Miami SF: Nadal Trashes Federer 6-3, 6-2

I’m not gonna make a long post because I’m still pretty pissed off with this loss and frankly there isn’t much to say. It was just a proper trashing really. Roger opened with a good hold of serve and from there on he disappeared off the map. He didn’t even look like he was trying very hard. I remember him saying in one of his interviews that he likes playing Nadal. That was a pretty ironic statement given the beating he took yesterday. It didn’t look like he enjoyed it much as all. He made no impression on the Nadal serve and struggled on his own service games. There was just no way for him into the match. And again I can’t look past the fact that this was a slow hard court. This is now the third proper beat down Roger have suffered on slow hard court in the last six months, in Shanghai against Murray, in Dubai against Djokovic, and now against Nadal.

If there is any positive to take from this then it is that fact. The fact that Roger just doesn’t do well on slow hard court these days. It’s not really a positive but at least we know there is a reason for these type of losses. You just need to look at Roger’s record indoors last year to realize that he is still capable of beating Djokovic and Nadal in faster conditions. But most conditions on tour is slow these days. As Roger gets older he needs faster conditions to really compete at the top and I am afraid that is not gonna happen. The conditions is much more suitable to the base line defensive games of Nadal and Djokovic. Therefor it is also not surprising that there has now opened up a gap between the top two players in the world and Roger. He is now clearly not in the first tier anymore which includes Nadal and Djokovic.

This loss made that fact abundantly clear. It was a really telling loss. It’s a loss which makes it hard for me to believe that Roger will ever beat Nadal again and be able to compete for slams. But maybe I shouldn’t be so quick to make up my mind. It will definitely be hard to beat Djokovic and Nadal at slams, but if Roger gets the right draw and it is at Wimbledon or the US Open he may still have his last chance. He could have one more terrific run in him left like Sampras did at the US Open before he retired. I just don’t see how he can beat Nadal and Djokovic from here on and it will ruin his legacy to a certain extent if he keeps losing to them. I don’t see how a coach or a change of tactics can make any difference either. I’m afraid Roger is not the best anymore and hasn’t been for a while now. He will have to play second fiddle to Nadal and Djokovic from here on.

Interview: http://www.sonyericssonopen.com/News/Tennis/2011/Interview-Transcripts/Interview-Transcripts/Extra-Column/2011-Roger-Federer-April-1.aspx

Roger Federer


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62 Comments

  1. Well unfortunately, I think his only option is using performance enhancing drugs. Because that’s what I think the top 2 players are certainly doing.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    A lot of people seems to be thinking this now. It would be a damn shame if it was the case, robbing all Fedfans of precious victories and a longer career for Roger.

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    edward devereux Reply:

    I could see Roger playing deep into his 30’s and, as Connors did, continuing to go deep into important tournaments (as in semis, over and over) without actually being a big threat to win.

    They both love the game, love to compete, and are a force to reckon with for every opponent. Consider Roger’s year to date: he’s made 3 semi-finals and a final, losing three times to Joker and once to Rafa. He’s had less consistent winters than this. But though he may feel he’s coming off his own good season last fall, when he beat Joker three times in a row and took Rafa out in the London semis, his history in the last 3 years with Rafa, at least, shows almost total domination by the Spaniard: 7 out of 9 meetings have been won by Rafa since since ’08. All but yesterday’s win by Rafa were in finals. Rog’s only final win since ’07 Wimbledon came in Madrid ’09 when Rafa’s knees were beginning to make a marked difference to his movement (Roger’s only other straight set win over Rafa came in the Master’s semi-final in ’09 when Rafa did not win a single set in 3 matches).

    Still, as far ahead of #2 as Rafa is (3500 points before tomorrow’s final), Roger is almost as far ahead of #4 Murray and #5 Soderling (3000 points), and an additional 1000 ahead of #6 Ferrer. Even should Joker beat Rafa in the finals, Rog will only be 1200 points behind the #2.
    Make no mistake, his presence is still felt, a nemesis to almost everyone in the draw, and close enough to the top 2 to take advantage of them when they are mortal, as they were at the end of last year.
    I don’t see him quitting when he can often play and win at such high level that most great players never achieve, and when he has so many fans. He and Mirka seem to have adjusted to family life on and of the tour, at least for the near future. Injuries and additional children could quickly change how he/they feel. With injuries, Rog might look at his competition and wonder, rightly, when – not if – they will be the ones to be slowed down. Steroids or no, Rafa is on pace for renewed problems – in 3 years he has not made it through a 12 month period without going on the injured list. With or without steroids, Joker has been running down balls on asphalt like Rafa on clay, and may be expected to experience to similar injuries.
    Rick D.

    PS –
    If Roger felt like adding titles to his stash of 67, he’d only have to add some smaller events to his schedule. It would be nice to see him in some lesser venues in the US, considering that he’s played only a handful in his career, less than any #1 from previous eras. (If you followed the discussion today after the match on ESPN2, you heard that Rog and Rafa have only played 3 times in the US, all 3 in Miami. This was their first meeting in the US in 5 years.)

