US Open SF: Federer Does the Right Thing, Loses to Djokovic and Avoids Nadal

In tennis nothing is ever certain, just as in life. And today was once again proof of that. Everyone has been talking and hyping up the very probable Fedal final, yet it will not happen. I even wrote a preview for the match yesterday, although I did admit it may never happen. The first semi-final today was between Rafa and Youzhny, which was another no contest. Rafa won 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. Rafa has not lost a set so far and he has only been broken twice as far as I know. Youzhny broke back in the third set to level the score at 4-4, but was broken again right afterwards. It was just to save face. Youzhny never believed he could win. So why does players always seem to play their worst against Rafa? The same thing happened in the Wimebldon final where Berdych didn’t show up. And I know for a fact Youzhny is capable of playing much better than he did today.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think Rafa puts the fear into his opponents because he is the most clutch player in history. You may remember two posts ago(I think it was), where I said Rafa has pressure on him because Murray lost early and now he is the favorite, which he doesn’t like to be. That was wrong. Rafa doesn’t feel pressure. He is immune to it. This puts an enormous amount of pressure on his opponents, including Roger. Roger knows all too well about Rafa’s clutch play. He has lost to him in three of the four slam finals, and at least two times in extremely close matches. The beatings he has suffered at the hands of Rafa almost broke him as a tennis player. He was pretty much traumatized in the Australian Open final last year, to the point where he couldn’t hold back his tears. I don’t think he has ever fully recovered from that loss.

Of course you may argue that he won three slams after that. But did he ever have to face Rafa in them? No. In the French Open Rafa lost early and at Wimbledon he didn’t even play. At the US Open last year Rafa and Del Potro played first, so when Roger stepped on court he already knew there was no Rafa waiting for him in the final. If you think you know where I’m going with this then you are probably right. I think Roger lost to Djokovic today not because Djokovic was better, but because Rafa was waiting in the final. And I won’t be convinced otherwise. Throughout todays match Roger never really impressed me. Of course the 5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 scoreline would suggest that it was a very close match, which it was. But first of all, does that score strike you as slightly weird? It does me.

First Roger wins the first set. Everything is looking good. At this point I was even asking for a straight set win, because I thought he needed to send Rafa a message before the final. Then out of nowhere he loses the next set 6-1. He basically just checks out. Same thing in the next two sets. He plays well in the third set only to check out once more in the fourth. Now if that doesn’t make you suspect something, then in the fifth set he produces two match points at 5-4 on the Djokovic serve. And he plays two points which didn’t convince at all. He basically just waited for Djokovic to make the error and in the process loses both. He also fails to take advantage of several other opportunities in the fifth set which he would normally take easily. He allows Djokovic to hang around long enough to finally win the match.

Djokovic broke in the next game as expected and in the final game I think Roger has break point opportunities again, or at least he was 30-0 up. I think he was at 30-0 and then he missed a shot which he normally would make 10/10 times. Anyway the point is he had several chances and couldn’t take advantage. This is unlike the Roger we have seen of late. Another way to demonstrate this is the low first serve percentage of 51%. This after he has been serving so well of late. All this point to the fact that he was already thinking of Rafa who was waiting for him in the final. It’s just a huge emotional burden, knowing that the guy who has traumatized you in the past is there waiting in the final to do the same again. I don’t think Roger lost this consciously. It was a sub-conscious thing. Unresolved emotional pain from the past always is.

Seeing how Rafa destroyed yet another opponent earlier in the day just put too much pressure on him going into this match. Otherwise I’m convinced he would have destroyed Djokovic once again. In truth Djokovic is just there to pick up the pieces. He always is. He did the same at the Australian Open when Roger couldn’t perform due to mono.  I don’t think he has much of a chance tomorrow. Rafa will complete the career slam. I’m almost certain of that. Roger already did the assist by tiring Djokovic out, and Rafa will finish him off. Rafa is destined to win this event as destined as Roger was to win the French open last year, only with an easier draw and less hiccups. If he doesn’t win it then it will be good for Roger in and indirect way, but even Roger has said he hopes Rafa wins.

Like I said, I don’t think Roger ever really got over the losses he suffered at the hands of Rafa, especially last years Australian Open final. He always said Rafa was just too good that day, but to me that is denial. He had obvious chances to put Rafa away in the third set and it came back to haunt him big time. But this is not as simple as one match. This rivalry is a very complicated thing with many dimensions. The mental hold that Rafa has on Roger increased over the years probably beginning with that five set loss in Rome where Roger had a match point. If he had won that match things could have been very different. Also the loss at Wimbledon in ’08 left a scar. And finally last year Down Under was the final nail in the coffin. I really think this is the reason Roger lost today. I never wanted to admit that Rafa ‘owns’ Roger, but I accept that now.

Roger has not been the same in the mental department for some time now. He is still OK as long as Rafa is not around, but he wants to avoid Rafa now when it matters. Rafa on the other hand is a mental giant. Pressure only makes him play better. This doesn’t have to take anything away from Roger though. As far as raw talent goes Roger will always be in another league than Rafa, just as Rafa will always be in another league than Roger mentally. There is room for both. I always had this idea that Roger was somehow better than Rafa, and that is also one of the reason I supported him. But I don’t know about that anymore. I think Rafa will complete the career slam tomorrow and he could catch up with Roger in slam titles. I think at the end of the day they may end up very close in terms of their legacies and place in the history of the game.

