Hey folks I’m back. I saw Jonathan made a post about his 10 best matches for Roger for 2014, so I thought I’d be the one doing the copying for a change. I haven’t looked at his list though and I definitely do not plan on copying that part. This will be entirely my own list. There have been many great matches from Roger in 2014 and not every match on my list will have been a win. One of the main themes of Roger 4.0 was his ability to fight and come back from impossible situations. Moreover, you can still play a great match and lose because the other guy was just too good on the day. Also keep in mind I couldn’t watch all Roger’s matches and some of the matches on my list I only saw the highlights of. The list will be subjective anyway because no one knows what is Roger’s ten best matches of 2014. This post is more about taking a trip down memory lane to relive some of the great Federer moments of 2014 which there were plenty of, so join me!
1) Shanghai SF: JesusFed def Djokovic 6-4, 6-4
As you may have guessed if you read my last post this was Roger’s best match of 2014 for me. This is the match that made me a believer again as far as winning another slam goes. And it came right after that very disappointing US Open loss. After the Wimbledon loss I had high hopes that Roger could win the US Open, especially after Nadal withdrew and seeing his draw. So that straight set loss to Cilic hurt. But as has been the case so many times in Roger’s career, the biggest high came after the biggest low. This is something I experienced myself as a tennis player. A prime example for Roger would be in 2009 after that devastating loss in the Australian Open final, after which he won his first and only French Open and then broke the slam record at Wimbledon. Anyway this match against Djokovic was pure peRFection. I’m not sure how anyone would not have this as their number one match.
Djokovic had been dominating Asia for the last few years and had freshly established himself as the king of Asia after destroying Birdshit 6-0, 6-2 in the final of Beijing. I didn’t expect Roger to defeat Djokovic and win the tournament. I was just hoping for a good match after the disappointing US Open loss. But from the get go JesusFed took control of matters. Everything was just exceptional and this was as good a match as he’s ever played in his life. He was playing against the would #1 who was in prime form, yet he almost made the win look easy. The serve was exceptional as he served four straight aces(one just caught the outside edge of Djokovic’s racquet) in that love game in the first set and his first serve percentage was 71%. The volley’s were razor sharp and reminded me a lot of Edberg at the net. The ground strokes, returning, movement, and defense was all in top form too.
This match proved without a doubt that Roger is still unplayable when he is at his best. I didn’t know he still had that level and to win a slam all he has to do is play at that level when he faces a tough opponent like Djokovic or Nadal. To beat the rest he doesn’t need to play at such a level. Let me just say that this match was not as straight forward as the score line might suggest. Roger was still up against an unbelievably good player that had stolen matches from him in the past, most famously the two US Open semis. So even though Roger was in good shape after winning the first set and breaking in the first game of the second set, it still took an awful lot of mental composure to put Djokovic away. Djokovic kept threatening to break back but Roger just kept coming up with the goods. So I have to add the mental game to the list as well which was supremely confident.
2) Wimbledon F: Djokovic def Federer 6-7(7), 6-4, 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-4
Yup, I got a Federer loss as his second best match. It should be obvious that this was one of the best Wimbledon finals and one of the best matches ever played. It was also one of the best fight backs ever in the fourth set, and therefor I can’t push it further down the list just because Roger lost. It is about how well he played and how much heart he showed, which was a massive amount. Logically he should have lost this match in four sets, yet he pushed it to a fifth set and came awfully close to winning the match. It was incredible drama and entertainment. Djokovic himself was incredibly relieved after winning the match and was visibly on the edge during the fourth and fifth sets. A match he should have won fairly comfortably turned out to be an absolute war. Djokovic said afterwards that it was the highest quality match he’d ever been involved in.
That is a big statement, given that Djokovic have been involved in matches like that 2012 Australian Open final which I personally felt was maybe the best grand slam final ever. That also confirms my belief that this was the best Wimbledon final ever and maybe even the best match ever. I never believed in the hype on the 2008 final. No doubt it was also right up there, but Nadal was in the lead from beginning to end against a Roger who was still recovering from mono. There were no momentum swings. Roger was always fighting from behind and never took the lead once. Against Djokovic he won the first set and then made that incredible fightback in the fourth set. I know many Fedfans didn’t feel like me but I felt privileged just to be a part of this match. Never mind the fact that Roger lost. It was just amazing quality and drama. Moreover, Djokerer matches are always higher quality and better entertainment than that overrated and one-sided Fedal rivalry.
So even though Roger lost this match his level was still very high which you would expect in a Wimbledon final and he showed immense heart which is why I rate this as his second best match of 2014.
