Federer and Edberg Splits Up, Ljubicic Lands the Job
“Roger and I had a wonderful two years together. When he originally approached me at the end of 2013, I committed to work with him for only a year.
“It became very clear from the start that this was going to be a special partnership, working with the greatest ambassador tennis has ever seen. It was exciting for me to be back out on tour and to see that the sport has made so much progress.
“The quality of tennis today is stronger than it has ever been. After an amazing 2014, I decided to continue on for another year, but with a clear understanding that it would be my last year given the time commitment.
“I believe Roger still has a lot left to give to the sport of tennis and is capable of winning the big events. Roger and I will remain close friends and I will always feel part of the Federer team. I hope to try and come watch Roger play some tournaments in 2016.”
Hi, folks. It’s been a while since my last post and I hope you have all enjoyed the break from all the tennis. Today there was an interesting development when the news broke that Federer and Edberg decided to end their partnership.
It’s disappointing because you would have thought that the Fedberg partnership would have been good enough to win at least one slam together. That was certainly what Federer had in mind when he decided to bring Edberg on board.
When I first heard they would work together I thought here was the perfect partnership and Federer’s tennis improved almost immediately.
They started working together after Federer’s disappointing 2013 season and Federer quickly found himself in a slam final at Wimbledon again. But there he faced Djokovic who started a partnership with Becker at the start of 2014 as well.
It’s been a good run
As opposed to Federer and Edberg, Djokovic and Becker had a rocky start. It was only in that Wimbledon final that the Djokovic/Becker partnership started paying off after I expected much of them.
They defeated Federer and Edberg in a very close final and since then defeated Fedberg in two more slam finals this year. So although I expected much of the Fedberg partnership no one could really foresee how dominant the Djocker partnership would be.
They dominated Fedberg in almost all the most important matches. So it’s not all that surprising that Fedberg decided to call it a day. I think there was much hope among Fedfans that Fedberg would end the slam drought for Federer but like I said no one knew how good Djocker would be.
Especially in 2015. They have gone from strength to strength and left only scraps for the rest. The three slam final losses for Fedberg must have taken its toll and you wonder if Federer made a desperate move now.
Federer Hires Old Friend Ljubicic
After 2 very successful years, I would like to thank Stefan Edberg, my childhood idol, for agreeing to join my team. It was a dream come true. Although it was supposed to only be for 2014, Stefan was great and agreed to extend the partnership through this year which I really appreciated. He taught me so much and his influence on my game will remain. He will always be a part of my team. Severin Luthi, who I have been working with since 2008, will continue to be my main coach and he will be joined by Ivan Ljubicic. Both Daniel Troxler, my physiotherapist and Pierre Paganini, my longtime fitness trainer, will remain part of my technical team.
It was quite a surprise to hear that Ivan Ljubicic would be Federer’s new coach, who had recently parted ways with Raonic. Federer and Ljubicic have always been good friends, but I have to wonder what the Croatian can add to Federer’s game.
Is this the beginning of the end for Federer? This hiring seems almost desperate. Edberg did a good job with Federer even though they didn’t ultimately achieve what they wanted to achieve.
He made Federer a better net and offensive player and gave him a certain calm on court. I don’t see what Ljubicic can add other than being an extra fan in the box. But what is Federer supposed to do anyway?
Edberg is as good as it could get for him as far as a coach goes and it didn’t pay off. So I don’t think he actually expects much from a coach at this point. Ljubicic is just someone to fill up the spot.
Sound like a fan much? Lol
In the last couple of years, Federer made three slam finals which is actually great at his age. He played especially well in 2015 but unfortunately for him, Djokovic did the same. In many other eras, he would have won a slam if not multiple slams but Djokovic denied him every single time.
You just have to say to good and you can’t feel bad about it at his age. He still made a great resurrection of his career in 2014 and 2015 of which he can be very proud.
From here on it is difficult to see Federer winning a slam and I think he will start winding down towards the end of his career. But he is still playing very well and I’m sure he still has plenty of good tennis left in him.
I was hesitant at first to make a post about this, because there is no concrete proof that anyone in tennis is doping at the moment. But after I did some research I felt that this post is very necessary. The last player who was busted for doping was Wayne Odesnik, who was busted for importing human growth hormone(HGH) to Australia. HGH is a hormone that athletes take to increase muscle mass among other things. It also makes fat loss easier, speeds up recovery time, and makes a player look more cut and ripped. HGH can not be found in a player through urine testing. Only a blood test will pick it up. For maximum effect athletes use growth hormone together with other short-acting steroids. I found the below at RF.com:
“Players can use short-acting steroids in combination with human growth hormone which will produce muscle mass and enormous power, and while they c…an stop just before a competition and test clean, they still get the performance benefit of the drugs,” Mendoza said.”
I am the same guy who suspected that Nadal was using a two-tiered doping regime. He is administered his grown hormone weeks in advance of a slam event (Dr Sanchez’s “knee” treatments). Then takes something to “boost” the effectivesness shortly before (and maybe during) the slam event. The above quote indicates it may be some fast-acting (and fast cleansing) steroid.
You will notice that even though Queens, Cincinnati, and Toronto were all after “knee” treatments, Nadal performed poorly (much like most of 2009) at those tournaments. Yet, immediately after those poor performances, Nadal crushed the opposition at the slams.
If Nadal is taking the growth hormone well before competition (and we know there is virtually no out of competition testing in tennis), he will not test positive for it (I believe growth hormone is not detectable after three days of administration anyways).
The fast-acting “booster”, if it clears the system quickly, can be used much closer to competition. In fact, at grand slams, with a day off in between competition, may be administered on off days, without getting caught.
There was no link to the above quote, but it looks pretty legit nonetheless. Now look at the 2009 testing statistics HERE. Incredibly, the out-of-competition testing was only done for urine. In other words, players could freely use HGH with no fear of getting caught as long as they stopped using three days before competition! As far as the out-of-competition testing goes, it doesn’t seem very comprehensive at all according to this article. It seems the out-of-competition testing is done close to tournaments anyway, making it even easier for players to get away with doping. I’ve heard of HGH before and the possibility that tennis players are using it, but I am somewhat dumbfounded by how easy it is to use it. I don’t know if the ITF have changed their testing methods in 2010. I know they do the whereabouts thing where a player must report where they are every day for one hour.