    As for the bigger events, at least for now, Roger is no longer a favorite, unless the clear #3 inherits the odds from the two men above him falling off their pedestals.

    At this pace, and if Joker adapts to grass, Rog is a shoe-in for a medal in the 2012 Olympics: a bronze one.

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  2. If I try to sum up the current situation in a sentence – We (Federer fans) know he can beat those guys but don’t believe he will, Federer himself believes he can but deep down he knows he can’t. And that’s what we saw yesterday and in Dubai and in the last games in IW. No fighting spirit at all, It’s like he takes it for granted that he’s gonna lose.

    Federer decided last year that he takes a new coach. The meaning of taking Annacone is that Federer decided to change his game for a kind of style that will prolong his career. He plays all attacking game and he tries to avoid long rallies in any cost. That result of that descision is what we witness in recent months – dominating matches or beat downs – all depends if the balls fall in the right place. That also means that he has almost no chance against top guys on slow courts. That’s just the way it is. It’s a reasonable descision if he wants to have a chance to play in the Olympics because his body want sustain baseline grinds when he’s 31. And as was mentioned before, he might still have a chance in Wimbledon and USO with the right draw, good form and a bit of luck.

    I just wish he would lose a round earlier so we don’t witness those painful loses to Nadal and co.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Can you blame him that he doesnt believe he can beat them? He doesnt have the tools to do it, unless it is on indoor courts. Then he may have a chance.

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    TD Reply:

    I have to disagree with you. In the first game of the second set Federer decided to try and play his old game – a very balanced defense-offense style. He ran after balls and was patient. He had a break opportunity and he had Nadal under pressure. He couldnt convert but he was close. That was the only game I saw him try and he was good. Nadal knew he was lucky to get away. He had all the tools, he was just reluctant to keep using them. Maybe for the reasons I mentioned above.
    He’s a 16 grand slams champion, he’s the most complete player on tour, he still has all the tools. Maybe we’ll see him leaving everything on court only in grand slams where he’ll concentrate most of his efforts.

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  3. Tough to agree with this analysis, Ru-an. One question: why do you think he didn’t, given his statements all week about the clay-court like slowness of these courts, at least play the sort of match we saw last year in the Madrid final, where he lost but in a tight two-setter to Nadal? A bit more patient, etc.? My feeling is that he really needs to be more battle-tested coming into a Nadal or Djokovic match, so that he’s prepared for more balls to be coming back that the norm. E.g., a tough good win over Simon would’ve at least put him better stead.

    Anyway, as I said after IW to Andrew, don’t expect to much from Miami – a semi’s showing at best. And that’s what we got. My reasoning for this was that it would take too much out of Fed to try and do more with Nadal and Djokovic both fired up to send signals to each other going into the clay season. Now I think Fed has to do three things: (1) work on his movement or whatever it takes to get better at defending his forehand (not backhand) side – he just doesn’t cover that side as well as he used to (take a look at the AO 2009 final against Nadal where he covered that side so much better); (2) relax, take pressure off himself, play looser knowing that he’s the underdog at 29 playing those two in their prime (whether they’re juiced or not); and (3) mentally be prepared for some longer clay points, that he can patiently construct with variety, in the return games and focus like hell on holding, to keep the pressure on, much like that last two years’ Madrid tourneys.

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    Rusev Reply:

    Great from you Goodman. Good analysis. Looking back in early 2010 how many here have thought Novak is going to be more than one slam wonder – his game and fitness were catastrophic. What about Murray – considering his last results we should downtrust him. It is logical to be disappointed but we shouldn’t panic. Federer has what it takes to be back on top of his game. We can see it. Main difference now is the lack of consistence. Both he and Anacone have proven they can do the right things.

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  4. It’s sad to see so many fans so down today, and only a few optimistic ones, like Ines, though totally understandable after such a loss.

    Federer didn’t pack it in after losing the Wimbledon final 9-7 in the fifth in lowering darkness, after five hours and coming back from two sets to none. Nor did he pack it in after losing a grueling five-setter at AO and weeping in front of the entire world. Compared to that, this is nothing.

    If he did join the dopers I’d stop being a fan and start rooting against him, right then and there. Watching a machine play other machines is totally, utterly pointless, I want to see a human being.

    He has the luxury, which no one else has, of using more of his mind-boggling variation of shots to compensate for the dopers’ edge in speed and power.

    The compelling struggle is to see whether Federer has the heart, the will, the mentality–all the intangible qualities of character and mind that go into making him the champion–to painstakingly forge the raw talent into great tennis.

    It’s a struggle involving not brawn, but of courage, integrity, heart, love: a mental, perhaps even spiritual struggle, not merely a physical contest.

    That’s the reason I still watch.

    Otherwise, what drama would there be? He’s won everything there is. He’s proven himself beyond a shadow of a doubt, whatever the critics may say.

