US Open SF: Djokovic def Federer 6-7(7), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5, Saving 2 Match Points AGAIN

Can you believe this? I can’t. For the second consecutive year Roger has Djokovic at his mercy in a US Open semi and lets him off the hook. This loss hurt. But in the end it wasn’t the loss itself that hurt me, but the way Roger lost. I didn’t have time to do another post just before the semis, but the fact that Roger played the first semi this year was interesting. Last year Nadal played his semi first, and Roger knew that Nadal was waiting in the final when he stepped on court for his match. Also, this year Nadal was facing Murray, who was obviously a stronger opponent than Youzhny. When I saw Nadal destroy Roddick in the quarters I knew he was back and that Murray would have almost zero chance of beating him. I wondered what effect this would have on Roger, knowing that Nadal would probably make the final again.

But since Roger was playing first, I thought he wouldn’t think that far ahead. Especially after seeing the way he started against Djokovic. JesusFed had showed up again. In the first set there were no breaks of serve as we headed into a tie break. The first set is always important, and Roger held three set points at 6-3. Djokovic held both serves however and Roger dropped serve when serving for the set. But he got the mini break again to take an 8-7 lead and then held serve. Great start. In the second set Roger got the break early on and took a 3-1 lead. Djokovic then broke back and evened things up at 3-3. Again Roger broke to take a 4-3 lead. This time he would hold on to take the second set. It was a decisive moment. Surely Roger would not lose from two sets up. I did expect Djokovic to come back in the third set though.

He had after all lost only one match so far this year, and a straight set win seemed unlikely. And he struck back in Roger’s first service game of the third to take a 2-0 lead. From there on Djokovic held on to his serve to win the third set. It seemed like it would be the French Open semi all over again. I was not worried yet. I knew it is very hard to maintain JesusFed level over three full sets over a quality opponent. But when Djokovic made a ridiculous backhand to break Roger in the first game of the fourth it was early warning signs. I knew Roger was a break down in the fourth set of the French Open semi as well so I still had hope that he could win the set. But when he got broken to trail 1-4 I knew the fourth set was all but over. I just wanted Roger to hold serve at 1-5 so that he at least started serving in the fifth.

He did so and I was still feeling positive in the fifth. Roger looked tired in the third and fourth sets but I also thought it gave him an opportunity to rest for the fifth. That seemed to be the case as he locked back into JesusFed mode in the fifth. The quality of tennis was rising again to what it was in the first and second sets, which was unbelievably high. I mean these guys weren’t holding back. I have said before that JesusFed level is better even than Djokovic 2.0, and that was the case when Roger won the first two sets and in the fifth until Roger got the break to take a 5-3 lead. But JesusFed was about to take another leave of absence. It really looked like Roger was about to complete another epic win in his illustrious career. He went up 40-15 on serve and held two match points. But from here on it all went wrong.

On the first match point Roger served out wide to the Djokovic forehand on his first serve and Djokovic cracked an unbelievable cross court forehand return winner. You just had to applaud and say too good. Djokovic then put up his hands into the air as if to tell the crowd to cheer for him for a change too, since they seemed to be in Roger’s favor all match. This move seemed to unnerve Roger, as he hit an easy forehand low over the net which clipped the net and went out. It was a mental mistake from Roger, but it was also smart from Djokovic to try and make something happen. It was still deuce though, and Roger had a chance to steady himself. Djokovic then had a break point, but Roger responded with an ace. Again Roger has time to steady himself, but Djokovic produced another break point.

Roger then choked as he served a double fault. You just knew it was now all but over. Roger had lost his composure in another huge match and was not going to recover it from there. We have seen it happen many times. Roger lets it slip, and he just doesn’t have the ability to forget about what happened and stay focused. He tamely surrendered serve at 5-5 and at 5-6 he played another lame return game, failing to put any pressure on Djokovic as he served for the match. It was another huge disappointment. How many times have we seen Roger letting a big match slip away from him in the latter part of his career? Many times. But it all really started against his arch rival Nadal, and from there on it started happening more and more. It first happened in the Rome ’06 final when Roger had two match points to beat the beast on his favorite surface.

In the French Open ’07 final Roger wasted many a break point. At the Wimbledon ’08 final Roger had his chances but Nadal got away. Then came a huge match at the Australian ’09 final where Roger had Nadal at his mercy but failed to put him away. At the US Open of ’09 Roger had Del Potro at his mercy in the second set and let him get away. Last year at the US Open Roger was also two match points up against Djokovic but let it slip. At the French Open this year Roger has his chances against Nadal in the first set, but choked. And at Wimbledon this year Roger has Tsonga at his mercy when he lead by two sets to love, yet somehow allowed Tsonga to win that match. But this choke against Djokovic has to be one of the worst. The fact that it was pretty much a carbon copy of what happened last year makes it very hard to swallow.

You know, I was not even very nervous about this match, because I knew it would not be the worst thing if Roger lost. At least that way there would be no possibility of Roger losing in yet another slam final to Nadal. But I guess typical of Roger, he found a way to make it painful for me. It was all about the way he lost. He just had to go waste two match points again. Sickening. This brings me back to what I was getting at right at the start of my post. I just can’t help thinking that a possible meeting with Nadal in the final played on Roger’s mind again. I mean how else do you explain the exact same thing happening as last year? It just seems very suspicious. I think deep down Roger knew he couldn’t beat Nadal in the final and it caused him to choke, even though he wasn’t sure Nadal would make the final yet.

Yes, I think Nadal has scarred him that badly. It is a shame because this was a terrific chance for Roger to win a 17th slam, a 6th US Open, and a slam for a record nine straight years. But not only that, he would have had the chance to finally put the Nadal demon to bed if he beat him in the US Open final. It would have made him the undeniable GOAT once and for all. But some thing are too much to ask. I just think Nadal has gotten into Roger’s head too much over the years and that it is a demon Roger will never quite put to bed. We have to look at the positives now, which are still many. First off Nadal has to face his own demon Djokovic in the final now where Djokovic will be the clear favorite. It is clearly better if Nadal loses to Djokovic in the final rather than beating Roger in the only slam left he hasn’t beaten him in.

At least it preserves Roger’s legacy somewhat and if Nadal loses he will still just be on 10 slams instead of 11. There are many other positives. Roger played much better in the US Open than I expected him to. After Montreal and Cincy I thought he may lose even before the quarters at the US Open. But he had a great win over Cilic, played at JesuFed level against Monaco, and avenged Tsonga in the quarters. He did lose to Djokovic in the end, but for the first two sets and until 5-3 in the fifth he played at JesuFed level again. The loss against Djokovic was not pretty, but he still got within one point of beating the best player this year by far on two occasions. And he did it at age 30. Will Nadal and Djokovic still be making slam semis constantly at age 30? I guess we will have to wait and see. But obviously Roger is still playing at a very high level at age 30.

Yes, Roger missed out on a lot with this loss. I’m not going to deny that. But overall it’s been another consistent year in the slams. He made an average of semis at every slam, which means he is still giving himself chances to win them. Who knows what this loss will do to Roger? But I also know he is not one to dwell on the negative. If he stays positive and keeps working hard he may still be able to win slams in the future. He does still have the game. It is just a question of match ups now. He needs to somehow avoid Nadal in the slams in which he will still have his chances. He showed that he still has the game to beat a player who has only lost one match so far this year. If Nadal was not a factor I am convinced he would have beaten Djokovic and won his 17th slam. But he must play a waiting game now.

It’s not all under his control anymore. The first step will be to wait for Djokovic to beat Nadal in the final. Nadal can’t keep losing to Djokovic in finals without it taking a toll on him. Or else he isn’t human. Nadal’s confidence must eventually take a hit, in which case Roger can capitalize. I am actually quite surprised what Nadal has achieved in this US Open. In Montreal and Cincy it looked like the loss in the Wimby final has gotten to him. But somehow he has gotten his act together in New York and is playing amazingly well again. As I expected, he beat Murray 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2. And as was the case the at French Open, the quality of tennis was much lower in the Murray/Nadal semis. In comparison their semi looked like women’s tennis. Where Roger and Djokovic was playing masterful first strike tennis, Nadal and Murray was moonballing and retrieving each other into submission.

The Djokovic/Federer semi was again worthy of a final, and it would only be justice if the winner of it wins the tournament. It would have happened at the French Open, was it not for the fact that it was clay courts and Roger choking in the final. I wasn’t quite sure what effect it would have on Nadal, knowing that he had to face Djokovic in the final. But the fact is Murray is just not on the level of the top three and is no real match for Nadal. Nadal is also not the kind of guy to back away from a challenge. I suspect it would take a lot more to scare him off from facing his fears than it takes to scare Roger. He has always been more of a warrior than Roger. I mean Djokovic has beaten him in five straight finals now, including a slam, and he is showing no signs of backing off. But eventually it must take a toll. So lets hope Djokovic can beat Nadal down again, just to dent his confidence a little more.

That would already be a positive thing for Roger. There is now a very interesting dynamic at the top of the men’s game. Roger clearly has the edge over Djokovic if he is in JesusFed mode, Djokovic pretty much owns Nadal, and Nadal owns Roger. Even though Roger suffered another crushing loss, I am hoping he will remain positive as always and stick around at the top for a while still. That will keep tennis very interesting at the top!

Ps. Before the comments start, I already know there are some people who will say that Roger was not scared to face Nadal at the French Open, so why would he be scared of facing him in the US Open final? The answer is obvious. The French Open is clay and he had already lost three finals to Nadal before this year. In other words there was no pressure to win. The US Open is the only slam where Nadal has not beaten Roger at, and if he lost to Nadal here he would have been completely owned by his main rival and that would not have looked good on his resume at all.

Pps. Whether or not Roger was thinking of a possible final with Nadal is still up for debate. But the fact remains that Roger has been choking a lot of late and Nadal is still responsible for first denting Roger’s confidence. So if he is not directly responsible then he is indirectly responsible.

Highlightshttp://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=federer+vs+djokovic+us+open+2011&aq=0z&oq=federer+vs+djo

Presser: http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2011-09-10/201109101315692666313.html

Roger Federer

Posted in Uncategorized.

102 Comments

  1. I went to bed after the first 2 sets. I thought the match should be Roger’s but after Wimbledon I wasn’t going to be surprised to hear later that he lost. Which he did. But to lose from having match points, (and on his own serve!) Again!

    I doubt that Roger was thinking ahead to Nadal. He badly wanted to beat Djokovic. But the pressure got to him. We see time and again now that he no longer produces his best under pressure. The serve wobbles, his shots weaken and the errors come thick and fast. His opponents (and not just Nadal and Djokovic these days) gain heart.

    Yes, he can play at a high level still. But he can no longer cross the finish line. That isn’t the GOAT, in my books. We last saw that player at the AO in 2010.