And Nadal was one who complained about this new rule. Hmmm. But clearly it is not that hard for players to dope. With HGH I think you have to use it for at least 3 months to see any real changes, but when you take it with another steroid that isn’t necessary. I also find it quite incredible that a short-acting steroid clears the system so quickly that it can even be used during a grand slam event. I don’t know about you, but this is all pretty shocking to me. I never gave these steroid rumors much attention simply because there is no concrete proof until a player is caught. But since I did my research I can’t help but think it is inevitable that players use steroids. There just isn’t strict enough testing outside of competition as far as I can make out. Here is a comment from the blog post that I linked to earlier:
The top 10 men were almost all tested when they were NOT home training:
-Federer, 5 days before French Open & missed one a few days before the Basel tournament.
-Nadal, 6 days before French Open & missed one while playing exhibition in London.
-Djokovic: NOT TESTED AT ALL
-Murray, a week before US Open and again right before World Tour finals
-Del Potro: NOT TESTED AT ALL
-Roddick: missed test the day before Cincinnati and was not approached again
-Davydenko: tested 10 days before Kuala Lumpur and again a few days before World Tour finals. Does the first count as out of competition?
-Verdasco: NOT TESTED AT ALL
-Soderling: tested once during Barcelona and once out of competition during offseason
-Tsonga: tested OOC in July and once in the fall right before a tournament
only 2 or 3 of those can really count as OOC. And many weren’t even tested at all!
Really?! If the testing is this lax then almost everyone has to be doping. Lets say Nadal wants to dope for instance. What is to stop him? I always thought they were so strict with testing that it was almost impossible to cheat! Check out the below video:
I can’t help but think this guy has a point. You may remember that for a long time I’ve been predicting the burnout of Nadal. So when he had that slump last year I thought that was it. I thought he would maybe win 2-3 more French Opens, but that would be it. Baseline grinders like Courier, Chang, and Hewitt all burned out mentally or due to injury early in their careers. For Nadal is was the knee problem last year, but I also felt like he was mentally losing his edge. To me it is nothing short of astonishing the way he has come back this year. I have never seen anyone come back from a year long slump in that fashion. It made Roger’s remarkable recovery last year look almost like a joke. The way his knee problem went away is in itself surprising.
Then of course there has been the mind-boggling increase in serve speed that he got at the US Open this year. I don’t know if that has ever been done either.A physical specimen like Nadal has never been seen in tennis before. For a tennis player to look like that is in itself a first, but that is not the amazing thing. The amazing thing is that he himself swears by it that he hates the gym and never spends any time there. So how on earth do you get muscles like that simply by playing tennis?! If that was only due to genes, and there was no steroids involved, then surely there would have been someone like that in the sport before. Monfils is also a physical specimen, but even him isn’t as buff as Nadal. And of course it’s not impossible that Monfils is doping either. But having said that, black people tend to be more athletic anyway.
Something else that is suspect about Nadal is the fashion in which he won the Australian Open of 2009. I just found it incredible how he could play that marathon semi-final and come back with one days less rest than Roger and win the final in another marathon. It just didn’t seem normal to me. And again, it was probably the first time we saw such a superhuman display of endurance and fitness in the history of tennis. As you can see there is a lot of firsts with Nadal. So we are left with the conclusion that he is simply superman, the likes of what we have never seen before, or he is in fact doping. I’m sad to say it, but I think there is a pretty strong case for him to be doping. But on the other hand there is no concrete proof, so it is just plain wrong to say that he is doping for sure. All that can be said is that there is a very good chance given all we have observed, and given how lax the doping controls is.
It is s shame to think that tennis can be a dirty sport, because it could mean that Roger’s career has been ruined by it to some extent, given what Nadal has done to him. But we live in a corrupt world. Corruption is everywhere. So for me there is hardly any doubt that there is doping in tennis. As for Nadal, I don’t think he is a bad guy. Him and Roger gets along well and he seems to be a nice kid. Look at the below video again for instance:
When I watch this video on Youtube where him and Roger is laughing together I find it hard to believe that he is a doper. He just look like a good, spontaneous kid. He doesn’t look like the type that deceives and cheats. Personally I’m not the kind of person that would accuse Nadal of doping just because he is threatening Roger’s records or something. If he is the better man than that is it. However hard it will be to accept, it must be accepted. But I thought this post was necessary anyway just to spread awareness and look at some of the facts. I don’t claim to be an expert in this area, and if there is anything that I left out or that is wrong, then please feel free to leave me a comment. I am really making this post to open a discussion more than anything else, because the facts say that there is something fishy going on here.
So to recap why Nadal could possibly be doping:
Although I don’t have data for 2010, it seems the drug testing is very lax, which means he could get away with it if he wanted to.
He is cut and has muscles like no other tennis player we have ever seen before. His muscles also looks like someone who is doping.
He admits that he never goes to the gym, which makes his muscles even more surprising.
He came back from being almost down and out in 2009 to winning 3 grand slams in a row in 2010 and in the process completing the career slam.
He never gets tired. He plays a physically very demanding game, yet despite of that he played two marathon matches in a row to win the Australian Open of 2009.
He seems to have unlimited reserves of endurance because he keeps grinding match wins year in and year out and looks like he is only now hitting his peak.
He improved his serve speed by huge amount from seemingly nowhere this year at the US Open, and it played a big role in his winning the title.
He seems superhuman, which seems to good to be true.
Like I said before, it is hard to ignore these facts. But on the other hand we don’t have any hard evidence either, and Nadal does seem to be a good kid. So lets have a discussion about this, but please try to keep it civilized. This is not to accuse Nadal of anything, because we just don’t know for sure until we have hard proof. Personally I am not committed either way. For me it’s just as likely that he is doping as that he is not doping.
An interesting development today as the Djoker withdrew from Madrid after having won four big titles already this season. He gets an exempt which means he won’t be penalized for skipping the Masters, after having played on the tour for a minimum of 12 years, as well as more than 600 matches.
An Opportunity for Nadal
The first thing that comes to mind after the Djoker’s withdrawal is Nadal, and the fact that he could very much use the title in Madrid for his confidence. I already argued that the Djoker playing Madrid and Rome is a good thing so that he can prevent Nadal from winning any titles before the French Open, in an attempt to keep his confidence low. But as it turns out, I don’t think this is a bad decision. There is a certain amount of risk involved, but I don’t think Nadal will win Madrid.
“Try my best, no?”
If the Djoker was going to miss one of Madrid and Rome, then Madrid is the right one because it is the high altitude and Nadal is less likely to win it. There are plenty of players who can hit him off the court in his current form. Of course, Nadal will view this as a great opportunity with his nemesis not in the draw, and he will do whatever is in his power to take advantage of it. Nadal’s form is even worse than it was last year though, and already there he should have lost to Nishikori in the final of Madrid, was it not for Nishikori getting injured.
