Sampras: ‘I See No Decline in Federer’

http://www.thetennisspace.com/opinion/sampras-exclusive-i-see-no-decline-with-federer/#.T7ojeKQ0uJU.twitter

Above is a very nice article that I quickly wanted to share with you. Sampras says he sees no decline in Roger which is quite a big statement for someone who is 30 years old. It goes to show that there is truth to the statement that age is just a number, and that if you handle things the right way you can avoid decline for a long time. I remember the slump Sampras went though at the end of his career. He really struggled to win matches and it was clear that he was burned out. So he retired as soon as he won the US Open. He knew there was nothing left in the tank so he went out on a high. When I think of Roger I think of someone who is limitless. I see the period he went through from 2008 to 2011(or 2010-2011?) as a similar phase Sampras went through, but with Roger it wasn’t actually burnout.

It was a type of burnout but not as severe as Sampras’. I see it more as a rest period almost. He had suffered some bad losses to Nadal and that did have an effect on him. I have also referred to Roger’s ‘burnout’ period as Roger 2.0. But since the US Open last year we have seen Roger 3.0. This is the Roger Sampras talks about when he says he sees no decline in Roger. Roger 3.0 is very similar to prime Roger, which in itself is incredible. And I fully agree with Sampras that the competition caught up. Nadal and now Djokovic have improved over the years. You just can’t stay ahead of the curb forever. But they haven’t surpassed him. The top three is currently almost at exactly the same level. There is no telling what the rankings will say in six months.

The point is Roger is still right there at the top and have as good a chance as the other two to win a slam or become world number one. The chances are very slim for him to win the French Open as Sampras says too, but at Wimbledon and the US Open he has a great shot. The fact that Nadal will most likely win the French Open now means he will probably be a huge threat at Wimbledon too. It also doesn’t help that the grass at Wimbledon have slowed down so much. But it sure would be awesome if Roger can win his 17th slam at the All England Club where it all started for him, thereby equaling Sampras’ seven Wimbledon titles. If he does that then you’d think he won’t be far away from the number one ranking, given that he lost in the quarters there last year.

But it’s hard to tell what will happen after the French Open, given that Djokovic isn’t quite the player he was last year, Roger moved it up a notch, and Nadal will probably be very confident after winning a 7th French Open. But either way you would think Roger has a great chance to win a slam this year. And who knows how much longer he can still keep up this level. I don’t see why his level will drop any time soon. Go ahead and read the whole article. There is some good stuff about Annacone there as well. I’ll be gone for the next couple of days. I’ll see you Fridays or whenever the French Open draw comes out!

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34 Comments

  1. Hello RU-AN, i have been gone awhile and not able to realy keep up with old routine. So happy for this article from you. Sampras knows of which he speaks. Rafa is the clear choice for RG but those knees of his are a factor and the clay is tough on the body. Loved Rogers results in Rome considering he was having back pain and hadn’t decided to play until the morning of his first match. Am puzzled by the jokers so so performance until he played the semi with Roger. He hit the court all wide eyed and full of energy. Havn’t kept up so i don’t know if you revealed your new job and where you will live. In any case the best of all to your new chapter.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Susan nice to hear from you. I’ll let you know a little later what’s going on with my comings and goings.

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  2. Hello Ru-an, I just discovered your blog a little bit ago, and I like the what I’ve read!

    I think Federer is in a very good place right now. I remember that crushing loss from Djoker at the US Open a few months earlier, and I was so heartbroken because I thought for sure Roger had it in the bag. But Roger really picked up his game, and is proving that he’s still a major contender on the court for masters and most definitely the slams, no matter what the press and commentators believe. Although I do understand that tennis players will have their off days (like Rafa losing early at RG a few years back and even when Roger was out in the quarters at Wimby), I really think that even at 30, Roger is proving over and over again to his fans and even to his rivals’ fans that he is one to be reckoned with.

    When Roger lost to Djoker last weekend, it was pretty evident that he wasn’t at his best, and I even felt okay with the loss after a few hours because Roger is going to get his revenge some place sweeter – possibly at RG and hopefully the US Open. I’m sure Roger will come up with some great shots in the next coming months and regain that number 1 ranking!