    I think Roger will stick around for another year – chiefly to play the London Olympics – but I doubt even he will continue to construe optimism from these signal defeats. Only another slam victory could do that. And that looks less and less likely now.

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  2. Thanks Ru-an for the positives. I kept checking your blog for another update and as always your post-game article of Roger is better than the rest that I’ve read since this morning. I’m in a somber mood but I should focus on the bright side.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    :-)

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  3. It’s like you’re saying exactly what i’m thinking. I will add something though. It’s almost as if Roger wants to get to matchpoint, just to prove that he could have won, (possibly gains confidence from that…and yes, the rest of the world can see that Federer was the only one who beat Djokovic 2.0 fair and square in 2011 and this time had him at his mercy yet again). You’re right, it coud be holding him back, the fact that he would most likely face Nadal again. Djokovic 2.0 will win again tomorrow.

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    Sonia Reply:

    Alex, I agree with you & Ruan about Roger “gifted” that semi to Djoko. If you watch the whole match fr beginning to end, there is no way in hell Roger “lost” bc of choking at 40-15 playing for the match. To put it simply & honestly, this is why he lost, imo:

    1. Based on Nadal’s “suspicious” form they way he simply bounced back without a day’s rest and demolished Roddick, Roger had the inkling that Nadal will be at the finals. He already did Rafa a favor at last FO by defeating Djoko and that’s how Rafa got his 10th. He was not going to repeating that favor this time.
    2. Roger was never expected to beat Rafa on clay at the FO anyway. So he minded less giving it a go after having shown the world that he was able to beat the hottest current player. That victory over Novak as a very significant win.

    I agree completely with your point that he played in a way to produce an unmistakable result that he can beat Djoko.

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  4. Ruan, i read your post as well as your PS, but i still cannot think Rafa is the reason for this loss… I mean think like a player and u are in a match after a long 4 hrs you are serving at 40-15 just a point for the match, the only thing you will be thinking is ‘ok serve wide just like u did before and he might dump into the net’ and when he gets a return like that , you are just shocked and i think Fed was thinking about 2010 US open SF not Rafa

    My feeling is Fed is taking the game lightly when he is in a better position and just dos’nt look interested in closing it out early…just pure lazy… he was so focused in the first 2 sets and then he could’nt finish it was serving and returning pretty lame..

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You may be right. Anyway the point is Roger has been choking a lot of late and Nadal was the one who first dented his self belief. So even if he is not directly responsible, he is still indirectly responsible.

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  5. Also looking at the way Rafa has played here and also hearing his post match press conf, he looks to be in zone and determined to win , I think Nadal will win the final against Joker in 4 sets, you heard it first here :-)

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    Alex Reply:

    It’s good that Nadal is determined. The more determined he is, the more it WILL HURT when he DOES LOSE AGAIN in the final!

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    Alex Reply:

    Can I get an Amen?

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  6. I have the same feeling Ruan. It is not the loss that is painful but the way he lost it. I am sure it’s as painful to Roger and I cannot imagine how Mirka and his parents are feeling right now. But I don’t feel sad for Roger. How can you feel sad to a man who has 16 GSs, 2 beautiful daughters, a very lovely and supportive wife and around $65M in the bank?! Am sure alot of men will trade place with him even with this gut wrenching loss!
    Somebody already declared THE END OF AN ERA! Is it?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly, it would be insanity to feel sorry for Roger while millions dont even know what they are gonna eat tomorrow.

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  7. I don’t know if Nadal played on Roger’s mind so much, I think he was generally tired. His serve speed and depth of shots dropped and his footwork was a liitle slower in the third and fourth set. I think he found his reserve in the fifth but didn’t have enough to finish Djokovic off. I’m proud of Federer for how much he has accomplished this year and that he took his beatings like a man and never retired in over 970+ games. To me Roger is the greatest and always will be.

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    Dave Reply:

    Another thing, next year Novak will have probably the most difficult year defending all those points. Novak will slip through the rankings and most definitely drop in the level in play. If Nadal loses again to Novak in the U.S. Open, Nadal’s game is going to be up and down from that point on. I see the rest of year looking to Roger’s favor and possibly some great play heading into AO and Roland of next year. Let’s not write Federer off but wait and see what the Maestro has in store for us.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    He didn’t lose cos he was tired. That’s for sure. When you have two match points you don’t think about tiredness believe me.

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    Suhas Bharadwaj Reply:

    True, but what do you say abt 3rd and 4th set, he did LOOK and PLAY like a tired player, his serve speed was a lot lesser compared to the first 2 sets..

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes he looked tired in the 3rd and 4th, but he was fine in the 5th.

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    ARAVINDHAN Reply:

    Thats because he might have LOST on Purpose!!! } :-)

    Come on!!
    Does everyone CONCLUDE that 16 time GS winner couldn’t find an ace/unretunable serve at those 2 match points because

    1.he was tired
    2.or felt bad facing Nadal in Final??

    If losing one match to Tsonga from 2 sets up for 1st time didn’t rise suspicion,this match is just beyond any LOGICAL EXPLANATION(even for Fedophiles like me)!!!

    Yes i said it!! If Nadal & Djoker are Usual SUSPECTS for DOPING, i don’t see no reason why Federer couldn’t be a SUSPECT for FIXING???

    Would You wait for him to do a HATRICK in losing WINNABLE matches at WTF London or even at AUS 12 to cast any DOUBT??

    “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal”-Robert A. Heinlein

    Lets be CANDID in accepting this!!!

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  8. Roger said in his interview that he has only himself to blame. Truest thing he ever said. Very different interview this time around, unlike the usual “I played my best” yadda yadda bullshit he usually says after a loss. He’s mad at himself and that’s definitely a good thing. Poor chap must be feeling so awful right now with the media writing his obituaries. Remember how he surprises us and does something amazing when we’ve all written him off and least expect anything. Just like last year. This loss hurts like hell and it is VERY humiliating but lets look for positives and as you’ve pointed out they are there. We need to stand by him when the rest of the world is ripping him apart. I still staunchly believe he has it in him to win one more slam before he says adieu. And I think he knows it too.

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    BA Reply:

    Btw, has anyone noticed how Annacone just sits and stares, never cheers or shows ANY emotion whatsoever? It really got to me yesterday. I mean he’s his coach for god’s sake. Never seen the guy smile, look happy, never seen him get annoyed, worked up, NOTHING. Just stare like a statue and once in a while applaud. Right now Roger NEEDS all the support and encouragement he can get. I don’t think Annacone’s attitude helps, seriously. Just seems very disinterested/detached. And it bugged me especially yesterday, sitting in my living room and cheering my lungs out at 3 AM when his idiot of a coach is sitting there looking so whatever.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I dont think Annacones expression matters at all. Roger is probably looking for a calm guy out there and that is what Annacone is. Having said that I can clearly see that Annacone gets nervous. I dont think Luthi gets emotional either. Roger has played for long periods without a coach and he certainly doesnt need that kind of support you are talking about.

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    BA Reply:

    I’m not saying he needs the kind of hysterical characters Nadal/Djokovic have in their boxes. I’m comparing against say Mirka and Roger’s father. They don’t go bonkers. But being too calm doesn’t always help.

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    anewor Reply:

    I reckon PA is soo confident this time being a hardcourt game that RF will pull through. have you seen him in the FO when Federer won the tiebreak? He jumped from his seat!

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  9. Most athletes keep their personal and their sporting lives in two separate containers, so to speak. They’re trained (and train themselves) to keep what they do on court distinct from what’s going on in their heads. That could be called professional detachment, and it’s an absolute necessity for them.

    Not so Roger Federer. If his mind and spirit aren’t totally clear and focused, this disharmony manifests itself immediately in his tennis. Because he’s so skilled technically, he may come close to the finish line nonetheless. But he won’t be able to cross it.

    At his best his tennis is a direct and organic expression of his whole being, and as such can never be merely detached or impersonal, any more than, say, a musician writing a symphony.

    Some great athletes are horrible human beings, because what they do and who they are are two separate entities; one has nothing to do with the other. But that is not the case with Roger Federer. The simplicity, directness, and elegance with which he conducts himself are the same simplicity, directness, and elegance that are the virtues of his tennis.

    I don’t mean to suggest that he’s having issues in his personal life. Just that because his tennis is so organically bound up with who he is, he cannot mechanically force himself to perform at his top level, any more than a musician could force himself to write a great symphony.

    Yesterday he simply couldn’t hear the music. He obviously was not happy with it, nor could he explain why. He just couldn’t.

    For any other player, Federer’s accomplishments to date would constitute a full career. For Federer, those accomplishments were the necessary labors he was required to fulfill to earn the freedom to attempt an even greater masterwork.

    Winning the Career Slam and breaking Sampras’ record was something he did for history, to prove himself to others. What he is doing now is for himself, it’s more personal.

    It’s no small challenge he’s set himself: to pit himself against younger, stronger opponents, and to use all his superlative shotmaking skills and tennis intuition to overcome their overwhelming physical superiority. And there are not one, but two such men at the top of the game now: indefatigable super-athletes with nigh-impenetrable defense and great physical strength.

    Federer is a warrior. The warrior is not the one who never loses, but the one who faces defeat again and again and rises and continues striving nevertheless. In the end, he will find what he’s looking for and achieve his supreme level of tennis.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Great post Steve. I dont want to sound like i harp too much in the fact that facing Nadal in the final would have been a problem for him. Its possible that he was not distracted at all by that and that he was fully willing to take on Nadal in the final, even if that meant that he could lose a lot. In fact id much rather believe that theory. Id like to believe he isnt afraid of losing. Maybe i was being a bit lame in believing he was afraid. Im willing to admit that possibility.

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    neil Reply:

    I am a Roger fan and always have been. But that doesn’t mean I should blind myself to the obvious, or be unwilling to see the defects in his game. Yet a lot of what I read here is simply denial. If we can’t accept the human flaws in Roger’s performances then we are guilty of idolatry. He isn’t some kind of god or superbeing. He is only a sportsman, albeit far better than most.

    The feature of his game that finds him out in the clutch now is not his serve, forehand, backhand, volley or any other shot – it is his temperament. He is becoming increasingly a player who will choke.

    That was certainly not so in his heyday – possibly because of his supreme self-confidence. But that self-confidence isn’t the same now, and I agree with you, Ruan, that the incremental disintegration of his ability to respond to pressure began with his loss to Nadal at Rome in 2006. It seems to have worsened with every defeat at the hands of the Spaniard.

    And now Djokovic seems to have taken on the same spectral role for Roger. Why this should happen to a player of Roger’s extraordinary skills is a mystery. McEnroe has said that every player at some time experiences choking. But some will handle it better than others, either by virtue of their nature or by practise at dealing with the pressure.