3) World Tour Finals SF: Federer def Wawrinka 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6)
This was another unbelievable match which fully deserves its spot in the top three. Just unbelievable drama, quality, and heart in this match again. Stan was back to his Australian Open form here, ripping backhand winners from everywhere and just ripping winners in general. It took every ounce of Roger’s skill and mental fortitude to get out of this one alive, and it ended up costing him a possible seventh World Tour Finals title. Another war it was. There was that epic game in the third set where Stan was serving for the match at 5-4 and Roger saved three match points to break back. The tie break was also pretty epic where Roger saved another match point. There were just some tremendous rallies here and fantastic all court tennis from the GOAT. The quality was not quite up there with the Shanghai semi but the mental fortitude made up for that which is why this match is as good as any he played this season.
4) Davis Cup F: Federer def Gasquet 6-4, 6-2, 6-2
Another special performance from Roger on a pretty big occasion. Stan could still have sealed it for the Swiss had Roger lost this one but Monfils was in the zone himself and Roger was not gonna left anything to chance. He took matters into his own hands and fittingly won the match that clinched the Davis Cup title for the Swiss. It was impressive to see how Roger progressed with every match in the Davis Cup, starting with the straight set loss to Monfils in his first match after not being able to train on clay due to his back problem. In the doubles with the help of a very confident Stan he built up his confidence enough that he was able to play a terrific clay court match against Gasquet. With the home crowd behind Gasquet Roger simply broke serve in the third game with a tremendous forehand pass and from there on never took his foot off the peddle.
There was nothing Gasquet could do and afterwards he admitted that Roger was a monster who brought his best tennis in the big occasions. The reason this match is not in my top three is because even though it was high quality from Roger it was relatively straight forward and the opponent was not exactly a mental giant. Roger took control early and made it look easy in the end. You could argue that the match in Shanghai against Djokovic was also relatively straight forward, but it was anything but. Closing out Djokovic is notoriously difficult and I for one was very uneasy right up until the end, fearing that Djokovic would break back and steal another crucial match from Roger. The opponent was also much better and as a result the level of Roger’s play. Nonetheless this match deserves its spot in the top five because it was a big match and Roger made it look easy in the end.
5) US Open QF: Federer def Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2
Another Frenchman for Roger’s fifth best match of 2014. This one was a much more scrappy affair however where Roger was half asleep in the first two sets against an on fire Monfils, finally came alive in the third set, saved two match points in the fourth set, and cruised home in the fifth set. Quality wise it was not necessarily the best but a terrific match nonetheless where Roger came back from match points down for the first time in a series of three matches where he came back from the brink to win. It was a big occasion and Roger needed to make semis at the very least after the draw he received. He didn’t win the tournament as many of us hoped for but it was great to see him back in the semis of the US Open after he fell short the last couple of years. This match was great drama and Roger showed great heart once again and was clearly very pleased to get the win. That concludes Roger’s five best matches for 2014.
6) Dubai SF: Federer def Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2
Another brilliant match this was. The first of five meetings this year in the greatest rivalry in tennis today. This rivalry was rekindled in a big way this year and of course Roger ended up ahead 3-2 for the year and 19-17 overall. The semi-final in Dubai was another outstanding match with high quality and brilliant rallies. The courts in Dubai is still pretty fast so it makes sense that Roger came out on top here. It was another terrific all court performance where everything was working well for Roger. Djokovic really does bring out the best in him, whereas Nadal does the opposite. How much fun is it anyway to play against a guy who moonballs your one-handed backhand until it breaks down and throws back every single shot you hit? It is not an enjoyable challenge for Roger which is why the Djokerer rivalry is better than the Fedal rivalry in every aspect.
Djokovic got the first break in this one and looked like he would be the winner after winning the first set. But Roger it back with a break of his own in the second set and squared the match at a set all. He then got the break in the opening game of the third set after pressuring Djokovic into a double fault. He also got a second break after a fantastic running forehand pass. There were some incredible points here especially the one where Roger saved a set point at 3-5 in the first set. Do yourself a favor and check out the highlights again if you haven’t yet.
7) Shanghai F: Federer def Simon 7-6(6), 7-6(2)
Wow. The great matches just keep coming. This match may be slightly underrated by people because it wasn’t Roger in all his JesusFed glory, but only because Simon didn’t allow it. Simon is an incredibly annoying and awkward opponent who at one stage led Roger 2-0 in the head-to-head and almost beat him at the 2013 French Open. There was also extra pressure here for Roger as he couldn’t let this chance slip after beating Djokovic and being 1-3 in Masters Finals for the year. The pressure became even worse when he went a break down in the first set, but broke back in the nick of time at 4-5. He was also a break down in the tie break, went a break up himself, and lost it again. He also had a volley at 5-4 in the tie break which he should have made and would have given him two set points. It would have been the easiest thing to lose his composure in this match but he was rock solid throughout.
I rate this match at #7 because of the mental fortitude which the untrained eye would probably have missed out on. Mentally it was as good as it gets.