Nishikori is looking very good again this year so he is there for insurance should Nadal make the latter rounds. Nadal is always hard to predict and there is a possibility that he can win Madrid, but there is also the possibility that he can get hit off the court early on by several players. Someone that comes to mind is Isner who is very difficult to deal with in the altitude with his serve, but there are several others who could prove to be a problem for him. Who knows, maybe even Roger if he plays well.
An Opportunity for Federer
Roger has already defeated Nadal once before in Madrid on clay. He will be the top seed in the Djoker’s absence while Nadal will be the third seed. I hope Nadal falls in Roger’s half because I don’t trust Roger to defeat Nadal if they both make the final. In fact, a match with Roger could be just what Nadal needs right now because he loves playing Roger. I prefer they don’t meet at all, but either way there is an opportunity for Roger in Madrid in the absence of the Djoker.
Fed and his clone in Istanbul
He probably needs to win Istanbul first though to have any shot in Madrid. The loss in Monte Carlo would have hurt and he needs the confidence of a title right now, especially one as small as Istanbul. If he can’t even win that then his confidence will take another hit. If he wins Istanbul then he can go to Madrid feeling good about his game and have a real shot at the title with the altitude which suits his attacking game. So this is pretty exciting for Fedfans, but first we need to see what happen in Istanbul.
An Opportunity for Nishikori
Going by current form, Nishikori is probably the second best player on clay behind the Djoker right now. He played some amazing clay court tennis in Barcelona to win the title and other than the big three he is probably the biggest threat in Paris this year. He already made the final last year in Madrid and would have won the title had he not gotten injured. He may, in fact, be the favorite for the title in the Djoker’s absence. I’m pretty sure neither Roger nor Nadal wants to see him in their half of the draw.
A serious threat on the dirt
Some Closing Observations
With the withdrawal of the Djoker from Madrid it certainly makes the event more open and interesting, all be it at the risk of Nadal winning the title. Fedal, Nishikori, and the likes of Raonic and Berdych will all be sensing an opportunity here. Raonic and Berdych with their big games will be a big factor in the high altitude of Madrid as well. Definitely guys Fedal does not want to see close to them in the draw either. Madrid is now quite open like I said and I’m looking forward to a very interesting event.
I think the Djoker made the right decision too. He has played an awful lot already and he does not want to burn out toward the end of the year like he did in 2011. And the facts that he will not get penalized as well as Nadal’s poor form in the high altitude makes it an even better decision. It seems he is learning and becoming quite wise with the scheduling himself, the way Roger always was. This break will do him the world of good before the big onslaught in Rome and Paris.
If he is going to finally win the French Open this year and clinch the all important career slam in the process, then he will need to be as fresh as possible and be at the height of his physical and mental powers. Let Nadal cope with difficult opponents in high altitude in front of a crowd that is basically anti-Djokovic anyway. Why waste his energy on that biased crowd when he can recharge batteries and watch Nadal deal with the likes of Nishikori, Raonic, Berdych, and Roger in high altitude?
Hi folks. So today I couldn’t watch the whole final but as far as I was concerned the final had already been played. Actually today’s match turned out to be a way more competitive match than the Djokodal semi, as far as the scoreline goes anyway. The scoreline of the Djokodal match was somewhat deceiving because they always play at a very high intensity and high-quality tennis. Credit to Berdych though because from what I saw he played well and he can be a very awkward opponent.
He has also been very consistent this year and lies second in the race behind Djokovic. I think the fact that Djokovic led the head-to-head 18-2 going into this match actually counted in Berdych’s favor because the odds of getting a win over a player who has a huge lead in the head-to-head increase the bigger the lead gets. We saw what happened at the Australian Open this year when Nadal led Berdych 18-3 in the head-to-head and Berdych defeated Nadal in straight sets.
But Djokovic is just playing too well at the moment for that to happen and found a way to win.
As was the case against Nadal, Djokovic dropped serve in the opening game and trailed 0-2 against an inspired Berdych. This time he didn’t break back straight away, but he did get the break in the sixth game to tie at 3-3. He then also broke in the eighth game to take a 5-3 lead and serve for the set. Berdych was not gonna watch Djokovic turn things around that easily though and this time it was him who broke back and then he leveled at 5-5. Djokovic held serve and at 6-5 and 40-15 he had two set points on the Berdych serve.
Look out Nadal, he’s coming…
Berdych saved both but on a third break point Djokovic made no mistake as he blasted a mid-court ball from Berdych down the line to force the error and take the opening set. So there were many momentum swings in the first set with a total of five breaks of serve. But by winning it Djokovic set the tone for the match and made sure that he remained the favorite for the title, despite facing an inspired Berdych.
Since Berdych has been in a rich vein of form this year and in Monte Carlo he wasn’t just gonna roll over and hand Djokovic the title after the opening set. He kept up his high-quality tennis and broke Djokovic in the crucial seventh game after a long baseline exchange, which consisted of Berdych moving Djokovic from corner to corner with big ground strokes and finally forcing the error after another big forehand down the line. Then at 5-4 Berdych made no mistake as he held serve to 15 to win the set.
So it was down to a one set shoot-out to decide who would take home the coveted 2015 Monte Carlo Masters title. As you would expect Djokovic took the initiative as he broke in the second game and never looked back to win the decider 6-3. Not that Berdych didn’t put up more stern resistance. At 1-4 and 30-30 there was another impressive point which Berdych won with an outright forehand winner. Then in the next game he set up a break point after yet another one of those impressive points which Berdych won with an outright backhand winner.
When he hits those groundstrokes they sure stay hit. But Djokovic held on and at 5-3 and 40-15 Berdych steered a backhand return long which gave Djokovic his second Monte Carlo title and 23rd Masters title, equaling him with Roger.
Some closing observations
We gotta admit Djokovic is carving out a pretty impressive legacy for himself. Equaling Roger with Masters titles won is no small feat and it’s almost scary to think how many he can still win. You would think he will surpass Nadal on 27 Masters titles, even though Nadal may add a few more. Nadal is going to struggle to get by Djokovic at Masters anyway, even on clay as we saw this week. Personally I wouldn’t mind seeing the Djoker pull away from Roger in Masters titles and surpass Nadal.
Masters do not determine who is the GOAT and I don’t like the fact that Nadal racked up so many Masters on clay. As is the case in slam titles his resume is very unbalanced in Masters, because of the 27 Masters titles he won only 8 was off of clay. If there was at least one grass Masters, which there should be, he would already have won less and Roger would probably be ahead of him. So I wouldn’t mind if Djokovic surpasses Nadal in this regard as he has a more balanced Masters resume and deserves it more.
