Federer Completes Stunning Week in Dubai with 6th Title

Well what did you expect? That he was going to lose? ;-) That was a crazy good week from Roger in Dubai, and to top it all off his baby version Dimitrov picked up his first ATP 500 title in Acapulco after winning the ATP 250 in Stockholm last year. When I woke up this morning I didn’t know the results yet, and when I heard them I thought I’d woken up in tennis heaven. OK I did expect both of them to win, but how great is it to see this kind of tennis triumphing on the ATP?! I am becoming more of a Dimitrov fan all the time too. And the same goes for Roger, if that is even possible. Both Roger and Dimitrov impressed me big time this week. You wouldn’t even think that’s possible any more with Roger, given how much he has already done in the game. But like I said in my last post he doesn’t stop.

He breaks new ground and keeps scaling new heights. Just a huge privilege for me to be his fan and to have a blog about him. With this win he truly inspires me, and it couldn’t come at a better time. The adjustment to my new environment in the East has been anything but easy, although interesting. On top of that I got food poisoning a week ago and it took me all week to recover. I’ve just been on an emotional low which is why I say this revival from Roger could not have come at a better time for me. And I never expected it. I just hoped he would make semis and give a decent showing against Djokovic. But what a sensational win it was against Djokovic. That was probably better than anything I saw in 2012 from Roger, and I think he may have found a new level here. Why do I say that?

Tennis is and always will be a mental game first of all, and I have never seen Roger as mentally tough as I saw him this week. It was like nothing was going to stop him. Almost that kind of mental strength you see from Nadal. Just the utter refusal to lose. Someone said they think it is because of Edberg. That may play a roll but to me the main thing is what he went through in 2013. Suffering makes you strong, if you don’t allow it to break you. I think 2013 was a real test of his character with the back problem. With so many critics and even his own fans calling for retirement he refused to listen to them. He was completely self-determined. He was not gonna let anyone dictate to him what he should do when deep down he still knew he had the game left in him. Fighting back from the lowest point in his career to here has made him stronger mentally.

Solid stats

I know from my own life experience. There is no other way to become strong and to build character than through facing immense challenges and persevering. No one likes to suffer, but if you can push through it somehow the result is always worth it. You grow as a person and you become stronger. Fed 4.0 may just be a different animal from anything we have seen before. It’s early days though. This is probably just the beginning. I just think that if you could ever criticize Roger it would be in the mental department. Not that there were much room for criticism there but since his prime there definitely appeared some mental shortcomings, which was first of all exposed by Nadal. I think if he becomes invincible in that area, like what seemed to be the case in Dubai, he will be completely invincible.

The funny thing is I have always said I believe that the game is still there and that it was a matter of confidence. If there is one statement I ever take pride in making then it is that one, because it appears to be so true. All of a sudden no fault can be found with his game, right? Yet he did not become a different Roger Federer overnight. He did not change his strokes or anything of that nature. Yet all of a sudden the criticism about his footwork, his backhand, his tactics, you name it, is gone. Did he make any big changes to any of those things? No. He simply slowly built up his confidence since Cincy last year to the point where everything clicked again this week. It all really comes down to confidence and winning at this level. You do all the right things when you are confident, and you shut the mouths of all the critics when you win.

The new racquet and coach are just adjustments. Federer is winning again, and all of a sudden his foot speed is great, his backhand is almost a weapon, he is using the right tactics, and he is doing all the right things. I couldn’t watch the match against Berdych because my stream was too poor but I caught the highlights and from what I hear he was not at his best. Like that matters. Any win against Berdych is a great win for Roger because Berdych is a difficult opponent for him. He won, and that is all that matters anyway. No one was expecting him to play another match like he did against Djokovic. But what a brilliant way to cap off an extraordinary week by beating Berdych who has been a very tricky opponent for him historically. And again the mental strength he showed in doing so is what stands out.

Tennis Jesus performing one of his miracles

There were two key moments in the match. The first was at 2-3 in the second set where Roger was a break down after having lost the first set. They don’t show it on the highlights but I was told he broke right back there. That was obviously crucial. Again he showed refusal to lie down even though things were not going his way. He fought back from the brink to turn the set and the match around. The second big moment was at 4-2 in the third set where Roger was down 15-40 on his serve. Berdych was threatening to break back and had he done so the momentum would have changed again. So it was clutch from Roger to hold onto his serve there and make sure Berdych didn’t find a way back into the match. Even though I didn’t watch the match it strikes me as another very good mental victory for Roger.

