Miami F: Djokovic def Nadal 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(4)

I didn’t watch the whole match. Only the first set or so and then I feel asleep. Not that I thought it was boring, I was tired. A lot of Fedfans find the brand of tennis Nadal and Djokovic dish out quite boring. Personally I’m not crazy about that brand of tennis either, but I enjoy seeing them face each other because it’s such a close match up and they do playing some long and interesting rallies. I like seeing someone stand up to Nadal and actually not back down. After the first set I thought Nadal would win because the winner of the first set normally does in such a close match up, and it was hot out there as well. Which brings me to a point a lot of people have brought up on my blog of late. Yes, the doping issue. Personally I don’t talk a lot about doping on my blog. I made one post about it and now some people believe this blog is somehow a doping blog.

Let me just make clear why this is not the case. No doubt some of my readers believe that the likes of Nadal and Djokovic is doping, but personally I have no proof and it is up in the air. As I have stated before, I don’t believe that speculating is wrong. The reason for this is that the testing methods for doping is pretty pathetic and gives players the gap to dope. Given this fact, it is only expected that there is speculation. If the ATP or whoever is in control employed proper doping measures then there would be no reason to speculate and no doubt. There would also be no chance that an honest player(like Roger I believe), would suffer because of it. Some people who come to this blog believe that Fedfans are just looking for excuses and are looking to discredit the achievements of the likes of Djokovic and Nadal because they are now beating Roger on a regular basis.

But the people who claim this fail to look at the viewpoint of the Fedfans. We believe Roger is an honest, honorable guy who would not stoop so low as to dope. And the fact that Nadal and Djokovic could be using the system in their favor to use performance enhancing drugs could potentially cost Roger and his fans dearly. It could potentially cost him many important records and grand slam titles, including the GOAT status. But in the end it is just speculation because there is no actual proof. I’m just trying to explain to some people why there are in fact speculation and that it is to a very large extent justified. If we look at Djokovic’s performance today you just know that the speculators will speculate. In the intense Miami heat, Djokovic came from a set down and beat Nadal in a third set tie break in more than three hours.

This is after he hasn’t lost a match so far this year and been playing every round of every tournament he has entered. In the past we have seen Djokovic get tired in the heat on a regular basis. It didn’t stop him however from defeating the fittest player on tour in more than three hours in searing heat however. In short we have seen a transformed Djokovic. Since the start of the year he has been a different player and he has credited a lot of his success to his new doctor that he takes on tour with him. The shortcomings of the ATP by not employing the proper testing methods becomes obvious here. How did Djokovic suddenly transform from almost a sickly individual who always had health problems in to a superman? This question doesn’t suppose that Djokovic is indeed taking something, it just points out the dilemma that the ATP has created.

There is no trust from the fans anymore and if you blame them for it then you are simply wrong. There is no doubt whatsoever that there is doping in tennis. I think that much has been established by now. There is just no way that in the world we live in that some players are not gonna take advantage of the lacking testing methods. There is just too much at stake. Make no mistake, this is a huge problem is tennis. Unfortunately it seems it is all about money. As long as the ATP have star players who bring in the crowds and make money they don’t feel like doing proper testing, because that could potentially rob them of their stars, create scandals, and make the popularity of the sport go down, which in turn costs them money. It all comes back to money and greed. That is unfortunately the world we live in.

Lets forget about the doping issue for a second. It is possible that Djokovic is not doping and that he is just having a magnificent run. And if that is the case he must be given a lot of credit for the transformation he has undergone. I am glad he won Miami because I hate it when Nadal just has it all his own way. Usually Nadal basically just wins whatever he wants to and no one has the guts to stand up to him. So from that point of view I am happy with Djokovic’s current form. When Roger was in his prime he had Nadal to contend with and it cost him several grand slam titles. If Nadal wants to become the GOAT he has to contend with someone similar. Djokovic seems to be that guy. I think this win was telling in that he showed he will be a thorn in Nadal’s side from now on. To beat Nadal in two consecutive Masters Series finals is some feat.

Nadal will still have the a slight edge on clay and grass, but on hard there is now someone who will make things very hard for Nadal. Nadal has seven more slams to win and it would take some doing to do that just on clay and grass, given that he is not even a lock to keep winning Wimbledon. Remember Roger will also still have his chances at Wimbledon and the US Open. I know for sure Roger doesn’t feel like he isn’t even close to being done. He keeps saying  that he wants to play until after the 2012 Olympics well into his thirties. While I like that kind of long term view it just makes me wonder about his rivalries with Nadal and Djokovic, as well as Murray. He already has negative head-to-head records against Nadal(8-15) and Murray(6-8), and Djokovic(13-9) is catching up. It’s not gonna look good if he finishes with losing records to all three his main rivals.

