers during the exhibition phase are saying the win doesn’t count since Davydenko is not who he once was. Give me a break. It seems Roger can never win, even if he wins! Listen, ye doubters: exhibitions are a sham; they’re nothing but glorified practice sessions, whimsically choreographed to produce the illusion of reality. If the Djoker and Nadal want to take them seriously, that’s their problem, not Roger’s. Wisely, the Maestro’s eyes stay focused on the wider horizon.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well said as always Balthazar.

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    neil Reply:

    So Roger doesn’t play to win the exhos (but his opponents do)? I guess he must be playing only for the pay-check. Wait, didn’t we say that about “greedy” Djokovic last year?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I suspect it’s more greedy to put your body at risk and withdraw from a MS event than it is to chill in an exho.

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    neil Reply:

    All this begs the question of how do you know Roger wasn’t giving of his best efforts against Djokovic and Nadal. Are we now going to say of Roger when he loses badly that he “wasn’t really trying”? That’s like saying Nadal only loses “because he is injured”. It does no credit to Roger. So what if it was “only an exho”. Is that like saying it didn’t really happen, that his opponents were imaginary?

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  10. thanks for the post Ruan.
    i still think fed will be tested at the highest of levels. i mean it was a lot of fun watching him distroy davy but it is hardly an indication for his form. a semi vs tsonga ot/and final vs nadal will be better litmus paper in that aspect.
    here is a fantastic read from steve tignor about fed:
    http://blogs.tennis.com/thewrap/2012/01/mr-sane-rolls-on.html

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You are welcome Feddybear. Of course Djokovic and Nadal is the real test, but that is still far away. Why worry about it now?

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  11. Federer’s into the quarters, it was a routine match today.

    Don’t see a Fedal final happening in Doha. Chances are Nadal won’t make it that far and that Super Nadal will wait until Melbourne to show up.

    As for Federer’s strategy to return to the top, I think it’s pretty simple: work on his game and try to improve his tennis. Mind games have never been necessary for him, nor are they now. He usually lets his racket do the talking.

    There’s nothing more intimidating than a stream of clean winners struck precisely on the lines, after all.

    Some people opine that Federer wasn’t playing that great in AO last year. Maybe he wasn’t at his absolute best, but I think he was playing pretty well, but wasn’t prepared to deal with the onslaught of gluten-free Djokovic. Except for the fluke loss to Tsonga at Wimbledon, he only lost to the Djokovic/Nadal in the majors.

    At this point he seems to have ironed out some of the wrinkles that were bothering him last year (he beat Tsonga, who upset him at Wimbledon, four consecutive times, twice in finals), and he knows what to expect from Djokovic 2.0. So regardless of his performance in Doha, I think he’ll do very well at AO.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think he has used mind games on a regular basis in the past Steve, whether consciously or unconsciously. He has psyched Murray out at the AO in 2010 for instance. Whether he meant it or not it is a fun part of the sport. Tennis had become boring in that sense. In the past there was so much mental warfare going on it was unreal.

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