Job well done champ (Source)

But either way I’m happy with today’s result, strange as that may sound. Roger was not ready for a final with Rafa and in my opinion he would have suffered another heart breaking loss which would have damaged his legacy a huge amount. By losing here he doesn’t give people like Brad Gilbert the satisfaction of losing to Rafa in the finals. You would have never heard the end of it from these people if Roger did the career slam loss to Rafa in finals. They would have said that the owning in the head-to-head is now complete and therefore Roger could never be called the one and only GOAT. And I would have had to agree with them. Seriously. If a single guy can own you so badly that he beat you in all the slam finals, how can you be the GOAT? Unfortunately these guys do have a point. If nothing else it would leave a blemish on his legacy.

So crazy as this may sound to you, I’m happy with this result. It would have been too much if Rafa completed two career slams tomorrow. The career slam in slams and the career slam in beating Roger in slam finals. There was just too much at stake given the history of this rivalry. Now people can go put an asterisk next to Roger French Open win last year all they want, because the same thing is happening here. Rafa doesn’t get to face the one guy that has proved pretty much unbeatable at the US Open, just as Roger didn’t face the guy who ruled the French. It all works out OK in the end. If Rafa wins tomorrow, he still has 7 slams to win to catch up with Roger. And even though this is another disappointing loss for Roger in a slam, he can still win more slams in the future. If he had lost to Rafa in the final I’m not so sure that would have been the case.

Now there is at least two slams where Roger still have the upper hand over Rafa, Wimbledon and the US Open. Both in head-to-head and in terms of results. At the Australian Open he is behind in the head-to-head, but he is still far ahead in the results. Take away the French Open, and Roger is still far ahead of Rafa in terms of results in all the slams. I think if we look at the GOAT debate the first consideration are always the slams. So only if Rafa equal Roger in that department will their head-to-head come into play, given that Rafa completes the career slam tomorrow as well. And I don’t think Roger is quite done winning slams either. So in the end I’m pretty happy with how everything turned out, regardless of what happens tomorrow. I know this is another tough loss for Fedfanatics to accept, but believe me things could have turned out a lot worse.

Take note: Finally let me just say one more time that if anyone disagrees with me, then feel free to do so. For many people it will he hard to believe that someone like Roger Federer will be scared of Rafa. But let me make one thing clear again: I never said that Roger lost on purpose, and I don’t believe he ever has or ever will. I made it clear that this is a sub-conscious thing. With this blog I have never forced anyone to agree with me. Also I have never been afraid to say it how I see it and I try to be objective an honest. But no matter what you say, people will find fault with it. If I say this had nothing to do with Rafa, the haters would call me a Fedtard(someone who is completely biased in their like of a player), just as some Fedfanatics will now say I have no respect for Roger. That is why I don’t care what people think.

I just say it how I see it based on my experience(which is a lot), and don’t bother to listen to negative criticism. That doesn’t mean we can’t have discussions and I can’t change my opinion. But I think you get the gist of what I’m saying.

Presser: http://www.usopen.org/en_US/news/interviews/2010-09-11/201009111284257813671.html

Highlights:

Roger Federer


Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , .

79 Comments

  1. Great post. I knew that you would tell it like it is. If Roger would have faced Rafa and lost in the finals, that would have been a tremendous BLOW to his legacy. Worse than Wimby, Worse that Australia, it would have been the WORST LOSS OF HIS CAREER. The critics would have dehumanized him BIG TIME. Roger’s year went downhill since he got sick. He has had a bad year. Then he still has to motor on through the fall. Boy is tennis long. I actually don’t feel bad that Roger lost today. Better today than to Rafa again. Rafa has a GREAT shot to break 16 if he is healthy. He is young and we all know that tennis is a young person’s sport. There were times that Roger looked 29 today. His personal life (with his family) may be great, but for some time now, professionally, it has been going down, since the peak of 2007. It will be interesting when Roger retires, what legacy he leaves to the game. That is what I look forward to as his career goes through these changes. Sometimes I wish Roger and Rafa were the same age. It just feels that some of the best matches we could have seen we will never see.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Denise, it would have certainly been the worse loss of his career and he simply couldnt take that risk given what was at stake.

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  2. Ruan,

    I think your post is so apt but made me feel incredibly sad. Roger is such beautiful and talented player and it makes me so upset that Rafa plays with such brute force he utterly destroys the beauty of the game. He looks like a crazed bull when he plays!!

    Thanks for your wonderful words and I pray that with God’s help (also with Paul Annacone’s input) Roger’s game will continue to evolve so he will win many more.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Dont feel too sad Roger has already had an incredible career and this loss will allow him to win more slams in the future. If he lost in the final that would have been more difficult. Also he will always be a more talented and beautiful player than Rafa. Nothing can change that and that is why we love Roger. Like you, i find no pleasure in watching Rafa play. Each and every match in this USO so far of him have been a complete bore.

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    jane Reply:

    how is roger going to win many more GS if rafa happens to be there each n every time. anyway dun think roger lose on purpose but after the lost probably thought its better losing to djokovic than rafa again

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    erdian Reply:

    What do you suggest to Nadal? loose the match to Fed?

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  3. I dont recall federer saying that nadal was “too good” in the australian open final. He blamed his lack of rythm on his first serve, and he also said he “gave” the match away.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    If he said that then im happy, because it further proves my point. But i know for a fact he has also said many times that everyone forgets how well Rafa played that day, as if there was nothing he could do.

