US Open Day 14: Djokovic Dismisses Federer to Win 10th Grand Slam Title

Where do I begin? I can write 10 e-books about this result probably so this will basically be a summary. Congrats to the Djoker!!!!!! I am incredibly proud to call myself a fan today because of the immense composure Djokovic showed against a disgraceful crowd to win his 10th grand slam title. The stakes in this match were ridiculously high and the crowd was constantly shouting out when Djokovic was serving and cheering against him.

It was classless behaviour as you would expect from the pro-Federer crowd but Djokovic kept his head down and heroically found a way and shut the crowd up. With everything that was at stake, the quality of the match was quite low compared to the Wimbledon final. But the scoreline was very similar and so was the pattern of play. Federer was the aggressor while Djokovic made his life hell.

  • Opening Set: 6-4 Djokovic

There was a three-hour delay to the start of the match due to rain which was highly frustrating and thank God this will be the last year without a roof at this cursed slam. It wasn’t the worst thing in the world from a Djoker fan perspective because the rain would slow down things and help him, but it also meant it was going to be a night match where Federer is at his best.

When the players finally came out the very first game of this match showed that Federer was up against something entirely different than the rest of the losers he faced who folded like cheap tents. It set the tone for the match. The game went to several deuces before Federer finally held serve. Djokovic responded with a love service hold of his own. Another big statement. In Federer’s next service game, Djokovic already made his move.

He did what I mentioned in my previous post which was to be aggressive and put Federer under pressure right off the bat when he hit a very aggressive forehand winner to go up 30-0. Federer saved the first break point at 15-40 but Djokovic took the second break point after an extended baseline rally for the break. That was obviously huge to set the tone for the match but in the next game Djokovic had a very bad fall after changing direction and slipping.

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It was a bit of a scary moment but thankfully nothing serious apart from Djokovic leaving about half of his skin on the court. Not surprisingly that shook him up a bit and he dropped serve right away and then Federer held serve to love. Another big moment. Djokovic steadied himself in the next game though with a service hold to 15. And in the next service game he was at it again, breaking Federer with a precision backhand pass after trailing 0-30.

Right back on top. In the next service game, Djokovic faced another break point but finally consolidated for 5-3. Federer held serve after going to deuce again and at 5-4 Djokovic held serve to love to win the all-important first set 6-4. From here on you liked Djokovic’s chances. It was absolutely imperative for Federer to make a strong start and not allow Djokovic to drag the match out, but as usual Djokovic proved he is Federer’s master in the big matches.

The hype around Federer was immense as usual going into this final. Craig O’Shannessy, the lead analyst for the ATP Tour and many other big organisations listed 15 reasons why Federer is the favourite. Federer defeated Djokovic in Cincy, he didn’t lose a set up to the finals, the surface suits his attacking game, blah blah blah. It only took one set for these people to realize what a big mistake they made once again to jump on the Federer bandwagon.

  • Second Set: 7-5 Federer

Before I continue I have to bring up Luke Jensen who was the commentator for the ESPN broadcast here in South Africa who was an absolute disaster. His Federer bias and worship was so disturbing and evident that I had to switch off the sound for most of the match. But it is ESPN the worst tennis channel in the world after all so I guess that was not all that surprising. Back to the match.

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The second set was a close affair and it was imperative for Federer to win it to stand any chance in the match. To his advantage, he served first which meant scoreboard pressure for Djokovic. At 5-4 and 30-30 on the Djokovic serve, Federer was once again piling on the pressure when he attacked the net with an aggressive backhand. Djokovic threw up a defensive backhand, but Federer went straight back to Djokovic who ripped the backhand straight at him forcing him into error.

The Djoker erupted with a celebration that was just delicious to see. That game turned into a monumental struggle with Federer holding I don’t know how many set points. When Djokovic held serve to level at 5-5 it felt like another big moment. But with Djokovic serving at 5-6 and under more scoreboard pressure Federer brought up two more set points and finally took the second one. All squared.

  • Third Set: 6-4 Djokovic

I think in the first game of the second set Djokovic was threatening the Federer serve again but failed to break, and in the second game at 15-15 Federer began again with the SABR. He tried it several times in the match but this time Djokovic was up to the task. In some cases, it paid off but overall it failed so I now call it the FABR(Failed Attack By Roger). That said, I wasn’t overly convinced with the way Djokovic handled it.

The one he did at 15-15 sat up waiting for Djokovic to drill it straight into the sitting duck at the net but he went for the pass and missed badly. Federer did it again on the very next point but this time Djokovic embarrassed Federer who couldn’t keep up with the pace of shot from Djokovic. Same as in the opening set, Djokovic broke serve in the third game. Ajde! But same as in the first set as well Federer broke straight back in the next game.

Fuck! This match was beginning to wear on me. The tension was already unbearable. Djokovic appeared to be unbelievably nervous as well. Probably the crowd had a lot to do with that as well but since I had to silence Jensen I didn’t know at the time just how much the crowd was getting involved. And then of course there was an awful lot at stake so I can’t blame him really. As a fan, this was by far the most nervous I’ve ever been before a tennis match.

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The tension was already sky high before the first ball was struck so I can’t imagine what the players must have felt. At 3-4 Djokovic squandered a 40-0 lead on his serve and faced several break points. This was not the Djokovic I knew. This was the old Djokovic who choked when things got tough. But somehow he found a way to hold onto his serve in which was probably the most important game of the match.

There were several games that took ages to complete and which was absolutely nerve-wracking and this was certainly one of them. If Federer held his nerve and broke serve there he would probably have won the third set and been in a very strong position. But he didn’t. He choked. The same way he choked against Nadal in the 2009 Australian Open final in the third set when he had Nadal at his mercy.

And since Djokovic is a killer like Nadal he came back from 15-40 in Federer’s next service game to break. You don’t give Djokovic second chances. He smells blood like a shark and rips you to shreds. Federer was still fighting hard but Djokovic held serve to win the third set and now the writing was all but on the wall. Could Federer come back from two sets to love down against Djokovic at age 34? It seemed unlikely.

  • Deciding Set: 6-4 Djokovic

Djokovic seemed more relaxed at the start of the fourth set as he broke Federer’s opening service game. He was still far from making things easy on himself, though. He was still struggling mightily on his own service game while he allowed Federer way too many easy service games. But I guess this is truer for the entire match. There wasn’t anything clinical about this performance and it was the hardest tennis match I ever had to watch.

He also missed some ridiculously easy shots, while at the same times making some ridiculously difficult ones. In particular at 1-0 in the second set when Federer was trying to intimidate with the SABR again. He lobbed Federer consecutively for clean winners which were just delicious to see. At 4-2 and 30-40 on Federer’s serve came one of the points of the match which ended in Federer shanking an overhead into the crowd after another superb lob from Djokovic.

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Djokovic then went on to get the double break in that game with a scorching return winner and another bruising celebration. But he was still intent on making things as hard for himself as possible. He lost the first break but to Federer’s credit he played some unbelievable tennis as well. Then at 5-4 came the moment of truth and in no time Djokovic was down 15-40 again. This was too much to bare.

A scenario where Federer came from two sets to one and two breaks down to win and break Djokovic’s heart flashed into my mind and the next couple of points were unwatchable. Djokovic somehow got back to deuce but faced another break point. When he finally held serve and won the match the relief was overwhelming. Djokovic had already lost four US Open finals and had he lost this one it would have been too much to bare as a fan.