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  3. Hi Ru-an! Nice one! There is no one like our champion, never was and never will be. This alone is cause for celebration and happiness. You keep safe and sane and we’ll look forward to hearing about your goings on!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Nice to hear from Veronica. You always stay away for a long time and then I wonder where you are! I hope you are doing just great :-)

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    veronica Reply:

    You are a keen observer, Ru-an!! I got “Nadal-itis” : all bulked up and sweeping the competition (posting amateurish tennis comments)and then I go into “my left knee hurts” syndrome! (you don’t hear from me till next season!) Hee! Hee! But me eyes are EVER watchful, reading….reading…reading…You KEEP posting, Ru-an!! You dare keep quiet more than a month (unless if you got beaten up again!!), I’m not stayin’ here no more!! Heehehee!!!

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    veronica Reply:

    Btw, Ru-an, I like your second last post, “Nadal defeats disappointing Djoko….” That post was so….Ru-an! It is a mix of realism, resignation and some frustration. Although I don’t agree with you that Nadal is the overwhelming favourite for FO, I sure do appreciate your honest writing. You do not hide your soul. It is refreshing and touching to follow you as a reader as you go through your writing journey endeavouring to be as objective and unbiased as possible while at the same time, allowing honesty and the sensitive part of you to flow out into your writing. Perfect positivism and professionalism is not real and humanly unidentifiable. You are human, Ru-an, just as our Fed is human ….. SO human that he is beatable now! AAAAHHHH!!! This is the part of realism that I DO NOT like!! Ugh! I wanna go into my fantasy world now where Fed is always…….WINNING!!!! See you when I wake up!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well I appreciate your honesty too Veronica. I suppose I am resigned, but like you say realistic as well. But maybe I should just be positive. Nothing to lose right? And I’m sure many of my readers would appreciate it if I was more positive. So I see this as a tournament for Roger where he can just go out there and give it his best shot without too much pressure. If he beats Djokovic again and loses to Nadal in the final again then at least he defended his final points. It doesn’t help his h2h with Nadal to lose in another slam final to him but if he beats Djokovic it would be another important win. If Djokovic beats Roger then I don’t mind either as Djokovic has a good record over Nadal of late and Roger doesn’t have to take another slam final loss to Nadal.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha I doubt I’ll ever stay quiet for longer than a month. You know how big my mouth is! Anyway it’s good to know you are always lurking even though you’re not commenting ;-)

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    veronica Reply:

    “Lurking” – I like that!!! Hahahaha!!! I might just lurk up on you in US!! Watch out!!!

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  4. Sometimes it’s hard to say what’s happening with the champ. Last couple of years I’d have sworn he was on his way out. But you are right, that from the USO last year he has really steadied the ship (apart from that awful loss to Nadal at the AO) and played some great tennis. Is he as good as he always was? Again, sometimes – like in Indian Wells, when he beat Nadal in straight sets. But I think the dips in form can occur more frequently now, and I see fewer of those moments when over a sustained period of play he simply astonishes, and convinces me that no has ever played better tennis or ever will. He used to do that in what are considered his peak years of ’04-’07. But Pistol Pete is right to this extent – Roger is still in contention at the top of the game and for the big titles. Pretty damn impressive after 30.
    I think the main difference today is not so much in Fed’s game, which is still good enough to put him at no.2 in the world, but that the opposition has improved generally. The game has become more powerful at every level, and the defensive game has in the last 5-6 years become the toughest game to crack. Both these factors make it much tougher now for Fed. In fact the way the game is going in that respect kinda depresses me. Jeezus, look at the way Nadal’s defence saw off every kind of challenge in Monte Carlo and Rome – and with the slowing of surfaces it’s a style of game that works everywhere (except on blue clay!) I have my views on why the defensive retrieving game now reigns pretty much supreme, which it never used to, but I still hope that the fates come together for our man and he carries off another slam trophy (or two even!) He’s gotta look good for Wimbledon and also the USO. Yup, I enjoy nothing more than watching him sweep the king of the moonballers off the court.

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  5. Don’t worry guys, we’ll have a lot more to celebrate as FedFans. As for Nadal, the knees are the limit! Or some doping controllers, but I guess that will never happen, too much business interests would be hurt by uncovering the secrets of his incredible stamina. I can live with that. Djokovic is a nice guy, immature but he’ll grow up eventually, I miss Del Potro to be at his best, Murray is disappointing if you expect him to reach the top, which he’ll never do, and there are some young guns coming who are about to cause some upsets in the coming 1-2 years for a change of guard. Long live the King. Roger is the GOAT.

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  6. IMHO Pete is very nice to say that about Rog, but as a friend what else can he say?? “TMF is not the player he used to be”??
    well, Fed used to be better – faster, stronger, more solid mentaly. i am convinced that Fed at his peak, lets say circa 2005-2006, would have kicked Djoker’s 2.0 ass on any surface, and Rafa’s on any surface other than clay. hell he even took Nadal to 5th set in Rome, soemthing he hasn’t accomplished since than.
    but Fed 3.0 also has his srengths – he is a very smart player that utelizes his tool box very well… he chooses his battles and manages to make the most out of what he’s got.
    ro sum it up, Fed can and will win a GS, but it is harder than ever as he has to maintain top form and beat the young guns on his way to the podium.

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  7. Bonjour,
    Mais certainement Monsieur Federer is at level 3.0 now, better than in his prime, I’m expecting to see him at levels 3.1, possibly 3.2 during FO, no chances this year pour les pauvres mr. Nadal and mr. Djokovic. C’mon,vamos,allez-allez Monsieur Federer! Le jour de gloire est arrivé!

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    veronica Reply:

    Whew! Michel! Wow! Just love the French comments! So wonderful to have a French commentator here and especially so close to FO!! The French just so love Roger, don’t they?! Every FO, Roger gets the most applause and support no matter who he is playing across the net. I believe the French can literally will Roger to lift another FO trophy just by their open and extremely biased support for him! Make sure you are there, Michel, at the FO and WILL our champ to win, yah?!! Merci, merci!

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    Michel Reply:

    Avec plaisir ma chérie! I’ll keep both eyes and mes lunettes on Monsieur Federer during FO. It seems les astres sont alignés in a perfect way for the greatest Musketeer of all times.

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  8. I think I like Roger 3.0 the most. I like following him, knowing he is not the player who used to be but still having the chance to win the most important prizes and surprising even the most doubtful fans that he still has it.

    I strongly believe in Roger Federer and I am proud to be his fan.

    Let’s go for Number 17!!!

    Allez Roger!

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    veronica Reply:

    Totally, absolutely with you, Vily. Roger 3.0 for me. So grateful and proud to be a fan. Thank you, Roger, SINCERELY from my heart.

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  9. I thought Roger will be #2 for this week because of Monday final ( Rome)… But just checked atp site and Rafa is back to #2 :-(

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  10. Ruan:

    I just watched the replay of FO Semis 2011 and I what I see is Roger’s flambouyant backhand! if fact the commentators repeatedly said how Novak did not use down the line BH which is his bread & butter, while Roger consistently did this! And sure enough he Did!

    As much as Roger is at 3.0 compared to last year I cannot see this effortless BH from Roger now. Roger 3.0 is certainly more clutch now but his BH while is still good, does not seem at the same level as it was in FO semis 2011 or USO 2011. I see a lot less down the line BH (with the exception agianst players beyond Top 20) compared with 2011 FO or USO.

    He seems to rely less on his BH and seems to run around more on his FH as I saw on ocaasions against Novak in Rome when the his BH actually won him agaisnt Novak in FO in 2011.

    If only can Roger combine this 3.0 Clutch with the BH of 2011, I think he is a major threat in any surface.

    What is your take? Am i Missing something?

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    veronica Reply:

    Yah, Sraman, it’s a bit ironic. Roger’s BH was lethal last year and overall, he actually played very well last year but he was mentally fragile and lost some matches he shouldn’t have. This year, he’s more clutch and grinding out matches for a win but he may not be playing as well as last year; I’m not sure. Definitely the BH last year was sharper and more lethal. But I also do like him willing to work harder to run round his BH for a forehand. But he can’t do it all the time, especially against Djoko/Nadal. He’s got to choose his moments to run around and if his BH is reliable and sharp, it would be less pressure for him. I guess like Steve often points out : Roger just has too many weapons and it takes time, hard work and discipline to sharpen them all and know when and how to use them, within split seconds. He has to make hundreds of decisions in a match while Djoko/Nadal just has one decision : get the ball back! Lol. It’s definitely more complicated for Roger. Anyway, let’s hope his BH gets sharpened by FO, especially BHDTL. What pure beauty it was in FO semi last year!! Having said this, I wonder if Anacone and Luthi actually do study Fed’s matches against Djoko/Nadal in detail and talk about improvements, work out strategies. According to what I gather from Fed’s pressers, he seems to not watch much of his rivals’ matches. If I were Fed, I would be watching and studying Djoko’s/Nadal’s matches day and night!!!

