US Open Final: Djokovic Beats Nadal in 6th Straight Final 6-2, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1

How great was that?! I’m not gonna lie. It gives me immense pleasure whenever Nadal loses, especially in a slam final. I guess it is that competitive streak in me since I was a tennis player myself. It is not something everyone would understand. Of course being a Fedfan myself contributes to it, but there is just something about Nadal that makes me enjoy his losses greatly. That doesn’t mean I don’t respect him. Some Fedfans just flat out hate Nadal. I don’t. As long as he is on the court it is game on and I want to see him destroyed. But I am not afraid to say that he showed incredible fight in this match and that I respect that. I mean Nadal was simply being outplayed again by Djokovic in the first two sets. In the first set he actually got the break early on to take a 2-0 lead. The wind was blowing early on and I think that worked in his favor.

But Djokovic soon got it together and reeled off six straight games to win the first set. I wasn’t worried in the first set. When Djokovic broke back to make it 2-2 I already tweeted that the match was all over. Djokovic is just that much of a problem opponent for Nadal these days. He has nowhere to go. But despite that Nadal kept up the fight in the second set. Again he got the break to take a 2-0 lead, and after a brutal game with some energy sapping rallies Djokovic got the break back once more. Nadal then got broken once more and another 6-2 set was staring Nadal in the face after getting the break early on again. It must have been demoralizing for Nadal. Yet he fought on and got the break back, only to get broken again at 4-5. Nadal went down two sets to love and could have easily gone away.

The rallies were absolutely brutal and I thought he must be getting tired and demoralized. But he still fought on and broke back Djokovic as he was serving for the match at 6-5 in the third. There were one or two rallies in this match which was absolutely unheard of. As usual Nadal’s defense was beyond anything the imagination can conceive of. Just the fact that he was still able to hang in there with all the running he was doing was mind boggling. He started hitting harder and played more attacking tennis, which in the end won him the third set. I could hardly believe that Nadal was able to pull it off. For the first time in the match I got nervous, especially after seeing Djokovic pull up with a back problem. He barely held serve in the first game of the fourth set and his back seemed to bother him a lot.

This was not good news at all. Would Nadal get the win through a retirement? Djokovic then called for a medical time out. His back appeared better afterwards and the MTO seemed to distract Nadal as he only won one more game afterwards. You got the sense that it was bad karma for him after all those MTO’s he took in his career and disrupted opponent’s rhythm with it. At the beginning of the fourth set I thought Nadal could actually come back and win the match, but the brutally physical third set had obviously taken it’s toll on him. He was losing intensity and Djokovic was once again hitting his stride, pounding winners from the base line. It was beautiful to see. I mean seriously, for how long can a guy keep running down physically unreachable balls like superman without tiring? Something simply had to give.

It was intensely satisfying to see Nadal with his endless moonballing and relentless retrieving simply getting outplayed by Djokovic again. And it was a 6th straight final and a 2nd straight slam final. I mean the ownage is just getting worse for Nadal. Quality wise it was a high quality match, although very different from the Federer/Djokovic semi. The brand of tennis was very different. It is interesting because Roger and Nadal is kind of at opposite ends of the spectrum concerning game style. Roger plays a high risk, first strike type of tennis, while Nadal plays a low risk, counter punching kind of tennis. Djokovic on the other hand can play both. He is great in defense as well as offense. So when Djokovic plays Roger the match takes the shape of skillful attacking tennis, and when he plays Nadal it becomes a physical war from behind the base line.

Clearly I prefer highly skillful, attacking tennis over endless grinding from the base line. I am not implying one is better than the other. It is merely a matter of preference. I’d say the first two sets of the final was not that interesting. Towards the end of the second set and in the third set there was some great intensity and rallies. Seeing two guys leaving it all out there physically and playing some great base line rallies was still good entertainment. But the Federer/Djokovic semi was better drama and more worthy of being the final. In the final you always pretty much knew Djokovic was gonna take it, but in the epic semi there was a plot twist deep in the fifth set when Djokovic came back from two match points down. So once again 30-year-old Roger fared better against Djokovic than Nadal did. It once again comes down to match up.

For years now Nadal fans have harped on the fact that Roger can’t be GOAT because of his head-to-head with Nadal, and now it is coming back to haunt them. I doubt Roger have ever lost to Nadal in six straight finals, including two slam finals. Nadal is well and truly owned by Djokovic, and he doesn’t seem to be making any headway in figuring out a way to beat him. He just hasn’t got anywhere to go against Djokovic. To beat Djokovic you must be able to play incredible first strike tennis like Roger. You gotta have a great serve, great volleys, a great slice, and be able to take the ball early. Djokovic is a good match up for Roger because he has all these things. Nadal doesn’t have a great serve, great volleys, or a great slice, and neither can he take the ball very early. He just isn’t a naturally attacking player.