Facts are facts Nadal fans you can’t deny them. To get back to today’s match Berdych made a very respectable showing and like I said he is an awkward opponent, all be it a one-dimensional one. He puts a lot of heat on those groundstrokes and serves, and even on clay he can hit through the court quite easily. But in the end it was probably Djokovic’s unreal movement and backhand which won the day. No matter how hard Berdych hits the ball he still gets to most balls and has the control of a brain surgeon on that backhand.
Nothing in it here
He can turn defense into attack with it in an instant. I think it was a great final with many twists and turns and I am happy for the crowd. Berdych played as well as he could but in the end Djokovic just had that little extra which is why he is the best player in the world. It is quite astonishing how he just keeps up this unbelievable quality and like I said the only player who could play at a higher level for longer periods was the GOAT Roger Federer himself. Really it is quite impressive to see and very enjoyable at the same time.
Especially the way he beats Nadal like a drum. Now he just needs to beat him where he is the most difficult to beat, which will probably result in him completing the career slam and Nadal contemplating retirement. That is surely number one on his list of priorities now as far as carving out a legacy goes. Given what I saw from him this week I wouldn’t bet against him either. He will now take a welcome two-week break and come storming back in Madrid and Rome. He could probably win both of those too given his current form.
But tomorrow Barcelona will start where Nishikori will be back as the number one seed and defending champion, and I see Ferrer is in the bottom half of the draw with Nadal which is good to see. The week after that it is the inaugural tournament in Istanbul where Roger will be the top seed of course. Hopefully he can at least win the title there to get some momentum going on the clay. So there is a busy time ahead and I will keep you updated on the action as well as I can.
Thanks for taking part this week and helping to make this the ultimate tennis blog!
Ps. Forgot to add Djokovic became the first player to win the first three Masters of the season.
As I predicted Djokovic raised his level today for the final but what I didn’t expect was how high he would raise it. It was a mindblowing performance with Djokovic making 75% first serves and having a winner to unforced error ratio of 30-13.
That wasn’t only the highest level of tennis I have ever seen from Djokovic but from anyone. He quickly raced to a 3-0 lead after breaking Nadal and from there on just kept slapping winners almost at will to crush him 6-1, 6-2.
That is as close as anything to perfection you will ever see on a tennis court. Just very few unforced errors while taking huge cuts at the ball hitting winner after winner. Just when you think tennis can’t be played at a higher level Djokovic takes it up a notch.
For the people who doubted Djokovic and didn’t think he could keep his level from 2015 up this will be quite a rude awakening because today Djokovic played at a higher level than at any time during 2015.
A special trophy for Djokovic whose late grandfather called him ‘Falcon’
If he keeps this level up he will win the calendar slam with ease, but it’s impossible to play this well all the time. At the very least it will send a strong message to his rivals who harbor any thoughts of dethroning him in Melbourne this year.
The holiday is officially over. Djokovic is back to business and he isn’t taking anything for granted. He will just be focused on the next match and on playing his best tennis. If he does that you’d figure he will be tough to stop.
This was Djokovic’s 60th title and 12th title in 12 months. Pretty dominant stuff and it sets him up as a firm favorite in Melbourne. It’s kinda scary to think what Djokovic can do in Melbourne in this form and it makes things more exciting going into the first slam of the year.
As for Nadal, he was made to look like a Futures level player by Djokovic but he would have done that to anyone today. It’s fun to see Nadal getting crushed like that with his negative retrieving game.
Djokovic en las últimas 52 semanas: 🏆Australia 🏆IW 🏆Miami 🏆Montecarlo 🏆Roma 🏆Wimbledon 🏆US Open 🏆Beijing 🏆Shanghái 🏆París 🏆Londres 🏆Doha
Nadal’s plan was to serve big and play aggressive but with the way Djokovic was returning and crushing the ball his only option was to revert back to his relentless retrieving while Djokovic was happy to boss him around the baseline like a headless chicken.
Very satisfying viewing indeed. It’s like I said in my last post if Djokovic plays at a decent level there is nothing Nadal can do. Djokovic is just too complete while Nadal is limited. Djokovic now leads the head-to-head for the first time(24-23).
He has also utterly owned him in their last 10 meetings leading 9-1 now.
Swiss Boys Into Finals of Brisbane and Chennai
So it wasn’t to be for Thiem as he went down 6-1, 6-4 to Federer but I saw that one as a freebie and still a very good week for him. As for Federer, it must have been an improved performance from the Dimitrov match but we will see what happens in the final.
I didn’t watch the match but Federer plays fast and that doesn’t really suit Thiem’s game with his big swings. Federer can certainly make things awkward for Thiem in a variety of ways with his experience and variety.
So I’m hopeful that Thiem can do well in Melbourne while Federer plays Raonic tomorrow who defeated Tomic in two tiebreaks. Tomic is a very good player in Australia so that is a good win for Raonic who looks to be back close to his best.
You’d expect Federer to win the title but who knows. It is not a foregone conclusion.
Finally, Stan will play teenager Coric in the final of Chennai. You’d expect Stan to win as well but Coric is a very promising youngster so who knows. Maybe he can cause the big upset.
Just found this on Twitter, in case you thought I was exaggerating. There should be no doubt left.
Nadal: “I played against a player who did everything perfect. Since I know this sport I never saw somebody playing at this level.”
Djokovic Wins 6th Australian Open and 11th Slam to Tie Laver, Borg, Emerson
It was inevitable. Who was going to stop the slow hardcourt GOAT(and likely soon to be hardcourt GOAT) on Plexicushion in the prime of his career? That’s correct, no one. Djokovic was the overwhelming favorite to win a third consecutive slam in Melbourne before the tournament began.
Anyone who had a little bit of tennis knowledge and wasn’t biased beyond belief knew it. With his 6-1, 7-5, 7-6(3) victory over Murray today he proved once again that he reigns supreme Down Under and that he is going to be awfully hard to stop there over the coming years.
I overslept and joined the match when Djokovic was a break up in the second set only to get broken right back. Well, Djokovic didn’t waste any time getting that all important first set under his belt, did he? He couldn’t have made a more ideal start.
When I joined the match Murray was playing well though and doing everything in his power to square things up at a set all. He was being very aggressive, not only in his game but in his body language as well. It appeared to me like he was trying to intimidate the Djoker.
I like how calm Djokovic stays in those moments. While Murray is grunting on every shot and seems to be making a huge physical effort Djokovic hardly even grunts himself and every time he wins a big point he makes sure to let Murray know it with a loud ‘Come on!’.