  • Final Thoughts

As far as the match stats go this match was incredibly close with Djokovic winning only two more points than Federer(147-145). I’m not surprised by that stat given how much pressure Djokovic faced on his own service games and how he didn’t put enough pressure on Federer’s service games. The big difference was in the break points converted which was 6/13 for Djokovic and 4/23 for Federer.

Again, it comes down to the big points where Djokovic is just a far superior player to Federer. Federer has been known to have limitations in the mental department for a long time and this was just more proof of that. He just is not as clutch as Djokovic and Nadal. Even with the entire crowd behind him and Djokovic trying awfully hard to choke the match away Federer could not take advantage.

Yet another blow to his GOAT claim. He is already owned by his main rival Nadal and now Djokovic is 3-1 against him in slam finals and 8-6 in slams. The head-to-head is all squared again at 21-21, but you figure Djokovic would end with a winning record against him as well. It’s difficult to proclaim someone the GOAT when they are basically owned by their main competition.

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Djokovic is 7-2 in their last 9 slam meetings and 3-0 in their last three slam finals. The rivalry is getting close to ownage levels and it will only get worse for Federer if he keeps playing. That is just the price he pays for so desperately wanting to win #18. Retiring after 2012 all of a sudden doesn’t sound like such a bad idea, but who knows. He is still playing very well at his age. In fact, we have been assured by him and many others that he is playing the best tennis of his career.

So I don’t think there should be any doubt anymore that Djokovic is better than Federer in terms of the matchup at least. I also think that if Djokovic wins the French and reaches 15 slams he would be the GOAT. He has all the credentials, but he doesn’t have the flaw in his resume that his main rivals got the better of him. He will rack up many more weeks at number one and already broke Federer’s record for most ranking points in 2006.

He has already secured a fourth year-end number one and he will surely win the World Tour Finals as well, and will probably break the record there too. With this title, he also chalks up a second three-slam year and was only one match away from the calendar slam. Unreal. He is even topping his record-breaking 2011 season. The guy is an absolute beast. I’m not counting out the Djoker slam either.

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He will be a big favorite in Melbourne again next year and everything will go into completing the career slam in Paris now. That is the big one and, of course, no one has won four consecutive slams in the open era after Laver won the calendar slam in 1969. If Djokovic wins the Djokovic-slam next year he would have a GOAT claim already, but I won’t get ahead of myself. It is just something interesting to think about.

At this point, Djokovic still has a long way to go to be called the GOAT but for the first time it has become a very real possibility. He came up in the toughest era with Fedal in their primes and he has now taken over the mantel all by himself. He is not even allowing Murray at the table anymore. Something I realized as well is that Djokovic is a kind of perfect hybrid of Fedal. Whether that is because he came up in their era is debatable.

What I mean is that he has the ideal combination of talent and mental strength. A combination of Fedal’s strengths but without their weaknesses. None of Federer’s mental flaws and none of Nadal’s lack of talent. In this way, he is even more complete than Fedal and you could argue the perfect player. That is just what happens when you come up in the brutal era of two GOATs I guess.

  • To the Balanced Fedfans

When I say balanced Fedfans it’s nothing mysterious. I’m simply referring to the Fedfans who can appreciate Djokovic as a person and a player, even though Federer may be your favorite player. Djokovic showed great class again in the post-match interview by how he praised Federer in spite of the crowd’s behavior. There were no bitterness or grudges from him despite how the crowd and Federer mistreated him over the years.

The way I see it this is just karma for Federer who always had a dismissive and arrogant attitude towards Djokovic. Same with the crowd. They have been thoroughly owned by the better player and human being. That said, to the more balanced Fedfans I want to say you can be proud of the way Federer is still playing at age 34 and for the fight he once again put up against Djokovic. You can’t ask for more at his age.

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I’m sorry that your player lost, but only greedy Fedfanatics would be devastated by this loss. If you can’t be satisfied with 17 slams, especially with the way Nadal has declined, you are not a true tennis fan. I know the balanced Fedfans don’t demand another slam and to those fans I just want to show my sympathy and congratulate on how well Federer is still playing at his age. I’m amazed by how he is still playing.

I thought he had a very real shot of winning this too. Since Cincy, he has been serving up a storm and playing unbelievable attacking tennis. I thought the SABR could in the end make the difference, but it failed. Djokovic was up to the challenge. I just think it is amazing that Federer at age 34 has made the last two slam finals. On faster courts, he is still pretty much destroying everyone but Djokovic.

If it wasn’t for Djokovic he would clearly have won more slams but with Djokovic around it will be very difficult.

  • The US Open as a Major Event

I just have to say something about this slam before they will finally have the roof finished next year. I don’t like to criticize, but I have to express my disappointment in this slam in general. There have been too much wrong with it over the years. I think since 2008 the final had rained out every year but once and caused a lot of frustration among fans. Not to mention that terrible Super Saturday which was all about the money.

Sorry to say but that is a typical superficial and materialistic American mentality which is all about the cash and not about taking everyone into account. Fortunately, it was canceled in 2013. And fortunately, next year the US Open will have a roof at long last. And again the reason it took so long was because Americans have to make everything big and elaborate which meant that Arthur Ashe stadium was so big that building a roof was too expensive for a long time.

The only other slam that did not have a roof for such a long time is the French Open, which together with the US Open are the most disappointing slams. And like the French Open, the US Open has disrespectful hooligan crowds. At the US Open, it once again has a lot to do with the size of the stadium. There have broken fights out in the upper reaches of the stadium and there are plenty of drunk people.

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It’s just a disappointing slam on so many levels, but I am delighted that Djokovic braved the uncivilized crowd and won. He has had difficulty with that crowd since that Roddick incident where he owned Roddick after Roddick insulted him in the media. Like the French, this has not been a great slam for him but yesterday he set the record straight once and for all. No one can ever take that away from him.

Now for contrast, think of how well-behaved the crowds are in Melbourne and Wimbledon and think of how well-organized they are. Never frustrating rain interruptions, no disgusting crowds, no bad organization, and no pathetic tennis sports channel like ESPN with incompetent and unprofessional fanboy commentators like Luke Jensen. Sorry for the rant but I had to get that off my chest. Let’s move on.

  • The Prediction Game

The winners for the final round are Nakul and Davikia who both predicted Djokovic in four sets but got the order wrong so 6 points for each. Congrats. And the winner of the last slam of the year is…..the one…the only…GOAT predictor…Nakul! Congrats on your first slam! :D Nakul came second at Wimbledon as well so for now I think it is fair to give him the #1 ranking. Well played mate!

That concludes our prediction game for this event and I will keep the results on my blog until the next event as usual. Thanks for playing and well done to you all. That’s it from me for now although I will probably be back with a follow-up as usual.

  • Highlights

The is in your court.

Posted in Grand Slams, US Open.

74 Comments

  1. Ruan,

    What a turncoat you are!!
    Your blog used be called
    “Ruan Federer blog”
    I have just been reading over some of those blogs.
    You were saying Roger this, Roger that, and even sending a link where Djokovic uses and oxygen tent (CVAC pod)

    It is amusing to read those earlier blogs and compare it to your blog today!!

    I thought it was a great match.
    I’m sad Roger didn’t win but he played like the great champion that he is.

    A few points here and there decided the match.
    Federer was the best player in the third set but still lost it.
    He still is the greatest.
    His tennis flowed beautiful as compared to the boring return game of Djokovic.

    Marie

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Marie, yes I was deluded back then and came to my senses. But if it will make you feel better I can remove my old Federer posts. I have been thinking about that for a while now. Glad you liked the match. Greatest is subjective. We will see when Djokovic is done anyway.