So I don’t see how he will solve Djokovic. He tried slicing a lot against Djokovic and then he tried to be more attacking in the fourth. It worked somewhat but it just wasn’t enough. Roger has similar match up problems with Nadal because he is left handed and he uses his forehand to break down Roger’s one-handed backhand. That is why I think head-to-head is overrated in determining a GOAT. This is something Sampras has brought up himself, but was his main rival a difficult match up for him? No. There were guys like Krajicek who had winning records over Sampras. Had Krajicek been his main rival he could have ended up with a negative dominating head-to-head against Sampras. Nadal is now finding out what it is like to have a bad match up with his main rival. He has gone from 9-2 in slam finals at the beginning of the year to 10-4 at the end of the year.

This will only continue to get worse for him if he keeps facing Djokovic in slam finals. In some ways Roger losing to Djokovic was not as bad as it first seemed. Having seen Nadal play in the final I still feel it would have been extremely hard for Roger to beat him. Nadal was actually playing very well. It is just that Djokovic is playing very well himself and matches up well with Nadal. It would be an insult to Roger to say he would have lost for sure to Nadal, but I feel it would have been very hard for him taking into account the match up issue. Nadal’s retrieving was as mind boggling as ever. He would have made it extremely hard for Roger. Especially since even the US Open courts have been slowed down this year. Just when you think they cannot possibly slow more courts down they go ahead and do it.

So after the final result I am totally fine with Roger’s loss, even though it hurt so badly at the time. I have already forgotten about it. If Roger had beaten Djokovic and lost to Nadal in the final he would have lost the career slam to Nadal in slam finals, and Nadal would have have come one slam closer to Roger’s record. Instead Nadal got owned even more by Djokovic and his slam record has worsened in finals. You have to respect Nadal for the fact that he keeps making finals with the prospect of losing to Djokovic. It is just not in his mental make up to back off from any challenge, but this may also be his downfall. If he keeps stubbornly making finals and losing to Djokovic, it will ruin his record in finals and he will start to be owned in the head-to-head. By the way I have changed my mind somewhat about what happened with R0ger against Djokovic.

Yes, I am allowed to change my mind sometimes. I do not think that Roger was thinking ahead at possibly facing Nadal at all. I think everything changed when Djokovic hit that brutal return winner on the first match point. I think that shook Roger up and he lost it from there. It showed in his presser after the match as well:

Q.  Could you hit a much better serve for the return he hit that winner?

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, much better.  I didn’t hit the best serve.  But it’s just the way he returns that.  It’s just not — a guy who believes much, you know, anymore in winning.  Then to lose against someone like that, it’s very disappointing, because you feel like he was mentally out of it already. Just gets the lucky shot at the end, and off you go.

Q.  When a guy hits a shot like that forehand on match point, is that a function of luck, of risk, or is it a function of confidence that someone would make kind of…

ROGER FEDERER:  Confidence?  Are you kidding me?  I mean, please.  Look, some players grow up and play like that.  I remember losing junior matches.  Just being down 5 2 in the third, and they all just start slapping shots.  It all goes in for some reason, because that’s the kind of way they grew up playing when they were down. I never played that way.  I believe in hard work’s gonna pay off kinda thing, because early on maybe I didn’t always work at my hardest.  So for me, this is very hard to understand how can you play a shot like that on match point.  But, look, maybe he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very normal.  You’ve got to ask him.

It doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines and realize that Djokovic’s return on match point really shook Roger up. He didn’t do a good job of talking about it in the press afterwards. He seemed irritated in the presser and tried to downplay the return. This is a clear sign that it got to him. So in the end it was just pure brilliance from Djokovic that made the difference. There is a reason he has lost only one match so far and won three slams this year. And that is that the guy is simply a freak. He is coming very close to topping Roger’s 2006 season now. I don’t see how he can ever come close to Roger’s consistency at the top, but this year has been out of this world. You just have to say too good.

So in the end I know that Roger’s loss was very painful, but it may just have been a blessing in disguise. And as I said, I don’t think Roger was worried about facing Nadal in the final either. I am overall very happy with this US Open. As at the French Open, Roger showed some tremendous from and he lost to the better player. It was not so much that he choked either. When you have a player down like that and they come up with a return like that it is normal that it would shake you up. You just gotta say too good and move on. It would still have been a disappointing US Open if Nadal had won the final, but since Djokovic did his job I can’t help but feel satisfied. Roger proved once again that he is still right there with the top players in the world. Sure he did not win a slam this year, but he is after all 30 and is still playing amazing tennis for that age.