    Why is this man, who has succeeded beyond the dreams of the greatest players of the past, still training, playing, and traveling around the world, only to get his ass kicked on the biggest and most public stages by younger and stronger rivals, enduring the opprobrium of the media and the jeers of his critics, being asked to his face if he’s washed up, when he could be at home, happily enjoying the company of his wife and children?

    Clearly he feels there is something very important left for him to do.

    This IS the last challenge, to see if he can top himself by doing what none before him did: have a second period of dominance in his later career and set the mark by which all other players will be judged for decades to come.

    If his main rivals are on PEDs, so be it. If that’s the lot the fates have dealt him, it can hardly be called a cruel one, given all the success he’s enjoyed.

    If he can beat them, so much the sweeter. That would truly be remarkable: to be so good that his rivals had to dope just to be able to approach his standard, and then still be able to raise his level further and surpass them yet again.

    If not, then not. But he’s going to give them a hell of a fight in the attempt.

    He has a great work to complete, and until it’s finished, he’s not going to quit.

    I believe he can carve his way through the swamp of baseline tennis and win many more Grand Slams, including the French Open.

    Go Roger!

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    onefly9 Reply:

    Hi Steve, my heartfelt thanks for your spirit lifting post. It is badly needed.
    I have to agree with Ru-an’s analysis. Roger is now no longer in the league of the top two. And his path from hereon would pretty much mirror lots of other greats, Sampras for eg. He will fight on, depending on the draw, injuries, the occasional Jesusfed showing, etc. he may still have one slam left in him.
    More importantly, I guess, is we should adjust our expectation and perspective in our continual support of Roger, of what he is trying to do out there like what you have just described in your post.

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  5. I don’t feel as dejected as you Ru-an. I was pretty gutted at the time but I’m not now. I was actually worried that if Roger beat Nadal but lost to Djokovic that would have been worse. Let Nadal slug it out on a slow hard court with DJ.
    After the match a lot of your followers/readers/fans!! posted on ur other blog about the Simon match. I think it was Steve that said that Miami was never Roger’s best surface anyway. Especially against Nadal. He lost to his in 2004 and should have lost in 2005. He was lucky in ’05. His performance on this surface has not been great. He also lost last year earlier as everyone knows.
    We all have agreed that Roger is no longer ahead of the rest as he was during his dominance. Lots of people have re-directed me to Roger in 2005 and he was indeed so so quick around the court! He was more solid off the ground too. You expected him to make a great return shot- now you kinda expect the ball to be in the net.
    If Roger had been thrashed by Djokovic in Indian Wells then I would be more worried. But he actually in my view should have won that match. He lost concentration. But he had the tools to do the job! He just needed to focus. And we all know that Roger struggles against Rafa- it’s just a bad match up. High bouncing, spinny shots to his backhand. So again this isn’t a shock really.
    To finish I’ll just repeat what I’ve said before- we all agree that maybe Roger shud win 2 more slams. He might play for 3 more years yet (11 slams from now) so that means that 9 slams have to go to other people…. And who is gonna get them?! Nadal at the French but DJ on hard courts and hopefully Murray will get his act together and start to win some to stop Nadal. So if we all honestly know that Roger will lose either in the final or before in 9 of the next 11 slams…… So we have to lower our Federerastic expectations!!!! Lighten up everyone! Just enjoy Roger’s best tennis when he plays it and accept that at the moment he is indeed the 3rd best player in the world. Nothing lasts forever. He has nearly every record possible already! 2 more slams. Who cares about a tournament where Roger hasn’t won since 2006!? 5 years of going there and not winning. 4 years before this year. And Roger had a deep run into Indian Wells. Chin up everyone! RF forever!!

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  6. I´m sorry about Roger too, but more sorry about the reaction to him losing these days.He has given so much
    joy that I´m prepared to take this from him.Why should he give up? All the retirement talk is ridicolous for a guy who´s been amazingly consistent in the last 6 months.99,9% of the draw would love to have a SF result.
    I don´t care if he wins or not,sure it´s not fun I don´t like it either but I would never write him off ever. Nadal all of a sudden appears as an animal smelling blood in SF , SUSPICIOUS TO SAY THE LESS.
    The media needs to stop being so short sighted and actually take a look into the mind of a world class athlete.I don´t think fans have slightest inclination how hard it´s to stay at the top for so long.Some should take vacation for a while and stop being so damn overcritical.Give the guy a break.
    Roger:”I don´t feel like I´m 35 like you guys makes me
    sound I am.I´m still 29 and I have many more years left.”
    Thanks Roger.

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    marron Reply:

    Sorry to disagree with this point, but Nadal did NOT all of a sudden appear as an animal smelling blood in the SF of this particular tournament.

    He’s been a tough match-up for Federer from the get-go. It’s taken some people a mighty long time to even consider that this might be true. Some, never? Just as Davydenko is a tough matchup for Nadal.
    To quote a recent favorite phrase of The Fed’s – ‘it is what is it’.

