Federer Falls to Djokovic in Paris, Earns Extra Day’s Rest for London

Certainly not the worst loss Roger have ever suffered this one. It was kind of a win-win situation for him playing Djokovic in the semis. He gets the chance to gauge his form against the best and if he loses he gets some much needed rest before London. Not surprisingly Roger looked flat in the final set today. He has played a lot in the last couple of weeks. It was his ninth match in twelve days, and he just couldn’t get the adrenaline flowing the the 3rd set today. What mattered was the 1st set which Roger won 6-4. I saw what I wanted to see. I can excuse Roger for fading away after that. I mean he was clearly the better player in the 1st set. He dominated while Djokovic almost looked intimidated. He had Djokovic in trouble from the start, creating a break point in the first game but failing to convert. He got the break in the 3rd game then after holding serve to love.

The break point was another beautifully constructed point where Roger drew Djokovic into the net with a drop shot after a long base line rally, and then putting the volley away. Roger almost got the second break at 3-1 after setting up break point with a tremendous running forehand up the line. At 5-4 Roger served for the set and went down 15-40 on his serve. It was a tense game in which he failed to win a set point and two more break points. But in the end he got it done and even broke Djokovic in the 1st game of the 2nd set. Djokovic broke right back to square at 1-1. At 30-30 in the next game he had another chance to set up break point after drawing Djokovic out of the court with an angled backhand, but failed to make the forehand into the open court. From there on things started going south for Roger. He missed a regulation volley to drop serve in the 6th game and conceded the 2nd set 6-3.

Not so pretty this time

He did well to hold serve in the opening game of the 3rd set after going down 0-30, and for a moment I thought he had refocused and would still win the match, but he was just flat. I think if he was fresh he would have won the 3rd set, but he was clearly tired. Roger now gets a two day break before he faces Djokovic again on Tuesday. It’s not much of a break and he is in a tough group with Djokovic, Del Potro, and Gasquet. But at least Djokovic has a final tomorrow to worry about and after today Roger will know exactly what he needs to do to beat Djokovic. I don’t think Djokovic was the better player today. He was just the fresher one. I still think the match is on Roger’s racquet when they play indoors, and since I didn’t see the final in London last year I find myself wondering how Roger lost in straight sets to Djokovic there.

Probably his confidence wasn’t quite at its highest after he was a bit burned out at the end of a long season. Anyway he knows what he has to do to beat Djokovic on Tuesday. It’s just about being fresh and sharp on the day. He is the dominant one. I have faith that Roger will qualify for the semis. Yes he is in a tough group but I believe he can win all his matches and he will have some much needed days off in between his singles matches. You can view the schedule here. Because he gets the Tuesday start he won’t have a day off between his third group match and the semis(if he makes it), but otherwise he will have a day off between each of his group matches. That means he would have to play three days in a row if he makes the final. That could take a toll come Monday but we are not there yet. I think he should go full out to win his first two group matches.

Romeo + Juliet

If he can achieve that it will take some pressure off his third group match. He wouldn’t have to put 100% effort into it, allowing him to save some energy for semis and a possible final. It’s a bit unfortunate that Basel, Paris, and London are three weeks in a row, but at least Roger has not played much this year and should be pretty fresh. As far as the top half in Paris goes Ferrer upset Nadal 6-3, 7-5 which was good to see. Ferrer almost let it slip after getting broken when serving for it at 5-4 in the 2nd set, but he showed great mental strength to not let that deter him and he broke Nadal again in he next game. Ferrer is the defending champ and he shows last year’s title was no fluke by making the final again. I think he loses to Djokovic this time though. If Djokovic wins the title tomorrow, as well as London and his Davis Cup matches, I think he ends the year ranked #1.