I don’t think Roger’s loss will stay long with him either. He gets over these things fast. So for the first time in a while I am pretty positive about Roger’s future. In his presser he also said that he is very hungry for Australia next year. I don’t see any reason he should be thinking of retirement yet. He is right up there with the top two players in the world and things are also very interesting between them. If he retired now I would be disappointed. There are many more dramas to be played out and Roger can still win slams. Onward and upward!

Ps. You can hate Djokovic all you want, but he is the current and future preserver of Roger’s slam record. He is also owning a player who plays the ugliest brand of tennis in the history of the sport and uses gamesmanship on top of it. Hopefully it will cause Nadal to decline fast, but even if it doesn’t it is still awesome to see him repeatedly owned in finals.

Roger Federer

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43 Comments

  1. Great analysis Ruan, very clear thought on the final and semi final. Also helped me in realizing how Nole is helping Rogers legacy. I never thought Nadal would surpass Roger and now its clear that wont happen. Also dont understand why people think Roger should retire. He still plays the best game and is number 3 which could rise with the complete demoralization of Nadal. Rafa has always rallied in the past against opponents but he clearly has no answers for Nole. Your post helped me get past my sadness over Rogers loss, thank you.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Your welcome Susan ;-)

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  2. Ru-an, thanks for putting up such a meaty and thoughtful post so quickly after the final.

    It seems destiny was calling Djokovic’s name this season, and Federer couldn’t fight fate.

    This is truly the Year of Djokovic: the best single season any man’s ever had in probably the whole history of tennis, excepting Laver’s Calendar Slams.

    At least Federer stopped Djokovic from completing the Calendar Slam. Also, he stopped Djokovic from becoming the first to defeat the greatest clay-court player of this era in the final at Roland Garros…that’s a prize that Federer wants all to himself, and with a lot of work and a little luck, he’ll seize it, perhaps even next year.

    Djokovic in turn has prevented Nadal from defending his Grand Slam titles. Nadal is now 6-0 in RG finals but 4-4 in all other major finals; a fantastic record, to be sure, but not the record of a truly dominant all-surface player who can consistently excel year in, year out on hard courts, grass, and clay.

    Despite all the hype about the coming Nadal Era we were subjected to last year–an era that was to be far more glorious, dominant, and perdurable than Federer’s reign–the Spaniard now finds himself relegated to the same position he occupied in 2006-07: a clay-court specialist playing second fiddle to a more versatile #1 who dominated on all surfaces.

    His three titles this year all came on clay. For the first time ever he has a losing record (1-2) in major finals for a season and a 33.33% success rate in finals overall (3-6)–a remarkable decline for a player whose career strike rate in finals was over 78% before this year.

    He’s playing as well as he did last year; he’s made the finals of all the tournaments he won in 2010 (and several others besides). If Djokovic weren’t around he would be having a better year than 2010, but Djokovic has just completely eclipsed him. There’s simply no way around that fact.

    Federer’s been the only one who can give Djokovic a match this season, beating him at RG and coming within one good serve of beating him at USO. The rest, including and especially the world’s #2, have had no real chance. (Again, I don’t count Djokovic’s retirement to Murray in Cincinnati).

    Federer’s been extremely close in all the Grand Slams (save the bizarre loss to Tsonga) and there is no reason to believe that he’ll be unable to raise his game and find the right balance in his shotmaking needed to overcome Djokovic and Nadal.

    Perhaps we are living in the Djokovic Era and he will be the one to break all Federer’s records, but it remains to be seen if he can keep it up for a couple more seasons. Can he defend his titles? Will he burn out physically or mentally?

    Will Uncle Toni’s team come up with something to give Nadal the further boost of stamina and speed he needs to grind down Djokovic again? Or will Federer succeed in raising his game to another level?

    Interesting times, even if the brand of monster machine tennis that the Nadal/Djokovic rivalry has produced isn’t to one’s liking.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Your welcome Steve. I enjoyed doing it.

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  3. Ruan,
    Great job man. One thing that gives me some satisfaction, is that although Fed didn’t win, that shot Djoker made was a hail mary shot, and he truly did luck out on it. If out, our guy would have won. No Nadal fan can say Nadal would have won, cause he didn’t stand a chance, and didn’t get close to the finish line like Fed did. Gotta tell you that again, I taped, yes I said taped, the match, and Fed was up two sets when the tape stopped. I was so darn excited, I told myself, Fed always wins when he’s two sets up, just like I figured going out to do something when he was 2 sets up at Wimbledon. He couldn’t possibly let that slip away, right? So I go to the computer to see that Fed won, and I was sort of in shock again…lol.