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    ines Reply:

    No dilemma for me either.Everyone is entitled to their own opinions here.Roger is currently on a 13 tournament SF strek,the highest of Nadal
    career so far is 9 , for Djoko 6.R.N.is trophyless for six months already and he didn´t play well the whole tournament
    then”uncle Toni” came and he showed some kind of a game.IT´s my opinion:
    SUSPICIOUS,yes,”it is what is it”

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    Ru-an Reply:

    The semi final streak doesnt mean much to me if he cant beat the top two players. He will lose time and time again to them and it wont be fun for the fans to see.

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    ines Reply:

    You are writing Roger off being N3 in the world?Remember Nadal N4?
    Anything is possible in tennis especially when your name is ROGER FEDERER.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Nadal was still young when that happened. I dont see Roger getting back to number one and i dont see him getting back the way he did after 2008. Once was already hard enough. We just gotta accept that Rogers best days are now behind him for good.

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    onefly9 Reply:

    I tend to agree with Ru-an especially on getting back to No.1. I did a quick check on Djoko’s 2010 clay results. He has even lesser points to defend and more points to gain than Roger. From this alone, it’s going to be very tough for Roger to achieve what he (and all of us) is aiming for come Wimby. There may be a few more Nadal-Djoko final for the next few months, so even if Nadal drop points, Djoko stands to gain more than Roger. Sad but true, it’s going to be a tough ask to get back to No. 1 (though I will always keep my dream for Roger).

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  7. Great post Steve. There have indeed been much darker days. At least Roger didn’t lose a set 6-1 to his great rival (Rafa- do u remember the final set of the WTF? ;-) ) Australia ’09 was the end for Roger. Everyone said so. He had no chance of coming back. But he did. And since ’09 he’s now playing a more attacking game and approaching the net- usually with success.
    I also wanted to add that I disagree with you Ru-an on one thing. Roger showed tremendous heart in my opinion. He knew he had no chance of winning. Rafa was just too good on the night. At 3-6, 0-3 down he was serving and faced break points. A bagel was staring him right in the face. The crowd started shouting his name. He embraced the moment (even tho he knew he was unlikely to win) and he held serve. Rafa was playing so well and Roger was so below par that winning 4 points was very difficult. But in the moment when Roger held serve (and then went 30-0 up on Rafa’s serve in the next game) I was truly proud to be a Federer fan. I think he showed great heart and integrity. For example- could you see Djokovic, Soderling or Murray doing that? They are the embodiment of bad body language and don’t care if the crowd is even there. They play to win only. Roger plays to entertain. Which is why we love him :-)

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    marron Reply:

    Andrew said: ‘…At least Roger didn’t lose a set 6-1 to his great rival (Rafa- do u remember the final set of the WTF? ) …’

    Uh uh, Andrew, let’s not get into that ‘breadstick and bagel scoreline’ contest, no? I can recall a couple of similar sets Rafa took vs Fed too. :-)

    Do you really think Roger plays only to entertain? I cannot believe that, not at all.

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  8. To all those fans who think Roger can still turn it around against the top players, don’t you think he would have done that already if he had been able to?

    I can’t help but think some of you are dreaming when you imagine scenarios in which he does that. A turnaround is based on him being the player he was some years ago; he is not that player – at least not against Nadal and Djokovic anymore.

    Are you going to be satisfied to see him eke out wins in the early rounds of the tournament, only to be routed in the latter stages by players he would have or might have once beaten? What about when he starts losing earlier (say, to Rochus or Chela), because that is the apparent direction the traffic is going for Roger?

    Roger may be a player of style but he is not in an exhibition out there – the opponents who beat him clearly show that; as they say, in sports there are no points for style. No, Roger wants to win but his chances now of beating the other top players look increasingly remote. For the player he was – indeed the champion he was, let us not forget – it must be a dispiriting experience to lose in this fashion, as it is for his many fans to see this happen, again and again. He is beginning to look like a boxer who has been in the ring too long. Any more of this and he should consider hanging up his gloves.

    For whatever reason the spark in Roger’s game seems to be deserting him now – and it was that ‘spark’ that drew us to watch him in the first place, throughout his magnificent career. And without that edge in his game he is no longer capable of winning the protracted ‘arm wrestle’ (apologies to Mr Nadal) that modern tennis has become, for whatever reason including the one many of us now suspect.

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    jim Reply:

    Respectfully disagree. He’s still beating everyone but Nadal and Djokovic and did beat them not long ago. true, he will probably not beat them consistently any more (and he only ever bet Djoko consistently) but he can still beat them if the conditions are right. Federer’s last 10 tournament: F, W, W, SF, W, W, SF, F, SF, SF. Why should he retire? Cut him some slack for godsakes. Djoko is riding high right now, He won’t be forever.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I cant hep but agree with most of what you said Neil, although i dont think Roger will ever lose to the likes of Chela and Rochus. Lets not go that far. I just think there is now a gao between him and Djokovic and Nadal that he cant close anymore. Personally i am not satisfied to see him win earlier round only to lose to the top two time and time again. We can keep pointing out positives that means nothing but it gets us nowhere. It is what it is.

