The Vast Difference Between Federer and Djokovic: How They Dealt With Nadal Heartbreak

I feel like I’ve been on a bit of a roll. Tennis has taken a very interesting turn of late and I feel inspired to write an awful lot. There are currently many topics on my mind, but I have settled for this one today because I feel it’s very relevant. I hope you have enjoyed all my posts of late anyway. There are about two more weeks to go before the next relevant tournament starts in Beijing and I’m too excited about tennis to just wait it out.

Making posts keeps me, and hopefully you, busy while we are waiting for the next event to start. As usual there are plenty of interesting comments on my blog so thanks for that. It’s always good to have different perspectives and it gives my readers a different perspective too. I think if everything I said was just accepted as truth without anyone ever challenging it that would have been boring for you and I.

  • Federer’s Heartbreak Against Nadal

The first topic I want to get to is Federer’s most damaging loss to Nadal. I think anyone with some tennis knowledge would agree that Federer’s most damaging loss to Nadal was in the 2009 Australian Open final. Most people know the story, but I’ll give a quick recap. Nadal played the marathon semi-final with Verdasco which went to five sets and then he had only one day of rest before the final as he played the second semi-final.

Federer, on the other hand, straight-setted Roddick in the first semi-final and had two days of rest. So Nadal went into the final with a distinct physical disadvantage. Nadal desperately needed to make a good start which he did by winning the first set 7-5. Federer hit back and won the second set 6-3. In the third set, Federer had Nadal at 4-4 and 0-40 on his serve. If he takes one of those break points and holds his serve, it is game, set, and match given Nadal’s tiredness.

Federer fails to convert however but at 5-5 he is presented with three more break points when he has Nadal at 15-40 as well as an advantage in his favor. Again Federer fails to convert which would have Nadal in ruins and the rest is history. Nadal wins the third set after Federer serves a double fault on set point in the tie-break. Federer fights back to win the fourth set 6-3 but in the fifth where you’d think Nadal is once again for the taking Federer puts up little resistance to lose it 2-6.

Federer had failed to put Nadal away when he was a sitting duck and he paid a very steep price. His lack of killer instinct had once and for all been severely laid bare as he broke down in the closing ceremony unable to hold back the tears and disappointment. And frankly, it was embarrassing because it was a sense of entitlement that caused him to break down and take the spotlight off Nadal which he deserved with an extremely gutsy victory.

Federer’s mental weakness and sense of entitlement had once and for all been exposed and it wasn’t a pretty sight. Let’s be honest. I’m by no means a Nadal fan, but I felt bad for him that Federer’s breakdown took so much attention away from his victory. It wasn’t his fault that Federer could not put away the sitting duck. He just did the logical thing which was to take advantage of it and given his physical disadvantage he deserved a lot of credit for it.

I was a huge fan of Federer’s game for a long time but I never really forgave him for what happened that day. The loss was devastating but the fact that he broke down and cried like a baby was really what bothered me. The choking was embarrassing enough as it is. But then he had to cry and make it about himself afterward as well. It was like a spoiled brat who had his favorite toy taken away from him so he threw a tantrum in front of the whole world.

  • Djokovic’s Heartbreak Against Nadal

Djokovic went through something very similar with Nadal. And again, I think most people would agree that it happened at the 2013 French Open. There he lost to Nadal in the semi-finals after being a break up in the fifth set. He was on the brink of once and for all defeating Nadal at the French Open and completing the career slam because had he won he would have faced Ferrer in the final who was hitting practice for Djokovic.

But in a cruel twist of fate the umpire Pascal Maria gave Djokovic a time violation at a crucial point in the fifth set after which Djokovic touched the net and lost a crucial point that he was well in control of. In the fourth set, Djokovic was already on the brink of losing when Nadal broke serve and would serve for the match at 6-5. Djokovic broke back and won the tie break to force a deciding set in which he broke Nadal in the opening game.

Then the incident occurred with Djokovic serving at 4-3 in the fifth set. Djokovic was in a state of disbelief after the incident occurred and lost his focus and his serve. The match went deep into a fifth set which Nadal eventually won 9-7. Utter devastation. Djokovic was on the brink of finally slaying the monster in his stronghold after arguably already being denied by a rain break in the final the year before.

  • How They Dealt With It

In the short term, Federer seemed to deal much better with heartbreak at the hands of Nadal than Djokovic did. After his devastating loss to Nadal Federer went on to complete the career slam at the French Open and won the channel slam for the first time when he won Wimbledon(keep in mind Nadal was out of the picture). In the process, he also surpassed Sampras’ slam record of 14 titles. Djokovic, on the other hand, seemed deeply affected by what happened at the French Open.

He lost to Murray in the 2013 Wimbledon final and again to Nadal in the US Open final. He even lost in the quarterfinals at his favorite Australian Open the following year. And at the 2014 French Open he also lost to Nadal in the final yet again. Things were getting desperate for Djokovic. It looked as though he would be stuck on 6 slams indefinitely, the same number of slams that his coach Becker had won who is a legend of the sport.