    I’m with ya. I’m not at all upset that he didn’t win against Djoker, cause I was sure Djoker would kill Nadal, but had very little confidence that Fed could best Nadal. Strange how the match ups work, but that’s part of the appeal of tennis. If Djokvic wasn’t such an ass, I’d probably really like him, but the way he acts is boorish to me. Seeing him stomp on Nadal though, was quite a bit of fun. Gosh, I hope Federer and stomp Djoker in a final some day, cause we all know he can, for a few years anyway. Not that we can look into a crystal ball, but how long do you think he’s got before he packs it in. I’ll say 4-5 years tops. If he retires now…..now that would be a very sad day indeed. G

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Gary ;-)

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  4. I like the fact you gave Nadal his due. The guy is a warrior and if Federer had his fight he’d be on 24+ slams by now. But it is laughable that a few of his fans cry foul at Djoker’s MTO while conveniently forgetting the several times Nadal has used the same trick.

    The thing I’ll remember from this final is Nadal making some great gets and neutralizing attacks that would have finished the point against anybody else and then Djokovic not being bothered by that just going right back to work as if nothing happened. He just kept playing heavy forehands to Nadal’s backhand to open up the forehand side.

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  5. Hah, the 30 year old at the so-called “end of his career” gave Djokovic a better fight. Take that, Rafa! Serves them all right.

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    BA Reply:

    And saying that Roger choked because he was afraid of meeting Nadal in the final was plain ridiculous. I though it was pretty damn evident that that one insane shot that Djoko hit at match point turned EVERYTHING around.

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  6. You’re kidding me, right? Djoko is destroying tennis, with his doping. Here’s what the future of tennis will be:
    Next year even Murray might juice up and win 3 slams. And the year after that maybe Tsonga. And then maybe Soderling. Then maybe even Ferrer. All of their rises will be due to “better warming up, yoga, meditation” and what not.

    And you endorse a player who has like 99% chances of doping just for the sake of Roger’s records?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    This is ridiculous. Have you got a single proof to back up your sweeping statements?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Anyway if Djokovic is doping(which you have zero proof of) then Nadal is doping too. If you need one evil top get rid of another and Djokovic is that evil then that is just Nadals bad karma catching up with him. At least Djokovic is no threat to Roger’s records.

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    Manu Reply:

    Zero proof of djoko doping? If not drugs,how then the sudden rise. How then does a player with perhaps one of the grandest history of ashthma and allergies now become the most fit of them all. How does a player’s groundstrokes remain the same in consecutive matches, that too after playing at least for 2 and a half hours. And a person who lost 6-1 and 6-4 in the WTF suddenly becomes tranformed into the a player having one of the greatest seasons. You may not call that proof, but I(and many others) have suspicions. And true, Nadal is doping too. But why always counter evil with evil? Why not believe in good. That’s not positive thinking. That’s exactly like Nadal and the other moonballer’s style. It’s not a positive way of thinking (hoping or dreaming, whatever you call it). And soon if Djoko wins more slams, he too would be threatening Roger’s records- soon you may start hating him too. Djoko and other players can only delay other people from reaching Roger’s records. It is up to Roger himslef to add more Grand Slams to make his record unreachable.

    However, both you and me are Federer fans. Why argue over Djokovic? :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well you claimed that Djokovic was doping didn’t you? You said nothing about having suspicions. And still, you have offered no concrete proof. Why speculate? As for countering evil with evil i dont think it is negative at all. If Roger isnt doping then why should he be expected to beat dopers which clearly have an unfair advantage over him? Its not negative, its just fair. If you are going to make sweeping statements on my blog without offering any concrete proof then you should not complain when i debate you.

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    Manu Reply:

    It’s perfectly fine- you are the creator of the blog, after all. A mere argument like this is not as important as all of us Federer fans staying together and supporting Roger.

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  7. For this USOPEN final we can discuss for the physical
    efforts the players made for this match but I want to ask where is the art of tennis as a game.I admit I watched it to see Nadal loose rather than Djoko to win.And I wish this continues…
    Djokovic being on Nadal´s side of the draw in Slams will probably increase the likelihood of more slams for Roger. Always on the same half Djoko being N2 and now N1.Roger can currently beat Djoko when he wants to, Nadal currently cannot…
    Roger is in Sydney.Just love this man to be able to push on and on, to not give into dispair and disappointed.Go Roger! a lot to win yet!!!

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    booya719 Reply:

    That’s true but not possible. With Djokovic at number 1 and Nadal at number 2 it’s impossible for them to meet before a final.

    Federer at 3 and Murray at 4 must be drawn into each man’s half. I think we can all agree that the best draw for Federer is to get Nadal in his SF. Djokovic/Murray and Nadal/Federer are the SF match-ups that give Federer the best shot at winning the title in any given tournament.

    If he has to face Nadal, it’s best to do it in a SF without being physically and mentally tired from having to play Djokovic first. If Federer does happen to beat Nadal in a SF it would give him an enormous confidence boost going into a final against Djokovic. When he has to face Djokovic in a taxing SF, and then is faced with a fresh Nadal in the final, Federer is in big trouble and against serious odds of winning.