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  9. Hi Marron. I wonder what u think about the upcoming final? Do you think ur guy will win? I’m not so sure.
    To answer your question- no I guess I wasn’t specific enough when I said Roger plays to entertain. He plays to win. But Roger also plays classic tennis. He plays tennis ‘the way it should be played’ and that is why us fans love him. He therefore plays to win, he plays to entertain and he plays to try to perfect his art. He wants to improve as a player still- hence his new desire to get to the net.
    Neil- I think you’re writing Roger off a bit too early. Since losing and crying his eyes out because ‘it hurts so much’ at the Aussie Open in ’09 Roger and Rafa have played 4 times. Twice on clay. They have split their meetings. That’s not a boxer who keeps getting knocked out. That’s a guy holding his own despite Nadal now being at his peak. Roger has also lost against Djokovic a lot recently….. Er…. Hasn’t everyone!? Djokovic is in the form of his life. He’s on an even better run than Roger has ever been at the start of a season! He is unbeatable. Unless he mentally checks out I suspect he’ll beat Rafa tomorrow.
    And out of Roger’s numerous victories this year the majority have been in straight sets. He’s not at the stage yet where he’s struggling in the early rounds of tournaments. He’s losing to a player who is in the form of his life and who is a slow hard court expert and he’s lost to his rival who is a terrible match up for him (who is also incidently the world number 1)
    The only time he’s lost since Wimbledon last year has been to Murray in inspired form (where is he gonna be for the next 6 months?!), Djokovic (at his absolute peak) or Rafa (once). He also lost to Monfils but that match was silly really as he had 5 match points and played a great 1st match point IMO. Should we really be panicing yet?!

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  10. Andrew, I think it’s going to be very tough for Nadal to beat the confident Serb on hardcourt tomorrow. I like how’s he’s been playing, at Miami, versus his form at IW. It’s definitely better. Serve stats of 25% in last week’s final? Rafa’s not going to get it done if he does that again. This match can go either way, I only hope they both ‘bring it’. I have always enjoyed their battles.

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    marron Reply:

    Oh, sorry, it was semifinal last week, wasn’t it.

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    marron Reply:

    Gah, it WAS final. Jeez.

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  11. Nadals backhand cross court wins time and time again. You all see it coming, don’t you? The kid and Djoker have finally passed him. I’d love to eat my words, but I saw a guy who didn’t feel he could win. Do you think having a wife and kids could be the downfall of Roger? I believe it may be a great part of it. Rafa and Novak don’t have the family life that Roger has, and that has to take away from his training. It may be that because he has that part of his life, he doesn’t train with the intensity that he might have in the past. Can he put in the same hours that he used to. We don’t know what, or at least I don’t know if this is the case, but it’s part of my theory as to why he may not be at the top of his game. Added to that, he’s 5 or 6 years older than both of them. What I see is a guy whose mental state breaks down against not only these two, but perhaps Murray as well. Guess who he has a losing record against? Nadal, Murray, and Djoker is closing in everytime he plays him. It’s hard to watch, but last night SF match was just plain bad with missed lines, shanks and all. Is the two handed backhand superior? Like I said, I’d love to eat my words.

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  12. Alright, time for some optimism around here! Bear with me please. Just watching the match again as its being rebroadcast on Tennischannel (nice to hear Koenig & Goodall after a few days of Fowler, PMac and BG). And I have to say I’m feeling not nearly as bad as the first time ’round – for two reasons. First, Fed’s prematch body language, etc. don’t show anything like the intensity I’d have expected. Most telling: for the first time in their last 4 meetings, Fed didn’t sit and wait for Rafa to get up for the coin toss but rather, as in times past, went up and waited at the net. Why does that matter? Because it means to me that he didn’t *only* get discouraged with Rafa’s great play but didn’t have his gameface on from the get go. Which, frankly, makes some sense to me – Fed knows he doesn’t have the reserves to battle Rafa and Nole week in, week out – he’s picking his spots. Much like what I said after the Nole loss – once he made his point of taking the second set he let up in the 3rd, okay with having Nole face Rafa in the final.

    Second, I actually think that in the first set Fed’s form was alright – Rafa played out of his mind to get the first break and Fed just made couldn’t get the break back. And he didn’t make many shanks then – rather a lot of net clips. Until he more or less gave up and then came shoulders sagging and middle-of-the-netters. Of course this may sound like grasping at straws to y’all but this reinforces what I said after IW – a Miami semi’s will be fine heading into the claycourt season. Look for one final and one win b/t MC, Rome and Madrid for Fed. I’m serious!

    Also, regarding tomorrow’s final. Last night I thought Rafa was a strong favorite but I’m now thinking Djokovic is the slight favorite – even though Rafa is the form player coming in, a reversal of IW. Because the other reversal is this time the pressure is on Rafa – Nole consolidated his first trimester dominance with the IW victory over the world no. 1. Now Rafa has to set the record straight going into the clay. Djokovic in two close sets.

