Federer’s Loss in Dubai was Due to Lack of Match Practice

I have thought about Roger ‘shock’ loss to Djokovic in Dubai and have come to the conclusion that it was due to lack of proper match practice. There was three weeks between the Oz Open and Dubai of which Roger took a fair amount of vacation from. In Dubai he hardly had tough opposition before the final. He had Devvarman, Granollers, Stakhovsky, and Gasquet, all of whom he routined in straight sets. Against Gasquet he was a break down in the second and Gasquet served for the match, but he quickly crumbled under the pressure. I thought Roger would at least play Simon in the semi’s who could have been a better test before the final, but it didn’t work out. Then when the final came Roger lacked serious match practice against a competent opponent. There was just no one who tested him at all until that point.

And of course Djokovic is in another league altogether and put Roger under the pump from the start. That explains to me that Roger was trashed so badly by Djokovic. I’m not saying he would have won, but at least it could have been three sets and been a respectable score. I just think the break and a lack of tough opponents ended up costing him. If you look at Djokovic he had the same break as Roger but he was tested on his road to the final.

Source

He was taken to three sets by both Lopez and Berdych. This made him more sharp after his three week break. He may even have lost before the final if he was a little less lucky. This is just the way tennis goes. There are many factors to take into account when two players meet on a given day. It is never just a simple question of win and lose. As I have said before, Roger lost to Murray just as badly in Shanghai last year and continued to play amazing tennis.

Roger didn’t play Dubai the last two years either and if anything this will give him a boost going into Indian Wells and Miami where he previously had long breaks going into those events. I think he knows where his game is and he already said he is going to work hard this week for those events. I think he will be more ready for those important events than he was last year where he lost early on in both. He has many points to gain there and it can set him up well for the clay season and an assault on the number one ranking. The points for Dubai will also be added in July so there is that to look forward to as well. If Roger keeps his consistency of late going and make final/semi-final stages the number one ranking will be a sealed deal. I have a feeling Wimbledon could turn out to be a crucial event for him, one that he likes a lot.

Thoughts?

Photobucket


Posted in Uncategorized and tagged .

51 Comments

  1. Ruan, ‘lack of match practice’ was not a problem for Roger a few years ago, when he won some tournaments (like the AO in ’07) without the loss of a set. He wasn’t tested en route to the final – it didn’t matter. He still won. (It doesn’t matter for Nadal either, who won last year’s USO for the loss of only one set.)In fact, in some years Roger lost astonishingly few matches over the entire year – his consistency was phenomenal. If he lost, it was generally to Nadal on clay (and mostly only on clay) and then maybe a close one to one or two other good players on hard-court (he never lost on grass.)These days he rarely achieves the level of play he demonstrated in his peak years and he has lost that supreme consistency. ‘Lack of match practice’? Somehow, I don’t think so. Dwindling confidence in big matches? Quite possibly. A gradual relative decline in his game, so that the gap between him and many other players has now been substantially reduced? Undeniable. However, that doesn’t fully explain a bad loss like that to Djokovic in Dubai. For that we have to wonder what goes on between Roger’s ears in some of his matches now. This is not the player who said after winning the USO in ’07 that he felt ‘invincible’. The hubris in that remark was prophetic – as Djokovic and many other players now know, he is far from invincible. In a curious kind of way his career is turning full circle; he is starting to resemble his early years on the tour when he was sometimes brilliant but often erratic. But then he was young and he had time on his side.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Fair comment Neil, but i dont see the point of constantly predicting Roger’s downfall. I try to live in the now and i see that Roger didnt play really well throughout the Dubai event. Im just trying to make the most of Roger tennis while he is still in the game. If you are constantly predicting his downfall you will miss what he still has to offer. I just dont see the point of that.

    [Reply]

  2. I agree Ru-an. Roger wasn’t match ready. But I’m re-watching his matches now (I’m bored and as usual there’s nothing on tv!) And Roger approached the net on nearly every point and he was experimenting the whole week. Remember last yeart when Murray admitted he was just using the week to try things out and everyone had a go at him? Roger basically did the same thing. But when he got to the final he hadn’t played a lot of proper rallies against good players. He was hitting shots in the final which would’ve beaten a less able player but DJ is the best defender on a slow hard court in the world. Suddenly Roger’s well hit shots weren’t having the same effect.
    Roger will be back in action shortly. I think it’s premature to call this the end or even a slump- he’s already won a load of titles since Wimbledon. He now just needs to win another slam. I don’t know why but I have a funny feeling about the French Open this year :-)