    As I witness Roger stumble yet again, when victory is apparently within his grasp, I can only conclude that the great champion’s heart and mind is overcome by doubt in the crucial moment. That appears to be his nature. I am also convinced that he isn’t looking coolly ahead to an encounter with yet another of his nemeses; the challenge that he faces in front of him is enough to completely consume him at that moment. I am sure nothing else matters than winning the point. The problem is that too much now hangs for him on responding to the crisis it invokes; it has possibly assumed near gargantuan proportions for him. It is the price he pays for the reputation he has earned as arguably the greatest player who has ever lived. Perhaps, in the end, he simply thinks too much.

    It is surely ironic that we so often see players with nothing like his talent battle their way over the finish-line with little more than a bloody-minded refusal to lose. Were he so blessed with that plain doggedness. But it seems he isn’t.

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  10. Just one thing more to add till the next time The Mighty Fed plays again. I really like the guy as a human being, and great tennis player, but not even Roger is perfect. The one thing I don’t particularly like, is when he says he is playing great, in great form, and feels he can win the tournament. It would be nice, if he would just keep that to himself, and say something afterwards. See what I’m saying? To me, it just sounds a little arrogant. Speaking of arrogance, did anyone see the reaction the Djoker was making when he was two sets down? Looked like he felt he was still going to win the match, and he was in no way, in a bad position. Only later did he admit, he thought he was going to lose the match. Whether or not it was lucky, which I think was luck, doesn’t matter now. Luck is part of the game, and that’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes. Fed has had his share of luck, and it doesn’t always go your way. Gosh, it would have been awesome if he won, but I guarantee each one of us would be heartbroken even more if he did lose to Nadal in the US Open final. As a devout Federer fan, I’m routing for Djoker to do to Nadal, what Nadal has been doing to Federer. It’s a thorn in Nadals side, and every human being needs balance in their lives. Our focus should be to support Federer, and hope he wins at least a few more in the next 4 or 5 years, and let Djoker take a few more away from the bull. Better yet too, is if Fed takes a few more away from both in the years to come.

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    Gary Reply:

    See now, even I make mistakes. I meant 2 match points down. Gosh, I surely ain’t perfect either. G

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  11. Interesting thoughts …
    If Nadal doesnt play in any one of the grand slams next year due to injury or is out before semis, Roger should win it from there (I desperately hope so).
    That would prove your hypothesis ..

    Good work with the posts.

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  12. Thanks for another insightful post, Ruan. This was an extremely difficult loss for Roger’s fans to digest (to state the absolute obvious). I agree that it’s not the mere fact that Roger lost that is most crushing — going down to the #1 player in the world, in the middle of an historic season, cannot be viewed as in itself a catastrophic disappointment — but the manner in which he lost. I still can’t believe he squandered two match points on his own serve! Having said all of this, there are at least three important positives that I believe it’s important for all of us Federer fans to keep firmly in mind in the wake of the disappointment, some of which have been mentioned or alluded to in previous posts:

    (1) Roger is 30 years old and remains at the frontier of world tennis. That on its own is a remarkable thing; something we can sometimes guilty of losing sight of. On the biggest stages in the sport, and against the very top — and much younger! — players, Roger is right there in the mix, always competing, with a genuine chance to win. (Let’s not forget: a slightly different bounce off that unlucky let-chord on match point and we’d be talking about the best tactics for a Nadal final on Monday; not mourning this latest defeat!)

    (2) As Ruan has posted earlier, our expectations for Roger were rather low coming into this tournament. Who could have possibly thought, after the beating Fed took from Berdych in Cincy, that he would have found his stride and played such incredible tennis a couple of weeks later? This speaks volumes about how serious and professional Federer is, and about his ability to get mentally prepared for the slams. It also lets us know that, contrary to what sometimes appears to be the case, he hasn’t lost interest. Fed remains hungry to achieve more, which, given all the records and all that he’s already achieved, is quite special.

    (3) Losing tough, epic, memorable, matches adds layers and complexity to an athlete’s lasting legacy, which is to say that a tennis player’s historical legacy is never measured merely by the numbers in the wins column. Sport would be nothing more than mathematical accounting if that were so, and we all know that’s not how it works.

    And on a final note: there remains much to look forward to in Roger’s career — both immediately and further down the road. There will be other tournaments and more big matches; more titles, more breathtaking shots and artistry. There will also other slams. The QF streak remains intact, and Roger is now closing in on the record for the most GS wins all-time (something I don’t imagine will be surpassed anytime soon). So, in short, it’s not all bad: the future will be bright fellow Fed-fans.

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    Manu Reply:

    Oh Believe me, Federer never declined or vanished from the sport-he’s been slugging it out ever since he entered the scene. It’s his domination that. I’m sure that if luck goes his way, somewhat like in 2009, if both Nadal and the Djuicer begin to slump, Roger’s gonna seize his chance. All the hype makes people forget Roger is STILL 3rd best in the world.

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  13. the nadal factor, i agree n disagree wid it at the same time. i think federer took his chances in the French coz he knew nadal’s the King Of Clay n there wudn have been much damage even if he lost it. i think roger probably expected nadal to falter in the earlier rounds thinkin djokovic had damaged his confidence big time. but wt m confused is, if nadal was in his head, how come tht happ only durin match points? i mean roger cud have played average-good n lost in 4 sets? subconcious worries shud have started from the very first point right? y make the opponent go all the way n thn lose? at the same time it makes it hard to believe tht only durin match points he loses confidence. after 2006 rome final i think only in 2010 it started becomin regular for him to lose after hold match points i.e baghdatis,berdych,djokovic etc. i think he is jst gotten old, runnin a family n much more personal responsibilities which is hard to handle n he has his own share of worries besides tennis…..so i guess he is playin ONLY for the love of the sport, winning is a distant second for him…..whereas b4 he used to play for the LOVE of the sport n LOVE for winning every match also…..it’s jst a lil lack of desire when it comes to winning but only the love for swinging the racket day in n day out…so long as this love holds up, lets hope for a good 2012….now there is somethin dat cud set off this loss- SEEIN NADAL LOSE HIS 14TH SLAM FINAL :-) go NOVAK!

    [Reply]

  14. Hi everyone!I donot say that I completely agree or completely disagree with what you guys are saying.I have some odd(?) feeling that whenever he wants to do something he can do it. Case in point.In the fourth set he almost lost the final service game but he so bravely held the service so as to start serving in the fifth set. He could switch to JesusFed mode right after that. I was very impressed.In two days time he has to be in Australia to play in Davis cup so as to help switzerland come out of the relegation. He might have wanted to give due importance to that side this time rather than fighting till the end and probably being unable to play in Australia. We all know that last year when he didnot participate in the Davis Cup tie with Kajakhsthan he was severly criticized and he may have thought his onus of playing on behalf of his country rather than only for his personal glory. If that is the case it is very much appreciable. On the flip side,even while talking of Federer’s personal glory who could guarantee that he could beat Nadal in the USO final after all who cannot escape from the past bitter experiences of losing at the hands of a single player. Even Nadal (as per his admission ) could not play his usual game against Djokovic in Wimbledon 2011 and I agree at least his admission on this score.Finally even at age 30 and so many years of tennis at the highest level, Federer is playing wonderful tennis .That in itsef is amazing.

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  15. I’m among the shrinking minority who don’t think Federer’s career is quite over, and this isn’t an appropriate day for any hand-wringing or In Memoriam for a beloved tennis player who simply hasn’t been able to win the big ones in almost 2 years.

    Rog is proud of his accomplishments this year, which include being: a Final 4 contender in 3 of 4 majors, a finalist in one, and a quarterfinalist in the other.

    How many other men reached even one semis in a Major in 2011?

    TWO: Tsonga (Wimbledon); Ferrer (Australia)

    Instead, I find myself compiling this list of the most difficult Federer Filups for FedFans to endure — you may have some others or disagree about the Top 10 order in my list — I tried to take into account the emotions of the time. Briefly, the tension during the matches varied according to the round of the match and the importance of the tournament, making those losses harder to bear afterwards (so difficult major finals abound). All Major final losses were difficult, but I prioritized them depending on surface and circumstances. Some of his non-major early losses to rival Rafa were difficult – bad omens, hard to swallow.

    Remember: As hard as each of these losses may have been on you, most represent the greatest career for his opponents… I don’t offer this list to torture FedFans any further, but to promote international healing with perspective: yesterday’s loss just misses my top 10 (after 10, why count??).

    TOP 10 FED FILUPS:

    #10 ’05 Masters Shanghai to Nalbandian – Darn Argentine! [6-7, 6-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (3)]
    Comment: Nemesis foils a heroic 5th set effort to win despite injury

    #9 ’10 Open Semis to Joker – Make My Day? (Rafa) [7-5, 1-6, 7-5, 2-6, 7-5]
    Comment: So close to winning in final set (2 points), chance lost to stop rival’s 3 major run

    #8 ’05 Aust. Open Semis to Safin – Early enough not to feel gravitas of missing great opportunity
    to win Major (Hewitt in final awaiting) [5-7, 6-4, 5-7, 7-6 (6), 9-7] Comment: Tough for either
    player to lose this classic drama with some of the best tennis ever seen to date

    #7 ’08 French Final loss to Rafa – Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse… OUCH!
    [1, 3 and 0]

    #6 ’07 French Final to Rafa – History repeating itself: almost identical score to ’05 semis L to Rafa
    [6-3, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4]

    #5 ’06 French Final to Rafa – Wake up: our premonitions become reality [1-6, 6-1, 6-4, 7-6]

    #4 ’06 Rome Final to Rafa – Apres, le deluge [6-7 (0), 7-6 (5), 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5)]
    Comment: Perhaps his last chance to end Rafa’s clay domination

    #3 ’09 Aust Open Final to Rafa – a HARD court loss, his first in a major final
    [7-5, 3-6, 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-2] Comment: Opening the floodgates

    #2 ’08 Wimb. Final to Rafa – The last stop… GRASS! [6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (8), 9-7]

    #1 ’09 Open Final to Delpo – NO – NOT THIS!!
    [6-2, 6-7 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2] Comment: He should not have lost this one to Delpo, period.

    More anon about Rafa v Joker tomorrow at 4 (along with a look at today’s Serena v Stosur result).

    Rick

    [Reply]

  16. Painful experience. Very painful. But I’ll keep on being grateful he’s still playing and still right in there. Somehow I do keep thinking he’s getting better and better. To be able to compete with these guys being 5-6 years older (and no egg to help!) is remarkable. True he should have won. But he’s been on the receiving end of breaks too and it may just be a bit of karma. My one fear is that Nadal will be Djokovic. He does look good and Djoker is more Djokovic 1.5 right now, not 2.0. Still Nadal’s had a joke of a draw. With one day off and a gluten-free diet I think Djokovic can handle Nadal.

    I am a musician, not an athlete, but I think Roger Federer is the greatest artist of our times. We’re lucky to have him.

    Woke up today just in pain thinking about it. I kept muttering to my wife “two match points, two match points.” Still I think he’s proven he can beat Djokovic. Thank god he had the French Open win.

