The Optimistic Post

I think we can all do with a little optimism after we had high hopes for Roger to win the US Open again. It would have been the peRFect result after a disappointing summer. It would have given him a record 6th US Open title, one more than both Sampras and Connors. It would also have given him another year winning to slams, leaving him with an outside chance to finish the year ranked number one again. After Roger’s results in the summer, I didn’t have much hope for him for the US Open. But when I heard he obtained the services of Paul Annacone it gave me new hope. During this time I also made a post, saying that I thought Roger will make at least semi’s at the US Open. But I also said that this new phase in Roger’s career must be a given time to develop. Since the Australian Open Roger has been suffering from a confidence crises like never before.

In 2008 he struggled as well, but this was worse. He basically just kept losing and almost expectedly his semi-final streak got broken at the French Open when he lost to Soderling. The confidence crises continued even into his beloved grass court season. He had hit an all time low. A change was needed, and thankfully it happened when he hired Annacone. But I didn’t expect Annacone just to march in and do miracles. It almost seemed like he did just that when Roger made the final of Toronto and won Cincinnati. So going into the US Open I had high hopes. I think Roger showed with his level of play up until the semi-finals that he was back, especially in the way he took care of Soderling. Then came the semi-finals and he knew Rafa was waiting there in the final, which in my opinion made him lose that match against Djokovic.

Not everyone buys this theory but most of my readers did. Someone came up with a similar theory at Mens Tennis Forum which you can view here, and was completely ridiculed for it. I was amazed at how hard it was for people to accept this theory. They completely rejected it. They didn’t even try to make an argument. But one problem is that people simply can’t read. Granted, the guy didn’t make his argument as clear as I did, but he did mention that it was a sub-conscious thing. Given that he mentioned that, I find it hard to believe that people still responded that Roger would never lose a match on purpose. I had one or two readers respond similarly. Does people even know there is a difference between conscious and sub-conscious? I mean how hard is it to read? Just in case anyone is still confused, losing sub-consciously does not equal losing on purpose.

And there are a million signs that Roger lost this match sub-consciously. I have already been over it all, but if you look at the scoreline of the match alone and the way it all unfolded, that is already enough to get very suspicious. But it’s not the fact that the theory is true that boggles my mind, but the fact that people would reject it outright the way they do. Is it that hard to believe that the immense heartbreak Rafa has caused Roger over the years was in the back of his mind when he played against Djokovic? How much of a mental burden is it to play a match, knowing that the player who has caused you endless heartache is there waiting for you if you win, ready to break your heart to the point that it can’t be healed again? We fans knows what it’s like. We were there when Rafa beat Roger in the Wimby 2008 final when Roger was about to become the first man to win 6 Wimbledons in a row.

We were there when Rafa emotionally devastated Roger in Australia in 2009. It was utter emotional anguish. It felt like the final nail in the coffin. Can you imagine what a loss to Rafa in the US Open final would have felt like? It would have been the final nail in the coffin. Clearly this theory is not absurd at all. I just think that people lack insight in general, especially at Mens Tennis Forum. Those of you who are a member there will know what I’m taking about, and those of you who are not a member I suggest you stay away at all costs. I was banned from there myself for starting threads like this insightful guy did. Insight and intelligence is not encouraged there at all. So if you know something about tennis or want to know something about it, then stay away. This is the kind of place where fan bases of players fight all day about how much better their player is and how much the other players sucks.

Federer Pictures, Images and Photos

I have gone off the topic somewhat. My original point was that I don’t think Roger lost against Djokovic because he was still suffering from a lack of confidence. I think he lost because he was distracted by the fact that his nemesis was waiting for him in another slam final. He wasn’t mentally in that match, which explains why he couldn’t put Djokovic away despite having several opportunities to do so. You could argue that it has been his pattern of late anyway, but I beg to differ because he doesn’t show that pattern in slams and he had been playing very well up until that match. So that is my take. I think it is a good thing that Roger lost to Djokovic because if he lost to Rafa it would have opened old wounds and destroyed all progress he has made with Annacone. Losing to Djokovic isn’t that bad because he knows Djokovic doesn’t own him.

And a semi-final result is not the worst. It’s at least better than his French Open and Wimbledon results. So he has made progress, whereas if he lost in the final to Rafa he would have slided back again. He has also bought himself some more time now before the next major in Australia during which him and Annacone can work on some more things. Roger has made a new beginning with Annacone and it will take time before they will have success. I would say they are off to a good start after Roger made a final, won a title, and made the semis of a slam. Also since working with Annacone, he has avenged losses against Baghdatis, Berdych, and Soderling. So the way I see it he has already erased everything that went wrong over the summer and is back now to near his best. Although the semi-final loss to Djokovic was a bit of a setback after Roger would have harbored hopes of winning another US Open, I am optimistic about this new beginning for Roger.