So it wasn’t such a bad thing after all. I really thought that may have been the end of Djokovic as far as winning slams went. It had been a great run, but he didn’t seem to have much luck. But here is where the big difference came. Where Federer choked away another final against Del Potro at the US Open in 2009 after being a set and a break up, Djokovic was getting ready to once again stun the tennis world.

Rafael+Nadal+Roger+Federer+2012+Australian+VKkMbVtheI0l

Where Federer never truly recovered emotionally from that loss in Melbourne to Nadal(the beatings at the hand of Nadal only got worse since then), Djokovic had plotted his revenge and was about to carry it out in no uncertain terms. Appearances can be deceiving. Federer seemed to be over the Australian Open loss in no time, where in truth he was scarred for life from it.

He never exorcised those demons because at each consecutive meeting with Nadal in Melbourne the beatings got worse. And the head-to-head with Nadal went from bad to complete ownage. Federer’s main rival utterly owned him which left a gaping hole in his resume. Djokovic, on the other hand, seemed to take his time to get over his heartbreak loss and used it to make him even stronger than he was before.

In a stunning display of dominance, he won four of the next six grand slams to increase his slam total from 6 to 10. He has not picked up that elusive French Open title yet, but only a fool would bet against him doing so. This post is not about winning the French Open anyway. It’s about how Djokovic and Federer dealt with Nadal and their respective characters. This goes back to their childhoods too I believe.

2015-06-03t155059z_1649877088_lr2eb63180plh_rtrmadp_3_tennis-open

Djokovic had to battle adversity and setbacks from the beginning which prepared him well for the brutal world of professional tennis. Federer’s coach Peter Carter died as well when he was young which was a setback, but I don’t think anyone would deny that these two grew up in vastly different surroundings. The loss to Nadal was not the first big disappointment Djokovic had to fight back from and come back stronger.

He came from a war-torn Serbia and economic hardship to defy immense odds and become one of the all-time tennis greats. I have huge respect for that. The US Open final was another example of battling adversity and defying the odds. You can read more about the disgraceful behaviour of Fedfanatics in that final in this post. Fedfanatics are turning out to be quite the embarrassment in their entitled and arrogant attitude as their hero runs out of time to win that elusive #18.

I guess they are not very unlike Federer in displaying those characteristics. Like attracts like after all. But I think I will reserve a whole post for dealing with them and their classless ways. And let me just make it clear that there are many decent Fedfans, many of whom comment on my blog and who I admire and respect. What I am referring to here is the extremist kind who needs to be mercilessly dealt with.

  • In Closing

Ok, so I just wanted to end this post on a positive note. I think the way Djokovic dealt with heartbreak at the hands of Nadal as opposed to the way Federer dealt with it bodes very well for his future. Whereas Federer kept running away from Nadal, Djokovic faced him head on and eventually destroyed him in straight sets in his stronghold in Paris. He has also won six of the last seven meetings with Nadal.

gettyimages-488135934

He gained the upper hand on Nadal in 2011-12, then lost it in 2013, and now he is well on top again. And this time he will stay on top. I am actually hoping for some sort of comeback from Nadal to see some more Djokodal encounters. I want Djokovic to end with a positive head-to-head with Nadal and give him some more good beatings in slams. That is if Nadal does not run away like he prefers to do, but Djokovic had the last laugh anyway.

One thing you have to credit Nadal for is his mental strength and he has given both Federer and Djokovic the toughest losses of their lives, but the responses from the two players were vastly different and that was the point I wanted to make in this post. Djokovic used it to make him stronger while Federer allowed it to make him weaker to the point where Djokovic is now starting to own him too.

Opinions? Facts?

The is in your court.

Posted in Uncategorized.

47 Comments

  1. Hi Ruan,

    Really interesting analysis, please keep it up!

    I remember after Fed’s loss in AO 2009, the media went all over it about ‘ how Nadal makes Federer cry’. It was devastating to watch for his fans as the change of guard in tennis was pretty prominent. Obviously, the stress of wining that ‘elusive 14 slam to match Sampras was too much for Fed to bear, especially at the hands of an opponent he had no solution to win.

    Yes, Federer finally win the career slam and break Sampras record. However, any of the GS win thereafter did not involve beating Nadal along the way. His record of 2-9 against Nadal at GS level is a huge hole in his otherwise superb resume.

    when Fed started to decline afteri AO 10′ before his breakthrough in Wimbledon win in 12’, Djoker was the only player who could challenge Nadal and stopped him from wining slams after slams ( in the process, protected his 17 GS record). It was a huge win for tennis as there is someone out there could finally match the namesis of the GOAT.

    Fed never acknowledged Djoker because he didn’t have a losing h2h against him. Their matches were usually quite close and few points separate their differences. Against Nadal, you almost sense the moment they come to the court, Fed already lose. However, after 3 consecutive GS final loss to Djoker, I believe fed finally realise his own limitation(even he might not admit it),it’s no longer just the Nadal problem but the Djoker problem as well. He probably might not win another slam as long Djoker is there. It is not helping that he is turning 35 next year as wel. It might be less demanding if he face Djoker in SF as the pressure is less.

