The GOAT Rams the Dog to Make Indian Wells Final

 

The gif pretty much sums it up. The GOAT was not in the mood to share the feeding trough with the Dog and sent him scurrying 6-3, 6-1. I didn’t watch the match and the highlights doesn’t look that impressive. It was windy so it seems that lowered the quality of play, but it looks like Roger dealt very well with the wind, while Dolgopolov lost the plot a bit. Dolgopolov does not strike me as the kind  of player who would do well in the wind anyway. He is flashy and is not really interested in playing the percentages. I think Fedfans in general was pretty nervous about this match because the Dog beat Nadal and he is quite a dangerous player. But the GOAT is clearly much more dangerous, as you can see above. The Dog is simply no match for the GOAT when the GOAT is on his game.

Very few players have ever beaten Federer and Nadal in the same event anyway. Probably only Del Potro and Djokovic. It seemed like it would be a pretty close match until 4-3 in the first set, but then Roger broke serve and ran away with the match, winning 8/9 games. Roger’s serve was on fire again, making a terrific 72% of first serves. And again converting 4/9 break points. That has been probably the most improved part of his game of late, and is an indication of the increased mental strength and desire. It looks like he was at his defensive best as well, and the one point I found on Facebook was especially impressive. Roger may have lost a step but you could hardly tell with the way he is moving. It’s more a question of confidence and health than age when it comes to footwork and movement.

Great stats for a windy day

Anyway this was another terrific performance from Roger. He really is playing some exceptional tennis and is yet to lose a set in Indian Wells. This is like the old days! But now he is coming up against a real threat in Djokovic, who beat Isner 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-1. Some Fedfans on Twitter was really worried about the Dolgopolov match and now they are sure Roger will beat Djokovic. Makes no sense of course and is caused by being overly emotional. I was very positive about Roger’s chances against the Dog but I know Djokovic is another animal, even though he has looked vulnerable this year. Roger beat Djokovic 6-2 in the third in Dubai but the conditions are different in Indian Wells. Also Djokovic doesn’t go long without winning a title. He does struggle sometimes but it doesn’t take long for him to come good again.

He is not a 6-time slam champion for nothing. He has been struggling which means he is probably at his most dangerous. He senses the opportunity here to start turning this year around. If he wins the title he is in a great position after Wawrinka, Nadal, and Murray’s early losses. Against Isner he actually had a set point against him in the first set which turned out to be quite a crazy point. Had Isner won it he would probably have won the match. I thought Isner could win the match beforehand but it just showed me Djokovic can’t be underestimated. The way he saved that set point and then came back to run away with it in the third set is typical of Djokovic. Djokovic also got broken to love serving for the match in the second set. That is really unheard of for Djokovic and tempts you to believe that Roger is the favorite for the final.

Pure intensity, peRFect power

But this match may just have been what Djokovic needed for his confidence. The way he ran away with the third set also suggests to me that he was getting more confident towards the end of the match. Yes I believe in my player and I think that Roger can win this, but I am not as confident as some Fedfans. I like Roger’s chances but I think it will be close. For one thing Djokovic is a devastating returner. If you can bread stick Isner you have to be. So Roger’s serve will have to be in top form, which admittedly it has been. The difficulty against Djokovic other than him neutralizing your biggest weapon with his world class returns is that it is very difficult to end a point against him. His ground strokes are very consistent and of course his defense is world class too. So again Roger will have to be at his attacking best.

It should be a great final anyway and I am very much looking forward to it. If Roger wins it he claims a 5th title at yet another event, climbs back up the rankings into the top 4, and goes into first place in the race ahead of Stan. He also puts some more distance between him and Djokovic in the head-to-head which currently stands at 17-15. And like I said before the event winning Indian Wells is the next step for him if he wants to top what happened in Dubai. He would also deal Djokovic’s confidence another serious blow and it makes him the in form player this year so far, even ahead of Stan. I’d love for him to do well in Miami too and if he wins Indian Wells it sets him up really well for that too. Clearly there is a lot to play for here, but losing won’t be the end of the world either.

The cheer leaders approved

I’m sure if Djokovic wins he’s gonna have to play incredibly well, and he hasn’t done that of late. I am fairly confident about Roger’s chances but like I said even if he loses it is just great to see him play so well again and he has already done very well this year. I’m sure there are many more good things ahead regardless of the result, but at the same time I desperately want him to win this. We believe in you champ!