    [Reply]

    Jiten Reply:

    “Woke up today just in pain thinking about it. I kept muttering to my wife “two match points, two match points.” Still I think he’s proven he can beat Djokovic.”

    Jim, we are in the same boat! I have been telling my wife the same. The two match points have been haunting me (that too on his own serve) even now. And more so because in such situation, not even the EGG, Gluten-free diet or PED can help; no way you can blow away the match after having two match points on your own serve. Now I am beginning believe more in destiny. Fed was just not destined to win any majors in 2011. If he is destined to win one in 2012, he will win one. Probably it is Nole’s destiny to win three in 2011; even with the best of his efforts, FEd could not change that!

    [Reply]

    anewor Reply:

    I agree, que sera sera, what will be will be…

    [Reply]

  17. Well I am still bummed. But what can I do? It seems to me Fed’s career is beginning to mirror Sampras’, though he is in a much better position than his friend 10 years ago. I guess he needs a break in the draw, for I am unsure whether he can actually beat Nole and Rafa back to back. Remember Sampras mangaged to avoid both Safin and Hewitt in his last US Open run, and his 2000 Wimbledon draw isn’t exactly difficult either. Of course, Agassi got an even better draw at AO 03. We can only wait and see with our fingers crossed. Let’s hope for a better 2012.

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  18. It´s so heartbreaking that he gave this match away that
    what can we say about it?He fought to come back in the fifth but it hurts as hell to see so much hard work so much heart.Why he didn´t fire an ace down the T like at RG?.He´s not choking a lot is the 2° time he losses being up two sets.I don´t think anybody is “indirectly responsible” a great Champion always want to win,Roger
    looked so sad after the match.It won´t be easy to put this match behind him but he has to as he has to defend many points in the upcoming months.
    Just as consolotion to us Nadal and this serb nothing can do to become the greatest and most beloved champion of all time.This is already obvious Roger´s popularity and legend is still growing.
    At last is only a tennis match, today all the world
    remembers the 11/9,this yes really hurts…

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  19. Kind of tough to read your PPS there, Ruan, sounds like an attempt to lay blame for Roger’s ‘choke’ (as you called it) at the feet of Nadal. You don’t really believe THAT, do you? It’s ALL Nadal’s fault? Don’t tell me you’re one of those Fedfans who blame every bad thing that happens to Federer on the Spaniard. Seems a bit silly, imho. (especially when the Spaniard was sitting in the locker room, just harmlessly watching the match… )

    I thought it was a great, hard-fought match. I felt the trickling doubt seep in the instant Roger got broken in set 3. Bad sign, bad sign. I had to go out, but felt reasonably sure he’d right the ship in set 4. When I got home, I saw Nadal-Murray just starting, so I knew it had gone 5 sets… and I just ‘knew’ Djoko had won. Couldn’t even watch semi number two, had to see what had happened. From my perspective, it looked like Egg-man is just a bit faster, more flexible, and hits more balls harder. I know all Fedfans are hurting this day, don’t know what to tell you, except who else at the age of 30 could consistently, and I mean consistently!, come so close again against such tough, younger, fresher competitors?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    It doesnt matter what you think. You are just a guest here.

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  20. Still reeling from the semi-final loss. I dont know exactly what happened, thought Roger had the win. Whatever the reason i am going to try to not get so excited thinking Roger may get another slam title. His game was almost perfection in first, second and fifth sets. I need to appreciate that i still get to see his incredible tennis (when hes on). It was a joy watching him yesterday until the loss. I am a Federer fan forever but need to lower my expectations. Still hoping for another slam or two but not betting on it.

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  21. The measure of a champion is as much by the quality of the losses as his wins:

    – are they down-to-the-wire dramas that anyone could win?

    – do they represent career defining wins for the opponents?

    We can say that of most of the 10 most painful Fed losses.

    Fed is front runner, a fast starter. His style is fast strike. I doubt such temperaments are as good at the end end-game as they are at going for the early check-mate.

    rick

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  22. Great post Ru-an and nice to see such an outpouring of thoughtful reflects by Fedfans the day after.

    I’ve only one small point to add: All hope lies with Fed drawing Rafa rather than Nole in the semis. That way, (a) he himself can simply get the Rafa match over with, win or lose, in a lower-pressure situation knowing that even if he loses, Rafa still has likely to face Nole to add another one to his slam count; and (b) if he gets past Rafa, he can then play completely freely in the final (yes, he may be mentally and physically pushed to the limit by then, but that’s still better than the alternative).

    Of course, best would be Fed somehow getting up to #2 and then for sure not having Rafa drawn in another half facing Murray, but rather in his own or even better in Nole’s half. Unfortunately that seems unlikely for quite some time. If Rafa loses tomorrow, he drops 800 points (while Fed stays the same), narrowing their gap to about 2,000 points. Which is definitely too much to capture by year’s end – given how well Fed and relatively poor Rafa did last fall.

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  23. I’ve never claimed Federer could defy time and the chasing pack forever; eventually even he will get a little long in the tooth to win Grand Slams.

    On the other hand, I do think he has a lot of fantastic tennis left in him. I predict a second Federer Era, an Indian summer where he will again dominate the game. He probably won’t be able to maintain the consistency of 2004-07, but he’ll be able to win multiple majors per season and do well enough in the other tournaments to secure the #1 ranking.

    And after that I think he’ll retire on a high note, having given every last drop he can to the game. There will be no comebacks a la Henin or Clijsters, no regrets for things left undone. He’ll bow out at the peak, neatly avoiding the problem of decline that dogs everyone else.

    It may be, as Neil suggests, that after so many matches, and pushing so far into uncharted tennis territory, he finds himself lost in an intractable labyrinth of tennis problems through which he can no longer find his way. That the burdens of experience weigh on him and prevent him from playing with the limpid and supple intuition of youth. That the best we can hope for is more baffling, up and down matches where he wrestles mightily with insuperable obstacles, almost makes it, but inexplicably falls just short.

    But I don’t think that will be the case, though of course only time will tell.

    Even the greatest explorers are apt to stumble around for a long time in uncharted territory before they can find their bearings.

    Federer’s in uncharted territory now. There are no maps, no accounts of prior explorers, nothing. The experience of past champions can’t help him; he’s gone further into the unknown than they did. Annacone provides Federer with a great tennis mind with a fresh perspective, but otherwise, it’s up to Federer alone.

    There are signs that Federer is getting his bearings as he struggles through this new territory: no one has found the key to defeating Djokovic this year, save Federer. (The Serb’s tapout to Murray doesn’t really count in my book).

    His matches against Del Potro and recently against Tsonga demonstrated an aspect of Federer’s game that he rarely showed earlier–his ability to use his variety and tactical sense to deny his opponents the capacity to create their best tennis, and force them to play on unfavorable terms.

    This differs from the usual sort of Federer masterclass: a series of perfectly constructed points finished off with clean winners. Perhaps it’s not always as aesthetically pleasing, but it’s a mastery that will become ever more vital now that so many players can overpower or outgrind him.

    Even his Grand Slam losses to Nadal and Djokovic show progress. Considering the shellacking he received in 2008 at RG, one would have expected a similarly crushing defeat this time. Instead he was five points away from beating Nadal in straight sets.

    Against Djokovic here he was one good serve away from victory. Those matches may have been losses, but that doesn’t mean they were failures.

    We perceive them to be failures simply because we’re so used to him winning easily. We say: he’s Roger Federer! He’s so talented! He should be crushing these mooks in straight sets!

    For one thing, they aren’t mooks. Many of them are very great players and it’s unfair to underrate them. Nadal and Djokovic are multi-Grand Slam champs and have reached #1. They are younger and stronger.

    Second, talent alone has never been the problem with Federer. It’s the ability to transmute that talent into victories and titles. He performed that alchemy regularly in his earlier years.

    But now he’s trying something different. Obviously if he could win by playing the same way he did in 2004-07, he would be doing just that. But that won’t work anymore.

    Something quite new is needed, and there may be a lot of experimentation required to find it. In the meantime he may spend a long time groping through the fog, mystifying himself and everyone else, for that’s what the creative process looks like.

    Expecting Grand Slam success to happen instantly is bound to lead to disappointment. On the other hand, to say that such success will never come about is premature.

    For now, we’re left to savor smaller successes–matches where he showed new shotmaking or aggression or tactical play, or where he figured out how to deftly handle a particularly tricky opponent. There have been several of those even if the titles have been far and few between.

    When those great victories and titles do come, they’ll be all the sweeter because we’ll have seen for ourselves all the hard work and the struggle and close and bitter defeats that went into those achievements.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    Steve said:
    ‘… Considering the shellacking he received in 2008 at RG, one would have expected a similarly crushing defeat this time. Instead he was five points away from beating Nadal in straight sets….’

    Oh, c’mon, Steve, he was NOT. He was five points away from winning a set, gimme a break.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    In fact, marron, Federer won the third set, if you recall.

    Permit me to break it down: Federer had set point at 5-2 in the first set.
    Three more points on return at 6-5 in the second set with Nadal serving at 0-15, and he would’ve won that set. He won the third set 7-5. Had he won those points in the first and second sets, he would have won the match.

    Four or five points, as I said, made the difference between victory and defeat. None of their other matches were that close.

    [Reply]

  24. Steve, your posts are just gold. Monuments of insight into what makes Fed Fed, and of analytically grounded and poetically expressed optimism about the possibility of his genius going further. Thanks.

    [Reply]

    steve Reply:

    Thank you, Nelson.

    [Reply]

    Manu Reply:

    Without Ruan this blog would be just another blog and without steve the comments section just another comments section

    [Reply]

  25. I always enjoy reading your points about Federer matches, being that I’m a big time Nadal fan.(I like to see the other sides perspective)

    At this point in his career, I’m actually am rooting for Federer to win another major! I’ve seen that he has been working on making his backhand more of an offensive crosscourt shot vs. his usual slice passive shots. I do think he’s more mentally tough as well. He will bounce back from this loss and there are alot of positives to take from his play.

    I have to call B.S. on you one key factor you mentioned in your article… you made reference to Roger letting Rafa off the hook in 09 at the Aussie Open…. uh what match were you watching? Check the score and stats on that one. If anything, Rafa let him off the hook, he was on pace to beat him in straight sets and the 5th set was NEVER in doubt.

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    My apologies,

    I checked the record and I was incorrect about the straight set victory possibility at the 09 aussie open. I just remember watching the match and never feeling worried that Rafa would lose. It seemed like Rafa was just biding his time until Federer could not sustain his level of play any longer.

    [Reply]

    viorel Reply:

    If I recall exactly federer had 5-3 in the 1st set,serving for the set but,as he did now at US Open, lost his serve and finally lost the 1st set 5-7. Federer lost that match, he had nadal at his mercy but failed to win.

