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