Federer Sends Warning to Rivals in Dubai

If it’s not official by now then it is after this match: Federer means business in 2014. I caught up with this match when Stepanek was serving for the second set at 5-4 after having dropped the first set 6-2. I seem to have a knack for joining matches at the right time because that is really when the action began. Roger broke right back to level at 5-5 and at 6-6 I felt he was the obvious favorite to win the breaker. But Stepanek was playing some inspired tennis. He meant business himself. Stepanek is a talented player who can hang with the very best on a good day. And this was no doubt a good day. Stepanek won the breaker 7-4 to set up a decider. It was gonna be interesting to see Roger’s response. Breaking back in the second set was not enough. He had to dig even deeper. But Stepanek was about to make his task even harder.

null

He broke Roger in the second game after a sensational dive volley lob to set up break point. Just inspired tennis. But Roger was about to play some inspired tennis of his own when he broke Stepanek with a scintillating backhand return pass down the line. 2-1 Stepanek. Roger then struggled quite a bit to hold serve, upon which he broke Stepanek to love. He also got the insurance break to take a 5-2 lead, but there was one twist left in the tail of this entertaining match. Stepanek broke back and served to stay in the match at 5-3, but this time Roger closed the door on him. I thought it was a terrific display of mental strength and clutch tennis from Roger. After breaking back to stay in the second set, losing the tie break must have been a disappointment. But then he even got broken by Stepanek in the third set.

Then after all this he won five games consecutively to effectively put the match beyond Stepanek. I thought that showed great character and refusal to lie down. Like I said Stepanek was really on his game tonight, and to just go ahead and win five straight games after being a break down was something special. This was a high quality and entertaining match and I’m sure the crowd feels like they got their money’s worth. There was some particularly good net play. Stepanek is one of the best volleyers in the game and Roger is no slouch in the fore court either. In fact he outplayed Stepanek at the net wining 17/25 in that area while Stepanek won 14/27. So Roger continues his great net play on the volley-friendly Dubai courts. Roger also continued to surprise us with his break point conversion ratio which was 8/12.

Smilerer is back!

This is usually a sign that Roger is on the right path. We will see how it goes next against Rosol, who upset Tursunov in straight sets today. Rosol is another talented Czech who of course upset Nadal at Wimbledon in 2012. We know from that match that on a good day he can beat anyone. But if Roger continues in the vein of today he will be tough to beat. It’s about winning the important points and being clutch, which Roger seems to be doing well. It reminds of the beginning of 2012 where Roger 3.0 came to power with matches like the one against Stepanek. It really comes down to the mental side. Yes the body has to play along and certainly in 2013 it didn’t do so. But there has to be a desire and a hunger to win when the chips are down. Today was yet another performance that gave me hope that 2014 is going to be a very positive year for Roger.

Highlights:

Posted in Uncategorized.

35 Comments

  1. Hey Ru-an, great great article. Thank you for that. I actually was worried for Roger. If he has so much trouble with Stepanek, then what will he do against a Berdych or Tsonga (who lose to like everybody, but always remember that they are good tennisplayers when they play Roger) or what will he do against Novak. Which to be honest, Novak winning from Bautista-Agut so easy did not help either.
    But by reading your article I feel good again. Still think Rosol will be a problem. What better to tweet about than say that you beat two of the best players of all time Roger and Rafa.
    But Roger showed mental toughness and he really did not want to lose. Even if it is bad for our and his heart, he needs this kind of matches too.
    Kudos to Stepanek, who I did not know played this well.
    And Ru-an, loved the title and the first sentence.
    Roger means business !!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Katyani. It’s not bad for my heart. If anything a match like this is good for my heart. It gets the circulation going and gives it good feelings.

    [Reply]

  2. Hi, I have posted on Jonathan’s blog for a while under the alias Universal123, the above is my real name, you can never be too careful on the internet but I feel like I can reveal my real name now. I have always realised the dangers of the internet so I hope you can understand why I have not replied until now.

    I guess I should probably introduce myself, I am a pretty recent fan of Roger, started watching in 2012 (though I did, as a one-off, watch the 2009 Wimbledon final, to be honest at the time it bored me a little) and the first match I saw was 3rd round vs Benneteau at Wimbledon. Of course after 2 sets I was thinking: is this what I get for liking a tennis player? They lose? But anyway he won me over by winning the match and I have been a fan ever since. I am also much younger than most of you on here, so I will not be offering any views on philosphical topics which you have discussed in the past, and I openly admit that I do not have enough experience to comment on such things. I play tennis regularly myself, but not to a particularly high level.