    [Reply]

  26. You know, I never liked this blog because I thought at the expense of praising Federer you have to put down most of the other players. I just thought that I was unnecessary. On the other hand, I forgot that this is a Fedfan site so why was I expecting anything different.

    Having said that, I really like what you just blogged. Because only a real fan would/could understand and appreciate what is going on with their idol.

    For this match, I finally got to respect Federer because he showed what he really is – HUMAN.

    I like watching tennis and having seen a lot, I could say with honesty that Djokovic’s match saving forehand was a lucky match changing shot. He gambled and took a chance and won. And I think this is what Federer need to do if he still wants to win, which I think he has a bigger chance of doing as compared to Murray – he needs to take a chance of changing a bit his game because he is becoming predictable.

    In the end I would like to thank this two warriors who gave me two great matches this year – the FO and now the US Open.

    [Reply]

  27. Unlike many others I don’t think Federer is in decline. The rest of the pack (predominantly Djokovic and Nadal) is simply catching up with him. This is a law of nature – Everything is always evolving (in this case Tennis). I’m absolutely sure Fed 2011 would beat Fed 2007 comprehensively. In the later stages of his career he will not be able to be at the forefront of the development of tennis. His speed of development is simply slower than a younger player as his age increases and at one point their abilities intersect.

    These days he’s one of several that can compete at the very highest level. For at least a couple of more years (until he really is in decline physically) he will be able to compete. Let’s enjoy these years even if he is not winning quite as often as before.

    It don’t really bother me that he’s not no. 1 anymore or that Nadal may surpass his slam record. What I love about Fed is his beautiful way of playing – All glorious talent, no grind and hard work. He may be the last of his kind. Let’s hope players like Dolgopolov, Dimitrev and Tomic can pick up his mantel and save the game from power hitters and grinders.

    [Reply]

    viorel Reply:

    you are dreaming if you say that federer 2011 would beat federer 2007. you better say that federer 2007 would beat nadal 2011.

    [Reply]

  28. How did one shot change everything? I’ve been struggling for the last 24 hours to acknowledge that it ever really happened but the headlines keep telling me the same thing, Federer lost and despite my delusions I’m going to have to accept it. Was it just the shot or the crowd manipulation that bothered Federer? I’m not opposed to getting the crowd on ones side but all of us know these types of antics drive Federer nuts. Federer is a sensitive guy and whether he’s willing to admit it publicly or not these moments upset him. In the end it was nice to hear Roger admit that he only has himself to blame, in this case truer words may never have been spoken.

    Ps. I’m still pissed off this happened.

    Pps. If Nadal wins tomorrow I’m going to be even more pissed off.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol, love the ps and pps. Your comment is good too. Roger is sensitive and these things affect him. It was a combination of that great shot from Djoke and then the way he reacted after which distracted Roger. In the end it was that amazing return and the fact that Roger could not deal with it mentally which made him lose the match.

    [Reply]

  29. Just heart broken to watch Roger minor meltdown during 5th set at MPs. I find geniuses are sometimes quite frail in mind and body. When they do raise to the occassion, put us awe. He has put quite a mileage as compared to Nadal and Djoker, mind no longer as strong as it once was. The pressure from all these years as GOAT, as no1, chasing career GS and Pete’s record. Its has come to full circle now, there is bound to be a drastic decline. I hope he wipes a clean slate and start planning for 2012 season. His pres-con, quite at peace with himself and infact blames himself, something that we dont see often. Its a first step to improvement ie acceptance

    [Reply]

  30. I’m still crushed over this terrible loss 36 hours later. What a deja vu except it was worse than last year since the two match points were on Roger’s serve.

    What I don’t understand is even if he lost those match points because of a go-for-broke brilliant return from Djokovic on the 1st one, and bad luck due to the net cord on the 2nd, why did he choke so miserably on the next few points (including a double fault) to hand over the service break?

    Then, as if that was not bad enough, he set another choking standard when serving at 5-5 in the final set. He didn’t hit one first serve & missed routine backhands & forehands to gift another service break to the Djoker. Had he held his serve, he still would’ve had the chance to win the match in the tie-break. And finally, to add insult to injury, he didn’t put up any fight in the final game and netted most service returns to lose the match.

    Roger these days is setting one low standard after another. Watching him these days is like waiting to see yet another monumental collapse of his game at the climax of the battle.

    My five-year son is a car racing fan but is starting to watch tennis. He was watching the Federer-Djokovic match with me on TV. Although he barely understands the game, he knows I’m a die-hard fed fan. So when he saw me totally dejected & distraught after the loss, he tried to console me by giving me the car racing analogy. He said: Dad, look the reason Federer lost is because he broke down like a race car just before it crosses the finish line. May be he needs a stronger engine!

    That to me says it all in a nutshell. Roger is like a race car these days that breaks down not only in the heat of the battle, but also near the finish line. He needs to find solutions to his inability in the past couple of years to win tough long matches against his arch rivals. Maybe he should take a lesson from the Djoker & work relentlessly to improve all aspects of his game along with his mental toughness, to grind out a win from the jaws of defeat. And to always make sure to cross the finish line when it is within sight.

    Seeing Djokovic somehow finding a way to win the match after being two sets to love down & two match points down, I was contemplating why couldn’t Roger do the same thing in the 2008 Wimbledon Final against Nadal when he (Roger) came back from two sets down to level the match and at one point, was only two points from victory in the final set (I believe it was 5-4 deuce). Or why couldn’t he put Del Potro away in the 2009 U.S. Open Final when he was again two points from claiming the title in the fourth set. He then surrendered the fifth set lamely when he should’ve fought to the bitter end.

    There’s no question in my mind that had Roger possessed the mental toughness of Connors, Sampras, Nadal and now Djokovic, he would’ve won the 2009 Australian & U.S. Open thereby completing the calender slam that no player since Rod Laver in 1969 has been able to achieve. Other examples are the 2008 Wimbledon Final & this year’s French Open final against Nadal, which he would’ve won if he was mentally strong.

    In my opinion, Roger should make a choice. He either needs to dedicate himself totally to do whatever it takes to win one or more grand slams in 2012 or retire with dignity without any more repeats of this year’s Wimbledon & U.S. Open debacles.

    [Reply]

    neil Reply:

    Good post, Ken.

    [Reply]

    DJM Reply:

    The issue I think is that Federer has to play at his peak talent to beat the ultra baseline defenders (djokovic and Nadal) over 5 sets. He simply can no longer maintain the physical and mental concentration required to do that over 5 sets. So Federer does it over 2 sets, relaxes, which you cannot allow yourself to do, as it lets the other player back in.

    Federer should have won this tournament. At 30 years old he still has it. He is, when he brings his best to the court, the best player in the world. But that isn’t enough with the ultra baseliners we have at the moment. Federer has to bring his best to the court for 3 straight hours to win. That is now the challenge he has to overcome.

    Hit the gym Federer and get a sports psychologist. And 3 slams could be yours next year – 4 if Soderling obliges at the FO again (but he won’t!).

    [Reply]

  31. Oh my god, another brutal loss. However, let’s not forget that Djokovic played well. He is not a damn moonballer like Nadal and Murray but goes for his shots. Too bad that he did it at matchpoint. Anyways tennis is also a mental battle. What hurts me the most was the post match interview by Federer where he complained about Djokovic strategy to go for it at matchpoint. He said that he would never do that. That’s the reason why Roger hardly ever won a big match being match point down. Without risking sth you will not win.

    Finally, we should hope that Djoko takes down Nadal but I am not sure about it. Nadal is on fire and Djoko’s shoulder could hurt…

    [Reply]

  32. Roger Federer needs to retire. There have just been too many winnable matches that he’s now lost which will forever tarnish his legacy. Now a 2-sets-to-none lead is no longer safe for Federer as we have witnessed in the last 2 slams. Federer is done.

    His mental downfall started back in 2006 when Federer lost so many close matches to Nadal on clay. Simply because the luck was never on his side early in the rivalry with Nadal and this ended up taking a mental toll that we are witnessing now. Federer is tired of tennis and tired of losing close matches.

    The 2009 Australian Open was where the flood gates opened for Federer’s mental downfall. This loss crushed Federer – he’s never been the same since.

    The 2008 Wimbledon hurt him, but he really wasn’t in a winnable position for most of that match. He could have won but you can’t say he necessarily should have won. That final in my opinion is one of Federer’s most incredible mental efforts. That match showcased how tough mentally Federer really can be. The way he got that thing to 9-7 in the 5th is amazing – saving match point on Nadal’s serve in the 4th set tiebreaker with an unbelievable backhand passing shot. Federer was 2 points away from winning the damn thing after he was down 2 sets to none – against NADAL. If that’s not mental toughness from Federer then what is? He could have folded up and lost in straight sets but he battled with every ounce of his being against a younger, faster, and desperate-to-win Nadal. Nadal got the lucky bounce at the end to win that Wimbledon. Federer did not unravel or show any sign of mental weakness in that match. Again it was simply a lucky bounce in favor of Nadal that ended the match.

    The problem we see with Federer now stems from the fsct that Nadal has been so lucky in many of their early matches, including FO 2006 which Federer lead and the FO 2007 where Federer had zillions of break chances and somehow lost them all. Nadal is unbelievable on clay to begin with – it’s hard enough to beat him even if you somehow had luck on your side, but for some reason the luck was ALWAYS on Nadal’s side in decisive moments of matches. Rome 2006 was also a match Federer should have won but his winning forehand on match point missed by less than an inch. Nadal was lucky – plain and simple. Those Federer losses were all extremely close in which both men played great, but in the end the match was always decided by luck that fell in Nadal’s favor. This eventually took a mental toll on Federer. At some points he had to be thinking, “Why the hell can’t I get any luck against this guy? I am playing great and my level is good enough to beat him but I keep losing by inches here and there every time.”

    Federer lost his belief. It’s as though a higher power was controlling the luck. This was what destroyed his confidence against Nadal. Federer no longer believed he would beat Nadal in a close match which required a lucky break. He never believed he would get the lucky break ever – which actually to Federer’s credit he never has gotten. You could say Federer was lucky to win 2005 Miami but Federer came up with some incredible stuff in that tiebreaker to win the 3rd set. After that Nadal was spent – he was totally out of gas. It wasn’t decided 7-6 in the 5th by a freakish bounce which worked in Federer’s favor. Federer handily beat Nadal 6-3, 6-1 in the next 2 sets.

    In most of Federer’s wins over Nadal he has blown Nadal out of the water. There was no luck involved – Federer was playing to his full potential. 2007 Hamburg and 2007 Shanghai are good examples. Federer’s wins over Nadal were in dominating fashion because Federer believes the only way he can beat Nadal is to play flawlessly aggressive tennis due to the fact that Federer has simply never had any luck in their close matches in the past – ever.