He was not at his best but his strength of will pulled him through. Defeat was not an option. This is the warrior-like attitude I have referred to in the past. As talented as Roger Federer is, if he has that mindset there will be no stopping him. Even at age 32. As I said it is early days and the future can’t be predicted by me. But if the motivation and will power remains the way it is now there can be very good things ahead. Interestingly every year he won Dubai he also won Wimbledon that year. Judging from his form this week I can easily see him winning Wimbledon again. But I won’t be looking too far ahead. Next is Indian Wells which has been a happy hunting ground for Roger and he can certainly win the title there as well in his current form. I’m not so sure Nadal will be much of a factor there this year.

Nor everywhere else probably. I think the loss to Wawrinka scarred him, and he was lucky not to lose to Andujar in Rio. I definitely don’t think Nadal will have as good a year as he had last year anyway. If he doesn’t slump really badly as he has in the past after a tough loss, then Roger will be ready for him anyway. As long as Roger has the refusal-to-lose attitude he had in Dubai I don’t see him losing to Nadal. He is invincible with that mindset, even against Nadal. The hard times Roger went through last year may just serve him well in the future against his big rival and finally allow him to get some much needed wins over him again. We will just have to see how things play out but I have a lot of hope now, I’m inspired, and I’m excited. I can write an awful lot more but I’m gonna cut it here and let you guys fill in the rest.

Who wouldn’t be charmed by such a smile?

We did it, we are back on top!!

 

Highlights:

Posted in Uncategorized.

27 Comments

  1. Thanks Ruan. Great positive blog. We needed it from Fed and your backing it up. The Fed/Novak game was more exciting. Fed played the net more. Berdych kept him at the baseline more. We love your blog and the fact that you continue it even when your life is hectic is admirable. I too saw Dimitrov match and it was good. I was glad to see Murray and Berdych go. Good job!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Pat I appreciate that. I do my best.

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  2. As I said he won the title and u are also alright now :-P
    Kudos to u. Really happy to share my feeling and thoughts here with u and all other Federer fans :-)

    Long live the GOAT King Federer

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  3. Ru-an,

    I love your enthusiasm and the way you have come back with a bang! A confident and positive Ru-an is what we want as fans of Roger and this wonderful blog! I guess WINNING does solve everything!!!

    There is a great point you make about the years in which Roger won Dubai and Wimbledon in the same year! Very good stat, indeed!

    The part about his refusal to lose, even to Nadal is awesome, and I hope it will be true! I really do!

    Roger is in a great spot and he should be climbing up the rankings very soon. Hopefully he gets into the top 4 in a month or so! I am kind of tired of looking at that #8 ranking..

    What a wonderful week! :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Vily. I mirror Roger in that way I guess. His best brings the best out in me. Roger could be back in the top 4 as early as post IW and Miami if he makes good showings there.

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  4. Hi Ru-an, sorry to hear about your health problems, hope you have recovered. Good luck with your new life in Thailand. Thanks for blogging even when you’re dealing with such adversity, and providing a place where we can all come together.

    It’s been a day and I’m still on a high–and I gather that pretty much all Federer fans are too. It’s been a long time since he’d won in such a fashion, gritting his way through tough come-from-behind victories over elite opponents–and in the case of Djokovic, he had NEVER defeated the Serb after having lost the first set, not even in ’07 when he was still #1 and Djokovic was just a promising youngster. It gives us hope that he can not merely recapture past glory, but even break new ground even in his thirties and achieve things he couldn’t when he was younger.

    As you said, he showed the kind of mental resilience, doggedness, and sheer bloody-mindedness that have sometimes been lacking in the last few years. He had faith in his tactics and kept pushing and pushing to make something happen on court. When he was down in the score he didn’t care, when one thing didn’t work he tried something else until he found something that did work. In this mood he can and will beat anyone.

    He always had faith in his star, even when he seemed (to much of the world) to be wandering through the doldrums. He’s worked hard for many months now, and it’s all starting to come together. I think this is a key turning point in his year, perhaps even for his entire later career, although only time will tell.

    The racket, I think, is important. It gives him more margin on his strokes and helps him to play the kind of aggressive, all-court tennis he prefers. With that extra margin on his shots he can execute his favorite tactics with more confidence and consistency.

    But in the end it’s just a tool. What matters is the person using it. The most sophisticated and expensive tool in the world is just a piece of junk if you don’t have the heart, the will, and the imagination to make full use of it. And Federer has all of them.

    It’s amazing that he still has the hunger and the desire to keep playing at such a high level, and to keep improving after so much success. It’s not really about ending up with the most titles; he already has more than enough for any dozen players. It’s about the pursuit of excellence for its own sake, the love of the game, and finding new challenges. As long as there is one more new way to hit a forehand, one more new kind of opponent to face, one more novel way to win a tennis match, Federer will keep playing, keep striving.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Steve and good stuff from you. You are the most optimistic fan of Roger on my blog and I gotta give you credit for it since a lot of what you believed seems to be coming true. Well done.