    [Reply]

    Pete Reply:

    I’m reader of this blog since 2008 and have to fully agree with Marie,it’s completely different reading then even year, 2 years ago.I actually stopped reading this blog regularly, used to be here few times a day. But no one will loose a sleep over it.. I’m super happy with Rogers 17 grandslams and happy with djokovic too. He is a great champion. But I would change my writing like it happened here, it’s easier to admire player who is on the very top..

    [Reply]

    Pete Reply:

    I was going to say I wouldn’t change my writing /opinion…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Sorry that you don’t find my blog as interesting as you used to Pete. Right now Federer is the one with 17 slams and Djokovic with 10, so clearly Federer is on top and by your definition that would mean it is easier to admire him. Not that I hold it against you. You can support whoever you want.

    [Reply]

    Shamtoot Reply:

    Ruan
    I was a regular visor to your blog since 2012 and I enjoy most of the posts, analyses and insights you provide as unbiased follower to tennis. This is my first comment here in your blog and before I start, just let it be known to you and your visitors that I am a big FAN of Nadal, and I do admire the achievement of Roger and recently Djokovic.
    Recently, I found it bit strange that you have almost switched to Djokovic as a fan, and I find it bit weird though!!
    A Fan doesn’t just switch by like that (I do understand the Tennis is above all, and you like and acknowledge other players’ talent) but switching, its bit odd for me. Unless you found something major on roger that we don’t see and you might have addressed it in one of your posts but didn’t have the chance to read it. Anyhow, just wanted to say that, keep up the good work you do, and I still enjoy visiting your blog and read comments of your regular visitor :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, and I’m glad you enjoy my posts Shamtoot. I don’t think switching to Djokovic is weird. It didn’t just happen one day. It was a natural progression. And yes, I did explain it plenty of times in much more detail, which if you read it I’m sure it would make perfect sense to you.

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  2. This was a great post, Ruan! Thank you. I laughed especially hard about the “cheap tents” and the this “Luke Jensen” character – without knowing him I can imagine exactly what you mean.
    I always liked your writing. Even as a Djokovic fan of the early hour I have always liked your posts. Of course I am glad that you came to like “my boy” recently. And everybody is allowed to change their mind.
    So, for me your blog is more about the great and funny writing style and not so much about the affiliation to a certain player. So, thank you and please keep it up!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Birdie your comment means a lot to me! I’m glad someone can see past their personal likes and dislikes and just appreciate my writing for what it is. Although of course it is nice to know that you are a Djoker fan as well :-)

    I have never liked Jensen’s commentary and in this particular match he was absolutely awful. And yes, compared to Djokovic all Federer’s other opponents folded like cheap tents :))

    [Reply]

  3. Ru-an,

    Since you`re not afraid of controversial comments — I’m not afraid of them too — I shall try to complete some of yours.

    I watched for years the Rafole rivalry. It has always been more than a game, rather a duel to the sporting destruction. Knowing one of Novak’s coach, I’ve heard that Novak was exasperated by Nadal, believing that he uses… you know what, and swearing that he will find a way to change the outcome of their encounters.

    Rafa isn’t somebody used to lose. He owned from the beginning of his career all his opponents, but we could already sense his exasperation about Djokovic, who posed a lot of problems to him, in his ghost written biography. When the dynamics of their matches changed, their relationship, good for a few years already, changed drastically. (We can believe that Srdjan Djokovic is a jerk, but he speaks loudly what Novak doesn’t want to say. His comments about Rafa are enlightening.) From 2011, their matches became a duel to the death. Rafa first thought he could change the outcome. Then, when he realized that Novak was better, he started ducking him on hard, to win the FO 2012. He continued with his usual tactic of avoiding his greatest rivals on their best surfaces and retired to retool his tennis, then he had a great season in 2013.

    But then, something happen: the introduction of the blood passport. For a time, one could see that Rafa was 10 pounds lighter. After the USO 2013, things went back to normal, and Rafa restarted losing time and time again against Novak, and his self-confidence was slowly shattered. He managed to win the FO 2014, when Novak was probably ill, and, after that, he was over. His winning psyche was destroyed. He lately found his previous “strength”, and announces that he will add “speed” to his game, but I don’t know if he will ever find his previous ranking. Although, his actual bulky look is ominous.

    That Novak is a great person, despite his tantrums on the court, in the heat of the battle, is revealed by the well known episode: at the beginning of 2011, Murray was without a coach, and his career was on a low. He worked for two weeks with Novak, under the supervision of Marian Vajda, before the AO. He made the final. In his slump, Novak played doubles with him to help him regain his form (he did it with Troicki, Tipsy…). And after the latest AO final, when Andy made the error to provoke by provoking Novak in the third set (he loudly commented that Novak was a cheater; he addressed his box, but Novak heard it, found a new gear, and won 12 of the 13 last games), Novak avoided to say anything to the journalists, preferring to iron out his problems with Andy in private.

    Last night was another proof of his gentleness — he rightly complimented Fed, who played a great match. Yes, Novak is probably a better clutch player, but his game is a game for clutch players, with a good balance of risk and efficacy. He’s not the most elegant, but he is ruthlessly efficient. He found this efficiency when it matters most, nineteen times.

    But Federer also showed what made his greatness. A game on the limit of pure art. They played so fast, refusing to back down from the baseline, that sequences of the match were absolutely breathtaking.

    And yes, Federer has improved his game. He can’t be as steady as he was six, seven years ago, and he has started his transformation a few years too late (in 2010), but he is brilliant even now. Especially since it’s now clear that in his career, he faced two of the best five players of the Open Era. In different circumstances, his results would have been better, much better, but the same can be said about Novak. Since 2011, it’s not only Novak’s results in finals that are about 50%, but Nadal’s and Federer’s percentage of wins fell abruptly.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Interesting comment Mat, and I replied your comment on my last post too. I saw an article which uses very sophisticated(the best) stats according to my friend Cornel who is himself a stats guy and very smart. Although it’s impossible to tell exactly, according to Cornel these are the best stats available and it says Djokovic is the GOAT at this point. Of course, he still needs the FO and stats change as a career progresses, but I think that is pretty telling and I plan on making a post about it.

    [Reply]

    B Reply:

    I agree that the stats methodology is very sophisticated, but I disagree with the interpretation that it implies Djokovic is the GOAT.

    Firstly:Yes, it does say that at a single point in time Djokovic had the best ever rating. However, it is only very marginally higher than Federer’s highest ever rating, well within the margin for error of the model. A slightly different calibration of the model could likely give Federer the highest rating; sophisticated as the methodology is, there is still a degree of uncertainty as to the “true” parameters of the model and even the model itself (as I’m sure your friend Cornel will confirm).

    Secondly: Even if the methodology could be assumed to be Divine Truth sent to us directly by the Man Himself, it would be incomplete to look at only at a player’s best ever ELO rating – just as it would be silly to look only at a player’s best ever year, disregarding all other years. If you read the full analysis (which I encourage all tennis fans to do), it concludes that Djokovic will have to maintain his recent levels for several more years to overtake Federer as the GOAT.

    http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/djokovic-and-federer-are-vying-to-be-the-greatest-of-all-time/

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Barry, hope all is well. I don’t think anyone who knows something about tennis would take a rating very seriously that has Murray ahead of Sampras in the GOAT debate. Maybe someone can explain that to me. Mat says they don’t take eras into account, but that is conceivably the only criteria which allows Murray to be ahead of Sampras, having played in the era of Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic. And yet it is not like Sampras played in a weak era.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    The ELO ranking refers to peak level if I understand it correctly, so effectively it is arguing that Murray has a higher peak level than Sampras. Not that he is better. The same goes for Djokovic, he has displayed the highest peak level ever according to the stats (although it is very close), and even as a Federer fan I would have to concede that he is now a very serious contender for best year ever if he continues to play at this level through the rest of the year.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for clearing that up, Charlie. But I guess highest peak level is also closely correlated with GOATness. Clearly longevity plays a role too.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    That said, I’m not saying Djokovic is not better than Federer was at the same stage of his career.

