Miami Rd 2: Federer Routines Stepanek 6-3, 6-3

It was nice to see Roger back with a crew shirt today like in the old days. I don’t know so much about the pink coloring but after all he can’t keep using the same colors. Roger looked great in his game today as well after I was a little bit worried about the slow conditions. He held serve confidently from the start and the pressure told on Stepanek as Roger broke to love in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead. He ended the first set with and 80% first serve percentage, 5 aces, and 1 double fault. An impressive service display. Stepanek held a break point in the second game of the second set but could not convert. He paid for that as Roger broke in the next game. In the ninth game Roger had three more break points at 40-0 on the Stepanek serve and took his first match point. In the end Roger finished with 70% first serves, 7/10 net points won and 3/3 on break points.

I’d day that is a pretty sharp start to this event. As we have already established, his draw looks good until the semis as well, and if he keeps playing like this his chances looks great to make semis again. He next faces Monaco who he only played once before on clay and beat in three pretty tough sets. I think this will probably be another routine win for Roger though. Yesterday at Miami there was a lot of upsets with Verdasco, Wawrinka, and Murray all falling. Murray lost to another qualifier and is really down in the dumps right now. He lost four matches in a row now and is in an even bigger slump than he was last year after losing in the Oz Open final. One wonders if he will fall in the rankings now and ever get his act together again. You therefor have to give Roger a lot of credit for his consistency even at this late stage of his career.

Interviewhttp://www.sonyericssonopen.com/News/Tennis/2011/Interview-Transcripts/Interview-Transcripts/Extra-Column/2011-Roger-Federer-March-26.aspx

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65 Comments

  1. I think Roger was in an impressive style and more impressive the victory was Federer´s 762nd which ties him with Sampras, as you have said credit for his consistency.Another upset Roddick.
    Let´s go Roger!!!

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  2. He is far more consistent then before. Slowly and surely he will be back on top. Unlike Novak, just a matter of time before things come crashing down as it will be soon. I hope for delpo/djoker match, mouth watering match there

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  3. Hi Ru-an, So glad Roger had a good start on his first match today, let us hope he can keep it up. Did not see the match but your blog told me all about it. Also, your previous blog was most encouraging about Roger than what we have been hearing and reading in the tennis media. Thank you for being there, Ru-an.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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  4. “Roger looked great in his game today as well after I was a little bit worried about the slow conditions.” Ru-an, I had the same feeling about the slowness of the courts. In some of the longer rallies, I was wondering whether they were playing in a clay court. Have you seen that Roddick also lost? He was complaining about not feeling well; I guess, it may be the aftereffects of the mono. So, now Roger should make a smooth inroads into the semifinals (although Roddick’s presence won’t have made much of a difference). Hope in the next rounds Fed stops being casual about some of his forehand and backhand unforced errors that was on display today.

    Cheers for the champ!

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  5. The draw seems to be shaping up nicely. Roddick is out. Cilic is out. Meltzer is out. But there is still a danger in the draw….. Simon!! He’s still standing and on this slow court I’m worried that Roger may struggle against him in the quarter finals. Let’s hope he does what he did in Dubai and lose before he’s due to play Roger.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Im not too worried about Simon Andrew. This may well be JesusFed we are seeing at this event.

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    Stu Reply:

    Ru-an, I’m so glad that you’re feeling so optimistic. Just wondering why you think we are seeing JesusFed in Miami? I really wish it’s true!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Im just basing that on his first match Stu. It was a pretty clinical performance. If he keeps serving like that he will be hard to beat. Having said that, its just a feeling and i may be wrong of course.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    I’ve got the same feeling Ru-an. Great serving, few shanks, strong off both wings. The only lapse was really letting up on closing out a few rallies, but that typically happens against lower ranked opponents – an understandable lack of full intensity. Let’s just hope it’s right. One problem is that the slow conditions – a few points Fed’s shots should’ve been winners but on this court didn’t quite go through. Hope he adjusts and treats it as a warm-up for clay court style ball. One key: if both Fed & Djokovic does make the final, it’ll be during the day, which is to Fed’s advantage in two ways – Nole’s not good with heat and it’ll be faster conditions, favoring Fed. Especially since I think Djokovic will have mostly night matches till then, making him less well equipped to handle the change in conditions.

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    marron Reply:

    The draw certainly seems to be heading towards a Nadal-Federer meeting in the semi’s, no*?