He really owns Murray big time in the mental department. Murray, to the contrary, kept ‘giving the business to his box‘ broadcasting his frustrations to his opponent and everyone else. I honestly don’t think he can help himself.
He needs Lendl in his box for whom he has too much respect to ‘give the business to’. Clearly Mauresmo has no effect on him in that regard. After Murray had broken back at 3-4 both players held serve and at 5-5 and 40-15 Murray had two game points on his serve.
Djokovic just wouldn’t let him go though as he won the next four points with more baseline mastery to break Murray. That was another key passage of play there after Djokovic breadsticked Murray in the opening set.
With Djokovic serving for the set then at 6-5 and 30-15, something strange happened when Djokovic served two consecutive double faults to present Murray with a break back point. Djokovic wouldn’t be denied however as he won the next three points to go up two sets to love.
The outcome was inevitable but Murray did well to make the score respectable and force a tiebreak. As was the case in the second set, Murray came back from a break down after Djokovic broke serve in the opening game of the third set.
Murray could have just given up the ghost right there so credit to him for fighting back and making the third set the closest set. In the tiebreak, Djokovic quickly raced to a 6-1 lead. Murray held both serves to get back to 3-6 but Djokovic then ended it in style with an ace.
What a champion!
Winning never gets old they say. And they are right. I think most people expected Murray to win a set in the final at least and I think for Djokovic to get it done in straight sets was kinda special. That meant poor Murray fell to 0-5 in Australian Open finals.
And his problem remains mental as far as I’m concerned. Djokovic is just a far superior player in that department. Murray has all the shots. He may even be more talented than Djokovic. He certainly has better hands at the net.
But mentally the difference is light years. Like I keep saying, Djokovic is a mental monster. And it clearly wasn’t that way from the start. That is what is so inspirational about him. He actually used to be fragile mentally, retiring from matches for almost any reason.
Watching him grow and evolve as a tennis player has been a treat and gives anyone hope that you don’t need to be born with certain qualities to be successful but that you can develop them over time and that continual growth is all important.
If you look at Federer, for instance, you see someone who was blessed with pretty much limitless talent. And yet it seems he is the one that stagnated and stopped growing. Of course, in recent times he has done very well to make changes to his game and reinvent himself as a better offensive and net player, but he isn’t making any progress as far as beating Djokovic goes.
If anything, the losses are getting worse. And yet, he still seems to believe the match is on his racquet against the Djoker. That’s what he says. But it sure wasn’t on his racquet when Djokovic ‘roasted him alive'(as an objective Fedfan put it) in the first two sets of their match in Melbourne this year.
This objective Fedfan made a comment on my last post saying that Federer can’t accept that the match is not on his racquet anymore and I agree. It’s the same thing that happened in the early days against Nadal. There is a kind of arrogant pride that doesn’t allow Federer to accept the truth and adjust accordingly.
When you get blasted off the court 6-1, 6-2 then there is simply no way the match is on your racquet. And then I see Fedfans comment on forums that Federer didn’t show up for the first two sets.
It is that exact kind of arrogance/denial which cost Federer and his fans on countless occasions. ‘Federer is a god that can’t do anything wrong and if something does go wrong then the problem must lie somewhere else. It is never Federer’s fault because he is a perfect god’.
This is why their newest angle is now the fact that Djokovic sits in an oxygen chamber to recover from matches which, by the way, is completely legal. It is one thing to accuse Nadal of doping but now they are seriously reaching.
Other than the fact that this scientific study proves that sitting in an oxygen chamber does nothing to aid recovery or enhance performance, how did Federer’s chronic back problems all of a sudden disappear never to return?
How does he show hardly any decline at all at age 34? You see, it’s not hard to invent conspiracy theories. And until someone comes up with some real proof, I am not going to assume things just because a desperate fanbase wants me to.
If Fedfans want to believe that Federer is a perfect god that never does anything wrong then I’m not going to stop them. But I don’t believe in that kind of idolization of a human being. As far as I’m concerned Federer has plenty of flaws as a tennis player and as a human being.
And unless he does something about it there is a good possibility that Djokovic will surpass him in the GOAT debate.
What Does the Future Hold for Djokovic?
So to get back to Federer’s flaws. There have always been a kind of denial about him which cost him big time against players who were not intimidated by him like Nadal and Djokovic. Djokovic is now probably a completer player than Federer ever was.
He has a better backhand, better returns, better movement/fitness, and he is mentally more stable under pressure. Federer has a better serve, forehand, and volleys. Djokovic has caught up with Federer and Federer doesn’t seem to want to admit it.
He is still using the same game plan and thinking the match is on his racquet. As a result, he just suffered his worst slam beating at the hands of Djokovic in recent times. He is still doing his real fans proud, but he is not getting any closer to Djokovic.
To the contrary, Djokovic is getting closer to him in the GOAT debate. With this title Djokovic equaled Emerson’s record of six Australian Open titles and he is also now equal with Laver and Borg in terms of slams won.
That is some serious company to be in and he is still in his prime. There is no doubt that Djokovic is currently playing the best tennis of his career and that he is completer than ever as a player and human being.
With the 6th Australian Open title behind him, we can now finally begin to seriously look forward. For the second time in his career, he is on a run of three consecutive slam titles. And for the second time, he will have a shot at completing the ‘Djoker slam’ at the French Open.
In 2012, Nadal spoiled it for him in the French Open final. With Nadal having seriously declined of late and Djokovic grilling him alive at the French last year already, you would think his chances of doing it this year are very good.
If it wasn’t for a brutal draw at the French last year Djokovic could have already completed the calendar slam. It is highly doubtful that he will receive a draw like that again this year. The argument from Fedfans is that it is said every year that this is the year that Djokovic will win the elusive French Open.
Personally, I wasn’t overly optimistic last year that Djokovic could get it done after I saw the draw. I think it is much more likely that he gets it done this year. My feeling is that this is the year he gets it done. But we will see.
I think the possibility alone is exciting. No one has completed the personal slam since Laver won the calendar slam in ’69. Strictly speaking, that is not a personal slam but like a personal slam, it is also four slam titles in a row.
Neither Federer nor Nadal has completed a calendar slam or a personal slam so if Djokovic achieves it, it would count for a lot. If he wins the French it would also mean he completes the career slam so the stakes will be at an all-time high in the French capital this year.
If Djokovic does pull it off, which I don’t doubt that he can, he will already be in the GOAT debate. He would have done something Fedal couldn’t do and he already leads them in the head-to-head. That would also release a lot of pressure on him and he could go on to win many more slams.
