Possible French Open Scenario – Should Federer Make the Final?

There is a scenario which could well happen at the French Open this year which I would like to bring to your attention. With Nadal having avoided the upset in the first round, there must be a good possibility that he now makes the final, in which case he will be one match away from equaling Borg in French Open titles won and thereby becoming the clay GOAT. On the other side of the draw it seems we may well have a semi-final with Roger against Djokovic. Should that match take place, who do you want to win? The answer may seem obvious. But is it really? I know a lot of you would say Roger when first asked. But what happens when he faces Nadal in another French Open final? They have already faced four times at the French Open, three times in the final of which Roger have all lost. And because of this he is 2-5 against Nadal in grand slam finals.

This is probably the worst thing on his whole resume as a tennis player so far. The fact that his main rival dominated him in grand slam finals. If he is to play Nadal in another French Open final, you would think the same fate awaits him there. I would like to be optimistic, and if he somehow manages to beat Djokovic, he would gain a lot of confidence from such a win. But the one reason why this scenario will probably never take place in the first place, is because of Roger’s backhand. It just gets exposed by the likes of Djokovic and Nadal, and the more high-bouncing the surface, the more it gets exposed. Roger’s one handed backhand has become his achilles heel in the latter part of his career, along with his mental issues. Nadal with his forehand and Djokovic with his backhand can equally expose Roger’s backhand on clay.

But at least Roger has a positive head-to-head against Djokovic, while the beatings he has taken at the hands of Nadal in the past does not put him in good stead for another French Open final face off. The amount of spin with which Nadal hits his forehand, and the fact that it angles away from Roger’s backhand, makes it even harder for him to deal with than Djokovic’s awesome backhand. My honest opinion is that Roger can’t beat Djokovic in a semi-final meeting. But lets say JesusFed shows up or Djokovic loses to Del Potro in the next round and Roger makes the final. What would you prefer, Roger losing to Del Potro or Djokovic, or Roger winning and then losing in the final to Nadal? I know a lot of you would be inclined to just say that Roger should make the final, especially if it means he ends Djokovic’s streak in the semi’s.

But think about it for a second. If he loses to Nadal in the final, that means 2-6 to Nadal in grand slam finals, while Nadal would be the clay GOAT and on 10 slams. This means Roger’s legacy weakens while Nadal’s legacy improves. It would give Nadal confidence and go a long way towards putting the mental blows which he suffered at the hands of Djokovic behind him. He would also be a big contender for Wimbledon then. Now take the other scenario. He plays Djokovic in the final and loses, which will probably be the case. You can just imagine what devastation that would cause to his psyche. That is five final losses to Djokovic in a row, three of them on clay, and one in a grand slam final. I mean the ownage would be immense. It would be a changing of the guard, and Nadal would be on the very brink of burnout.

Nadal is getting to the age now where the type of game he plays will cause him to burn out. The signs are all there that Nadal is nearing the end. Sure he has hardly lost to anyone aside from Djokovic this year, but I nonetheless believe it would be a significant event if he loses to Djokovic in the French Open final. It seems it would trigger Nadal’s burnout, while if Nadal wins the French Open he will gain new confidence. So there it is, I have spelled it out for you. I still think the chances are pretty small that Roger will beat Djokovic in the semi’s, but Djokovic could be upset by someone else for that matter. Djokovic is fighting against history himself at the moment, given that he is now on a 41-match winning streak. History shows that the early forties is where the winning streak begins to end, with the record being 46 by Vilas.

All time greats like Roger, Lendl, Mcenroe, and Vilas could not go further, and Djokovic is not even in that bracket of all time greatness yet. If Djokovic wins the French Open he will equal Vilas’ 46 match winning streak. There is a lot of history on the line at this year’s French Open that is for sure. So what will it be? Do you want Roger in the final, or Djokovic? Call me a sadist, but I don’t want Nadal to win many more slams. I want him to go down to Djokovic in the French Open final. That could make him vulnerable enough for Roger to exploit him as well, and improve his head-to-head with Nadal. The head-to-head between the two would be less significant the less slams Nadal wins. As someone who has made Roger suffer a lot in his career and dented his legacy somewhat, I would prefer Nadal to lose in the final to Djokovic and taste some of his own medicine.

Which do you prefer?

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78 Comments

  1. Federer wants to be in the final and is working his butt off to get there. That’s good enough for me. Plus, I think he could beat Rafa.