    If Federer could somehow regain the number 2 ranking it would do wonders to the draws and seriously help him win tournaments in the future.

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  8. Great analysis. Djokovic makes Nadal look helpless. I like that. Nadal was near his best in the third set and he was lucky to win it in a tiebreaker after Djoko narrowly missed some shots at 6:5 30:30.

    The fourth set was unbelievable. Djoko couldn’t serve over 100mph and Nadal should have been pumped up and still it was 6:1. Mentally, Djokovic was unbelievable. He hit 17 winners to 4 unforced errors in that set. You must respect that performance.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Michael ;-)

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    booya719 Reply:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Nadal has some extreme luck on his side in tight situations. This match should have been over in straights, but the way the 4th set panned out more than made up for it.

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  9. “I doubt Roger have ever lost to Nadal in six straight finals, including two slam finals”

    Nearly! He lost in 5 consecutive finals including three slam finals (Monte Carlo, Hamburg, Roland Garros, Wimbledon[all 08], Aussie Open[09]).

    Nevertheless the ongoing battle at the top of tennis continues to fascinate. If you had to pick a player to beat Djokovic you’d choose Federer – and bar an outrageous eyes-shut-swing-of-the-forehand Fed would have done that twice this season. Not bad for a 30 year old. But of course Fed can’t get past Rafa.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the info Philp. And of course 3 of the finals were on clay. Not surprising.

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  10. Congrats to Novak Djokovic an another disposal of Nadal. It was a long grindfest but the result was never really in doubt at any point in the match. Nadal tried everything possible in his game but it was clear Novak was better than Nadal in every way. Nadal is definitely getting a taste of his own medicine now. A lot of his fans have now disappeared from forums and message boards completely this year.

    I remember the glee and shear happiness that a majority of Nadal fans used to feel every time Federer lost. They used to pray for Federer to lose whenever Nadal was out of a tournament. And when they both were still in the same tournament they used to pray that Nadal would destroy Federer in finals. They prayed to God that Federer would not win the 2009 French Open and a deranged Nadal fan went so far as to harass Federer on the court in that final to try and disrupt his momentum and hinder him.

    The reason why I never liked Nadal is that he and so many of his fans have represented everything that is twisted and wrong in the world. The average Nadal fan did not watch for the tennis – they watched to see Federer’s losses and the pain surrounding them. They are the type of people who hate others’ success. Federer was a very successful man so they did not like to see Federer winning long before Nadal even came along. Nadal finally came along and started beating Federer and his losses were their happiness.

    So for sure, this is now karma at work. I guess I just don’t want to stoop to that level now that Nadal is on the losing end. I personally don’t take as much pleasure in Nadal’s losses as the rest of you seem to. I don’t feel sorry for Nadal one bit and I’m glad he lost, but at the end of the day what matters to me is seeing Federer with the cup and sadly this isn’t the case.

    Here’s hoping Federer can get it together and win Paris or Shanghai to salvage something from this season – both tournaments that he hasn’t won yet in his career. With any luck he’ll draw Nadal in a SF and avoid Novak until a final. Tennis could use a few Djokovic-Federer finals for once. Cheers.

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  11. I like your comments and the one in this thread is no exception bar one comment. You think that Djokovic may break Federer’s records. Of course he may be able to win a calender slam if he continues to play for a few years as he has this year. But there are too many great records of Federer and breaking his records overall is not easy for any player that are at the top of tennis ranking now. Of course, “overall records” as such is subjective but Federer has been so consistent for so many years that I donot see anybody repeating his feat anytime soon.I hope that I shall not be proven wrong

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  12. a particular exchange of comments at a forum: A says ” toni shoud fire rafa or hire murray, maybe soderling”
    B replies “too late for tht, Rafa is already hooking up with Soderling for a movie films called Buttman and Robin. Nole cameoing as The Djoker.” lol.

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  13. I was disgusted after the semi final. I couldn’t believe roger had lost such a match, holding match points AGAIN!!!

    But then it hit me “what if roger had won, would he lose the final against nadal?”
    I share your view on the subject although I believe that roger would certainly have lost the final had he played it.
    We’ve seen it time and time again, roger is playing brilliant tennis reaches the final and loses to nadal (few examples: FO 2011, AO 2009).

    It is, as you say, a matter of match up.

    I just want to had something you didn’t mention and that’s the importance of the placement of the number 3 and 4 in the draw.
    Let’s imagine that roger ended up in nadal´s half and murray in djokovic’s half. Then we wouldn’t have this “if” situation about roger’s semifinal. Would roger win against nadal in the semis he would play djokovic and have a good chance at the title, should roger lose then djokovic would take care of nadal in the finals.