    [Reply]

  3. Ruan, I don’t see that I am ‘constantly predicting Roger’s downfall’. Like you, I am trying to understand the perplexing inconsistencies in his performances these days, and why he seems to have more bad losses now. That isn’t so much a ‘prediction’ than dealing with a present reality. The fact is Roger isn’t playing and winning like he used to – and hasn’t for some time. I guess that shouldn’t be so surprising for a player at his stage of career and given his age. But it also seems to me that I am hearing excuses for his losses from his fans that Roger himself would have once disdained. Sure, he still has things to offer the game, but they are not what they once were and probably never will be again. We may have to be satisfied with much less from him. He reminds me a little of a champion boxer nearing the end of his career; we see them lose to opponents they once would have owned. It happens to the best. But it can be pretty painful to see – and not much fun for him either.

    [Reply]

  4. Hey Ruan, a good read. I was just wondering if anyone could explain to me about the the points Federer gained from Dubai won’t be added until July.

    And it is amazing how quickly and easily people write Federer off. He will still be a major force in tennis for a good few years yet.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Abeed, you can find an explanation in the comments of my previous post.

    [Reply]

  5. I don’t see the benefit of focusing so much on his losses. They hurt, but why make them hurt more by fretting so much about them? I’m waiting for the wins. They will come again, probably not in as copious numbers as in his salad days, but more than enough to enjoy.

    Federer fans were in a similar position in early 2009 after his loss at AO to Nadal. I remember his match against Murray at Indian Wells. After losing the first set rather tamely he fought back with greater aggression and won the second. In the third set, he was playing well, until Murray slipped and fell at 2-1. After that Federer’s game disintegrated completely and Murray won the final set 6-1. It was cryptic, perplexing, inexplicable after Federer had seemed to have the momentum on his side.

    He followed that up with other bizarre losses: smashing his racket against Djokovic in Miami, losing to Wawrinka at Monte Carlo, and losing again to Djokovic in Rome. But he then won Madrid by beating Nadal and went on to win the French Open and break Sampras’ Grand Slam record at Wimbledon.

    He is not at the top of his game right now, but is pretty close and is working always to get there. He has been making semis and finals since last Wimbledon, after all, not losing in the first round.

    With a game as complex and subtle as his, the mental component is absolutely crucial. Other players, with a more limited arsenal, have a much simpler decision-making process, but Federer’s is extremely complicated. It’s hard to say with certainty why he isn’t quite mentally ready yet.

    In this case I think it’s pretty simple, he’s trying to fit a square peg into a round hole by playing fast-court tennis on slower surfaces. He spent so much time last year emphasizing this kind of aggressive game (which accords with his natural instincts anyhow), crowding the baseline and trying for high-risk shots at the first opportunity, that he’s finding it hard to change his game plan to suit the slower courts.

    To me, he appeared hesitant and puzzled against Djokovic because he’s gotten so used to being super-aggressive, and he’s having to fight his instincts and try to play in a way more suited to the surface and conditions. Because he is thinking too much, it’s resulting in indecisiveness and strange errors, and, against a peak-form Djokovic, it means a straight-sets loss.

    But he and his team are intelligent, rational people, so they will analyze these losses and make adjustments. Presumably, the more matches he gets the more accustomed he will become to the tactics and methods he needs to use on slow courts.

    Whether all that will result in more titles, especially more Grand Slam titles, is impossible to say in advance, but it would not be the act of a wise man to bet against him.

    Mentally he’s in a far better place now than in 2009: then he was worrying about breaking Sampras’ Grand Slam record and completing the career Slam. Now he can focus more on pure tennis without those pressures.

    The biggest worry is that he might get sick again, but he appears to be healthy and hopefully will remain so. If he does I think this will be a great year for him.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well yeah i think he is in a better state than 2009 at the same stage too, but then something clicked during MAdrid. Its now harder to believe something will just click. He is not losing to guys so much because he is not playing as well as he should but because they are better players now. I am talking about Djokovic in particular here. It seems like Djokovic has almost overtaken him now. If they should meet in Indian Wells and Miami Djokovic would be the favorite again. Only on clay and grass may things change. Im afraid his level has dipped and it may not be just a case of adjusting to the right tactics. It may be that Djokovic is simply better now. In that case there is nothing he can do to beat him now. He certainly wont beat him if Shankerror shows up. That version of Roger is something i am especially worried about because he tends to show up in big matches now. At least in slams Roger still steps it up a notch. We will just have to see.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Let me ask you this, then: when he lost to Wawrinka and then Djokovic on clay in 2009, would you have believed it if someone had told you that he would return to peak form a couple weeks later, beat Nadal in a clay-court final and win the French Open?

