French Open Day 10: Wawrinka Emerges from Federer’s Shadow with Straight Set Drubbing

=D> Most impressive Stan, most impressive. Yesterday when I saw a strange tweet from Stan I wasn’t sure which Stan would show up today. Too many times have I seen ‘Stan da friend’ lose the plot against Roger in big matches, the most recent one in Rome where he inexplicably choked/tanked. So it was nice to see ‘Stanimal the animal’ coming out today, pounding serves, forehands, and backhands from the get go. It really is a breathtaking sight to watch him pummel the ball like that.

  • Opening Set

In the beginning I thought Stan was being a bit predictable with his shots because Roger kept reading where he was going to hit. But that was probably only early nerves because soon he broke Roger to love in the fourth game with a blistering backhand pass. At 2-3, there was a long game where Roger had at least two break points, but Stan was mentally solid and held serve. Then at 5-4 came the moment of truth for Stan as he served for the first set and again Roger had a breakpoint.

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But again Stan was rock solid as he played a terrific point to save it. Finally, he won the first set with a forceful forehand up the line which forced the error from Roger. The important first set was in the bag.

  • Second Set

In the second set, you would have expected a comeback from Roger, but Stan just kept plowing through the court with brute force. At 3-3, he hit another blistering backhand pass on the opening point of Roger’s service game. Then at 30-30 he pounded an inside-out forehand winner to set up breakpoint. He then played a very smart point to break as well, doing enough to force the error from Roger. At 5-3 where you would expect Roger to at least make Stan serve out the set, Stan took the initiative and broke again to go up two sets to love.

  • Final Set

The final set was the closest and at least Roger was able to push it to a tie-break. And against this Stan it’s actually quite difficult to do. The deeper they went into the third set the more the tension built, until it reached its peak at 6-6 and the tie-break ensued. You knew this was it. Was Stan gonna stay solid and close it out, or was he gonna choke like he usually does against Roger and allow him back into the match? Judging from the first point, it was going to be the former.

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The first point of the tie-break is always important and Stan held his serve with a very well played baseline point. Then at 2-2 and Stan serving Roger was pushing hard to get the mini-break before they changed sides, but Stan played another very solid baseline point that ended with him ripping one of those glorious one-handed backhands down the line for a winner. After they changed sides Stan got the break after hitting a forehand on the line which was initially called out.

Roger couldn’t control the ball so when the call was corrected he lost the point. Stan held both serves to take a 6-3 lead, and at 6-4 he played another terrific attacking point to get the straight-set win.

  • Closing Observations

I’m sure Fedfans are tired by now of hearing how Stan pounded Roger off the court. But if they liked Stan simply because he was Swiss and Roger’s friend, this loss shouldn’t bother them much. The celebrity worshipers who only care about kissing Roger’s ass don’t actually care about Stan. The true test comes when he plays against Roger, then they all of a sudden expect him to throw in the towel or he is a traitor and they hate him. For that kind of fan, I have no sympathy.

They are celebrity worshipers which have nothing to do with tennis and I want nothing to do with them. With that out of the way, I am happy with Roger’s French Open performance. I said I would be happy with quarters or semis so I stand by that. The usual suspects will insult him and write him off, but what do they expect at this point from him on clay anyway? The two most important things he needs on clay right now, his movement, and forehand, is not what it used to be.

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Due to age he changed racquets and adapted his game for faster courts. His serve, backhand, and net game have improved while his forehand paid the price. And yet he still improved his clay court game from last year as well as his French Open result. Today he just got beaten by a player who can hit anyone off the court when he is playing well. That’s it. He can take a lot of positives to the grass court season where he will be a much bigger threat. As for Stan, I am really proud of him for coming out of Roger’s shadow.

Too many times in the past did he have this inferiority complex where it looked like he felt it was a sin to try to beat Roger. Today in the third set even when the crowd was starting to act like hooligans again, shouting out when Stan was serving and loudly cheering Roger on, he held his nerve as if it was nothing and just took the match away from Roger. When he plays like this and he has his head screwed on right he becomes almost unbeatable, like we saw at the 2014 Australian Open.

  • Nishikori Folds Against Tsonga

Stan now plays Tsonga who defeated Nishikori 6-1, 6-4, 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, and that will be a very winnable match for him. Nishikori folded under the pressure of the French crowd and his serve remains a huge liability because where other players can get free points off it in pressure situations, he can’t. Tsonga did well to take the initiative in the fifth set anyway, but I expect Stan to defeat him. Stan talked about the French crowd in his presser after the Simon match and he said it was peanuts compared to the Davis Cup in Lille.

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He is immune to this crowd and it won’t bother him in the least against Tsonga. I think he will win and make the final. With the Djokodal quarterfinal tomorrow and the likeliness of those two playing another five set thriller and exhausting each other, I am starting to like Stan’s chances for the title. And don’t forget that the winner of Djokodal still has a semi against probably Murray to look forward to which could be another marathon. So whether Nadal or Djokovic makes the final, Stan can definitely win his second slam here.

I believe he could even hit Nadal off a clay court. He is that brutal of a ball striker. It is just a question of keeping it together mentally, and all throughout these championships he has looked rock solid in that department. It was the same in Melboure last year and there he defeated both Djokovic and Nadal, blasting Nadal off the court in the final. Personally I would like the Djoker to finally make it this year, but I’m not gonna complain if Stan wins it either, provided the Djoker at least defeats Nadal.

  • The Blockbuster Djokodal Quarterfinal

Ok so this post is already getting very long and I have already said some things about this match in my last post, but I have no choice but to preview it some more. It’s basically the match of the decade so far. The stakes are massive and in the mean time there is load shedding scheduled in my disappointing country for tomorrow which means I’m gonna have to drive to another town probably just to be able to watch it. I already missed Nadal’s loss to Soderling due to a power out here in 2009 so I’m not gonna let it happen again.

If Nadal loses tomorrow I want to see every second of it. That said, I’m not getting my hopes up. He is probably the favorite. He is 6-0 against the Djoker at the French and he’s only ever lost one match there in ten years. You just know he is going to play as if his life depends on it. Not that he doesn’t usually, but he is gonna fight extra hard here. He knows how much is on the line and he is unbelievably clutch unfortunately, while the Djoker has on the odd occasion folded under the pressure.

For that the 2013 Djokodal semi-final is enough proof. I think most people as well as the bookies has the Djoker as the favorite, and with all my heart I hope he wins, but I just can’t call the Djoker the favorite with everything I’ve seen. Time and time again people, including myself, say this is finally the Djoker’s year, and time and time again Nadal finds a way to prove them wrong. In short – I will believe it when I see it. Until then Nadal still has to be the favorite probably.

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Hopefully by saying this I am jinxing Nadal, but I don’t know. I will say that this is the Djoker’s best chance to defeat Nadal at the French, but now he also has the baggage from the past to carry. If only Roger had not beaten him in 2011 I’m 99% sure he would have defeated Nadal in the final. But it is what it is. He is now back to similar form, but he also has Becker in his camp and an improved serve and net game. Those things will already make a difference. He just has to play attacking tennis when it matters.

That may be the key right there. When a big moment comes he must not allow Nadal to take the initiative with attacking tennis. He must take the initiative himself. I’m sure Becker also helps in that regard. Whatever the case may be, this match is absolutely massive and the result can have far reaching consequences on the GOAT debate. This is not necessarily either player’s last chance to win the French, but it could be. I think whoever loses may be done winning the French, but the winner will not necessarily win the title this year.

Even though the winner may be too beaten up to win the title, at least they will have the satisfaction of having beaten their bitter rival, and they could come back next year to win it. The loser may just be too broken to come back to do it next year. I think there is an equal amount on the line for both. I am nervous just previewing the match. The winner may well not win the French Open, given the unique draw, but both badly need to win the match regardless. May the best man win and may we see a new French Open winner this year.

  • Highlights

The is in your court.

Posted in French Open, Grand Slams.

72 Comments

  1. I’m a little disappointed that Roger lost today, but overall I think this has been a positive tournament for him. Reaching the quarter-finals was about as far as I realistically expected him to go anyway. At least I’m left with a more positive feeling than I had after his exit last year. Just seemed a little more inspired this year. I hope that’s something that will carry over into the grass season.

    All I can do now to is give credit to Stan for being the better player. It really is a joy to watch Stan when he’s playing well. I’m hoping he can carry that momentum with him into the next match. It would be a pity if he were to fold in the semis after putting on a performance like that. I’m really looking forward to the showdown between Novak and Rafa tomorrow. Djokovic has looked unbeatable in this tournament, so it’s hard to imagine him losing if he’s playing his best. But then Nadal has played very well so far despite a crap clay season, so you just never know with him.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t think Stan is gonna fold Bjorn Eirik. Good balanced comment!

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    Evian Reply:

    Something not right with Fed. He should have won at least a set if not two. I know he is old and all but his form going in wasnt too bad.

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  2. Rooting foe Nadal to take Djokovic out. I am tired of the Djoker hype and his boasting in your face fans. Never liked Nadal but its a strange phenomenon where i am rooting for him maybe out of pity. Rafa just make sure to up your dose of whatever you are taking!

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    emy Reply:

    and I suppose Roger fogot to take whatever he takes yesterday.
    May the best man win. good luck to both Rafa and Novak.

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  3. Ru-an,

    I am very impressed by your latest post. You have truly become a TENNIS fan and not just a Roger Federer fan. You are able to process Roger’s losses very quickly, as if you almost expected them to happen. I try to do the same. But it’s more difficult for me. Maybe I am still living in the past. There are so many things that could be said but it all comes back to this – and that’s what is upsetting: Basically that Roger is just NOT Consistent in Slams anymore. I really miss that Roger that would reach SEMIS and FINALS no matter what but he is not the same. I know he believes in himself and that makes us fans believe in him also but it’s just hard. When he plays great, he has a tough draw and burns out. When he has a great draw, he doesn’t take advantage. Excuses, excuses. And it used to be that I wouldn’t even bother watching the early rounds.

    For example, how do we even know that he’ll reach the second week or even the semis or Finals at Wimbledon this year? The answer is – WE don’t. And that’s what so frustrating. The draw shouldn’t matter. If Roger was in his prime, it simply wouldn’t. But he isn’t and all this just proves that we may be chasing a rabbit that we’ll never catch. Last year was his best chance and he just couldn’t get it done.

    All in all, I am discouraged. I know that a QF at the French is a great result for Roger, given his age. But that stupid “cake walk” draw talk played with my mind and made me think that he can go deep. But the truth – like you said the movement isn’t there.

    In any case, I hope and certainly expect a Djokovic win tomorrow. We’ll see. I suppose if Rafa loses, it would be sweet.

    Anyway… I’ll feel better in a couple of days. And BTW, Stan played great. I am not taking anything away from him. He deserved it. It’s just that the Roger that I certainly expected to see was ABSENT and left the scene quite early – especially after being unable to break back in that first set..

    [Reply]

    Alex Reply:

    In a sanse you are right that Federer is not as consistent as he used to be BUT I think mostly his losses have come because of the other players having to raise their games. I’m a federer fan as well and I love what he has done for the game and he definitely took the game to a whole new level.

    But now you see Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have taken the game to another level with regard to defensive skills and ball retreiving. Basically if Federer is to beat any one of these three he has to be in God mode or else it won’t happen unless the surface is fast and suits his attacking play, like grass courts are.

    In short, I’m not convinced that even the federer of old could have lived with Djokovic these days. Maybe yes maybe no. Djokovic raised the bar all on his own as well and is slowly becoming a more complete player as well. He has improved his serve, volleys and he seems to have mastered the drop shots as well these days.

    Like Ru-an mentioned, yesterday Federer got beat by a player who basically just hit him off the court. Cilic did the same at the US open. Wawrinka has shown in the past that he can do the same to Djokovic and Nadal as well. Even Goderer would have struggled against Stanimal. Everybody does.

    However don’t be discouraged just yet. Wimby is around the corner and if there’s one tournament where Federer can take on anyone it’s that one.

    [Reply]

    Ferreira Reply:

    Yeah, I wonder if this is really the same person, the same Ru-an… A year before he was always sad and so forth about Roger’s losses, and all of a sudden he comes up with a change in his blog’s name and his attitude in the posts. I don’t know, I kind of miss that old Ru-an (hahaha). But this is not to say Wawrinka did not deserve the win, on the contrary, and I am now supporting him on the tournament. It is still just difficult to me seeing Roger’s decline, since in his prime he would surely be in the finals with this year’s draw. Anyway, we can only appreciate Federer’s game while he is still playing, because there will be no situations in which we will have our emptiness filled when he decides to retire…

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  4. Hi Ruan

    When “Stan the Man” is in “Stanimal mode” he is more unbeateble (and more beautiful to the eye) than the GOAT himself!

    Is is impossible not to take a immense pleasure of seeing the “german-swiss-sudeten-czech-polish” Fat “Stanimal” ground strokes, net plays, and backhand winners…

    Before de FO i thought that the Djoker deserved the tittle, and the Nadoping dirt-scalp under his belt, but winning Nadull, Murray and Stan (in the final) is probably too much, even for the Magnificent Djoker… and in the end we will have another big “swiss” surprise…

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  5. Hey Vily,

    I hope you’ll be better about all this soon. And I want to encourage you and others who are mentioning Roger’s cake-walk’ draw – it really wasn’t so easy!

    All the top players have it easy in the early rounds. It became whatever the opposite of a cake walk is when Roger played Monfils, and it wasn’t getting any easier afterward. There’s really a lot of talent at RG this year. Roger was able to avoid the ‘other three’ early – but there are some up and coming players around now who are very dangerous, and some older ones too, like Tsonga and Monfils who are peaking themselves (along with Stan). So when I say please don’t beat yourself up over the cake walk draw, I say that in the most encouraging way I can. Roger had a good draw, but it wasn’t that much easier than anyone else’s.

    Besides, Stan played one of the best matches of his career, and he’s got serious game. Roger wasn’t having a great day, true. Most days he would beat Stan and be in the semis, and surely that’s a great result at the French. And that was my tentative expectation for Roger at this tournament, although I hoped for more. I don’t think we are looking at a big decline in Roger’s level, although every defeat at a major reminds us of the inevitable.

    Hey, the sun may be setting on Roger’s tennis career, but it hasn’t set yet!