8) Shanghai R32: Federer def Mayer 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(7)
Another match which is in the top 10 mostly for the mental fortitude shown. This was only Roger’s first match in Shanghai so you would not expect him to play as his peak, but it was still a great level for most players. I mean Mayer was after all probably playing as well as he could. Roger won the first set but Mayer broke in the opening game of the second set and a second time to win the second set 6-3. The climax came at 4-5 in the third set with Roger serving to stay in the match. He went down two match points at 15-40 after shanking a forehand into the crowd. He kicked the ground in disgust and for all intents and purposes it looked like he flew all the way to the East just to go lose a match. But being the mental monster that he is these days he made a desperate stretch volley on the first match point which would have been a winner against most players, and Mayer’s next shot which was heading into the open court hit the top of the net and simply refused to drop over.
Roger saved the second match point as well but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. In the tie break he was in the same situation when he faced another two match points at 4-6. Only this time Mayer would serve on one of them. At 5-6 Mayer S&V’d on his first serve, Roger sliced the return low to his feet, and calmly steered the backhand pass down the line after Mayer made the volley. It was 6-6 but Roger would face a fifth match point at 6-7 which he did when he forced the error with a first serve. It was a match of high drama which was actually high quality as well. You won’t see better for a second round match at a Masters. I believe it was also a key match in him winning the Shanghai title and getting the momentum going towards the end of the year after the US Open disappointment. He could easily have been on his way home but instead he defeated Djokovic in the semis and went on to win the title in which was probably his best tournament of the year.
9) World Tour Finals RR: Federer def Murray 6-0, 6-1
Are you kidding me?! 6-0 6-1 against a resurgent Murray? I was disappointed that Roger didn’t get the double bagel but it was delicious to see Roger utterly destroying the pushing game of Murray nonetheless. Especially after Murray got some fluke wins over Roger early on and led the head-to-head 6-2 at one point. That was just plain wrong and with this win Roger took the lead for the first time in the head-to-head(12-11) after he won their first meeting. And he did so in no uncertain terms as he blasted Murray off the court who had no say in the match. In fact Murray almost looked happy afterwards to be manhandled by the GOAT like that. It was just brutal hitting and attacking tennis from Roger who showed that at his best Murray is no match for him. And it wasn’t like Murray was struggling desperately for confidence. He had won three tournaments in the run up to London and had just beaten Raonic in the round robin stage. Epic stuff.
10) Dubai F: Federer def Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3
For my last match in the top 10 I have the Dubai final where Roger beat one of his old bogey men after trailing by a set and a break. As was the case in Shanghai he had to make the win over Djokovic count but he faced another very awkward opponent for him. The Dubai title was especially satisfying not only because it was Roger’s first title since Halle in 2013 but also because he beat Djokovic and Berdych along the way. It was another very solid performance in the mental department after being a set and a break down.
That concludes my top ten list which was tough to make since there were so many good matches to choose from. Matches that could easily have made the top ten list as well includes the fourth round match against Tsonga at the Aussie Open as well as the quarter final against Murray, the Indian Wells final against Djokovic, the matches against Raonic and Stan at Wimbledon, the match against Benneteau in Shanghai, the matches against Dimitrov and Karlovic in Basel, the match against Nishikori in London, and probably many others. Like I said this list was more about reliving the great season that was 2014 than making an accurate list which is highly subjective anyway. I like to believe my list is pretty solid though and I hope you had fun reading it. I enjoyed making the post a lot and I’m glad I did it because it was too good a season not to relive one more time at least.
And as good as 2014 was 2015 could be better because I believe Roger has a chance of winning a slam now that he adapted his equipment, game style, and attitude. Who knows what will happen in 2015 but I expect good things based on what I saw this year. Yes Nadal will be back and usually Roger slumps when Nadal peaks but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case in 2015. I believe Roger’s game and mental toughness is now adjusted to the point that he does not have to be afraid of Nadal. He is also ahead of Nadal in the rankings now and hopefully that can help him with the draws where Nadal could possibly be in Djokovic’s half in slams. Djokovic is not showing any signs of slowing down himself and I don’t think Nadal will just be able to come back and dominate the way he did in 2013. I’m sure he will try to win two slams again next year but outside of the French Open nothing will be guaranteed for him.
And how long can he keep winning the French Open anyway? Maybe this will finally be Djokovic’s year but I’m not gonna bet my house on it or anything. I’m sure Roger will be eager to find some form on clay himself next year after what happened the last couple of years and judging from the match against Gasquet he will do that. Can he finally beat Nadal at the French? That remains to be seen but you can’t disqualify the possibility entirely. Well I will see if I can make another post some time before the end of the year but for now I’m gonna stop. I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane with me and may 2015 be even better!