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  13. It looks like Roger is no longer the best in the game. I hate to say it but something happened after he won the Australian Open last year. He has diminished in every area of his game, especially his mental game. I think he also tried to change his game too late in his career. I will always enjoy watching him play, it’s just unfortunate I will not be watching him win championships anymore.

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  14. Dave, that’s pretty much it in a nutshell. (Except that I don’t enjoy watching him play when he loses big matches, and especially against “The Chemical Brothers” – Nadal, Djokovic and Murray.)

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    Jiten Reply:

    Hi Neil, the term “Chemical brother” is as good as the other one I like “Nadal’s surrogate mother Toni”.

    Nobody in this blog is talking about the 20 winners by Fed in that match. I think it was the choice of shots that led to his downfall rather than the pressure exerted by Nadal. Rafa was playing is normal game; not anything extraordinary that Fed couldn’t handle. Right from the time Fed got broken in the third game, he seemed disinterested in the match. In my opinion, it is the mental side he needs to work on than the physical one. As somebody said in this blog, we have seen even darker days and Fed has come back from that in the past. His performance in Miami is still better than last year. Unfortunately, though he is gaining more points from the last two tournaments, the top two are gaining even more.

    I am sure Fed will do much better in the clay season and this year itself present all his fans with at least one MAJOR.

    Cheer up all Fedfans!

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    Jiten Reply:

    Here is some more on the chemical stuff:

    http://tennishasasteroidproblem.blogspot.com/2011/02/curious-case-of-rafael-nadal.html

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    Dave Reply:

    I would like to see Fed. win the U.S. Open and Wimbledon. I don’t see this happening. Fed. does not intimidate the Top Five players. They all know to attack his backhand. Trap him in ralleyes, his percentages are lower than others. Play consistent and allow him to make errors. Federer needs to change his game behind the baseline, slice,cross court forehand with a lot of power. More down the line backhands and most important, his return game is terrible. No power and right to the center, no wonder Nole, Murray and Rafa hit a lot of winners. More speed and variety. His serve efficiency has dropped considerably. That is half the problem too. I hate to see Roger not being the intimidating athlete he once was. I still believe he has skills and the will to succeed. I think he has to stop being so graceful and start hating his opponents a lot more and using that to motivate him. Friends with Nadal, give me a break.

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  15. how can some of you speak with so much confidence that the likes of djokovic are doping? Really, grow up. Federer is at an age when most players decline,why should he be an exception? Djokovic has shown no sign of steriod use, when he plays long rallies he breathes heavily, just watch his matches. That is not a sign of steriod use. Its very obvious that some very better fans are accusing anyone of steriods that challenges federer

    Anyway federer is the greatest and hopefully he will win another slam ala sampras. But all this whining and claiming that you know its a fact that djokovic and others are doping is childish. Its very obvious that anyone who starts beating federer is accused of doping.

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  16. Seems that everybody kept on harping how Roger has been mentally unprepared, or not tuned in, or something bordering on the negatives. Give the guy a break! He is one of the top 30 richest men in Switzerland. Earned an unbelievable sum of money last year that most of us mortals would never see in 7 lifetimes. He’s got 2 beautiful kids, a wife he’s been with forever, and all the successes a tennis life could have ever offered. Maybe he’s got higher priorities these days and tennis doesn’t rank as high as it used to be. If there is ever a problem with his mentality, I think it was just that. In other words, no problem at all.

    Having witnessed the best talent in tennis of all time gliding across courts for so many years and crushing opponents during his best years, I am just glad to still be able to see him in action. If he wins, great! But if he loses, so be it. Just enjoy his presence while he is still around, no?

    And for those speculating on the reasons why the top two these days are doing this or that, leave them alone too. You have to learn to give credits where credits are due. Just imagine all those years when other players were all living in the shadows of Roger. Nobody cried foul then… Why should you now then?

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  17. Article that still gives me some hope. “I have many more years left” -Roger Federer-

    Roger Federer has an understandably short fuse when it comes to questions about how long the most successful player in the history of tennis will last in the game.

    “There is no bigger hassle than being asked all the time these questions,” said the 29-year-old Swiss after losing a Miami Masters semifinal to rival and nemesis Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2 on Friday.

    “I don’t know how many times I need to answer until I just say I’m not going to answer it anymore. I know that I can do many more things in the game,” said the winner of a record 16 Grand Slam titles. “Sure, it’s disappointing losing a match like tonight, but those are the matches I work extremely hard for in the off season and practice.

    “I’m very excited by what’s to come still.”

    With the most obvious successor to the American Pete Sampras, who all but burned out before the age of 30 and found the sport a struggle in his last few declining years, Federer feels he still has plenty to prove after setting many of the records which stand in the sport.

    “I don’t feel like I’m 35 like you guys make me sound I am,” he told media after the loss. “I’m still only 29, and I have many more years left.”

    Federer holds a 22-4 mark this season, losing three times in 2011 to on-fire Serb Novak Djokovic and once to Nadal, who stands 15-8 in their series. The semifinal was the first time the pair had played in the US since 2005.