Highlights:

Defensive mastery: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=1497969627096910&set=vb.1478745492352657&type=2&theater

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22 Comments

  1. Hi Ruan,
    As usual a Great post !!! “Clearly there is a lot to play for here, but losing won’t be the end of the world either.” This sums up everything . I hope for a famous win, but a loss does not predict anything for the summer. Allez Roger !

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Rahan.

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  2. No matter what happens, I’m glad Federer is enjoying himself again. He’s hungry to raise his game to new heights and to achieve new things. Even a younger player like Dolgopolov, who has the majority of his career ahead of him and so much still to play for, can’t hold a candle to Federer’s love of the game. His passion for tennis is unquenchable.

    Like you noted in your last post, Federer has too much respect (both for himself and his fans) and his standards are too high for him just to phone it in. He will only compete as long as he feels he can give his best. Once that’s no longer true, he’ll hang up his racket and move on.

    On this slow, high-bouncing court Djokovic will be a very tough opponent, but I have hope for Federer. They’ve only played once here, in 2011, when Djokovic won in three. At the time Djokovic was playing the best tennis of his entire career and Federer was slumping so now that Federer is close to his best and Djokovic has come down just a bit from the heights of three years ago, Federer has a good chance to win this title.

    C’mon Roger!

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  3. Overall a very good performance from Roger. Even though he lost today, he fought hard to get back into the match and forced a tie-break. It just got away from him there.

    But that’s OK. You can’t win them all! It’s alright! He’s in the top 5 and he was very close to the title. At least it wasn’t a GS final, right!

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  4. I think Federer did great to level the match to 5 all. This final was decided by a couple of points here and there. Kudos to both player for they always bring out the best in each other. From what I saw statically, Federer was doing a little better in each area. Oh well, he fought hard and should hold his head high. I’m proud of him, he didn’t give up!

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  5. A dramatic match and a dramatic third set: the statistics don’t lie:

    Match: Total Points Won
    Roger 98/197 (50%) Novak 99/197 (50%)

    and now the surprise:
    Total Points Won in the third set:
    Roger 43/85 (51%) Novak 42/85 (49%)

    I am very proud of Roger !!1

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    Vily Reply:

    That comeback for 5:5 was awesome and is enough for me to erase this loss. Roger did very well. Couple points his way and he is the champion..

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  6. So so so proud of Roger. Novak won, but he did not get it as a gift. A player, number 2 of the world, had to give his all to defeat the number “8” who is not in his prime and 6 years older !!! And that even in 3 sets !!! Respect Roger. Deep and deep respect. No matter what anyone says. You played so much these days and at such a high level. You played a GREAT tour, unfortunately a “bad” TB. All is well. No worries. Atleast YOU were in the final, not the other “in their prime” players. You are so so so close. Next is a win…. A win no one is expecting. Proud, very proud of you and extremely proud to be your fan. Love you Roger :-)

    Now… at work… my collegues will make fun of me because you lost, BUT… don’t worry Roger…. I will defend you till the end of time….. and till you have over 25 GS :-)

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    Katyani Reply:

    Oke….. Congrats to Novak for winning, he too played great.

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  7. Ru-an, top post! Spot on! And So funny too..GOAT rams the Dog, hahaha! You are so right about Djoko. He doesn’t go long losing and is a big match player. Dubai courts were faster and Djoko was really out of sorts there. Btw, besides Delpo and Djokovic, 3 other players have also beaten Roger and Nadal in the same event – Murray, Davydenko and Nalbandian. But what a thoroughly enjoyable though nerve wracking final! FedNole always brings out the best in each other, never boring, often edgy and tense. Maybe Roger could have done better in TB and getting to the net bit more but he did so well forcing a TB. Nothing but pride for Roger. He has exceeded all expectations and is back in conversation once more. Looking at the solid and quick progress Roger’s made so far, 2013 seems a long forgotten bad dream. Onwards and upwards Roger! We are mighty proud of you and thank you so much for working so hard to ensure we continue enjoying the pleasure that you bring to the court on and off! All the best for Miami and the coming soon of your 3rd child! Im completely zen with this loss except why the hell did Big Mouth Mac choose to be there to see Roger lose?! Why wasn’t he there watching Roger master classing in the quarters and semis?! I bet after this loss he will continue to talk down Roger. Ugh! Has anyone seen Becker’s trash tweet?! It was something like this,”one player is playing his best, the other average and they are one set each…..?! There should be special RF plasters made for these two loud mouths. And Djoko might want to consider saving some costs and let off his high profile coach. He didn’t need him to win today. Rest well Roger! Miami, here we come!