    It’s true he may no longer be able to always beat Djokovic every time they meet, especially on slow hard courts, but I don’t know we can say that Djokovic is now “better.”

    Who knows where Djokovic’s game will be in a couple weeks, or a month from now. In 2008 he was the hottest player on tour for the first part of the year: winning AO with the loss of one set, then IW. People thought he would be the one to take the #1 spot from Federer.

    Then he got knocked out in the first round of Miami, and although he won Rome after that, he had lost his momentum and Nadal eclipsed him after the clay-court season, and he ended the year at #3.

    These things can change very quickly: at one moment one guy can be king of the world and the next it can be someone else. Only Roger has shown the ability to consistently stay at the top for years. Nadal is the only one who has even come close and the last time he captured #1 and held three of the four majors he had a huge letdown the next year.

    If Federer and Djokovic meet again in the hard-court Masters, and that’s a big if, it’ll be a different match. Different conditions, different crowd, slightly different court. Roger might be in a little better form, Djokovic might have a bad day or be a little tired from tough opponents, whatever. The point is, it will be different. So who knows how it will turn out.

    Djokovic might win again, but that’s not a foregone conclusion.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Like Neil said, 2009 was a slump, while i dont think this is a slump anymore. The results in the slams is what was good even during his 2008 slump, while now its just gotten worse. Losing twice before the semis of a slam and not winning one in a year is an all time low for Roger. This to me is really the worry. It seems to me this is more than a slump, but his level may have dropped below someone like Djokovic.

    [Reply]

  6. I still say that Roger is one athlete than never gets credit like he should. Hopefully he knows where his game is, continues to practice and succeed.

    [Reply]

  7. Steve said: ‘…Mentally he’s in a far better place now than in 2009: then he was worrying about breaking Sampras’ Grand Slam record and completing the career Slam. Now he can focus more on pure tennis without those pressures…’

    I’d agree with this. He should be in a better state than he was then. Good comment.

    [Reply]

  8. Steve, you make some valid points but 2009 is not 2011. Two years can be a long time in a tennis player’s career. In early 2009 Roger had still been in pretty good form – he had barely lost an epic encounter against Nadal in the AO final in January and was the reigning USO champion from the year previously, despite recovering from the effects of mono earlier in the year (when he still played an incredible match against Nadal at Wimbledon.) Roger had often had ‘mini-slumps’ in his career and so early 2009 in that respect seemed little different. There was always the chance he would regain form – and he did, at Madrid. He then added two more slams to his resume that year. The loss to Del Potro at the USO in ’09 seemed a hiccup but perhaps it signalled more than we then recognised.

    However, his consummate win against Murray at the 2010 AO final suggested Roger might yet experience another ‘golden’ period over the next year or two – till he was at least 30, which is where he is now. But dismayingly, that has turned out not to be. Roger judges his career by how well in performs in the slams and in the last 4 he has failed to make the final; failing to make the semis in two of them – and losing to Djokovic in the last two. At least in the USO semi he had match points but in the AO match against Djoko he was nowhere close. This is a worrying trend, and as Ruan recognises – it is a trend, not an aberration.

    The one gleam of light was his impressive performance at the WTF last year but he has failed to follow it through this year. It is hard to figure why but whatever the reason Roger has lost the consistency that made him the champion he was. He can still play some great matches but not, apparently, week and week out and, these days, not when it matters.

    Djokovic’s star is meanwhile in the ascendant, and with it his confidence. Barring injury, he is going to be hard to stop. Perhaps, at this stage, only Nadal may be able to do it.

    (By the way, I don’t think the reaons for Nadal’s slump in ’09 are anything like Federer’s; Nadal played to a consistent level over that period but it still wasn’t good enough to win tournaments; presently Roger will still sometimes play incredible matches and then follow that up with what could only be described as an embarrassment. More the mind than the body, I think, while with Nadal it was – and always is – the latter.)