Who knows, maybe even the calendar slam itself. So I think there is a very exciting time ahead in tennis. For some fans, this domination from Djokovic is becoming boring but it was the same with Sampras and Federer. Welcome to tennis.
For us Djokovic fans, it is exciting times because there is a possibility of something very special being done in tennis and by our favorite player at that.
Just a thank you to my readers for the blog support over the past fortnight and I hope you enjoyed my coverage of this year’s Australian Open. As usual, there is a lot to cover after a grand slam final and I won’t fit everything into one post so I will probably make another one tomorrow and then take a break.
Q. It’s the first month of the year. You’ve already had convincing wins over your three biggest rivals in your career. Do you allow yourself in your mind to acknowledge that perhaps you’ve separated yourself from them a bit at the moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t want to allow myself to be in that frame of mind. Because if I do, the person becomes too arrogant and thinks that he’s a higher being or better than everybody else. You can get a big slap from karma very soon. I don’t want that.
I found this to be a very interesting presser. Did Federer become too arrogant and thought he was a higher being? His fans certainly treated him that way. I’ll let people make up their own minds but Djokovic has the ideal attitude I think.
He is humble and takes nothing for granted. Always trying to improve. Never getting complacent. For that reason, I wouldn’t be surprised if he surpasses Federer.
Well there it is folks. It went to three sets but in the end Djokovic was just too strong as expected as he triumphed 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0. It wasn’t always pretty but the Djoker fought through a first and second set onslaught from Murray as well as the extreme heat to complete a third perfect North-American hard court swing. And I don’t think there are many people left who would contest the fact that he is now the best slow hard court player in history. He already got the record for most Australian Open titles this year. After that he equaled Roger for most Indian Wells titles at four. And now he has done the Indian Wells/Miami double for a record third time after winning a fifth Miami title, one behind Agassi’s record and three ahead of Roger who has two Miami titles.
He also has three Canada Masters titles. So I think it is safe to say the numbers are on his side. Another interesting stat is that Djokovic tied Roger for hard court Masters won at 17. At least Roger is still quite a distance in front as far as overall hard court numbers go. The big differences are in the amount of US Open(5-1) and World Tour Finals(6-4) titles won. So Djokovic have some distance to go to catch Roger in hard court slams won(9-6) and World Tour Finals titles. But you won’t put it completely beyond him. For me Roger will always be the best fast hard court player anyway because even at 33 he is still schooling Djokovic on fast hard. These days there just aren’t many fast hard courts around.
It was a good final
Even the World Tour Finals has become a joke. But by the same token I think it is fair to call Djokovic the best ever on slow hard. His movement and base line consistency just makes him almost unplayable on the surface. Not to mention his returns and serve. I think it is also fair to say that Djokovic has benefited from the slow surface era, although not as much as Nadal. Lets not forget that Djokovic beat Roger in the 2007 Canada Masters final when Roger was still in his prime and the courts were still pretty fast if I’m not mistaken. Djokovic is a more attacking player than Nadal and can adapt better to faster surfaces. His returns are lethal on any court and his serve has become a serious weapon too.
In fact with his improved serve he may now be better adapted to fast surfaces than ever. With two Wimbledon titles he will be a serious threat at the All England Club for some time to come. I don’t see any improvement in his net game under Becker but it is good enough for the current conditions at Wimbledon. But more than anything Djokovic probably now desires a French Open title. That is the missing piece of the puzzle now and after another Indian Wells/Miami double he must be brimming with confidence. After getting it so badly wrong last year I won’t be making any predictions this year that’s for sure. But surely Djokovic has as good a chance as anyone at winning the title.
Even if it means someone else has to take Nadal out to open his path. And an early exit like in 2009 is not inconceivable this year. Someone like Nishikori, Stan, or Dolgopolov can surely upset Nadal on a good day, given Nadal’s recent fragility. But yeah lets not speculate about that too much because knowing Nadal he will just go ahead and win his 10th French Open. I didn’t say much about today’s final yet. Murray put up an admirable fight but as expected Djokovic just won the key points because he is mentally better. Djokovic clearly got flustered as he lashed out at the crowd and a ball boy, but as usual he found a way to get the job done. And although he showed poor sportsmanship I do admire how he just finds a way to win.
Since Indian Wells he got pushed to three sets four times and the best score in the third was 6-2 by Roger. The rest were all bakery products, including two bagels against Dolgopolov and Murray. Just to push him to three sets takes an immense effort, and the opponent can never keep it up in the third. And you gotta admire how Roger at the age of 33 still provided Djokovic with the sternest opposition. To know that you only have to remember Djokovic’s body language in the Indian Wells final. So I am proud of Roger for proving even on slow hard court that he is still the second best player behind Djokovic in the world. Well this coming week Roger will be training with Thiem for Monte Carlo of course and then it’s time for the clay court season.
Update: As usual the ball boy incident was much ado about nothing and just an opportunity for the haters to descend upon Djokovic and judge and criticize as much as possible. Djokovic was shouting at his camp and the ball boy got in the way. Given the good sport he is, he even made a public apology.
Congrats to Djokovic on winning a record 30th Masters title in Toronto today after defeating Nishikori 6-3, 7-5 in the final. He now leads Nadal by two titles who is in second place for all-time Masters titles.
I didn’t blog this week because I wasn’t enthusiastic enough about Toronto with the absence of three of the big four. But as usual, I followed the tennis and watched all Djokovic’s matches as well as some others.
Djokovic didn’t drop a set throughout the week so you have to say another amazing week for him. The closest he came to dropping a set was against Berdych in the quarterfinals when he trailed 3-6 in the first set tiebreak.
Berdych served a double-fault on the first point and on the second Djokovic made one of those amazing returns which forced the error from Berdych. Djokovic won five points in a row to win the tiebreak 8-6.
Berdych had already served a double fault at the start of the tiebreak and it’s very difficult to win a tiebreak against Djokovic serving two double faults. That has to go down as another choke from Berdych but Djokovic was lethal on the second set point.
Before the semi-finals, Djokovic was in his usual survival mode where he was not at his best but did enough to win in straight sets. Then in the semi-finals against Monfils, he was serving poorly to go down a break at 1-2 in the first set but quickly recovered to win the first set 6-3 and then the second set 6-2.
As usual, he changed gears for the semis and today he changed gears again for the final in a much improved serving performance. He served at 76% first serves as opposed to 65% against Monfils and 4 aces to 0 double faults as opposed to 1 ace and 5 double faults against Monfils.