Nadal is in the easy group though with Berdych, Wawrinka, and Ferrer. He needs two wins and even if he doesn’t get it Roger could still save him by beating Djokovic in London. It’s hard to see Nadal not winning two matches though. I don’t think he will lose two straight times to Ferrer, and then Berdych and Wawrinka are basically his pets. Well it’s a story of ‘so far, so good’ in the indoor season for Roger and I am looking forward to Tuesday to see if he can set the record straight with Djokovic. I think that will be a key match. If he wins it he will be in great shape to win the title again. He has been building up confidence with every match. He is hitting peak form just in time for London. People might argue if he beat Djokovic today he would have beaten Ferrer in the final, but I’d rather he have the extra day off and be ready for the big one.

There is a storm coming…

Highlights:

Interview:

Year end #1 scenarios: http://www.rogerfedererfans.com/forum/topic/1632-will-rafael-nadal-or-novak-djokovic-end-2013-as-year-end-atp-world-no-1/

Posted in Uncategorized.

29 Comments

  1. Thanks Ruan for such a quick response. Roger did look good the first set. The second and third sets he was not serving well. He was missing many first serves. He played hard, but, he just went flat at the end. Djokovic came out and seemed to be shocked that Roger was playing so well.i think Del Potro was a tougher player for Roger. Roger’s serves were better. It is great seeing him back playing such beautiful tennis. He plays the tennis game I enjoy. I just do not like the baseline power playing.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Correct Pat his serving declined in the 2nd and 3rd sets which made the difference. Forgot to mention that in my post. The serve is always the key for him. His first serve percentage dropped off and he was winning a low percentage on second serves. If he serve well he is pretty much unbeatable indoors.

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  2. Ruan,
    I’ve mentioned previously the most important aspect to play this individual sport at consistently high level is the fitness. Roger did not have much gas left in the 3rd set. For Roger to beat the top players, he need to win in least possible sets (2 for best out of 3 & 3 for best out of 5). He should have won the 2nd set. If he did that he would have beaten Ferrer in the final. Well another opportunity lost.
    You see how Novak elevate his game is because of his improved fitness or endurance. Nadal said that for him to play another 4 years he must maintain his fitness. Of course there other aspects of the game as well but this is most crucial.
    So, the 64 million dollar question is how is Roger going to elevate his fitness at the age of 32? Tactically he can cut the point short in return game which he did in 3rd set but then he couldn’t hold serve.
    Maybe someone has the answers.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes fitness is very important Mike. But like I explained to Rich match play is something the body and mind needs to get used to as well. Matches take and emotional toll, and when you feel flat there is nothing you can do. You may not even be physically tired. You are just unable to get the adrenaline flowing. We have to look at what Roger has been through this year. He has had the hampering back problem which interfered with his training as well. I think as fans we tend to be quite critical, myself included. Roger has had poor results this year, and now that he is winning a few matches we suddenly expect him to win everything. I think we should see it as a very encouraging sign that he dominated Djokovic in the 1st set. But instead we look at the fact that he lost and criticize. If he beats Djokovic in London where it matters more would that finally satisfy people? We have to look at the upwards curve. Could he beat Del Potro in Basel? What was his level like in Paris compared to Basel? There may not be something like a positive loss but there is something like a better loss. I think we should be rejoicing at this point rather than criticizing…

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  3. If Roger fades in a best-of-3 match then quite simply he isn’t fit enough – or young enough – at this level. He played a very good first set but there was the inevitable letdown in the second. The third set was a disappointment as he simply seem to let it go. Djokovic raised his game, as I thought he would, and made Roger play more balls. The errors obligingly came. One good set isn’t enough. Roger’s mental game lets him down at crucial times, with basic errors or poor shot selection. I don’t enjoy seeing him playing clever but losing tennis, when less ambitious but more solid shot-making could see him win the match. We saw more of that against del Potro – and that was a fine win against a form player.