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  8. Well, Federer lost to a Djokovic in top form. Not a great tiebreak, but then again he really had no right to be in the breaker to begin with! He showed great fight to break back when Djokovic served for it.

    Seems on a slow court Djokovic still has a very slight edge. Frustratingly, both guys ended with exactly the same number of winners and UEs.

    It went as most Federer losses to Djokovic go: rallies became longer and longer, Federer trying to find a way through Djokovic’s smothering consistency. Just a couple of errors leaking from Federer’s racket at crucial points decided it.

    It’s been a good run for Federer. Compared to where he was six months ago, this is far more than we could have hoped. I’m proud that he fought so hard and showed how much he still wants to win. His game is solid and things are looking up. I think he can still raise his level a bit more, so there’s plenty to look forward to. Onward to Miami!

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  9. Well done to roger and novak.
    It is quite clear that roger is on the rise as you would say and is slowly building up his confidence.
    This is already a better year than probably all of 2013, so we should not be too critical.He gave his best and the match did not disappoint as usual when it comes to these two.
    Its funny how people think that fedal is the best rivalry when djokerer is much more competitive and much more complete and much much more entertaining.
    Don’t get me wrong,but I can’t say I am flattered by seeing federer bounced of these freakin slow courts by Nadal everytime. May be at the beginning it was working for the people because they got to witness the impossible i.e roger getting beaten by atleast one man and that one man did it in the most unusual of ways and to top it all,people welcomed the change at the time because qutie frankly even though it was great to see federer dominate like he did,like Jim Courier said in the 2007 AO 07,it was pretty boring to see the same script play out every time without an exception,much like the same which is happening these days with all courts becoming slower and bouncier and players becoming world class grinders in their own right;but after some time in that rivalry,it was clear that this was one puzzle roger was(is) never able to solve on a consistent basis,but its not right to fully blame roger either with the courts and conditions all being more suited to the defensive grinding game rather than his natural aggressive attacking style.
    That is where the djokerer rivalry tops the fedal one and by a fair margin if you ask me.
    Federer is probably the most complete player in tennis history and yet,djokovic seems to be even more complete and that is telling something.With federer being a one hander,he cannot handle the bouncing balls very well especially now that most courts are slow and bouncy while djoker cannot handle people who are able to take it to him combined with variety and good volleying very well.These two sort of feed of each other’s wrinkles and it makes for very challenging and interesting matches being played.Indeed you will feel that these two bring out the best in each other most of the times combined with the mutual respect they have along with the sportsman ship they display makes it more competitive and entertaining than fedal.
    ON wards and upwards to Miami,goodluck roger

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Djoker is not more complete than Fed V. Not sure why people say that. His returns, backhand, defense, and mental strength is world class. Those are his strengths. But he has a pretty average slice, volleys, and a weak overhead for a player of his quality. His serve isn’t anywhere near as good as Roger’s either. Djokovic is predominantly a base liner, while Roger can play from anywhere. I agree that Djokovic is complete, but certainly not more so than Roger. He clearly does not possess the feel for a tennis ball that Roger has.

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    V Reply:

    May be you are correct here ruan.I think if we compare these two,the yardstick for completeness will differ.
    As roger supasses novak in attack while novak does so in defence.
    Feel definitely no one can come close to fed now except may edberg himsef.
    It seems yes that novak’s slices,volleys and theat overhead of his are slighlty average for his ability.But the same novak took his entire game to a different level in 2011 where he was playing all round superb tennis like fed’06,07.From there the level has come down for novak slightly.But I think his serves are much much better now than previous if you notice.May be I should rephrase my statement that After Roger,Novak is the most complete player.
    Now how is that??