The fuss about the negative head-to-head record with with his main rival Nadal is already bad enough. People are already saying he can’t be the GOAT because of it. At least he has a 2-0 winning record against Murray in slams. But against Djokovic he is now only 4-3 at slam level, having lost the last two. If that becomes a negative record for Roger it won’t look to good on his legacy either. But more than anything we are used to Roger dominating and it won’t be much fun to see him keep losing to the likes of Nadal and Djokovic in the big events. It’s just not fun to see. So I am curious about Roger’s mindset. It is hard to believe that this is not an issue for him. He had also become used to dominating and I seriously doubt he likes the idea of losing on a regular basis to his main rivals. We don’t know whether Nadal or Djokovic is doping, but the point is Roger just don’t have the tools anymore to beat them.

This is the reality on the ground. Surely Roger is not in denial about this. I’d really like to understand his mindset about this. Maybe he is over confident, because I don’t see how he is gonna keep playing all these years that he wants to while enjoying it at the same time. I know Roger and believe me he wants to be there at the top contending for the big titles. I don’t see how he can continue playing while being satisfied with being second best while at the same time doing his legacy damage. The fans want to remember Roger for the dominant force he was as well, not someone who was playing second fiddle to his rivals for several years at the end of his career. What do you think? Do you think he will keep playing like he has made clear he will, or do you think he will get tired of playing second fiddle and retire?

Over to you.

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53 Comments

  1. Head to head records have a lace, but fail to take into account them most important thing about them: they depend entirely on when in someone’s career they are meeting (if it is not throughout a parallel career. In other words, is a player thought less of for sticking around after his prime to continue playing? Was Borg the better for quitting before his record against Mac and others would look worse because he aged? Obviously not.
    You look at what someone won, how often, and how they did over time against the top five or ten players in their era(s). In that sense, Roger’s status will remain safe.
    Rafa now has to worry that he will resume being thought of as the best ever on clay who couldn’t sustain domination on other surfaces or indoors. Does that diminish his incredible competitive achievements against the GOATs and other near greats of his time?
    Nope, again.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good point edward. I guess i need to stop listening to the critics so much. Point is a lot of pundits believe the Nadal head-to-head takes away from Rogers GOAT status and it annoys me.

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    Andrew Reply:

    The pundits don’t all think that. Peter Flemming from sky sports is pretty Nadal friendly but he said the other day that the head to head between Federer and Nadal was very close because the numbers are misleading as they’ve met 12 times on clay.

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    ARAVINDHAN Reply:

    According to me “The only Opponent who beat Federer in an EVENLY contested Grand Slam match FAIR & SQUARE is Marat Safin at AO by the score line 5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 9-7. It was an evenly contested match with each player at their BEST!!!! I like Safin[after Federer of course] who but for his Temper Tantrums & Injuries could have been a Great Player himself….

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  2. Good read Ru-an.
    H2H just annoy me ./Its not because of the fact that GOAT has a negative one against Nadal but the fact that as Edward mentioned it does not take into account when the players play, whether at their peak or past their prime.This has been the case with Roger.Now Djoker is also catching up with him in the H2H and Roger as to gain points in the clay season to even think of regaining the No1 spot.But at the same time,Djokovics’match against Nadal has reopened the thought of doping ,B$ Nole used to have health issues ,used to succumb to the heat but now he has defeated the fittest player on tour form being a set down.And moreover Rogers best chance of gaining points and winning slams seems to be at Wimbledon and at the US Open.Why are the ATP courts becoming so slow?Rogers game has lost the penetration to beat the top players with this and also the backhand sometimes is really a thorn in his armory .Sometimes its breathtaking and othertimes its just irritating.the loses are reinforcing the fact the FEDERER is becoming FED-ERROR while losing and the thrashing he received against Nadal is a clear indication that he is struggling on Slower Hard Courts

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes his one handed bh has become a huge liability on the slower courts against the solid two handed bh’s of Nadal and Djokovic. And I dont see how he can overcome that issue.

    [Reply]

    Ken Reply:

    It is actually a disability!

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    sportsfan Reply:

    what backhand?? what roger needs is advice from rafa or nole’s doctor.