    I don’t feel as though Federer’s mental toughness was really in doubt until the 5th set of the Austalian Open of 2009. That match above all was the turning point in Federer’s career in which he lost his mental focus in decisive points of the match. He cracked inside during that match – long before he started crying in the ceremony. Unlike the 2008 Wimbledon, this was a match that Federer really should have won in straight or at worst 4 sets.

    First set Federer plays great leads 5-2, somehow lost it to Nadal 7-5 after unravelling from a winning position. 2nd set Federer wins by playing great. 3rd set Federer was still playing great and has multiple break points in every Nadal service game. He could have or should have easily won this set by any score you can think of – could have been 6-0 if he would have converted each of his 15-40 leads in Nadal’s games. If he would have even got evem 1 break in this set – he would have won the match. But as if God himself was controlling the match, time after time Federer would clip the tape, or hit a shot long by a mere inch. That set should have NEVER gone to a breaker, in which Nadal won as Federer unraveled – he was so frustrated that he didn’t win the set sooner. When that 3rd set ended I knew Federer would not win the match and I also knew Federer would never beat this man Nadal again in a slam. 4th set Federer was good again, but he was unable to sustain any momentum. 5th set he simply unravelled by spraying errors as if he wanted the match to end quickly. Federer should have won 6-3, 6-x, 6-3, or at the very worst 5-7, 6-3, 6-x, 6-3. Federer played good enough to win with a score of 6-3, 6-0, 6-3 and somehow he finds himself in a 5th set which he loses almost on purpose. That loss really crushed him – he’s never been the same since. The only majors he’s won since then were majors that Nadal retired from or lost early. Nadal is responsible for destroying Federer’s mental toughness.

    2011 French Open, Nadal again gets extremely lucky in the first set due to Federer’s missed drop shot on set point. Nadal should have lost the first set, and probably would have lost the 2nd set also. If Federer had the lead he would have maintained his aggressive stance and not gotten defensive. Again this is a match that Federer should have won in straight sets. After blowing break points in the 4th – Federer knew that nothing was going his way. He did what he did in the AO 2009 final 5th set – spray errors and quickly end the match to get off the court.

    If Federer had won those 2 matches as he should, the head to head in GS finals with Nadal would be 4-4. Not bad really. They are both great champions. However, Federer’s mental focus on decisive points is no longer where it needs to be to beat both Nadal and Djokovic in a slam. Let’s face it. Unless those guys both lose early – he’s not winning another slam.

    2011 AO was Federer’s best chance to win a major. No Nadal in the final. Against Novak he blew the first set tiebreak and then lost the 2nd set after blowing a 5-2 lead. All due to a lack of mental focus. He fought back in the 3rd to get to 4-all and then blew it again in the blink of an eye – he was out in straights after playing well enough to win in straights. Federer’s level was good enough to win – he just wasn’t there mentally on the decisive points which decided the sets. He’s done – he’s just not there anymore. These young guys want to win more than anything in the world. Federer was good – he could have been leading this year’s AO SF 7-6, 6-3, 4-4 and instead found himself down 6-7, 5-7, and down a break.

    The 2010 and 2011 US Opens vs Djokovic can only be described as disaster for Federer. This man should have been in 8 straight US Open finals now – tying Lendl. Instead his last 3 US Opens have ended in disaster.

    Will the same thing happen in 2012? What could be a more gut-wrenching scenario? I’ll save everyone from next year’s disappointment and describe it here. Next year he’ll lose to Djokovic again – this time after coming back from being down two sets to none only to lose in the 5th. I’ll predict Federer loses 6-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-2, 5-7 after fighting back from losing a tough two first sets. Federer will be leading the 5th set and all will appear as though has comeback is complete, he is at 5-3, 40-15, double match point. Djokovic will save one with a netcord and one on a missed call – Federer won’t be able to challenge due to having no challenges left. Djokovic will go on to win the match 7-5. 2012 US Open SF. You heard it here first.

    Again we can say luck is not on Federer’s side simply due to the way he has to deal with Djokovic every slam SF. Every slam it’s Federer vs Djokovic in the SF. Regardless of the rankings it’s still the same. If that’s not bad luck then what is?

    And aside from luck – Federer has simply lost his belief against Nadal and Djokovic and now it’s at the point where anyone can beat Federer in a slam. I wouldn’t be surprised next year if Murray knocks Federer out of a slam. There is no way to control the damage anymore at this stage of his career – it will only get worse the more he plays and gets beaten as he gets older and furthers his decline.

    Federer needs to retire.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I approved your comment but saying he needs to retire is going over the top.

    [Reply]

    David C. Reply:

    I think as fans we need to be a bit more patient. Roger is still ranked 3rd in the world and there is no reason for us to think he has no chance at winning another major. Whether he will do it or not depends on a variety of things. These days are trying times, if Roger can come back from this setback it would do wonders to his reputation. If we keep saying he is not mentally strong enough to do it, I guess we are guilty of the same thing then(i.e. we are not mentally tough ourselves and that we lose faith easily)And remember, if he retires now, then people will really perceive him as being a weak-willed quitter. Let’s wait and see what happens next. I personally believe Federer will win another slam, or maybe two, only time will tell whether that’s true or not.

    [Reply]

    Manu Reply:

    You poor glory hunter. You never were a TRUE FAN of Federer’s were you. I gues you started saying that Roger should retire ever since 2008.

    [Reply]

    Manu Reply:

    BTW, the rest of your comment about the luck is spot on. Sorry for the impulsive comment

    [Reply]

    booya719 Reply:

    Nope this is the first time I have ever said it. Do we really want to see such horrible losses pile up and get out of hand? I know Federer loves the game but a champion of his magnitude cannot go on without winning championships at least every now and then. The last 2 seasons he only has a single Masters 1000 title and the AO major early in 2010. He has gone almost 2 full seasons and has not won anything important other than the World Tour Finals.

    There is nothing wrong with retirement – it happens to everyone at some point. Last year after he won the World Tour Finals would have been a good time for Federer to retire. 1 extra Doha title isn’t really going to add much to his legacy. However, piling up disastrous losses is definitely taking away from it.

    Nadal is suffering the same fate now and may end up having to retire as well. Will he keep playing tennis if his finals streak with Djokovic gets to say 0-10 for example? He might never beat Djokovic 2.0 again ever in his career. Even Nadal would not tolerate that type of humiliation if he continues to lose every final everywhere on every surface to Novak.

    What he have witnessed I don’t think has ever happened before in the history of tennis. The same 2 men meeting in 6 finals on 3 surfaces with the same man winning them all in the same season? And the tournaments were all Masters 1000 and Slams. I’ve been looking at past records and can’t find anything like that before.

    At this rate, Both Federer and Nadal could be gone from tennis sooner than we think. Both men may end up retiring at the same time whenever they do. On the other hand, a guy like Murray can keep playing forever because he’s not an elite champion and he is not expected to win when he reaches the semis of a slam. He’s taking the Henman route in his career. When he loses it’s normal, but the same cannot be said for the expectations surrounding Federer and Nadal. Nadal was expected to surpass Federer’s 16 slams. He is now in the same boat as Federer – he too might never win another major in his life.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    booya719 said: ‘Nadal was expected to surpass Federer’s 16 slams.’

    Holy moley! What pundit(s) said that? Love to see a quote there. I find that statement very hard to believe. Got reasonable sources, booyah719?

    [Reply]

    booya719 Reply:

    Well unless you live under a rock it’s not that hard to believe. It’s been talked about for at least 3 years now going back to when Nadal won Wimbledon. I don’t have any exact quotes off hand, but, the general idea out there is that: “Nadal is young, he has won way more than Federer at a younger age” etc etc, blah blah

    I know Brad Gilbert has said Nadal is already the GOAT and will surpass Federer’s slam count. A pundit’s opinion is not really that important or to be taken literally, but it’s just the fact that it puts the idea out there for discussion. Google “will nadal surpass federer” and you will find hundreds of articles about the issue. A lot agree, some don’t agree. Even Sampras himself says Nadal could surpass Federer if he wants to. The article is on the official ATP website. There is no consensus that is yes or no, just that indeed there are many people, pundits, Nadal fans – whoever, all who expected Nadal to surpass Federer’s 16 slams. I dislike Nadal as much as the next man and would be glad if he never wins another slam. I’m just stating a fact or a general idea that’s out there in the air.

    [Reply]

  33. I think I’m beginning to cheer for Nole not for schadenfreude or some notion of his damaging Nadal’s legacy or protecting Federer’s, but simply because he’s a bit of a gambler, he’s got weird expressions on the court and generally is kind of relaxed. I even like the fact that he can get down on himself a bit although even early on when he was Djokovic the Unfit I found that he had this perfectionist streak, every winner – no matter how wide in the alley or deep in the backcourt he was – he expected to make.

    Of course if he can go 2-0 against Nadal in GS finals this year that’ll be great Nadal will be 10-4 in finals which seems closer to Federer’s 16-8 at about 67%. 10-4 and I start thinking maybe Nadal is not so clutch (maybe just against Federer). Sampras finished at 14-4 and at one point was like 13-2.

    [Reply]

  34. I’m as disheartened as I’ve ever been. I think it is pretty clear that our Roger is as naturally talented a player as has ever been, perhaps the most, but he doesn’t have mental strength anymore. He is a weak clutch player and if he doesn’t retire soon, any legacy he has left (which at this point is weakening by the second) will be gone.

    I hate to say it, but it is true: Roger will not be considered the GOAT. The juicing Nadal most likely will go down in most people’s minds as the GOAT, despite the fact that his play is ugly and he is a cheat. It’s disgusting but true.

    I turned off the TV when he got broken after having match points and will never watch another tennis match again. I have never watched any sports except tennis in my life, but the state of the game, seeing natural Roger versus the cheat Nadal turns my stomach. I’d like to remember Roger with a little dignity.

    This last match was such a blow.

    [Reply]

    jim Reply:

    Are you kidding? NAdal will never be the GOAT. It’s possible the whole idea of the GOAT will be buried, and that may be fine. It’s after all a bit ridiculous, there are different eras, different surfaces etc. But if anyone was going to be it it would not be Nadal. He’s lost the last five finals to Djokovic. How can he be considered the GOAT for godsakes?

    [Reply]

    booya719 Reply:

    Nadal can never be considered the GOAT after this season. He’s lost 6 straight finals to one man on every surface. Most of them were not even close or overly competitive.

    The Miami match was the only one in which Nadal was even close to possibly winning over Djokovic. Nadal got his ass kicked for an entire tennis season by 1 man. Djokovic is now way ahead in the consideration with Laver for the title of Greatest of All Time. He would already be the GOAT if not for his French Open loss to Federer. Djokovic would have completed the calendar slam. Federer did to Djokovic what Nadal did to Federer at the French – prevented him from becoming the GOAT. Despite that loss, his year still puts him far and above Nadal and Federer.