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  5. Ruan,

    I love your articles, and the last two have been inspiring to read. Roger’s play has been inspiring too of course!

    And I loved to read that an expert thinks his win against Djokovic was probably better than anything we saw in 2012 from Roger, when he won Wimbledon that year! Also that Fed 4.0 may be a different animal from anything we have seen before. I like how that sounds – not just anything we’ve seen from Roger, but anything we’ve seen on a tennis court or anywhere else for that matter.

    Yes, he beat Berdych when he was not at his best, and that’s a huge achievement. And yes, his mental strength is amazing now. I want to consider not only his courage in the category of mental strength, but also his shot selection, instincts, quick-thinking strategy, etc. The whole package is definitely there.

    Still, I wonder if anyone, especially who saw the Dubai matches when I saw only highlights, would care to comment on a couple of aspects of Roger’s game.

    First of all, I think he’s still improving! I’m certainly not trying to be critical after his wonderful display this year. His racquet and coach certainly haven’t hurt, but I tend to think he’ll get even more accustomed to his racquet in coming matches. Do the experts here think that is possible? The possibility of seeing even more improvement is tremendously exciting to me, so I hope it will happen.

    My second point is that his return of serve seems amazing now. Constant pressure on strong servers such as his last two opponents is tremendously important, and is very hard for them to handle, even in games where Roger doesn’t actually get a break. I think it especially discourages strong servers who typically expect to get a few easy points when they’re serving.

    Finally, his own serve – just my impression of course – can and probably should still improve. I read somewhere that he had a 50% first serve percentage against Djokovic in the second set – which he won. And it’s very impressive to me that he was able to get a win in that set. Against Berdych, he served only 35% during the first set, and couldn’t quite compensate for that with the rest of his game.

    Berdych served at only 49% for the match, as you posted, so each player was trying to overpower the other. But that was probably due to some extent to the pressure that Roger put on his serve!

    In any event, thanks again for some fantastic, informative, and inspiring articles.

    And a shout out to everyone whose hope and belief in Roger has never faded. I am really starting to question what is possible for Roger now, and I mean Roland Garros. With a touch of luck it may be possible!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Joe I’m glad you found my articles inspiring. Roger inspired me so I inspired you. That’s how it goes. I will see if I can comment on the rest tomorrow. Gotta hit the sack now.

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  6. Hey Ruan,

    I hope you are well and please don’t worry about replying to my points unless you want to; I was really just putting my thoughts down, basically just celebrating Roger’s wins with everyone else in the forum.

    But I hope I was clear in that I expect Roger’s serve to improve as he continues to practice with his new racquet (not sure I was clear about that in my earlier post). And I also want to admit that winning RG is a little bit wishful at this point!

    But I do hope and expect to see continued good results from Roger. Who knows what might be possible for Fed 4.0?
    :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think Roger’s serve have already improved with the new racquet. Right about winning RG. Any slam would be great, never mind RG. Fed 4.0 is here but who cares about the future? I’m just happy for the Dubai title.

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    Joe Reply:

    It’s a wise man who lives in the present moment!

    I’ve seen some comments recently hoping for and even expecting a long-term resurgence by Roger, and although nothing would make me happier – in fact, if he starts winning frequently again for 3, 4, or even 5 more years, it will still be a very poignant moment for me when he retires – expecting anything along those lines seems like counting chickens before eggs hatch to me.

    So I don’t really expect Roger to return to dominance for 5 more years. Like you, I’m thoroughly pleased – for Roger’s sake! – that he not only had such a great (6th!) win at Dubai, but also that he played such wonderful tennis.

    But I’m still excited by the fact that he seems still to be improving from a number of factors, including his new racquet.

    His serve is already better than it was, but I hope it will continue to become more dangerous, along with the rest of his sublimely beautiful game.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah Joe I expect nothing whatsoever. Expectation is the mother of all fuck ups.