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    Fedfan Reply:

    And that’s something else that is inexplicable. That Rafa was not tired for that final. The match with Verdasco was so long and Rafa ran like a mad rabbit for 5 1/4 hours. Yet he did it against vs Roger.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes i was very surprised by that as well. I guess its not impossible that he was on something. We cant know.

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    k Reply:

    Not that again. I’m tired of this “He is on something” nonsense. Like Nadal is “the god of tennis” and every ATP member had to follow him since he was 15. He plays with the same intensity since he was a kid and that means he always used something i guess. Strange he didn’t die because of an heart attack by now. As I told before, letting a player to cheat only would harm ATP, there is no point for them to cover Nadal.
    Verdasco kept his level until the end of that semifinal although he is older than Nadal, was he on something too? Nadal had a day off before final and he looked reasonably tired. If he was on something, that match would not last for 5 sets (Federer said Nadal was not too good and he gave the match away, at least he said “not everytime the better player wins in a 5-set match” if i’m not wrong). Wimbledon 2008 went to 5 sets because Nadal wasn’t tired and both players were playing good.
    Usain Bolt is the fastest runner not because he is on something, that is because we didn’t see anyone faster before. Same applies for Nadal, we didn’t see anyone stronger before. People should just deal with this fact. Otherwise they can claim anyone who seems to be good is on something and live in a delusional world.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Why are you trying to prove a negative? Hmmm…

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    k Reply:

    Me? Proving? ATP does the proof part not me :-)

    I just hate it when people accuse others based on…absolutely nothing. This is both disrespectful for players but funny at the same time. It is like an attempt to re-write history with a more favourable ending :-)

    Anyway, some weeks ago we discussed this “using something” issue and we both agreed that is is nonsense to think that ATP lets players use things. AO 2009 results were the same at that time. It was like yesterday, i wonder what happened.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I didnt accuse him of anything. Why so defensive?

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    k Reply:

    Defense? How can i defend anyone on this subject seriously? I only say i don’t like accusations or implications of cheating (which more or less serves for the same purpose) when there is no proof at all.

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  4. I Think you’re right about the subconscious thing. Those painful losses in the hands of Rafa, no matter how hard Roger tries to forget them,it will resurface. I’m a Roger fan, but I think Rafa is capable of surpassing Roger’s slam record. Rafa likes challenges, and he isn’t the kind of guy to be contented on what he already has achieved. As hard as it is to accept for us Fedfans, Rafa I think has the chance to assert himself to be the real GOAT. :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes but dont forget Roger can also still add to his slam tally. It is not a foregone conclusion by any means that Rafa will become the GOAT. If he had beaten Roger in the final here he would have had a better chance.

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  5. am just wondering, why the Nadal/Youhzny played ahead of Roger/Novak? Isn’t it Roger’s group is always scheduled ahead of Rafa’s group? do you think Novak has something to do with the schedule? I know he do not want to play the under the heat. I reckon if Roger played first, it will all be a different game altogether.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I think Rafa played first because of profit reasons. Rogers match was always gonna be more interesting which is why they put it later in the day. Who knows whether Roger would have won had he played first. Im happy with the way things worked out.

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    anewor Reply:

    what you have discussed are all purely hypothetical and what i think as well. but my feeling is that the win of Nadal got to Roger’s head and this distracted him, whether he admits it or not. but i do BELIEVE that if only he survived djokovic, he would beat nadal! and I know he has a better chance of beating nadal over djokovic. until now I am still feeling depressed over yesterday’s lost :-( i hope he does well in the next masters tournaments specially London.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    We are all a little depressed. Dont feel alone :-)

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  6. Ruan,
    When I was thinking that Federer would have 23 record slam finals if he defeated Djokovic I was a bit sad that he lost but your post convinced me that whatever happened was the best thing after Nadal demolished YouZhny. Thank goodness, that match was before Federer-Djokovic match

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    Ru-an Reply:

    He will still make 23 slam finals, and more…

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  7. Agree–good post overall. It was fairly clear that Federer was a bit tense from the opening of the match. I think that he may have both been expecting to win against Djokovic (given their past matches here) and fearful of playing Nadal. That may have been the deadly combination and explained his dips in concentration and form. I mean I was just puzzled by the whole thing and in retrospect, it is fitting that the two pretenders thrash out the rights to the throne. Nadal and Djokovic are two great guys and may the best chap win. all I can say is that I’m grateful it’s not that annoying Murray.
    Onward and forward

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  8. After watching today’s match, I felt so deflated. But your last post kept coming to mind…and all I could think was I am glad the loss came today at the hands of Djokovic rather than tomorrow to Nadal. And then I read your post just now and I actually felt a sense of calm and peace. I think you have a lot of insight and I think you “nailed” this one (in the presser Roger even says better it happened today, it would have been worse if it were the final; I think it was on his mind the whole time). Roger’s losses are always tough to take but I think he’s still got great things to share in the future and I still look forward to those.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Wendy. Glad you felt more calm and peace reading my blog.

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  9. There was something weird about this match today; right from the start, it was quite topsy turvy. In mathematical language, Fed had a lot of points of jump discontinuities in his game today. At times, it was just inexplicable. Though Fed credited Nol for his (Fed’s) loss, I am still bemused with Fed’s choice of shots on more than one occasion.