    *’no’ added for tease factor :-)

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  6. Haha. Hi Marron! Nadal is ready for the clay now I think. I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t make it to the semi finals just like at Toronto (or was it Cinncinati?) Last year. To be honest though until Simon is dealt with i’m not even looking to ‘the great rivalry’.
    Ru-an- I’m watching the Del Potro v Soderling match now. How nice is it to see ‘Del Boy’ back?! I call him Del Boy after Derek Trotter from ‘Only Fools And Horses’ (ever heard of it?! A british tv classic series)
    Del Potro ruined Roger’s dream of another year of winning 3 slams and the ‘Roger Slam’ but I can’t dislike the guy at all after everything he’s been through in the last year. Come on Del Boy! Knock out Djokovic (no-one else in that half has even a 5% chance of doing so!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes im very happy to see Pony is making steady progress Andrew. I think he is no very close to his best after the Sod match. His serve is no back which wasnt the case in IW. Of course Nadal got lucky there and improved his h2h with the Pony who otherwise owns Nadal on hard court. I think Pony has a chance against Djokovic now. Looking forward.

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    marron Reply:

    Andrew, I finally got to watch the Nishikori match, and find myself not that impressed. Serve is better, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa didn’t make it to semi’s either. I do believe what the players say – that any one of them can be beaten on any given day. The top guys are all pretty close, consistency is what gets you those top rankings.
    We gonna see.

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    Andrew Reply:

    Nadal just seems to have gone back to his old way of playing on hard courts- loads of top spin and no depth. He isn’t flattening out his forehand at all. In IW DJ was feeding the forehand over and over again but Nadal wasn’t able to do anything with it except a high bouncing cross court shot. That works against Roger as he has a one handed backhand but guys like Murray (when he used to play tennis), DJ and Del Potro aren’t bothered by a ball that sits up like that. It will be tough for him for the rest of this tournament. I wouldn’t be hugely shocked if Lopez beat him. I would however be very shocked if DJ lost before the semi finals. The guy is just on fire!! It’s a question of how many games he’ll lose at the moment- not how many sets!

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    marron Reply:

    ‘… Nadal just seems to have gone back to his old way of playing on hard courts…’

    Agreed. Old habits. Like to see the backhand working right though – there was some of that in the Nishikori match. Bodes well for later on.

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  7. Andrew – “I would however be very shocked if DJ lost before the semi finals. The guy is just on fire!!”

    On fire? He is certainly on something.

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  8. Neil, you are just a bitter fan who is so upset that his hero is in decline, so now you’re accusing other players of steriod use instead of accepting your hero is not the same player he used to be. Djokovic is most likely innocent, he still breathes pretty heavily after long rallies. Just grow up instead of accusing other players.

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  9. P.S. Djokovic has just thumped Blake 6-2, 6-0. Handing out bagels is a regular occurrence for Djoko these days (Gulbis 6-1, 6-0 at Indian Wells – I don’t think he was the only one.) And all done without a “grip change”. It’s amazing what a new doctor and “confidence” can do for your game. Djoko, we hardly recognise you.

    It’s funny, but I never hear Federer talking about how he needs to get “stronger” or “fitter”, like so many guys do these days. You would think that after playing tennis since they were about 5 years old and professionally for 5-10 years that “fitness” for players at their physical peak wouldn’t really be much of a problem. Maybe Rog needs a new doctor.

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  10. oh i see my comment was deleted because some fanboys cannot handle the truth. How about federer’s dramatic improvement between 03 and 04? Oh yeah no drugs there, right

    Djokovic owns federer now, deal with it

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    jim Reply:

    right. that’s why federer beat sampras at wimbledon in 2001. Give me a break. Djoko has been around forever and all of a sudden he’s kicking everyone’s butt despite playing more than ever. Oh, yeah, and Federer never credited a new doctor for helping to improve his “allergies.” Read what he said http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/25/sports/tennis/25iht-ARENA25.html

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No comment was deleted. Get a grip.

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  11. Ru-an, I just posted a comment to answer Mike, when I clicked on Submit it went blank. Did my comment get lost????

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Dolores i guess so. Can you post it again?

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  12. Mike,
    Nobody OWNS anybody…..your comment is of angry sarcasm, not much appreciated on this website. You certainly are entitled to your opinion, doing it in a more kinder fashion will make a better world of communication.