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yeah I would probably agree that he is the second most complete player playing today.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Roger and Djoko bring the best out of each other and “feed on each other’s wrinkles” – well said, V! In the early days Fedal was great in some matches like Wimby and Rome Masters where Roger was competitive and their contrast of styles in everything from clothing style to their demeanor on court to their playing styles were intriguing and captured fans’ imaginations. Today, FedNole is better. Djoko seem the more perfect player as he trumps Roger in the defence/grind dept but at the same time, he is more aggressive than other grinders. I’d like to share some observations. Please excuse me, Ru-an, if I’m not making much tennis sense; you know I don’t play, I only know how to talk, haha! Anyway, here goes- Since Roger’s comeback from injury late last year, we have seen some spectacular tennis from him but he often cannot sustain his level. The drop off seem to happen after 1 1/2 set. After that crucial time, unforced errors creep in and his first serve percentage can drop. Going forward, maybe this is where Roger needs to find a way to break through this crucial mark ; to be able to sustain at least 2 sets of good tennis should go a long way to bring him to the finish line whether it is Masters or Majors. Also, in the latter part of 2nd and 3rd set in IW final, Roger was not charging the net much. Was getting passed discouraging him? Maybe he needs to fully embrace this kinda game because he can’t beat these guys from the baseline with their superior stamina and defence. You can just sense Djoko is just waiting to switch to slug fest in their matches. The moment Roger’s level drops, Djoko engages him in rallies. This is where Edberg is so important. Honing Roger’s net skills and helping him get more and more comfortable and fearlessly charging to the net, recognising and choosing the right moments and making this an even more natural and regular part of his game. Roger knows and has been working on it since Anacone. I hope Edberg could help Roger reach a new level. The good news is Roger is still getting better and by FO or Wimby, he should reach his desired level, as he himself estimated. His old faithful performed so much magic. Over time when he mastered the new stick even more,God only knows what more incredible magic Roger Federer can weave! Ok, I hope I make some sense, Ru-an! Keep up the great work and I pray good times are ahead for you. As Dolores mentioned earlier, it had not been easy transition for you; food poisoning, dog bite, etc, etc! Thank God you are well and still blogging! And I’m so thankful to Roger too for being an inspiration for you in your trying time now. Btw, Pete Bodo wrote a beautiful piece on Roger recently and he quoted part of Kipling’s poem that is on the wall of Wimby as players come out. This is one of my favourite poetries of all time. I quote here a few lines : “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you but make allowance for their doubting too, If you can wait and not be tired by waiting, Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies, Or being hated, don’t give way to hating, and yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise……….If you meet Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same…..” Isn’t this so true and fitting for Roger?! And so inspiring for all of us too?!

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Veronica, love your comment. + 1 :-)
    And really, Roger is so doing well and so trying. The best thing about him now is that he is willing to learn. Bigger racquet, maybe more aggressive, keeping points short, coming more to the net, but above all, perlonging his relationship with Edberg. That for me is the biggest right thing he has done. This is only the beginning. Like you said, once he mastered that, there is NO STOPPING Roger :-)
    I mean come on, I have said this a couple of times, but who is 26 and 32 out there when Roger and Novak are playing??? They BOTH play as 26.
    And again, MY GOD, since USO Roger made all SF and more and he is getting used to all and still making them.
    I have heard Mark Petzchy now say it twice. The list of SF, F, W, etc about Roger. Even they cannot believe that this is the same guy they thought would not keep up with the other 3.
    But Roger is showing them why you should never underestimate someone’s love for the game and believe in his own abilities :-)
    Roger may have lost, but did you hear the roar when he spoke at the presentation???
    Roger is not done yet and he is not even (as he says) up to 100% back.
    Yes, now he mentally maybe doesn’t want to take a lot of chances, but oh my God, how did he come back in the third set to 5-5??? That is when Roger is with his back against the wall. Edberg might teach him more about playing those kind of games.
    Seriously, Roger lost, but this is only the beginning. Better times are coming and better titles also. Maybe a title no one expects :-) I am SO proud of Roger. Deep and deep respect for him fighting till the end…

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  10. Really nice post Ru-an. And you were right, very close match and quite a battle. Roger played his best yet this year with many beautiful powerful backhands, brutal forehands, great serving, net play, everything. Amazing variety in the first set. Maybe a little fatigue later or maybe djoker just managed to turn it up when he needed to, he’s so good at that. I would of course been thrilled with a win, but I almost feel greedy to say that. Matches like this are why I’m a tennis fan.

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  11. Great week for Roger, he almost made it! At least we can smile again and be excited for his game. I watched the final, it could go either way. Roger’s level dropped in 2nd and 3rd sets while Nole’s rose, and unfortunately that tipped the scale. Didn’t help either the unreal bounce the court produced, Monte-Carlo like. Anyway, really excited for 2014, Roger seems bound to make us happy again, Brisbane now seems a distant bad dream, doesn’t it?

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  12. Great match congrats to the winner. Thought Roger just lost focus a little in the third, but truly immense from him to break back! And I would have put money on Fed to win a the tie break but he didn’t play a good one. Strange isn’t it that Djokovic seems have the same thing Roger had for a while…not being able to get the job done at first try, twice with Isner and once with Fed and all in the space of two matches. Roger maybe lost but didn’t he try hard so Rock on Roger.

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  13. And what is that about Novak??? Loses when Becker is around, but wins when Vajda is around?? Will he keep Becker longer??? I don’t think so….

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