    His best season in tennis history and how he’s won everything is the tell-tale. Not even so much how he’s won, but the main factor is who he has beat along the way. Djokovic is 4-1 vs Federer, 6-0 vs Nadal. The majors are over. The tournaments after this are of little importance to the majority of the tennis world. The US Open is generally considered to be the climax of the season to most fans and pundits.

    So in short, Djokovic is 11-1 vs the “co-GOATs” on every surface throughout the meat of year. Nadal got his lunch handed to him every time with no injury excuses this year. Federer simply choked up the joint every time. There is no argument anymore to save either man from their fates. Neither Federer or Nadal can be considered GOAT after their performances this year.

    I am in no way a Djokovic fan, both on and off the court. But there is no choice but to accept the reality of the situation. Djokovic should be considered as a candidate for GOAT above both Federer and Nadal.

    [Reply]

    onefly9 Reply:

    Hold on a second. It’s way too pre-mature to put Djoker in the GOAT frame yet.
    By the same argument, we should only judge Federer and Nadal by their best season, which Fed has also won 3 slams, 1 slam final and the WTF. So Djoker still has the WTF to go. So despite his better win-lose record up to this point in time, he still have to prove that he could finish the season in style by winning the WTF.
    More importantly, we have to be mindful that Djoker is in his prime now, while Federer is in his 30s. All GOAT will decline at some point and no GOAT will win forever. So the GOAT debate should be based on a player’s achievement through his career in as many facet as possible.
    To me personally, it does not matter who is the GOAT anymore. Federer will forever remain one of the best players that has grace the tennis court, and have done so in perhaps the most elegant style. Besides, he is also the most successful player up till now! Djoker still has more than 10 slams to even match Fed.

    [Reply]

    Mark Reply:

    Nadal won’t be considered the GOAT at any point by anyone sensible, because his head-to-head with Federer is really the ONLY thing he has in his favour – and even then, it’s a minor factor, given the quirky nature of tennis match-ups on the whole, the five-year age difference, and the number of matches they have played on clay. Plus anyone who brings it up can now be met with “but Djokovic owns Nadal, and is the same number of slams behind Nadal as Nadal is behind Federer – so Djokovic is greater?” Head-to-heads get us nowhere.

    Number of grand slams will be the main criteria (along with having a career slam), and Nadal is unlikely to catch Federer now. Any claim that Davis Cup and Olympic Singles Gold are factors can be met with Roger’s 5 WTF titles (more important and impressive than either Olympics or Davis Cup) and his doubles Olympic Gold (if you’re going to factor in a team victory like the Davis Cup, you therefore have to factor in doubles).

    You also can’t ignore a player’s period at the top of the game. Federer holds the record for consecutive weeks at number one, and is almost equal with the record for overall weeks. Nadal isn’t as comfortable dominating the field, except on clay, so he hasn’t been able to hold onto the number 1 ranking for more than a year at a time. The fact that Nadal holds the record for consecutive weeks at number 2 tells you a lot.

    So when they’ve all retired, I think Federer will still be seen to have the best case for being the GOAT, even if Nadal makes it to 14 slams (which I think is doubtful now). His overall period of dominance, number of slams, WTF wins and the general aesthetics of his game will trump any H2H record.

    [Reply]

  35. The reason for Federer’s defeat had nothing to do with Nadal. Federer looked pretty miserable after the match in his interview. The issue Federer has it that he put a lot of hard work in to win the first two sets, playing high level tennis, that he relaxed in the 3rd when he hadn’t got the job done. This let Djokovic back into the match.

    Once Djokovic was back in the match, Federer’s physicallity suffered, and all it takes is one poor service game and a set is gone. Set 4 passed by.

    It was noticable that Federer stepped it up big time in the 5th set, put some real effort into the match, and started to win again. Until the sad choke on match points. When he lost that game he and the match were gone.

    The issue is that Federer relaxes too much after winning two sets against quality players. He relaxes thinking he’s got the job done, but he hasn’t. Maybe that’s what happened V Tsonga at wimbledon? Two sets up, relax, and then bang, suddenly you’re in trouble again.

    Federer needs to go away and work on his fitness and mental concentration to last 3 hours solid. If he can do that, he could win 3 grand slams next year. He has the natural talent, and in my mind is a better player overall than Djokovic and Murray. The only issue is Nadal. Nadal. Nadal. And that match up.

    [Reply]

  36. Roger likes and respects Nadal, he doesn’t LIKE Djokovic. I think he would love to see Rafa beat Nole.You can see it on his face before and after their matches.

    [Reply]

    MS Reply:

    Honestly, I don’t care what Roger likes or wants to see in a Nadal-Djokovic matchup. It is great to see Nadal getting a taste of his own medicine in every possible way. MTO’s included.
    0-6 on 3 surfaces isn’t even a rivalry. It is called “ownage”.

    [Reply]

  37. Anyone else feeling the silver lining of Roger’s heart-breaking loss? I am loving Djokovic’s ownage of Nadal. 0-6 in finals. All surfaces, if that is complete, what is? Nadal can not beat Djokovic for the life of him. The tennis from the final was just an awful. Four and a half hours for a four set bionic egg-fueled doped up grindfest. But Roger’s 16 is looking more secure. How long can Nadal keep grinding away?

    [Reply]

  38. I think Federer is the most criticized athlete ever. I wonder how he can stay positive with all the negativity that is swirling around him. It comes from his fans, non-fans, commentators, media etc. He must be feeling miserable after this loss. How will he gather himself to play Davis Cup in a few days.
    I feel heart-broken. Just can’t imagine how he will manage.
    I think he would have beaten Nadal in the final.
    The US Open reminds me of a Roman gladiator contest. The fans are over the top, so rude and not quiet during play. I noticed all the players thank the fans and say how great they are. I think they do that to get the fans on their side.
    I hope Roger carries on and enjoys his tennis. It’s his life and his career…not ours.

    [Reply]

  39. Even with so much critism from all quarters Federer is playing fantastic at 30. That, in itself, is a great achievement.Somebody was writing in bleacherreport that Federer should have lost about half GS of what he has won. On the other hand we fans( are we really fanatic?) are complaining that he is mentally hopeless. Furthermore we are suggesting that Federer retire outright because he is not satisfying our egos, our pleasure of seeing our hero dismantle all his opponents all the time. We forget that had he retired last year we could have witnessed by now Djokovic complete both the career and calender slams in this year 2011 alone.The final of USO 2011 final indicates that had there been Federer instead of Djokovic in the final, Nadal would have definitely bullied his way to the 11th GS title and put a nail in the coffin of Federer’s remaining confidence.Is that better than Federer losing to Djokovic and still demonstrating that even at age 30 and Djokovic being the hottest player Federer is not at all owned by Djokovic ? Excuse me for having unconventional thinking.My acquaintances recognize me just that way.

    [Reply]

  40. Hi,
    My take on Fed’s USO losses:
    a) USO 2010 SF :-( probability of having to face Nadal at the other end of the net for the finals).
    b) USO 2011 SF : More or less a repeat of USO 2010 type situation
    c) USO 2009 Final : Genuinely feel that Roger was carrying a back injury during his later sets of his loss against Del Potro, which got aggravated during play.

    I also just can’t help thinking that a possible meeting with Nadal in the final played on Roger’s mind again. If Nadal were not to be a factor, I am convinced, he would have won the SF and had a shot at his 17th slam. But he must play a waiting game now.

    As it turns out, USO is the only GS, where Roger has not lost to Nadal. Since we were telling all this time that Nadal is yet to prove he is good enough to face Roger in the USO. But now that Nadal is sort of making the SF and Finals, Roger is in the post-prime stage of his career (a point in most tennis player’s time where even making into the R16 or QF of a Slam is in itself a big achievement). Only Roger’s goal, talent, his hunger and love for the game is taking him further beyond most normal players’ achievements.

    He still feels that on his day, he can beat anyone (other than Nadal for reasons partly mental (frustration of having to hit multiple winners after winners after winners to go through the Nadal Wall) and reasons partly match-up including the most significant SHBH). I still feel the match would be on his racket. I would any day side with a match-winner with 60 winners to 55 UE against a winner with 20 Winners and 15 UE.

    Assume that these thoughts are acting as under-currents in one’s mind while playing :
    1) Why would a guy want to relinquish his only place of dominance to Nadal (Roger may ahve felt that given his age, only way to protect his only remaining unbeaten legacy at Slams with Nadal is by not having to meet Nadal in the finals).
    2) Why would a guy want to remove a nemesis (Djoko) of his nemesis (Nadal) from the path and smoothen the path for another title at his nemesis’s least favourite surface and allow him closer to his GS record ?

    It is a lose-lose situation for Roger. Even if he were to beat Nadal at USO, in case they met, people would only talk “Didn’t I tell you”. In view of Roger’s hardcourt prowess, it was a foregone conclusion. But if he were to lose, Roger would be relinquishing his only remaining place of dominance in GS to Nadal and also spoil his H2H (even though I don’t give a damn about this).

    I think this plays into his mind at the final stages of his game. Even if you are in a winning positon, like Roger was, it is almost like “Hey man … we have played high quality tennis for most part of 4-1/2 sets. Finish it off for me, will ya? The opponent may also sense a opening during this period of indecisiveness and tentative play and then suddenly BANG … Roger loses yet another match, after being UP MATCH POINTS. Easy to give such headlines in a paper / website, but as hardcore Roger fans, we also might need to think about such a scenario as above for Roger, which might have prevented him from finishing off his match.
    Come On, You mean to say Roger, one of the finest, accurate and precision servers in the game, cannot serve out the match on his racktet (break UP and serving for the match at 5-3, 40-15). I don’t take it. Anyway, these are my personal opinions and not meant to hurt / degrade anybody.

    With great regards to Roger, nobody escapes Papa Time.
    Guys he, at 30 years is supposed to face a super-fit, mid/post prime 25-yr old Nadal at the USO final. I am not saying Roger would lose at the outright. But, I feel that Roger saw it coming in USO 2010 itself. Hence, his defeat to Djoko (with all due respects) was partly in thinking too much into the future match (finals) if he were to win his SF. This sort of indecisiveness and half mindedness at the highest level of competitive sport, coupled with Djoko’s “Hail Mary” brilliance at the right moments helped save match points and finally led to his defeat at both the USO 2010 and also USO 2011.

    I still feel Roger has atleast 2 Slams in him. He needs to be in the mix (preferable in top 4) and he is within striking distance of winning slams. Add a bit of luck of the draw and/or some power hitter taking out Nadal in the 1st week of a slam. Roger can still handle power hitters (like we saw with Cilic, Tsonga) through strategy. Also, it is not humanly possible for the Nadals, Djokos (with their style of play) to consistently win and defend titles, year after year as Roger did, without taking a toll on their bodies. Roger’s style of play helps his longevity and he will be there to win another Slam, if not a couple.
    At this age, if this veteran is able to give such stiff resistance to youngsters in their prime like Djokovic, Tsonga, Cilic, it speaks volumes about Federer’s prowess. Federer should patiently wait, as there definitely will be a time when the tide will turn for good and I hope it is pretty sooner. God bless Roger and all of us..
    Two more points before I end my post :
    1) After his USO win in the SF (Fed), Djoko becomes the only player to own 10 wins over both the mighty Fed and Nadal. Irony at the point of time is Djoko has beaten Nadal more than he has beaten Fed. (maybe we could use this also to prop up the GOAT debate). Just joking.
    2) After the failed / aborted Rafa Slam, the “Djoko Slam” ticker is now truly Up and running. Watch out for the hype starting Jan 2010, for the AO and continue upto June 2012 (Wimby 11, USO 11, AO 12, FO12).