    Ru-an, was sorry to learn that Delpo lost his match today against Mardy Fish. Mardy seems to play very well.
    Waiting for your analysis on Roger’s match with Monaco….Roger plays tonight again. Good luck, Roger.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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  13. There is a rain delay in miami so sky sports are playing a replay of the Federer v Nadal Miami Masters final 2005. What a match!! Federer was down 0-2, 1-4 and just won the third set on a tie break after being 3-5 down in the tie breaker! Amazing to watch young Federer. As I’ve mentioned before I only started following Roger from 2008 so I missed a lot of his dominance.
    A few things strike me about this match. Obviously it’s amazing to watch history being made as this was really the start of the great rivalry. Roger said at the start of 2005 that he wanted to start developing rivalries- well he certainly did that! Nadal lost this match because of his poor fitness (he was only 18!!) But it was because of this match that Nadal concentrated on his fitness and became the machine that he is today. Roger created Rafa in many ways!
    I’m also amazed that having watched this match I am convinced that Roger is now a better player than he was in 2005. His forehand is now better. Much better. In this match he lifts off the ground on every shot and doesn’t get his full weight behind it. This year in Miami his forehand is better. Federer used more slice with his backhand which I liked. But now he can hit thru it better. Roger’s serve is better now too.
    So I am surprised that Roger is ‘in decline’ but a better player than in 2005! The problem is that everyone else has got better and Roger has aged. But I think he actually even moves better now! He glides across the court now. He seemed to sprint but painfully across the court in 2005.
    Anyways. Those are my views for what they’re worth!

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  14. Andrew, your enthusiasm is contagious, as always. Your observations about Federer in ’05 are interesting, although I would hesitate to conclude too much from what was not one of Roger’s better matches from the period as I recall – even though he did win. Perhaps, if I could underline a difference between then and now is that his game seemed to be more consistent off the ground then, a little more confident – especially in pressure situations – and with far fewer shanks. In fact Ruan’s “evil Federer twin” was hardly in evidence for much for those years.

    In absolute terms it is hard to see how Roger has “declined”, if at all, but undoubtedly the opposition has improved, so his decline seems to be relative. This, to me, begs the question as to how so many players are so much better than they were a few years ago; particularly since the basis of that improvement seems to be more physical than technical. (These are also players who have been on the tour for some years and are not new talents on the scene.)

    You say that Nadal lost the Miami match in ’05 because of his “poor fitness” and that following that match he concentrated on his fitness and became “the machine that he is today”. (I guess ditto Djokovic now.) Don’t you find it a little strange that fitness has never been an issue for Roger, whereas there are more and more top tennis players, whom you would expect to be athletes at the top of their game (these are not overweight hamburger fiends we are talking about), who protest frequently to having fitness issues that are resolved virtually overnight, whence they become immeasurably stronger and tireless (on the big occasion anyway)? Isn’t odd that the players who struggled with their stamina – Nadal in the early days, as you say, Murray and then Djokovic – have become the most formidable retrievers on the tour? To me that is the most striking development on the tour now – the development of the “overnight super-athlete”, who rapidly metamorphoses from being a very good player to near invincible at their physical peak. As you say, Roger may have improved technically in parts of his game to off-set a slight diminution in his physical skills from aging, but that doesn’t appear to be enough now to beat the tennis “machines”.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I have to agree Neil, something seems suspect. Its as if these guys make superhuman physical strides while Roger pretty much stayed the same, if not improved as Andrew say.

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    Andrew Reply:

    Thanks for the nice comments Neil. During the aforementioned rain delay they also showed the final at Miami when Murray won in 2009. Djokovic could barely breathe for most of the match and had to call the trainer. He was a wreck out there. It really is amazing how he’s suddenly unbeatable even in hot climates just 2 years later. How many tournaments did he pull out of last year due to illness? I think he even pulled out of his home tournament!

    What I also noticed from watching that FEDAL match is that Rafa has not improved as a player AT ALL!!! He still hit the same bad forehand- spinny, the same backhand and he was still poor at drop shots. His serve I suppose has improved a tiny bit (when he can get it in) but his overall game now is i’d say worse as he is even more conservative now. In the final with Fed in 2005 he was going for the corners and hitting his shots. Now he just loops the ball over the net. I watched a bit of the Nadal v DJ final from Indian Wells recently. Wow it was boring. Long, boring rallies. It was just like watching the women play! I don’t mind women’s tennis and I watch it from time to time but it was literally like a WTA match. Lots of height over the net. Long unimaginative rallies. Is that the future of men’s tennis? Djokovic may be an interesting character off the court but on it his game is dull and he whines the whole time unless he’s winning. He is a bad loser. At least Andy Murray’s game is a little bit less 1 dimensional. He at least tries to mix it up. Oh well, i’m sure the ATP know what they’re doing!