    Anyway, everybody knows that Fed does a lot of charities; include last years final and this semifinal as one of those. Only a person with a great heart like Fed can do that (LOL).

    And Ru-an, please don’t be mad at Fed. This guy has given us so much to cherish about! He will bounce back; at least the feeling is much better than the late first half of this season when Fed used to lose in early rounds of tournaments.

    COME ON ROGER, WE KNOW YOU CAN STILL DO IT!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m not mad at all. I’m glad about this loss.

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  10. I absolutely agree with your post and hope you remember I have said in a previous post”I prefer a Roger´s loss before the final than a loss in a Fedal final”, one of your readers replied “to avoid confrontations is not healthy”.The same about pressure in my opinion all on Roger´s side.And I do think he lost this conciously.
    Roger is very smart,I felt like the Roger who played QF. destroying Sod.was not the Roger who played the Semi today.(even his face was tense)
    In his post match interview he said:”Many times when I lose I feel it´s on my racquet”
    No matter what I firmly believe Roger is the greatest player regardless of tittles,head-to-head, what have you.
    His rival will never reach even near his records.

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  11. Ruan,
    Liked your post though I am in a dilemma about agreeing with you. But I read his presser and he said something like : “would have loved to play against Nadal in the final but just being there and losing, that wouldn’t have been nice either.”
    Makes me wonder how much that was playing on his mind already that Nadal was in the final, hardly breaking a sweat beating no-names all through the final in his cakewalk draw, also having the advantage of playing the first semi and getting the extra rest while Roger had to grind it out with Novak in the second semi.
    The thought definitely must have crept in , sub-consciously as you say, that once he failed to win it in straights against Nole, his chances weren’t much if he had to face Nadal in less than 24hours.
    Can’t explain how else he played so horribly after some solid matches leading up to this semi.
    Still waiting for better days and hopeful they will come.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Exactly MS, he played very well in the lead up and the way he played clearly made no sense. The reason is obvious.

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  12. You’ve just confirmed what I believed: Roger was in control of the match so it is hard to believe there is another reason for his loss. He has no problem to meet him on clay /Madrid 2010/ because he is not favorite and has nothing to lose. I’m really sad but relieved at the same time. Guess he is going to regroup be cause the next year he has mission – taking N1 back.
    As for the final Djokovich is tend to make close matches with Rafa /even on clay/ so I couldn’t write him off. Especially after his victory over Roger /who he is afraid of/ I think he will be inspired. Rafa is to good but he is far from being unbeatable here.

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  13. Glad to know that I am not the only one that thinks this loss is good for Roger. He is not ready to face Nadal just yet. The big question now, how will he ever overcome his fear of Nadal. I hope he now looks ahead and start to plan for 2011 season with Annocone. Hopefully his time with his new coach could change his mindset a litte. Personally I think Roger should stop thinking too much about Nadal. He is at next phase in his career, just play freely stop thinking about pressure and go for broke. Heck he has nothing to lose anymore.

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  14. I think what really freaked Roger out was the unexpected dominant form Nadal is in in this tournament. on his WORST SURFACE. I am actually in complete shock over Nadal’s form as is pretty much every tennis commentator and journalist. So I am guessing Roger and the rest of the field were just as shocked as everyone else.

    -Nadal spent most of his break after Wimbledon relaxing and getting knee treatments. His rust really showed in the two tuneup events where he looked pretty bad.

    -Nadal has been at best the 6th best hardcourt player since last summer (behind Federer, Del Potro, Djokovic, Murray and Davydenko). Losses to Cilic, Ljubicic, Roddick and not winning a set at the World Tour finals ringining a bell?

    -Nadal has not won a post August hardcourt title since 2005.

    -The only player to reach a hardcourt US Open final without dropping a set is Ivan Lendl. Roger and Pete always dropped 2-3 sets before getting to the final. That Nadal hasn’t lost a set is shocking.

    -His overnight serve improvements have never been done in the history of this sport.

    So here’s Roger, knowing all these things, expecting Rafa to at least lose a set or two (Simon, Lopez, Verdasco and Youzhny were each capable of winning 1 set!) and here he is marching into the US Open final in the most dominant form since the 2008 French Open.

    I honestly cannot understand how Nadal has done this. Roger never improved his game at this great rate so quickly. All of these developments had to have been very surprising to him. This is a player who had only won one US Open semis set in his entire life prior to today.

    Unbelievable.

    [Reply]

    k Reply:

    “Roger never improved his game at this great rate so quickly.”

    He did, and he did even more quickly.

    Federer improved his clay court when he was 24. Just like Nadal improved his worst surface results at the age of 24. Federer’s improvement on clay was even more significant when compared to Nadal’s. Federer’s Roland Garros results were not consistent before 2005. Things clicked for him in 2005, he didn’t drop one set when he went to semis that year although he played with players like Gonzalez or Moya. On the other end Nadal constantly improved his results at US Open and he is more stable. It took both of the players to make 8 attempts till they reach their first finals.

    A Federer – Nadal comparison on their worst surfaces (From their start to their first final)

    Federer on RG: 1R 4R QF 1R 1R 3R SF F
    Nadal on US Open: 2R 2R 3R QF 4R SF SF F

    I can’t see any suprise here.

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  15. Also, as good as Rafa looks right now, no player with his playing style has ever won a Slam after age 25. Even serve and volleyers have had difficulty winning Slams at a later age.