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  3. I mentioned in the previous blog that I might not get into the conversation until Roger wins something big, but I was encouraged by Ines and Ruan and so decided to write.First of all, I agree with Edward. Since Roger has time and again said that he enjoys playing into thirties why suspect? If you have defeated all and sundries at your prime, that should not mean you can continue doing the same to the rising youngsters even when you are past your prime. I, personally, donot see anything wrong if Sampras can compete at the highest level albeit with far less success than he had at his prime.Who is now talking of his failure to reach a single FO final? I am of the opinion that Federer should be encouraged to play as long as he wants but then expectation from the fans should be adjusted accordingly as someone in the previous thread suggested.How come do the achievements of Federer diminish if at his age he is beaten by the in-form players at their prime age? Let Federer enjoy continuing playing and let us enjoying watching him.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Glad to see you back mridul. Well i have lowered my expectations since a while now and that wasnt hard to do. But to lower it to the point of being at peace with the fact that Roger wont win anymore big titles will be hard i admit. That is after all part of the Roger Federer experience, that he wins on the big stages.

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  4. Small correction: Fed’s h2h with Djokovic in slams is 4-3 (3 USO wins + 1 AO win against 1 USO loss + 2 AO losses).

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Ah thanks for teh correction, missed their first meeting at the AO.

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  5. And we should add to Edward’s good point about comparing h2h of players during periods when they are at prime/reasonably strong levels, the point that the comparison should also include how they do in this period *against the field as a whole* – achievement in tennis is not just about one-on-one match-ups but winning consistently to get to the one-on-one stage.

    For example, for Djokovic, let’s take the stretch from when he reached his first major final – USO 2007 – to today and compare his performance to Fed’s. Surely a fair comparison since that same stretch is the beginning of his rise (indeed he made the Wimby semi’s that year as well) and of Fed’s decline, no? As well as their majors h2h being 3-3 over that period.

    So over those 14 majors, Fed made 12 semis, 9 finals and 5 wins. Djokovic made 8 semis, 4 finals and 2 wins. Fed has more than twice the wins, more than twice the number of finals and 1 1/2 times the number of semi’s. It’s not even close. And this is *past* Fed’s best years.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good stuff Nelson. Concerning the Nadal h2h the surface also has to be brought into consideration since they met so much on clay. Without clay results they would be 2-2 in slams and the overall h2h much closer, had Nadal made slam finals on hard in Roger prime.

    [Reply]

    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    Indeed, Ru-an, I think the surface point re the Nadal h2h should be pushed even more. The ESPN comms were saying how, even if you remove the 10-2 clay h2h, of the remaining 5-6, on “outdoor hard-courts” Rafa has a 3-1 (now 4-1) lead, making it seem that Roger’s only got the better of him on grass (2-1) and indoor (3-0). But that misses something crucial.

    We should recognize that there are really five surfaces, with the h2h’s as follows:

    Clay: 10-2 for Rafa
    Grass: 2-1 for Fed
    Indoor: 3-0 for Fed
    Slow hardcourts: 4-1 for Rafa
    Fast hardcourts: 0 matches played b/c from 2005 through 2010, Nadal was by and large absent from the requisite rounds to meet Fed in Toronto/Montreal, Cincinnati or USO.

    The point is that the Jan to March hardcourt season is really quite different in from the August to September one or, of course, the October to December indoor season – as evidenced by Nadal’s dramatically disparate performances in these different segments. In the latter two, Nadal has basically been a no-show while Fed has dominated from 2005 to 2010. Six years during which Fed was head-and-shoulders the second-best clay-courter, meeting Rafa in 11 finals and 1 semi.

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    marron Reply:

    Ru-an said: ‘Without clay results they would be 2-2 in slams and the overall h2h much closer, had Nadal made slam finals on hard in Roger prime…’

    I see your point, but I ask how you could *know* Fed’s results on hard vs Rafa would always be a win for him. Rafa has caught him out on hardcourts over the years, not always, but certainly enough to think, imo, he could have won vs Fed at least 50% of the time.

    Anyway, we’ll never know now.

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    TD Reply:

    You’re may be right Marron, but, don’t forget Nadal made it to the USO final only in 2010. For sure it wasn’t (and isn’t) his best court. And Federer was the best by far on those courts in his prime (5 straight USO slams is total domination, like nadal in FO).
    So, I would say that the whole rivalry would have taken a different shape. Nadal got into Federer’s head b/c Federer couldn’t find a way to beat him in all those clay finals (especially in the FO) and than it started affecting Federer also on non-clay courts.
    Imagine Federer hadn’t reached all those clay finals and they met mainly on hard courts when Nadal was 19-21 – I’m sure the H2H would be different and at least much more equal.