    There’s a huge difference if the draw goes djokovic/federer and nadal/murray vs djokovic/murray and nadal/federer.
    The second situation I believe may have led to roger winning either the FO or the US Open.

    Of course due to bad luck (or something more serious, given the federer-nadal finals are very desirable to tournament organisers) federer has been falling in djokovic’s half 90% or more of the time.

    If roger starts falling in nadal’s half it makes it easier for him to win a given tournament, I believe.

    P.S.: Nadal was 16-7 against djokovic, now he is 16-13. By the end of the year we may be looking at 16-15 or 16-16, LOL. Can’t wait for djokovic to surpass nadal in the H2H. Then let’s see if the nadal fans come up with the H2H against roger argument.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Roger would still lose to Nadal in the semis.

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    booya719 Reply:

    You may be right. In his last two semifinals against Nadal, Federer’s effort just was not there. He didn’t show up in the Miami match but he at least got a set in Madrid before folding.

    It’s been very clear for a long time that Federer is having a hard time getting up and playing the Masters 1000 events. His level of play in those events has really been disastrous for the past 4 seasons. Of the past 34 Masters 1000 tournaments from the start of 2008 until now he’s only won 3 of them I believe. 2008 he didn’t win any, 2009 Madrid over Nadal, 2009 Cincy over Murray and Djokovic, and 2010 Cincy with the help of an easy draw and even then he barely beat Fish. In 2011 Federer has won nothing yet with 2 chances remaining.

    So in short Federer has won more grand slams than Masters 1000s in the previous 3 seasons. Now that the slams are over, is there really much to look forward to until the WTF and Australia? I don’t really have much hope for Federer in Masters 1000s at this point in his career but I really hope he can get either Shanghai or Paris simply because those are tournaments he’s never won before. It would be neat to see him get one of those.

    I still felt this year that in a slam SF against Nadal, especially in one of the hard court majors, Federer would go all-out and at least stand a chance against Nadal as opposed to the Masters 1000 events where he really hasn’t shown any interest in winning since early 2007. Federer’s level in the 2011 FO final would have been good enough to beat Nadal on a hard court I believe. It’s just a terrible misfortune that Federer drew Djokovic in each slam SF this year.

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    Manu Reply:

    Roger was exceptionally good in the Masters series till 2006-3 or 4? masters per year- until he started slumping (or maybe declining) in 2008. Even in 2007 his standard went down, albeit slightly- he lost the Roger’s Cup to a rising Djokovic. It was in 2008 that Masters Series started becoming nightmares for Roger and his fans. He didn’t win a single 1000 title that year.
    However, since 2009, Roger has had some kind of small resurgence in 1000 titles- he won 2 in 2009, and one in 2010. He is yet to win a title in 2011. Hopefully he can do so in Shanghai (which he should have won last year) or Paris ( only remaining Holy Grail).
    From a Fed fan’s point of view, Roger has to make his statements in the fall season,and rightly so. The fall season is when the best players of the season are potentially a bit out of sorts and the indoor surface is a paradise for Federer. The only problem is Djokovic. However, if Roger effectively uses a proper game plan (FO 2011), he can prevail.
    However, one may not want a sudden fall in the Djoker’s form for 2 reasons:
    1. Nadal is still there, and playing extremely (you have to admit it) good.
    2. If Roger wins against Djokovic, he gets a huge confidence boost.
    One more thing to look out for is Murray’s form. He can win titles as Nadal is not so proficient indoors, and he can win against both Rog and Djoko.
    All in all, the important thing is that Federer should defend his points and reduce the gap between him and Nadal. The essential thing is that he should rise to no.2 (not necessarily this season) so that he does not face Djoko. This will certainly brighten his Grand Slam prospects.

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    Jiten Reply:

    At best Fed can have extra 1000 points this year by winning the Shanghai and the Paris masters, of course, provided he defends his Basel and London titles. In my opinion, it is highly improbable. Even if he is able to pull it off, it may not be enough for bridging the gap between him and Nadal. Nadal didn’t play in Paris last year and as such he is likely to regain some lost ground there. The realistic chance of Federer getting back to number 2 or less can happen only after the Australian open. On another note, it may be possible that (which we, the ardent Fedfans do not want to happen) Murray overtakes Fed for the number 3 position which may make it possible that Fed does not have to face Djoker in the semi finals of majors.

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    Manu Reply:

    Nah…even if Fed is no.4 (which i don’t want :-( ) the draw will be rigged in such a way that we’ll see a carbon copy of the previous draws we’ve seen before. Soon, the ATP becomes very predictable. But more important than the ranking is the way Federer plays in the fall season- it at least gives everybody false hope that he can do something next year.

    Also, next year, Federer will have a chance to win the olympics. But I hope he puts a preference on the majors and not the gold medal.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Federer falling to 4 makes no absolutely no difference than being 3 as he is now.