    As I mentioned, Djoker is in a good position to win multiple slams in the next few years with little resistance until another player comes along assuming Nadal might never back to his wining form ever again. He should be in the discussion of GOAT soon even though he might not be as popular as Fed.

    [Reply]

  2. Thanks, IWC and I will! I’m quite enjoying the change in my blogging and in tennis at the top and feel inspired again. For too long it was just Federer Federer Federer. How long can you keep blogging about one guy?

    Good comment. Federer must now realize his own limitations. I think he’s been in a kind of denial about Nadal but since Djokovic is starting to cash in as well on Federer’s mental flaw even he must start to notice a pattern.

    But what is he gonna do about it? It’s kind of late in the battle for him to become a mental monster all of a sudden. Is he going to see a psychologist? It’s just hard to see him beating Djokovic unless he doesn’t do something drastic about the mental thing.

    :-??

    [Reply]

    IWC2015 Reply:

    Hi Ruan,

    To be fair to Fed, I think his mental strength has improved the last 2 years under Elberg.

    He had won a number of tight matches , including saving a few match points against Wawrinka in the ATP world tour last year, USO 14 against Monfis and a few other matches against other players. However, in each of these wins he either fell flat in the next round or got injured. I think at his age its a lot to ask for to win 4-5 sets of tight matches consistently in 2 weeks. His mental + physical strength had to go hand in hand to win a GS. He had an easier time in his earlier career but he was without doubt much stronger physically ; until Nadal came along which caused him all sorts of problems and his mental part was then exposed.

    Against Djoker I don’t think he has the same mental block vs Nadal as he could still beat him in the best of 3 sets like the Cinninati & Dubai Open. Their h2h records is even now though Djoker would surge ahead from here onwards.

    Fed has achieved and almost win everything and anything, he might not eventually be the GOAT but he is up there. Mentally, I also think it’s much tougher for him now he has a family ( 2 set of twins!) , something is going to give, perhaps somewhere in his mind he wants to spend more time with his kids but he still need to battle on the court and doing all the PR stuff , he is not a superman! Whereas Djoker is still in his prime and has the mental edge as well.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, IWC another good comment. Federer does have superb mental strength in some situations. I don’t want to sell him short. It’s just that Stan and Monfils are not mentally up there with Djokodal. Federer has been clutch in many situations to win big events, but it’s a little misleading those wins.

    As soon as he was really pushed by the likes of Nadal and Djokovic he often came up short. And that even happened against other players. It happens all the time that he has many break points and doesn’t take advantage of enough of them. Sometimes he gets away with it and sometimes he’s not so lucky.

    Physically he may not be what he used to be but if your opponents all roll over in straight sets before the final and you have a crowd that fanatically supports you I don’t think you have any excuses. And even when he was young he had a poor five set record.

    Did you know that his five-set record did not get any worse as he aged? It stayed the same. It is still one of the worst five-set records among tennis greats. He just doesn’t fight very well. He has to dominate and be in control. He is not good at handling adversity.

    So yeah, I don’t think the physical decline argument holds much relevance. Give him his physical peak now and the same thing would happen against Djokodal. His mental strength seemed to improve in 2014 under Edberg but how many slams have they won together? How many slam finals have they lost?

    [Reply]

    IWC2015 Reply:

    You are right they have not team up to win any slams yet. In fact, each loss got worse, at least Fed managed to stretch the Wimbledon 14′ to 5 sets. Djoker and Becker seem to know how to get into Fed’s head.

    If Fed didn’t come into the final with a killer mindset , he is unlikely to win against Djoker. And he is running out of time. I mean, how many opportunities does he still have to play in a GS final?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right. I was amazed that he made two slam finals this year. I think that also had to do with Nadal’s slump. Not sure it’s gonna be that easy next year. Nadal will make a comeback at some point.

    [Reply]

    IWC2015 Reply:

    http://www.sportskeeda.com/tennis/mental-coach-help-roger-federer-evolve-game-further

    This writer was spot-on. Until Fed work on his mental aspect, he will not win another GS.

    [Reply]

  3. Hi Ruan, can you elaborate on what you mean by this statement? “I guess they are not very unlike Federer in displaying those characteristics.”

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I said Fedfanatics are arrogant and self-entitled, right? So they are not very unlike Federer in displaying these characteristics. You’re welcome :-)

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    So in other words Fed most likely displays the characteristics of arrogance and self-entitlement. I’m still not convinced. I need more explanation before enabling yourself to say “You’re Welcome”. But it’s upto you. If you don’t feel you owe an explanation for this then it’s fine. I’ll just disagree upon it and move on.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    But what do you want an explanation for? I said Federer displays those characteristics. Never said you have to agree :-)

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    I want an explanation regarding Fed’s display of such characteristics, only if you feel like giving one :D

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I think I have given enough explanation in my posts so let’s leave it at that ;-)

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    Right. Time to move on then.

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    P.S. I meant moving on from this post of yours, not from your blog /:)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    You can do that too if you want. No one is held prisoner here :-)

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    I’m not the kind of person who quits following someone just coz I don’t agree with few things they write. I’m above all that :-) . Also this place is like my holy grail of tennis knowledge.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good. I’m glad you find my blog insightful.