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    muhammad Reply:

    i want to see roger in the final only if rafa doesnt make it till that stage.rafa vs roger another FO final will mean another FO crown for this toothless champion which is atrocious.djoker is on a high and now has everything to beat rafa.
    But i know if i would be watching roger vs djoker semi,i would w/o any doubt be praying for roger win;this inbuilt mechanism to root for roger everytime is undeniable but fact is fact.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Agree muhammad.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think thats a bit wishful thinking on your part.

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  2. Hi Ruan, very interesting post indeed. This question has been on my mind since the draw came out. My optimistic (unrealistic?) preference would be for Nadal to lose before Semi (to Soderling maybe?), then i will be able to relax and fully support Roger in the Semi against Djoko!!! I was really disappointed that Isner did not take his chances that day. Now we shall see if Davydenko and Soderling could take advantage of Nadal’s vulnerability, as you have mentioned.
    (Anyway, I have voted for Djoko to win it)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks onefly. It all would have been easier had Isner beat Nadal, wouldnt it?

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  3. All I can say is that it is too early to assume that Federer will reach the semis. He has tough matches coming up against Tipsarevic(the same guy who pushed Federer to the brink in AO 08) followed by either of Wawrinka(who is a very good clay courter and also has won against Federer on clay) or Tsonga(with his big game and French support, this could be a dangerous match). Assuming that he gets through both matches, he is likely to get another tough match against Ferrer. None of these players would be a problem for Federer of 4 years ago, but now you have to consider every step as a landmine.

    Same for Djokovic. He is the favorite against Delpotro. But Delpotro could easily come swinging freely with no pressure, and this could be a very tough match. Similarly, if Nadal plays more exhausting matches on the way to the QF, a very dangerous opponent in Soderling lurks. The balls help big first serves and unlike Isner, Soderling can really take advantage of short balls. Despite winning the last two matches, Soderling is a difficult match up for Nadal. I doubt it would be straightforward this time(since this is not a Final), since Nadal has looked vulnerable and Soderling can take advantage of it. The match I am most intrigued over, is Nadal’s potential match up with Murray. Murray plays like cr@&@# against lower ranked players, but can really step it up against the elite. He is as good as Djokovic, except for the forehand. To compensate, he has probably the best first serve in the top 10.

    Despite all these, if we see the situation unfold that you are describing, I would much rather prefer Federer to win against Djokovic and lose agianst Nadal. Reasons being
    1. At nearly 30, it will be a testimony to Federer’s greatness that he has stopped the most amazing streak of Djoker on his least favorite surface. This will only increase the legend of Federer
    2. We never know if Nadal will be in the final. If by chance he loses to a Murray or Soderling, Federer would be the favorite to win FO. Think about what a second career grand slam would do to the legend of Federer
    3. I think most Federer fans, and I suspect Federer himself is at peace with his record against Nadal on clay. He has openly said it that he has to admit that Nadal is the best on that surface(this was way back in 2006). He has been one of the few to push Nadal and taken sets of Nadal at the FO(which BTW,Djokovic is yet to do!). A loss to Nadal at this stage of Federer’s career is not much damaging. The biggest damage to his psyche was not in FO, not in Wimbledon, but at the AO 09 loss(Nadal was clearly the underdog there)

    Having said that, Federer I suspect would not be willing to die on the court in his match against Djokovic. I am sure that he would much rather see Djokovic and Nadal push each other to the brink and increase his chances at his beloved Wimbledon. And anything less than a near dying effort against Djokovic in his current form, on Federer’s weakest surface will not suffice.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good post Aravind. Everything well thought out.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    Fantastic post Aravind. Agree with everything very strongly – most of all with “At nearly 30, it will be a testimony to Federer’s greatness that he has stopped the most amazing streak of Djoker on his least favorite surface. This will only increase the legend of Federer.”

    Also, would add Belluci to the list of landmines for Djokovic on the way to a semi’s showdown with Fed.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    That if Belluci gets past Gasquet..

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  4. Ru-an, I prefer option C: Federer beating Nadal in the final and winning his 17th major title.

    All these possibilities are a long way off, however. Nadal could eat some bad seafood, get sick, and have to withdraw. Anything could happen.

    Tipsarevic is trouble enough for the moment. Why go looking for more when it’s not there yet?

    If Federer is ready, he’ll be in the final. If not, then he won’t. Simple as that.

    Besides, both Nadal and Djokovic are under huge pressure. Djokovic is attempting to go where no man has gone before, extending his winning streak, and trying to become the first man since Courier to win AO and RG back to back. Nadal is being seriously challenged on clay for the first time. Plus, you can bet he wants to equal Borg’s record this year, whatever his disavowals.