The indoor season begins next and Roger’s next tournament will be in Shanghai in 24 days. Rafa is not usually as much of a threat on the indoor season as he is elsewhere. It will be interesting to see how he does there now, especially at the Masters Cup which he has never won. This may give Roger a chance to get a much needed victory over Rafa if they face again. Roger is also now back at number three in the rankings so it should give them and even better chance to meet. I still think Roger will win more slams. I’d love to see him add 2-4 more slams to his slam tally to make it that much harder for Rafa to catch him. We don’t know what the future holds. Rafa could slump again or get injured. It will be hard for Roger to exorcise his Rafa demons from the past, but with some luck he may just snatch another win from him in a slam. But first him and Annacone has to get better acquainted and work on some more things.

When Australia rolls around again next year Roger will have a good chance to defend his title. If him and Annacone can keep working on Roger’s attacking game, it could help him deal with Rafa and the power hitters better and allow him to stay in the top two for a long time to come. I think all things considered things are looking up for Roger. I’m looking forward to the indoor season where Roger will play four events. I’d like to see him add at least one more title to his grand slam and Masters Series titles so far this year, and then I’d like to see him end at number two in the rankings. If he could win another Masters Series event or the Masters Cup that would be all the better.

To finish my optimistic post, check out the below video by the famous RubinJJ. Roger has given us so many great moments in the past, but there is still much to look forward to. Lets keep dreaming.

Roger Federer

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  1. Ru-an,

    You yourself have said many a times “We don’t know what the future holds”. The same also applies(d) till the semi-finals against Nole was over. That’s why I still think that had Fed been able to capitalize on those two match points, he may have eventually won his 6th US title against Nadal. I agree with you that in his subconscious mind, Nadal still haunts him, but you never know what would have happened in the finals. We have to remain optimistic; one just should not take it for granted that Nadal would have definitely defeated Fed. With that mindset he is never going to win another match against Nadal and Fed knows it much better than rest of us.
    I am still of the opinion that in the semi-finals it was just the lapse of concentration on Fed’s part that cost him the match, otherwise it would have been a straight sets affair. Was something bothering him physically? You never know; because had Roger mentioned about it later on, all the yellow journalists would have jumped upon him a la post-Wimbledon.

    Like you and many of us, I still believe and believe strongly that Fed has at least 2 more slams within his reach. LET’S STAY POSITIVE.


    Ru-an Reply:

    For someone who never had physical problems before it would be suspect that he is having physical problems again. Either way that is a suspect match. Not saying by that that my theory is for a fact true though.


  2. Hey Ruan!
    You may recall my musings from the rivalry in chess of Karpov and Kasparov. My favorite player was Karpov and still is, due to nature very similar to Federer. In tennis I am a fervent fan of Federer and shall remain so irrespect of whether he can keep the GOAT status till both Federer and Nadal retire and even afterwards. However,I have an apprehension that should Nadal continue to improve at the present rate and should he be injuryfree, I donot see him not overtaking Federer in the number of slams. It reminds me of the way Kasparov crushed Karpov. What was interesting there was that Kasparov used to hit the strong part of his opponent and defeat him. As can be understood the opponent would have no option left. I donot know of any other player do such thing.People talk of Federer fearing Nadal but I think that Nadal is really a strong player. In one of my previous blogs, I had mentioned that Nadal might spoil chances of Federer to claim the 6th US open title. You seem to speculate that if he had reached the final and played his game without fearing Nadal his game would have given him a victory. I differ with you here. Nadal has improved his game so much and is mentally so tough that irrespective of Federer’s game, this time around he would have taken the US open title. Of course, I totally agree that the best thing for Federer was to lose to Djokovic.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi mridul, nice to see you back :-) You make very good points. Nadal is a very good player and yes he may have been to good for Roger. I do however think that in the Australian Open final of 2009 that the match was on Rogers racquet but he lacked the killer instinct to finish Rafa off. That was a costly error because that win gave Rafa the confidence on hard court to win the USO. That match also deeply scarred Roger i believe. So in the end i think its Rafas killer instinct that is costing Roger, and it could cost him being the GOAT. That annoys me. I like Rogers game much more than Rafa but i dont like the fact that he is mentally vulnerable. In the end they may well end up being a tie for the GOAT. If Roger ads 2-4 more slams he can be hard for Rafa to catch up or pass. And btw i think if Federer plays his best game at the USO and does not fear Rafa, then he will beat him. For instance if Rafa didnt beat him at the AO he wouldnt have been able to do it at the USO. That chess rivalry sounds interesting.