    As far as a draw’s SF match-ups go, it’s either:

    1 meets 4 and 2 meets 3

    or

    1 meets 3 and 2 meets 4

    Both have equal 50/50 odds of happening (assuming the draws aren’t rigged)

    However; if Federer ever falls to number 5, that would have a huge impact on the draws. It could put him into a QF match-up against any of the top 4 seeds. He could end up drawing Nadal, Djokovic, Murray or the new number 4 player in any QF on any random section of the draw. It could favor him if he’s lucky or it could also give him a disastrously difficult draw. For example as the number 5 seed he could end up drawing (1) Djokovic in a QF, (3) Murray in a SF, and then (2) Nadal in the final. There could be any combination of possibilities when he’s number 5.

    If Federer can at least salvage Basel, and win even one of the Masters 1000, it would help him keep his ranking in decent position. It’s completely unrealistic to think Roger will win both Masters 1000 and the WTF. At this point, if he can win even 1 it would at least let him escape the season with something to his name and keep his ranking in the top 4. The indoor portion is Federer’s best chance to keep some points on his ranking because it’s his best surface and it’s at a time of year where guys like Nadal are tired and have lost interest playing.

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  14. Your analysis of how the Djoker is now able to own Nadal, as well as the match-ups that include Roger in the mix, is right on target. Like you, I also enjoy seeing Nadal’s brand of tennis being trumped by a superior, and more engaging, game. However, it has been a regret to see that Roger never really succeeded in solving the Nadal conumdrum; I feel Nadal exposed critical vulnerabilities in his game, some of which included a fatal inconsistency which Djokovic is much less prey to – this year.

    That said, some of the defensive points played by both players – so out of this world – inspired less awe than disbelief; I felt I was watching computer-generated figures rather than real athletes. I have to remind myself that these are the same muscles, sinews, bones and heart possessed by the likes of Laver, Ash and Connors – but that it is all permitted by cutting bread out of your diet, or a little bit of PRP every now and then – because Nadal and Djokovic don’t train any harder than the old guys did. Oh well, such is “progress”.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I don’t care much that he didn’t save the Nadal issue. It is a match up issue. You are asking for perfection in every possible way. I’d be satisfied as long as Roger ends with more slams than Nadal.

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  15. Great analysis Ruan, very clear thought as allways.

    In Fed semis against Djokovic his face and body language didn´t showed any vulnerability until that insane shot from Djoker turned everything around.
    I’m very focused on Fed reactions and during the US Open he showed even more tranquility and confidence than in any other Grand Slam this year. He was not thinking on Nadal at all.

    But I was! I had some incredilbly and painfull mixed feelings during that semi, because he was playing in FedJesus mode and I was seeing im being defeated one more time in a GS Final by the Beast from Manacor!

    He didn´t choked because there is only one player that ownes him, and Federer always believes he can win, even Nadal, because he knows that nobody playes like him, and he only transformes is face and his body language when Nadal comes over and over and destroyes his backhand.

    I am convinced that the rise of Novak’s game is divine intervention from the God of Tennis: Novak Dopovic is the nemesis of Rafa Nadoping and will save Rogers legacy for ever!

    I am sorry, but I don´t believe in miraculous “diets” or “eggs”. It’s all rubbish to distract from the “real deal”…

    The diference between Nole and Rafa is that the Serb is a marvelous player and the Spaniard is just a butcher with racquet tennis in his left hand.

    It’s just Nadals bad karma catching up with him. He defeated Federer many times with psicological game, MTO´s, delaying the serve, talking with the uncle-coach during the matches, and the doping technology from one of the top countrys in that area.

    Now it’s Djokovic time! It’s pay back time ! Relax and enjoy. It’s devine justice and I am loving it!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Good comment Jaques. I also had mixed feelings in the semi but the loss turned out to be a huge blessing i believe. It’s like you say divine intervention. I feel that is what it was when Djokovic hit that return. Its like the Gods decided they had enough of Nadal and that they wanted to protect Rogers legacy. It wonder if all Fedfans realize how well thing turned out for Roger.

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    booya719 Reply:

    By this logic I feel you are indirectly implying Federer should retire. Maybe I’m wrong but I feel as though if the Gods themselves have to intervene and save Federer from being beaten by Nadal then why not just hang up the racquet and put the shoes away in the first place?

    Seeing Federer losses as a “blessing” and then watching Nadal lose in the final to Djokovic is now the pleasure of tennis? I’m one man who will not realize or accept this logic.

    Calling his loss “a blessing” shows you have zero faith in Federer to have beaten Nadal at the US Open. You mentioned that he should not retire, but if this is your thought process then what do you feel Federer is even playing for if you believe he wasn’t going to win over Nadal?