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  7. Hi Ru-an, a truly Fedtastic post from you as always. As Joe has pointed out, your last two posts have been phenomenally inspiring. Coming from an expert like you, your readers are always guaranteed that the observations are rational, genuine and authentic. And your foresight on the Federer psyche always seems be validated by the great man himself afterwards by the inroads he makes into new territories. What really impressed me throughout the tourney was Fed’s never say die attitude. He was just not ready to give up any ground to his opponents. For me the point of the tournament which best exemplifies this new Fed attitude was the penultimate point in the match against Djokovic. In that point, Nole thought that he would eventually outhit Fed as he had done in many occasions before, but instead got outhit and outstretched himself. I could see more of this coming in the near future. Like Steve, I also truly believe that the new racquet has a lot to do with it. His return of serve has also improved; there has been very few love return games in this tournament. Most importantly he is beginning to trust his new weapon; in one of the recent interviews, Fed himself revealed that there is no going back to the old one. Finally, as you said Ru-an, Fed’s success is directly proportional to all the good things happening your life; I think it happens to all Fed fans. He is so inspiring, the positive effects of his success permeates through all of us sometimes even without realizing it. And Ru-an, your blog is no less inspiring to all the Fed fans. My last question: Am I the only one missing Veronica at this juncture?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes of course the new racquet was the right move Jiten and if you remember I made a post suggesting that he should change racquets before he did so. A new racquet or coach and only make so much of a difference though. In the end it comes down to the player. As for Veronica I don’t know here she is. Probably still mad about the new rules. Or maybe just on one of her breaks.

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  8. Hey Ru-an, great article. Hope your health is better and don’t try food you have not eaten before !!!
    I have seen the Roger/Novak-match 3 times and I cannot get enough of it. Man, was that our Roger?? Playing against undestructable and unbeatable Novak?? Both were playing better than great, even Novak. Still our hero won. And yes, he did not play Berdych good, we all expected that, but he still won.
    Like you, I have always thought the game was still there, even last year. Except the final at Rome against Rafa, all the matches he lost were close one and ones he could have won. I mean, against Brands (in Suisse?) he lost in 2 TB. At Wimby he also nearly lost and could have made it to 5 sets. Against Delbonis he also barely lost. Against Monfils he lost, but one or two games and he could have won. Also against Delpo in Basel he barely lost. Also the two matches against Novak at the end of last year he nearly won. Against Rafa at WTF he could have won that. So yes, the game was last year completely there. Only he lost confidence because of the backproblems and played differently. But again, only against Rafa at Rome he totally lost, all the other losses were near-losses.
    It also showed right. The moment his back was healed (God, I hope that stays forever) he made every SF or more at the tours he entered. Now, how about that for a 32 year old guy they wanted to retire to preserve his legacy??
    Like I also said, this year, Rafa, Novak, Delpo, Ferrer will fall and Roger and Andy will rise.
    Outside the top 3, only Stan, Janowics and Dimi are possible GS winners.
    FORTUNATELY I was wrong when I said that Stan would also fall. Thank God, I was wrong. I was also wrong about Berdych falling. He is doing great.
    But this year, not only Rafa but also Novak will not do that good.
    And again…. don’t be surprised if Roger wins RG !!! Rafa will certainly not win it. I thought Novak or Roger, but don’t know what is wrong with Novak.
    And Ru-an, this I hope with all my heart, I hope that deep down Roger knows that when his so called fans were asking about him retiring, THAT DOES NOT COUNT FOR ALL HIS FANS !!!
    Mark my words, Roger will be the male Date-Krumm, going on till he is 45 and beyond !!! :-)

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey…. smileyface worked. Thank you Ru-an and Rahan. (You guys have almost the same names) :-)

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  9. Oh just forgot to mention a small thing. You know what the BEST thing is when Roger makes a hotshot that the crowds and commentators go wow about??? For Roger it is so normal, he makes the point, he gets back to his seat and drinks or eat, while the crowd is still getting over the point !!!

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  10. Hi Ru-an, A great article !

    “We will just have to see how things play out but I have a lot of hope now, I’m inspired, and I’m excited. ”

    I am also excited and the near future looks good:
    assuming that Roger will obtain better results than
    Ferrer, Berdych and Murray at Indian Wells and Miami
    then he will be no. 4 again in five weeks time.

    see: http://live-tennis.eu/forecast_atp_ranking

    Allez Roger !

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Rahan. If the dry period taught us anything it is not to expect anything. I have hope but I am just happy about the Dubai result. I don’t expect anything from Roger at IW.

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    rahan Reply:

    You are right: hope for the best but expect the worst.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Rahan, I think Roger has a decent draw…. Could make it happen, but one point, one game, one set, one match at the time. But there are other matches that also seem to be interesting….

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Why expect anything?

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  11. Hi Ru-an bet Roger winning lifted your spirits a bit
    and made you feel better. It’s amazing what a buzz there is because he won. Of course we are wise enough to know that he will not be the serial winner he once was….but it makes you kind of warm and smiley inside when you think that once again he has beaten the odds! I hope for a good run for him at IW and so glad he finally got his 78th leaving ‘Mac the Mouth’ in his wake. Be well and enjoy the coming week.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Elizbath, Roger’s win did indeed lighting things up. Definitely passing Mac was very sweet indeed. Take care.

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