    [Reply]

  4. Ruan, I guess I’m going to have to be happy with 17. Never had a good feeling about the match up now with Djoker, based on recent results in slams. Lost 3 in a row now. When they said the court would slow down, and it was cooler, and the fact that he is 34, it just doesn’t bode well for the GOAT. I hate to admit it Ruan, but Marie is right. I think I’m done with this blog, cause I’m not much of a fan of Djoker,,,,or Nadal for that matter. It’s like you found a younger, hotter wife, and left the one who stood by you.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Sorry about your loss Gary. Interesting analogy, but of course completely false. Federer is not the one who stood by me, I am the one who stood by him. He doesn’t know me. That said, I don’t like to see old and loyal readers of my blog leave. It’s a difficult situation for me because if they don’t like Djokovic what am I suppose to do? Stay a Federer fan just to please them? That is not being true to myself. And I will not apologize for who I am.

    [Reply]

  5. Well, I’m disappointed Roger lost another final, but I suppose this one was in the cards, and it is honestly the result I expected beforehand. Djokovic is in his prime and he’s just too good on hard-court to “only” have one US Open title. Roger gave me hope when he won the second set, but he made it much harder for himself than it should have been to get that set. It was pure torture watching him piss away all those break points. When he lost the third set I felt it was all over. But I was still very pleased to see him fighting all the way to the end, and at least make Novak work hard for it.

    I tried my best to enjoy the match and not worry too much about the result, but of course that’s easier said than done. I didn’t even expect Federer to reach the final, based on results in last few years. But when you’re favourite player reaches another final, it’s very hard not to become emotionally invested. I was actually trembling at several points, and had to remind myself to enjoy the tennis and not worry about that which is beyond my control. He’s certainly had his time in the sunshine, and champions come and go.

    Actually I think there is plenty to be positive about for Roger fans. The fact that he manages to reach to GS finals and win Masters events at 34 of age is quiet an achievement. He is even still improving aspects of his game and playing better now than he has in a very long time. Some say he’s better now than he ever has been, but I take that with a pinch of salt. I would like to see some some solid proof before I believe that. But it certainly is very close to his best, and I hope I can still enjoy watching him play for some time.

    Congrats to Nole fans are in order, I suppose. Who knows how far he can get. Better make the most of it while you can, because you never know how many more moments like this there will be. He looks unstoppable now, but the best players always look unstoppable right before they start to fade. It will be interesting to see if he can get that elusive FO title.

    And I agree on what you said about the crowd, cheering when Djokovic missed a serve isn’t very flattering for Fedfans. Both acted very classy in the ceremony. They may seem kind of cold to each other, but there’s clearly a lot of respect and professionalism between the two even if they aren’t best buddies. It’s easily the best rivalry in the sport at the moment.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey BE, my sincere sympathies for the fact that your player lost. I know it must have been very tough to take. If Djokovic lost I would probably have taken it much harder than I thought I would. Bu take heart from the fact that Federer made the last two slam finals and is still playing at a very high level. There is really nothing to feel miserable about if you think about it. Anyway, I hope you get over the loss fast and continue to leave quality comments.

    [Reply]

  6. About the ELO points — usually, there is a margin of error +- x points, depending of the number of games the rating is based on. The different between Djokovic and Federer is irrelevant. But their respective peaks are the best ever, and since the ELO rating is based of the quality of opposition, those numbers contradicts clearly the thesis of a “weak era”.

    Time will show, but imho, we lately witnessed duels between the two best players ever. I watch tennis 40 years now, and I have never seen more complete, more clutch players. I can only write in superlatives about both Djokovic and Federer, and their breathtaking tennis (although Novak’s style isn’t that flamboyant).

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    So you’ve seen it. I agree with your last sentence. It is unbelievable how talented Federer is and how he was just standing on the baseline and half-volleying everything that came deep. Also the SABR and how early he takes the return. The pressure he put Djokovic under was astonishing which tells you something about Djokovic’s ability to absorb pressure.

    Unfortunately for Federer, clutchness and mental fortitude trumps flamboyance as Nadal and Djokovic have proven plenty of times against him.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Hey Mat4,

    Have you seen http://chessmetrics.com/? A statistician created it to show a newer statistical approach that he claims address some of the drawbacks of Arpad Elo’s approach…

    [Reply]

    mat4 Reply:

    Yes, Joe, since I’m a chess player myself.

    [Reply]

  7. Ru-an,

    I was very young when the ELO system was introduced in chess, and, in the time, it’s inherent flaws were in the focus of criticism. But such a system has also great advantages: it tries to weight the overall level of opposition, and to calibrate the achievements of players.

    In chess, where the career of players last longer and overlap, it’s much easier, of course. Then, there were a few technological shift in tennis, that shortened the winning days of players — at the beginning of the eighties (it was a process that lasted until a new generation grow up, in 1985), and another big shift started at the end of the nineties. Connors, JMac, even Borg paid the price of the first shift, Sampras of the second.

    Federer, who has learned to play and formed his future style before the introduction of luxilon strings, of new, bigger balls and the changes in the quality of courts (Jeff Sackman clearly proved that there are no convergence of surfaces, can give you the links of his analyses), was clearly hampered in his career by this. He didn’t understand it in time: he spend part of his best days without a coach, especially without a visionary coach, able to forecast the future changes in tennis. He understood that he had to adapt only in 2010, when, in such special circumstances, when his opposition were two of the best players ever, was perhaps too late.

    Although I have to write that Nadal, had he been a righty, would never had the career he had, and to add that I am quite certain that he is a cheater, the player that almost destroyed modern tennis with his ways, the match-up, in the conditions that were, was very unfavourable to Fed. And there, Federer never understood what he had to do: change racquet, first, to add consistency to his arsenal of shots. Change strings, to pressure Nadal’s backhand with more spin (but Fed’s grip here is not the best one for too much spin). And, especially, find patience, the most difficult thing of all. While in 2008, in the WB final, Fed stubbornly played the wrong way, in 2011, he had all the chances to win the FO final, but his will was already broken, and while he had the craft, he lacked the will.

    Enough about this digression, let’s get back to the ELO system. Time and time again, the argument of the “weak era” has been used to disqualify Fed’s — and now Novak’s — achievements. Fed played when the field was weak, and now, since he is ranked 2nd, the field should be logically weak too.

    Unfortunately, when the results are analysed in continuity, when consistency in results is taken in account, and not only wins in slams, and when the opposition week in, week out is weighted, we see that he level of opposition was higher in the 2000 then in the 1990. I repeat, the system can’t take in account injuries, recoveries, great oscillation in the form of some players, but remains more accurate than assessing the overall career of a player by only taking in account just one element. When I was younger, nobody cares about the number of slams: in 1980, only two tournaments were “majors”: Wimbledon and the USO. Rome was a bigger tournament than the AO, and, for a time, than the FO too.