    [Reply]

  4. It basically boils down to who they are as person.
    Federer had very easy start of his career. Character is ongoing process. Due to this, Federer was always favorite to win and won almost everything. Even his losses to Rafa were coming in heaps, he was more consistent than Rafa and took many titles to have any problem. Him reaching 14 was always in his mind, after 4 years in which he won 11/16. So, when Rafa took Wimby from him, he was still in denial, bad light and everything. When fact was he just couldn’t break Rafa’s serve in fifth. He always found excuses to lose before that AO final.
    In grand slam, he has lost 2 matches to Rafa in fifth, won 1 match, lost 1 to Murray and staggering 3 to Novak. It may be because he has not been put to test a lot by his early competitors.

    Now, Novak had one of the most daunting challenge in his early career. Federer and Rafa are two very different players. When one guy was down, other was still there. He played Federer in USO series 4 times finally winning just to meet Rafa in final. He played Rafa 3 times (QF/SF) in French Open only to lose. So he was very grounded before 2011. Even after he reached his peak, the no.2 player kept changing. He couldn’t just evolve his game only for Rafa because Federer was still in his prime, as seen in Wimby 2012. Two very different styles. He has always faced strong opposition, most times facing big four in slams of any opponent. So, his character is to take loss well. He is not ENTITLED to anything, but has to play best to win.

    So are most fedfans who feel ENTITLED that their voice be heard because they feel they are fans of “GREATEST PLAYER” in history. This GOAT title feel so arrogant to non fedfans, how can one player be defined GOAT when there is rich, rich history and many variables in tennis evolution. Tennis, many says, evovled fastest with technology among other sports. So, its even difficult to compare Sampras’s generation to Federer’s.

    Bottom line, due to their early career, Federer is best winner, bad loser and Novak is bad winner, best loser characterwise. I am Nolefam but I admire Rafa a lot lot, because he has been great in all his wins and losses. When he lost 2012 AO final, his first word was “GOOD MORNING EVERYBODY”.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Nachiket and welcome to my blog. You are right. Again, Federer had it easy early on with the weak era until Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray came along. For him, everything was always smooth sailing so when adversity came in the form of Nadal he wasn’t prepared for it and went into denial.

    Nadal had no right to beat him and he refused to adapt until that attitude badly backfired at the 2009 AO. He never came to terms with that loss and still says he looks forward to playing Nadal when Nadal owns him and beats him like a drum.

    Djokovic, on the other hand, could never afford to be that cocky and complacent. Like you said he came up having to battle both Federer and Nadal who are vastly different playing styles and were the most dominant champions in history. And in the process he developed a game which combined both of their strengths.

    And he also developed an unassuming personality. He doesn’t become complacent and arrogant. He keeps improving and evolving. He doesn’t have the arrogance of Federer but also not the fake humility of Nadal. He is the next step in tennis evolution. A kind of Fedal hybrid who could shatter all previous records.

    [Reply]

    nachiket Reply:

    Nadal has humility. Although he always downplays himself even against all opponents and never answers questions like do you think you are greatest etc. I say, if you can’t say good about something, don’t say anything. He is very shy unlike Federer and Novak. So I won’t call that FAKE humility.

    He embraced Federer after winning AO2009 and Novak after USO2010 and seem genuinely friendLY with both guys. Not friends but at least friendLY.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right, but he also took some losses to Djokovic not that well. I think he is more humble than Federer, but I also think a lot of it is fake. It’s easy to be friendly and embrace when you are winning.

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    Hilarious video Ru-an. The music fits so perfectly lol. :)) Djokerer handshakes are the best though. Refer to your old posts from 2013 where you captioned them as Romeo-Juliet, “I still hate you” , “I know” etc. These days they have improved to an extent where they “have no problems with each other”. Djoker is the only guy who behaves the same way during handshakes regardless of whether he won or lost. No fakeness. Fedal are different in that matter. I find it funny that Fed praises Nadal so much even after all those rough beatings he has taken from him. Either Nadal has mesmerized him completely or the mental block is so strong that he’s scared to even behave the way he wants when he’s around him. @-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right. Fedal is fake. They are butthurt and classless in defeat. Nothing like classy Djokovic. I think the Fed praise of Nadal is pretty straight-forward. Nadal utterly owns him and Federer has accepted it. And he is starting to do the same with Djokovic. Don’t you think he has become a lot nicer to Djokovic since he started beating him regularly? One of these days he will be praising Djokovic 24/7 too :))

