In this post I will analyze the Federer/Djokovic semi-final and then you can decide for yourself whether you are also looking forward to another Nadal/Djokovic clay court final. These days it seems Roger is always playing well in the first set of important matches after which he fades away, and his match against Djokovic was no exception. In the first set Roger was piling on the pressure, serving well and being consistent from the ground. He kept producing break points and finally took one at 4-4 and after that served out the first set. In the second set the carnage continued, breaking Djokovic in the first game and then holding serve to go up 2-0. Then with Djokovic serving to keep his hopes alive it started raining, but not before Roger had the chance to put away the win for good going into the rain break.
I don’t remember if he had more then one break point but either way he had the chance to put away Djokovic right there. So going into the rain break the score could have been 3-0, but he was still a break up and in complete control of the match. Then after the rain break he held serve to go up 3-1 and Djokovic did the same to make the score 3-2. In the next game with Roger serving at 3-2 and 30-15 and seemingly in complete control of the match I noticed something. Upon bouncing the ball before a second serve he lost control of the ball which is often a sign of nerves. Still OK though, it happens. But then he made a short pause, something I have never seen him done before, and right then I knew with 99% certainty he was going to serve a double fault.
It’s hard to explain. I just saw it coming. This made me realize just how mentally fragile Roger is at this point. He was thinking about what happened in Miami and it was like he could do nothing to avoid the same from happening, like he is mentally paralyzed. That was the end of the match right there, you need to look no further. Serving an inexplicable double fault when in complete control of the match was enough to remind Djokovic that Roger is not in control, even though the score line suggested that he was in complete control. This gave Djokovic a shot of adrenalin, where before he was just going through the motions. I am going into detail here to show you just how mentally lost Roger is at this point, and why I lost hope in my previous post.
I believe I have a unique ability to get into Roger’s head, and I can tell you now it’s not a pretty sight. This is why I have so little hope at this point for Roger. It’s quite possible that he is currently mentally the weakest player on tour. Mental toughness gets tested when a player is under pressure. You can say but he is still making the semi-finals of a Masters Series event, but you would be missing the point. In the previous rounds he was never put under much pressure. And neither was he in his match against Djokovic. But just the reminder of what happened before was enough to lose the match. Mental toughness in tennis is more important then any other aspect of the game and that is why I am so worried about Roger. Here is an excerpt from his post match conference in Rome :
“I think the last few years it’s helped Rafa playing me before Paris,” said the 13-time Grand Slam champion when the subject of the French Open came up. “Just that he knew maybe a bit more what to expect from me, whereas you know exactly what you’re going to get with Rafa. So I think it maybe worked more in his favour the last few years. We’ll see how Madrid turns out. If we have to play each other, I still think it’s a great match and I would look forward to that. But the focus is elsewhere right now.”
This is Roger still trying to find something positive from another devastating loss. The only positive I can see coming out of this this is that if Roger runs into Djokovic at the French Open before the final Djokovic will beat him, and he will be spared from another humiliating loss against Rafa going into the grass court season. Maybe by some miracle he can then go on to win Wimbledon and suddenly everything would be OK. But right now that is wishful thinking. The way Roger is playing right now I only see things getting worse. He might even lose before the semi-finals of the French Open, thereby ending his record of 19 consecutive grand slam semi-finals or better. I’m sorry if this all sounds very negative to you, but I’d rather be honest then give you false hope.
How is Roger now all of a sudden going to gain confidence from playing Madrid? He can work as hard as he want off court but do you think that is going to make him less mentally fragile? It won’t. You see that is the problem, something drastic must change. I don’t know how that will happen but I know it must if Roger is going to resurrect his career. I mean he has the chance to be considered the greatest of all time. Basically he just needs to win two more grand slams. And you need to look no further then his match against Djokovic to realize he still has the game to do it. If you still think Roger is just getting too old or the competition is catching up with him after this match you will never see the light.
In the first set and a half he was taking Djokovic, who is now probably considered the second best player on clay in the world, apart. I mean it was almost laughable how easy he made it look. If he wasn’t mentally a broken man the score would have been something like 6-4, 6-1. Hahaha. Now I come back to the title of my post. You have a guy, Djokovic, in the final who is there because another guy, Federer, handed him the match. So you have a situation where really you don’t have the ‘best player’ against Rafa in the final. As we have seen in the past Roger can give Rafa very good competition on clay and even beat him. It was in this very tournament where Roger lost to Rafa 7-6 in the fifth set after having match points!
In my humble opinion Rafa would tear Djokovic apart in the best of five sets. Djokovic took a set off Rafa in Monte Carlo but that might have been the worst I have seen Rafa play on clay. I wouldn’t be surprised if Rafa wins in straight sets today, because he has been playing much better this week. According to Roger it is not the worst thing that happened, but at least for the tennis world I am positive we would have seen a better match in the final had Roger won yesterday. I hope Rafa owns Djokovic in the final today and I think there is a very good chance it will happen. The way Djokovic reacted yesterday after he won was disgusting behaviour and he has now officially lost me as a fan. Since when do you bang your chest when you were handed the match on a platter? What a tool!
Ps. Thank you to the people who left me comments, it is great to see people being such loyal supporters of Roger and that winning isn’t everything to you. In the end it should be about Roger the person and not just about how much he wins. He is after all a very humane person and that is why we love him and identify with him.
Pps. I’ve decided to continue my blog but I have just one favor to ask of you. I will be putting a Digg button on my posts from now on. I put one in my previous post and I am putting one on this post as well. I will Digg my posts myself but I’d appreciate it if you Digg it as well. The more times it gets Dugg the more traffic the post gets. This way I can have a lot of visitors to my blog and we can get more support for Roger as well. The loss against Djokovic was again disappointing for me and it’s hard to imagine the future, but I have decided to support Roger now no matter what and I want to get a lot of other people to do the same. Lets all support Roger without condition and get him past that 14 grand slam title mark!