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    stoyan Reply:

    Absolutely agree on that – day and night!!! :-) The problem is that even fed knows that the problem is in his head as we all know to o:-) Psychologist can help day and night :-) We know how quick of a start he usually has ….leading 4:1 and then baaaaam all lost and 7:5 He`s better self believer now so he at least make the matches more competitive.If keeps pushing that belief further he can eventually prevail at some point. Its so sad he needs 5 years to change a little his attitude when he meets nadal and look at him…he suffered 7 times but improved immediately after managing to get a set in US open cause even that was impossible for him at some point :-) Completely agree with Vily below that he can make one of this world match for the whole tournament and if Joko is not to meet him at the semis he has decent chances to improve on last year`s peformance at least as a scoreline or he might surprised us finally at RG since 2005 :-)

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    sraman Reply:

    Yes, Veronica – What an irony it was last year! Let us hope Fed’s BH fires again rest of the season. Thanks for your reply.

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  11. Folks! French open draw is out. As has been the order of the day (tournaments), Roger has the toughest draw, being in Djokovic’s half and a potential quarterfinal against Byrdich/ Del Potro.

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  12. Why is Federer in Djokovic’s half again? How many times has this happened now? Just pencil Nadal in at the final. What a stupid draw! Federer gets Nalbandian, Del Potro or Birdshit, probably Djoker unless Tsonga beats Novak. Nadal might face Raonic, maybe Tipsarevic. Murray, Ferrer and Isner too! Isner has disappointed of late and so has Murray. I see no reason to have any concern that Nadal won’t be making the final. This Draw is ridiculous. Federer is going to have to slug it out again while Djerker and Nadull have an easy ride. I am pretty disappointed. Do they want a Nadal/Djokovic final in every slam? I don’t want either of these two clowns to win. I am not going to get my hopes up for this slam and take it one game at a time. B@#$%hit!

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    Vasco Reply:

    Mark my words Dave:

    Federer will make it into the final.

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    FeddyBear Reply:

    yeeeaaaahhh Vasco, you’re the man
    if Fed is in good shape no one can stop him!!
    i say RG 2012 belongs to TMF
    !!!

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    fry Reply:

    If Djokovic doesn’t look like he’ll beat Nadal then you might as well hope Federer lands in his half to try and defend his points.

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    Jiten Reply:

    Well, Federer has played his best this year when the writing was on the wall. His draw was the toughest in both Indian Wells and Madrid, and he still won them. May be it is a bless in disguise. Just keep faith, our hero will return it!

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  13. Every time when Roger has a somewhat tough and tricky early rounds, if he gets through them, he always has had a great tournament. Whenever he has had easier draws, he has dissapointed.

    I know it might seem more difficult this way but at least he may play himself into form and that will pay off for him just like it did at Indian Wells.

    He sounds like he is in top shape again so I am excited!

    No fear!!! Allez Roger!!! :-) ))

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  14. Here are my picks for thr quarter finals :
    Djokovic-Tsonga
    Federer-Berdych
    Ferrer-Guasquet
    Nadal-tipsareic

    semi finals

    Federer-Tsonga
    Nadal-Ferrer

    Final Federer-Nadal

    Winner Roger

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    Vily Reply:

    This is what I think. Roger has one great match per tournament – one out of this world performance.

    So:

    If Nadal bows out early (not likely), then that match will be in the semi-finals against Djokovic. Then he’ll win the final easily.

    If Djokovic bows out (preferred scenario), then Federer will get to to the final and play that put of this world match against Nadal.

    If both Djokovic and Nadal make it to the semis, then I even think that Roger might lose to Djokovic.

    So, realistically, I don’t think that Roger can beat both Novak and Rafa back to back in a best of five tournament.

    And since, I don’t think Rafa is going out early, I am hoping for Djokovic to go out early.

    I think that mentally Roger is weaker against Djokovic RECENTLY ( he’s lost the last two matches) while against Rafa for some reason Roger is more motivated. He’s won 2 of their last 3 meetings.

    So in conclusion, if Roger is to win this title, either Rafa or Djokovic are gonna have to lose. Anything else might just end up in a disappointment.

    But one should never lose hope so we’ll see.

    Allez Roger!

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    amine Reply:

    I think Tsonga is capable of beating Djokovic, on one match, in France. He is 6-5 in ther h2h and I also hope that Roger will not have to play n°1 and n°2. Know imagine if he beats Nadal in the final and from what happened last year, anythink is possible.

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