Tough loss for Roger and his fans today. But before I say anything else let me just say that Djokovic played God-like tennis and totally deserved this. From the first ball he was piling the pressure on Roger. From the base line he hit the heavier ball and was just more solid. He did to Roger what Roger normally does to his opponents. I guess now Roger knows what it feels like to be under constant pressure and not being allowed to play your game. Roger is normally the one taking the ball early and dominating proceedings, but Djokovic just didn’t allow him. He was hitting flat and hard and it kept Roger on the back foot. It is just very hard to defend against that kind of tennis. The first set was always going to be crucial. It was close as expected and went down to the tie break where Djokovic just edged Roger.
From there on it was always gonna be a tough ask. The first set was that important. After that Djokovic never really let up. Even though Roger broke in the second set and went up 5-2, you never felt that Djokovic let up on the relentless pressure he was putting Roger under. It was frustrating to watch because you always felt Roger was in trouble. Even when he went ahead in the second set. Djokovic got it together and reeled off 5 straight games to effectively put the match beyond Roger. Roger was never gonna come back from two sets down against a ruthless Djokovic. He got a break back in the third set after losing serve, but at that point the damage had been done. It’s hard to criticize Roger after the way Djokovic played. One thing that did bother me a lot was Roger’s backhand. Again he was shanking his fair amount.
That is not something you see that often from Roger and shows what pressure Djokovic was keeping him under. Dkjokovic has the more solid backhand which may have been the difference in the end. It basically came down to the two players going toe to toe from the base line and Djokovic was the stronger one on the day. I was waiting for Djokovic to go off the boil but it never really happened. Even when Roger got the break in the second you could just sense the pressure from Djokovic still telling on Roger. Who knows what would have happened if Roger managed to take the second set. It may have put a different complexion on the match but probably would not have. Djokovic would still probably have won in four sets. He was just that dominant. Djokovic has been in good form since Serbia’s Davis Cup win and this win confirms this fact.
Djokovic is such a talented player that it is about time that he had this kind of result. It is a shame that he has beaten Roger twice in a row in slams now though. That is obviously something Roger won’t enjoy because Djokovic never threatened him in slams before. The last three matches that they played that Roger won was significant, but two slam losses is more telling than three losses in smaller events. And this was a much more dominant performance from Djokovic than in the US Open. At least there Roger had chances to win the match. But if you look at the form that saw Roger win the Masters Cup and Doha then you have to ask what happened to him at the Australian Open. Throughout the event he didn’t look very convincing. JesusFed was nowhere to be seen. Was it the slower conditions?
Did Roger not employ the right tactics? It’s just very hard to tell. But the fact is that he wasn’t the same dominant player that he was outside the slams since Wimbledon. Surely it can’t be the pressure of slams either. I mean this is Roger Federer we are talking about. And why is it that Roger does well either in slams or outside of them but not well in both of them at the same time? Is this just age catching up with him? Six months of great form doesn’t help you much if you can’t convert it into slam titles. This is now the first time in who knows how long that Roger doesn’t hold any slam titles. When was the last time he went a year without winning any slams? The one thing that helps me to deal with this loss is that Nadal lost to Ferrer. At least Nadal won’t win four slams in a row now and threaten Roger’s records more.
I was delighted when I heard about Nadal’s loss. I just wish Roger could take advantage of a great opportunity to add to his legacy. But think how much worse it would have been if Nadal now went on to win the event. I have said from the start that i would be pretty satisfied as long as Nadal doesn’t win the event. That remains true and I’m not about to go back on my word. If Nadal had won this event he would have been on 10 slams and he would have achieved something significant that Roger could never achieve. He already equaled Roger in achieving the career slam last year and winning four slams in a row would have been just too much to take. Given that the French Open and Wimbledon is coming up it would have been even harder to take. So thank God for that. At least Roger has some more breathing room now.
He will have his chances at Wimbledon and the US Open again. But this loss can’t be a good sign anyway. I know that on a given day anything can happen, but a second loss to Djokovic in a slam can’t be great for the future. It seems Djokovic is really reaching his peak now and will be hard to stop in future slams. Same thing with Murray probably. We have to face the possibility that Roger may not win any more slams. At least that way we can’t be disappointed. Roger is far from done however and it would surprise me if he doesn’t win at least one more slam. I’d love for him to add 2 more or even 4, but that is getting harder now. Him and Annacone will seriously have to look at some things. That backhand for one is not looking good. I don’t know how many times he totally shanked that backhand.
And that after his backhand has been as good as I’ve ever seen it of late. I’m sure this surface has something to do with it. Roger just doesn’t cope as well with the high bounce. I remember at the MC where they said there is something like a 30 cm difference in the height of the ball bounce from Australia. I mean that makes a huge difference. Why was Roger able to beat Djokovic so easily indoors only to lose in a slam? It surely can’t be because of pressure. So my explanantion is to a great extent the surface and the height of the ball bounce. It is a shame that nowadays they have made surfaces so much slower and the bounce higher. I was just thinking yesterday of how Sampras dominated in an era which suited his one dimensional attacking game, while Nadal is playing in an era which suits his one dimensional defensive game.
Roger is the only guy who had to adapt to both types of conditions. It just gos to show what a legend he is. But the fact is it is harder for him to dominate with slower surfaces and higher bounce and it may cost him slam titles. Whatever the case may be, there is still a lot to look forward to. Roger is at least still very motivated and hungry for more slam success, and just seeing him still play tennis is great. I really hope he can add at least two more slam titles just to break some more records and make it that much harder of rNadal to catch him. We will just have to wait and see.