    If Federer can get his game together in time, it would be a perfect opportunity for him to topple Djokovic and Nadal at one fell swoop, when both men are under mental strain. Neither of them handles the burden of being the favorite nearly as well as he does.

    If Federer made the final, Nadal would be universally favored to win. The situation would be completely the reverse of what it was when they previously met in Grand Slam finals. All the pressure and expectations would be on Nadal’s shoulders. Federer would simply be able to concentrate on producing his best tennis.

    Ultimately, I’m not as worried about Federer’s legacy as you are. Records are made to be broken. It’s no fair play to say a particular man’s record is sacrosanct and that no one should try to go beyond it. If he’s hoping someone else will prevent Nadal from breaking them, that’s not worthy of a champion.

    In any case, I don’t watch Federer just because of the number of trophies he has. I watch him because he plays beautiful tennis. If some other fellow gets more trophies, it won’t make Federer’s tennis any less enjoyable.

    Federer no longer needs any more titles to prove his legitimacy or quality as a player. He’s long since done that. At this point he can just play for himself and his own enjoyment.

    If Federer were to become too fixated on keeping Nadal from breaking his records, it would not be good for him or his tennis. Look at what his obsession with Sampras’ record did to him, even as well adjusted as he is. He wanted it so bad it nearly broke him. The nervous play he showed in the Wimbledon ’08 and AO ’09 finals, and his breakdown after that AO final, must partly have been due to this. Fortunately he managed to get through it.

    At this point, I think he’s focusing on what he enjoys: the challenge of raising his game and figuring out new strategies to overcome his opponents. He’s not thinking “I must win this tournament, or my legacy and career will be forever tarnished.” He’s past that now, thankfully.

    Evie said it best. He’s working hard and he’s hungry to win. If he makes the final he has every chance to win even if he’s up against Nadal. That’s enough.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    A lot of good points Steve. Definitely some food for thought. I just think this is an interesting scenario so i put it out there. And i just dont see Roger beating Nadal in a RG final. The last time he was trashed 6-1, 6-3, 6-0, and i bet it still haunts him. If Djokovic beats Nadal in the final it will set Roger up well for Wimbledon since Nadal will be a broken man. Djokovic on the other hand is not that great on grass. Dont you want Roger to win a 7th Wimby crown?

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    MS Reply:

    Option C for this fan too, Ruan. The realistic, practical ones who think that the past is a fair yardstick to predict the future will not agree. They can continue to believe that Federer will never win the FO final against Nadal on clay now when he is pushing 30, when he failed to do so in his prime.
    But I believe in fairy tales and have always thought there will be a reverse of the Wimbledon 2008 final where Federer beats Rafa at his “home surface” in an epic at the FO.
    Highly unrealistic and impractical, I know. But never say never. For all you know ,this might be the year.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    One-handed bh. That is all.

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  5. A good article Ru-an. But I don’t see Nadal getting to the final of this tournament. No way. He will lose to either Soderling or Murray for sure. Or Murray will wear him out so much that roger would walk over him in the final. He’s already been on court for 1 match longer than Roger has been on court for 2!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well that is something that baffles me, the fact that Nadal doesnt ever get tired. This is his fifth event in seven weeks. I agree that he should get tired, but you know Nadal is always the exception to the rule. But you may well be right. Nadal may lose before the final. You know however that if he makes the final he will somehow find the strength to beat Roger.

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  6. I would love to see Roger in the final, of course. I don’t care for Djokovic. I also think Nadal is more vulnerable than ever and I do think Roger could beat him. How much sweeter would it be for Roger’s record if he beats Nadal on his own turf. I think Roger’s head would probably be helped by knowing Nadal’s recent travails and he played him good in Miami. Nadal has a rough road to the finals, I am sure Murray will come out strongly. Also Verdasco may give him a rough time. I’m not saying they’ll beat him, but rough him up. Yes, his recovery time, has in the past been amazing (and suspect), but I am not sure it will be quite the same. Doping doesn’t prevent aging (though it can minimize it’s effects). Anyway, Federer is the reason I love tennis and I actually can’t stand Djokovic. I’d rather see RF in the finals regardless of outcome.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I dont see Roger beating Nadal at RG. Even of its possible its just too much of a risk. Id rather have the proven commodity Djokovic there in the final and stop Nadal. Then Roger can go ahead and take advantage at Wimbledon. One shouldnt be too greedy. It could come back to bite you.

