Finger Wag 1.0 vs Finger Wag 2.0

Ok I have another post for you that you may enjoy. The finger wag. Roger’s finger wag after winning an important match has become somewhat of a sensation. If you type ‘Federer finger’ in Google or Youtube you get suggestions. The first time I remember Roger doing the wag was in Madrid in 2009 when he clinically beat Nadal in his own back yard on clay, 6-4, 6-4. It was only Roger’s second win against Nadal in fourteen meetings on the surface. It was pretty much the perfect match. Nadal is incredibly hard to beat on clay and you can’t afford the slightest misstep. Very few players in the sport have been able to beat Nadal on clay, never mind twice. The only players I know of who has beaten Nadal more than once on clay is Roger and Djokovic 2.0. On this particular day Roger could not put a foot wrong.

He played exactly the kind of match that he needed to beat Nadal on clay, or any surface for that matter. His serve was on fire and his forehand was ferocious. Whenever he got the chance he ran around his backhand and ripped his forehand. Then he mixed it up all so well. He was serve-and-volleying every now and then and he used the drop shot to keep Nadal guessing. He just never let Nadal settle into a rhythm. As far as the mental department goes he was utterly clutch, which is something he often lacked against Nadal in the past. When serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set he went down 15-30 and Nadal was doing the fist pump. Normally against Nadal this is the point where thing would begin turning around. But on this rare occasion Roger would not choke. With the score at 40-40 Roger served a second serve ace, and on match point he served another ace. Now you see it, now you don’t!

Now lets look at what the match meant in the bigger picture. In the run up to this match Roger was in a desperate state. After the most crushing loss of his career earlier that year in the final of the Australian Open to Nadal, things continued to get worse for him. He seemed like a broken man. Against Djokovic in the semi’s of Miami he reached yet another low point as he smashed his racquet to pieces on the court, and in the press conference afterwards he was struggling to hold back the tears once more. Things continued to get worse and there seemed to be no light at the end of the dark tunnel. People were beginning to wrote Roger off, saying he would never break Sampras’ slam record, and perhaps not even equal it. It was a tough time for us Fedfans. But that match in Madrid turned it all around.

That finger wag at the end of the match signaled the start of something beautiful. I could feel something had changed. Roger had reached the turning point I had been calling for for some time. We all know what happened after that. He completed the career slam by winning his first French Open in one of the most beautiful moments of his career, and right after that passed Sampras’ slam record at Wimbledon in another epic moment. They say the night is at it’s darkest just before the dawn, and this was certainly the case in 2009. And the Madrid final was the tipping point. The finger wag at the end of the match itself was quite different from the one at this year’s French Open against Djokovic. It was more calm and in a sense more confident. It was as if Roger knew this was the turning point and he wasn’t making a huge deal about it. There was a quiet assurance about him.

Now lets take a look at finger wag 2.0. The circumstances surrounding Roger’s win against Djokovic in this year’s French Open semi-final was much less dramatic than those of the 2009 Madrid final. It was a very big win for Roger nonetheless. Certainly the biggest win of his year so far. Of course 2011 is the year of Djokovic in which he dominated almost unlike anyone in the history of the sport. He had already beaten Roger in the semis of the Oz Open in straight sets, in the final of Dubai in two easy sets, and in the semis of Indian Wells, before their French Open semi. Roger was losing contact with the top two in the world fast, as he also lost to Nadal twice in 2011, one being a destruction in the Miami semis. It was time for Roger to take a stand. Losing to Djokovic for a fourth consecutive time would be a new low.

Going into the match Djokovic was the favorite, being on one of the biggest winning streaks in the history of the sport. He had just taken care of Nadal in the Madrid and Rome finals and was steamrolling everyone in his path. But Roger would come up with a masterful display, one of the best of his career. The 7-6, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 win was an epic, worthy of a final. Roger showed once again why he matches up so well against Djokovic. His serve was impeccable, he hit his forehand with authority, he used the slice backhand to keep Djokovic off balance, he played first strike tennis, and finished things off at the net when needed. His topspin backhand held up very well too. And as in the Madrid final, he was very clutch indeed. Even when Djokovic went up a break in the fourth set and served for the set, he wasn’t going to let him get away.

He broke right back and wrapped the match up in the breaker. It was overall a very high quality match and the quality was sustained throughout. In the bigger picture it was a big win for Roger. Where he started to lose touch with the top two players in the world, he was now right back in the thick of things. He made his first slam final of 2011, and his first since the Oz Open of 2011. The clebration itself was epic. He did the finger wag, shook his head, let rip with a loud ‘YEEEEES!’, and smashed the ball into the crowd. I think it is my favorite celebration of him ever, but the circumstances in which finger wag 1.0 happened were much more epic. Finger wag 1.0 was a huge tipping point, while finger wag 2.0 just signaled an isolated, although big moment. I am going to make you vote for your favorite finger wag now, but I want you to take the celebration itself as well as the circumstances into consideration.