    A detour on the wiki page about the ATP records shows that Federer and Djokovic tops almost all the categories. This homogeneity has a value. ELO tries to quantify it. It’s not perfect, but it is a fresh angle, and it merits attention.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the information Mat. I do find this ELO method interesting and if my friend Cornel rates it then I believe it must have value. The fact that they have Djokovic and Federer at the top sounds accurate anyway. Of course, Djokovic still needs to win the FO. You can argue he was very unlucky there and there are way too many variables involved to know anything for certain, but obviously winning that career slam would make his career look that much more complete.

    And I think he will win it. If he does that he will be well on his way to GOAThood. This second USO was huge as well. One USO was not enough for someone with his hard court abilities. If he can pick up one more USO perhaps, two more AO titles, a FO, and another Wimby that would put him right up there. And he can end with positive h2h’s against all his big rivals if Nadal isn’t a coward as usual and keeps avoiding him.

    [Reply]

  8. hi,

    I didn’t get to watch the full match as I had to work (living in a different Timezone altogether). However, I checked the live score and it was nerve wrecking.

    Being a Federer fan, I always root for him to win. As you said, the first few games set the tone; The moment Fed struggled with his serve on the 2nd game, I knew the chance of him winning will be slim. Like you said,Doker had created a mental block on Fed on a big stage like GS final since the loss of Wimbledon 2014. He just wasn’t himself and you can see from his body language. It’s frustrating to see as a fan , more so against someone he used to own in his dominant years.

    Considering how convincing Fed had beaten Doker in the Cinnanti final and rest of the 6 matches he played in the U.S. Open; he just couldn’t bring in the goods.its not that Fed was playing badly, but he just wasn’t able to break when many opportunities were presented to him.

    Instead of coming serve and volley frequently, Fed resort to play back from the baseline which tire him out and lose most of the rallies. He had to recognise Novak is a different beast altogether from rest of then players in the field just like how Nadal was. His strategy didn’t work in Wimbledon , and the same in hard courts.

    I have to accept Fed could stuck with 17 GS unless he didn’t have to play Doker in the final.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey IWC, yes Federer does have mental problems in big matches against players who are clutch. We’ve seen it plenty of times against Djokovic and Nadal in slam finals. This hurts his GOAT claim. I thought Federer was playing incredibly well and put an unbelievable amount of pressure on Djokovic, and yet he was not clutch enough to win the points that really mattered. It’s a shame but like I said he is still playing very well.

    [Reply]

  9. Found this about the crowd abuse in NY and Federer supporters in general. Very interesting and insightful post. Like I said I had to switch off the sound most of the time due to Jensen’s disturbing crush on Federer so I missed a lot of it.

    http://www.menstennisforums.com/showpost.php?p=31920945&postcount=222

    [Reply]

    mat4 Reply:

    Yolita wrote that post.

    Yolita and jane from T-x are the best nolefans around for years. I remember when there were only a few of us rooting for Novak a few years ago, when we have to explain that Novak fitness was at the top in 2009 already (and in 2007), when we had to explore and understand the use of hypobarric chambers (Hewitt, Stosur, Nadal, use them) to prove that the “egg” wasn’t something isolated, and that Novak was just fool enough to mention it, etc. I had even to calculate the distance covered in the AO final in 2012, and to explain how weight impacts stamina and resilience to make clear why Novak always wins long matches against Murray.

    Was a long fight, full of exasperation: Novak was the designated villain, the man everybody rooted against, because he didn’t represent enough money in the IMG market assessments.

    Yolita was always there, writing sensible posts, always rooting for Novak. I hope she will start posting here too.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    We just met on Twitter and she said she would read my post when she has time, so maybe she will also post here :-)

    [Reply]

  10. It’s interesting that you say the international ESPN was very pro-Federer.

    Here in Canada we got the regular American ESPN coverage and I think the commentating team were actually more on Djokovic’s side. The ‘play-by-play’ guy Chris Fowler was clearly angry at the crowd. He kept saying they were “out of order” and sounded sad when he said later that Djokovic may never experience a major victory with the crowd on his side. (Earlier in the tournament a different play by play commentator, Mike Tirico, sounded a bit agitated at Djokovic’s lack of support at the slams). John McEnroe was more critical than normal of Federer’s errors last night, especially when his forehand went AWOL. At the end McEnroe almost sounded like he was pleading with viewers to embrace Djokovic calling him either “the nicest guy” or “the greatest guy” – I can’t remember which. Of course, it’s been obvious for a couple of years now that Djokovic is McEnroe’s favourite player.

    ESPN taking over the US rights are probably to thank for the improved schedule this year – Super Saturday was a CBS thing, and playing the first round in two days instead of stretching it to three. With the roof next year we should have seen our last rain delayed final. So now it is up to Roland Garros to catch up or at least make sure the scoreboards don’t collapse.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Andrew, thanks for that information. I do know that Mac and Fowler if infinitely better than Jensen even though they can be annoying too. Jensen is just really bad in every way. The reason I criticized ESPN has a lot to do with the way they show tennis as well. They jump around too much on their challenged and is very biased towards Americans, which is understandable but not enjoyable. I usually watch tennis on streams if I can, but the TV has a better picture which is why I watched the SF and F on TV.

    [Reply]

  11. Agree with your sentiments about crowds at Open and how inferior it is as a major to the others ((haven’t been to Oz, but heard nothing but praise for it). I don’t go to NY now after regular attendance for a lifetime – even t youth I’m in Boston it’s just not fun: way to crowded, way too expensive, way to much pompous rss and ceremony – the typical American exceptional ism and self promotion. Next to it, Indian Wells is a dreamland and a true leisure for fans in spite of what can be some hot weather. Players also love it.
    At IW, among others I’ve seen up close and personal on and off court over the years, Joker has become a favorite. Outside the lines, he seems a very caring and compassionate individual, not self-absorbed and into his own image. I love his discipline and his defiant spirit on court, which has qualities of true greatness. That he is playing in a most competitive era adds to his greatness, and I hope he goes on to win many others. He earthly could, given the paucit of up and coming contenders (only 1 player in the Race top 10 is younger, Kei, who’s yet to
    Reproduce his form of last year and may never win a major. 4 other younger men make the top 20, counting Tomic, tied for 20th in The Race. None have the potential to win a major any time soon, let along dominate their era.
    I am also an avid Fed fan because I love his game as do millions of others. He has raised the level of everyone else and continued to improve. At 34 his skills and movement are sharper than ever, but the greatest champion’s killer instinct is diminished by age. That’s what you and other detractors forget. He’s already won everything and had his day. He is beautiful to watch and creates that fabulous tension and excitement which cause all of us to care, to watch and – yes – even causes some to misbehave. Joker handles it well, to his great credit.
    As to GOAT and wishing Fed would retire if he can’t win majors, who cares? We’ll all be dead way before arguing something stupid is ever going to stop. It’s like arguing over peace in the Middle East. Not happening in our life times. Sorry. And tragic. Such is life. Enjoy the beauty, and there is no player whose execution is as graceful as Fed.
    I’ll end with an analogy which I hope suggests why what Fed does with a racquet and his body seems to have the widest appeal. You must have watched a professional squash match, or? As violently as they can hit the ball, and as quick as they are, they always seem to arrive in the corners as if they have all the time in the world. It is the seeming miracle of training, anticipation, a fast first step and the ability to stop completely and sometimes pause before they execute a shot. It defies belief.
    Against, that, I would compare the movement style of Joker (and Nadal and Murray – all supreme movers and just as amazing a making shots no one thinks anyone could get to) to an animated cartoon character whose final preach to the ball happens is a blurry swoosh to the point of impact. In slo-mo, I know they maintain their balance and hold theirs as still as necessary to execute ‘on the run’, but it is not the impression they give. Their style looks like hard work, whereas Fed’s looks like fun.,one weightless, the othe weighty.
    I for one will never tire of seeing him play and wish he stays around as long as he loves it and can bring joy and inspire others to want to play and emulate him.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Great comment Rick. I am still a fan of Federer too. I always loved his game. These days I’m not necessarily that crazy about him as a person, though. I just like Djokovic better. Federer for all his grace and beautiful tennis has also shown that he has mental shortcomings against players with true mental strength. His mental fortitude and clutch is lacking in comparison to these guys.