    As for Nadal – we see another straight sets defeat, and against someone he normally owns. I remember saying in a comment a few months back that I don’t expect him to win a tournament post the USO (unless it’s on clay.) It looks like the prediction will be borne out. I won’t be picking him to win in London.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think you are being harsh Rich. Did you really expect him to beat Djokovic after playing 9 matches in 12 days? That’s a tall order for anyone, let alone Fed who hasn’t played much this year. The body and mind takes time to adjust to match play as well, no matter the age or fitness level. There is also still the question of confidence. He is still growing in confidence. So I really think you are being too harsh. Given the year he had aren’t you happy about his results in Basel and Paris?

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    rich Reply:

    Ruan, given the year he has had I wouldn’t have expected him to beat anyone in Basel or Paris – so yes, he has certainly lifted his game. But what he also showed has bothered me: in terms of shot-making he is still capable of pushing if not beating the best. It dismays me then to see that it is often the mental side that lets him down, and produces the loss. It’s not like he was getting wiped off the court by Djokovic. He showed, even after the crappy year that he has had, that he can lift his game well enough to win. But he often doesn’t win when his opponent shows a little more fight. That has been a recurring theme in his career, and particularly in recent years. I know you don’t care much for Sampras but I would love to see some of the American’s mental steel in Roger’s game. Sampras simply never gave anything away. He didn’t lose – he had to be beaten. But if Roger somehow beats Djokovic in London I will concede to you that you are right about my giving the champ a break.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    What makes you think I don’t care much for Sampras? You expect Roger to go from rock bottom to top of the pile in one day, don’t you? Very harsh.

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    rich Reply:

    I recall a few comments you have made previously, when you were comparing Roger with Sampras, that didn’t show the American in such a good light. But if that’s not how you really think then that’s cool. I don’t expect Roger to “go from rock bottom to top of the pile in one day”, but he has shown recently (against Nadal in Cincinnati, as well as his matches in Basel and Paris) that he can still find the game to threaten the best. Frankly, if he couldn’t he might as well call it a day – or become like Hewitt. No, my main issue is not simply whether he wins or loses but how he wins – or loses. As I said previously, he is playing well enough to win big matches but the mental side – as far as I can see – lets him down. It shouldn’t only be a matter of confidence, but something more elemental, like determination, as well as the right shot-selection under pressure. Sometimes, to my perception, Roger plays an arrogant game out there, where he expects clever but low-percentage shots are going to win it for him. Yet we often see with players like Nadal and Djokovic that it’s simply one more shot than their opponent that does it. Roger makes too many mistakes at the wrong time – and sometimes off routine shots. It can be very frustrating to watch.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I probably said Sampras is one dimensional compared to Roger, which is just the truth. As for Roger’s determination and shot-selection under pressure I am inclined to agree more. Nadal and Djokovic is better than him in this area. They are better under pressure and stay more calm. Since Roger started getting challenged more regularly after his prime he has showed that he is vulnerable under pressure. Especially of late he has looked extremely shaky under pressure. Some of it is confidence and some of it it mental weakness. Roger is a confidence player. When he is winning and playing well then he is hard to stop and everything is going well. But as soon as he is really challenged the cracks appear. Me and Steve had this discussion a couple of posts ago too. Steve doesn’t think that Fed lacks anything mentally and that he is mentally as strong as Djokovic and Nadal. I said he is more of a fighter in the sense that he doesn’t run away from the sport like Nadal does after a bad loss or use injury excuses all the time. But when it comes to matches Nadal and Djokovic is definitely mentally stronger. They relish the pressure while Roger tends to shun it. Big difference. They don’t lose their cool and go for low percentage shots. This is something Roger must fix if he wants to stay competitive and what I refer to when I say Federer the warrior.

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    rich Reply:

    Ruan, then I think we are agreed about that.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Cool. I just thought you were a bit hard on Roger. You almost act like it’s all over for him. I still believe he has some good tennis left in him, and that this year clearly the injury did not help. But at the same time he must work on the mental side. He can’t just fade away when things get tight. He must stay in the moment and play every point with the same mentality.