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    jim Reply:

    In order to make it to the finals he would have to beat Djokovic, which at this point would mean more than beating Nadal in the finals I think.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Beating Djokovic would be better than winning a slam? No sir.

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  7. Steve said: ‘…It’s no fair play to say a particular man’s record is sacrosanct and that no one should try to go beyond it. If he’s hoping someone else will prevent Nadal from breaking them, that’s not worthy of a champion…’

    Very nice post. Excellent words, Steve.

    Judging from readers here, looks like many want to see Federer succeed, and never mind hoping for Djokovic to ‘take out Nadal’.

    Ruan, ten years from now, Federer will NOT be tied to Nadal, or spoken of with the disclaimer ‘you know he had a bad h2h with this one guy…’ He will be remembered as one of the greatest ever to play this game. Your worrying and stressing over how things are going to look for your man won’t change a thing happening on courts, today or tomorrow.

    Me? I’m going to sit back and enjoy the tennis. My guy’s admitted he’s scared sh*tless, nervous, thought about losing to Isner, and has lost confidence. Interesting times, no? I’m wondering, can he get his confidence back? I also think Fed’s enjoying flying under the radar for a change!

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    marron Reply:

    I have my doubts that Rafa may make the final here, the way he’s been playing.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Im sorry but you are just wrong here. Roger was prevented from achieving several important things by Nadal, and he has also lost a lot of confidence as a result. Rogers mental problems these days have a lot to do with what Nadal has done to him in the past. Just as Nadal ruined things for him, someone new must come along and ruin things for Nadal. That is just how tennis works. You and Steve need to realize that Roger is not in his prime anymore. Whats past is past. It is not a question of hoping Djokovic would take care of things. Its a question of wanting things to take its natural course, which is that Djokovic must dethrone Nadal, just as Nadal dethroned Roger.

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    marron Reply:

    OK. It sure sounded like you’re leaning more to the ‘hoping Djokovic would take care of things’ line of reasoning, NOT the ‘natural course of things’… perhaps I read you wrong.

    However, I do not believe I am wrong about Fed’s legacy down the road. I don’t believe his name will be forever tied to Nadal, the guy that beat him more often than not in slams when they met. But guess we’ll have to wait and see how that turns out, no?

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    marron Reply:

    16 > 9.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No you definitely read me wrong. This is just the way things go in tennis.

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  8. Still too early to see how Nadal is playing as he is not on court for his 2nd match. As for Roger one can never predict which twin will show up on court. Assuming top 4 players are through to semis, whoever plays first will influence 2nd semis. If Nadal/Murray match is the 1st semis and Nadal loses, you can bet that Roger will go all out against Djoker. Otherwise its going to be Djoker/Nadal final. Unless Roger decides he wants to give another go getting bageled by Nadal come Sunday, I am not sure how much beating can he take from Nadal.

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  9. Simple question, simple answer. If Federer is good enough to reach the semis and beat Djokovic which the best player currently (and the one beating Federer in the last two slam semis), it means he’s playing his best tennis. Then there’s no doubt I would want him in the final, even against Nadal. Don’t forget the situation is now different – Nadal is no longer preventing Federer from completing his grand slam and slam record. Much less pressure. I’m sure will see a smile on his face even if he loses…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I wont have a smile on my face thats for sure.

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    George Reply:

    “Simple question, simple answer. If Federer is good enough to reach the semis and beat Djokovic which the best player currently (and the one beating Federer in the last two slam semis), it means he’s playing his best tennis. Then there’s no doubt I would want him in the final, even against Nadal.”

    I couldn’t agree more with you, TD. It’s just simple as that, only an amazing Federer can defeat this flawless machine called ‘Djokovic’ right now, and if this does happen I believe he won’t let any Nadal stop him in a possible final. That’s enough from me about this topic, right now I just wanna say really loud…C O M E O N R O G E R!!!! JesusFed ftw

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    George Reply:

    “Simple question, simple answer. If Federer is good enough to reach the semis and beat Djokovic which the best player currently (and the one beating Federer in the last two slam semis), it means he’s playing his best tennis. Then there’s no doubt I would want him in the final, even against Nadal.”

    I couldn’t agree more with you, TD. It’s just simple as that, only an amazing Federer can defeat this flawless machine called ‘Djokovic’ right now, and if this does happen I believe he won’t let any Nadal stop him in a possible final. That’s enough from me about this topic, right now I just wanna say really loud…C O M E O N R O G E R!!!! JesusFed ftw

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    Bal Reply:

    Well, the following are observations of a sincere tennis fan (more of Roger).
    One most basic requirement these days for a tennis player is to have a solid backhand, which in Roger’s case does not produce the depth and weight of shot (since it is one-handed). Definitely, a double handed BH is a necesity these days, where the technology and players conditioning allow them to hit with a lot of depth, strength, spin and weight, for which the single handed BH response (except maybe Gasquet’s) would most times end up as a fruit to be crushed with brute strength. (as normally happens in a Nadal Vs Federer match). Roger, with all the beauty he adds to the game has to convince himself of this fact and try to go for a double handed BH. We all saw what Pablo Andujar, a lower ranked player did to Nadal yesterday. His BH was basically more in the nature of Djoko’s. Nadal’s time and tested strokes are facing uncertainity due to this efficiently executed DH BH. Even on a slower court, like we saw yesterday, Nadal was not able to run around his BH (his suppossedly weaker stroke) due to the depth of the doube handed BH. Add this stroke to Roger’s already available abundant arsenal would really make him tougher to beat.
    I am only wishing this from Roger as a true fan. Maybe technically, Roger cannot change his natural single handed BH. But I cannot see any other lacuna in his game, where he is more tentative / lack of confidence than his BH of late. We cannot say whether Roger could have had a better H2H with Nadal with such modification, provided it was technically possible for Roger to adjust. Is it not possible to try ? Come On !!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    The backhand is exactly the problem and the reason he wont beat Djokovic or Nadal. And no, there is no way he is gonna change to a two-handed backhand. You can forget about that.

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    Ken Reply:

    You couldn’t be more correct Ru-an. Roger’s backhand is his ultimate Achilles Heel & the sole reason why he may never win against Nadal & Djoko.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    If he beats Djokoic in the semis he may have a chance against Nadal in the final. But you people have to be a bit more realistic. Roger has about 1/100 chance to beat Djokovic.

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  10. Nadal is winning his second round match, but largely by dint of his opponent’s errors and missed opportunities. I expect him to eventually win this match and beat another much lower-ranked Spaniard whom I have never heard of, but the world No. 1 is struggling and looking ripe for the plucking should he meet a top player on his favorite surface. However, as has been noted here earlier, should Nadal make it into the second week of the slam he generally becomes a quite different player. Interesting that.

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  11. Nadal’s opponent has him 5-1 40-love – and then loses game after game, missing all the vital points to close out the 3rd set. Nadal meanwhile runs and runs and runs. His ability to stay in a set, with nothing but his tenacity, reminds me of someone clinging to a window ledge who refuses to be dislodged despite the repeated attempts to prise his grip free. You wonder how he does it. I guess it helps to have an opponent ranked 48 in the world who misses all his opportunities and cannot play his best shots when he needs to. As tennis, it is painful to watch.

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  12. When are you going to stop being so negative?

    Rafa is as vulnerable as he can get, and his matches against Isner and Andujar stand testimony to that. IF he makes it to the final – and that’s a very big if – I believe that Roger will have his chances against him. And if its Djokovic against Rafa, he’s going to have a walkover of a final. Although if I have to watch el Djerko touch another GS trophy, I will throw up.

    Whether Roger can make it past Djokovic leaves to be seen, but I’m not going to, as you say, hope that he loses to him to avoid being beaten by Rafa in the final. Roger isn’t a coward, and his fans have no right to be cowards.

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    neil Reply:

    The ‘negativity’ you complain of is all in Nadal’s style of play. Some of us feel the same way about Nadal winning a grand slam trophy as you do about Djokovic winning. You may not care for the Serb but he is not pummelling the Spaniard for no reason: he is nowadays clearly a much better player.

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    BA Reply:

    I don’t want Rafa to win this for the same reasons as any other Federer fan. And Djokovic is definitely the better player over Rafa, no arguments.
    I’m only saying that its unfair to write Roger off at this point, and also “hope” he doesn’t make it to the final. That is plain ridiculous.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Again, when did i say i hope Roger wont make the final?! I said i prefer Djokovic makes the final and owns Nadal. Roger cant even beat Nadal on grass and hard court. How the hell will he beat him on clay?! Seriously im not in the mood for this shit. I just watched another Spanish idiot choke to Nadal.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    What are you talking about? Learn something about tennis before you call me negative again.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    I don’t know, I think it’s pretty clear what BA is talking about Ru-an, namely that “Whether Roger can make it past Djokovic leaves to be seen, but I’m not going to, as you say, hope that he loses to him to avoid being beaten by Rafa in the final. Roger isn’t a coward, and his fans have no right to be cowards.” As in there’s something to be said for some optimism about our guy. If Fed comes into form enough to arrive at the semis confident and battle-hardened (having just beat Tipsarevic, Wawrinka/Tsonga, then Ferrer) to take out Nole, then why shouldn’t he be able to take heart from the clear signs of Rafa’s vulnerability and push through to win? It’s not like Fed hasn’t been close *numerous* times in the past against Rafa on clay. Yes, very bad match. Yes, he’s in his head. But also, *things have changed.*