    So you say it’s because he is past his prime but I don’t agree. His so-called peak was in an era where he didn’t play mentally really great players. Roddick, Safin, Hewitt, Davydenko, Agassi, Nalbandian, Gonzalez, etc. Nadal gave him problems since the start. Now Djokovic. And we have heard plenty of times from him and other that he is now playing his best tennis.

    [Reply]

  12. I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy reading your and others comments on this blog, you put a lot of energy and effort in maintaining it, but I must admit that the speed you’ve changed its scope, from a blog dedicated to Roger the GOAT to a more general tennis blog took my breath away for some time. Now I understand that this transition is actually a form of SABR (sneak attack by Ruan) :-) )
    All the best and keep up the good work by continuing to comment tennis for tennis lovers.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha Sneak Attack By Ruan I love that! Thanks, Mishel I appreciate it. I think my blog followed tennis in general since the beginning but, of course, I was quite biased towards Federer as well.

    [Reply]

  13. Ruan,

    Great analysis on the match. I have been reading your blog for last 5 years now. I have been a Novak fan from 2007 when he lost US open to Fed. Fed is the GOAT for many reasons like consistency, elegance and making it look easy. Novak is picking up slowly but steadily towards joining the GOAT group. I could not watch the match from 3rd set because of the crowd. I would have been equally happy if Fed won 18 and actually thought he was slightly the favorite. But after seeing the crowd behaving so bad, I wanted djokovic to win this one. Fed earned his respect and crowd but he was lucky because the media made him crowds favorite by constantly portraying him as a PeRFect man. I wish one day novak gets his due cheers. But it does not matter as long as he keeps winning.

    Just a thought for Fed hardcore fans….. I see some people are leaving the blog just because Ruan is supporting Novak recently. I am really surprised seeing that, I have read his blog so many times for the analysis on tennis even though it was little biased for Federer those days. It never stopped me from reading every single article on this blog even when it used to be all about Fed. Start being rational and enjoy tennis. I agree its hard when player we like follow loses. Fed’s going to be back soon playing some charismatic tennis.

    There are many real tennis fans who will never quit reading this blog. So please keep writing…

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hey Sasi, possibly the best comment I ever received from anyone. Thank you so much. Look, as a Djokovic fan I don’t mind being underappreciated. Popularity I think is for insecure people. Was Jesus popular? No, he was hated and got crucified. Usually, people who make real and lasting contributions to the world are not popular. Not at the beginning anyway.

    Later people may realize how right they were, but people always resist change at the beginning. That is just the nature of human beings. All the people who made big breakthroughs in any field were ridiculed at the beginning. But they weren’t deterred because they knew what they were doing and had true inner strength.

    It’s fine if people criticize and ridicule me. I am not deterred. I just want to be true to myself and do the best writing and analysis I can. Having loads of readers, comments, many FB likes, etc are all nice but if that is all you are about you are just an insecure clown who doesn’t really know a damn thing about tennis.

    [Reply]

  14. Ruan,
    I like tennis because of Roger. When I found your blog, it was really great to read all your posts.
    Yesterday Fed lost to a better man. But who can argue about it? Roger is 34. Nobody but Roger tried to stop Djoko. Nobody else. So, a but unfair for an old man. But the battle was close anyway.
    I support Roger, when either he wins or losses. This is what real supporters do. I thought you supported Roger. Big mistake.
    There are plenty of tennis analysts everywhere. Plenty of Djoko supporters to. I know you support Djoko, but then you better change your name to Ruan Djokovic. It is not fair for Roger’s supporters that you are called Ruan Federer. I know everyone is free to write or read anything. Anyone is free is change teams. But there are some people like me, who like tennis because of Roger, and that support Roger despite the circumstances. Of course it is not nice when he lost, but we accept it.
    I then better find other posts about pure tennis or about Roger. I personally had never like Djoko (especially those habits of ripping your shirt or pumping your chest like a gorilla). I prefer all Roger’s style because it is what I am use to. So, long story short: congrats for your change of mind. I know you love tennis and you know a lot about it. But I prefer when is about Roger in particular. So, I will say bye bye Ruan Federer.
    I still stand by Roger, as a winner or a loser. And so do others.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    ‘ Nobody but Roger tried to stop Djoko. Nobody else. So, a but unfair for an old man. ‘

    All depends on how you look at it, Carolina. The way I see it, nobody but Djokovic tried to stop Roger. The other guys all folded like cheap tents while RBA and Lopez gave Djokovic plenty to think about.

    I don’t think it was a mistake to support Djokovic. I think it showed insight and intelligence and that it is admirable. I should be praised for it not criticized. Again, it depends on how you look at it. The way I see it you made the mistake by supporting Roger. He’s the one who lost the last two slam finals to Djokovic, isn’t he? Big mistake.

    Anyway, I’m glad for you that you stand by Roger and enjoy it. Just to make it clear I never was Ruan Federer. My last name is not Federer, and it won’t be Djokovic.

    [Reply]

  15. An interesting link with a lot of meaningful stats

    http://secondserb.blogspot.rs/

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Mat. That was good reading. It also cleared up for me the most ranking points as I thought Djokovic had already surpassed Fed’s 2006 season in that regard. That’s not the case, but he has the most ranking points ever over a 52-week period. And I think he could even top Fed’s 2006 season. He needs 3400 out of 4000 points which I think is possible.

    [Reply]

    mat4 Reply:

    It also allows to understand the ELO rating thing, where consistency, wins against top opposition, etc. counts more than the official rank of the tournament. We can see in the tables that Fed’s, Novak’s consistency, and even Rafa’s in his best years, are simply outstanding.

    E.g., with rating a win against a top player in the QF of an ATP 250 has the same weight as the same win in the semi of a slam. A balanced view take both things in account — winning a slam is not the same thing as winning an ATP 1000 or ATP 500.

    But how can we assess if an era was weak, or the top players simply too dominant in a strong era? Here, continuity matters, the overlapping of different generations. I wrote that it is easier to gauge in chess, where players play longer and their careers overlap more, but still, since the system is not limited to only a few players, enough links can be made. They are not a 100% reliable (the decline of older players was pretty fast), but with enough players taken in account, it is fairly representative.

    [Reply]

  16. Congrats Novak! Finally another US Open Title and a second 3-Slam season! Starting to make his way into the pantheon of greats and eventually get his deserved recognition. The crowd was as expected really – full of fanatics from the Federer and Nadal fanbase rooting for Federer, who played well but missed out on several opportunities. No doubt he’ll reassess things and keep trying for an 18th – it’s difficult to keep the motivation going at that stage, and the nervousness stems from not having won a Slam in 3 years.
    Djokovic has a target to aim at here, and he’s not going to stop now – he’s chipping away at Nadal and I can see him adding a couple of Slams next year. If he wins the WTF without losing a match, I think this becomes one of the best ever seasons (probably just behind Laver’s 1969 or 1962)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good stuff Krish. Nice to have you here :-bd

    [Reply]

  17. I was typing a really long detailed post and then closed it so I’ll just say thanks to you Ru-an for dismissing the biased fans and writing a good analytical piece. Given Djokovic’s attitude after the match and his handling of the crowd situation he is now officially my 2nd favourite player (used to be 3rd favourite, I had Murray in 2nd place on patriotic grounds, over here in the UK you really feel pressurised by the media to put Murray in your top 2 but fuck that).

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Did you close your comment by accident or on purpose, Charlie? I love your comments so that’s a shame, but thanks for this comment!

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    It was an accident, screw Google Chrome lol (there is an X in the corner of each tab that closes it). Fortunately I had only written about 2-3 paragraphs, only about 10-15 minutes worth of thinking and typing.
    Your post reminds me to another type of fan I hate. Bandwagoners. You know the people who started to support Federer in 2006? Or Nadal in 2008? Or Djokovic in 2011? If you read the tennis articles at the moment you would think Novak was the GOAT. After the Wawrinka match Federer was given the same treatment. Then one match later when he loses he is suddenly no longer good enough and is running out of time to win more majors? Amazing how short some people’s memories are. Novak does have a great shot at winning another 3-4 slams, but I would be reluctant to predict his chances even 1 year from now. That is how fast things can change.

    Anyway I guess I am starting to write my long post anyway, but in a slightly different way. Just 1 year from now we are possibly looking at three or four scenarios: continued Djokovic domination, the resurgence of one or more of the other Big Four members in the form of winning a slam, perhaps another couple of one-off slam wins (Isner, Berdych, Tsonga anyone?) or maybe someone completely new will suddenly burst onto the scene like Nadal in 2005. Looking forward to the indoor season and particularly the start of the new season.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I know what you mean about the X in the corner of Firefox. Why I don’t use it. You are right things change fast. Just enjoying this moment :-)

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    As well you should Ru-an, as well you should. Personally my big hope for Federer now is a solid indoor season so he can end at no.2 and hopefully keep that slot for the AO. And eventually I do believe that he will have a good match against Djokovic in a slam final and win again if he keeps making the finals. Or alternatively he could have someone else upset Djokovic (e.g. Murray) and then he becomes the big favourite. There is a third option: replace Djokovic’s gluten free food with gluten-containing food the night before the final. Guaranteed win.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Haha. It is nice to have him in the mix still Charlie, that is for sure. Djokerer matches have always been great entertainment. Whether he can beat Djoker in a slam final is doubtful, but I guess not impossible. To win another slam it is highly likely that Djokovic must lose before the final. And time is not on Fed’s side. I think it’s just great that he is still around and playing as well as he is.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    Still plenty to play for this year as well, I’m hoping for Federer to win at least one of the final Masters 1000 tournaments and possibly the World Tour Finals (or at least reach the final). Both him and Novak have a historically good record indoors so there should be some more fireworks there. I just wish the WTF was best of 5 sets and it would feel more like a slam. Or at least the finals and semifinals should be best of 5.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes, I can’t wait for the indoor season, Charlie. Certainly Federer has a legit shot at winning another Masters this year. Shanghai will be very interesting. It’s the same surface as the US Open so another Djokerer final would be interesting. I wish they would play BO5 in Masters final again too, not only WTF finals. Federer is playing very well anyway and historically he has done very well in the indoor season.

    So it will be interesting to see if can maybe get a win over Djokovic again. The WTF surface has been slowed down a lot lately so I definitely like Djokovic’s chances there. As you said in your previous comment I think he has a good shot at the best year ever. He is the king of Asia and we will see if he skips Paris.

    [Reply]

    Charlie Reply:

    To be honest perhaps a slower court match would favour Federer. Less expectation and less pressure. The feeling of pressure like he was expected to win seemed to haunt him at WB and USO this year. Perhaps a match in the WTF on a slower surface with less at stake would allow him to regain his confidence against Djokovic. Remember Borg could never beat McEnroe at the USO (where Borg was considered to be the favourite on paper) and the opposite was true at Wimbledon where McEnroe was considered to be the better grass-court player. Weirder things have happened.

    [Reply]

  18. Those piled up unforced errors, inability to pounce on break point opportunities, we’ve seen it before many times from Roger, most importantly in some gs finals when the stake is at absolute high, notably RG 2007, Aus open 2009 to name a few. However, the real concern is Roger’s fh has some sting it used to have, he can’t create enough angles or paint the lines consistently (or importantly in big points), also bh slice seems to float up there just for djokovic to pounce, but perhaps this is the price he pays for the racquet switch in order to get an improved bh, to compensate some lost steps. However, I hope he finds improvement even at the age of 34, so may there will be chance of a gs title as long as he physically and mentally remains in shape. But for me, it will look like a last missed opportunity if nadal comes to the mix strongly again, which can be the case come next season clay court swing.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes it is the price he pays for the racquet change MJ.

    [Reply]

  19. In the end, I think this was a final that both players can look back on with some pride.

    Just generating break chances against Djokovic is a difficult ask these days, not only b/c of his serve but also because of how well he follows up his serve with his very complete game. I wonder how many break points Djokovic had to face before the final.

    Some may say that Roger couldn’t convert break points well b/c of mental issues, but converting against Djokovic is even harder than generating break points; he’s a man who brushes aside most tennis players with bagels and bread-sticks.

    These two players walked over all the opposition on their way to the final, and locked horns in a very physical battle.

    Btw, I have to say that I am sorry that Roger had to play in wetter and colder conditions in the Wimbledon and US Open finals, but that’s tennis. You have to play with the cards you are dealt. In other conditions he might have won one of those finals, but that’s just speculation and it doesn’t matter.

    I thought Roger was mentally engaged during the entire match, but that Djokovic’s physical game was more than he could handle. But I thought Roger was mentally very tough. And I was very inspired at how he almost earned two breaks back in the fourth, when there was no margin for error. I can’t say enough about how great that was in my eyes. 147 points to 145 is also something Roger can be proud of. He hit a lot of winners too, but too bad about the UEs, mostly from the forehand.

    Roger didn’t really blink; he was determined and focused throughout the match (ok, everyone blinks a little). Djokovic’s superior fitness was the difference from my perspective. He managed to keep Roger back a lot of the time too, which forced Roger to run more than in any other match, and tired him out. That baseline game also forced Roger to choose some high-risk plays to try to stem the tide.

    I think that’s one reason Roger was misfiring on his forehand; not getting his feet down and placed correctly due to fatigue. Maybe Roger should take more time between serves when he’s playing Djokovic, because of the brutal pace Djokovic can sustain, even though he prefers to play quickly against other players.

    Another note: As an American, I often cheer for Americans in international sports, but not always. Serena is a huge exception to that pattern, for example; whoever she is playing, I’ll cheer for that other player. And I was very pleased to see how warmly the American crowd embraced Roberta Vinci after she beat Serena, and even during the match when she asked for some crowd support.

    But it was shameful behavior of the people present at the men’s final to cheer when Djokovic would miss a serve. Many in the crowd behaved atrociously. Not Roger’s fault, of course.

    I had the impression during the trophy presentation, that Djokovic was still hurt by the crowd’s poor sportsmanship; did anyone else?