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    steve Reply:

    Rich, if I remember correctly, a month ago you were all doom and gloom, saying that Federer was in terminal decline and that he would probably just fade away. Aren’t you at least a little bit glad that he’s defied your dire predictions and that his game is picking up again? I would think you would be ecstatic that he’s showing signs of a revival.

    I’m quite happy that after such a wretched season, he can beat Del Potro and be competitive against the hottest player on tour, who is now three for three in tournaments since USO. There will be plenty of time to keep working on his game during the offseason, regardless of how he does in London. As long as his progress is steadily upwards, things will be fine.

    Federer’s game is prone to inexplicable breakdowns because it is so complex. His margins are very small and he must coordinate an immense number of decisions and execute all of them properly. The cognitive burden his game imposes on him is much higher than with any other player. In any given situation, most players would have at most one or two options (or maybe none at all), while Federer has at least four or five, sometimes more. His problem is not a dearth of choices, but a bewildering superabundance of choices. Hence it sometimes goes wrong for no apparent reason at all. His human brain, keen, intuitive, and well-trained as it is, sometimes throws an unforced error in trying to process this tremendous mass of data. And when this happens, it looks ugly because his margins are so tiny and he plays with such aggression.

    For all his amazing ability, he would never have won even one Grand Slam without tremendous drive and fighting spirit. There are plenty of prodigies, the Gasquets and Gulbises who have amazing natural talent and never accomplish even five percent of what Federer has, so it’s not that he did this much on talent alone, that he was just so transcendentally gifted that he was never seriously challenged until now.

    He did and does have plenty of fight, it’s just that one very rarely sees it because he makes it look so easy and simple. But he’s played enough close five-setters in Grand Slams to demonstrate his grit and toughness.

    I would have thought by now that he would have proven himself beyond any doubt in this regard, but as so often happens with Federer, the more he proves, the more it seems he has to prove.

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    rich Reply:

    Steve, if Roger is so “transcendentally gifted” (I think you mean transcendently – he is not a religious seer) there aren’t so many signs of that now. He is not the player he was – or wouldn’t be struggling as he has been.

    Sure I am glad he is playing better, but there are flaws in his game – and I believe they are chiefly mental, as I have said above – that aren’t to do with problems of superabundant choice arising from a surfeit of giftedness. A relatively weak backhand is an obvious example.

    Tennis is a sport that has to be played at a subconscious and intuitive level – like an improvising musician – it is not an intellectual pursuit. When Roger misses he misses for the same reason as everyone else does – he doesn’t execute the shot; same for when he makes the wrong choice of shot – other players do that all the time. Roger is no longer clearly superior to the field, as he once was. He struggles now against more consistent or more powerful players. He is certainly doing better currently than earlier in the year – and that is good to see – but I have my doubts that he will ever beat the top players again for the big prizes.

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  4. Hey Ru-an, couple of things I want to say. First I did not see the match, but the highlights you posted. Second I am SO PROUD of Roger. My God, he lost to Novak and he gave him hell !!! Was almost in the first set at every game of Novak deuce. When he served for the first set he was behind 15-40 and still won it. I think he played great. Novak is not a pushover and I know he wants to do anything to be number one this year. I hope he makes it too. I cannot see Rafa ending the year as number one. Does not deserve that. I hope Roger wins WTF, if he does not than Novak.
    You wrote under the stats: “Not so pretty this time”. But I thought the stats were pretty close and that too against the three year world number one. Ofcourse the UE….
    And for the people who are a bit disappointed that Roger lost…did they see how happy Novak was to even win from a player who is 6 years older??? That is ALL courtacy of Roger !!! He really made him work for it. He have Novak hell. If he did some things different in the second set he would have won.
    But Ru-an, was Roger tired?? He looked like it, but he himself said he was fresh because he did not play that much.
    Roger has ofcourse the toughest group in the WTF, but call me crazy, I really believe he will win it.
    Ru-an you should watch the final of 2012. Roger almost won it. And last year he played QF, SF and Final in three days. SF and Final against Andy and Novak. He was so fresh then, so I think it will be no problem this year. He has a wrong to wright, a point to make and show that 2013 was not a total disappointment and he wants to warn the rest to watch out for him in 2014…