    To Ruan: I agree with your views about Nadal, it is ridiculous to accuse him of doping and the crazy things I have read on the forums at TalkTennis (which I visit but mostly for tips about my own game, for the sake of your soul don’t visit General Pro Player Discussion or Pro Match Results, the trolling in there is outrageous). There are people accusing Nadal of faking every single injury, people who say Federer’s mono in 2008 and back trouble last year do not exist, and even people who say that past greats pre-1990 never played ‘real tennis’. As I said for your own sake do not visit those sections of that forum. Anyway enough ranting and until next time:

    KEEP CALM AND BELIEVE IN ROGER FEDERER

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No worries Charlie I know how retarded the extremists on those forums are. Mens Tennis Forum is just as bad. You can be sure to find a much more intelligent, objective, and civilized discussion here. Not that things don’t heat up here. But it’s really nothing compared to those forums. I won’t allow it anyway. I personally hate those forums, and even though this is called Ruans ‘Federer’ Blog I don’t allow bias and fanaticism here. Anyway nice to have someone young here. I like to have a diverse reader base.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Universal aka Charlie, nice to hear from you here too. Welcome. And don’t worry. There are people here who know even less about tennis but like Roger for the way he plays. Atleast you play tennis yourself. I don’t. Don’t know much about it, but love to watch Roger play. Are you excited about Roger vs Rosol? I am, but first there is another great and dangerous match: Berdych vs Tsonga.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Wasn’t particularly excited about Rosol vs Roger because Rosol makes so many errors unless he is in good form, Berdych vs Tsonga was poor also. Looking forward to Fed vs Djok though.

    [Reply]

  3. Thanks for the post Ru-an. Super fun match, really entertaining with great shot making. I’m a bit fixated on the depth of Fed’s shots. He was moving beautifully and getting the ball very consistently deep, pushing Stepanek back and into the corners. Only time Fed was hitting short, like service line area, was in the tie break. Do you think that’s nerves? Maybe trying too hard to be careful? Never ceases to amaze me how Roger can take a short-hop ball off his shoe laces without even bending much, and somehow create a beautiful shot out of it. If Rosol is playing well he could be a problem for anyone, but I really like what I saw from Roger physically and even more – mentally. Good stuff, great attitude! Oh, also, try to get out of Bangkok and get to Chiang Mai. Seems a little scary in Bangkok right now. All the best!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Not that I know of Eric. Seemed pretty peaceful last night in the center. Sometimes it’s just rumors I think. So far the food has cost me a lot more trouble then the people!

    [Reply]

  4. I am glad that Roger is doing well. It will be interesting to see how Roger fares against Djokovic in the semis. I think that Djokovic is somewhat vulnerable and that Roger can take him here. We’ll see!

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Vily, I hope you saw yesterday Novak vs Bautista-Agut. Man he was in scary form. Wants to prove I think that AO did not hurt him or something.
    Now I understand when a commentator says giving someone no breathing space. Novak was so dominant, Bautista-Agut did not stand a chance.
    To be honest, Novak was so dominant, the match was a bit boring.
    And… where did most of the crowd go after Roger’s match???

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah he looked quite vulnerable with a 6-1, 6-3 destruction of Bautista-Agut.

    [Reply]

  5. Great blog Ruan! You were so enthusiastic – great. I knew the score and saw the replay. I am glad I had the choice. He appeared to be playing everything in his tool box. Stepanek played a competitive game. It was fun and pretty tennis. I am not a fan of the baseline power tennis. I like seeing the talented mental games. Thanks for jumping on this blog so quickly. I am looking forward to the next match.

    [Reply]

  6. Hi Ru-an as ever hope all is well with you, and glad
    that you enjoyed the tennis. Myself I love watching
    Stepanek, you never know whats coming, so was looking forward to see the battle of wits. Can’t understand why some people were surprised that Roger had such a fight on his hands although looked as though he lost his focus in the second set. But I’m
    sure he will be very pleased with himself that he managed to turn the third set around. I think Fed’s ground shots looked great but his serve has lost some accuracy. Hope he plays well in the next match.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hope all is well with you too Elizabeth. Yeah Fedfans are hard to please that’s for sure. Very touchy fan base. Like I said Stepanek is very talented and on a good day he is very good. Someone who was there said Fed didn’t look to happy with himself which is I take with a pinch of salt. Beating Stepanek in the form he was was a great result.

    [Reply]

  7. Hi Ru-an, I agree this was a key match. On such a fast surface, Stepanek is quite dangerous because he also attacks the net and he just went for winners at random times. It was tough for Federer to find the right balance between attack and defense on this fast court.