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    Chris Barley Reply:

    “Clay: 10-2 for Rafa
    Grass: 2-1 for Fed
    Indoor: 3-0 for Fed
    Slow hardcourts: 4-1 for Rafa
    Fast hardcourts: 0 matches played b/c from 2005 through 2010, Nadal was by and large absent from the requisite rounds to meet Fed in Toronto/Montreal, Cincinnati or USO.”

    Hey, why don’t we include other surfaces as well ? Playing on blazingly fast clay, extremely fast grass, fast-medium grass, slow-but-not-so-slow grass, dry hard-courts, wet hard courts, on water, on a sand dune …. Jesus, if Nadal had a superior H2H even indoors you still would have presented some crappy argument about how the picture is incomplete. What a pity !

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Dont be ridiculous. The h2h is skewed because of clay. Period.

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  6. HEY Ru-an .I am back.
    Just wanted your take on this.
    Well Novak has beaten Nadal in two consecutive ATP WORLD TOUR MASTERS 100 finals.NOW this might get to Nadals head and he may be thinking about these loses to Nole and how to defeat him on hard courts next time.Dont you think that this is the best time for Roger to get unnoticed and get some titles to his and gain some points when these two fight it out and at least make it to the finals of the next events ???

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  7. Ru-an,

    While watching yesterday’s final between the two chemical brothers (thanks Neil), the immediate thought that came to my mind was, whether, in order to defeat them, Federer would be able to match the physical game of either of them. Specifically, would it be possible for Fed to follow the same algorithm of Nole against Rafa with some adjustments of his own? Why not be a bit more patient? Despite trying their best not to reveal their emotions, I could clearly see both Rafa and Nole becoming frustrated on several occasions; more so, when either of them failed the patience test after long rallies. I strongly believe that with his genius and wide variety of shots, with a little bit of patience (like in the second set against Nole in IW), he can topple both of them (even on clay). And Ru-an, at this juncture, what is your take on Fed retaining the no. 1 spot in the near future?

    It may sound unrealistic right now expecting Fed to retain even the no. 2 spot, but I still have hope for him for retaining the no. 1 spot simply because he is Roger Federer.

    Cheers for our champ!

    [Reply]

    Bragi Reply:

    Well said!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    As of now i dont have much hope Jiten. I dont see how Roger can crack the top two again in the near future. Maybe never again. I dont see how it will help Roger to be more patient either. He doesnt have the two fisted backhand that is solid and consistent. His one handed backhand is not consistent enough to become involved in long baseline rallies. The two base liners will take his backhand apart in longer rallies. Its struggling enough as it is in the shorter exchanges!

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  8. If you believe that Roger is an honest guy then believe without trying to discredit other people. You are just showing to the whole world how you fans of the Ex-Man and the Ex-Man cannot accept defeat with grace.

    You gotta accept that Federer’s time will have to end sooner. It happened to Sampras, it happened to Laver, why can’t it happened to the Ex-Man? Wake up and face reality. We will all grow old. What could be wrong with that. There can only be one Norma Desmond and you know what happened to her.

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  9. Hi Ru-an. I think your head is rationalizing about Roger’s retirement but your heart is forgetting how gut wrenchingly painful it will be. I can’t even imagine how much it is gonna hurt….. but Agassi’s retirement gives me an idea:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vdyxeyGQ62Q

    Just imagine that this is Roger saying goodbye to all us fans! I pray that we are many years away from such a thing

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  10. In times like these I just wish everybody (including the critics) would stop finishing off the hugest dominator of the tennis world, it’s just too annoying. I mean give this guy a break for once. I guess the only explanation to this is that most of us are somehow looking forward to being exposed for another time by the same person : Roger Federer. Yup, make no mistake, this will happen – we being exposed because of talking about the GOATs “tennis funeral” right now – next time he wins another major. Imagine that, the same old story, whenever Roger packs his next Wimbledon or USO the media will be like “The King is revived!” or “Roger Federer’s resurrection”
    Having said that, it is obvious that I think is gonna win another Grand Slam for sure. Another former GOAT did this once, the GOAT of the GOAT can win a couple of majors, no?