    What the hell??? Ferrer beat Rafa??? How did that happen?? Go Ferrer. He is a fighter and I really like him, even if he is from Spain. So hope he somehow finds a way to beat Novak. I will be rooting for Ferrer. If you can defeat Rafa, you have earned your title…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes I heard he said he wasn’t tired. Roger never makes excuses though so he may not have been honest. But if he wasn’t tired I would say that he was not confident enough yet, because his level should have been different in the 3rd set. The lull in the 2nd set was expected but he played even worse in the 3rd dropping serve 2 times. Anyway I expect something better from Fed if they meet in London.

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  5. Ruan, I’m not patronizing you when I say this. I’m thankful for many things. I am truly thankful you take the tme to keep us up to date on RUANSFEDERERBLOG.COM …. G.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha no problem Gary. I enjoy it but it never hurts to be appreciated. You guys are great.

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  6. Ruan, I read an interesting piece today about Roger’s current situation and what he will have to do to compete with Nadal, Djokovic and Murray and win. It was written by a popular tennis coach, Florian Meier with a reputable online tennis website. Let me know what you think?

    Roger Federer’s Dilemma
    Posted on November 3, 2013 by flomeier1980

    Roger Federer has been playing some very good Tennis these past 2 weeks and it was great to see him show some of his old form!
    Last week he lost in a tough 3-set match to Juan Martin Del Potro in the finals of Basel.
    Del Potro played exceptional Tennis and Federer was close to winning the title.
    Check Out Some Of The Highlights Here:

    This week Roger once agained showed some strong form and lost in 3 sets to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Paris masters series event.

    I watched both of these matches and it was a pleasure to see some of Roger’s magic again!

    Roger’s forehand was unbelievable for the most part and he also came in to the net frequently with good success!

    After watching these matches though, it also became obvious to me that Roger is not anywhere close to the form that he would need to beat Novak Djokovic or Rafael Nadal in a Grand Slam tournament.

    In fact I am certain Roger is facing a dilemma that a lot of you can relate to!

    Against Djokovic in the semifinals Roger started out the first set hitting a lot of slice backhands and he won the set.

    The slice backhand is currently what Roger feels comfortable with. His topspin backhand hasn’t been great this year and it is very obvious that the stroke is not 100% clean from a technical perspective.

    The problem is that Djokovic really wasn’t playing well in the first set so this result was a bit deceptive in my opinion.

    Roger is currently in a situation where most likely he will win the maximum amount of matches by slicing a lot of backhands and making great use of the rest of his game, which is currently exceptional again.

    Nevertheless with this strategy he has close to zero chances in my opinion of beating Djokovic or Nadal when they are at their best, which they usually are late in Grand Slam tournaments.

    In order to win a Grand Slam these days you need to hit huge off of both sides and Rafa and Novak are doing just that.

    The only real chance for Roger to beat Rafa and Novak in a Grand Slam is to improve his backhand and hit aggressive topspin backhands without committing too many unforced errors!

    There is simply no other way out of this.

    Tactical adjustments can be great but in this case all of the tactics that Roger has been trying, like slicing short, coming in etc. are not going to get the job done!
    Tactical adjustments oftentimes make the difference when 2 players are relatively equal in skills and playing level.
    In this case however Roger is not even in the ballpark of Rafa and Novak because of his relative weakness on the backhand side.

    So the real dilemma that Roger faces is this: If he stops hitting slice backhands and starts hitting almost exclusively topspin backhands he may lose more matches in the short term and that could hurt his confidence even more.

    If he stays with the slice he will be reasonably competitive and does not risk the chance of getting blown out as much as he would if he were to go with the other strategy of hitting almost exclusively topspin backhands.