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    Lol. I agree about Djoker being classier in defeat than Fedal. But I feel on court, Djoker is one of the few players to use rope-a-dope successfully time and again, don’t you think?. L-) Also Djokerer’s mutual respect has increased over the past 2 years especially. As you said, Fed treats Djoker with a lot of respect and admiration these days now that Djoker has become at least equal to if not better than Fedal in terms of achievements and overall personality. Just read his interviews post Wimbledon and USO finals and you’ll get to know. After Wimby, he said something on the lines of – “Novak is the only guy to whom I’m allowed to lose to, so there’s no shame in losing etc.” He realizes the fact the Djoker is indeed the man now. But credit to him for still continuing to rattling Djoker time to time, albeit just on fast hard courts over best of 3.
    Djokerer rivalry was highly under-rated and obscured by the over-rated Fedal rivalry all these years. I’m glad that in the past 2 years, this is the one stand-out rivalry(Thanks to dull’s backing out :)) ) and it’s on course to become the best rivalry ever in tennis. At least in terms of quality and variety of tennis, this is undoubtedly the best, but in terms of significance of matches involved, Djokodal might be better for instance, since a majority of their matches were finals at GS/MS1000 level.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Federer is one of the few players who use the SABR successfully time and time again, don’t you think? L-)

    [Reply]

    Nakul Reply:

    Yes?

    [Reply]

  5. Hi Ru-an Novak deserved to win the US Open, if Roger doesn’t make good on the break points he works so hard to get the rest is history. Also I would like to say how disgusted I was with the crowd at the final, I suspect fuelled by a three hour wait in some bar or other! Having said all this I am still an avid Fan of Federer and love still to see him playing. Reading you blog recently it’s as though somehow Federer is demeaning himself by being No 2 , how many players would love to have that No beside their name. When you started ‘the ultimate tennis blog’ I truly looked forward to reading your posts on all the other players that you thought would be in the mix, but apart from a few posts at the beginning you seem to have settled on tearing strips off Federer, now I don’t have a problem with anyone not liking Roger….but you Ru-an tell me are there two of you…didn’t you see all these ‘Federer Faults’ when it was Ruans Federer Blog? I mean how many times have you mentioned the hard time Novak had in Serbia all this happened years ago and thank goodness it is well behind all Serbian players. Djokovic is to be applauded for all that he has done and a lot still to do in tennis, this is his time. I got a laugh at the little video of Djo kicking Fed into touch….although I don’t know if it will help Novak’s popularity haha.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi, Elizabeth. I don’t think you are being completely accurate with some of your statements. I have said very clearly on several occasions that what Federer is still doing on a tennis court is astounding and inspiring. I personally believe he is playing some of the best tennis of his career, but that doesn’t negate the fact that he is losing like clockwork to Djokovic in slam finals and that he choked again against Djokovic in the USO final.

    And yes, I pointed these things out when this was still Ruans Federer Blog. I never had the typical fan blog and criticized Federer plenty. So not much has changed really. I just focus on his flaws a bit more now because I got sick of the media and fan hype around Federer and now this rabid pro-Federer crowd made me even more sick of it. I am the anti-establishment/anti-media guy and I am debunking the Federer cult.

    [Reply]

  6. Hi Ru-an, though I am lurking around your blog all along, I have not commented for a while. Excellent analysis on the psyche of Federer and Djoker on the face of the Dull onslaught. No one can beat you on that! The fact of the matter is, if somebody is getting everything comfortably without having to alter his/her normal lifestyle, it can make his/her life hell in the long run when all of a sudden a mountain comes in his/her way. This mountain could present itself in different forms: it could be a mountain of expectations, a mountain of adversities or mountain of having to deal with the inner doubts within oneself and many more. In other words, when all of a sudden, you are out of your comfort zone, you begin to doubt yourself and if you cannot adjust fast, you are doomed. I always keep telling my PhD students that if they want to explore something new, they must come out of their comfort zones. Otherwise they will be stuck with whatever they have achieved till date; there won’t be any enrichment which will lead them to explore new horizons. In most of the times, it takes them a while to gradually adapt to the new challenges. Those who do not get it faster, struggle more in their research. Nothing different here in case of Federer. His stubbornness (and extreme talent) never allowed him to beat the demon of Dull. I can vividly recall you reiterating many a times earlier that in order to win against Dull, the baseline rallies are not going to help much; Fed needs to come forward more. He did that occasionally, but once he started losing a couple of points during matches against Dull, he immediately abandoned that. He continued playing his usual staff. At long last, the realization to re-invent his game has finally arrived. The clear signs of it can be seen in the more aggressive style of play under the tutage of Edberg and the equipment change. Right now what he is doing is no different from what he occasionally experimented against Dull; the only difference is that he is sticking to his aggressive style. But it may be too late!
    Djoker is fortunate that time is on his side and he was prudent enough to make the adjustments in time. And of course, he possesses a double handed backhand which makes a huge difference. If memory serves me right, Djoker’s Mom was so annoyed with the dominance of Fed and Dull that after the Cincinnati finals in 2009, she commented that probably Novak is born in the wrong era. If he were born in some other era, he would have achieved much more. It is really appreciable that he has adapted nicely to the situation to turn the tide in his favour.