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  11. My thoughts on your questions Ruan:
    I think Federer will play till the Olympics like he said he would. Here’s how I see the story unfold –
    – 2011 clay season – He will try to reach at least the semis but won’t try too hard to risk injuries.
    – Wimbledon – He will give a push in Wimbledon. He might not win but his performence will be much better than last year.
    – 2011 hard court season – He knows his real test will be the 2nd part of the season. He will concentrate more effort on the fast courts since he believes that he can contend there (and his new style is tailored for it). If he will get beaten on the fast courts over and over again, I’m not so sure he will keep on going after the Olympics since things will only get worse.
    – 2012 season – He will probably make an effort to keep his body without injuries during the 1st part of the 2012 season and then give his best in Wimbledon and the Olympics. After that it’s hard to see right now and it depends on his results in the 2nd part of 2011.

    Other thoughts that came to my mind after Miami final:
    1. Who would have thought that Nadal will lose two straight finals? Nadal losing a tie-break in the final set? That’s unheard of.
    2. Who would have thought that anyone could outlast Rafa “The Beast” Nadal, the fitness freak, in a 3.5 hours grinding battle? Even Nadal seemed surprised: “I think he’s healthy. He can run to every ball. Seems like he’s less tired than before when he runs a lot, he can play long points and still running. So he’s good.”
    3. Nadal complained: “I was a little bit more tired than usual during the match, that’s true” and later he added “I was very tired at the end. Seriously, very tired.”. I’m just asking, how will Nadal keep on winning slams when he’s 28, when he’ll have to beat young players (let’s say… five years younger than him). It’s going to be quite difficult, isn’t it?
    4. I hope players like Dolgopolov and Dimitrov will climb to the top cause tennis is going to be pretty ugly in the future if all we get are finals like the one in Miami. No magic, no finesse.

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  12. Glad to see this point. Was disheartened by some on the previous thread. I agree with you that Djokovic’s rise will make it much more difficult for Nadal to match Roger’s Grand Slams. I don’t think he’s a lock for any of them anymore, with the possible exception of the French. Even there, Soderling robbed him of one more title.

    I also wondering if this doping issue will stay under the radar forever. There’s an intense investigation related to Contador and of course the Bonds case. In Spain I think the Contador case could perhaps be a problem for Nadal. I believe one of Contador’s doctors was the same as Nadal’s at one point for his knee issues. I also think people that dope that intensely (and it is impossible to not think of Nadal as doping just looking at his intense fluctuations in terms of his body and performance) burn out faster. It actually puts your body through a lot. True, Lance Armstrong was able to last long enough to break all kinds of records in cycling, but with Djokovic apparently now superman as well, Nadal will have to take ever increasing courses to compete. I think you could sense his frustration yesterday. Even with Uncle Toni there and clearly pumped up (his arms were HUGE) he couldn’t get the title.

    I think Roger reputation as the GOAT will actually grow over time. The H2H obsession makes for a compelling narrative for contemporary hype but over time truth wins out. I certainly hope so. Look at Mark McGwire now.

    Just hope Roger can steal some late victories. His playing, elegance, finesse is just inspirational. Truly the Michaelangelo of his sport and of his time. Grace will defeat power in the end.

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  13. Hey Everyone,

    I have been following this blog for the last three years and obviously Roger Federer for the last 4-5 years. There is no need to say that I am a huge fan of his and for the last couple of years I have watched almost all his matches.

    Anyway, an interesting thought came to me the other day. Basically, if we loot at the performance of the new so-called “Trivalry” in the last 6 months or so, basically RF is 3:3 vs Djokovich, and 1:1 vs. Nadal. Djokovic is 3:3 vs. RF and 2:1 vs. Nadal. Nadal is 1:1 vs. RF and 1:2 vs Djokovic. If this means anything, Djokovic is doing the best, Roger Federer is doind second best and Rafael Nadal is third. Technically speaking, The Djoker has 4 titles in 2011, RF has 1, and Nadal has 0. So, this whole thing about Nadal being better than Roger is just plain wrong. Yes, he is more comfortable than him and that’s always been the case, but I don’t think he will win more Grand Slams than Roger.

    Coming into the clay season, I also think that Rafa will not be able to defend all of his points. He needs to defend over 9000 this year (US Open, French, US and three 1000 masters on clay). There is no way he will not slip in at least 2 of those events and I don’t he will win all remaining slams this year either. If anything, it will be Djokovic who will make his move and possibly even Roger if he has the right draw and conditions.

    Another thought… I was reading some of the comments from Roger couple of days before the match with Nadal when he said that Miami plays a lot like a clay court. Well, actually I tend to thing it actually is worse than a clay court. The reason is on clay, you can at least slide and glide to get to a ball faster while on a slow hard court you have to run to the ball. Admittedly, Roger is not as fast as he used to be and he can’t get to a lot of the balls, or at least not get in a position which would let him through the ball with speed and accuracy. Ergo, when he is pushed he makes a lot of unforced errors. On Clay, my hope is that he’ll do better.