    In my (very uneducated) opinion, he has one more pretty good chance to win a major – but if he doesn’t win it, I think he’ll be a threat on some level for another year, and maybe two. It will take some luck then, but we’ve all seen stranger things happen on a tennis court. And he’ll be a better older player than anyone else ever was IMHO. Maybe some of the other top players will have an off day, and he’ll surprise us all and come through again.

    It may be a good time to adjust our expectations, and before Wimbledon, not afterwards. But hey, there’s a lot of great tennis left in Roger, so please try not to linger over this loss too long. There’s still a lot to look forward to!

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    Thanks, Joe. Your comment already made me feel better. I guess I’ll take the philosophical approach. :-) You never know what could be around the corner. :-)

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  6. Spot on Ru-an. I am also very happy for Stan. He was the deserving winner. In fact, I was a bit surprised that he could maintain the consistency of his game till the very end of the match. Hopefully he will maintain it for the remaining part of the tournament as well. This match clearly exposed Roger’s age, which is quite natural unlike some freaks who repeatedly come back from so called injuries to defy nature. Fed’s feet were too tired from playing three days continuously and his movement was not up to the mark; probably with an additional speed of half a step from his side, the match would have been more competitive. The fanatic Fedfans are missing the fact that even with this defeat, compared to last year, Fed is still having a much improved clay court season this year. If memory serves me right, last year he was 7-3, while this year he is 13-4 on clay. Out of the 6 defeats he has suffered this year, only 2 have come on non-clay surfaces. So his ordeal on his worst surface is over for the year. I wish Stan all the best for the next two matches. Hopefully he will emerge as the eventual winner.

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  7. Ruan spot on,in this mode and mood Stan can outplay anyone. Just one statistics which is interesting: It was the first time Federer failed to break serve in a Grand Slam match since a 2002 US Open fourth-round loss to Max Mirnyi…
    That is truly remarkable from both sides, stans and Rogers.
    Enjoy rest of the tournament

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  8. For me, this is the last chance for Federer to make it deep in RG. Even if he win the match against Stans, there is no guarantee he can beat Tsonga and make it to final. A loss is a loss, whether it’s 3 or 5 sets.

    It occurred to me federer didn’t want to exert his energy to prevent injury which might affect his chance for Wimbledon. Hence, I didn’t feel he fight enough in this match. I know deep down he knows how hard it is to win this tournament at this time of his career, as clay is vey physical which is what he is lacking as he age. He too can be overpowered by Tsonga and little energy to fight in the final with either Nadal or Djokovic( if he win against Stan).

    We have seen this in last year’s USO, though he won in 5 sets saving a couple of match points against Monfis, he was simply overpowered by Cliic in the SF. That was also his last opportunity to win USO as he got a good draw having to face Nishikori (his first GS final).

    Moving ahead, it is highly unlikely Fed can reach in the final of any GS except Wimbledon, regardless if he gets a good or bad draw. The fact is he has aged and there’s nothing he can do about it, plus a strong field of players who can beat him even he gets a chance to play the other big 3.

    2015 is his last chance to add another GS, if not we Fed fans have to accept and embrace his legacy. 17 GS is still far ahead than the rest of the field.

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  9. Hi folks, I haven’t been around these past few days….but still been following your comments Ru-an and enjoying all your observations. I saw the match yesterday and I have to say Stan was immense, such a strong player and thoroughly deserves all the plaudits he will get for this win. When I think about the match it reminds me of the time when Soderling beat Roger at the FO although I think that yesterday the windy conditions were even more so. As a tennis fan who loves to watch Roger ply his trade I cannot remember him lose his footing so much he even looked steadier on BLUE CLAY! I think that even Djokovic would have had a hard day yesterday, and if the weather is windy today then you have to favour Nadal, it offends me to say favour and Nadal in the breath as he is a player I just don’t like but what he has done at RG has been fantastic. Hope that Stan backs up win because when he plays like this he’s unbeatable it’s a machine gun against a sniper!

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  10. Ruan spot on about the match,Stan is impossible to stop playing like this.I guess Roger was genuine about being happy for Stan.

    Little stats here:It was the first time Federer failed to break serve in a Grand Slam match since a 2002 US Open fourth-round loss to Max Mirnyi.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Wow :-O