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    lyre Reply:

    If Nadal has not improved much as a player at all since 2005, what does that imply about Federer that he cannot even beat such a “stagnant” player consistently since 2005. I think Nadal’s tally of slams since 2005 clearly attests that indeed he has improved immensely.

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    Andrew Reply:

    He has improved a bit. What I meant I suppose is that he’s hardly added anything to his game. He’s still the same player. He’s become fitter and better at running all around the court but he hasn’t developed a better way to play tennis. For example in the Dolgopolov match just gone he looked like the player outside the top 20 as he allowed his opponent to dictate most rallies. He feeds off mistakes- not great play. He just doesn’t look liek the number 1 player in the world out there. He runs his butt off, sweats and grunts his way through matches.
    And the H2H is explained because they have met 10 times on clay and Nadal’s 2005 game works perfectly on clay.

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    mel Reply:

    Why does he have to develop a “better way to play tennis” when the method he uses right now has worked phenomenally. No one could even get close to him last year- only the Djoker was able to even get a set of him in all 3 slam finals. He has an overwhelmingly dominant head to head against most of the top ten- especially Federer. And if you dont think Nadal has changed from 2005, then I’m not sure we’re watching the same game. First of all, he is much more aggressive now, comes to net more and is excellent when he does come up there. It is impossible not to improve and develop your game in 6 years and the slams that he has won shows this improvement. He was able to win on grass- many thought he couldn’t because he was a claycourt baseliner, but he adapted his game to win. He has won on hardcourts- again by improving his serve. You cannot win 9 slams and achieve the career slam at 24 by simply being fitter and running around court all day as you describe Nadal. If that were the case, David Ferrer would be feted as a multiple slam champion by now.

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    Andrew Reply:

    Yes but Ferrerr doesn’t have a horrible loopy forehand that puts twice as much spin on the ball than anyone elses. It’s a great trick shot. Apart from that Nadal is a very good one trick pony. Last year he played 3 slam finals against easy opponents (apart from Djokovic in US Open) I think the final at the French was the first match in seven that he played a guy in the top 10! Same thing at US Open now I come to think about it. I mean come one- Youhnzy in the semi finals?! Ha!

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    mel Reply:

    You can only play who is in front of you- it’s not Nadal’s fault that he plays Youzhny- that is an extraneous condition independent of him. His three slams last year cannot be excused because the other top players did not step up- if anything it shows that only Nadal is capable of consistently raising his level of play unlike the rest of the top ten last year.

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  15. djokovic had multiple set points in the 2007 us open final against federer in both the first and second sets, and blew them away. He won a slam at the 08 aussie open. Djokovic actually winning a slam at that age is more impressive than beating an ageing sampras. Djokovic didnt just fly out of nowhere, he has been one of the top 3 players for the last 3 years

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  16. I have been thinking of Neil’s posts and their subtle implication lately. While I really do not like to sound like a sole loser and discredit Rafa and Djoko’s advancement and achievements, I just can’t help but agree with Neil that there’s something strange about their sudden physical advancement that belies sporting norms.

    Anyway, back to Roger. I think tomorrow’s match against Simon could be tricky with their history and the conditions out there. If he’s badly exposed by Simon again, it could be very difficult mentally for him to overcome Rafa in the next round, assuming he still make it pass Simon. I’m really keeping my finger crossed and hoping to see a clean and confident match from Roger this time.

    All the best to our champ!

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  17. Hi all. Another victory for Roger last night- hurrah! And he won in straight sets easily. No wasted energy and 3 breaks fo serve in the 2nd set seems impressive. As it was played overnight (from the UK) I haven’t been able to watch the match yet but I will watch it when I get home from work.