So the serve was the main difference but, of course, Nishikori is better than Monfils hence the closer scoreline. Djokovic was 6-3 and a break up in the second at 2-1 at which point I was starting to lose interest in the match.
But fortunately, Nishikori raised his level and broke back soon to level at 3-3. That at least made things a bit more interesting but I still thought Djokovic would win in straight sets, which he did.
So Djokovic is right back to domination after his loss at Wimbledon and he goes to the Rio Olympics as the favorite. At the moment I’m just a bit bored with it all like Fedfans have probably been for months if not years.
Federer’s withdrawal from the season is a shame because his rivalry with Djokovic was the best one in tennis. At least Murray will be back at the Olympics but his rivalry with Djokovic isn’t nearly as interesting as the Federer and Djokovic one.
To get back to today’s match, it should now be clear that Djokovic was not himself in Rome this year when he defeated Nishikori 7-6 in the third but it was nonetheless another good week for Nishikori.
Yesterday he defeated Stan 7-6(6), 6-1 after Stan checked out after losing the first set. That is a bad attitude from Stan and why he is not a big four member. He doesn’t have the fighting qualities of the big four.
With this title Djokovic stretches his lead in the race to 1815 points over Murray again but apparently it is even more than that due to Davis Cup. Either way, Djokovic is right back to a dominating lead in the rankings after Murray closed in on him at Wimbledon.
With this title, Djokovic also won his 50th hard court title surpassing Connors who had 49 hard court titles and is now second behind Federer who has 60 hard court titles. It looks like Djokovic will eventually win more hard court titles and hard court slams than Federer to become the all-time greatest on hard court.
He needs at least one more slam on hard court and 10 more overall so there is still some distance to go, though. The Olympics will be the next hard court event and it is a pretty big one which Federer could never win.
So winning that will not hurt Djokovic’s GOATness on hardcourt and neither will another World Tour Finals title to tie Federer at 6. It would be fitting if Djokovic ends up being the hard court GOAT, Federer the grass court GOAT, and Nadal the clay court GOAT.
This coming Thursday, the Olympics begin and I see Cincinnati starts right after that which will make it challenging for Djokovic to finally complete the career Masters. I don’t know when he will play his first match in Rio but at least he gets a few days off now.
He had plenty of rest recently and can probably win Rio and Cincy after winning Toronto. But yeah it will take some doing. Some good tennis ahead now!
(I started a new page called Funny Photos under the gallery tab. Check it out and leave me a comment!)
Hey, folks. I hope you are all having a good week and that the Fedfans have by now recovered from Roger’s loss in Rome after realizing that he is playing very well and still on course for resurrecting his clay court season which has been less than satisfactory the last couple of seasons. Ideally I’d like to see him make semis at the French and test himself against the best, but quarters would be fairly satisfactory as well as long as he plays a good match and loses to a good player.
We know by now that Nadal will be seeded 7th and can, therefore, fall in Roger’s quarter. But he could also meet Nishikori or Stan in the quarters who on a good day could eliminate him. Not to mention a dangerous youngster like Kyrgios who already defeated him in Madrid. So the draw will already be very interesting, especially for finding out in whose quarter Nadal lands. This brings me to the importance of the French Open for Nadal as well as the importance of Wimbledon for Roger.
The Importance of the French Open for Nadal
We already started a discussion on my previous post about the Fedal era coming to an end and I’d like to continue it here. Nadal’s career is basically on life support right now and a 10th French Open title alone can save it in my opinion. He has been subject to upsets since Halle last year and for the first time in 10 years has not won a Masters during the European clay court season. In fact, he only made one final! Who would have thought that would be the case before the clay season began?
He has dropped out of the top 5 in the rankings for the first time in 10 years too. These are all signs of undeniable decline. Roger went through the same thing in 2013 and was able to resurrect his career by making changes to his coaching staff and equipment. But importantly, he has not been able to win a slam since then. As for Nadal, there has been no sign of resurrection so far. And I am afraid if he doesn’t win the French Open there may never be a resurrection. The French Open is no doubt Nadal’s last stand.
At least for a long time to come. Maybe he can compete for the French Open in the future again, but I am not so sure about that if he doesn’t win it this year. If he can’t gain confidence from the clay season then where will he gain confidence from? Either way he has clearly come to a defining moment in Paris, and I am not so sure he can defy the odds this time. I always had 14 slam titles in mind for him, and I think there is a good chance he will remain on that number indefinitely.
The Importance of Wimbledon for Federer
With the arrival of Fed 4.0 at the beginning of 2014, Roger went a long way towards putting the steep decline of 2013 behind him. But I’m not sure anyone can say that the disastrous season is well and truly behind him before he wins another slam. He came awfully close at Wimbledon last year when he lost 6-4 in the 5th set in that epic final against Djokovic. The resurrection of Roger was never going to happen overnight though, and I think toward the end of last year and this year so far we have seen improvements from Roger.
He has already won three titles for instance compared to last year’s one at the same stage, and he’s been having a better clay court season too. The Australian Open loss was a setback, but I think it is fair to say his game has been fine tuned better since the beginning of 2014. But will it be enough to win a slam? I think most people would agree that his best chance is at Wimbledon and that it probably needs to happen this year. It will only get harder in the future.
Murray will already be a huge threat this year along with Djokovic. Djokovic himself seems to be playing better than last year, so what would Roger’s chances be if they met this year? Then there are several other dangerous players like Berdych, Raonic, Dimitrov, and Kyrgios. The situation has definitely not gotten easier since last year, and I am not even sure how much Roger has improved. His serve, net game, backhand, and mental game have all improved. But won’t he need his forehand to be at its best to win Wimbledon with the tough competition?
Fedal: The Last Stand
For one era to end a new era has to come along. The decline is not enough, or else the Fedal era would have been over a long time ago. The Djokoray era has been threatening for some time now to take over, but Murray was not quite up to the challenge. With his form so far this year and his first clay titles in Munich and Madrid, he has made serious statements. He has been extremely consistent this year and therefore it is no surprise he is second in the race. The Djokoray era looks primed to take over from Fedal once and for all.
The only way they will be stopped is if Fedal wins the French Open and Wimbledon. Here is an interesting excerpt from Roger’s presser after the Rome final:
“You cannot take away the last 10 years,” he said. “It’s going to be best of five sets, we know how tough Rafa is physically and mentally. He is the favourite still to me.
“Novak at this point probably has to win, like in 2011 when he didn’t lose the whole year so it feels similar to that in my opinion. Maybe Rafa isn’t having the same success as before but nevertheless that remains the situation for me. It’s all talk, in the end it’s the racket that is going to do the talking. They are doing good and I hope it is not going to be between the two of them!”