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  11. Good post Ru-an. Cakewalk. I read it everywhere. That’s why fans and pundits are so disappointed. It’s all about the cakewalk. I rolled my eyes when ppl said Roger got a cakewalk; nearly fainted when Bleachers Report said Roger “was a lock for final”. Ppl use the term so loosely they don’t know what it actually means. Roger did not get a cakewalk, he just didn’t get the top 3. If Djoker got Roger’s draw, you can call that a cakewalk. Cakewalks and RF do not go hand in hand anymore. The closest cakewalk for Roger in recent slams I could think of was maybe Wimby last year. And he still couldn’t do it. What makes us think he can do it at FO, his weakest surface?! He was lucky to have got through Monfils who wasn’t at his best. Do any of us really think he could beat a red hot Wawrinka playing in his peak and on his best surface?! Only a Roger 4.0 could have stood a chance. Although in all honesty, Stan didn’t have to do much, in the sense that the wind simplified things for him. He didn’t have to think about angles, etc but just get his head down and bash the ball – but consistently of course and not choke, ha! Everyone knows that when Stan is on, he can beat anyone. In WTF last year, he should have won but Roger got lucky when he choked. In Rome, it was an anomaly; I don’t draw confidence about Roger from that match. Stan was clearly not himself. Ru-an said it well; with this win, Stan may have finally come out of Roger’s shadow. But I say “may” because I think Roger is still not completely out of Stan’s head. Plus Roger is extra confident when he plays Stan and he knows Stan’s game inside out. If he can get back to some form, he can still be a difficult matchup for Stan. So all is good for Fedfans. If there is disappointment, it should only be fleeting. He is in much better clay form than last year, he won Istanbul, got to Rome final and lost to a hot Stan. As someone commented above, the players today are another level above from the new level that Roger pushed them to be. It is not realistic to expect Roger to go deep in slams, let alone win a slam in all honesty. If he does so, well and good; but I’m not holding my breath. To me, the last ship may have sailed in Wimby last year. That doesn’t mean he won’t. I continue to hope. But hope doesn’t mean being carried away!! So I’m happy with What Roger has achieved. I’m happy for Stan and he has a real chance to pull an AO14. Waiting with bated breath for Djokodal war. Gosh I’m having goose pimples. This is the war to end all wars!! Apocalypse now!! My money on Djoker!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Remember when I told people to be careful when the called this a cakewalk draw? ;-) There are too many guys who can hurt Roger on clay these days. Like you said, there is no such thing as a cakewalk draw for Roger anymore. He proved it at the USO and he proved it again here. Where is Katyani? Didn’t she predict Roger would win the FO this year?

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Hey Veronica,

    Like this?

    8-|

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    Veronica Reply:

    Hahaha! Joe! Is that an eye roll??!! So cute! Thank you for pointing it out! oh dear Djoker is letting the dry court get under his skin 8-| cool it Djoker!!

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  12. I just realised I can’t actually watch this. Too much drama already in the first set. Bit of choking from djokovic already.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Alex! He got the first set. You can watch again! :-)

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    Joe Reply:

    During the last change-over (2-1 in the second set) I heard him asking about watering the court. (!).

    I consider this to be a mind game with Nadal, since I don’t think he’ll ever approve.

    I hope Djoker’s request meets with your approval anyway Ru-an!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think they should have watered the court, Joe. It frustrated me that they didn’t like they were plotting against Djokovic not to beat Nadal again, but apparently because Nadal said no they didn’t do it. Obviously the conditions favored him, even though it was forecast to be an overcast day. So again no luck for Djokovic but he got it done anyway thank God.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Hey Ru-an,

    Yes, definitely they should have! I have the impression that both players have to agree, and Nadal didn’t agree in their last RG final (maybe the one before last?).

    I’m not sure it should be up to the players, and maybe I’m mistaken about whether it is.

    But I think Djokovic was saying to Nadal that he would have beaten him that year, if he’d agreed to have the courts looked after, essentially calling him cowardly. I think he was trying to get in Nadal’s head in other words; that’s what I was thinking you might approve of …

    But either way, there’s a lot to approve of in today’s match.
    ;-)

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  13. Wawrinka played very well, and did well mentally not to fold in the tiebreak, but I wouldn’t say he played at the level he did in Melbourne last year. Federer, by contrast, didn’t play well. He returned very poorly. This is the first time in his last 291 Grand Slam matches that he failed to break his opponent’s serve. That is a significant stat.

    There are two contradictory theses people seem to embrace regarding Federer:

    1) Roger Federer ain’t the player he used to be, these days he’s lacking consistency and has lost a step.
    2) Anyone who beats Roger Federer must be playing godlike tennis, otherwise he couldn’t possibly have done it.

    Obviously, if he’s no longer as consistent, then it’s easier to beat him. Not easy–this is a relative statement–but easier compared to how it was in 2004-07. It used to be if you caught him on a bad day, you’d lose in five sets even if you played well. Now, if you catch him on a bad day, you can win in straights.

    I have a sinking feeling that the Beast is winning #10. Djokovic will fall–in five, but he will fall. If Murray makes it to the semis, the hapless Scot is going to get his ass thoroughly kicked. I’m sure Wawrinka/Tsonga will fight valiantly in the final, but the Beast is the Beast. This is clay, not Plexicushion. Nadal’s defense is at its peak here. Unless the ball is struck absolutely perfectly, Nadal will get it back into play, with interest. And he’ll just keep it up until they tire.

    If Djokovic somehow staggers out of Thunderdome alive, he might not win the tournament, just because of the enormous expenditure of mental strength required to slay the Beast. Indeed, he might be mentally out of it for several months. So it’s a Pyrrhic victory for him even in the best-case scenario.

    OTOH, Nadal’s mentality is completely impervious. He’s a machine. He’ll be fine mentally for the remainder of the tournament. As for hoping that Nadal will be too exhausted physically from downing Djokovic, let’s not kid ourselves. He’ll magically recover in a couple days and be running like a rabbit and pulverizing the ball in no time.

    With Federer out of the tournament, Stan’s my man, but I don’t hold out much hope for him–or anyone in the draw whose name doesn’t rhyme with “Lafael Dadal.” Like Federer said, it’s hard to bet against a man who’s won this tournament 9 out of 10 years and has a 70-1 record here. Nadal must be considered the heavy favorite not only to win his quarterfinal, but also the title.

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    Am reading your post as I watch Djokodal, Steve. i agree about the Nadal machine. Although Djoker has won first set and is playing well, I’m not sure now how long he can hold out the machine. It is just so hard. These courts are perfectly made for Nadal. Even if Djoker wins this, he won’t have much left for semis and final. Stan/Tsonga have a real chance.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    My hat’s off to you, Veronica! I can’t bring myself to watch them, only follow the score.

    I see Djokovic has sealed the two-sets-to-love lead. Nadal has only come back from such a deficit three times in his career (I think). But if he were to do it again, this is the place where he would most easily be able to do it.

    It’s true he’d need a lot of help from Djokovic, who must be elated right now at the prospect of the Career Slam beckoning. Indulging that thought is very dangerous right now. If Nadal wins the fourth set, it will almost surely go to the fifth and then it will become a physical and mental battle, which will heavily favor Nadal.

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    Ha! Steve! I don’t usually watch Djokodal, never quite watch a whole match of theirs but this match is a historical defining moment so I gotta watch! Yes, Djoker must finish this in straights. Looks like he will. He must!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Damn right it was historical! \\:D/

    [Reply]

  14. Tremendous choking by Chokovic but at least he redeemed himself. That first set was an absolute must for him. Shocked that he had 4:0 lead and multiple set break points. Nadal is a BEAST on 1st serve on set break points. Djokovic had to play an amazing beast Return to finally take it. It’s a war out there. :-)

    And we need to water these courts..

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    Joe Reply:

    Well said Vily!
    :-)

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    Veronica Reply:

    Yes it is war out there Vily. Djoker better embrace it. Exciting and yet hard to watch at the same time. Djoker is playing well and can win this but if he doesn’t stay calm and let the pressure get to him, he’s gonna lose the plot.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Vily: the Nadal philosophy is that tennis is total war. It’s not about beating the opponent in a fair contest, but destroying him–in body, mind, and soul. It’s utter nihilism. He wants to break Djokovic.

    Hence the entire elaborate Nadal PR cult: the brightly colored costumes, childishly ingratiating mannerisms, goofy accent, etc. All to distract people from the essential nature of what is going on.

    With the first set, it’s still 20-80 odds against Djokovic. (It would have been 0-100 had he lost it). But Nadal’s strategy is already working. He may not have won the first set, but he forced Djokovic to expend a ton of mental and physical energy to win it. That means less energy for the next set. Over five sets, Djokovic will wear down, even though he started strong. And Nadal’s intensity won’t flag.

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    Vily Reply:

    2 Sets to Love now… No way back from this. Not today… Djokovic is in beast mode himself now.. :-) )

    Although that last service game was bordering on choking again

    Wheh….

    Good boy, Novak…

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    WOW. Nadal just choked himself…. But it ain’t over ’till it’s over…

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Going in to the match I was feeling Djoker in 4. But a straight sets win would be awesome!

    It might hurt Nadal’s confidence though…

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    :-| too good, Joe!!

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    I meant this =)) Joe!

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    2 in the bag! Surely Djokers gonna win now guys, right?! Djoker better get it done in straights. Otherwise the Beast can still come back..

    [Reply]

    Dolores Reply:

    Veronica, believe this year’s trophy will not get bitten, right? Yikes, looks like Nadal will be packing his bags shortly to go home.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    That’s hilarious Dolores! As Ru-an once said, it really leaves a bad taste in the mouth when Nadal does that!
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    Haha! Dolores, the coup finally got a bite free day this year!!

    [Reply]

    Vily Reply:

    A masterful display by Djokovic. He must win it now. If Roger was playing, I would still probably go with Novak. He was utterly dominant.

    And how about Nadal. His fall is even bigger than Roger’s fall. Roger fell to Number 7 but he never left the Top 8. Now Nadal sits at Number 11.

    He can meet Roger in the 4th round if they both make it that far.. ;-)

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    Actually he can’t meet Roger unless he is seeded outside the top 12. That’s how the draw works the top 4 can only meet a person from ranks 13 or greater.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Well Nadal’s 93-1 record for five-set matches on clay is still intact…
    :-)

    [Reply]

  15. Hey Ru-an! Did you manage to get to another town to watch this??!!!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    There was no load shedding in the end Veronica! But it was scheduled so thank God it didn’t happen. Looks like the fools will at least give us a break in the winter!

    [Reply]

  16. Game set match Djoker. Feels kinda bittersweet though….coz this victory means Fedal era is truly over… :-(

    [Reply]

    Cornel Reply:

    Yes vily, I hear you. Maybe the two gods should retire together, after Rogs takes Wimby 2015.

    [Reply]

    Cornel Reply:

    Oops, I mean Veronica

    [Reply]

    Veronica Reply:

    That was funny, Cornel, and true too. It ain’t over till it’s over. It is up to Roger now to salvage the Fedal era by winning Wimby. Many things have to go his way and Roger 4.0 needs an appearance. Anyway so glad the dirt is over. It had been exhausting. Onto grass!

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Too true Veronica,

    You show us the heart of a poet when you say that. And bittersweet is just about the best word to describe life in general that I know about.

    What a tremendous era this has been! But the new era is coming quickly and we may see a new Laver in the world this year (although of course I’d prefer #18 for Roger).

    I’m grateful for the incredible beauty and heroism I’ve seen in this era, but here and now is always best…

    [Reply]

    FeDaL Reply:

    I wouldn’t call it bittersweet, its simply bitter, only because Nadal is a shadow of his former self. Beating somebody who is in an all time low on his favorite surface is no real victory in the end. Rafa faded during the second set and never came back. It was dissapointing not because of the outcome (it had to happen eventually, Nadal wouldn’t stay perfectly healthy forever), but because it wasn’t even close after the first set. Djokovic is still not out in the clear, Murray and Wawrinka play excellent clay court tennis at the moment and can beat Djokovic.

    [Reply]

    Ajay Reply:

    What is wrong with this Fedal guy ? The only thing that is bitter here is you.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    I’m no fan of Nadal, FeDal, as I’ve mentioned. But I hope that he can look back at his career with a lot of satisfaction for his many great wins, and not become immersed in bitterness about his relatively few defeats – both now, and after he retires.

    It’s everyone’s right to savor the good and not shrink from the pain that’s part of life as we move from one phase to the next. Unless we messed up the last phase really badly, of course, and don’t have any thing to be glad about. ;-)

    I wish this same privilege on everyone, even though it’s not my privilege to wish. It’s up to each person.

    Djokovic accomplished something very, very special today, admit it or not. Some people are precocious, and some are late bloomers. Which is better? I’m not convinced that Djokovic will ever put up some of the numbers Nadal did, because he spent years in his early career in the shadow of Roger and Nadal. But he has has been brave enough to face defeat by Nadal at RG for many years, coming back stronger every year, and he’s now progressed to the point where he plays tennis about as well as it can be played. I’d take my hat off to him for that, if I had one. And if Nadal was so ‘down to be kicked’ then he didn’t have to show up and try to win the tournament this year, did he? He’s not stuck on some tennis treadmill that he can’t escape.

    The word ‘bittersweet’ brings together the polar opposites that are the warp and weft of life, or so I’ve been told. ;-) Can you think of another word that does that? Maybe, just maybe, we should embrace warp as well as weft – because everyone who thinks life is simply about ‘being happy’ will live in almost constant disappointment, and I hope you won’t be tempted to do that.

    And it gives me little pleasure to say this, but Nadal will win again. ;-)

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  17. And the Djoker shows how it should be done. Bravo! The amazing thing is he did it in straight, with a breadstick in the 3rd. If the Djoker wins his career slam here, he will be most deserving of all…as he did it by ruthlessly slaying the Beast. The Beast Slayer vs. The Stanimal will especially be interesting for the final, both in their game types & in poetic sense.

    What of the Beast? Probably he’s going to get those mystery injuries again, and come back strongly… And sometime later this year try to mount up his last stand. This defeat should be demoralizing enough, so unlike previous defeats this one may leave a deep scar that will never fully recover.

    [Reply]

    FeDaL Reply:

    Indeed he ruthlessly slayed a shadow of his former self. Had he defeated Nadal in 2006,2007,2008,2010,2011,2012,2013 and last year then it would have amazing, but kicking someone who is already down is no real feat IMHO. And the Nadal haters will flock to this news, but know this no matter how Nadal leaves tennis, he will always be one of the best of all time, and in his prime Djokovic was below him, Thus he will always be below him. Fedal status is and was always is out of the serb’s reach.

    [Reply]

    Pete Reply:

    It’s not djokovic’s problem that Nadal is shadow of former self . So should he leave him win caue he is not in form?better player won, nothing else behind it . Nadal just can’t play the way he used to and djoko just improved a lot

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  18. Commenting after a long time. Liked the new format of the blog, congrats Ruan it has been a great effort from your side and making it a blog where all players are discussed is surely the best way to do it!!
    Coming to the match, I am not disappointed at the Federer loss to be honest. He has reached a point in clay court matches where the matches aren’t decided by his racquet, its in the opponent’s hands! Wawrinka played flawless and brutal tennis, anyone could have lost that day against him! Federer ofcourse wasn’t his self but that was the pressure Wawrinka put him under and I don’t blame him at all. On the contrary, I am happy with his quarter final result and infact has bettered the 4th round result of last year.
    Wawrinka can win this French Open title if he has the mental strength against Djokovic/Murray if he beats Tsonga!!
    And I still believe Federer can win Wimbledon this year if he gets his things right. It does depend on the draw but with a little luck on his side, he can win it this year!!

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  19. Based on what I’ve seen, the favorites for the French are:

    1. Djokovic
    2. Murray
    3. Wawrinka

    And for Wimbledon:

    1. Djokovic
    2. Murray
    3. Federer

    Yep, I think that this year Andy is playing better and is having more consistent results than Roger and can potentially beat him at SW19.

    [Reply]

  20. Hey Ru-an and guys, what’s up?? I have 2 problems:
    1) My crappy internet connection keeps on getting crappier and crappier. Very hard to get to this blog. I am now even logged on at my work just to comment….
    2) Ru-an keeps making post after post. Very had to keep by :-)

    First the important thing: TAKE A BOW STAN THE MAN, TAKE A SERIOUS BOW. I was very impressed. And OFCOURSE rooting for the other Swiss (obviously :-) ), but man…. THIS Stan?? How come he didn’t win more slams?? I saw from the 2nd set and eventhough Roger tried and tried, Stan was just too much and too good and really deserved the win. BUT…. Stan the Man, do us all a favour and keep this form till you lift the trophy. Do not get weak in the next match and lose >:)

    I am so tired of players playing in the zone and the match of their life against Roger, but this time…. Stan just was AWESOME. Played great, respectful, no drama, no gamesmenship, concentrated and seriously playing great. Roger was not playing bad at all, but the truth is…. he was NOT allowed to play better by Stan. In the 3rd set Roger fought harder…. but so did Stan !!!

    And yep… again… Jo Willy…. beating everyone silently under the radar. Might even make it to the final.

    And Ru-an, yes… I did say Roger would win RG. I was wrong…. I am sooooooo PROUD of Roger. He came this far. Played great and great matches, just got outplayed in the QF.

    But… no worries. God himself and Roger cannot make me stop believing that he can win slams, even RG. BUT….. he needs to play great, have luck with the draw or early losses and by God, the stars have to be good for him.
    Example: Cilic was basically a “not so good player” who…. ended up winning USO. Stan the Man was also reasonable who…. ended up winning AO.
    So… why can’t the stars not be also this good to Roger? :-) I still believe as long as Roger has a racquet in his hand.

    I cannot say anything about Rafa/Novak-match. Only saw the last 10 minutes. I was surprised. So…… lets see what Novak can do. Andy is on a mission.

    How about this guys… Novak wants the 4 slams so badly, what if Andy beats him to it?? He even has a chance to win the Golden Slam.

    How about this: Lets just say that Andy wins RG. In that case:
    Novak needs to win next year RG to win all 4 slams once.
    Andy needs to win next year AO to win all slams once.
    Roger needs to win RG next year to win all slams twice.
    Rafa needs to win AO next year to win all slams twice. =)) =D> :-bd :))

    [Reply]

    IWC2015 Reply:

    Hi,

    It’s unrealistic to expect Roger to win RG at this stage of his career. I think he did pretty good this year by beating Montfis. That of course caused him feel a little exhausted since he had to play consecutive days. He might win a set against Stan if he is physically 100% but at least it went to a tie break in the 3rd set.

    Hence, Roger is done with RG. In fact, I did he should skip the clay season altogether next year if he can’t win Wimbledon this year. Clay is just too physically demanding for a 34 year old player unless Roger willing to bulk up his muscle and spend a lot of time in the gym. It’s just not him to play like Nadal or Stan in full force.

    Stan is enormously talented and a late boomer. Expect him to challenge the big 4 in years to come. If he can win RG I would expect Stan to win a few more before retirement.

    As to Roger winning Wimbledon this year is a possibility but there is no guarantee. As far as 2015 is concerned he hasn’t done too bad. He had a win on Novak. He just wasn’t clutch enough in the big moments at the master series and the GS. This has got to do with his age and possibility the adjustment to his new racquet. If this is the prime Roger(06-07) there are few players can match him and unlikely Stan can beat him like he did in RG.

    [Reply]

  21. Hi Ru-an, great write-up of the Federer-Wawrinka encounter.

    On today’s match, the first set was actually quite competitive after Djokovic choked early on, but he did well to recover and seal it – that was crucial. After that, I’m surprised it was that easy, especially with Nadal folding in the 3rd set. It kind of felt like Karma for Djokovic after Rafa double-faulted on match point.

    [Reply]

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