    I would love to see Roger ‘do a Sampras’ and prove many of us doubters to be wrong, with at least one more great triumph. But Sampras always believed he had it in him – Roger, I don’t know. And when all else failed Pete still had his serve, whereas Roger needs his whole game to be there to stand a chance.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    There are some great posts at the moment to Ru-an’s latest blog :-)
    ….
    I have to agree with Steve Neil though. You say that Roger hasn’t carried his form over from the WTF 2010 but hasn’t he already won a title this year? He won in Doha easily. He’s also not lost another match except to Djokovic at all in 2011 and DJ is THE form player at the moment. So he has carried his form across to this year.
    ….
    He’s having to play on his least favourite surface- slow hard courts. I think Roger would even prefer clay courts to these slow courts ther tour are allowing these days.

    I think that at this moment in time there is no doubt that DJ is playing the better tennis. He is the best player on slow hard courts at the moment. This is not a big surprise though is it? He has always had the ability but never the mental game but now he’s getting it together. I therefore don’t agree with Ru-an that DJ is a better player period. He is for now and maybe due to Roger’s age Ru-an will be right as Roger is obviously declining as he ages but DJ has always been great on these types of courts. His improvement overnight has been due to him mentally focusing. Murray got to the final at Aussie Open if Roger had played Murray in the semi’s who would’ve won? I think Roger would have had a great chance. But then Roger still wouldn’t have won the final against DJ as DJ was and still is in the form of his life.
    ….
    I think we should see how Djokovic gets on at the next masters 1000 events. He is up and down as Steve points out. Also don’t forget that he hasn’t been in hiding for the last 5 years! He’s been playing and mostly losing to Roger (13-8 head to head) and he hasn’t added anything new to his game. he’s just stopped being a basketcase temporarily!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I think Roger carried his form over from last year into Doha, but then in the AO and Dubai he slipped cos it was slower courts. He didnt impress me throughout either of the last two events. His game just looks impotent on slow hard courts. He has too much time or something, which causes him to make a load on unforced errors and shanks. I dont hold that much hope for IW and Miami in terms of winning it. Once he hits clay and grass things could improve cos the one is slower can gives him more time while the other is faster and suits his game better.

    [Reply]

  9. Okay folks, I may be saying this in a “semi-serious” way, but I’ve got this feeling for a couple of months now; contrary to the last year’s pretty decent form of Roger in the “smaller” events(and his failure in the 3 of the 4 GS), something tells me that he will capture AT LEAST another two majors this year (and may not perform as almost peRFect as his did towards the second half of 2010). I’m just wondering what everyones reaction (both media and the fans) would be if Roger just reminds us one of those peRFect and flawless days at the office he once used to have in those grass courts in some place around London called “WIMBLEDON” for every single July. Some of you may say that I am too optimistic, but there’s only one way to find this out; we’ll just have to wait and see. Thus, in a case like this…well let’s say I just can’t help thinking of how much his confidence will be boosted (winning a major after a one and a half year is a BIG DEAL) and what a different player will strike the hard courts of North America determined to capture his 6th US Open in his career.
    All in all, my point here is that when the time comes and Roger defeats-destroys all of his opponents again to win his next major, many things will change not only in his performance but also in the way the majority of his fans judge him when defeated by one of his many tough opponents today. I think we’ll see things from a different perspective when referring to Roger. He is the GOAT of the GOAT for Christ’s sake.

    [Reply]

  10. Roger also lost badly to Mardy Fisher ( 6-2, 6-3) at Indian wells in 2008 (I watched that match at Palm springs) and Fish was just too good that day. He lost in the finals to Djokovic in 3.

    In many ways, this year so far reminds me of 2008. The parallels are striking, especially Djokovic’s form and Roger’s mental absence.

    I would say that it’s dangerous for anyone to write Roger off. One has to only read what the current and immediate past pros have to say about tennis’s elite – which is, the top 2 Rs are now part of the top 4. Djokovic and Soderling /Murray are pushing the envelope.

    Roger definitely has more slams in him. He is capable of winning another 4. Question is, how much does he really want to, after winning 16 of them and can that ‘want’ match the hunger of younger players who’ll play with the same fearlessness that he once played with? Only Roger can answer these questions.

    [Reply]

  11. Andrew, I just don’t buy this argument that the reason (among others) Roger loses these days is “slow hard courts”. This is Roger Federer we are talking about here, a player with innumerable hard-court titles, including multiple slams on the surface, who has won major tournaments on all surfaces. Hard-courts haven’t suddenly become sand-pits as of late. Also, in his h2h against Djokovic, which still favours Roger, most of his wins have come on hard-court – of any “speed”. Without doubt, Federer has been the best hard-court player of the modern era.

