Masters Cup SF: JesusFed def Murray 7-6(5), 6-2, Sets Up Epic Finale to 2012 with Djokovic

This is it folks. The year of 2012 has come down to this one match. Forget the rankings, forget the slam winners, forget everything. The Masters Cup final between Federer and Djokovic will decide once and for all who was the best player of 2012. The best player of 2012 has been a contest of epic proportions which has simply been too close to call until now. Yes Djokovic is #1 and he has had the more consistent year, but if Roger wins tomorrow he has done better. If he wins tomorrow he won the most important slam, the Masters Cup, a silver medal at the Olympics, he wins more titles than Djokovic(7-5), and he wins the head-to-head 3-2 against Djokovic for 2012.

It’s not always about consistency. It’s about winning, not coming second. If Roger wins tomorrow he has won more when it really mattered, and that is why he will be the best player of 2012. But let me get back to today’s match first. Incredible! Roger has looked burned out ever since his loss to Berdych in the US Open quarters. But he has slowly but surely clawed his way back during the indoor season. I was doubtful about his chances in London, but I had not lost hope. I saw enough improvement in the Del Potro match to believe there was hope. And my hope was justified. JesusFed showed up one more time when it really mattered.

Once again I could not watch, but Jonathan from PeRFect Tennis Blog kept me updated on what was happening. It was very exciting, even though I saw no live action. The start wasn’t so exciting however, as Roger got broken in the opening game. Then at 2-4 Roger held serve confidently to 15, and broke back in the next game. There was hope finally. Roger was playing better and at 6-5 and 0-30 on Murray’s serve he hit maybe the shot of the tournament – a backhand half-volley down the line from the base line off a deep forehand drive from Murray. It was a clean winner and left Murray watching helplessly.

Murray held serve though and we headed into a tie break. It was crucial for Roger’s chances to win it. It didn’t start well for Roger as Murray got the mini break. But at 2-3 a long rally ensued which Roger won with an inside out forehand winner. He was back in business. He held both serves and at 5-4 got the all important mini break. Then at 6-5 he forced Murray into error and he had that all important first set in the bag. After this it clearly wasn’t over, but Roger started to relax and broke Murray at 1-1 after trailing 0-40, with another sweetly timed inside out forehand. At 4-2 and 30-30 Roger produced another break point with a beautiful chip-and-charge play.

He then break Murray with a sweet backhand passing shot. It was the insurance break and Roger went on to hold serve to 15 for a very impressive win indeed. How good is it to be a Fedfan guys? I mean he just doesn’t fail to satisfy us, which is amazing considering our high expectations. For all intents and purposes we had pretty much given up on Roger’s indoor season. He just looked burned out, and that was to be expected after such a long and emotional year. Yet you just can’t ever count this GOAT out, as he came to the party right in the nick of time once again. He is now my favorite to win the title too.

Djokovic had a good win over Del Potro in the semis after being a set and a break down, although Del Potro never consolidated that break. He broke right back and won 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Del Potro was on fire in the first set, hitting bomb forehands winners. But at 2-1 in the second set he started running out of steam and Djokovic took over. Del Potro is good enough to outplay Djokovic for a set but he is just not fit enough to keep up the pace. That is something he will have to work hard on if he wants to break into the top four in 2013. He clearly has the game to do so. Now back to tomorrow’s all important final.

I really believe this final will decide the best player of 2012. The rankings don’t always tell the whole story. So I think this is a very exciting match. These two players have been going at it all season long and it has been very close. Djokovic beat Roger in Rome and Roland Garros, but Roger hit back by beating Djokovic at Wimby and bageling him in Cincy. Now for the decider. Both players looks in top form so there are no excuses. Roger lost the #1 ranking to Djokovic recently and if Roger wins tomorrow he will all but erase that disappointment. Djokovic’s #1 status would be in serious doubt heading into 2013.

It would be just what Roger needs to make a strong start in 2013 too. He has had an incredible 2012 but just lost momentum towards the end of the year. A win tomorrow would officially make this another incredible year for Roger. Probably the best he has had since his prime in 2007. Yes he won two slams in 2009, but only four titles. Yes he completed the career slam and broke the slam record in 2009, but this year he won a record 7th Wimby title and broke the record amount of weeks at #1. He didn’t win the Masters Cup in 2009 either. If he wins tomorrow he will have seven titles, an Olympic silver, and a Masters Cup on top of it.

So in my mind he has an opportunity to have the best year he has had since 2007. It has been almost prime level this year. I think Roger can win tomorrow. The match stats today was not that impressive but his net play and break point conversions were the key. If he does the same against Djokovic tomorrow he will probably win. He just needs to win those important points and use the conditions to his advantage, by playing attacking tennis and dominating at the net. Of course serving well and not making many unforced errors won’t hurt. It’s all come down to this one last match folks. I believe in you champ.

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12 Comments

  1. Well, the moral of the story is “Don’t ever count our GOAT out”. Whenever we start to suspect whether he had enough on the tank, he delivers the surprise. What I am really happy about his performance is that he sent Murray the message “I am no longer your whooping boy”. The way Murray had attacked Fed’s second serve in Shanghai and continued in the same fashion during the earlier part of the first set began to worry me a little. But that is what sets Fed apart from the other players. While others would have crumbled under pressure, Fed kept believing on his own ability. How many times had we wished Fed would have stopped going for attacks and held back after he keeps on piling the number unforced errors in a match? But not Fed himself; he still believes in his ability and more importantly knows when to push the throttle. I thought Murray was a bit over attacking and too one-dimensional on his return of Fed’s second serve which Fed was able to read correctly as the match went on; Steve Tignor in tennis.com provides an interesting stat: “Murray’s percentage of points won on his second serve (37), and the number of returns Federer missed on second serves (0; he was 34 for 34)”. If memory serves me right, Fed was broken from 40-0 up twice in the Shanghai semi-final. Well, what better avenue to return the favor? That’s what gave me the most satisfaction in tonight’s match.

    Come on Fed. The 7th is on the cards! And please don’t shout WTF after the last match of the WTF of 2012 even if Fed does not find his way. This is still a great year for our champion by any standard any time.

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  2. Brings a statement to mind:

    “People have started comparing Jesus to Federer. That’s absurd people – he’s good, but he’s not Federer.”

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  3. Awesome performance from the maestro and equally great post ruan.Just wish you could be as consistent as roger writing your posts.believe me, i follow around 7 to 8 articles on a fed match and nobody writes better than you.I know you were busy shifting and all but sparing 2 hours or so 3-4 times a week shouldnt deprive all fed lovers from your excellent posts.Bit more will power would do.Anyways,waiting eagerly for the final of world tour finals.allez Roger!!!

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  4. Ru-an, thanks for sparing some time out of your busy schedule to make a few posts.

    This win underscores Federer’s versatility–I’m not sure his baseline game has been at its very best during this tournament, but since he has so many options he was able to come up with an alternate game plan to cut the points short and take Murray out of his rhythm.

    He returned every one of Murray’s second serves, putting enormous pressure on Murray’s first serve, and eventually it was too much.

    Interestingly, he dialed it back at the end of the first-set tiebreak: rather than going for a big winner, he hit a deep, heavy ball and made Murray hit his least favorite shot, the forehand down the line. Murray missed, and Federer was able to seal the deal on the next point.

    He used a lot of chip-and-charge and his approach shots were really aggressive and close to the lines. Murray just could not keep up with it.

    He now gets a shot at the world #1 in the last match of the season. Djokovic is a more aggressive player than Murray and and it will be harder for Federer to employ chip-and-charge and other net-rushing tactics against Djokovic. Hopefully he can empty the tank here since this is the last match of the season, and give us one more display of great tennis to cap off a fantastic year.

    C’mon Roger!

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  5. Roger’s resiliency and mind are vastly underrated. When things are not going his way, he changes things up because he can. Once he started to throw different looks at Murray, the Scot had no chance. I think the crowd helped too because they were fully behind Roger.

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  6. Ruan,

    I just realized that I have not been receiving emails alerting me to your new posts. It has been months since I rec’d anything. Not sure what happened. Anyway, I am glad to be back on the list going forward. I have missed reading your insightful posts on RF.

    Wishing you a Happy Advent season and Merry Christmas.

    Karrie

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you Karrie I miss my readers as well. I’m not sending out alerts for posts at the moment because Ipad won’t allow it. But I will get a laptop soon. I’m working very hard right now but I will try to make a post soon.

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    Karrie Reply:

    Hi, Ruan.

    Glad to know things are ok on your end. I should have been checking your blog instead of only relying on receiving email alerts. Hope you get a laptop for Christmas! Keep up the great work. We all appreciate what you do very much.

    Karrie

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Karrie I feel bad about the email thing. Probably lost a few readers due to it. The last 6 months have just been crazy. New country, new job, new people. I am at an important point now where I will hear if my visa is extended so it’s kinda stressful and I need to do well in my work.

    If my visa is renewed thing will settle down and I will have more time for blogging. I want to focus more on my blogging in the new year and try to make my blog as popular as it used to be. Tennis will always be a part of my life and my readers are important to me.

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