If I just make you vote on the celebration itself I think most people will go for finger wag 2.0, so it won’t be a very interesting poll. I find finger wag 2.0 itself more epic than finger wag 1.0, but the tipping point that is finger wag 1.0 makes it so much more telling. So if you take both the celebration itself and the circumstances surrounding it into account I think this should be a pretty interesting poll.

Who wins?

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Roger Federer


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9 Comments

  1. Great post again ruan…
    I have seen that finger wag 2.0 for almost more than 20 times now in the highlights…can’t get enough of it…
    I t was an epic win indeed and the confidence on roger’s face was so pleasing to witness…

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  2. Hard to pick between wag 1.0 and 2.0, personally I prefer 1.0 due to the tipping point. On a different note, wag 2.0 match was much more intense as it could go 5 sets

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  3. Lol, Ru-an, which fan doesn’t like Fed’s finger wags?! Like Muhammad, I rewinded wag 2.0 dozens of times; can’t get enough of it. Gives me much satisfaction just as it must give Fed himself. The finger wag is now synonymous with Federer (and it deserves a post all by itself!!) and it’s message is manifold. Could mean one more win to go, could mean he’s aiming for number one, could mean he is the true number one, etc etc. But a finger wag never looked so elegant, so classy and so rife with meaning as how Fed does it. Wag 1.0 is like a calm and confident reminder, “One. I’m looking at number One”. Wag 2.0 is like “Let me remind/warn you AGAIN, who is the REAL number one?!”(complete with satisfied smug expression on face!). Don’t you just love the self-satisfied, smug, “annoying” way he wags it?!! Van, you hit the nail on the head for wag 2.0 – it has an element of bad-assedness in it. My only hope and prayer is Fed will be able to back up wag 2.0 with good results.Common Fed! Can’t wait for wag 3.0! Give it to ’em, Feddy, go man go! I voted for 2.0 coz I wanted so much for Fed to wag it right into Djoker’s face!

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  4. I like Veronica’ s view on these wags a lot, but prefer nevertheless wag n° 1 for two reasons:
    first of all because of the more modest, almost introvert way of expressing his joy in wag n° 1,
    and second because of the symbolic meaning the overall picture of wag n°1 gives us: Federer walking out of the shadows, entering back in the space where the sun is shining brightly, and creating the crowd and fans.
    It’s nice to be able to rewatch Federer celebrating an important victory the way he did it in Madrid.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well said Wilfried. I remember that one photo which shows the wag where he just crosses the line between shadow and light. I did a poll on best photos once and that photo won. It remains probably my favorite picture of him. Just taken at the exact right moment and so symbolic. And that is exactly what happened with wag 1.0. He crosses the line between great and GOAT.

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    veronica Reply:

    Wilfried, well said, I couldn’t have said it better. I completely agree with you that actually wag 1.0 is more significant and more symbolic because it did signal the beginning of a turnaround (and a very significant turnaround as he finally won the French). Also the entering from the dark to the light was so beautifully symbolic and “prophetic”;the universe couldn’t have aligned more perfectly than at that moment to set the scene for what Fed was gonna achieve. Fed knew the stars were on his side, he co-operated perfectly by walking into the light and then to make it a perfect prophecy, he raised his finger! I would admit I voted for 2.0 purely “out of spite”! – I have had enough of Djoko, can’t stand his cockiness, can’t bear another Fed beat down, and most importantly, NOBODY gave Fed a chance, not even his fans, and I suspect not even Anacone or Mirka …. if they are honest!! And Fed won, against all odds, against all the expectations. It was truly a shock, a most pleasant and euphoric shock for us fans. In that sense, wag 2.0 is very significant. In wag 1.0 although Fed was going through a downtime at that time, there was a possibility he could win the match against Nadal because Nadal was worn out by Djoko in the semis and Madrid is Fed’s favourite clay surface and some commentators did give Fed a chance to win that match. Anyway, as you say, Ru-an, this is a very interesting vote and it is impossible to say one or the other is better.

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  5. Finger wag 2.0 showed us pure passion and desire to win in an emphatic manner. Roger once again confirmed that he still has the game to beat anyone on any surface. It was like saying “Look, I’m simply the best”. And I totally dig that.

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