    Thanks for your patience.

    [Reply]

  41. I am watching now the replay of the Nadal & Djokovic match and now I am glad that Roger lost to Novak! I don’t think he can match Nadal’s style of play. The way these 2 guys plays is just like watching a gladiator match! It is soo irritating the sounds they make!

    [Reply]

  42. Unfortunately–actually, fortunately–I was not able to watch the match. Like everyone on the blog, I get emotionally involved, and the two match point moment–lost!–would have been extremely painful. And, as someone says, above, if it’s like that for me, I can only imagine what it must have been like–what it must be like today–for Roger.

    But I did watch most of the Novak/Rafa Championship. I think it was great tennis–it’s not Roger’s tennis, but Roger’s tennis is not the only way to play the game, though it’s one of the most beautiful ways to play it. I could not stop thinking that Roger would have been played off the court with either of these guys whose ultimate strength is mental. I’ve never seen Novak give up, not in his new incarnation, the one he’s worked for–I don’t, for a moment, buy any doping argument. Players evolve–there was Roger before he became ROGER, and there’s Novak: it’s the evolutionary process that great champions go through. But that’s not the point of this post.
    How often, recently, have we seen Roger get to the moment of greatness and….pause? Too often–a number of postings have specified those moments. It’s not that he’s physically incapable: we saw that in the astonishing Monaco match. But when the competitor is truly formidible–Novak, especially; Rafa, always–Roger’s self-belief flickers. There’s no way in the world that he wants to lose; but it’s become painfully clear that there’s no way in the world that, against these two, he truly, at the level where it’s unconscious, believes that he can win. He can come up to the moment of winning, the moment of greatness, but then…he loses his nerve: he over-hits; his wrist slackens and he hits the net; his focus blurs and, for a man who feels every inch of the court in his fingertips, he’s suddenly…unsure of distance, depth, angle. It’s happened too often to be anything but a window into his inner process.
    The two men out there in the final are in a different world. Rafa was beaten into limping; Novak has, it really does appear, forgotten how to lose: he’s in the magic period that led all of us to move from awe to love of Roger–that period which in Roger’s case is over.

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    jim Reply:

    How do you explain him beating Novak in the FO and NAdal in last year’s WTF at the peak of Nadal’s powers?

    I don’t get this obituary writing of Federer. He has been right in there. Yes, he hasn’t won one in 6 tries, but come on two semis one final and one quarterfinal and with Novak he nearly did beat him on Djokovic’s favorite surface and he’s 6 years older than him. Everyone should stop making categorical statements. IF anything one should say Nadal should just give it up. His matches with Novak aren’t close at all. It’s a genuine rivalry with Novak-Federer.

    [Reply]

    ed Reply:

    A couple of things explain last year’s victory over Nadal, starting with the venue and the time of the season, Jim. And it was last year. I don’t see anything “categorical” in what I said, and I don’t expect–except through the luck of the draw (by which I mean that Novak and Rafa are knocked out)–to see Roger win a slam again–not against Nadal AND Novak. And, though I take it that you’re being ironic about Nadal quitting, why, at 25, would Nadal give up? Because he’s been beaten by Novak? Nadal’s run of victories has been stopped, cold, by Novak, so that’s what he has, for the first time, to figure out. But Roger at 30? A different world of experience, a different kind of tennis, and, as we’ve seen–of course there are exceptions (Roger’s beating a poor-serving Tsonga is an example) Roger fading in the face of tenacious playing with real power.
    I agree that the rivalry has shifted, or, rather expanded. The most dramatic version is Roger vs Novak, but Novak vs Rafa is nonetheless a genuine rivalry too, #1 vs #2.
    You believe, I guess, that Roger can still win a Slam–based on how Roger plays in absolutely crucial moments, I don’t. I don’t think I’m writing Roger’s obit, but facing facts. Time will tell who’s right.

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    jim Reply:

    I completely disagree. And I noticed you didn’t mention the FO victory over Novak just a few months ago. His loss in the semis this year was more mental than anything. He clearly could have and should of won. He lost his focus at match point. That doesn’t mean he should retire. Sports are mercurial and there are endless ups and downs. On top of that RF’s game is much more translatable to being 30 than NAdal’s. Besides the slams Nadal has not had a good year at all. Grinding every point is damaging to one’s health. His 25, but his style of play makes him older.

    [Reply]

    ed Reply:

    Just to clarify–and maybe this is what you’re pointing at. I have not said that Roger should retire. What I wrote in my original post was this: “The two men out there in the final are in a different world. Rafa was beaten into limping; Novak has, it really does appear, forgotten how to lose: he’s in the magic period that led all of us to move from awe to love of Roger–that period which in Roger’s case is over.” I didn’t say that his career is over; I didn’t say that he should retire. I said that the “magic period” of Roger’s invincibility–and his belief in that invincibility–is over.
    Yes, sport is “mercurial,” but–and I did allow for exceptions–the pattern of Roger being unable to close out a match against a “truly formidable opponent” has become the issue. In fact, it’s the only issue in this entire discussion that has agitated so many–quite rightly, I believe. How long Roger will be content to be #3 is something we’ll all discover.
    I take your point about Nadal’s style of play; I’ve commented on that too. A more careful schedule may take care of the exhaustion-factor. Who knows? but I was responding to your specific point: “IF anything one should say Nadal should just give it up. His matches with Novak aren’t close at all.” At any rate, if you’re still convinced I’m “categorical” in insisting that Roger “retire,” you’re misreading what I’ve actually written.

    [Reply]

    Babel Reply:

    Sometimes, I feel that people are just negative for the sake of being negative. Sad.

    Has anyone else noticed how we have so many more posters after a crushing defeat, platitudes in hand and everything. Tch!

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    booya719 Reply:

    I don’t think people mean to be negative on purpose, just sometimes it feels they are being that way when they try to express themselves while they deal with the pain.

    I’m the one who said Federer should retire but it’s not in a negative sense. It happens to all greats sooner or later. Gretzky, Jordan, Ali, Sampras – the list goes on.

    Hindsight is 20/20 so the positive side is that if Federer had retired at the end of last year, Djokovic would have won the calendar slam and Nadal would still be at 9 slams. He’d be 0-7 vs Djokovic in finals – complete ownage.

    How is this a bad thing under the current thought process that’s going on here? It seems like the people here don’t care much anymore about Federer winning – we are glad now when Federer loses simply for the fact that it has allowed Djokovic to beat Nadal. We are now watching tennis for the sake of seeing Nadal lose.

    To me that entirely defeats the purpose of enjoying Federer and makes us no better than what Nadal and has fans have done to Federer. If we have nothing else to take pleasure in other than Nadal’s losses then what in turn does that make us? I for one will never be glad to see Federer lose under any circumstance or scenario to anyone.

    If the main pleasure is now seeing Nadal get beat then whether Federer retires or not doesn’t matter. Infact with Federer out of the picture there would be nobody to stop Djokovic from killing Nadal in every tournament from here on out. Just some food for thought.

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  43. Yesterdays final was the worst i have ever seen. The play so ugly i had to force myself to watch. If the were hurling tomatos at each other, it would have been better. Wish it was Roger and just about anybody else.

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    With all due respect, I probably wouldn’t force myself to watch a match if I thought it was that ugly and ‘the worst final I had ever seen’.

    [Reply]

    Susan Reply:

    It is a difficult position i find myself in, loving tennis but having a hard time watching Nadal and Nole play, To me a simple slug fest is boring. I prefer tennis that has alot of thought and skill like Rogers game. Through out the us open Roger continued to take my breath away with his shot making. There were many matches i enjoyed but not the final. Considering Nadal and Nole are 1 and 2 i will probably be forcing myself to watch many finals in the next few years.

    [Reply]

    neil Reply:

    @marron/Nadal fan. Well, you would say that, wouldn’t you?

    [Reply]

    marron Reply:

    I’m sure you’re being sarcastic, neil, but I’m just being honest about that. I love tennis too, but something like that Isner-Mahut thing, or Karlovic, or some other combinations I don’t care for – I just won’t watch. I’ve got better things to do with my time. Certainly I’m NOT implying anyone else here has that too, just mentioned my own thoughts. That is all.

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  44. Despite a far from ideal preparation for this US Open, Roger Federer managed to reach the semis of a major championship AGAIN.
    He played at a very high level in the QF and SF of this US OPEN edition, and demonstrated an excellent form. It was a joy to watch him play, and only some bad luck made him lose his SF.

    This is the thing we should focus on in my opinion: if his gamelevel doesn’t drop during the coming tournaments, he will be able to keep his actual ATP-ranking and will remain a real contender for the major championships next year. He will have his chances for the major titles as much as anyone else of the top 4.
    This is not some wishful thinking, but evidence based reasoning.

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  45. In my last post I gave my reasons why Roger should consider retiring. These were given in the heat of the moment, right after his highly frustrating loss to the Djoker. I still think my points were and are valid, but now, with the passage of time, I can see that the arguments for him playing on also have validity. I still firmly believe that, barring prolonged injury to the frenetic Serb or plodding Spaniard, it is unlikely that Roger will win another Major. The ravages of aging just take too big a toll on both the mind and the body. That said, no one can deny that Federer prevented the Djoker from completing the Grand Slam this year when he beat him at the French semis. This is a great achievement for Roger’s legacy, in and of itself. And now, with the Djoker’s total ownage of Nadal, Roger’s Major record may be safe for a generation to come. The best we can hope for in 2012, in my humble opinion, is that the Djoker grinds down Nadal some more and wins 3 Majors (especially the French!), while Roger ekes out a victory at Wimbledon or the US Open. As the years pass, I would be more than happy to see the Serb win numerous Majors. Anything to keep Nadal’s count closer to 10 than 15. So Fedfans, let’s hope the Djoker even surpasses Nadal’s final Major tally, and that both remain well below 16 (or 17 if God is kind). The Serb has a classier game than the Spaniard, so in my eyes he would be more deserving. Of course, all this is mere speculation. For all we know, Roger could rise like a phoenix form the ashes and win an additonal handful of Majors. Or, some new, unknown phenom could suddenly emerge and shatter all of Roger’s records within 10 years. The Fates have an uncanny way of surprising us.

    [Reply]

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