  3. I think the only way for Federer to break the mental block is to beat Nadal in the final of the French Open.

    He’ll need to have absolute confidence in his game, plus a little luck, to do this.

    Next year, Nadal will be the favorite to claim a sixth French Open title, regardless of his usual attempts to downplay his chances. Federer will be the underdog. He already has all four majors, he will be free to concentrate on the tennis rather than worry about the impact on his career, which I think impeded him before.

    This was not the right time for him to face Nadal. He needs more time to work out the kinks in his game and get comfortable with mixing it up and shortening the points. He doesn’t need to play “perfect” tennis to win, but he does need to be totally confident and relaxed, and he’s not at that point yet.

    BTW, I don’t call Nadal “Rafa”. That diminutive nickname is part of his attempt to get people to think of him as a cute little boy, and I refuse to play his game. He’s always “Nadal” to me.


  4. Excellent points about the patience we need to exhibit. Quite frankly, I never thought Federer would win the US Open, especially given his form prior to the two Masters’. I think his sterling performances in the Masters were surprising and then his beat down of Soderling the icing on the cake. My sense was almost that he peaked too soon. The Soderling match was so brilliant that one really did think he couldn’t replicate that again.

    I agree that we need to give the Fed/Annacone union a little more time. I think we might see changes come the Aussie Open. I don’t think a 3 set format allows Federer the comfort level to use the new stuff he’s trying out. Also, indoor tournaments favor the big hitters like Soderling, so am not sure he can do much there for now.

    My feeling is that Nadal will find it impossible to replicate his success next year. Then folks will remember that Federer won 3 slams in a year 3 times–a feat that I doubt Nadal will ever repeat.


  5. I agree with Steve that it is better for Federer to face Nadal at RG rather than at USO and especially when Nadal was in devastating form and chasing the career slam. I personally think that there is no harm for him facing Nadal at Australian open or even Wimbledon since last time Nadal won both GS with Federer. After winning one or two of any matches with Nadal, Federer may try to play Nadal at USO. It is heartening to read that del Potro may be the nemesis for Nadal.Unfortunately, del Potro has not been able to take care of his body. Let us hope that he comes back just in time to stop Nadal.

    Should Federer’s GS total be clear of Nadal’s total by the end of their career with whatever events in between,Federer shall remain the GOAT at least for quite some time and in that case career slam of Nadal will boost the status of Federer as GOAT since Federer is deprived of two calender slams and many more records by this very player.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Well yeah thats exactly why ive been saying losing to Rafa at the USO would have been devastating because it would have given Rafa 2 career slams, one being the career slam of wins vs Roger in finals. Facing Rafa in any of the other slam finals is ok because he has already lost there and have not much left to lose. If he had lost to Rafa in the USO final he chances of beating him in other slams would have lessened. I think he still has an outside chance to beat him at Wimbledon or the AO if he can somehow break through the deadlock Rafa has over him, but as far as the FO goes I see no chance for him whatsoever.


  6. I still wonder what may have happened if Federer/Nadal draws were interchanged at the USO. Maybe Nadal may not even have made it to the final. And also what if the order of the two semifinals were interchanged and Federer-Djokovic had played first. I don’t believe Nadal was in such a devastating form that he was guaranteed to take out Federer had they met in the final. Who knows , this may have been the match where Roger turned things around with Nadal.
    Since Nadal denied Roger his career slam (and multiple CYGS as well), I would have so loved Roger to return the favor at the USO. But all this of course is a big ‘if’ now.
    I like Steve’s comments above regarding RG.I have always believed that there will be a reverse of Wimby ’08, where Roger takes out Nadal in five at RG. That would be poetic justice and a day that would erase all painful memories for Federer fans. That would be something !


    Ru-an Reply:

    I think that is wishful thinking. Federer couldnt do it in his prime when the hold of Rafa over him still wasnt that bad. Why would he be able to do it now? It will be hard enough to exorcise the demons from the past on faster surfaces. Also, I’m sure Rafa would have beaten Roger in the USO final. We can say what we want about his draw but he was playing incredibly well and if Roger made the final it would have been utter devastation. The ownage of Rafa over Roger would have been complete.


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