    Slams won after turning 26:

    Wilander: 0
    Borg: 0
    McEnroe: 0
    Edberg: 1
    Becker: 1

    Nadal was actually VERY lucky to win his Slams this year because the field absolutely STUNK. It’s the worst men’s tennis has been since 2000-2002. Absolutely awful. 22-25 year old Roger would have won Calendar Slams with Nadal’s 2010 Slam draws!

    If the taller, bigger hitters can get it together next year (Delpo, Cilic, Berdych, Soderling) Rafa is in the same trouble he was last year. Where the heck are the up and coming players? Roger’s had to deal with so many strong young players, what about Rafa?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I dont know how someone with Rafas style of play can keep this up either. If he doesnt burn out in the next couple of years im going to get very suspicious.

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    Fedfan Reply:

    I already got suspicious after Australia last year when after running around like a madman for 5 1/4 hours, he had so much in the tank for 4 more hours two days later.

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    Mike Reply:

    Nadal dominated both soderling and berdych this year. I doubt either of those guys can beat him. Besides Nadal wasnt “lucky” to win the fo, since he’s won it five times.

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    lola Reply:

    2009 french open was also depleted did’nt hear you complaining. nadal only had to beat the players opposite him on the court just like fed at the french so forget the luck factor

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  16. Ru-an,

    It’s your blog and obviously you are entitled to call it like you see/feel it. I might agree with your assessment about Rafa being mentally stronger than Roger or any other tennis player for that matter, but I have to disagree with you – vociferously, I might add – that there was anything sinister behind Roger’s loss to Novak.

    Sure, all those defeats at the hands of your biggest rival will leave scars on your psyche. And yes, the implications of another defeat, in yet another final, in yet another grand slam, would have been devastating. However, despite all that, I don’t for a second believe that Roger would “tank” a tennis match, be it consciously or subconsciously. Suggesting otherwise would not only be disrespectful of a great champion like Federer, but also takes credit away from a great opponent who played great tennis when it really mattered – something that he had never been able to do against Roger or Rafa at the slams.

    Can we step back for a second and look at this loss objectively? Yes, Roger did play up and down the whole match, and yes, he did have match points and failed to close it out. How is it any different from some of the other close matches he has lost since the Australian?

    His younger rivals have been breathing down his neck for a while, and are getting less fearful of his presence on the court, as evidenced by defeats to Tsonga, Baghdatis, Berdych, Soderling, Del Potro.

    You have to realize that Roger’s opponent yesterday, in addition to being a great player, also has a six (!!!) year advantage. As young as the 29 year old Federer looks and plays, you’ll have to think that at some point it turns into a disadvantage against his more speedier & powerful rivals, and that’s exactly what’s happening in front of our very eyes. Father time hands out no favors, not even to the greatest player ever to have stepped on a tennis court. No!

    I was at the match, watching from my high (higher than I would’ve liked) vantage point, two things struck me. Novak, unlike Roger’s last opponent, was getting some great depth on his shots, and was returning exceptionally well, which put the pressure right back on Roger. This meant he had to go for more on the 1st serve, which in turn meant a lower, first serve percentage.

    Ivan Lendl, one of the greatest players, kept running into Connors and McEnroe who thwarted his effort to win a US Open, until he finally broke through beating both of them. He had simply figured out how to beat them. There are parallels here with Novak who for years struggled to solve the Federer puzzle, which he managed to this year.

    As a die-hard Federer fan, it would’ve been exponentially devastating to me, had he lost in the final to Rafa. Yes, this loss to Novak in the semis, rather than a loss to Rafa in the finals, will technically put away – at least for a while – the absurd talk about deciding the GOAT. Not for one second though will I question the heart and the mind of a great champion. My two cents!!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I dont think you read my post. I never said there was anything sinister going on and i never said he tanked. Please read again.

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    zbrain Reply:

    No, you didn’t say he tanked. You alluded to it by suggesting that he didn’t want to play against Rafa in the final. Forget the post itself for a second. your title says “US Open SF: Federer Does the Right Thing, Loses to Djokovic and Avoids Nadal”. If that doesn’t suggest that he threw the match, I don’t know what does.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well if you dont want to believe me then i dont know what else to tell you. The title didnt say he lost to Djokovic on purpose. Thats why its important to read the title AND the post.

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    zbrain Reply:

    Ok, we agree to disagree on the “tanking” part. Let’s leave it there.

    Look, I did read your entire post, and I understand the message that you are trying to convey… the scars from all those devastating defeats to Rafa, he “subconsciouly” decided that in his best interest he was better off losing in the semis to someone else.

    If that’s the case, knowing that the only guy who could take out Rafa on the other half of the draw had gone out, why not “do the right thing” and lose to his good friend Jurgen Melzer? Wouldn’t it be better to do that than give someone like Novak mental strength by losing to him?

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    No, losing to Melzer would have been a disaster as well. That should be obvious.

