Federer Scores Important Win Over Istomin in Basel

Nothing quite like indoor tennis to help Roger out in a confidence crises, is there? Having said that, I won’t call this a confidence boosting win because every time I have said that this year he has gone on to lose the next match. I’m not gonna get overly excited just because Roger came back from a set down to beat Istomin 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 today. What I will say is that the key game of the match was at 0-1 in the 3rd where Roger was down 0-40 on his serve. Istomin had 4 break points in that game but Roger managed to scrape his way through it and the rest was history. That was the kind of hustling and urgency you would like to see from Roger at this stage. On my last post Rahan posted an article called The last days of Roger Federer. It’s a long one but worth the read. The conclusion to which the writer comes to at the end is that there is a missing piece in Roger’s arsenal, and that is his ability to hustle and win ugly.

His ability to be the chaser and not the chased. This is historically something that Roger has not been very good at. He prefers being the favorite and to dominate. Today at 0-1 in the 3rd set I thought he was going to let it slip again, but to his credit he hustled well. If he wants to play for many more years and remain a factor he is gonna have to do a lot more of that. He will have to be a fiercer competitor and be more in opponent’s faces, the way Nadal is. He did it against Murray at the Australian Open this year when he said something along the lines of “You fucking stopped!“, after which Roger came back to win the 4th set tie break. Murray still won the match but no doubt Roger’s actions had an effect on him. Roger has always been squeaky clean, but if he wants to remain relevant he will just have to give up that reputation a bit.

It doesn’t mean he has to ruin his reputation. It just depends on how you look at it. It is like the guy in the article says. His ability to fight and scrap is the final strand of greatness that has eluded him and now he has a chance to add that missing piece of puzzle, which would improve his reputation as far as I’m concerned. This is the one criticism I have always had of Roger and which is a large part of why Nadal dominates him in the head-to-head. Sure the match up doesn’t favor Roger, but he has had plenty of chances to beat Nadal in crucial matches. He just lacks that ability to get down and dirty and and do what must be done. So personally I am looking forward to more of that from Roger, and that is why the rest of Roger’s career will be as interesting as any for me. I don’t care much about this ‘clean’ image that so many admire.

Roger switched to a better looking outfit after the 1st set…

A certain amount of it is good. But lets not fool ourselves. This is sport and it is about winning. And you do whatever you have to do get the job done. I’m not proposing cheating. I am just saying that tennis is a competition and there is no need to act like it’s a popularity contest. There are many things to dislike about Nadal, but he is the ultimate example of someone who hustles and wins matches he should never have won. And as in all things Roger and Nadal are opposites. Roger wants to look pretty and win at the same time. But that won’t be possible if he wants to play longer and remain relevant. He has no choice now. He either makes it personal and gets in the guy’s face more, or he gets man handled himself. I thought he did good against Istomin in that department but I want to see more. Winning ugly should become his new buzzwords.

The era of Federer the ballerina is over and it is time for Federer the warrior. If he can successfully make the transition it will bag him one or two more slams. The talent has always been limitless. The only question was the ability to kill. Now I realize Roger is an artist and all that, but as long as he is playing he is growing as a player. And the next step in his evolution is what I’ve been talking about here. Anyway with all this talk I haven’t said much about the match, but I felt it was more important. I thought there was a lot more flow and confidence about Roger’s came in the 2nd and especially 3rd sets. And it confirms what I always say about confidence. It is always the most important thing. When he is losing people find endless reasons why. But once he starts winning again the reasons are all suddenly gone.

Winning solves everything like they say. It has only been two wins in a row now but I still maintain that the game is right there with the very best of them, and it is a confidence issue. There were a few JesusFed moments against Istomin there as well as Roger pulled away in the 3rd set. In the mean time this win surely qualifies Roger for London, because like I speculated in my last post Gasquet also went down tamely today. Even Berdych lost yesterday. Not only does Roger’s chances of qualifying for London look very good now, but his draw in Basel has opened up. With Nishikori losing too Dimitrov is the only seed still alive in the bottom half other than Roger. Dimitrov beat Stepanek 6-3, 6-3 tonight and plays Dolgopolov to decide who faces Roger. Sure I’m tempted to believe Roger can take the indoor season by storm now and do the Basel, Paris, London triple again.

…and the result was better looking tennis and a quarter final birth.