    To talk of Federer not being able to play well because of the surface reduces his true stature and the magnitude of his achievements. It also sounds like the kind of excuses Nadal fans offer when their man loses – he is always “injured”. If the surface is now what it comes down to for Federer then we might as well admit it is game over.

    As for Djoko – well, ever since he first broke through to the top with his AO win in ’08 he has consistently trailed Federer (and Nadal). He turned the tables on Roger at the USO last year (on what you say is Roger’s best hard-court surface, because it is “fast”), but then for the rest of the year normal order was restored (including a 6-1, 6-4 shellacking by Roger at the last year’s WTF). But this year is different. Djokovic has not just gone up a gear – he has gone up several. I find that kind of surprising; there is no reason that I can see for such dramatic improvement in such a short time, and without doubt much of it is physical. He is hitting harder and covering the court way better than any time in the last 3 years. It looks to me like he has joined the “bigger, stronger, faster” club, along with Nadal, Murray and quite a few others these days.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    I do think Djokovic has finally got it together mentally, something he lacked somewhat in earlier years. He was always greatly talented, it just took some time for him to gain that mental strength and believe in himself, that he could beat anyone. And, also make it through an entire match without his breathing issues. He’s at the right age for a surge – younger, faster, stronger than Roger, but most of all, more confident mentally.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Neil, I have a different opinion on Djokovic’s current performance.

    It’s not as if his improved serve is totally unprecedented; he was serving very well in late 2007-mid 2008.

    For whatever reason he lost confidence and his serve fell apart for a while. He tried to work under Todd Martin and it made things worse. I think he has consciously worked on returning to the service motion he had in early 2008, and is now more or less where he was then.

    The weather at AO was also a factor in his victory. Djokovic has had problems with heat and extreme conditions in the past, which are partly mental, but I’m sure partly physical as well. His lack of endurance is his Achilles’ heel and his last two losses at AO involved heat and health issues.

    This year at AO conditions were cooler and wetter, so there was no problem with the heat. He didn’t have any long matches, either: he dropped only one set along the way to the title, and Troicki retired in their third round match after losing the first set. His endurance problems thus didn’t come into play.

    Nadal’s pattern was a long period of clay dominance, followed by a sudden blossoming where he suddenly started winning on surfaces where he had had no chance before. Furthermore, he won by having unlimited power and endurance, and finally by developing a Sampras-like serve for USO.

    In contrast, Djokovic is not breaking totally new ground, but merely repeating his performance of 2008, more or less. As I said, in the first third of 2008 he was the hottest player on tour, winning AO (with the loss of one set) and then winning Indian Wells. But after clay season Nadal surged ahead and never looked back that year.

    This year again Djokovic has won AO with the loss of only a set, and now Dubai, and once again appears to be the hottest player on tour.

    His victories have not depended on superhuman endurance, but on great serving and ball-striking, attributes which he also displayed in early 2008.

    The slow hard courts seem to be best- suited to his game, allowing him to hit through the court (unlike clay) while still being slow enough for him to prepare for his shots. He doesn’t have to run as much as he would on clay.

    But in Dubai, he struggled during the day matches against Lopez and Berdych, a sign that his health still remains a problem. Luckily for him, the final was played at night, or the outcome might have been different.

    The trouble in the steroid era is that it becomes hard to distinguish between improvements that are merely the result of PEDs and those that honestly come from conscientious effort (however rare the latter may be).

    I doubt he could sustain this level of performance during the whole year. If he does, then you’re probably right to be skeptical of him.

    If he were to suddenly start crushing Nadal on clay or winning Wimbledon, I would get more suspicious. Right now, I can believe that he has worked hard to bring his serve back to what it was in 2008 and that’s why he’s doing so well.

    Of course, you could well be right that he is making the same improbable leaps in strength, speed, and stamina that others, notably Nadal, have made.

    For myself, I’m not so sure, but I think we will not have long to wait in order to see definitively whether this is the case.

    [Reply]

  12. Neil. Roger is no longer the player he once was and I agree with you about that. So now he needs a little help to win big titles with good draws (if DJ had lost to Lopez Roger prob would have won in Dubai) or the surface suiting his game. What’s wrong with that? The current world number 1 is amazing on clay, very very good on grass and ok on hard courts. Yet no-one complains about that and everyone gets excited about how Nadal has adapted his game. He’s not the favourite on hard courts and especially he needs good draws to win at US Open and World Tour Finals. So I’m not too bothered that Roger needs things to fall into place for him to win titles anymore. He could just have an amazing 2 weeks in JesusFed mode and then the surface etc doesn’t matter.