    Anyway, I agree with BA that there is a sporting virtue in wanting Fed to win and face Nadal rather than avoid that for legacy purposes. And although I see your side, I hardly think BA’s position that the latter view is “negative” shows s/he knows nothing about the game.

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    Nelson Goodman Reply:

    Sorry, that’s supposed to be “Yes, very bad match*-up*.”

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok i have calmed down some now. You guys are welcome if you want to believe that Roger can win the event, beating Djokovic and Nadal. Personally, im not gonna get my hopes up for that to happen. Who was in four MS finals before the FO? Where was Roger? Losing to the likes of Gasquet and Melzer, getting owned by Nadal and beaten by Djokovic. You think he is all of a sudden gonna come from nowhere and win the hardest major on his worst surface, beating the two best players in the world? Like i said, im not getting my hopes up. Legacy is kind of important you know. Its kind of what its all about. But if you guys are willing to let Roger face Nadal in the final and thereby risk an awful lot, then be my guest. I want Djokovic there to destroy Nadal, just as Nadal destroyed Roger so many times. This is just the natural order of things. I dont know if you read my previous comments but you may want to. I already explained this.

    PS. Look at the poll results. Most people agree with me.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    ‘This is just the natural order of things…’

    How in the world do you explain that? The natural order of things in tennis? Can you give me any examples? It sounds suspect to me, Ru-an.

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    Babel Reply:

    Yeah I don’t know, Ruan. Remember the old adage – even if a 100 people tell a lie, it remains a lie. Now I’m not saying you and all the other people here who’ve gone with option 2 are wrong, but that you could be. I’d rather stay optimistic about Roger’s chances even here in Paris, than surrender to the ‘eventuality’ of a Toxic Finale. ;-)

    I don’t remember a single occasion where Federer has played his best tennis (especially on the big points) against Nadal, and lost. And while the odds are against him beating ‘El Matador’ here at Roland Garros, I’d rather see him in a final than see him lose yet again to Novak (if Roger makes it to the semis).

    As for his chances against Djokovic, a victory is not impossible. You might have observed that Djokovic is not particularly solid on his own serve and instead relies mostly on his exemplary return game to win matches. So if Roger shuts out his chances on serve (which is possible as these new Babolat balls also provide assistance), he might have a chance. As for his backhand (which is not really showing too many signs of improvement), the only thing Roger can do is ride his luck. If it somehow comes through all right on the day, well who knows…

    Like I said, a lot of things have to go right and these two things in particular. If they do, Roger will not really need Djokovic to have a bad day in order to beat him. GO FEDERER!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well i dont see how Roger is gonna beat Djokovic or Nadal. I simply dont see it. If he surprises me then great. But im certainly not getting my hopes up to be shattered. So i can either stop being a serious fan, in which case it wouldnt bother me much if he loses, or i can be a serious fan and not get my hopes up to be shattered like has been so often the case lately. Maybe the people who voted Djokovic in my post have just learned something.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol. Tennis history is full of it. Every dominant player in the past was brought down by someone, like Roger brought down Sampras, Nadal brought down Roger, etc. Its time for Nadal to be brought down by Djokovic. His time is at hand.

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    Babel Reply:

    Ruan, I don’t think anyone here is ‘hoping’ for anything to happen. I can only speak for myself and I’d rather see him try hard and lose than lose before he even gets a crack at these guys. Try to think of what could happen to Roger’s confidence if he loses again in the semis or quarters (or earlier) here. He’ll have gone for 5 straight slams without making a final. If you want him to avoid defeat against the top two, then I suppose he should lose in the quarters. That way Djokovic will not even be tested in the semis and will have a clear shot against Nadal. Roger himself, I’m sure, wants to make the final and wants to win the tournament. Shouldn’t we as his fans support him? If we don’t, what distinguishes us from the fans who say he should retire and all that crap? And no one is asking you to stop being a serious fan. When you follow an athlete, you know what you sign up for. When you lose faith, you cease to be a fan.
    —————————————-
    PS: Roger didn’t bring down Sampras, Pete simply went away. Roger brought down Hewitt, Safin, Roddick, Kuerten and of course Agassi – players who were collectively dominating tennis at the time.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well i didnt lose faith. Roger can win more slams, but i seriously doubt hes gonna do it at his worst slam. He couldnt do it in his prime, what makes you think he can do it now? Im already looking at him winning Wimbledon. Therefor its important Nadal gets destroyed at the FO. That way its unlikely he will be a factor at Wimbledon, opening the door for Roger to get #7. Now i bet you are gonna say im being negative again, that Roger should be able to beat these guys no matter what. Well he hasnt showed me that he can. Losing 3 straight times to Djokovic and twice to Nadal. Im not saying he cant beat these guys at all, but it will rather be a nice surprise for me if he does. Why let myself get disappointed over and over again as a fan? Id rather lower my expectations a bit.
    Roger did play a role in bringing down Sampras. It was an obvious changing of the guard.

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    Babel Reply:

    Well I think you’re dwelling too much on Nadal’s confidence and not thinking nearly enough about Roger’s own. How good will he himself feel if he gets thrashed by Djokovic in the semis here? Methinks he’ll feel better if he makes the final (though at the moment Ferrer is a major obstacle), even if he loses to, say, Nadal.
    ————————————–
    Sure, Roger beat Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001 but Pete’s decline was caused mainly due to, in his own words, “mental and physical fatigue”. Roger was a rising star at the time of the USO 2002. That was when his junior coach died and his career turned around.
    ————————————-
    On another topic, Del Potro is clearly not at his best today. Sad.

    Also, Nadal has got lucky again with his draw and will not be facing Davydenko in Round 3. Also sad.

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    Ken Reply:

    Nothing will give me more pleasure right now than seeing Nadal destroyed by Djokovic in the French Open final. I wish the scoreline could be similar to the 2008 Final when Nadal thrashed Roger 6-1, 6-3, 6-0.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Excellent post Ken. This is exactly what i want to happen.

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  13. Well, despite being hit all over the court by a rank journeyman Nadal wins again, coming from behind to erode a seemingly impossible 3rd set deficit. One longs to see his desperate moonballs disposed of with the contempt they deserve, by an opponent who can actually play, who also has mental strength under pressure. How rarely do we see that.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Nadal won because his opponent is the biggest choker in history. Simple as that. Good news is his gonna get butchered by the first decent opponent he faces.

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    neil Reply:

    Ruan, I shouldn’t laugh but your exasperation at watching Nadal’s last match pretty much matched my own – I found myself shouting at the telly. I hate watching players ‘choking’ – especially against Nadal!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    It gets my blood boiling!

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    TD Reply:

    And especially other Spaniards!

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    Babel Reply:

    Well this fellow Andujar may have choked BIG time, but his performance re-affirms Nadal’s susceptibility to right-handers who don’t bend over to be spanked every time he plays to their backhand side. Which is why an in-form Murray or Soderling could potentially skewer Nadal into little pieces right now.

    That said, I’m not counting on it. Everyone thought Nadal was vulnerable at Wimbledon in 2010. We all remember how that went.

    I’m not much of a stickler for the upkeep of Roger’s legacy, which I believe to be untouchable. But I do share Ruan’s belief that Djokovic has a better chance of beating Nadal in the final(which itself is not a given thing at this point). However if there is a Federer-Djokovic semi-final, I’ll be cheering for Roger (like everyone else here). I’d rather have Roger remembered as a great champion who continued to make Grand Slam finals into his 30s, even on his weakest surface, than a guy who faded away before he even hit 30.

    On a lighter note, if you can think of nothing else, think of the joy Roger brought all of us the last time he donned red in a tournament.

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  14. Federer has been bluffing everyone this whole season. He will win the French Open, and prove to the world once again, he, is, the, greatest, thing, going,,,,,,today. GO FEDERER!!!!

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  15. as I have convinced myself and not to be disappointed, I will have take Fed’s game one at a time. If he wins well and good, if not, then there will be some other games to look forward to. I just want to enjoy and be happy to see him still play. anyway, I am again worried with his match against Tipsarevic and from here on it is never gonna be easy. sigh….

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, Roger could lose in any round as we know. Never mind beating Djokovic.

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  16. Great post, Ru-an. Creating some lively discussions. Am plenty worried about Nadal, he is a beast of determination. Tomorrow is a nail-biting day, good luck to Roger.

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  17. Roger plays comfortably within himself for the win against the Tipsarevic. However, it was disconcerting to see him continue to use the drop-shot and lose so many points – he will certainly pay against Djokovic or Nadal if he attempts that shot – as he so often did – from on or behind the baseline. Also, his backhand still makes me nervous. Pushed to that side, he frequently loses the point. He won’t beat the very top players again unless he reduces the tendency to error off the backhand. The problem is that he often flattens it out too soon and from too far back. It is an impatient shot. It didn’t really matter against Tipsarevic but it will against Djokovic or Nadal.
    .
    I realise it is somewhat off-topic but having to watch women’s tennis before I see the men’s matches in a grand slam is an ordeal. Sorry ladies, but I just can’t take too much of the robotic style characteristic of the women’s modern professional game – shrieks added – in which I see no ability to vary tactics and shot selection that often suggests the players are blindfolded as well as mentally paralysed by the crisis of the moment. They are obviously coached to hit balls but not how to play the game. That requires an ability to think under pressure. Most apparently have no idea why they win or lose.

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  18. Before thinking about the final, one needs to focus on David Ferrer. Seen him play today against Stakhouse and he is unbelievable! I couldn’t find a single weakness and really wonder how Nadal could beat him twice on clay this year. Roger has a perfect record against him, but I have never seen Ferrer that strong. He seems capable of anything.

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  19. Del Porto has a set a piece against Djoker 3-6,6-3… with play suspended due to bad light..Djoker seems to sure to have met his MATCH!!!???
    :-)

    Wawrinka has UPSET home favorite Tsonga from two sets & break down by score of 4-6,6-7,7-6,6-2,6-3..

    And if Del porto & Djoker too play another Energy draining 5 sets it will only add to Federer’s ADVANTAGE….. :-)

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  20. Ru-an, just realized the following and wonder if it changes your position on this issue (Fed vs Djoko in the final): if Fed makes the final, he will have made the final of each major at least 5 times. Now *that* is quite a record, up there perhaps with:
    – 16 majors (and counting!)
    – 23 straight major semis
    – 10 straight major finals
    – 18 finals out of 19 majors in a row

    I mean is there anyone even close to that? Pete never made even one FO final. Rafa has made only one AO and one USO final each (along with his 5 FO finals/wins + 4 Wimby finals). Indeed Lendl and Agassi are probably the closest, with 19 and 15 finals respectively. But each of them only made two Wimby finals (and of course Lendl never won one).

    I mean, if Fed were to make the final of the F0 this year, for a fifth time, at age 29, likely by beating either in-prime Djoko or Delpo, would in my view be an unbelievable accomplishment.

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  21. And, just to be clear, I myself think if Fed makes the final he’s got a helluva shot to win it, whether it’s against Rafa or Murray.

    And if he did *that* then we have another amazing record: being the only player besides Laver with **2** career slams, and the only one by himself on on the three different surfaces.

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    manu Reply:

    correction: only player besides rod laver and roy emerson to win more than 2 slams. and if he wins AO he will be the only one to win 3 of the 4 grand slams 5 or more times! Come on Rog, you’re a legend!!!!

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  22. Borg’s legacy is under threat (from Nadal) because he wanted to ‘go out on top’ — so he ran away. He probably could’ve tacked on at least another 2 RGs (though it might’ve taken him 4 or 5 tries, with damage to his ranking and H2H with some opponents coming with it). If Nadal overtakes him, Borg has no one to blame but himself.

    So it goes for Roger, too. A legacy built on evasion and quasi-fixed results is not worth protecting. I believe that Roger is not afraid to step in the line of fire. As his fan, I’m not ashamed, whatever the outcome.

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    manu Reply:

    excellent and thoughful post katarina. I wish this will make ruan change his mind. I hope Rog wins the FO. We need the old Ruan back!!

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  23. Take into consideration that if Federer does make it past Djokovic in this hypothetical scenario that it is unlikely to be a quick battle but a war of attrition. For Federer to then have another long struggle with Nadal (for it to be a Federer victory it’d be 4-5 tough sets), that’s what makes it far less likely. The mental and physical strain is probably too much and certainly he’d be setup to have a letdown in the final. If he only has to go through one of those guys then I’d say he has a shot ~15-20%(luck, conditions, form, etc.); both and two matches in three days and I think ~2-5% (specific to Roland Garros).

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