    Federer still maintains his fighting demeanour despite the loss on the day wife Mirka Vavrinec celebrated her 33rd birthday.

    “For me, these are not big setbacks,” said the Swiss of his recent losses to Nadal and Djokovic, who will meet in Sunday’s Miami final. “I wish I could play better right now against those guys, but it is what it is.

    “I’m excited going Monaco now, he said of the clay season which starts in nine days in the principality. “I’m going to fly there directly and prepare as well as I can for the clay-court season.

    “It’s a big swing coming up now in Europe, so that’s the mindset. I want to do well and I want to do better. I got the opportunity in a couple weeks already.”

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  18. A number of people have covered the issues revealed by the match. Ru-an in his use of the word “trashed” to describe what Nadal did to Roger expresses the shock so many of us felt. Here’s what I saw: a man who was lost, flat-footed, outplayed. A man without a plan, neither A nor B. A man who was broken before he went out onto the court. Roger played Rochus to Nadal’s Federer. That folks can see something good in the fact that Roger “played well” for one game in the first set and one set in the second shows how desperately we want to rescue something from the match. That a theme becoming louder is the supposed use of peds by Rafa and Novak to explain why it is that both men consistently, now, overpower Roger is similarly desperate. That Roger is “understandably” upset when journalists ask him the obvious questions is Roger not yet able to face his own clear decline. In one-pn-one sports, the top dog is beaten from the throne: it’s never pretty; it’s always shocking. But it reveals the truth of the moment in the sport. And the truth of the moment is that Roger can no longer compete at the top of the sport, the very top where all the glory and prizes are. Yes, he can still beat plenty of players, but that’s not the issue, is it? He has always played with a stunning grace. To me the real question now is, can he face the truth of his own situation with the same grace. Nobody wants to get beaten off the stage–but that’s what happens in sports, boxing (as, I believe Neil pointed out) and tennis especially. There are few things more painful to watch than a man not realizing that he’s no longer the champion: so this is the time for Roger to be thinking hard and long about the reality of his situation. If he continues to share the (to me) wishful dreams of his ardent fans we are in for more of the embarrassment all of those who wish Roger the very best experienced on Friday.

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  19. Sorry guys that you may outright reject my opinion. First of all, I like to thank Steve. He has expressed majority of my opinions but I note that he is in such a minority here.I donot play tennis maybe that is why I cannot teach Roger how he should play so as to win day in,day out.I root for him because he is such a nice guy and so cool despite such multitudes of negative disparaging comments whenever he falters and faltering every other player is doing time and again.Probably I wont be writing again until Roger wins big and I hope he does for Heaven’s sake.Even if he does not win any other title he will remain my favorite player just as was Karpov in chess although,every chess lover knows and I accept, he is not the best chess player. He is so nice in demeaner and Roger reminds me of him and he is a great tennis player. I am not sure if he can justify the GOAT status bestowed upon him by his fans but he will always be remembered as one of the greatest and graceful player.Cheers everybody.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good post mridul, like what you are saying.

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  20. I agree with you Mridul and of course with Steve, i´m not feeling well here.Negative comments that really hurt.Many Roger´s haters here,it use to be a supportive blog for Roger and fans.Thanks Ruan for the long time we share,I can´t be here anymore.Steve I´m going to miss your comments that express my opinion ( because of my poor english.) Hoping to meet you in another blog.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    As long as you admit you were wrong i am fine with you leaving. You are unrealistic in your positivity and as soon as things dont go the way you expected them to you leave?

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    ines Reply:

    Look Ru-an I love your blog, i´m your
    reader since 2008,I´m sad, I´m realistic too, things happens in real life, this is not a fairly tale,there will be no magic wand to change reality, but I don´t like grey I still have hopes, I love Roger for other reasons not for his ranking position.I want to believe that something is possible.That´s why some comments hurt.
    That´s all.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    We all want to believe something is possible and its not impossible. But the fact is that Nadal and Djokovic is now a problem for him. We have to hope that Djokovic and Nadal will lose momentum so that Roger can get a chance again.

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    ines Reply:

    I´m encourged by Steve to stay here but the more important are you…
    I´m feeling better last night I went to see U2, do you like Bono Ru-an?.Amazing show.Tha´s why I answered so late.

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  21. Thank you, Ines. I hope you don’t leave, your enthusiasm is fantastic and your comments are always cheering. Hope to see you again somewhere, sometime.

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  22. Hi Mike, Novak obviously responded to your concern about his stamina and ‘breathing’ issues because no problems today in the Miami heat against Nadal. He wore down the master ‘grinder’ himself. Amazing what a win at Davis Cup will do for your game – and of course he would have noted your concern for his health, Mike, and got his doctor to fix it for the final. It’s a shame that he didn’t think of doing it for last year’s USO. You should have talked to him.

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    veronica Reply:

    LOL! LOL! LOL! Classic, Neil!