    It is funny that I am finding a lot of similarities between the state of the art of your blog and some of my research related areas recently. In the field of heat of mass transfer, there are a couple of concepts called “Natural Convection and Forced Convection”. And Ru-an, you seem to be riding under Forced Convection right now. If somebody is observant enough, one can still trace some glimpses of Natural Convection in your blog from time to time. In my opinion, of late, you seem to be belittling Federer’s achievements only to forcibly glorify the achievements of your new love! I am sure if your new love does have it in him, he will surpass Fed. If not, he will not. For that you don’t have to put the hammer :-t on Federer’s head. Please don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those Fed fanatics who will support their hero at any cost and my observation still may be wrong (or partially correct :-) )! The only plausible reason I can think about is that you are consciously doing so just to add salt to the wounds of those Fed fanatics who have insulted you through their obnoxious messages for quite a while. >:)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Jiten! Nice to hear from you again. And great comment. Certainly Federer was too stubborn and didn’t want to leave his comfort zone against Nadal. But he also lacked the killer instinct to finish Nadal off when he was there for the taking. This was where Sampras was so great as well. He had a Nadal-like killer instinct. He could sense when a crucial juncture in a match arrived and he would clinically finish off his opponent. This is where Federer has come up short and also not adapting fast enough.

    About belittling Federer’s achievements and forcibly glorifying Djokovic’s achievements I can see where you are coming from, but I don’t necessarily agree. I am just writing about what I am currently seeing. To me, it is a self-evident fact that Federer comes up short in the big matches and that he chokes. By the same token, it is a self-evident fact to me that Djokovic does just the opposite. He fights a rabid pro-Federer crowd, the SABR, and a poor USO final history and comes out on top. I think that is worthy of a lot of praises, don’t you?

    And yes, the actions of Fedfanatics at the US Open and on the Internet doesn’t help Federer’s case. I know when I put the hammer on Federer’s head I do the same to them. And while it doesn’t affect Federer much it does affect them. So if anyone is to blame for the things I write that you don’t like it is indeed them. I don’t think what I am saying is inaccurate anyway. I’m not making things up to piss people off. I am just writing the facts as I see it, the way I always have.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    Thanks Ru-an. I cannot agree more on the killer instinct front. Right now, technique and ability wise, there is a very narrow margin amongst the top four. But when it comes to pouncing on your opponent at the precise juncture during a match, there is no one better than Djoker right now. Dull in my opinion was even better during his heydays in this front. In 2013 post Wimbledon, he won most of matches against Djoker by utilising the slightest of the window of opportunities Djoker offered to him. About the belittling part, I won’t make any comment right now. :-) I will simply wait for may be three four years and then see what you come up with in your self assessment report card of the past three four years. 8-> And my bad, it should be Heat and mass transfer, not heat of mass transfer in my previous comment. :-P

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, Nadal is the best in the mental department. Through sheer force of will, he turned the rivalry with Djokovic around in 2013 and gave him some of his worst beatings. Djokovic is not quite up there with Nadal mentally. He can choke. It’s just that he doesn’t allow his choking to get the better of him like Federer does. Djokovic uses it to make him stronger.

    The 2013 FO loss was without a doubt a choke, but he recovered and came back stronger. What Djokovic lacks in mental strength as opposed to Nadal he makes up in talent. He is more talented and adaptable than Nadal. He has a better serve, better returns, better bh, better volleys, etc. He is a better offensive player than Nadal as well.

    That’s what I really like about his game. He is very balanced in terms of skill, physical strength, and mental strength. In all these things, he is somewhere in between Fedal. He doesn’t have the mental flaw of Federer or the skill flaw of Nadal. And he is very good physically as well.

    [Reply]

  7. I am very disappointed in your comments. I will move on. You can’t make me appreciate this blog and the last few. You have a bad attitude. You just follow the winner for the day. Not very loyal are you.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m sorry you feel that way, Pat. I think Fedfans who think they are entitled and shows complete disrespect for Federer’s opponents have a bad attitude. And I think people who follow Federer in the hope that he will win #18 is following the winner of the day. 17 > 10, right?

    As for loyalty, I didn’t know I was married to Federer. If anyone owes loyalty it is him towards me for supporting and blogging about him for years. Please think with your mind and not with your emotions before you make such sweeping statements again.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    I have to side with Ru-an here. Even as a massive Federer fan myself, I still have to admit that there have been many failures in his mental strength. However I would like to point out one counter argument. Federer has the greatest tiebreak record in history. Someone even went into the details on this, and found that he has a tiebreak specific skill. Obviously a player such as Federer would expect to be more than say 50-50 in tiebreaks because he is better than most players, but even taking this into account he has an additional tiebreak skill, which is only also possessed by Isner. I can’t remember the article name but it was a good piece of analysis. But I also did a previous analysis showing the opposite. I don’t think it is fair to call Federer mentally weak, he is mentally strong, but Djokovic and Nadal are EXTREMELY mentally strong. He just looks mentally weak compared to them. The amount of comebacks Federer has pulled off over the years makes it unfair to say he is mentally weak in absolute terms. But yes I agree with the basic premise of your argument. And unlike Pat I have no plans on leaving this blog regardless of whether you make a few comments here and there that I disagree with. The important thing about the way you operate your blog is that you are willing to change your views. You make your post and then say: ‘what do you think?’ and if someone comes up with a compelling argument you take it into account rather than burying your head in the sand as many people choose to do when confronted with evidence. Overall another good post Ru-an, and I hope that Pat is able to see that there is still a place here for moderate fans of any fanbase.