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  17. So, if Roger is afraid of facing Rafa on court why did he do it in Madrid`s final on clay in 2009 shortly after that painful loss at Australia and this year again at the same event? Up to now we that fans we axusing him that in his prime nadal didn`t reach hard court grand slams` final but see when he had one chance he blew it big time in 2009`s Australia open. Now after not loosing a set he preffered to hide from him? It will be better for his family, himself and the legacy. How many times Agassy was loosing finals to sampras ? Anyone seeing him trying to avoid sampras ? No , right!that`s a looser attitude – to have milions of fans, to be in top shape up to this game, have Anacon as coach…shame !!!with the game against soderling Rafa would not have a chance! Roger was playing agains Joko like please beat me faster…i`ve seen worst attitude to the game only from him again at the last (every..) Roland Garos final. Rafa was getting better and better on each fast surface while our Roger didn`t improve anything to be competitive on play.He lost wimbledon in a close match , didn`t do much this year and now ran away like a mouse from the final. Hi kills the sport ethic playing bad on purpose and he does it in fron t of 20 000 there and millions on tv. How can you go to Anacone and talk to him about improving you game when you loose on purpose? What coach is Anaconne to stay as such after seeing what he this just to avoid Rafa? I`ll run away from him – it`s nor professional and masculine what he did on court. He was better than raffa on every surface than clay and let the clay losses affect his performance against him on faster surfaces. Now was the perfect chance after so nay years to beat him on the fastest surface – his best still. I bagdatis can beat him so covinsingly in Cinsinati so why he couldn`t do it on US Open?Murray can do it almost every time on those courts, davidenko can do it…why…why only he doesn`t wanna do it? “i don`t wanna play cause i might loose and people will say this and that….what goat you are?” I`ll still watch him playing but if winning grand slam means Nadal shouldn`t be there so i could win i`m done with him. Please Roger retire – we don`t need you only to show up when it is easy….

    [Reply]

  18. Ru-an please if something is wrong you can tell me but a
    moderator? it´s hurtful, very hurtful.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Whats wrong?

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    ines Reply:

    Thanks God my colours are back,I´m not mad but Roger´s loss hurts and plus I don´t know if I did something wrong…
    I´m not going to watch the final,you
    know how I´m.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Why do you think you did something wrong?

    [Reply]

    ines Reply:

    You should tell if I did something wrong
    my comment was waiting for moderator…
    it´s not usual.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    You used a different email address, thats why it had to be approved. You have done this in the past as well.

    [Reply]

    ines Reply:

    I have only one may be a mistake,I thought i was going to be banned…

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  19. Which is very funny all things considered,we all know Nadal needs a good draw to make it to the final, but in the end he had it handed to him on silver plate.
    I would have like to see him win with a bit more drama
    may be doing virtual match points like Fed on R.G. 09.
    Seems a bit flat for him to just take it to the final
    with no oposition and with his antitennis.
    Hope Djoko has enough in the tank to take out Nadal, he
    doesn´t deserve this trophy,may be in 20 years we will know why the ATP wants him to win (as Agassi).Just by now GO NOLE!

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  20. Now that the Final is going to be on Monday only, those two match points haunt me even more.

    Well, looking ahead, Fed is scheduled to play five more tournaments this year. If he can win even two of them, it will be a big positive for him going into 2011 as he won none of them last year. I earnestly hope, he wins at least London (winning all the matches) which could give him 1500 ATP points. If he can win Paris, it will another feather in his cap as he has never won there before.

    COME ON FED FANS, LET’S BE POSITIVE ABOUT OUR HERO. TIME IS THE BEST HEALER. ONCE HE STARTS WINNING TOURNAMENTS (WHICH HE HAS ALREADY DONE BY WINNING CINCY) AGAIN, WE ALL WILL BE REJUVENATED AND FORGET ABOUT THE PAIN OF US2010. JUST THINK ABOUT THE WEEK FOLLOWING WIMBLEDON, WE ARE MUCH BETTER OFF AS FEDFANS RIGHT NOW.

    [Reply]

  21. I can’t find any explanation to the 2nd and 4th sets so I’ll go with yours. He was also very content in the presser which struck me as odd and kinda fit your theory. He also talked about not meeting Nadal in the final so obvious he gave it a thought before…

    Federer was playing good in this tournament but not that good – along the way it was hard not to notice that his service games were broken too often (it happened quite often all through this year). Even in the easy matches, in which he was in control, he got broken. Nadal wouldn’t have given him the chance to break back. A few years back, most of the times Federer broke the set was over.
    In a wider perspective, maybe these are the signs of aging – Federer is no longer consistent and cannot play his best all the time (and by time I mean during games/sets/matches/tournaments) and if you look back there are many signs like the US open final last year.
    The last few weeks remind me of what happened before the FO. Federer came back from terrible period and lifted his game to reach the final in Madrid. He played solid in the FO till he met Soderling and lost his game. He had that same “what am I doing here, I don’t need it anymore” face yesterday like he had back then (and the same face he had in Miami and IW). I guess it’s hard to blame him after all his achievements. Still, when he has those moments that he plays like young Federer, it’s magic and it worth him still being around.