    And it’s very sad that something like that would diminish his satisfaction for a job very well done. Nevertheless, it shows a great deal of class for him to have spoken in such a complimentary and professional way about Roger and everyone else during a moment like that. And I would like to apologize to the world for the behavior of the Americans.

    The best way for Djokovic to win the crowd, of course, is to praise Roger – even more than he has, and he’s done that a lot already, for example by calling Roger the greatest on a number of occasions – and say that he is inspired by Roger’s example to become better himself, that his struggles with Roger will be treasures he’ll never forget, that they made him a better player, that sort of thing. And it will still take some time, but the best way to get crowd support is to be a Federer Fan himself.

    Djokovic is a not only a worthy champion, and not only world number one – those things don’t say enough about him. Even calling him one of the best ever may not say enough.

    So I’m looking forward to watching him develop and improve even more, just as I’m looking forward to seeing some great tennis from Roger.

    Best to all.

    [Reply]

    Bharata Reply:

    Yes Joe I agree completely, Djokovic looked a bit reproachful during the ceremony, because he was hurt a bit by it. But I guess people like the underdog and do not like to see older stars fade as they inevitably must. No storybook ending here.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment from you as usual Joe. Sorry about Fed.

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  20. Great piece, Ruan. A very fine mixture of facts, opinion/commentary and sharing of personal experiences. A very good read.
    You definitely suffered much more than I did. For some reason, I was very confident before this match. I never bought into the SABR gimmick and I had already seen Roger look wonderful against lesser opponents only to lose to Novak in Wimbledon. So I was all zen before the match. I did get worried in the third set, when Novak looked a little weary, fighting not only Federer and the crowd, but also his inner demons.
    I have the feeling that this was a much more important victory than it meets the eye. Novak fought everything he had to fight and came out unscathed at the end. This may be a cornerstone in his career.
    I have been a Nole fan since 2005. I never thought it would last 10 years… And now it seems we’re in for another 5 at least!
    How lucky are we?

    [Reply]

    mat4 Reply:

    Hi, Yolita. Glad you’ve found that site. Ru-an personally answers to most of the posters, it’s a place for argumented and convivial discussions.

    Hope you will post on T-x soon too.

    I wrote a blog post in French here —

    https://lapinroyal.wordpress.com/

    but I just got in a dispute with a Sampras’ fan who didn’t like my stats from SecondSerb and the Carl Bialik rating list (you can find them above), and I feel too old for this.

    Of course, the title was quite fitting: “This is Sparta!”

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Yolita and the answer is we are very lucky!! I was getting worried in the second set as well and in the last game of the match. But maybe it had to do with the fact that I had the sound off for Jensen and didn’t hear all the shit the crowd gave him. He looked uncharacteristically nervous, but I also figured it was because of all that was at stake.

    Before you said it I had the feeling that this was a cornerstone win for him and it was incredibly difficult. I’m really happy for him and as a fan. And it’s great to have a long time and loyal fan like you commenting here!

    [Reply]

  21. Well i am disappointed with the outcome, but it is what it is. However looking at the stats, Federer was better in everything but total points (2 different as you said) and the miserable 4/23 vs 6/13 on break points. But that means he was in a few more of Djokovic’s service game but no doubt choked (and also due to great play by Djokovic). Aces – 11 to 3, Winners-Errors: +2 vs -2 in favour of Federer. Even the ‘SABR’ was 4/6 or something although Fed was too tentative on break points. Note that Federer covered more ground than Djokovic as well which added to his tiredness (good play from Djokovic to move him around from the baseline).

    The key moment came in the 3rd set at 4-4, Federer had 2 (or 3?) break points and failed to take it. Then I knew it was over. At 5-2 in the 4th Federer had nothing to lose and played freer going for more aggression. As usual he failed to convert another 2 break points. But he would have lost anyway in the 5th.

    Yes DJokovic won, but he is playing a 34 year old here when most people are done at 30. Anyone could see Federer had lost the spring in his step by the middle of the 3rd . All this hype about him playing ‘better than ever’ is media nonsense, obviously. You can’t compare his movement to the forehand side to what is was even 5 years ago. Sometimes he just watched Djokovic hit shots by him without even running by the 4th set.

    Thus I can’t conclude that this proves Djokovic owns Federer in the matchup…that is like saying Federer owns Agassi because he beat a 35 year old Agassi in the US Open 2005 final or whenever it was. Yes Agassi was playing well but the level of fitness is not there. The fast-twitch muscles are gone by then. The head to head is 21-21 and that sums it up. Djokovic has done much better recently in a best of 5 but that is no surprise. When a 34 year old Djokovic starts beating a 28 year old Coric or whoever is the No. 1 in 6 years, that would be a different story.

    However clearly Dokovic is the toughest mentally of the two, and maybe who has ever played the game. How he saves all those break points is amazing. They are not just from errors off Federer.

    I also agree that Federer is paying the price for staying on too long. He can still comfortably say he is No.2 in the world though, which is amazing. Maybe he can hope Stan finishes off Djokovic and then try to sneak in a Slam.

    Also (probably because the loss stings a bit sorry :)) while I like how you switched the focus of the blog to all tennis, and it should focus on Djokovic, who is clearly the cutting edge now, it might be slightly veering into a fan blog , which is what you wanted to avoid . This is because it sounds like you were as invested in Djokovic winning as I was in rooting for Federer (!).

    But anyway I come here because the analysis is always good, I don’t mind reading about how great Djokovic is as long as it doesn’t become fanatical. Even when it was a Federer blog, it was never ‘fanatical’ either, which is good.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, Bharata I know where you are coming from. I think we understand each other well. I admit to bias and so do you and there is no problem. Djokovic is my favorite player, but I cover tennis in general.

    I have to say I do think Federer is known to fold mentally in big matches and that it is not because of age. It’s happened since AO 2009, or you could argue Wimby 2008. Since Nadal really started challenging him and even now while still playing at a very high level it is happening against Djokovic too.

    I don’t think Federer is playing much worse than in his prime. If not better. I just think Djokovic is better.

    [Reply]

    Bharata Reply:

    Thanks Run-an. Looking at some other commets it’s true Federer is not so mentally clutch – I can’t deny it. He let AO 2009 and US 2009 go for nothing, and arguably had the calendar slam right there.

    I tried to read the blog yesterday and today and thought you had shut it off temporarily on purpose becaue of the deluge of Federer fans venting their anger…glad ot see everything is back to normal.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Bharata, as always you are extremely objective and balanced. The 2009 AO and USO are prime examples of Fed’s mental issues. He should never have lost either and completed the calendar slam. I guess he became complacent, and now Djokovic is in with a shot at surpassing him.

    Sorry about the blog downtime. And no it was not because of the desperate Fedfans. If I could help it would never have happened.

    [Reply]

  22. You have changed , 180 degrees Mr Ruan. Fedfan or not, Djokerfan or not I just don’t trust people whose allegiance to teams and sporting heroes changes with form and emergence of new ones. These are the kind of people who keep on divorcing their spouses every time a better looking woman or man shows up. Also, these are the kind of people who never achieve much because they keep jumping from project to project as new projects appear. Simply put, I have no regard for people who like to reap where they did not sole. You enjoyed the wins Federer had in his prime but you do not want to endure the loses he is having with him right now. May I take this opportunity to ask you to delete me from your mailing list Mr Ruan. No hurt feelings, just trying my best to be honest. Thank you.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Consider yourself deleted :-)

    [Reply]

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