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  23. Djokovic wrecked Nadal today. The scoreline didn’t suggest that but take a looke at the stats. He won 71 percent of the points… Behind his 2nd serve! He hit 40 winners on a slow hard court. He was the more aggresive and deserved it. I am starting to be concerned though by what I’m seeing. DJ hardly looked out of breath at all today and was just as fresh for the last point after 3 hours 21 mins as he was for the first!

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  24. Neil, I said I would wait till clay season to judge Djokovic, but it’s pretty clear at this point that you were right to suspect him of “supplementing” his game.

    I still submit Nadal that will make another leap when he hits the clay, but he’s not too far from “Super Nadal” at the moment. He somehow played much better than in IW; Uncle Toni always seems to accompany his nephew’s sudden jumps in performance.

    Nonetheless, Djokovic outlasted him over three hours in heat and humidity, even though Nadal did not falter on serve in the third set as he did in IW. That’s not likely to be the result of mere clean living and hard work.

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  25. Hi, Andrew. “Clean living and hard work” never did it for me. Wrong formula, obviously. Yep, Nadal will be Godzilla come the clay tournaments.

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  26. With the way the game is changing do you think Federer will be the last one handed backhand we see in the top 10?

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    TD Reply:

    Not necessarily. Federer had no problems with his BH in his prime, even against heavy bombers (here’s a clip someone posted not long ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fC3uI-A8fGM).
    One handed BH can still do enough damage if it’s calibrated…

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  27. Not if he (or someone else with the necessary ability) is prepared to dope.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok explain to me again why you are so sure these guys are doping.

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  28. Ruan, the answer to that question is not simple. We can’t say that a particular player is doping because of only one or two things that we might speculate about, such as an improvement in their performance. We would need more information.

    Before we come to any conclusions then we need to understand how sports have changed.

    1. Doping is a problem in all sports. This fact is established now. There are regular reports of sportsmen and women being busted or investigated. This has included tennis players. A top anti-doping official (whom I can’t disclose because the communication was in confidence) said to me he had become ‘much more cynical’ as a result of taking up his position. The problem is not confined to professional sports; it is also present in college-level sports. Success and money drives it.

    2. Doping is very sophisticated, employing many of the advances of modern medicine and pharmaceutical development. There are products such as the super-booster IGF-1 for which there are no tests available except a muscle biopsy (which athletes would not permit.)

    3. Testing remains behind the development and use of drugs. Sometimes this is because sports administrators seem reluctant to crack down on the cheats. Exposing doping would damage their sport. Furthermore, drugs can be ‘masked’ or eradicated from the system prior to testing. Without rigorous out-of-competion-testing the chances of catching a doper a very slim indeed. Less than 10% of testing in tennis is outside-of-competition.

    So if that is the environment within which doping exists, and let us not forget the enormous rewards that may come from success in professional sports, we have to accept that doping must be present in tennis. To what extent we don’t know, although some mainstream commentators are now saying it is likely to be much greater than we currently think.

    Turning to individual players, there are signs that might indicate doping. However, these need to be considered in the context of detailed observation of the player and their career.

    The most conspicuous signs are of sudden and dramatic improvements in a player’s performance, particularly when they are already physically mature (usually that’s by their early twenties); the development of extraordinary reserves of stamina and strength that may defy current understanding of a what a ‘clean’ athlete ought to be capable of; the sudden attainment of these qualities in a sportsman or woman whose abilities in this respect were previously suspect; a distinct change in physique such as more pronounced musculature within a very short period of time, including striated muscle development and pronounced venous characteristics; and fluctuations in their physical characteristics and performances that are best described as cyclical. (Bear in mind here, that apparent injuries can be used as a means of obtaining treatments legitimately – ‘therapuetic use exemptions’ – that might otherwise result in a positive result for a banned substance like human growth hormone, hence when athletes claim injuries that they recover from in a miraculous short time it may suggest they are using the ‘injury’ claim to obtain treatments that include ped’s. Examples might be long-standing ‘knee’ or shoulder injuries or ‘respiratory’ problems that are cured overnight.)

    To return to your question then. We can’t be absolutely sure that this or that player is doping. But we can have good cause for suspicion. We know that players are doping and can get away with it. When we see players become physical machines on court then the best explanation is not that they are physical ‘freaks’ or work hard but that they are probably doped to the gills.

    We were told Nadal was a physical ‘freak’, but now we see that Djokovic is too, that hard work was what made the difference when it is apparent that ‘confidence’ and a good doctor will transform a player overnight. These features were not what distinguished the best tennis players of the past, so why is it happening now? Are they doping? You be the judge.

    (By the way, none of this has anything to do with whether this or that player is now beating Federer – although I will say that I don’t think that Federer today can compete successfully against what the modern game has become. He is literally being ‘muscled’ off the court.)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok thanks Neil that explains a lot. You may want to check out my new post where i wrote about doping as well and comment.

    [Reply]

  29. Please, Roger, retire. It is too sad. Do not become another Jimmy Connors.

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    veronica Reply:

    Why? What happened with Jimmy Connors?

    [Reply]

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