    My hope is that he is the one to stop Djokovic. He was the one to beat him last and he should be the one to stop his run. It will mean a lot to his legacy if he can stop Djoko. Even if that means he’ll probably lose again to Rafa. But, again, I don’t think that Rafa will be perfect again in the clay. Come on now, is he super human. Maybe Soderling or Delpo will push him a little bit.

    Anyways, let me know what you think.

    Vily

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Vily for the follow. Personally i cant see how Roger can beat either Djokovic or Nadal on clay. Maybe i am wrong but i dont see how Roger can beat their solid base line games on clay. Its only on grass and fast hard where Roger has an outside chance now i believe. I think Djokovic and Nadal will be playing in all teh clay court finals while Roger will have to be satisfied with semis once more. If he plays really well he can possibly defeat these guys on grass.

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  14. Ru-an, Federer has been extremely consistent since late 2010. He’s now a solid number 3 behind a guy who’s playing some of the greatest tennis played by anyone in any era, given the tailor-made conditions of slow hard court. Let us not forget another all-time great – nadal who’s also in his prime. For Roger to beat them, he has to be on top of his mental and physical game, just as they are on top of theirs.

    I had wanted a semis showing from Roger in IW and Miami and he delivered. Contrary to what you think, he still has the tools to beat the top 2. Even in his loss to Nadal, I could see in the few points that he won, how he outthought Nadal and even surprised him with displays of solid defence and tactical play. He needs to hold his concentration and deliver more such points if he is to have any chance of beating the top 2.

    On the other side, you have to remember that this is a long season and I can guarantee you that by the time the clay season is mid-way, Nadal and Djokovic will be running on fumes. That is when Roger must seize his half-chances and surge ahead. Right now, both Nadal and Djokovic are stronger than him mentally, they are more consistent; especially djokovic who is an immovable object and an irresistible force combined. Roger must strike during Madrid. No doubt he will put up a good show there, but these days, a good show from him at that stage is beating both Nadal and Djokovic.

    Can he do it? Yes he can. Will he do it? With Roger these days, it’s two different things. Time will tell. In the meantime, please continue to support him with your good, strong thoughts, Ru-an. I notice that your writing mood rises and falls just like Roger’s game against the top-2. Be assured that Roger will rise and once again be don, not done.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I appreciate your positive comments Bragi. Its just hard for me to see Roger come close to the top two now. Nadal and Djokovic is very close together as we saw in the Miami final, while Roger is quite a long way off. Now that Djokovic has improved he will be a similar issue as Nadal on clay for Roger. Can you imagine? Not one Nadal, but two! I really hope Roger can take advantage if and when the top two gets tired, but im not betting on it. I have gievn up on Roger getting back the number two spot as well, given that Djokovic is now number two and also have few points to defend on clay. Its very hard for me to remain positive at this point.

    [Reply]

  15. Hey Ru-an.

    I could understand your frustration. I think it has a lot to do with the way Fed plays nowadays. He chose to play first strike tennis but that has certainly damaged his long rally game. Every time he plays against Nadal and Djokovic he tries to be aggressive off his serve but if it doesn’t work he just panics and after like the 6th or 7th shot he makes and unforced. I was so impressed with the way Djokovic hanged in with Nadal for like 25-30 shot rallies without making a mistake. I think Roger must practice the long rallies just as well as the aggressive shots because obviously aggression alone won’t get it done. But for that to happen he needs confidence and unfortunately the only way to get confidence is by beating them. I think Roger has a higher chance to beat Djokovic than Rafa right now so I hope that he will be in Djoko’s half of the draw for Monte Carlo. BTW do you know when is the draw? Thanks

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No i dont know when is the draw. Remember on clay the rallies will be ever longer and those two guys are just so consistent from the base line. Im not really frustrated im just being realistic and people take that as negativity.

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  16. Ruan, I think it is realistic and not pessimistic to acknowledge that at 29 Roger will no longer be able to win at “muscle-boy” tennis. It is less a comment on Roger’s skills, which are naturally not what they were at 24-5, than an observation of the direction the game is going.

    Roger doesn’t play for recreation. He plays to win. Otherwise he would not be the great champion he is. But he is also a proud man. It will take some time before he accepts that the game is moved away from him at the top level. I suspect he knows why, which is why he sometimes appears resigned to his fate when he plays an opponent he knows has too much physically for him to overcome.

    Djokovic and Nadal are changing the way the game is played, and it appears that no one will beat them who cannot play the same way. We will see more like them.

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  17. For anyone needing a Fed pick-me-up (like me), might I strongly recommend rewatching the Shanghai matches against Rafa – as a reminder of how prime Fed played against his biggest rival on his (Fed’s) best surface? Although the 2007 is pure JesusFed at its apogee, I especially recommend the 2006 match, here:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FtnJzrdoRJo&feature=related

    Notice a few things. First, before the match Peter Fleming comments that this is “not a fast, but medium-paced hardcourt, which should even things out a bit for the two.” Btw, similar things were said about ATP London: lower-bouncing (good for Fed) but not very fast (good for Rafa). Second, Fed’s backhand is simply fantastic. Third, and to me the biggest difference to today, the way he covered and hit his forehand from the forehand side of the court (rather than the inside-out/inside-in from the backhand side) is just an order of magnitude better than today. If there is one thing Fed can retool to improve his game now, it is working on that shot. Finally, the mental game: after a strong dominant start, Fed is able to stand tall to Rafa’s strong pushback and win in two rather than let it get to him. Man I miss this!

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  18. ‘Maybe he is over confident, because I don’t see how he is gonna keep playing all these years that he wants to while enjoying it at the same time.’

    Why wouldn’t he enjoy it? Is Federer a player who only wants to win all the time? If he can’t win, he won’t play? He readily admits to loving tennis, all things about it.

    ‘It’s not gonna look good if he finishes with losing records to all three his main rivals.’

    It’s not gonna look good to whom? Doesn’t 16 (or more) slams, almost twice the number of his contemporary rival, look good to you?

    ‘The fans want to remember Roger for the dominant force he was as well, not someone who was playing second fiddle to his rivals for several years at the end of his career. What do you think?’

    Perhaps *some* fans? I think what Roger wants should be what his fans want, no?

    I see some posts here that say they want to see Roger play his beatiful game, no matter what, and continue on. As I posted here a while ago, you’re only as good as your last result. Mr. Number 3 is not dead yet, Ru-an!!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘Why wouldn’t he enjoy it? Is Federer a player who only wants to win all the time? If he can’t win, he won’t play? He readily admits to loving tennis, all things about it.’

    Already explained in my post.

    ‘It’s not gonna look good to whom? Doesn’t 16 (or more) slams, almost twice the number of his contemporary rival, look good to you?’

    Its no gonna look good to the critics who is trying to make Nadal the GOAT. Said that in my post as well.

    ‘Perhaps *some* fans? I think what Roger wants should be what his fans want, no?

    I see some posts here that say they want to see Roger play his beatiful game, no matter what, and continue on. As I posted here a while ago, you’re only as good as your last result. Mr. Number 3 is not dead yet, Ru-an!!!!’

    Rogers last result was a trashing at the hands of Nadal, so thanks for making my point clearer.

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    marron Reply:

    Oops, I didn’t make that last point clearer – it’s a saying around tennis, that ‘you’re only as good as your last results’. It’s a sarcastic way of seeing a player.

    What I meant by that is Fed should NOT be judged by only his last results, nor should any player.

    As to your other ‘explained in my posts’, I guess I’m dumb and didn’t see that anywhere.

    *shrug*

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    Ru-an Reply:

    But we are not just talking about his last result. We are talking about his results this whole year.

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    marron Reply:

    Gotcha. And your most recent post makes more sense to me now.
    Thanks.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Cool.

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  19. I don’t think Federer has given up on his slow-court game. He wouldn’t have opted to play Monte Carlo unless he wanted more matches on clay against the top players. He thinks he can win more titles on clay, including the French Open, and beat Nadal, and he’s committed to improving his game so that he can do it.

    The loss may look bad, but he went into the match with a plan, as he said in the postmatch interview, and he tried to execute it the whole time. It didn’t work, but he gained information. Next match will be different.

    For the first time, really, Federer’s having to make significant adjustments. Not a huge overhaul, just six or seven things that are small individually, but executing them all together at the right times is difficult.

    The biggest obstacle is adopting the mindset to always look for a way to shorten the rallies and go on the attack. On slow surfaces that means he will have to consistently mix it up enough to confuse his opponents during the rallies, and then instantly go on the offensive when he creates an opportunity, in addition to using more of the court to bring his opponents off the baseline.

