I’m not in the condition to make a post right now but I will see how far I get. Roger defeated Djokovic 6-3, 7-5 today to rack up his seventh Dubai title in nine finals. The two finals that he lost was to Djokovic in 2011 and Nadal in 2006 when Roger had his best year. Other than that Roger have really proved that he is the undisputed king of Dubai. Djokovic has four Dubai titles and if he won today he would have been just one behind Roger, but since Roger has three more titles than Djokovic in Dubai now it is hard to see Djokovic catching up with him. So I think it is fair to call Roger the king of Dubai. Unfortunately Roger could not become the king of Melbourne earlier this year so becoming the king of Dubai ahead of Djokovic makes up for that to some extent.
On surfaces of the speed of Dubai Roger is just better than Djokovic. That is because he has bigger weapons than Djokovic, and no matter how well Djokovic returns serve or defends it is not enough. There was only one point in the match where I thought Djokovic could have defended better which could have turned the match around. That was when Roger was serving at 6-5 in the second set and break point down. Djokovic made a good return and defensive lob but failed to make a very makeable backhand after Roger hit the overhead from an awkward position. If Djokovic made that backhand there was a good chance he could have won the point and forced the tie break. But even then he still had to win the tie break and the third set.
I was hoping for a third set but it was too much to ask. Aside from the point I just mentioned and one other point, Roger came up with a winning serve every time there was an important point. It was a bit boring to be honest, although I’m sure for people who only care about winning and not seeing a good match that was very exciting. For the first time I was happy that court surfaces had been slowed down. I remembered why I became an Agassi fan in the 90’s after I was a Sampras fan to begin with. And Sampras had an even more devastating serve than Roger. He came up with second serve aces regularly when he was in trouble. I was a huge fan to begin with but then his dominance just became boring.
With the fast courts of the 90’s he just served everyone off the court on faster surfaces, and he had a pretty dull personality too. So I switched to Agassi, even though Agassi got as routinely beaten by Sampras as Roger gets beaten by Nadal. Whenever they met at the US Open or Wimbledon Agassi had very little chance. So I am definitely not into supporting players just because they are winning. Tennis always comes first. The tennis has to be enjoyable or I will support someone else. The reason I supported Roger for this long is because it is hard to get bored of his tennis and he doesn’t have a dull personality either. But after watching the Dubai final I could certainly see how I could have become bored of Roger if the ATP didn’t slow down the courts so much.
I also have to thank Nadal for coming onto the scene to challenge Roger. If it wasn’t for Nadal and slower court speeds I can see how Roger could have completely dominated the sport in which case I would have lost interest. I know for the fans who worship Roger like he is some kind of deity and for whom only winning is important, that doesn’t make sense. But who cares about them? It has always been about tennis first of all and then Roger. I loved tennis before Roger came on the scene and I will love it after he is gone. Many people don’t understand this concept because they only follow tennis because of Roger. In their eyes he can do no wrong and should never be criticized by anyone. He is God in the flesh.
If that is the reason people want to follow tennis that is fine with me, but they should know this is not the blog for them. I strongly discourage that kind of celebrity worship. Sure you can worship worse people than Roger, but like I said this blog is first and foremost about tennis. Roger is secondary. To me this goes without saying anyway, because if there was no tennis there would be no Roger. To get back to the Dubai final it was nice that Roger proved Fed 4.0 had not gone anywhere. He showed that by handling the adversity in the second set very well. Yes it may be an advantage to serve a winner every time an important point comes up, but you still have to make that serve. The court speed doesn’t become an advantage unless you make it one.
That said, Nadal is out of the picture again. We will only find out whether Roger 4.0 is truly the real deal if he can handle the kind of adversity Nadal presents. I have been waiting for a long time now to find that out and I really hope I do at some point. But for that to happen Nadal has to get some confidence going again. It wouldn’t prove much if Roger defeats a Nadal with zero confidence. Nadal will probably win Buenos Aires because he is playing Monaco in the final, in which case he would get a lot of confidence from it. He double bread sticked Delbonis and from what I hear his movement was back to its devastating best. Then he defeated Berloq. If Nadal wins Buenos Aires then Indian Wells could get interesting.
I’d like to see him play Roger there if possible. You would think Roger has a good chance of beating him if they meet, given their respective forms of late. In a way I hope Nadal also gets back to his best so that Roger can test his 4.0 level against Nadal. And hopefully the same thing that happened in Melbourne does not happen again if they are on course to meet in a slam again. They may never meet in a slam again which would be a shame. You could have a situation this year where Nadal could win the French, Roger Wimbledon, and Djokovic or Nishikori the US Open. But hopefully they will run into each other again somewhere down the line in a slam. Finally I would like to say that I am probably not as excited about this title as many Fedfans.
Winning a seventh Dubai title is nice, but what does it really prove? That he is better than Djokovic on fast courts? I already knew that. That Roger 4.0 is hear to stay? Where is Nadal? I feel this is to some extent conquered ground. Roger won Dubai last year too but failed to win Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, or Wimbledon. I’ll get really excited again if he wins a fifth Indian Wells title. He hasn’t won there since 2012 and with Nadal back hopefully after having won the Buenos Aries title that would be big. Every title counts and every win over Djokovic is big, but as someone who has followed Roger since the beginning I have seen my fair share of those. I’d like to see a kind of crowing achievement this year.
As in a slam title or beating Nadal in a slam again. Anyway I will get excited about any title from Masters Series upwards and any win over Nadal. Nadal is still ahead in Masters Series titles won so every time Roger wins one of those it helps his legacy quite a bit. But as far as ATP 500 or below goes Roger already proved last year that he can win those. I think Roger has a great chance of winning Wimbledon this year anyway. I doubt Nadal will be a serious factor there which always helps Roger’s case. But I would like to see Fedal meet in a slam again soon. Maybe it can happen at the US Open. Although that would be risky because it could mean the career slam in slam losses to Nadal, it could also provide the ideal opportunity for Roger to defeat Nadal with his new found game.
I didn’t say much about the match but so be it. Djokovic had chances to break at 4-3 and 40-15 and 5-4 and 40-15 in the second but Roger saved it all with service winners aside from one point where Roger hit a very clutch deep volley. And then I mentioned that break point at 5-6 where Djokovic could have forced the breaker but screwed up with the backhand. Roger also hit a couple of brilliant backhand winners which you can see in the highlights. Other than that it was just another big serving performance and taking both his break points.