    As for Nadal, I predicted he’ll win the tournament after his impressive performances in the last few months. He matured and he is ready. It was obvious he didn’t try to hard to win the 2 Masters events cause he wanted to give it all in the Open. He did the same in Queens loosing to F Lopez. I think we are going the see Nadal focusing mostly on the GS and we won’t see him unbeatable like Federer with 11,12 titles a year and only 4-6 loses at his peak. At this point he is above all the others in mental strength and concentration ability and that’s why he is so successful. Of course, he is also super fit and strong which are crucial to his defensive style.
    It will be interesting to watch the debate of his greatness if someone like Del-Potro can come and give a fight as a young contender, like Nadal was to Federer. I am sure someone will emerge to fight him and it will be easier than fighting Federer since Nadal is all power and fitness and there always will be someone fitter and stronger. I am not sure when someone as genius as Federer will emerge again though…

    [Reply]

  22. Agree with your well written article and would like to elaborate on your view that Rafa has left scars on Roger. Roger has left the same scars on Roddick at wimbledon as Pete Sampras did to Ivanisivic. Rafa has a mental hold on a lot of players because of he is one of the best retrievers in the game, I’ve seen countless players outplay for him long portions of a match only to lose because they could not keep up the shot making. If you take away his speed you take away his game, that’s why he struggles against so many players that federer thrashes without much fuss. I would love to see stats on his time on court compared to Federers for his wins. He burnt out once already and I think he’s going to burnt out long before he approaches Federers record. He does the same amount of running against 100 ranked player as he does against players in the top 10, I must say he has worked on his serve to try and protect his body from the beating it has to go through so if he keeps making those changes and becomes a serve and volleyer perhaps he will be able to play a little while longer lol!

    [Reply]

  23. I think you’re wrong about Djokovic. I think that Djokovic from now on owns Fedex too.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Now THAT is funny.

    [Reply]

    TD Reply:

    You also forgot to mention Soderling and Berdych, they own him too, no?
    get real!

    [Reply]

  24. GREAT Post!!!
    I tried my best to explain the exact same thing to my friends, but failed to do the good job you did in your post. You nailed it my friend.

    Roger will be ALWAYS the GREATEST!

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Lyudmil. Im glad you got it as well. A lot of people dont. ;-)

    [Reply]

  25. Dude, this is a very nice post. Being a nole fan, i find it entertaining, in a few ways.

    Theoretically, things may have gone in the way u elaborated in the above. In my point of view, i dont think roger wants to lose to nole. I mean, look at it this way. If he advances to the final and loses to Nadal, he would have still been no.2. Why risk the rankings to go down to no.3. He is well aware, that in order to stay close to nadal, he needs to win against nole.

    He was well aware that if he loses to nole, he ll go down to no 3. Roger is a great player, i know, but do u actually think that in order to prevent another blow to his career by nadal he planned to lose early to nole? He would have just given up and give nole a three set win aint it right?

    Im partially sad, as u downplayed nole’s victory and focus by not mentioning him playing well as a factor to roger’s loss, but rather, u hypothetically thought that federer rather lose to nole than to Rafa.

    Why not a walkover then? why not a straight set loss? Fed worked his best, but the end of the day, THE BETTER PLAYER WINS. No doubt bout it.

    The conclusion is, Fed played his best, but he lost. As simple as that, although he has shown some magnificent shots that left me wow’ed.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Learn to read. I never said Federer lost on purpose.

    [Reply]

    Denise Reply:

    This thread seems to never end. Ruan, why don’t you do a thread on Roger’s future. Seems with Nadal winning the career grand slam, here in the states they already have him as GOAT. Curious as to what is next for Roger, Rafa and the whole men’s game. It just feels that things are heading for a new era. Here, they already have Roger’s obiturary written.

    [Reply]

  26. This is my first response to your blog, but I do follow you on twitter (jpiatos13).

    This blog post is pretty thought out. I know that you know that Rafa won the US Open, and I agree with you 100% on a few points. First, I agree that if Roger played Rafa in the Finals, Roger would’ve been mentally drained and unable to keep up w/ Rafa. Also, I agree that Roger indirectly (and subconsciously) helped Rafa beat Djokovic. We both know that Roger even rooted for Rafa to win.

    I hope we can talk sometime because I have become a recent Federer fan after his loss to Rafa in the 2009 Aussie Open. Before that, I didn’t like how Roger manhandled everyone on the tour before Rafa did. But, now I can appreciate his graceful, elegant, and smooth game.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Jonathan, thanks for joining my blog for for the twitter follow. I will follow you back there. To be honest it was pretty boring for me at times as well when Roger was just Roger dominated with so much ease. These days there is more drama and plot twists which makes it interesting. I only started this blog about the time you started following Roger.

    [Reply]

  27. Ruan, it upsets me that you write in this article that “Federer does the right thing” in losing to Djokovic and avoiding Nadal.

    It is *never* (ever) better to lose in a semi final than a final. You seem to be concern yourself with the affront you would feel…and that you think Roger would feel, should he lose a further final to Nadal. I repeat, a final loss is always better than a semi loss. Any great of the game will tell you this.

    Tennis is a game played against the field, and it is against the field that history will take it’s measure against you. If Nadal is as good as Federer vs the field, then he will get his 16+ slams and that will be that. Be assured that he will end his career with some lopsided h2h’s….but it will not impinge on his achievement. Likewise with Federer. The second you start saying, for example, that Fed would have been better not to make it to all those FO finals to improve his h2h with Nadal, is the second that you deride the very nature of a champion and everything that makes Fed great. He is the GOAT because more than any other person he has constantly put himself in the position to win.

    The logical conclusion of all this h2h stuff is that you ‘lose early to protect your legacy’. This ludicrousness is the stuff talked by people who don’t understand tennis or the nature of competition, and by echoing it here you are embellishing their misunderstanding. Let the BG’s of this world pedal their illogical vitriol towards the guy who’s game has a beauty beyond their understanding and a greatness beyond anything they will achieve in their own lives.