But I am not that stupid. I am just glad he won two matches in a row, never mind win the tournament. I’m looking no further than his next match. Dimitrov would probably be the biggest challenge given that he is on a run of form, but Dolgopolov can be dangerous too. I hope Dimitrov wins because Fed vs Baby Fed would be a bit special, but I also feel it would be a better test for Roger. For now I just want to kind of savor this win because I think it was an important one. I will decide whether I will make another post tomorrow after the Dimitrov/Dolgopolov match. And of course Roger will play again on Friday. Talk to you later.

Highlights:

Thought you might be interested…http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showpost.php?p=7840166&postcount=63

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7 Comments

  1. Hi Ruan. Greetings from London. I hope Roger qualifies so I can watch him again, live – after nearly 2 years – at the O2 Arena. I can tell that a lot of tennis fans are holding back from purchasing their tickets until Roger is confirmed to play. I think I’ll go ahead and buy mine anyway.

    This was one of those ‘difficult’ matches Roger had to win without looking pretty for most part of it. You hit the nail on the head about Nadal as usual. His tunnelvision in tight matches and when he’s playing nowhere near 100% is commendable.

    Very happy to know that Dimitrov is in round 2. His much-anticipated match with Roger is highly due. Dimitrov has played all the big guns in the top 10 except Roger. How bizzare is that?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah I think Fed will qualify Grumpy. Funny that Federov have never played.

    [Reply]

  2. Hey Ru-an, I just have to tell you this. Jonathan and you and some other writers (not all of them) write such beautiful articles where some paragraphs just explain the thing you yourself want to explain but cannot. I have always said that I liked your articles very much, because you write exactly like you know Roger. But… this article… seriously made me cry. That has NEVER happened before. I loved the article “Federer as a Religion” and some others. But never has an article made me cry like yours. I was today at work when I read it and literally I cried. Not proud of it, but…
    You just wrote exactly what I was feeling. Yesterday when Roger was 0-40 behind in the third set, I left my room. Seriously. I was so gutted, because you KNOW the outcome. Istomin wins the game, comes to 3-0, then Roger wins only 2 or 3 games after that, making it 6-2 or 6-3. I really could not watch that moment. Imagine my surprise when I came back and it was 1-1. What? My God? Did Roger fight back??? I could not believe it. Of course after that Roger went into Jesus mode and made some incredible points.
    Him getting back from 0-40, immediately reminded me of Rafa when he was 0-40 behind at the USO final and not only did he win that game, but he also broke Novak (and his spirit) the next game, winning the set and the title.
    Yesterday I saw that from Roger and I was glad.
    It kills me to say it, but Rafa has to learn how to be like Roger in every department, but Roger needs to learn from Rafa how to be ruthless, how to win ugly and the most important thing… how to be selfish and only think about winning and not playing beautiful.
    Just like you, I don’t expect him to win everything from now on. In fact I don’t care if he wins Basel, Paris or WTF. He just has to do one thing: BEAT DIMITROV. Imagine what it will do to his confidence if he will lose to the guy who is literally his copycat? Who has been compared to Roger since the beginning. If Roger loses to Dimitrov, will he recover? I don’t care about Roger’s other winnings… this match tomorrow he HAS to win.
    Anyway, I know you don’t like long comments. But I hope you writers know that some of your articles or words have a lot of effect on certain people !!!
    You never know when some words “touch” someone.
    Maybe it was for you an article you wrote in 5 minutes or so or did not give a second thought to, but it made me into a briefly crybaby, which I totally HATE !!!
    You just wrote what I was thinking since Indian Wells 2013. That Roger, enough is enough. You don’t need to be the nicest human of the century. You have been that already for years. Now you have to play like yourself but more ruthless and selfish like Rafa. You don’t have a lot of years left. Now you have to be selfish and win. Just win.
    Not illegal winning, but just winning. Like you say ugly winning.
    Thank you for this article Ru-an, eventhough it made me cry. I will link it to Roger’s site. Some will (like me) absolutey love it too.
    Katyani

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Sorry that I made you cry but glad the article spoke to you Katyani. Feel free to share.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Ru-an…. just between you and me (again)…. are you sure you are not related to Roger??? You are THE ONLY ONE who writes like this.
    If you are related to Roger (and want to keep it quiet)… can you please tell him that I LOVE him !!! Haha

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha no we are not related but sometimes it feels like we are.

    [Reply]

  3. Pingback: Federer Wins Ugly to Make 3rd Final of the Year | Ruans Federer Blog 2.0

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