I’m sorry to the folks who supported Federer and that he came up short yet again after chasing that elusive #18. It kind of sunk in today what a tough loss it was. You could also see it in that Twitter clip I posted on my last entry.
Federer looked like a broken and devastated man. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him look that confused and humbled. This was his big chance after Djokovic lost but this time, he couldn’t make the final.
You would think if he gets to the final then the adrenaline will carry him over the finish line knowing how close he is. He made three slam finals in the last couple of years where he ran into a wall in the final and as soon as the wall was taken care of he couldn’t make it to the final.
If Federer made it to the final he would have had at least a 50/50 shot at winning the title. Being that close, I’m not sure Murray would have been able to stop him. It was once again a question of so close but yet so far.
With every loss like this one feels the chances of him winning #18 becomes less and less. You can never quite write him off but it is like there is a block now. Even that 2014 US Open was an opportunity where Djokovic lost to Nishikori and Federer lost to Cilic.
— BBC Tennis (@bbctennis) July 8, 2016
Something always seems to go wrong. It doesn’t feel like destiny anymore. And I think the main reason for that is Djokovic. The Wimbledon and US Open final losses last year were particularly telling.
That was where Federer was playing his best tennis and where the conditions suited him the most. The psychological damage Djokovic inflicted on Federer in those matches and in the Australian Open semis seems too much to recover from.
Even in Djokovic’s absence, this time, he couldn’t get the job done. Djokovic was too burned out to prevent Federer this time but it seems the psychological damage he inflicted on Federer over the last twelve months did the job for him in his absence.
I won’t count out Federer from winning a slam until the day he retires probably but this loss does seem like a telling one. It is as if it confirmed what we already knew deep down; that he had missed his shot.
- How Does Federer’s Loss Affect the GOAT Debate?
I think this loss was another reminder why Federer is not the undisputed GOAT. Federer is at this point the most successful tennis player in history and no one denies his vast talent and skill.
But as anyone with some tennis knowledge will tell you talent is below mental strength and physical fitness on the list of important tennis qualities. Which is why Lendl won eight slams and Nalbandian zero.
Not that there is anything wrong with Federer’s mental or physical abilities. Compared to the average pro tennis player he is still very clutch and athletic. But compared to Djokovic and Nadal he comes up short in those areas.
Some people argue that Federer is the GOAT based on his playing style and talent alone which is blind fanaticism at its best. Federer comes up short time and time again in the mental department and probably has one of the worst break points conversion rates in history.
The match against Raonic was just another example. Before that, it happened a million times. Some matches that come to mind are the Wimbledon 2008 final vs Nadal, the 2009 Australian Open final vs Nadal, the 2009 US Open final vs Del Potro, the 2010 US Open semi-final vs Djokovic, the 2011 French Open final vs Nadal, the 2011 US Open semi-final vs Djokovic, the 2014 Wimbledon final vs Djokovic, the 2015 Wimbledon final vs Djokovic, the 2015 US Open final vs Djokovic, and now the 2016 Wimbledon final vs Raonic.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 8, 2016
There are many other of course but those are just some off the top of my head. Maybe the fact that he hasn’t won #18 is the biggest evidence yet of his mental shortcomings. Federer has had three chances in slam finals at his best slams and another just now in the semis of his best slam.
Why can he not put that final slam to bed? And it is not like he is no getting any help. The crowds are always biased toward him. Against Raonic, someone was shouting again between a first and second serve of Raonic on a big point.
They did the same kind of thing with Djokovic at the US Open last year just worse. Even with the odds stacked in his favor, Federer can’t get it done. There seems to be something missing from Federer’s game.
But then we have known that since Nadal started owning Federer in the head-to-head. These days it’s Djokovic who owns him in the head-to-head. Federer never beats Djokovic in a big match anymore. It’s like it’s over before the match even started.
- Can Djokovic Overtake Federer?
In some ways, Djokovic has already overtaken Federer. For instance by winning the Djoker slam, having a completer game, not being owned by a main rival, more Masters titles, or most titles at a specific slam(Australian Open).
I didn’t even know it was possible to have a completer game than Federer before the Djokovic of 2015/2016 came along. Federer’s weaknesses, if you could call it that, were his backhand, his returns, his movement, and his mental strength.
Those weren’t weaknesses per se. It is just that Djokovic is better in all those departments than Federer. And by a fair amount too. Federer in turn, has a better forehand, better serve, better volleys, better slice, better touch and better overhead.
You can essentially divide tennis into three areas namely physical, mental, and talent/technique/skill. In order of importance, they are mental, physical, and talent. Djokovic is better than Federer in the mental and physical departments whereas Federer is probably the most naturally gifted tennis player ever.
What makes Djokovic more complete than Federer in my view is not only the better mental strength and athleticism but also the fact that he has such a world class backhand and returns of serve.
— Wimbledon (@Wimbledon) July 3, 2016
It is exceedingly difficult to defeat Djokovic because there is nothing to exploit. You can’t serve him off the court and you can’t exploit him from the baseline. With Federer, you could still exploit his backhand to a certain extent or grind him down mentally and physically.
You can’t do those things to Djokovic. Djokovic essentially cancels out the opponents advantage which for most players is their serve. Against Djokovic, it is hardly an advantage. Think about what difference that makes as opposed to Federer’s returns for instance.
Federer doesn’t have bad returns. He has a good record against big servers. And yet if he had Djokovic’s returns he would never lose a match. Same if he had Djokovic backhand or mental strength.
No one can predict the future but I don’t think anyone is even close to finding a solution to the current Djokovic. Will he slow down now that he finally lost a match in a slam? There is no reason to believe that he will.
He is only five slams back of Federer’s record and at the current rate, Djokovic will easily reach it. He is also not far from surpassing Federer’s weeks at #1 record, World Tour Finals record, and he will probably win another French Open and do the double career slam.
- Federer is Currently the Modern Era GOAT
I am not talking about Laver here. I am talking about players who played with something different than wooden racquets. That is my definition of the modern era. And in that era Federer is currently the GOAT based on numbers.
But it is not undisputed because of his head-to-head records with Nadal and Djokovic and slight weaknesses in his game. He has the numbers to conclude that he is currently heading the pack but there is also enough doubt to conclude that it is not an undisputed fact.
Both Djokovic and Nadal have exposed his weaknesses and they have some impressive numbers of their own. People like Agassi and Mcenroe have stated before that Nadal is the GOAT. I don’t agree but you can make an argument for Djokovic too.
And Djokovic is still on 12 slams. For me, Djokovic has already surpassed Nadal based on the Djoker slam, the weeks at #1, the World Tour Finals titles, and just his overall mastery of all surfaces and dominance.
Nadal never dominated for extended periods of time and he doesn’t have a single World Tour Finals title. He is too dependent on one surface and too one-dimensional in his game. For me, he and Sampras are tier two.
They are very similar in their mental strength and lack of versatility. Sampras never won a French Open while Nadal never won a World Tour Finals title. Probably the best offensive player as opposed to the best defensive player ever.
Federer and Djokovic are tier one for me. Djokovic doesn’t quite have the numbers yet but in all likelihood, he will add them. We don’t know yet if he will have the longevity of Federer but he has already adapted his game to become more offensive.
— BATennisWorld (@BATennisWorld) July 8, 2016
He is an incredible athlete. Better than Nadal even. But he is less injury prone and lighter. He is also extremely flexible from all the stretching and very health conscious. I’m sure you can understand the difference between Nadal on 14 slams and Djokovic on 14 slams.
If Agassi or Mcenroe said Djokovic is the GOAT on 14 slams I would be more inclined to agree. You have a guy who has mastered all the surfaces, spent many weeks at #1 and dominated the sport for extended periods, has no real weaknesses in his game, and has positive head-to-heads against all his main rivals.
A lot of emphasis is being put on slam title count. Too much because most people just don’t know enough about tennis. Slam count is the most important criteria for GOAThood but it is only one of many.
People act like it determines 100% of GOATness where if you take all the factors into account it only counts something like 25% at best probably. There are so many other factors like weeks at #1, World Tour Finals titles, Masters titles, mastery of all surfaces, head-to-head records with main rivals, career winning percentage, wins over top ten opponents, record over five sets, titles won, record in slams finals, and many more.
Federer’s records are certainly immensely impressive but Djokovic is gaining fast. He already leads in consecutive slams won, Masters titles won, head-to-head record against main rivals, completeness as a player, most dominant season ever, and is closing in fast on others like weeks at #1, World Tour Finals titles, and slam titles.
Two more years of Djokovic domination and he will be right there.
- Quick Revisit of the Upcoming Wimbledon Final
I can go on about these things forever but I have to stop somewhere. Tomorrow is the Wimbledon final which I look forward to. My favorite player is not involved but so what? It is still an interesting matchup and the outcome is not a certainty.
Having a break from Djokovic makes it more interesting to see him the next time he plays and it also gives the tennis fans who can’t appreciate his dominance a break. I have already previewed the final in my last post.
I will just add a couple of things here like the fact that this will be a good contest between a big server and offensive player and a big returner and defensive player. The head-to-head is close at 6-3 in Murray’s favor while Raonic comes off the biggest win of his career.
Did that match take a physical and mental toll on him or will it inspire him to win his first slam? In my view, it is more likely to do the former than the latter. Murray will be fresh after making short work of Berdych in the semis.
He has been supremely confident throughout the championships. You can hardly call the five-setter against Tsonga a slip up given what a dangerous grass court player Tsonga is. Murray was clinical in the decider anyway.
I think he goes into this final supremely confident with Lendl back in his corner and he must be the favorite. But he is not an overwhelming favorite. I can certainly see Raonic win at least one set.
As we saw against Federer, Raonic can go on a kind of hot run where he does ridiculous things and becomes almost unstoppable. He doesn’t throw in the towel either. It won’t be easy for Murray to close him out and he will have to be clinical to do so.
Murray will try to make many returns and make Raonic’s life hell that way at the net. He will also try to exploit Raonic’s movement and lack of baseline consistency. Murray can certainly do it with his variation and own world class movement and groundstrokes.
Raonic will try to shorten points and not spend much time on the baseline. He will try to overpower Murray with his serve, volleys, and forehand. It will be a great contest.