    I am worried about Simon. I agree with ‘Onefly9’ (a much more interesting name than me!) Losing to Simon is a possibility but it would be even more concerning if Roger’s confidence was knocked by struggling against Simon only to win and then face……. his Nemesis! Losing to Rafa on a hard court at the moment would be very very bad for the rest of the season IMO. If Roger wants to have a chance at the French he has to avoid losing to Rafa in the build up. As Ru-an has said before (and Roger has said himself) when Rafa is in the draw in these big tournaments Roger’s mind wanders to start thinking about the next match as he knows he has to be fully fit to win.

    Djokovic’s draw has opened up and he is surely going to make the final. Very lucky as usual. Murray lost and Del Potro lost. If Fish loses to Ferrerr I could see Ferrer giving DJ a few problems actually. He should really have been 2 sets to love up against Murray at Aussie Open this year so he’s been playing well on hard courts. But DJ still is odds on favorite to be in the final. Can anyone stop his winning run!?

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    Jiten Reply:

    I watched the Fed match against Rochus live (quite ridiculous that it started at 12:36 am endeding at 1:29 am) and was very much impressed with his play. If not the best, this must be one of the best matches Fed has played in 2011. 32 winners and only 12 UFEs. I haven’t seen such clean forehand hitting from Fed for a long time; even some of the backhands and the drop-shots were just stunning. Mind it, this is a very slow court and at night, even slower. My prediction against Simon: Fed wins by a scoreline of 6-3, 6-4.

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  18. Mike, no one says Djokovic has “flown out of nowhere” to be the player that he is this year – which is to move from his near permanent position at No.3 in the world to become, on his current form, far and away the best player on the tour.

    Since 2007, when he played in his first grand slam final Djokovic has played in 15 majors. How many has he won? He has won two, the most recent being of course this year’s AO. The rest were shared between Federer and Nadal, with the lone exception of Del Potro’s USO win in ’09. For Djokovic the drought between major titles was a pretty long one – 3 years.

    In that 3 years he was at best a contender (like Murray) but not a champion, and he often struggled against much lower-ranked players. He looked less than impressive in his consecutive poundings by Federer at the end of last year.

    But this year he has been transformed. He is in every respect a more imposing player than he was in the previous 3 years. Now he regularly bagels opponents that he once laboured against. He hasn’t lost a match this year – or looked even close to doing so. He is bigger, stronger and faster.

    And all it took was the Christmas break. You have to wonder how players are now able to make such huge improvements in such a short space of time – in Djokovic’s case, the 3 week off-season. Or Nadal’s new serve, introduced (he says) with a “grip change” the weekend before his run at last year’s USO. (Incidentally, as the losing finalist Djokovic was observed by Indian doubles pro Mahesh Bhupathi, who was watching the match, to have “no chance”. Djokovic was simply over-powered by Nadal. Not much chance of that now.)

    Djokovic gives much of the credit to his doctor, who has joined his team. Interesting that. Not his coach, not his family or friends – or even his remarkable backhand. So how exactly does modern medicine become the prescription for top-level sporting success? You have to wonder about that, too.

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  19. Boy o boy, did you all wait for that match for hours last night? I know I did, and it was worth the wait. Oli had a weak serve, but good placement. Maybe not JesusFed, but close IMHO. Perhaps it was JohntheBaptistFed. OK, so it’s not funny, but he got thru him in less than an hour, and pulled off some fantastic shots. Still not sure if I’ll make it down to Miami, but hopefully I can pull it off. Have a great day you all, and looking forward to Ruans analysis of the matches. G

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    Andrew Reply:

    “JohntheBaptistFed” actually made me LOL Gary! :-)

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  20. Ru-an, as your ever ardent reader and others included we are waiting patiently for your blog update on 2 Fed matches. Please spare of this misery and post something or anything. Heck stop keeping us in suspense those I know you are upset over Marsha Fierce 3hr drama queen match.

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  21. Ok I’ve been having a look at other 2005 matches and Neil is right- that match against Nadal was not Roger at his best…..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZzJ7hJSPxE

    this one is pretty impressive!!

    I’m not so confident that 2011 Federer would beat the guy who turned up in the 2005 US Open final. I can’t believe how fast Roger used to be!!! He was like lightning!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Roger was better in those days Andrew. He had the fearlessness of youth on his side and had an air of confidence which is rare today. Juts untouchable.

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    onefly9 Reply:

    Ru-an and Andrew, loved both your descriptions on young Roger, spot on imho! I believe that’s the difference between then and now: lightning speed, fearlessness and the air of invincibility.
    I have missed so much as I only started watching tennis / Roger since 2008. Have been relying on youtube to get a taste of Roger at his very best.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well then you have certainly missed his peak (2004-2007). But yeah there is some good videos of it on youtube. Watch especially those Masters Cup performances of his in 2006 and 2007. Epic stuff.

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  22. Djokovic still breathes heavily after long rallies. Besides no one is answering about federer’s dramatic improvement between 03 and 04. He suddenly became unbeatable in 04 except on clay. Djokovic was showing signs of getting better last year, making the us open final. Accusing him of steriod use is just sour grapes. Federer has declined because of age, and most players his age start to decline, the whole “omg djoker is on steriods” screams from jealousy, thats all.

    One example of federer’s decline. Last year he blew away multiple match points in 4 matches. 4. How many times did this happen in his prime? And is that because of “steriods” too? It seems like whoever starts beating federer is automatically accused of using steriods because some fans really believe that their idol is unbeatable and cannot be beaten fair and square

    Nadal is somewhat suspicious because he added 4-5 miles on his serve. Djokovic did not improve his serve overnight.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3bosnckZ08Y

    see how out of breath he is at the end of the rally? If he is using steriods, they must not be very good.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Roger improved fast in 03 because of a mental decision he made not to throw tantrums anymore. So thats very explainable.

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  23. and it isnt explainable for Djokovic that he is mentally tougher now that he was in the past. Alot of players mature at that age atleast mentally. Djokovic still breathes heavily and by no means has inhuman stamina. Like i said, Nadal may well be suspicious because of the serve improvement of 4-5 miles overnight, but djokovic has done no such thing.

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  24. Mike, your comments here about the drugs issue in tennis show two things: you don’t bother to actually read earlier posts and you haven’t done any real research into the topic.

    To make it as simple as possible for you: there are players who rouse suspicions about possible drug use because of (among other things) dramatic changes in their performance (or appearance, or both) – not because they may now be beating Roger Federer. For the record, there are probably many players who dope who can’t beat Roger, and probably never will. There are also likely to be players who beat him fairly and cleanly – without the use of drugs. So this has nothing to do with “Fed-fan jealousy”, as you repeatedly and fatuously claim.

    The comparison you make between certain other players’ recent extraordinary improvements and Federer’s rise to dominance is a facile one. Roger was regarded as one of the most talented players on the tour from the time he turned pro as teenager in ’98. The player who beat Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001 was not markedly different from the Wimbledon champion in ’03, when he garnered his first grand slam title. Predictably, by the beginning of ’04 he was the No.1 player in the world. What this shows is that Roger took a few years to mature as a player – most particularly, as a competitor at the grand slam level, which is to be expected. But his game did not change greatly in that time – and neither did his physique.

    He is thus nothing like players who have become ripped and buffed over period of a few months, who have evolved overnight from having suspect stamina issues to being amongst the fittest and fastest players on the tour, and who have added huge reserves to their power – whether it is serve or groundstrokes – by the simple expedient of a “grip change” or a new doctor on the team. In some of these cases, the “next level” is achieved over the Christmas break, or some similar such nano-second in a pro’s career.

    Lastly, the kind of observations you continue to make about the doping issue suggest that you have made very little inquiry – if any at all – into this complex subject. Do us a favour and do some reading before you sound off again with your empty banalities on this topic.

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    mel Reply:

    Before disdainfully dismissing Mike’s on the presupposed notion that he knows nothing on the subject, it would be wise to consider why exactly is it that after certain players- notably Nadal and Djokovic- have exacted multiple wins against Federer there are always claims of doping against them on this blog. The timing of the accusations are suspicious to say the least. Last year with Nadal getting the career slam a good many years younger than when Fed got his, there was a post on it on the subject and now the same accusations come up against Djokovic. It is of course easy to ascribe any chain of success of any player (especially those who challenge Fed or his legacy) to suspicious means- maybe you cant or don’t want to entertain the possibility that relatively young men like Djokovic at 23 can mature mentally and take the next step to win slams like Fed himself was able to as you claim at Wimbledon. Is Fed the only one allowed this task of mental maturation- are none of the other players able to get success on the grand stage without suspicious means?
    With regards to Djokovic, he has not overnight become one of the “fittest or fastest players” on the tour as you claim. The guy has been one of the fastest and best defenders on tour for some years now and his stamina issues have not suspiciously disappeared- they simply have not been a factor as he has spent the least amount of time on court- less than an hour at times to blow his opponents off the court. If and when he is really tested in a long and physical match, most likely in the clay season, then one can really assess and judge his stamina. But to claim right now that his stamina issues have disappeared is simply pointless. And finally to his development on the grand slam stage, one does not have to vegetate for years to develop- different players have different styles of development. His game more than the rest of the top ten is based on his confidence and one can easily trace the arc of that to his Davis Cup win and now it is pretty much indomitable on the tour with his 21 consecutive wins.
    And finally, the condescending attitude about your knowledge of the subject does not give you the right to use it as a facade to implicate other players who challenge Federer. Instead of simply dismissing Mike’s claims, why not actually address the suspicious issue of why this blog and specifically you bring up this subject exclusively with players who beat Federer consistently like Nadal and Djokovic.

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  25. and djokovic was not regarded as one of the most talented players on tour? This is the same kid, who at 20 years old reach the us open final and had multiple set points vs federer in both the first and second set. He won a major at the australian open 08 which is more impressive then beating an ageing sampras

    One of the fastest players on tour? Are we watching the same man? He has been one of the fastest movers for years. Did u watch the clip i posted? He was breathing heavily after a 39 shot rally while federer or nadal play rallies that long and dont breath heavily like djoker does.

    Djokovic has been regarded as a very talented player since he came along. Federer himself called djokovic the next big thing after the us open final in 07. What djokovic lacked was mental strength, the same thing that a young federer lacked.

    And yes the timing of these accusations are very suspicious. Everytime someone starts beating federer, these accusations come along

    Is nadal a suspect? Yes because his serve improved 4-5 miles overnight. Djokovic has done no such thing. If novak was indeed the “fittest” player or even one of them, he wouldnt be breathing so heavily after long rallies.

    Like i said, roger is the greatest player ever but he is at an age when most players decline. and he is no exception. I still feel that he can win one or two more majors. But there is no doubt that there are some bitter fans who start accusing other players of steriod use just because they start beating roger. They just cant see any other explanation, like the other guy may be really good or federer may be in decline.

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  26. appearently alot of people dont remember the 07 us open final whena young djokovic should have been 2 sets up against a PRIME federer.No i am not saying that he is more talented then federer, but djokovic is still a very talented player. Especially his backhand and return of serve. He was troubling federer when he was just 20, and even roger seemed very impressed. Anyone can see how gifted the young man was. And now that he has mentally matured, these accusations come along simply because he keeps beating federer

    I can bet that if federer beats djokovic in their next three meetings, most of those people accusing djoker would shut up, but if djokovic keeps beating federer, they will keep making accusations out of bitterness.

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  27. So there is no difference between the Djokovic today and the player he was in the last 3-4 years – even though he is now suddenly and completely dominant on the tour? Or if he is better, he has just “matured” or gotten rid of his psychological/breathing problems, or whatever? In 3 weeks. Highly plausible.

    Again, the comparison with Federer’s early career is glib and doesn’t hold up to close inspection. Federer’s progress to the top was incremental – he didn’t “leap-frog” the best over the Christmas break, or unveil a new serve two days before winning his first major on his weakest surface.

    It is also tedious to hear the claim that players are only suspected of ped use because they are beating Federer. Wrong. Read again. They are suspected of ped use because they show some of the signs that accompany its use. But I guess you can only come to that conclusion if you have done some research into the subject of doping in sports, which quite clearly, by the nature of their arguments, the defenders of Nadal and Djokovic haven’t – and don’t wish to, the conclusion is too unpalatable to them.

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    mel Reply:

    Yes, it is highly plausible to mentally mature in a relatively quick span of time- Del Potro is a prime example of this. The guy had literally no stamina proir to the US Open- he ran out of gas in the Montreal Masters losing to Murray easily in the third set and yet a few weeks later, he was able to battle all the way to the US Open final and beat Federer in five sets. It can take one or two insignificant occurrences to effect real change in a player’s mentality. Federer is not the established bar to measure other players’ developement by; just because he developed “incrementally,” does not mean everyone else has to- everyone has their own rate of development. Anyway, the improvement in Djokovic is not physical, it is purely a mental issue of confidence. He has not unveiled any noteworthy strokes- his power baseline game is untouchable now because of the confidence he has to go fro his shots.
    And what are you talking about Djokovic “leapfrogging the best”- last time I checked the guy was consistently in the top three for consecutive years despite the myriad of health and serve problems that he had. Likewise, it is tedious to hear you claiming that indeed these players are suspect because they apparently show signs and not because they beat Fed. But this does not explain the timing of these claims- always conveniently only when Federer is being beaten. It looks like a self serving fantasy for many on this blog- Federer is being beaten/ his legacy threatened by a slew of players so let’s imply that their games are suspect because god knows no one cant consistently beat an aging Fed without suspicious means!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    How can you blame people for suspecting players given the pathetic testing methods they have for doping? As far as I’m concerned we can speculate all we like here. In fact its our duty.

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  28. your argument has failed, neil. You claimed that djokovic suddenly “became one of the fastest” players on tour while he has always been one of the fastest players on tour. You deny djokovics talent, ever watched the 07 us open final? Rogers own words about djokovic being the next big thing? No, you choose to ignore these points because you know you are wrong

    Why does djoker breath so heavily if he is using steriods? Please go ahead and answer. Djokovic didnt “leap frog”, he was showing signs of getting better last year reaching the us open final The davis cup helped him too

    I will repeat, federer went from winning one slam a year to three the next. That is a dramatic improvement no matter how you put

    The attack on djokovic has everything to do with him beating. federer. Whoever beats federer multiple times in a row is accused of steriods.

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  29. and Nadal and Djokovic are different people. Nadal showing dramatic serve improvement, djokovic did not. Since you are accusing djokovic of steriods, please keep nadal out of it. Yes Nadal is a suspect but you are trying to use suspicions against nadal on djokovic.

    Please watch the 07 us open final and then tell me that djoker was not one of the most talented young players in the world.

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  30. Mike, you are not debating with me because you are not actually responding to what I have said. I am not going to keep repeating myself in the vain hope that some of it will get through. You are in fact arguing with the voices in your own head; it’s as perplexing as watching someone boxing with an imaginary opponent that he thinks is real.

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  31. no neil, you have been proven wrong on multiple occasions, you have denied djokovics talent, refused to answer question about djokovic STILL BREATHING HEAVILY. You called djokovic one of the “fittest” players on tour, lauaghable with the way he breathes. You are just bitter that djokovic keeps beating federer and you find it hard to accept that federer has declined because of age. Your comments are lauaghable, plan and simple as that. Attacking me will not help you

    Lets face it, when some player seriously challenges federer, some of his fans start crying “omg steriods”. I suspect nadal because of his serve improvement, djokovic has done no such thing.

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  32. Mike, are you some kind of troll?

    1. You have ‘proven’ nothing, and, conversely, refuted nothing; merely claimed that you right. Not the same – but I guess you can’t tell.

    2.I have not ‘denied Djokovic’s talent’. (You can’t read.) His talent is not the issue; his sudden improvement – and the extent of it – is.

    3. What is this nonsense about Djokovic’s ‘BREATHING’? (By the way, what are the capitals for?) Are you a respiratory expert? Has Djokovic retired this year because of health or fitness issues? No. Is he slowing down in his matches or going strong to the end? Yes. Is he now as fast around the court as Nadal? Pretty much. But same old Djoko to you, eh. Then I wonder why he is unbeaten so far this year and is absolutely crushing many of his opponents. Where was that Djoko in the past – even last year? If there was no real change in his level this year then no one would be talking about it – including Djoko himself (who, incidentally, Mr Respiratory Expert, says his fitness and ‘BREATHING’ problems have been fixed by his new doctor.)

    4. Contrary to what you say, I have previously argued that Federer is in fact declining. (Again, you can’t read.)

    5. Players may show signs of using ped’s – often detectable by sudden changes in their performance (among other things.) I know you remain confused about this but those signs have nothing to do with beating Roger Federer. As usual, you fail to grasp the argument. (Try doing some actual reading on the topic. Oh, I forgot, you don’t read.)

    I don’t think we can take this any further. Don’t forget to take your pill tonight.

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  33. dont forget to admit yourself into a mental hospital. And federer didnt show dramatic improvement between 03 and 04, right? Yeah keep denying facts

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  34. Mike, don’t get upset. I was just teasing. Couldn’t you tell? And you are right – we are just a bunch of sad Federer fans looking for excuses for why he loses. Boy, it’s great to have someone who is as smart as you to come here and point this out us! It’s kind of humbling, really, to have you here.

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