    [Reply]

  13. Andrew, to me Roger has been the Muhammad Ali/ Michael Jordan of tennis – the greatest. It’s painful to see him struggle now. Yes, every now and then there is a flash of the old brilliance, but too rarely to count. When the greatest can no longer beat the best, when we take solace at his occasional ‘exhibition’ or pulling off of a ‘tweener’, or despatching of a lower-ranked nobody, then it may be time for him to hang up his racquets at the tour level and we can await his rebirth on the Masters circuit, to remind us of who he used to be. I am figuring this year will probably be the test of whether that time has come. As I have indicated, I think it is mostly mental for Roger, I don’t think the extraordinary self-belief is there now, although the once-incredible physical skills are now also apt to blur around the edges. I would love to see him take one more slam – and for him to recognise it was his last bow, but I would swallow everything I have said if he were ever to make it back to No.1.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    I agree it is painful to see him hit shanks 6/7 times in one match. It may be all mental with him. But it’s also age. And more importantly time on tour…… how many matched has Roger played now? how many hours has he been on court? How many millions of tennis balls has he hit on court and in practice? The human body can only take so much.
    ….
    How many of us have aches and pains in our bodies on a daily basis? Personally I have a bad back which aches almost constantly. When I’m in pain I often think what a warrior Roger must be because he has a similar problem. His bad back doesn’t vanish and then come back again- it’s always there! He will always be in some discomfort when he plays and pain other times. He recently admitted that he played golf with his mum for her birthday and he was stiff and in pain the next day.
    ….
    He is a super athlete but he’s also put an enerous amount of wear and tear on his body. So as he ages he will lose some pace and that may lead to a loss of confidence.
    ….
    Nadal has the same problem. Every time he plays his knees will twinge. Other days they’ll ache. The same as all of us! After a long match he’ll probably be in pain and walk around gingerly. After years and years of that the body starts to break down more often.
    ….
    So yes it is sad to see Roger struggle but it’s to be expected i’m afraid due to his age. Us tennis fans are slightly odd. Fans of team sports are ok because they support the team and when some players become too odd they are replaced for new players. Roger can’t replace himself! So the longer a player is on tour the more we admire their play and sometimes end up loving them like Roger- but ultimately we will be upset as they will decline with age and one day retire. Maybe we can enjoy these last few years without worrying too much? Roger’s place in history is secured forever already :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Agree Steven, Roger has already done enough. If he doesnt win any more slams then Nadal will probably not catch him. And besides he has so many other amazing records. But i can help but hope he adds more slams. It will still be slightly disappointing if he doesnt win any more slams from here on. IF he just win won more slam that will already be great. He is now here Sampras was before he won his last slam and i would really expect him to win at least one more, maybe two.

    [Reply]

  14. Andrew, by the way, what you say about Nadal is quite true. But he is not the greatest and never will be. He represents the “bigger, faster, stronger” club in tennis; it’s why he wins and why he is its president.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    Nadal is the Greatest…. clay courter of all time. Which is where he wins most of his titles. After this latest injury blow for Nadal I am more confident that he will not get to 16 slams. He’s just too injury prone due to the style of tennis he plays

    [Reply]

  15. It is true that not all great champions know when to make their exit from the arena.

    But Roger Federer possesses a remarkable amount of self-knowledge and discipline, even more than most great athletes.

    When his race is run, he’ll know before anyone else. He will simply know, instinctively, in the depths of his being, when he has given everything he could to tennis.

    As with Sampras, I feel that his last match will be a victory in a Grand Slam final. He will go out on top.

    At that point, he will not hang around pathetically trying to relive past glory. He will make an end, decisively and on his own terms, and move on to the next part of his life without regrets.

    Everyone, even his detractors, will beg him to stay just a little longer, as we plead with the summer to linger just a few more weeks as we feel the chill of autumn come on.

    But I think such pleas will be futile. Once he makes up his mind, he acts. Everything about the way he has conducted his career, how he has carefully protected his family life from public scrutiny, to how he has used his prominence to take a remarkable leadership role in tennis, suggests to me that when the time comes to call it a career, he will do it the right way, and he will do it for his own reasons, not because others pressure him to do so.

    Because I believe this, I conclude that he continues playing at the moment because he feels he can still be at the top and win the greatest prizes in his sport. And if he feels that way, he’s probably right.

    [Reply]

  16. I totally agree with you Steve. He seems to me very conscious about his situation and he believes he’s still one of the best. He keeps saying that he’s one of the best and he knows that he’s no longer the only one at the top (with Nadal) as it always was.