    If however he wants to have a real chance of winning another Grand Slam title he needs to work on his topspin backhand and hit it as much as possible until he regains confidence in the shot!

    And this is the same dilemma that so many of you face. Deep down you know that you have a technical weakness that needs to be worked on.
    You know for example that you need to develop a better serve or start hitting your topspin backhand more aggressively to get to the next level.
    However this can take some time and you may lose some matches in the short term that you may not have lost otherwise.

    If however you decide to go for the change and you commit to it you have the chance of transforming your tennis game and getting so much more joy out of it.

    One of the keys to go through with something like this is to have a process-oriented mindset rather than an outcome oriented mindset!
    Rafael Nadal is the absolute role model for this. His focus is on continuous improvement and not winning.
    Roger has stated in the past that he is more of a results-oriented guy and that he does not care as much about playing well.
    As of now Roger is the greatest player of all-time and I am certainly a big fan.
    Unfortunately though I think that this results-oriented mindset is currently holding him back!
    If you want to maximize your tennis improvement and enjoyment, then most of you need to jump into the cold water so to speak, and work on the big technical problem areas that are holding you back!
    Helping tennis players do just that and succeed at it is what I founded http://www.onlinetennisinstruction.com for!
    To your tennis success,
    Florian Meier

    Comments
    – See more at: http://www.onlinetennisinstruction.com/roger-federers-dilemma/#sthash.tFIfBOxx.dpuf

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I can see his point but it’s not very simple. Roger needs confidence right now so he won’t stand there all day hitting topspin backhands. Yes Nadal and Djokovic have an advantage there but Roger has a better serve, volleys, slice backhand, touch, and variation than them. Surely that is more than enough to make up for the one weakness. And he won’t lose if he hits more topspin backhands against other guys than Djokovic and Nadal. But clearly he needs to be confident in that shot when he faces Nadal or Djokovic. A lot of it is just having the confidence and playing the perfect match on the day, like he did in the FO 2011 SF vs Djokovic. Anything less and he probably loses. Against Nadal we all know he is in trouble mentally. The surfaces matter too. At Wimbledon for instance the surface helps him a bit, just like it does indoors. It’s a complex issue that can probably be discussed for hours.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Ru-an, your comment…. + 1 !!!
    Roger is on his way up, that is all that matters right now. He will defeat them again. He is now so so so close.
    He will only improve…

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    V Reply:

    If what he says about the 1st set being deceptive because djokovic was not playing well,then I would say that this whole year has been deceptive for roger becuase his form is completely off the charts.That comment is a bit unfair towards roger i would say.
    And I blatantly disagree with the comment that Rafael Nadal is not a result oriented guy.I mean what is the guy saying.One who does not face his rivals when he is not at his best and one who just hides till he is at his best is not a result oriented guy??he must be out of his mind.
    Other than that what he is saying is pretty much nothing great and it’s all that we have already discussed.improve backhand,better mental toughness blah blah blah.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah I wasn’t that impressed with the article to be honest.

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  7. Hi Ru-an and the rest, I watched Nadal vs ferrer yesterday at the 02. My observations:
    Ferrer was not tired. In fact he was bouncing about on his toes for most of the match. Nadal’s topspin was nullified by the surface. It did not spring up like it usually does. Nadal also did not play extraordinary to win except for a couple of points. All he did was defend and defend some more till Ferrer errored. That’s all there was to it. This is not to say that Ferrer did not try hard to hit through the defence; he did, but Nadal got it back usually all the time. Ferrer also did not use the slice backhand or any variations in shots until he was down 1-5 in the second. At that point he played an extraordinary 2 games which was like the dying sting of a wasp. Here’s a clip taken from outer space (That’s how far it was) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebcmVFHFwEE

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Nice that you could be there Grumpy. I got the feeling the bounce is pretty high and someone on Twitter said they have been there the last few years and that the ball bounces higher than ever. Is it not so?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, very sad indeed. Especially for indoor tennis.

    [Reply]

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