    Federer is most likely not going to win another major championship again unless he beats Nadal at some point either in a SF or a final. If both Nadal and Djokoic end up losing early and Federer cleans up for number 17 – great. But in all likelihood Federer will have to beat BOTH Nadal and Djokovic back to back in the SF and final in order to win.

    Praying for Nadal to lose early or get injured like he did in Australia is the coward’s way and is something I will never do, and even then as we’ve seen at Wimbledon it’s no longer guaranteed Federer can make the semis if he has a tough draw.

    Realistically Federer might make 2 SF at the slams next year. I still feel Federer’s best chances to win another major are at the French Open and US Open. At the French, Federer is a way better clay court player than the rest of the field. Realistically the French is Federer’s best odds of making the final compared to the other three majors. But then when faced with Nadal he has the worst odds of winning that final – but at least it’s a final and the score starts at 0-0. Maybe a miracle can happen one of these years?

    In the other majors, there are too many dangerous hard court players who are also good on grass who have repeatedly given Federer trouble. If Federer can win one of his SF in those 3 slams then he has 1 shot at a major next year at best. Most likely he’ll make another French Open final and a US Open final or two before his career is over. We are kidding ourselves if we think he’s going to be in the finals of all 4 majors again like he used to be.

    Even when Nadal himself loses before the semis it makes it that much harder for Federer to beat Djokovic, because Djokovic is then himself more motivated to win that SF over Roger because if he knows he’s going to face Murray or another unfortunate finalist he’s going to lay it all out there like he did in Australia. Beating Djokovic alone even with Nadal out of the picture is an extremely tough task for Federer at this stage of his career.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    No, I am implying that Roger should keep playing and try to win every match he plays. I never suggested otherwise.

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  16. An interesting fact about the ‘draws’. For the past 16 grand slams, Federer and Djokovic ended up in each other’s half 15 (!!) times. The only exception was the 2008 French Open.
    In the view of the above, the chances for a Federer-Nadal SF at a GS appear to be quite dim…

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    booya719 Reply:

    Yes, it’s definitely an absurd number. That is not 50/50 odds. I won’t go so far as to say the draws are definitely rigged, because we have no proof. But that is an overwhelming number which for sure arouses the suspicion or the possibility that the draws might indeed be rigged as far as the top 4 seeds.

    Federer-Nadal finals would most certainly draw the most viewers and make the most money for the event, and with the rankings as they are now, the only option to achieve a Federer/Nadal final is Federer/Djokovic semis with Nadal on the other side of the draw.

    For 4 straight years now it’s been Federer vs Djokovic in the semis of US Open draws. In the past, Nadal has never been able to make the final there. In his last 3 US Opens Nadal has been given dream draws and easy paths to the final. Is this all luck at work? I wouldn’t write off the possibility that the draws have been rigged this way at least in the US Open in order to have Nadal best reach the final for the sake of playing Federer. They have been dying for a Federer-Nadal final in the US Open for years – the one major they have never met at.

    Out of all the majors I would certainly suspect the US Open to have the most likelihood of rigging their draws simply because it’s the slam with the most money involved. No doubt the tournament director was pulling his hair out in frustration when Federer lost his each of the semis to Djokovic in 2010 and 2011.

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    Duarte Reply:

    We can’t analyse the draws by looking at the players, we have to look at the seeded number of the players.
    What I’m saying is a federer/djokovic in the same half this year is a 1/3 draw whereas in 2008 it might have been a 2/3 draw.
    I’ll look into it and post my findings.

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    Duarte Reply:

    So in the last 4 years there have been 7 1/3 2/4 draws and 9 1/4 2/3 draws.
    So it’s pretty even.
    All I’m saying is satistically the past draws at the slams make sense.

    P.S.: I considered the Wimbledon 2009 draw as a 1/3 2/4. If I recall correctely that was the case although nadal quit before the tournament and the draw was readjusted.

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  17. I agree with most everything you say, Ruan. In a prior post, I stated my reasons for why Federer should retire now. These were given in the heat of the moment, after another frustrating loss to the frenetic Serb. With the passage of time, and the Djoker’s ownage of Nadal in another Final, I can see the validity of Roger playing on for a few more years, if only to stop the Djoker from achieving a calendar slam, which is exactly what Roger accomplished this year. But I still believe my arguments for a swift retirement have weight. Only time will tell which position is correct…. Regarding the doping issue, is it really true that the players are only tested during the Majors? I vaguely remember reading that somewhere. If that is the case, what an outrage! All a player needs is a knowledgeable doctor to coach him on an illegal drug regimen and how to abstain right before the Majors so that the juicing would go undetected. This makes a sham of the whole testing procedure. I would appreciate any feedback from someone who knows all the details about the testing program.

    [Reply]

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