    He will have to be more attentive and creative in his shotmaking, instead of just playing the same kinds of shots over and over again and falling into a predictable baseline rhythm. He sometimes falls into the trap of trying to match power with power, to outhit his opponent, but this is a losing proposition against Nadal, Djokovic, Del Potro, Soderling, etc. on slow surfaces.

    If he can play in such a way as to put a slightly different slice or spin on each ball, and change the pace in an unpredictable way, his opponents won’t be able to handle it. Murray plays such a style, and he has given Nadal fits on hard courts. But he plays very passively and lacks Federer’s supreme offensive capabilities. If Federer can learn how to do this he will be far more effective than Murray, and on all surfaces too.

    It took Federer a long time to perfect his game. He was on tour for two and a half years before winning a title and nearly five years before his first major.

    He had to simplify and deliberately limit his options in order to cut down on unforced errors and become consistent. He developed a more conservative baseline game, where he hit with constant pace, using the slice to slow the point when needed, but otherwise not changing up things very much, save for the occasional foray to the net. That kind of consistency was a necessity because he wanted to win more majors and eventually to break Sampras’ record, and he couldn’t do that unless he played high-percentage tennis.

    But it was also an Achilles’ heel against someone like Nadal, who thrives on consistency and predictability, at first only on clay, then on all surfaces.

    Now he has to go the opposite way and use more options, complicate his game, to fend off these baseline machines, and he has to do this without increasing his errors too much. This will take some time.

    On the other hand, he has many years of experience now, that he didn’t have before, and all the records: he can take some time to experiment with his game and make adjustments without worrying about Sampras’ record or the career Slam.

    I think he may come to enjoy playing this way more than he did when he stuck to the baseline. An all-court game allows him to express himself more and display his varied shotmaking.

    All in all, I think we’ll see richer and more beautiful tennis from him in his later years, though he might not be racking up the titles at the same pace as he was before.

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  20. Ru-an,

    Regarding head to head and GOAT title, hasn’t anyone mentioned that Roger is playing against kids 5-6 years his junior? They are actually not exactly of the same era. If you judge Roger vs. his contemporaries: Roddick, Fish, Hewitt, Nalbandian, Davydenko etc – he is GOAT by far! He’s playing beyond his age group, actually. The fact that he’s 3 in the world right now when No. 1 is 24 and No. 2 is 23, is remarkable. How did Djokovic turn from someone who always retired from matches into an unstoppable, power player who never tires? I’d love to see his training regiment. This will be an interesting year in tennis. Djokovic has finally figured out how to keep up with Nadal! Roger obviously hasn’t.

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    jim Reply:

    I agree completely with this. Borg was two and a half years older than McEnroe much more contemporaries than Nadal and Federer. Fact is I think Federer at his peak would have beaten Nadal at his peak, but they were at their heights at different moments. That Federer at 29 beat his two main rivals who are five and six years younger just a few months ago says a lot. Borg retired (perhaps early) when he was 26 and McEnroe burned out around that age too. Being GOAT should include longevity and I really wonder if Nadal has much more in him. His game is so punishing on the body (and the eyes). Even with juice he won’t last long.

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  21. ‘… Nadal has much more in him. His game is so punishing on the body (and the eyes). ..’

    Not to my eyes. :-)

    Love his game. Vive les differences!

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  22. Ru-an .One hting i dont understand is that in other sports,for example cricket ,a player is said to reach his peak or prime at the age of 25-28.But if you look at tennis and at Roger,he is almost 30 and we are saying that he has passed his prime and has become slower thatn a few years ago(which I totally agree)???

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    sportsfan Reply:

    actually not, the fast bowlers in cricket retire at an age of 33 or so…its only the batsmen and spinners that stay on for long as their body doesn’t get physically burnt out

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    writerfan Reply:

    Staying in the game and being in the prime are two different things. Certainly Roger has peaked. Question now is how long can he last in top 5 form to keep him in the hunt for that last couple of slam titles. Pete and Andre both won slams after 30. Can Roger?

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    V.Adhithya Reply:

    I agree with you.But the thing is Roger is not more of a physical player like nadal but stile he seems to be losing some speed and that may be due to the fact that he is past is prime and cricket and Tennis are poles apart.

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  23. i find it sad, after the results at wimbledon 2011. i can’t help but think there is doping going on, when “they” play an almost inhuman level of tennis in the first set of the final in mens. i have a new heightened respect for roger. i think he dam well knows what is going on & can’t do a thing to stop it. he doesn’t want to hurt tennis either. i see in rogers posture, an underlying sadness at what has happened in last few years to this sport. i love all these top players but now i see there is more going on with these ‘doctors’ than we care to think about.

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