    Charlie

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Charlie. I think you are right about Federer’s tie-break record. But let’s not forget that he has one of the best serves in history which is a big thing in tie-breaks. It does point to the fact that he is clutch to some extent, but it’s a bit like the argument from people that Federer plays a high-risk game which means it’s easier for him to choke.

    That is not true because he has such a good serve and fh that he can serve or hit himself out of many difficult situations where Nadal and Djokovic may not be able to do that. The advantage of a great serve can’t be underestimated. It’s ridiculous how often Federer serves himself out of a tough spot with an ace or unreturned serve.

    Just one shot and the rally is over without the opponent even having a play on the ball. So yeah I think that does help a lot in tie-breaks as well compared to the guys who have to rally and can make an error on any shot. That takes an awful lot more mental strength.

    And thanks for coming up for me. I understand if Fedfans leave my blog because they are hardcore Fedfans and don’t like Djokovic or criticism of Federer. I can still accept that. What I can’t accept is people coming here and telling me there is something wrong with me because I don’t write what they want to read anymore.

    I think that shows a lack of class. Why can some Fedfans just stop commenting, unsubscribe to my blog, or just stop reading it while others have to insult me and become bitter? I don’t owe these people a damn thing. If anything they owe me something for blogging all these years without asking a thing from them in return.

    I’ve received several comments recently about people telling me they are leaving my blog, that I have a bad attitude, that I’m disloyal blah blah blah. I have news for them. I don’t give a shit! They say they are leaving my blog as if that’s a bad thing for me when it’s the exact opposite.

    I don’t want biased fanatics here and I am glad when they leave. There is plenty of space for them at PeRFect Tennis Blog where they can join the rest of the rabid Fedtards in their blind Federer worship. ^:)^ #-o :))

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    As I say the reason I point out the tiebreak record is that he seems to have a tiebreak skill over and above his big serve and forehand and general good play. As for the mental strength aspect, I would argue both styles require equal mental strength. Obviously to hang in a long rally on an important point takes a lot of mental strength, but so does committing to your best serve on a really important point. Remember the second set TB in the Wimbledon final this year when Federer went for a massive topspin second serve and followed it into the net when Djokovic had set point? But there are many opposing factors as you listed in your article and other comments such as the 5-set record. As for people leaving I completely agree with you getting annoyed at people who openly insult you just because they happen to disagree with you. It’s a continuation of the fanatical sense of entitlement felt by some fans (of all fanbases) that somehow their player is ENTITLED to win, and it transfers to your blog in the form of ‘I am ENTITLED to insult anyone who does not write favourably about my favourite player’. People who politely state their reason for leaving or just leave without saying anything is OK.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, I get what you are saying, Charlie. I certainly don’t deny the fact that Federer has a superb tie-break record and that he has often been very clutch. It’s just like you say he comes up short against the very best in the mental department.

    ‘I am ENTITLED to insult anyone who does not write favourably about my favourite player’.

    This is absolutely the attitude of Fedfans and it’s a terrible one. A disgusting entitlement attitude that is fast revealing them as the worst fanbase in tennis. The USO final was a big embarrassment for them and people took note. I actually started a post to address Federer fanaticism but decided against it for now.

    I thought I’d written enough about them for the time being and that it was too negative at this point. I’m not sure they deserve a whole post on my blog anymore. It may be better just to ignore them and get on with the job of making interesting and constructive posts.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Yeah, assholes will be assholes.

    [Reply]

  8. Hey Ru-an,

    I wanted to share a few thoughts please, even though it may look like I’m playing Devil’s Advocate.

    First of all, I appreciated your acknowledgment that Roger wasn’t finished by Nadal’s beatdown at AO ’09. I think it was very impressive that he came back after that loss to make it to all four slam finals in 2009, winning two and losing two in five sets. So yes, that was definitely a good short term adjustment. And you’ve gone out of your way many times to point out how well Roger has been playing lately too.

    And though the claim could be made that Federer kept running away from Nadal after that match, it also seems that he was brave enough to meet him across the net four times just in 2013, just for example, in the midst of his poor results, back problems, and racquet change. Although he lost them all, he didn’t run, and I respect Roger a lot for facing his nemesis when he was down. I’m not sure it would have worked the other way… but I may be getting ahead of myself. ;-)

    It also seems (and I realize that you know far more than ten times as much as I do about this game, and I definitely want to acknowledge that in this post) that Roger’s mental strength seems to have improved significantly since his early days, which on the one hand also looks like a very positive response to circumstances such as AO ’09 beat-down. So maybe his adjustment in the longer term has been a positive one as well.

    In fact, I believe that several have made the same observation at this site, both recently and after comeback wins against Monfils and Mayer last year, for example. And it seems that Federer has been ready to play Nadal several times this year, but that Nadal has failed to do his part again. So it seems to me that maybe Roger is not running from Nadal. I even think he might like a chance to play his old rival again with some of his new tools (both mental and physical).