    Don’t give a damn about what anyone says about Nadal ‘owning’ Federer…..this is fanboy and hater talk. Better always to have been in the final and lost (Fed FO), than not in the final at all (Nads at US Open all these years). Sure Fed might take the odd extra loss to Nadal from here…so what? The guy is five years younger…it is natural progression. You can be sure though that as the Nadal generation continues, you will see bad match ups for Rafa continue as well. It was ever thus.

    Let’s cheer our man to whatever remains of his illustrious and spirit-lifting career. Enjoy every moment…get to see him live whenever you can…cheer him to *every* final. Cheer him when he wins and loses! If you are like me, he will have given you precious moments that transcend sports….moments you will never forget. C’mon the Fed! :-)

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    You misunderstood my post. Im not like BG and those guys at all. But there are always exception to rules and in my opinion this was it. I thought that is was better that Roger lost before the final. He even said himself in his presser that it would not have been nice to lose in the final either. That doesnt make you realize something? Lets get this straight: I never said Roger lost on purpose to avoid Rafa and if you think that then you either havent read my post or dont understand English.

    [Reply]

    Glen Reply:

    Hey R. I *definitely* wasn’t suggesting that you are anything like BG and his hoons. :-)

    Explain to me why you think it was better in your opinion for Roger to lose before the final? I could never want that for myself and would never want that for my tennis hero.

    I think what Fed was hinting at was that it would be hard losing in the final not being able to give it his best (due to the 5 setter)…alas it didn’t turn out like that with the extra day. A final loss will always be harder, because you are that much closer…you have given that much more. He was sadly just flat from the off for the semi…and even though he won the first set, I was worried by then. He played so well in getting to the semi…and I am encouraged that even better things are to come.

    I can take nothing away from Nads. I though he played a great final for the opponent he faced. It was an exciting match, even impressive hitting, but it wasn’t great tennis imo. Nole was a Del P without the extra power to get it past Nadal on all but a few rallies…and a zero damage serve. Nadal just ran him down like Nadal does. Bar the serve, I didn’t really see much of the ‘new Nadal’ people are raving about…he looked like the one that played Del P last year. If you rewatch it you can see he played similar and that he really thought he could win that Del P match.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    I already explained it in this post.

    [Reply]

  28. Whatevers then. It is just never better to lose early….that’s just not a winning mentality. Ever.

    I could be convinced all day long that Fed tried to pace himself through the match so he would have some reserves for the final, but not that he consciously or subconsciously tanked the match to avoid Nads.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    If it happens subconsciously its not tanking is it?

    [Reply]

  29. I agree that Nadal is “in Roger’s head” a bit but I think you overstate things with this “owns him” idea, and that Roger doesn’t want to face him. Roger has said that every match begins at 0-0 and both players have the chance to win it, regardless of the past. And I believe that he believes this, even if he has some ‘sub-conscious’ stuff about Nadal. And although it is not a Grand Slam, you seem to have forgotten that Roger beat Nadal in the 2009 Madrid Masters final (on clay). And please don’t say that Nadal was “injured.” I’m sick of that excuse whenever RN loses.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good point Katarina. I am planning a post regarding this.

    [Reply]

  30. If you’re saying that Federer subconsciously was afraid and therefore subconsciously lost on purpose, I disagree with you. But if you’re saying that Federer was momentarily distracted at points in the match, with the prospect of having to face Nadal, and that distraction may have cost him the focus needed to put Djokovic away, then I think you’ve raised a very interesting and possibly true point. Lets not take anything away from the Djoker, he won by a combination of impressive skill and mental toughness either way, but why did Roger lose? As mental a game as tennis is, your theory might well be true.

    I, for one, am a Nadal fan and I wouldn’t dare think of considering Nadal the GOAT just because he has a better head-to-head on Federer. Federer is the GOAT until someone approaches or surpasses him in slams. THEN he has that ridiculous consecutive semifinal appearances record that might trump almost any other tiebreaker. IF Nadal catches him in slams someday (and thats a pretty big if), the head-to-head will have to compete with the semifinal thingy (which I don’t think anyone will ever top). As a Nadal fan, I’m just trying to enjoy these moments (as you’ll recall, we had a rough time not so long ago as well and who knows when Rafa’ll get hurt again) and I hope Roger isn’t fading yet cause I’m not sure anyone can challenge and inspire Rafa like the living legend which is Roger nowadays. Personally, I’d think as a FedFan you’d want another shot at Rafa to vindicate him/your-self, dwelling on the possibility of failure is counterproductive. Anyways, lets just hope for another Federer-Nadal final and that they both bring their best.

    [Reply]

  31. Just saw this blog after Federer’s uplifting winn in Basel yesterday, and I have to say, I completely agree with you. More than that, I always thought that his loss to Berdych at Wimbledon was due to the same reason: mental distraction and instability because of the heavy thought of meeting Rafa down the road. Its just a joke that #1 in the world would get sick at the beginning of the year and spoil the whole season bc he did not take a babysitter to the vacation with two babies. Call it a sacrilegious thought, but his game went downhill when he started to play two games: tennis and family life. Some people will find it attractive that GOAT athletes considers family and kids important enough to start that game before he is done with playing tennis. It does not help in terms of focus and concentration, however, and that is what is currently lacking in Fabulous Roger. Compare it to Rafa’s refusal to meet with the Queen because he has “his routines” before the match, and you’ll understand that Rafa’s dedication off-court is as unmatched as his drive on the court. And this, at the very top of the field, seems to make all the difference.

    [Reply]

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