Roger is usually very accurate with his predictions, but I’m not so sure here. It’s almost as if he wants Nadal to win to hold the Djokoray era off one more time. It can also be interpreted that he is trying to put pressure of Djokovic. This time Nadal is well and truly up against it though and it will take a heroic effort to win a 10th French Open. The same can be said for Roger at Wimbledon. Fedal have held off the next generation for an extraordinarily long time, simply because they are arguably the two best players in the history of the sport.
Djokovic has been winning slams for some time now, but one guy is not enough to hold Fedal off. He needs the support of Murray. Murray looks primed for big things like I said and it would be very interesting if Nadal lands in his quarter in Paris after what happened in the Madrid final. But as far as the title goes Murray is a bigger threat at Wimbledon. I wouldn’t be surprised if Djokovic finally wins the French this year and Murray wins Wimbledon. But one thing is for sure; the Fedal era is under serious threat.
If they are going to extend their relevance for at least one more year then Paris and London will be the places to do it in the next couple of months. I would rate their chances of winning the French and Wimbledon respectively about the same as well. Nadal has been more dominant at the French, but he is in much worse form than Roger. And I don’t see them with much of a chance of winning slams outside of the two I mentioned, although Roger will still be a dangerous dark horse in New York.
What do you think? Do you think Fedal have what it takes to make one last stand or is Djokoray here to stay? All opinions and thoughts are welcome.
First of all my sympathies to Fedfans and second congrats to the Djoker and his fans. With his 4th Rome title, the Djoker surpasses Roger in Masters titles won and it looks very likely that he will surpass Nadal too to get the record. He has now also won every big tournament(Masters and up) that he played since losing to Roger in Shanghai last year.
There wasn’t much in his match until Roger set up a break point at 4-4 and deuce with a forehand drive down the line which forced the Djoker into error. The point that followed was definitely a key point. The Djoker played a rock solid point where he hit with great depth and finally forced Roger into error with an attacking inside out forehand. If Roger had won that point it is very likely he would have won the set, but the Djoker was just very clutch. In the next game, the Djoker played a very good return game to get the break and the set.
Roger went down 0-30 I think but reeled the Djoker in with some great net play to 30-30. At deuce, there was another key point as the Djoker came up with a US Open 2011-like return winner cross court to set up set point. He then made another very deep return off a first serve from Roger and kept great depth until dropping one short which Roger netted.
After winning the first set, the Djoker was immediately the big favorite to win it. The Djoker held his serve in the opening game of the second set after which he set up a break point in the second game. Roger saved it with a tremendous backhand winner up the line, but the Djoker ended up breaking anyway. And then when he consolidated for 3-0 you figured the match was pretty much a done deal. The Djoker had a break point in the next game as well for the double break, but at least Roger avoided a possible bakery product.
Roger also did his part by making the Djoker serve out the match at 5-3 but this time there would be no miraculous comeback as Roger hit a routine forehand well wide to lose the match.
In the end, it was a routine scoreline and it wasn’t a classic in any sense of the word, but it was still a high-quality match as you can see from the match stats. When both players hit more winners than unforced errors it is a sign of high-quality tennis. Both players had great serving days as well. The Djoker’s serve has improved recently and when he serves at 70% first serves on top of a rock solid baseline game then he becomes almost impossible to beat. The Djoker’s returns and passing shots is another big factor.
As you can see Roger didn’t win a big percentage of net points because of this. His second serve was also under loads of pressure. On a slower court like this it was always going to be an uphill struggle for Roger. The courts were playing faster than usual this week and today was probably the hottest day of the week, but it still wasn’t enough. The Djoker is just too solid and impenetrable from the baseline. You had the feeling if Roger won that break point and won the first set, the Djoker would have won in three sets anyway.
As far as Roger goes I think Fedfans should feel very good about his week. At the beginning of the week, we were just hoping he could make semis, but he surpassed that and made the final. Of course Fedfans always want more and yes it would have been nice if he won, especially after losing last year to Stan in the Monte Carlo final as well. This was another chance that got away to win one of the two elusive Masters he has never won. That said, I think it is great that he is making the Rome final at this stage of his career.
Maybe not necessarily making the Rome final, because he did that in 2013 when he was playing poorly too, but the level of his play on clay. It is nice to see after that Davis Cup match against Gasquet last year that he is indeed so far resurrecting his clay tennis. The performances from Berdych and Stan were strange, but Roger still played very well. And this was exactly the kind of result he would have looked for after the early loss to Kyrgios in Madrid. So from my point of view this was another superb week for Roger.
I can only speak for myself. I know many Fedfans get very disappointed after a loss like this and tend to look at the negatives. The way I see it Roger did as well as he could and lost to the better player in the final. Simple as that. He will go to the French Open with loads of confidence with a great shot of making semis. I don’t know what more you can ask as a Fedfan at this point.
As for the Djoker, he continues his utter dominance of the ATP Tour after looking vulnerable earlier in the week. You gotta respect the way he came up with his best tennis when it mattered the most in the semis and final. Today he was impeccable. I think it is fair for me to say he is the French Open favorite again, even after I made the wrong prediction last year. Nadal is always a danger and Roger actually said after the match that Nadal is still the favorite. I don’t know if there was any emotion involved in that comment, but he will say that until Nadal loses again at the French Open anyway, so I’m not sure how much to read into it.
Personally I hope the Djoker wins the French Open. I certainly don’t want Nadal to win it again and I think the Djoker deserves the title by now, having come the closest of anyone to beating Nadal at the French aside from Nadal’s loss to Soderling of course. Nadal’s loss to Stan in Rome, on the other hand, can’t bode very well for his French Open hopes. If he is to win the French Open this year it will be the first time he does it without winning a Masters on clay during the clay season.
He looks more vulnerable than ever. He is already number seven in the rankings and if he fails to defend the French he will lose at least 800 points, but probably more. As the 7th seed, he will play the Djoker, Roger, Murray, or Berdych in the quarters. He could fall as early as that if not earlier, and it will be very interesting to see in whose quarter he lands. If he lands in the Djoker’s or Murray’s quarter I can easily see him losing. Roger and Berdych are another matter with their histories against Nadal but they could beat him too.
But you are never gonna write Nadal off at the French. Not when he is the 5-time defending champion. All I know is that this is it for him. His obituary has been written a thousand times of late, but the final nail won’t be in the coffin until he loses in Paris. If that happens he will probably remain on 14 slam titles indefinitely, which is the number I had in mind for him all along. So yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens but I am not gonna get my hopes up too high until it actually happens.