    Sometimes Federer was not so sure what to do but he figured it out in the end, after some wayward tennis. It showed he was able to grind for a win despite not being absolutely certain of his game, unlike in 2013 when his game often fell off and he was unable to recover. In all three sets he was broken early but he still won the match, just as in London against Del Potro last year.

    Hopefully with more time on these courts Federer will be more confident and able to implement his game plan. I see that Federer beat Rosol handily, so things are looking good. Djokovic is a baseliner (Becker or no Becker), not a S&V player like Stepanek, and so if Federer uses the surface to his advantage, he’ll be able to pull off some wonderful all-court tennis.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Steve another player from last year. Clearly being healthy doesn’t hurt.

    [Reply]

  8. Hi Ruan,
    It’s been a long time since commenting here..
    And Roger seems to be on a PERFECT course for his 6th TITLE, if he continues to play as against Stepanek…The WALKOVER might also play into the match!
    Who knows?! Federer could also IMPLEMENT a thing or Two from AUS Champion STAN against Djoker..!!

    [Reply]

  9. Just a last prediction before the match, I am sticking to the prediction I gave on Jonathan’s blog, which is Federer 6-1 6-3. I have no idea why. Just a feeling. I just think today is going to be good.

    I suppose in terms of logical reasoning I would say that I thought that Federer’s returning has been very strong so I think that if he can tighten up his serving it will be a very tough day for Djokovic. Maybe it will be a lot closer than I think but I think Roger will win.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok I will predict 6-1, 6-3 Djokovic, just to be funny.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Haha I hope you are completely wrong, but who knows? Warm up should be starting now, I’ll be tuning in to watch in about 10-15 mins. Keys will be the serve and forehand obviously. Roger has to keep the number of open rallies down, like Wimbledon 2012. As Roger rightly said after that match, there was a lot of first-strike tennis that day, and that is what Roger is best at. Like with Nadal, he cannot afford to get involved in too many long baseline rallies.

    [Reply]

  10. First set to Djokovic. Federer has never beaten Djokovic after having lost the first set and hasn’t won a deciding set against him since Basel ’10. But there’s always a first time.

    Very frustrating since it was just a slow start from Federer that allowed Djokovic the early break, then Djokovic just had to play solid to finish it off.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Should note also that until Wawrinka beat him at AO, Djokovic had never lost a hard-court match in which he won the first set–an astonishing statistic. So there is some hope that Federer can come back.

    There’s a rain delay; hopefully Federer will handle it well. Pity because Djokovic was starting to wobble a bit.

    [Reply]

    Katyani Reply:

    “First set to Djokovic. Federer has never beaten Djokovic after having lost the first set and hasn’t won a deciding set against him since Basel ’10. But there’s always a first time”….
    You were so right Steve

    [Reply]

  11. “Federer sends warning to rivals in Dubai”.
    “If it’s not official by now then it is after this match: Federer means business in 2014” !!!
    ONLY YOU Ru-an gets Roger. I am so sorry Roger. I wanted to believe Roger could win today, but he was against the best of the best. So I hoped for Roger to win, but knew he would lose.
    But only Roger can make you see how stupid it is to underestimate him…
    But…. not getting carried away. Tomorrow he has to play again against the best of the best, his boogeyman.
    I was so glad Berdych won a title after 16 months. Now he has. Enough is enough. ROGER TIME !!!
    Love and love and love you Roger. Come on. lets put every critic and the JMac-curse to rest !!!

    [Reply]

  12. Look at us guys. Roger wins and we get all carried away !!! Lets do that tomorrow after he wins.
    Now one more match. If he wins, celebration time. If he loses, does not matter, he is on the right path going up and up.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    For those who saw the match, what grades would you give the players?

    What I’d like to know is whether Roger was just fantastic (after his slow start) or whether Djokovic was a little bit off his game (no reason it couldn’t have been both, I guess…).

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  13. Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy, Happy …

    [Reply]

    rahan Reply:

    At least one title a year to 14 consecutive years. The first tournament he won no longer exists.

    [Reply]

  14. Open Era Title Leaders

    Rank

    Player

    Wins

    Player ATP titles

    1 Jimmy Connors 109
    2 Ivan Lendl 94

    3 ROGER FEDERER 78

    4 John McEnroe 77
    5,6 Bjorn Borg, Pete Sampras 64
    7,8 Rafael Nadal, Guillermo Vilas 62
    9 Andre Agassi 60
    10 Ilie Nastase 58

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *