It’s that time of the year again Fedfans. The tennis season is over and it’s not long before Roger plays his first tournament in Doha in the new year. So lets take a look back at this year and decide which is our favorite moments as Fedfans. As was the case in 2010, a lot of those moments came during the indoor season. These days the highlights of Roger’s seasons are less, but when they do come they are very satisfying. Roger has achieved just about everything there is to achieve in tennis and there is a certain sweetness about it when he achieves something big nowadays. I can think of five very satisfying moments which I am going to list here. There are a few more but I am going to limit the list to five and let you vote for your favorite one. So without any further ado I will now list my five favorite moments as a Fedfan for Roger’s 2011 season. I am listening these moments in the order they occurred.
Up until this point in the season Roger was struggling. He started the year off well with a title in Doha but from there on he was losing ground on Nadal and Djokovic. He got shut out in straight sets at the Australian Open by a rampant Djokovic. Then in Dubai he got punished 6-3, 6-3 by Djokovic in the final of Dubai. In Indian Wells he would lose in a third consecutive tournament to Djokovic, this time in three sets. Next it was Nadal’s turn to beat on the GOAT as he easily disposed of Roger on the slow hard courts of Miami, 6-3, 6-2. Things didn’t look much better as the clay court season got under way as Roger lost in straight sets to Melzer in the quarters of Monte Carlo. In Madrid Roger got lucky as Lopez choked in the second round to lose in a third set tie break. Roger went on to make the final and lost to Nadal again.
He was now 0-5 against the top two and seemed out of touch with them. He needed a win over one of them desperately, but it wasn’t going to happen in Rome as he lost to Gasquet in the third round. When was this ever going to end??? As Fedfans it was a depressing time. We badly needed something to lift our spirits. It seemed like Roger was not even part of the big three anymore. Yet when the French Open got under way there was a sense that things were beginning to change. From the start Roger was looking the part and he didn’t drop a set until the semis, where he would face a Djokovic who hasn’t lost a single match the whole season. Djokovic was the favorite going into that match, but the GOAT had other plans. This was a divine performance. The level of composure and mastery displayed in this match was unreal.
Roger settled right into the proverbial zone from the first point until the final ball was struck. I mean it was something to behold. His serve was right on the money from the start. His topspin backhand was solid as a rock, while he used his slice backhand with clinical precision to keep Djokovic off balance. Of course his forehand was on fire as well. It was just a masterful display of all court tennis and variation. The atmosphere at the match was absolutely electric. Every time Roger won an important point the French crowd unleashed a roar of approval. They could sense their favorite adopted son was busy putting in one of his special performances. Even with Djokovic serving at 5-4 in the fourth set with light fading, Roger was having none of it. He broke back and forced the tie break, where he served an ace to close out the deal.
Then of course came the celebration which was one for the ages. It was finger wag 2.0, after the finger wag he did in 2009 when he beat Nadal in the final of Madrid. Roger knew how much this win meant and he let everyone know about it with the finger wag. It was awesomely arrogant. As far as quality goes you would probably never see a better clay court match. Some bitter Djokovic fans said that Djokovic was not at his best, but that was clearly not the case. I will concede however that the crowd may have given Roger a bit of and edge. But he still had to play the peRFect match that day to slay a peak Djokovic. Even though Roger went on to lose the final to Nadal, he announced with this win in no uncertain terms that he was back and that he did not lose touch with Djokovic and Nadal. We were happy once more.
After the epic match against Djokovic in Pairs there was more disappointment for Fedfans around the corner as Roger lost in disappointing fashion to Tsonga at Wimbledon after blowing a two sets to love lead. In Montreal Roger lost to Tsonga again, and in Cincinnati Roger lost in very disappointing fashion to Berdych. At the US Open we saw a different Roger however. It was kind of like he French Open where he looked good up until the semis. This time however there would be no glory against Djokovic in the semis. He did come awfully close though. Roger then took a long break to do some introspection and came back in Basel. It looked like the introspection had paid off as he won his home town title for a fifth time. In the final JesusFed showed up and treated us to a 6-3, 6-1 drubbing of Nishikori who bageled Djokovic in the semis.
You could see how much this title meant to Roger as he shed a tear in the closing ceremony. It was the end of a long title drought, and ending the drought in his home town was extra special.
Next stop Paris. After winning Basel I had high expectations that Roger could win his first title in Paris. It was a Masters Series title that had eluded him despite the fact that it was suitable conditions for his game. The fact that Djokovic was struggling with an injury was more reason that Roger should win this illusive title. Roger looked the part right from the start. He destroyed the two French hopefuls Mannarino and Gasquet in his first two matches in JesusFed mode. In the quarters against Monaco it looked like JesusFed had left us, but in the semis it was Goderer who returned to put in an absolute masterclass against Berdych. In the final he would play against Tsonga, and it was time for revenge. It was not quite the level of the day before, but it was good enough to get the job done in straight sets nonetheless.
Roger had finally won the title that eluded him for so long. He also passed Agassi in Masters Series titles won and was now only one behind Nadal who held the record. He also became the only player together with Agassi to win 7 out of the 9 Masters Series titles. Suddenly the 2011 season was beginning to look much better, but there was more business to take care of…
My personal favorite. This was a result that was a long time coming. The damage that Nadal had inflicted on Roger and Fedfans over the years was immense. We needed to see Roger manhandle Nadal and we needed to see it in no uncertain terms. We needed a match that would erase all those past pains. This was it. Roger started off timidly as he served a double on the first point of the match, but there was nothing timid in the way he destroyed Nadal from then on. Things went according to serve until Roger broke Nadal to take a 4-2 lead, and from then on he would allow his so-called nemesis only one more game. The bagel in the second set tasted extra sweet. It was needed to put an exclamation mark on this win. Roger had already beaten Nadal 6-4, 6-1 at the Masters Cup before, but this was an even heavier beat down.
It was Goderer once more, because Roger couldn’t put a foot wrong all match. Together with the French Open semi and the match against Berdych in Paris, this was the only other time that Goderer(the absolute best version of Roger) showed up in 2011. This match underlined the fact that the head-to-head between the two is skewed due to the 14 meetings they had on clay. Roger was now 4-0 against Nadal indoors, having lost only one set to him on this surface. The satisfaction I got from this win was immense. It was literally orgasmic. The win against Djokovic at the French Open was epic no doubt, but Roger doesn’t have the same history with Djokovic as he has with Nadal. It was just a round robin match, but the implications went far deeper than that.
The win against Nadal was sweet justice, but it would not be complete without a sixth Masters Cup title for Roger. When he came up against Tsonga in the final it was the ideal opportunity to end the year in the best possible fashion, and if he failed it would be a huge anti-climax. From the start of the ndoor season everything had built up until this point. Roger would face Tsonga for the third consecutive Sunday, and having lost the first two, Tsonga was not to be underestimated. He is just too dangerous an opponent to count out, as Roger painfully found out at Wimbledon. It looked like this would be the easiest win of the three Sundays however, as Roger served for the match at 6-3 and 5-4. Tsonga was about to go on one of his hot runs though. He broke back with some impressive returning and took the set in the breaker.
Was Tsonga going to spoil the party? One set was pretty much going to decide whether this was a successful or failure of a year for Roger. The way Roger dealt with the situation and steadied the ship was beautiful to see. Not that he did anything special though. He just kept up the same level he had throughout the match while Tsonga could not remain at the level that saw him win the second set. Roger went on to win this high quality and entertaining match to claim his record sixth Masters Cup title. No doubt it was another big highlight of 2011, if not the biggest.
Like I said, these are not the only highlights of 2011, but I thought five was a nice round number anyway. Other highlights include the Doha title, the match against Berdych in Paris, and the US Open semi against Djokovic. You may say that he lost that match in very disappointing fashion, but he was still playing at JesuFed level and came within one point of getting another telling win over the player of the season on two occasions. So although that was a very hard loss to swallow, I still took his whole US Open campaign as something very positive. Well I hope you enjoyed these highlights. As usual I will now let you decide the order of these highlights with a poll. I think the five that I mentioned are all very good for their own reasons and I am looking forward to see the results of the poll. Let me know what you voted with a comment!