    I have a theory:
    Federer and his coaches know exactly what he’s capable of and what not anymore. They also know he can’t be motivated for every single tournament anymore, that’s just not going to happen. They have a long term plan to prepare his game for the 2nd part of the season when he has better chances to win titles, especially in the last 2 slams. Till then, he’s changing his game slowly (playing fast court tennis In Dubai) and gaining as many points as he can without burning out. He wants to stay fresh (especially mentaly) for the 2nd part of the season and that may cost losing some matches.

    If the plan works it’s going to be a fascinating summer with a motivated Federer playing superb fast court tennis. He won’t let his mind wander in the big matches and he won’t lose match points. If Nadal fails to keep his points somehow, he’ll be extra motivated.
    I hope.

    [Reply]

  17. Andrew, until someone surpasses Borg’s tally of 6 French titles they will not have earned the right to be described as “the greatest clay-courter” of all time. So history still awaits Nadal.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Well if they have an equal amount of FO titles then Nadal has the better overall record and should probably be called the clay GOAT.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    Ok fair point. Maybe he needs a couple more French Open Titles. It’s pretty likely that he’ll get them tho, no? He’s won every year he’s played pretty much except for when Soderling thrashed him.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I was agreeing with you lol.

    [Reply]

  18. Ruan, I don’t agree. If Nadal equals Borg’s tally of 6 French titles (which he has yet to do) then the debate remains open; if he surpasses Borg’s record at the French then the argument is settled beyond doubt. At this level, the measure is in grand slam titles. For anybody, including Nadal, 7 French titles is a very big ask.

    However, one other factor colours the discussion in my opinion (and for quite a few others now, who publicly express similar views through the internet): there was never any speculation that Borg was a doper. I think his achievements were genuine.

    [Reply]

    Andrew Reply:

    They did an article the other day on Bleacher Report or something and Federer was in the top ten clay courters of all time. I thought was pretty impressive. I mean, he’s been to the final quite a few times! Until last year he’d only ever lost to some guy called Rafa

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Personally i think Roger would just be in the top 10 best of all time on clay. If it wasnt for Nadal he could have several FO titles now.

    [Reply]

  19. Roger never really played his best against Nadal in their clay court meetings. I remember the time at Rome in ’06, when Roger was outplaying Nadal on the Spaniard’s best surface and Roger had match points. He badly overhit forehands on each of his match points, and then subsequently lost the match in the final set tie-break. It set the tone for many of their future meetings; lost opportunities by Roger and implacable defense by Nadal. Many of these losses to Nadal were mental, as they mostly are at this level of competition. I feel that if Roger has had an achilles heel it was mental and its name was Nadal.

    [Reply]

  20. Neil, what are your thoughts on Borg?

    My impression of Borg is that he resembled Federer more than Nadal in his attitude towards the game: proud to be #1, enjoying the pressure and expectations that come with being at the top, and very open about his desire to dominate the sport and achieve great things. As opposed to Nadal, who always wants the pressure to be on others and claims not to be the favorite, even as he goes around winning everything.

    Is this your impression too, or do you have a different take?

    [Reply]

  21. Steve, like many I found Borg to be unique, both in terms of his style of game and the personality he projected. In some respects his playing style resembled Nadal’s game, in that he was fantastically consistent, used a lot of topspin, was very fast, and was a formidable counterpuncher. However, he gave very little emotion away on the court – no fist-pumps for “the Ice-Man”. Yet, like Federer, Borg had had temperament issues as a young player. In his prime he was mentally very tough; more “steely” perhaps than Federer – but he had to be: he didn’t possess Federer’s outrageous shot-making ability. No one did.

    During his career Borg was intensely motivated and single-minded in his drive to succeed: it partly explains why he burned out at such a young age (he was 26 when he retired). He didn’t show then the kind of personal charm and sophistication that Federer possesses. However, in his later years we have seen Borg open up more to reveal an intelligent, wryly humourous, and genuine guy.

    In some ways Nadal is an exaggeration of some of Borg’s traits – the fanatical drive and single-minded sense of purpose, although Borg was a much cooler customer on court. Borg, in fact, was the epitome of “cool”, which is why he was idolised by so many. I wouldn’t say that about Nadal. Nadal’s physicality is like Borg on over-drive but Borg’s game – his movement – was kind of beautiful to watch: the best athlete of his generation on a tennis court.

    But Borg was a one-off; there was and has been no one like him. Who has been so completely dominant on clay, as he was, and yet was also the best of his time on grass? To compare him with past and present champions can only go so far. Your question however suggests that you see that he compares more closely with Federer than Nadal. Well, he had much of Federer’s astonishing grace on a tennis court, but he also had Nadal’s tenacious will to win – I wish Federer was a bit more like Borg in that respect! – but I also feel that Borg was the epitome of sportsmanship, which I don’t see in Nadal and he was, as I say, quite genuine, which I also don’t really feel about Nadal, with his endless “injuries”, nervous tics and OCD approach to the game. But Roger is also his own personality, much more outgoing than Borg was but similarly conscious of being a maker of history and a standard bearer for the sport.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Thank you, Neil, for such a thorough reply. It’s always interesting to compare the past and present greats and the differences between them.

    [Reply]

  22. I rather like this article:
    http://m.bleacherreport.com/articles/627737-5-records-of-roger-federer-that-will-stand-the-test-of-time

    [Reply]

    IROCK Reply:

    I think someone might be able to beat the
    16 gs record but the others are too difficult

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    16 slams will be very difficult to beat.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Who says Federer will stop at 16 slams?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly, Roger could easily add 1 or 2 more slams.

    [Reply]

  23. I don’t want it to seem like I don’t have a life outside watching tennis (which I don’t) and that I just spend all my time flicking to certain webpage bookmarks about tennis (which I do!) but I thought this was interesting:
    http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2011-03-06/6507.php
    It’s also interesting how Nadal fans have reacted to the suggestion that Nadal might lose on grass. It’s interesting what the guy says about Wimbledon no longer being a proper grass court and more like green clay!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Post away Andrew. I like your enthusiasm and people click on the links. Funny to see how badly the Nadal fans reacted to that post. Its like my post about doping. They are all hyper sensitive to anything that even suggests undermining Nadals abilities. :lol:

    [Reply]

  24. To confidently predict that Roger will win more slams at this stage of his career undervalues his achievements in winning 16. To win a slam requires that a player not only has to be amongst the very best in the field, they also have to be at the peak of their game for the tournament. Increasingly, it means that, to win, they often have to play as well as anyone ever has in this very demanding game. It is incredible then that Roger has accomplished this 16 times (not to mention his probably unsurpassable record of 23 semi-finals.) But if he is not playing at that level then he won’t win – it’s that tough. We know he hasn’t been at that level at a slam since Australia at the beginning of last year, which was his last grand slam title. Quite clearly, he is not the overwhelmingly dominant force that he was in men’s tennis several years ago. Can he win another slam? The chances are apparently diminishing, as the field moves up on him and his own game experiences the ievitable decline of a sportsman past the apex of his career. Since 2004 the grand slam titles – that’s 29 tournaments till this year – have been shared between the world No.1 and 2 players – he and Nadal, interchangeably in that position – with only 3 players interrupting their run of victories in those 7 years – Djokovic, Del Potro and Gaston Gaudio. For everyone else, it has been too big an ask to beat the best in the game (and possibly history.) That’s how good you have to be to win a grand slam now. Throughout his career Federer has been able to beat everyone before him on a tennis court but no one – not even Roger – can defeat Father Time. He knows (and so do we) the clock is ticking.

    [Reply]

  25. Nice read Ru-an.Yes I think you are right but I have a doubt whether you think if the Federer backhand is weak or is it like that against top opponents like Djokovic,Nadal,etc.
    It was very good and classy against Somdev and other players but it completely slumped against Nole.the same thing happened in Oz 11 semi-final.Federer of 07 wouldnt have needed match-practise but as you say he requires more match practise to beat top players.And sadly to his disadvantage the courts on the ATPWORLDTOUR are becoming more slower and Roger is finding it increasingly difficult to defeat tougher opponents whom he would have dismissed earlier.
    And also I have had this doubt for a long time-In most sports take cricket for example,players reach their peak at only in the mid and late 20s.But why is that when it comes to tennis and since we are talikng about Federer, that when he is nearing his 30, he is losing some power and looks like that he wont be that dominant as before. Its too early to say that he cant add any more to his 16Gs. But why is that now all those little little problems are shaping up like the backhand, that inconsistency,etc. In most of his present he is becoming complacent after taking the 1st set while earlier he would have finished the job without delay.He is losing his (i dont know what to say)interest/concentration at crucial junctures of the game and is not winning very convincingly and even if he wins so, he gets it all wrong in the later stages of the tournaments

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

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