    Let’s see, I think Roger beat Nadal once in 2010, once in 2011, and once in 2012. And Roger had a chance to face Nadal a second time in 2012 as well, but Nadal withdrew (I could dwell on the ‘W’ word at some length when discussing Nadal) from the US Open that year.

    Of course they didn’t meet in 2014 or 2015, when Roger’s game has been surging again. And I think that’s too bad, because their matches are very intense most of the time. And Roger might have had a chance to make some positive headway in the Fedal H2H if they had.

    But after losing four matches to Nadal during (his worst year) 2013, Nadal’s 11-match surplus against Federer on clay – plus the three losses in 2013 (one loss, the one at Rome, was on clay, and I’ve counted that one already in the 11-match clay surplus) adds up to 14 games, which is larger than Nadal’s thirteen game (23-10) margin against Roger.

    So I know that the ‘ownage stance’ is pretty popular, but as I looked at their history recently, I started to wonder if a case could be made that Nadal may not own Roger – at least not completely – after all.

    For example, I remember when one visitor to your site said that Nadal was the greatest, simply because he had a higher total winning percentage than Roger, although I think it’s a fact that Nadal plays only when he wants to, and that otherwise his winning percentage would be lower. To me it seems that Roger is not avoiding Nadal, especially in recent years, even when he was struggling with a back injury in 2013. It seems to me that Nadal’s limited availability for matches with Federer may have actually preserved his advantage in the H2H.

    So I wonder if a case could be made that, just as Djokovic has, Roger has made a positive adjustment to the painful losses he suffered to Nadal, at AO ’09 and elsewhere, both in the near term and in the longer term (new racquet, attacking strategy, tournament successes) as well.

    I remember hearing sports journalist Chris Fowler predict the end of Roger’s career when Roger broke down at the AO that year, but Roger came roaring back to win the next two majors and make it to the US Open Final as well. He’s had some struggles since then, with age, injury, and a racquet change, but has managed to reinvent himself to play some of the best tennis of his career at age 34.

    So if I could look at the H2H in two phases, I’d tend to think that especially during Roger’s salad days, while he was dominating three majors and everyone but Nadal on clay, Nadal was mostly absent from the later rounds on non-clay surfaces. On the one hand we have Roger, who consistently played his way into Clay finals to face Nadal; and on the other we have Nadal, who more frequently didn’t make it to the the later rounds on other surfaces to face Roger. I tend to think that could explain his edge on hard courts against Roger as well; i.e. that Nadal played only when he felt he was on top of his game.

    Later in Roger’s career, when age and back problems presented Roger with some time to change his racquet and some of his tennis strategy, he came back again strongly, and has now made it to three finals and a semi in the last 6 majors. Again, Nadal has been largely absent.

    Roger’s time is surely short now, but his last two years have shown fans of tennis a lot of brilliance. Djokovic’s light is shining even more brightly than Roger’s now, but as a tennis fan I have deeply appreciated how these two bring out the best in each other.

    Although I’ve thought that Roger’s mental toughness has come out and grown when it needed to, I respect your knowledge and objectivity a great deal. So if you think that Roger has more or less wilted in the face of Nadal, I’ll definitely reexamine my thinking about that.

    Best wishes to all,
    Joe
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Sorry I hope you’ll give me a pass on some of the typos in that post. But Nadal did beat Roger at AO ’14 and I meant to include that fact…

    :\">

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Joe, I think you underestimate your own tennis knowledge. You may know a lot more than you think. I have myself said the things that you say here about Federer’s improved mental strength and the head-to-head with Nadal. Yes Nadal does have a way of facing Roger when things favour him.

    And yes I do think Federer’s mental strength in 2014-2015. The only problem with these things are that he still loses to Djokodal when it really matters. He lost that Wimby final to Nadal and all three meetings at the AO. He had to win that AO ’09 meeting. That is the bottom line.

    He had Nadal on his knees in the third set but couldn’t close the deal. If he did things would have looked drastically different. It could have made all the difference in the h2h but now unfortunately Nadal does own him. It’s admirable that Federer faced Nadal in 2013 but it only made the ownage worse.

    I hate that Nadal uses clay to dominate his h2hs and I hate that he runs away when things get tough, but you can’t deny the numbers. And the same thing is now happening with Djokovic. When I said Federer runs away I don’t mean consciously. I mean subconsciously because there is a difference between playing against Nadal and exorcising past demons.

    We have seen tanking subconsciously too before playing Nadal. I think Federer improved mentally but he is still losing to someone with true mental strength in Djokovic, so it’s not enough.

    Hope that answers your question.

    [Reply]

  9. Good stuff Ru-an,

    I have to say, though, that I’m not sure all the mental strength in the world would make Roger as strong as Djokovic is now.

    For Roger to get any more wins against Djokovic at this point, I think he’ll need to catch Djoker when he’s having an off day, on a fast court. i.e. ‘get lucky.’ And he’ll still need to bring all his mental strength to the match.

    I’m just sayin’ …

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m looking forward to their future meetings. Let’s just put it that way.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    LOL !!!
    :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    o:-)

    [Reply]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *