Why Roger Federer Should Care About the Masters
by Ben Pronin | April 28th, 2010, 10:05 am

“I think as the tournament would have gone forward I would have found my groove more and more, and who knows what would have happened?” said Roger Federer after blowing three match points in a three set loss to Marcos Baghdatis in Indian Wells. “But I don’t need to worry about that anymore. It’s about resting because I do feel the first match in my body. It’s something that always is tough, coming from a long layover and all of a sudden playing matches. But, the season is long. There’s no need to panic here.” ADHEREL

“I fought as much as I could… My game has issues at the moment. I’m definitely lacking timing. I don’t know where that comes from…It fuels my desire to go to the practice courts, because I don’t like to lose these type of matches,” Federer said after blowing a match point in a three set loss to Tomas Berdych in Miami.

“I hope I can come back from this. That’s usually what I do after a loss like this. Sometimes it takes a loss to wake up and shake you up for your approach the next week. When you always win, sometimes you forget how hard it is. That’s why today I don’t get too worried about this loss,” said Federer after saving six match points before going down in three sets to Ernest Gulbis in Rome.

The common theme here is Federer shouldn’t panic and he doesn’t like to play “these kind” of matches. What kind is that? Error-filled gag-fests on both ends of the court. Years ago, Federer was winning matches on his worst days with only Rafael Nadal being able to topple him (in no less than four sets, too). But in 2010, Federer has had only one good loss: a straight set defeat to Nikolay Davydenko in Doha where the Russian connected on 100% of first serves in the first set.

You could say that loss was bad because Federer was completely outplayed. But in that sense, all the credit really belongs to Davydenko. There’s no shame in losing to the better player on the day. But with his most recent losses, it’s hard to say who was the better player. After each of Federer’s losses in the Masters, there seems to be a general consensus that [insert hard-hitting under-achiever] deserved the win. Since he won, that is very true. But did they play amazing tennis to topple the 16-time major champion? Was it the best match of their respective careers?

No. A ridiculously lackadaisical and sub-par Federer lost to nervous chokers who were also fairly sub-par in their own right. Does anyone else see a problem with the world number one losing to players who have blown more matches than Federer has won in the slams?

So what’s the deal? Why is Federer playing so poorly? Why does he appear to be weaker mentally than the mentally weakest guys on tour? And why doesn’t he care?

I know that all tennis players have off days, but that’s not even the case for Federer. He has off sets. He played great in the first set against Gulbis, then like complete crap in the second set, and finally he was barely able to hang with Gulbis in the third. It seems like we just can’t trust what Federer says anymore. Either he was lying about all the practicing he’s done or he was lying about how good he feels before the start of the tournament.

He didn’t look like he was feeling well yesterday. Is it lack of practice? I doubt it. But here’s where the fun begins. Plenty of Federer fans are going to jump out and say he’s “lacking match play.” I could believe that for, say, Andy Murray. But Federer has always gone on lengthy breaks here and there throughout the years when he was still stringing together enough wins to actually win some titles.

For example, in 2005 Federer didn’t play for almost two months between Wimbledon and the Masters in Cincinnati. He wasn’t his best in Cincy but he still won. The only thing he didn’t win from there until the end of the year was the Masters Cup.

Of course people are going to say Federer was young then but he’s aging now so he needs more matches, but I don’t think age has anything to do with it. Federer could’ve beaten Baghdatis, Berdych, and Gulbis. He could’ve beaten them all in straight sets, even. But his body language was that of someone who didn’t really care about winning. Look back at the quarterfinals of the Australian Open where Davydenko was rolling through Federer. Federer wasn’t playing his best and Davydenko definitely was, but Federer still had a look about him that said he was trying to think of anything he could do to turn the match. Where was that look against Gulbis?

After everything Federer has accomplished, he surely deserves to be as lackadaisical as he wants, but he claims he’s still motivated. But in the beginning of the year he said, “Motivation for me is really not a problem because I love tennis too much just to say ‘I have won all the slams and two beautiful daughters and a wife — I’m happy so I’ll leave’…My hunger will definitely still be with me to succeed and you can tell when it isn’t because I will not step onto the court.”

If that’s the case, then Federer should start pushing himself in the Masters events. They’re still important events to the players and they’re important to tennis in general. Federer doesn’t do anyone any favors if he only wins matches four times a year. Do we really want the ATP to turn into the WTA? Does anyone want to watch Federer play terrible tennis? It’s a losing situation for everyone, even Federer. There is the notion that one day all of these small losses will catch up to Federer in the slams. When that day comes, maybe it will be a real wake up call for Federer.

Another big point that Federer fans argue is that Federer only cares about the slams. This may very well be true. But tennis fans care about the other events, too. The slams make up only two months of the entire year and the Masters make up only slightly more. Federer rarely plays other events which means he can play a potential four or five months of the year. Who wants to see him play like crap for half that time?

Federer, it’s time to step it up and give back to all the fans who have supported you throughout the years. It’s not going to kill you to win a couple of Masters events every once in a while.

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133 Comments for Why Roger Federer Should Care About the Masters

Voicemale1 Says:

“Federer, it’s time to step it up and give back to all the fans who have supported you throughout the years. It’s not going to kill you to win a couple of Masters events every once in a while.”


Federer doesn’t owe you anything, Ben. And this last sentence of your piece sums up a thesis that’s totally self absorbed; and completely disrespectful to Federer (since this public blog serves as a “publication”, it’s a way of assailing him). Tour players do NOT play for an audience; they play for themselves. Any audience is there to observe. They are not participants as if they were a Focus Group, whose demands and opinions must be digested by the actual participants and are somehow relevant to the outcome of the event they watch. Federer isn’t a politician seeking office soliciting you for a campaign contribution whereby you can demand a quid pro quo for your direct deposit to his campaign. He plays tennis because he wants to – not because you need him to. And does so now with an eye toward his goals, not your aesthetic satisfaction. Which is exactly as he should. This piece of yours smacks of a narcissism which attempts to smuggle in the ludicrous notion that athletes somehow are required to carry not just the toil of their own drive and effort to reach the heights they want to reach, but also the hopes, aspirations, expectations and the vicarious living of those who watch them ply their trade. It’s a bizarre theme you have: you blame Federer for the fact his loss on the court has somehow robbed you of your own desire to exalt in his job (which is a job your could only do at his level, even on his worst day, in your wettest dream). You’re angry because his loss or losses have somehow injured you. Memo to you. You do not have any “right” to demand he perform to your expectation so you can fill a vacuum in your own soul.

There’s a cultural moniker to describe this kind of rant you wrote: The High Chair King. Such a mentality reverts to insistence on “being catered to” when the instant gratification is delayed or derailed. Like it’s origin, infants in high chairs make such demands because they have no inkling the world in fact does NOT revolve around their demands. They can be forgiven because they are in fact infants. In adults, it’s inexcusable.

Federer is going to be just fine for the rest of his career. He doesn’t need to carry your aspirations. Get a life.

grandslamman Says:


Dude you should be a writer. Unbelievable piece you wrote right there. What bothers Ben even more is that because Federer does not care about these tournaments he knows the players that beat him do not really beat him, and that makes Ben sad. He knows that Federer knows he can beat these guys whenever he wants in a slam, and therefore has a peace about losing to them in non-slam events. The fact of the matter is Roger gets on people’s nerves because he has the ability to lift whenever he wants, and will do so at the French Open this year again. Humanbeings like Ben do not like it that other mortals have the abilty to change gears like Federer has. Ben we all know what you are up to, and you are doing yourself no favors trying to convince otherwise. I hope you laugh when you read these responses because the laughter is only to channel the anger you feel at Voicmale and myself for figuring you out. We know you better than you know yourself.

Dave Says:

Yeah, I agree with a lot of what you’re saying. I will just conjecture, however, that it seems that since they started giving seeded players byes in the first rounds of masters events, Federer hasn’t done as well. It’s not even the match play from event to event, but just having an “easy” round to find your groove on a new surface, I think helps some players. Federer, especially, benefits from that as his game is a low margin game and needs to be clicking in order for him to play well. To come up against Gulbis (a great upcoming player) in his first match on clay in 9 months, I think was bad luck.

montecarlo Says:

As I said Earlier many people are hitting panic buttons too soon. Whole idea of federer tanking or not trying 100% is utter BS IMHO. Federer always plans things in a way that his best usually comes up in the Grand Slams.

He doesn’t need to prove anything to his fans or his rivals. Its his will and his desire that matters. He can hang his shoes today itself and nobody can demand an explanation for that.

Come on man give that guy some credit. He has already proved himself to be the Best Grand Slam Player ever. He will also surpass Agassi in Master events won (sooner or later). He is going through a small bad patch in best of 3 set matches (where its tough to find your rhythm once you lose it) which can happen to anyone.

That said I am pretty sure he will perform well in estoril and madrid and be ready for French Open.

madmax Says:

I’m going to keep this short, but firstly, Voicemale, that was a hell of a piece your wrote replying to Ben.

I am tryin’ to see from both sides. Voicemale, you are right. Federer doesnt need to pay back in tournaments to his fans, but you know, I have given this some thought this afternoon and I can absolutely see what Ben is saying.

I was absorbed with federer’s loss yesterday because like Ben, i watched the game (later on VCR), because it bothers me – the early rounds of a tournament that is – at the start of the gulbis match, THIS was the federer i loved, the he played was brilliant. no argument at all. on fire, presenters said say, had already written gulbis off after fed won the first set. So…what happened?

A rubbbiishsss second set, just crap. fed was crap. So he swings from pure brilliance to pure crap in 37 minutes? c’mon! something happened. He lost his focus, thinking of other things, now I am sorry, but you do not do that when you want to win. It is your “all”, your passion for “being” in that match at that time. Your focus is purely on that game, if you start letting other things from the outside burrow into your focus, you are damned.

Federer was damned as soon as Gulbis got the first break, federer gave up. His tennis was crap. I couldnt believe it. I watched it, his facial expression, body language, just terrible.

Third set, I wanted the throw myself out of the window into the front of an oncoming car. Gutted. what the hell is going on his head.

So, I agree with Ben that he needs to continue to devote his focus much more, 100%, not 50%, not even 75% because there was a time, when he could get away with only putting in this amount in matches. He cannot do that now. The men’s field is too strong, so whilst they are catching up (and some of them have caught up), federer has remained static. He must – very quickly – turn this around, because if I have to watch this type of federer play matches, I am going to have to be committed.

I still dont understand what Federer was doing. He could “easily” have won that match. His mind was just not in it. It is almost as if he said to himself. “yey, i got the first set, now I am gonna cruise.” get real roger!

I know when roger really wants to win (and I mean, when he plays his game like he depends on it), it is when he says “C’mon!” There was none of that yesterday.

madmax Says:

apologies for typos above and missed words – little sleep – will improve next time. :)

Stefani Germanotta Says:

We all know that Fed plays better in the Majors. Fine. I am just concerned that his lack of match play and these early loses are going to catch up to him.

He needs to do well in the next two tournaments to be peaking for RG.

(The irony will be if Nadal’s knees fail in the French and Federer does well — then everyone will say how smart it was of Federer to save himself!)

tennis Says:

I don’t think it’s the case that he doesn’t care about the masters series tournaments and that he doesn’t try. Don’t forget he won cincy and madrid last year. it’s just that it’s not 2006 anymore and he is getting a little bit older, he paces himself and his training so that he is in top form at the grand slams. that doesn’t mean he won’t try at masters series events. the proof that he’s dedicated is that he is participating and working on his game—he is even playing doubles in rome. the other thing to consider is that these days he plays better in best of 5 matches because in 2 out of 3 sets, weaker players can take advantage of a lull in his play and actually win the match. in best of 5, it’s harder to do that because it gives him more time to bring his level up after he experiences a drop in his play. u saw it last year in the french. even if u look at his losses in masters series play, u could easily imagine him winning those matches in best of 5. would gulbis, who needed something like 6 match points to win the 3rd, have been able to close out the match in 4 or 5 sets? No. I agree though that Fed needs to bring his level up and am certain he’s do that over the next few weeks. it’s always the case that when his level goes down people freak out and start saying stuff but then he comes back every single time and proves everybody wrong eg 08 USO eg 09 madrid, french and wimby eg 2010 australian open…i mean give the guy a break. he just won a grand slam relatively recently. i would only be worried if he lost the next 10 matches. and even in masters series, he had a relatively decent result in miami, berdych was playing unbelievable tennis that week, in tennis it happens that the no. 1 sometimes loses matches.i mean think of the other former no. 1s like Sampras, they were losing some 15 matches a year, that was normal. it’s just federer put the bar so high that anytime he loses early people start saying stuff…

Kimo Says:

Why are all of your on Ben’s case? Ben is making a very valid point here. He could have said it better than he did, but he’s more right than wrong.

Roger does owe his fans good solid performances. Tennis players are not just athletes fighting for their personal glory. If that’s true, then why the hell are we watching? I’ll tell you why, it’s because tennis is a show, tennis courts are stages, and tennis players are performers. When a player doesn’t have a personality, guess what, he isn’t popular either, even if he possesses the most ridiculous forehand, backhand, serve, you name it.

Ben isn’t being self-absorbed or narcissistic when he wants a player that he likes to watch to produce a show. Tennis is not just a sport. Any sport is not just a sport, let alone one that is played in numerous countries, televised in even more, and costs millions of dollars to stage and produce.

If I go to see Denzel Washington, Edward Norton or Leo DiCaprio acting, they better be on their game. They too, like Federer, are artists. They too love what they do and do it for their personal pleasure, but they also owe us good acting. We pay money to watch them, we pay money to watch tennis, and we pay money to watch Federer play well, and us watching makes corporations wanna sponsor tournaments, and tournaments play players. We ARE paying Federer’s salary.

I’m the hugest Fed-fan there is, but I’m sick of Roger sucking in Masters series events. It ruins the whole tournament for me.

Maybe guys like Voicemail will call my intentions impure, but I’m just a sports fan who wants to see his best player give it his all. That’s what sports are about. I’m not saying Fed should kill himself, all I’m asking is that if he bothers to show up at a tournament, he better be ready to step up. If he doesn’t wanna play any particular tournament, fine. That’s his right. But showing up to play lackadaisically is just plain rude to everyone. If you don’t wanna play, don’t play. If you show up to play, you better give it your best.

margot Says:

Dave: cmpletely agree with you re byes in first round. This has done Andy Murray no favours at all.
voivemale1: A heck of a piece of writing there, very powerful indeed.

Dan Martin Says:

I think Federer for many years 03-07 led the tour in titles (he and Nadal tied for the tour lead in 05). He is clearly pacing himself more and that is not great for the fans, but it is not much different than what other #1’s have done in the past. Lendl would always lose to Noah in non-slam events and then crush him in the slams.
Sampras was also not apt to go after every event with gusto.

Another possibility also exists – Roger is declining. If that is the case, he is going to lose in slams too. Roger has been the master of consistency at big events. Wimbledon 03 – present, he has failed to reach the semifinals of a slam 2 times out of 27 slam events. Throw in 5 years of leading the tour in overall titles and it seems a bit much to get on him about not giving the fans a great show almost every time out.

Mr Manaci Says:

voicemal, i agree that ben’s articulation (particularly in the last sentence) is bad. BUT in essence what ben’s means is right in my opinion. federer doesn’t owe anything to his fans – but neither do they to him. they will quit supporting him, which will most certainly come back on federer. there have been many crucial match turning moments at grand slams, i think even a pro like federer needs all the support he can get then (i.e. cheering from fans). and, possibly more importantly, even a federer has to play matches in between grand slams to stay in top form.
so yes, in my opinion he DOES have to take the masters more seriously for further success!

Daniel Says:

Fed better wake up soon!

Looking at the rankings I was doing some scenarios and one took my attention: Djoko can be n.1 by the time French Open ends without even winning it!

Right Now:
1 – Fed: 10690 pts – 360 (Rome 09) + 10 (Rome 10) = 10340
2 – Djoko: 7390 pts
3 – Nadal: 6480 pts

Assuming Nadal will rule clay, winning Rome, Madrid and RG and Djoko will be runner up in all this events, which left for Federer, Semis in Madrid and RG + a win in Estoril, the rankings will be on June 7th:

1 – Djoko: 7390 + 0 (final Rome 09/10)+ 0 (wins Belgrade 09/10)+ 240 (final in Madrid – semis in 09) + 1110 (final in RG – R32 09) = 8740 pts

2 – Nadal: 6480 + 0 (wins Rome 09/10) + 400 (wins Madrid – final 10) + 1820 (wins RG – R19 09) = 8700 pts

3 – Federer: 10340 + 250 (wins Estoril) – 640 (semis in Madrid – winner 09) – 1280 (semis in RG – winner 09) = 8670 pts

They will all be very close and depending on how they perform in Queens/Halle, the rankings could shift again (whihc means Fed will still have a shot at 287 weeks if he wins Halle and neither Djoko or Nadal wins Queens).

It will be really weird if Fed holding 2 Slams and a final not being n.1; Nadal winning 4 tournaments on clay (MC, Rome, Madrid and RG – all the clay sweep), not being n. 1 and Djoko, with 3 finals lost to Nadal on clay (terrible for his hxh), only holding 1 slam final (RG), 1 semis (US), 1 quarters (AO) will be n.1.

This could indeed happen, as far as Nadal and Federer are concerned, judging by Fed’s recent losses and how he will regroup by the French (which if he gets Nadal in the semis, validates even more my scenario). The Djoko part is more in the air, but can happen also.

I knowthis is all speculations, but wouldn’t it be something??!! :)

Ben Pronin Says:

That’s not true that Federer doesn’t owe anything to the fans. All the prize money Federer has made from tennis is because of the fans. The name Roger Federer can double or even triple ticket sales on a given day. There’s also the stream online of the Masters that some people pay for. Wilson makes rackets named after Federer because, even though they’re crappy junior rackets, they’ll make a lot of money because the name “Federer” is on it. And when Wilson makes money, Federer makes money.

All 3 of Fed’s losses went the distance. I get pacing himself, but would it have killed him to raise his game for 2 more games against Gulbis? Or close out his matches against Berdych and Baghdatis? Or is one 3 set match a week enough match play for Federer?

Grandslamman, I don’t know how you lumped yourself with Voicemale but Federer’s ability to change gears doesn’t feed my anger.

Voicemale, I’ve paid money to go to events and I’ve bought Wilson products because world number 1 Roger Federer has won 16 slams with their rackets. Federer owes his fans for all the money he’s gotten, and he should push himself because he owes tennis for everything he’s gotten from it.

Polo Says:

Dan Martin says, “Another possibility also exists – Roger is declining.”

That to me is the best, simplest and most logical explanation for Roger’s increasing incidence of early losses in tournaments this year.

skeezerweezer Says:

Ok my turn :)

I will try to keep this short also. Just a couple of points.
First kudos to Ben, Voicemale and Madmax, all good debatable points and well thought out.

“Tour players do NOT play for an audience; they play for themselves. Any audience is there to observe.”

This one I will tackle. Tour players DO play for an audience, it’s called the fans. If they have no audience or fans there would be no ATP Tour. Sure they could go play by themselves but where is their paycheck coming from? Where did Fed’s riches come from? No Audience, no ticket sales, no promotion monies, no TV, no TOUR.

So that does that mean Fed owes us anything? No. He can quit tomorrow or enter 1 tournament a year. You’re right Voicemale.

However, if the ANY tour player ENTERS a paid competition they do have an obligation to perform to the best of there abilities at that time.


“Best Efforts
i) A player shall use his best efforts during the match when competing in a tournament.
Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine up to $10,000
for each violation.”

Now, hold on, I am not saying that Fed did not give his best effort at the time, he was obliviously upset at his play if you saw the water bottle incident, but for sure his focus has not been there, for what reason only Fed knows.

My point is he does have a responsibility to the fans and sponsors that pay him, and the ATP which he belongs, as well as the rest of the players, to give his best effort, WHEN HE PLAYS.

Fed SHOULD and deserves to do whatever he wants. However if he enters a tourney, then the responsibility to give his best effort IS owed to the tour, the fans, and the promoters, which I am sure he is doing.

IMO like some of the posters are saying, time not to panic yet, and maybe, just maybe, the GS titles, the Fatherhood, marriage, family, has caught up with him and his focus on the game.

“Sometimes it takes a loss to wake up and shake you up for your approach the next week.”

Time to wake up?

asif Says:

I agree with kimo and disagree with Voicemale. People pay money to watch professional tennis. An athlete is not obligated to enter a given event, but once said athlete has entered said event, he is obligated to put forth his best effort in performing. To do otherwise would amount to defrauding customers. This is a purely ethical argument. In more extreme cases, players have been fined for tanking (see Safin, Marat).

As soon as people start paying you money to do something, your rights and obligations with respect to that something change.

Ben Pronin Says:

I’m not saying Federer wasn’t giving his best effort, either, but mentally he’s not completely there. I get that it’s hard to motivate yourself at this point in Federer’s career, but he claims that he IS still motivated. He’s the one who says he still wants to win (small) titles and compete and all that. He certainly talks like a politician even though, as Voicemale points out, he’s not one.

Polo Says:

Federer’s fans have supported him over the years. They have cheered for him in all his tournaments and one can never discount the value of fan support especially in close matches. Fans have bought tickets to tournaments he enters. His popularity with the fans also attracts endorsements which Federer has plenty of. He has made a lot of money through both tournaments and endorsement deals. Don’t anybody tell me that he Federer owes nothing to his fans.

andrea Says:

ouch. haven’t seen the match but what a drag. the event barely even started and my fave player is ousted. can’t comment on the level of play since i havent’ viewed it, but if fed doesn’t work his way deep into some of the upcoming clay tourneys he’s not going to have much prep, or confidence, going into the FO.

i think it was contador who predicted the gulbis win? well, kudos to your prediction! someone gets it right on the prediction front.

as far as federer or any player owing anyone anything: that’s a wank discussion with no winners so might as well shelve that along with GOAT ramblings.

Voicemale1 Says:


It’s irrelevant how much merchandise you bought or how many events you attended. You did so by your own choice, your own free will. You were never compelled to do so by anyone, least of all by Federer. He’s not obligated in any way nor does he owe you anything just because you have chosen to live vicariously through him. Your actions, or demands as a result of your claims his performaces disappoint you, are not anything he has to address, answer or bow to. This is exactly what I pointed out in your piece: the implicit subtext you keep trying to foist that somehow as a mere fan you have some sort of “right” to dictate however Federer performs on a court.

The simple solution for your dismay, delusion and pent of frustrations that Federer is letting you down is this: don’t watch him anymore. At least not until he starts winning again. If you feel SO betrayed because he’s not winning enough to suit your devotion to him, turn it off. If your dismay at his losses is so overwhelming to you personally, boycott his products then. Either way, such petty nonsense as you vicarious living and complaints about it, to the extent you demand Federer do better so as to rectify your blighted life, amounts to a foot-stomping temper tantrum you’d expect to see from a child who’s threatening to “hold his breath” until his demands are met (see: High Chair King). It’s complete self absorption. Your complaints are at root all about you, not Federer. You need to get over yourself. Fast. Or..you get your ass out there on the court and perform the way you think he should. Then your complaints might have a tiny bit more merit.

Grow up, Ben. This kind of open whining is un-becoming.

Rsutherland Says:

Tennis is a sport first and foremost and in an ideal world, that is all that matters.
However, it is also a form of entertainment.
Without pleasing fans, sponsors, and any other entity pertaining to financial backing, the sport itself (theoretically) suffers.
For the sake of the sport, one does not want to believe Federer – the sport’s biggest money maker (and money generator) would purposefully tank in any event, no matter what honors he has rightfully earned.
Having said that; I (as a performer myself) believe he is only guilty of being human. Perhaps he does not dig as deep in these matches as he does the majors – but certainly not intentionally.
If I am playing a concert in Mobile, Alabama (for instance), I certainly give it my all but face it, at Carnegie Hall, it is different.
Federer is way too classy to simply not try.

jane Says:

Ben asks, “Was it the best match of their respective careers?”

I am not saying it was the best match of Berdych’s career, but of the 3 winners, Baggy, Ernie and Tomas, I thought Tomas played the best tennis, which showed in his run to the final at Miami. Tomas also rose above his tendency to choke in the tiebreak, and instead it was Fed who (sort of) choked and Tomas who closed it out. Baggy just zoned for a bit, and Gulbis played great but he also sprayed errors all over and choked, gagged and handed Fed back the match in the 3rd set. Which Fed gave right back to him.

As for Fed and the importance of getting match play at the Masters Series, I feel the most serious repercussion is not so much the potential loss of fans (they haven’t booed him yet!) but rather that, as others have said, these early losses could feasibly catch up to him at the slams. Yes, slams are best of 5 and Fed has proven himself one of the best at the “best of 5” format. However, what if a Gulbis or a Berdych manages to take a match in four sets in the earlier (pre-QF say) rounds? Backtrack to the AO 09 when Berdych choked against Fed mid-third set up two sets to love. What if the Berdych belief and mentality of IW 2010 was evident? Does it mean he could’ve won that match? Tough to say, of course, because Fed has still proven himself a first-rate force at all of the slams. But one does begin to wonder if these MS losses will affect his slam performances eventually and if he may get caught cold before the semis of one of the slams this year or next. it’s bound to happen anyhow, if only due to decline and/or the law of averages, which so far Fed has bucked at slams.

Daniel @12;39 – that would indeed be something! But if Djoko some day gets to number 1, I hope it’s after winning another slam or at least a couple of Masters events. Anyhow, I think that scenario is a big stretch but it’s interesting to see. Thanks for crunching the numbers for us.

guy Says:

it’s simple, federer’s aura isn’t what it used to be, so players are believing more.

he’s always played ‘bad matches’, or matches where he is matched by another player [god forbid], even in the years he lost only a handful of matches. but usually got through because people were scared.

i remember him almost going down to the japanese qualifier suzuki in tokyo, ranked in outerspace.

point is his level is the same, just the players that were close before are starting to cross the finishing line and that makes others believe. like when fish destroyed him in indian wells, 2 and 2, then roddick got all excited and realised he could win too. won the next week in miami. then all these guys that were close many times before: gonzalez, blake, baghdatis,davydenko, berdych got some very overdue wins. it’s not a coincidence.

it’s a very mental game as everyone knows. federer is still mentally stong, just others are getting stronger.

asif Says:

Voicemale is way off base here. Imagine if you hired someone to paint your house and he came over and smeared some paint here and there with his hand and then went home. You would justifiably be upset. I’m not saying that what Federer did amounts to this, but to say that a professional tennis player can tank to his heart’s content and that taking issue with it somehow makes you immature is patently wrong. Voicemale, rather than spewing ad hominem attacks on Ben, why not try to win your argument based on its merits?

Or how about this? If Federer decided to practice his left-handed serve against Gulbis and got double-bageled, Federer would factually be a jerk. End of story.

Skeezerweezer Says:


“wank discussion” lol. What is that?

Ben Pronin Says:

I think it’s very relevant how much merchandise I’ve bought. I think it’s interesting how you attack me so directly, Voicemale. I’m not asking Federer to win for me, I’m asking him to win for his fans and for the sport. If Federer never wins another match, I can find entertainment elsewhere but my life won’t be affected in any serious way.

But tennis needs Federer and it needs him to perform well. He’s the biggest ambassador of the sport based on his place in history and by the mere fact that he’s number 1 in the world. If I don’t go to his matches and don’t buy his products, no one loses anything. But there are millions of people out there who will. Wilson uses Federer’s name and face to advertise their products. Tennis is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately sport and no one wants to advertise a player who’s winning percentage is barely above the 500 mark.

I never said I have a right to dictate what Federer does, it’s merely a suggestion and also a reminder of what Federer himself has said. When he says things like, “Motivation for me is really not a problem because I love tennis too much” he should at least back it up. Otherwise, he’s saying false statements in order to keep everyone content.

Voicemale, what gives you the “right” to get mad at my criticism of Federer. I believe Federer should have had better results in his last 3 events. Even with age, he had plenty of chances to put these guys away. I also believe he was a little too relaxed throughout these matches and let them slip away unintentionally.

You can call me a whiny baby on a high chair or whatever it was, but it’s not going to change my opinion on the matter. Federer should focus more. Not for me, but for everyone, including himself. He loves tennis, so he should love to play more matches in the tournaments he enters.

Ben Pronin Says:

Jane, I agree with pretty much everything you said. The 3 young guys played well when they had to, that’s for sure. But they did have to win ugly in the end, especially Gulbis.

Guy, even if Federer’s aura isn’t what it used to be, is that an excuse for him to lose? If Gulbis can hit just as many errors as Federer and end up win, shouldn’t Federer be able to do the same? Gulbis started choking badly once he got to match point. Federer didn’t even need to get to match point to choke. He’s rushing more than he used to. Why? Age? If age was such an issue, I feel like he shouldn’t try to take it to 3rd set tiebreakers in the first place.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Ben: poorly written but mostly right
Voicemale: well written but mostly wrong
SkeezerWeezer: The Kant of the board, synthesising truth from opposing idea.

That is all.

Voicemale1 Says:


Taking your points in order:

*WHY are you merchandise purchase relevant?
*Tennis existed before Federer was ever born, and it’s a pretty good bet that it will continue after he chooses to hang it up. Therefore “need” is a serious misnomer.
*The point is this: you demanded Federer “..give back to all the fans who have supported him” by performing better than he has. The mere fact someone demands this of a player is just sheer lunacy, especially for the reason you gave: a sense of obligation to you and his fans. It’s nuts. He owes them nothing.

And by the way, how in the hell do you know he’s not hurting somewhere? Your entire rant implicitly suggests he’s just tanking matches; that he’s doing less than he’s capable. It’s his suffering that really matters – he might actually be rattled that he’s been losing. Your very rant clearly suggests he’s fine and just purposely phoning it in. Don’t assume that’s correct.


Your statements are so disjointed as to be almost gibberish.

jane Says:

Just to give credit to Gulbis’ (admittedly uneven) performance, yes he did hit as many errors as Fed but I believe he hit something like 13 more winners (20 to 33 maybe?).

Also about the loss of fans, playing for fans, or whatever, I can see both sides of it. Players are obviously playing for themselves, to achieve greatness in their chosen careers. Similarly, in any given job, an employee will do as much as she or he desires often in connection to his/her individual ambition. How much does he care about that paint job? How much does she want that ad campaign?

To continue the analogy, however, if he does a crappy paint job, word of mouth may mean he doesn’t get hired, which means less money, which means potential loss of job altogether, whereas if she does a great job on the ad, she may get promoted, more money, more jobs etc.

So I suppose the correlation is that tennis is like a job. Players get paid to do what they love to do, but they get paid based on their success also.

Fed, however, has achieved such incredible success that getting paid and/or recognition is hardly a concern anymore; he’s like Donald Trump or something. He could quit tomorrow and he’d be set. So maybe he’s not as motivated as he once was because he’s reached the height of heights. Alhough he says he is motivated, and maybe he even believes it, maybe on some deeper level he’s not as motivated because he has fulfilled many of his dreams?

I know if I won the lottery (I mean the BIG one), I’d quit my job.

But Fed keeps playing because he’s still at the top and has some things he’d like to accomplish – i.e., most weeks @ #1; a gold at the 2012 Olympics; tie Pete’s number of Wimbledons (or has he done that one?); maybe he’s even shooting for the calendar slam.

So maybe in the back of his mind, he has just these things in mind and so the other stuff doesn’t matter to the same degree, much to the chagrin of his fans. However, the worrying aspect I guess is whether or not the altered focus might affect his bigger goals.

But even if it does, sheesh, he’s already achieved success in a big, big, HUGE way.

Ben Pronin Says:

Tennis Vagabond, I guess I’ll take that as a compliment. Can’t always write a masterpiece, I guess.

Voicemale, if anything, I think Federer isn’t as motivated as 1) he once was and 2) much as he claims. I don’t think he’s losing on purpose. When Agassi revealed he used to tank matches, I think either Dan or Sean made a really good list of the difference of how much effort one puts into a match. When Murray says he used Dubai as practice, does that mean he purposely lost to Tipsarevic? No. Federer didn’t phone it in, but he wasn’t able to give it his all. He should be frustrated because it looks like he can’t make himself play hard in the Masters. But he is playing hard, it’s more like he’s forgotten how to win. He should remind himself.

Polo Says:

All professional sports need fans. They need fans to sell tickets. They need fans to get sponsors for tournaments. They need fans to have TV coverage. They need fans so they can have luxurious endorsement deals. The players know that. Why do you think they even thank the fans for coming each time a winner makes a speech.

Without fans watching there will be no TV coverage, no TV coverage, no big money prizes.

If players assume an I-don’t-owe-any-fan-anything attitude. The fans will disappear. Then the athletes will lose their source of income. They are professionals just like doctors, lawyers, carpenters, plumbers. They owe it to those who enable them to make money to perform the best they can.

Look at other professional sports where the fans have disappeared, like the LPGA? Look at PGA without Tiger Woods.

So this argument that players owe nothing to their fans and as voicemail specifically states, “He (Federer) owes them nothing” is completely illogical.

Polo Says:

Let me just add, that if Tiger Woods (same thing can be said about Federer) had no fans, does anyone think he would have all those huge endorsement deals? He would not be as rich as he is now without the fans that Voicemail does not think deserves anything back.

JoshDragon Says:

@voicemale1: Actually you are wrong. The only reason tennis players are able to make a living, playing tennis is because of prize money and endorsements. People like Ben, are willing to buy tickets and go to matches, watch them from their tvs, and blog about them.

Without the audiences interest, tennis would not be a viable proffession and Federer wouldn’t be a multi-millionaire.

So Ben, does have the right to complain about Federer not winning the smaller events.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Lets put it another way: Ben’s thesis should stand with the names removed. The implicit assumption is that Fed is not giving his all. The argument over whether this is a fair criticism (not giving one’s all) should address this; addressing the assumption itself is a separate issue, one Ben could well be wrong about. But Voicemale is jumping back and forth between the two issues. On the hypothetical question of a generic athlete giving their all, I would say this:
athletes who carry with themselves a feeling of responsibility to give the paying fan their moneys worth; or who feel a personal drive to give the best of themselves each and every time out of respect for their sport, are the ones we admire. That is what makes a Lou Gehrig stand out as a giant beyond their playing days, beyond their sport.
By the way, I am a huge Fed fan, and I expect him to show everyone wrong… again.

Storm Says:

As much as Fed might not care about the non-GS tournaments, such losses only fuel the belief new players have. All these guys played great against a Fed who was playing his C- game. But it will hurt him to not step up and show why he’s #1. Can’t believe that his confidence isn’t shaken at least a little by all these first/second round losses.
This is no longer the Fed who could do no wrong and hit winners off ridiculous angles.While he shows sparks of brilliance, its no longer the match-long genius we once saw. Perhaps Fed should replay his past victories and remind himself of what he is capable of doing.
It would be a shame if Fed just faded away. But then again, we were having similar discussions exactly a year ago!

Skeezerweezer Says:

Tennis Vagabond,

Kant? My great great great great great great Uncle?

TY :) xoxo ( unless your posting as a guy, if you are, uh….handshake )

Polo at 3:17 pm….we almost wrote the same post…bringin in Tiger was a good one :)

Jane nice post at 3:05 :)

David Says:

Could it be he is losing some of his game? After the number of matches he’s played over the years and the level he’s played at, I think that is a reasonable conclusion to draw. Don’t despair, people. Change is inevitable.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

This also raises some other questions:
If someone is said to “raise their game” in the key situations (playoffs in most sports, Slams in Tennis) we consider these the greats. But the implication is that they aren’t giving their all in the “regular season”.
Now let me tear down that straw man I built myself.
Michael Jordan was one of the great post-season competitors in basketball history, Mark Messier similarly in hockey.
HOWVER, anyone following their sports would know that they were also intense competitors day in and day out. Their was just something about them that allowed them to play beyond their capacity in the big moments.
If you like, you could say they played 100% in the regular season, but went to 110% in the playoffs. Contrast this with a player like Jaromir Jagr, or Shaquille O’neal. Great players- but some days they just wouldn’t choose to show up.
I believe that Fed has always been one of the Messier-types: someone who gave his human best in the regular events but went to superhuman levels on the biggest stages. 100% to 110%.
So whats happening now?
Either he is no longer giving that 100%, or, which I think is more likely, his 100% is just not good enough any more, but that superhuman level, that 110% reached more out of will and drive than anything else, is still the best that can be reached.

Ben Pronin Says:

How do we determine 100% for Federer? How hard he tries or how well he plays? But if he is playing bad, how can we tell he’s still trying?

madmax Says:

i think when a federer fan (Kimmi, I know you said YOU were the “hugest” fan here for fed, but sorry, IT’S ME! :)))))), reads the past history of how long fed has been at the top of the tennis world, and how it has been TEN YEARS, 2000, since he was knocked out in the first round of a tourny, you can then (I certainly can now), understand how AMAZING this man is AND how much he has done for tennis AND how difficult it must be, day in, day out to MAINTAIN that focus and durability for 365 days x 10 years since being knocked out in a first round tournament = 3650 days (give or take a few weeks here and there for r&r), you come to realise just how impossibly ridiculous it must be. Imagine being at the top of “your” game AT WORK for 10 years, a real high flyer, flying around the world, week in week out attending top conferences, a wheeler dealer, winning all your beauty parades, for 10 years, then suddenly! The stress of practising your trade, the stress of flying around the world, of having a “normal life”. Surely, this lapse from federer (more recently is more understandable, frustrating though it is), I feel bad for not appreciating federer more.

He deals with the stress of being at the top of the game better than anyone in my view. It must be tough at the top as they say. I mean really tough and it’s really awesome that he hasnt gone a bit doo lalley.
I hope he finds his mojo again.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Madmax, this is a nice counterpoint. Though in general I agree with Ben’s idea of what should be expected from an elite athlete, we can perhaps be more sympathetic with the grandfathers of the game who have, as Lennon said after the breakup of the Beatles “given everything on God’s green earth for ten years.”

So we turn a blind eye to the subpar Gretzky farewell tours, the graybeards at the Masters (golf), etc.
What makes this different though, is that Fed is still the world number 1!

steve Says:

Athletes cannot will to perform at their best. Of course, they do everything within their power to train and prepare and make it possible for them to perform at a high level. But ultimately it is beyond their control. This is why athletes tend to be superstitious, because they know there is something a little magical and mysterious about what they do.

Federer said he tried everything out there; it just didn’t come. I don’t think he has any better explanation, nor do I think he’s hiding anything.

Yes, one could venture many explanations, he’s older, it’s taking longer for him to adjust to switching surfaces, he may not be able to tap the same kinds of reserves he would tap in a Grand Slam. Who knows. I don’t think he does, either.

Chan Says:

I think because of Federer getting old, he wants to save energy for grand slams and considering the master events for practice. But what I am worrying about is, it will give more confidence to other players and when Federer faces tough time in the matches he wants to win, other players can win federer with that confidence and he cannot do anything. Also how many times I can watch Australian open final until federer wins again. So far I watched it more than 20 times. So for Federer fan like us, he should win at least one or two masters between slams.

Lisa Farley Says:

Heed the warning signs, FED aoon will be out of singles and playing doubles until he’s 35.

steve Says:

That is a lovely post, Madmax.

MMT Says:

Ben Pronin: Your emotional investment in Fed’s results aside, the biggest problem I have with your post is the assumption that Fed wasn’t trying. I think that’s nonsense. This is similar to something I keep hearing that I also don’t buy – that he doesn’t care about anything but the slams. I also disagree with this assumption.

As you noted, all 3 of his last losses went the distance, and all 3 final sets went to 12+ games. He lost the first set against Berdych and dug in and won the second. In fact he held match points against both Bagdatis and Berdych, and he staved off several match points against Gulbis.

He wouldn’t have done any of this if he weren’t trying and/or didn’t care. The problem with your logic is that it is one-sided, and fixated on Federer. Essentially, the assumption (that many others have expressed) is that Federer doesn’t care about anything but the slams, and the evidence is that he does great at slams and (particularly in the last 2 months) not so great elsewhere.

But it is also possible that he’s trying hard but (1) he’s in a slump (2) his opponents play better outside the slams and (3) he handles the pressure better at slams than his opponents do. Actually 2 & 3 could be two sides of the same coin.

They’re all very real possibilities, and have nothing to do with his level of effort. Essentially you’re assuming that if he tried his hardest he wouldn’t lose, but this is both dismissive of his opponents and an absurd presumption of him that doesn’t hold in professional sports.

I’m not defending his results – they have been bad – but that doesn’t mean the man isn’t trying, or that he was lying when he said he trained and practiced. He’s not short-changing everybody on the assumption that if he tried his hardest he wouldn’t lose these kinds of matches. He could just be in a bit of a slump and his opponents could be taking advantage of that…after all, they are professional tennis players.

Just try this – go play players at your USTA rating for a year – only players at your rating, nobody lower – and see if you always beat the same players over and over again. If you do, probably you’re at the wrong level, but at the professional level, it is normal to expect professionals to beat him if he’s not at his best or if they happen to play particularly well. It happens at all levels of tennis.

It’s all a bit of non-sense, if you ask me.

Polo Says:

MMT, that was a very good analysis of the Ben’s article and Federer’s state of play.

jane Says:

MMT’s point about the analysis being “one-sided, and fixated on Federer” is somewhat true, and that is why at the beginning of both of my 3:05 and 2:13 posts I addressed the opponents who beat Fed. Given Fed’s achievements, perhaps it’s not difficult to overlook his opponents, but as mentioned, Berdych showed a stronger mentality at Miami that took him all the way to the finals, and Gulbis hit around 13 more winners than Fed, serving better too. Baggy was persistent in his match with Fed, and he’s a talented shot-maker when he is feeling it. He just wouldn’t relent. I think there is something to the fact that other players who step on the court now believe they can beat Roger, especially in the early rounds when he may be a little less grooved, and especially over 3 setters. In the slams, sometimes Fed has been pushed in early rounds but the 5 set format has allowed him to pull through. Who knows if that’ll still be the case going forward? It’ll be interesting to see.

Skeezerweezer Says:

Ben has fooled us all. A great article. Look at the hits this blog got. I am sure tennis x will be having Ben write many more articles :)

MMT Says:

Skeezerweezer: Touche

Ben Pronin Says:

Skeezer, I think you have the wrong idea of how this place works :P

MMT, you make a good point, I just feel like there were things Federer could have done better in all of his matches.

Jane, one thing, it’s not always the early rounds where Fed’s opponents take it to him. See del Potr, Juan Martin. He took it to Federer in the semis of the French and in the finals of the USO. Fed was plenty grooved by the time he played both of those matches and I think that’s an indication of players getting to Federer even in the slams.

I think Berdych deserves a lot of credit since he almost straight setted Federer. But Federer was a point from straight setting Baghy before he lost. And against Gulbis, he completely unraveled after a good first set. It’s like he’s lost the ability to close out matches, which is weird for a 16 time slam champion.

Anna Says:

Roger is as much a product as the Rolex he advertises. It’s all about fan appreciation in my opinion. No fans, no big bucks. If that were the case I’d agree with Voicemail, but professional sports run on BIG money. An analogy – A chef can make a meal and enjoy it, but not nearly as much as when it’s appreciated by paying customers, after all we all need to make a LIVING. If a customer should come in and order chicken fettucini, but be served hamburger, the customer will send the dish back. As a customer, we DESERVE to have what was ordered, or what we pay for. If not we’ll find a new restuarant. I know this is a little simplified, but we are consumers buying a product. The question Ben is poseing to Roger is “Why can’t you get the order right? You were genial, wrote the order on the pad, brought the right wine, but where’s the chicken?”

I think Ben’s questions come not from narcissism, but a genuine desire to see Federer do better. If he is the best there’s ever been (and he might be) who wants to see him fade away. It could be that this is the type of criticism (constructive)that could fire him up.

Skeezerweezer Says:

“I think Ben’s questions come not from narcissism, but a genuine desire to see Federer do better. If he is the best there’s ever been (and he might be) who wants to see him fade away. It could be that this is the type of criticism (constructive)that could fire him up.”

Now we are getting somewhere….


Of course I know how thinks work up here :). I have even bought tennis-x T shirts up here,

My favorite : the front of the T shirt says “Game. Set. Beer.” See, I contribute. Ha! I get lots of compliments with the ladies when I wear that one…..

Skeezerweezer Says:

Thinks=things sorry typo typing from a phone, ugh

Nikdom Says:

I think you articulated the frustration of Federer fans well. I agree with your call to action. Any sports fan who has invested emotionally in the success of a favorite team or player can and usually does lament inexplicable losses. I don’t see why this is arrogant of fans. Its central to the nature of fanhood.

Me thinks you doth protest too much. If you stop lecturing and keep the attitude in check, you have some reasonable points to make. Had they been presented more respectfully, I would give more merit to your thoughts. Somehow it feels like you have your own itch to scratch, even as you admonish the author to “get a life”.

In an advertising supported economy, you are not going to find a direct pecuniary link from player performance to viewer satisfaction. Your argument would make more sense if Roger were living on his tournament winnings alone and companies like Wilson, Nike and Jura were not paying him to influence folks like us. Sure, money may not be motivation enough for him and no one is (or can) hold a gun to his head, but assuming that fan disillusionment is a phenomenon with no tangible outcome is also wrong.

jane Says:

Anna asks “but where’s the chicken?”” — Maybe is was bad? ; ) Just kiddin. I couldn’t resist!

Ben says “I think that’s an indication of players getting to Federer even in the slams.” That may be true – in some later (and earlier) rounds Fed has been pushed at the slams, but except for the recent win of Delpo at the USO, Djok back in 2008, and of course Rafa’s multiple successes against him, no one has beaten him at the slams – not Roddick (within a hair!!), not Soderling, not Murray. So it seems to be a 3-set phenomenon for the most part.

Ben Pronin Says:

Well here’s the thing, he used to never lose 3 set matches either. He’d be pushed, but come through on most occasions except the rare loss. In the slams, it’s the same right now. He’s pushed regularly, manages through, loses rarely. So eventually he will start losing in the slams, too. It’s like the biggest mystery of tennis, WHEN will Roger Federer begin losing in the slams?

Mindy Says:

I am a Rafa fan and a bit of an outsider, but I thought I might try to give some perspective to this discussion.

First, I do not think it serves any purpose or helps in having a respectful discussion, for anyone to start calling someone names. I don’t think Ben is being narcissistic at all. I think he is a huge Fed fan who is concerned about seeing his favorite playing far less than his best all too often in smaller tournaments of late. He is being passionate in his desire to want Fed to take these tournaments seriously and give his best effort. It’s not as though he is accusing Fed of a capital offense, as though he murdered somebody. It’s almost a kind of beseeching, asking Fed to please be his old incomparable self.

For my part, I went through something similar when Rafa was playing terribly in the closing months of last year. On Rafa forums, I would find myself in the uncomfortable position of arguing with my fellow fans. Some Rafa fans seemed to feel that Rafa was personally letting them down with his inability to win a title. I must say that it got way too personal and quite intense. I had trouble understanding the level of anger and in some cases, vitriol directed at Rafa. The guy was obviously struggling, it’s not as though he wanted to lose.

Fed is in a much different place than Rafa was at that time. He has pretty much achieved his goals in the sport of tennis. There was a wonderful article on bleacher report explaining how difficult it is to maintain the level of mental concentration Fed has demonstrated over the years. Maybe Fed is having some difficulty getting back to that level, maybe it’s hard for him to get fully motivated for anything but the slams. I do not pretend to know what is in his mind and heart.

I do agree with Ben that a player owes his fans his very best effort. But I don’t think Fed wants to let his fans down at all. He has set the bar so incredibly high that he may be having some trouble staying at his exalted best. The man is a champion, but also a human being. I don’t think we will have any real answers until RG. If Fed shows the poor form and lack of concentration that he has displayed in these smaller tournaments, if he does get knocked out early and ends his streak of consecutive semifinal appearances, then that would be the time to have a serious discussion. As far as I am concerned, for now the jury is out. This just may be a blip on the radar, but I defend Ben’s right to ask some tough, hard questions.

MMT Says:

“So eventually he will start losing in the slams, too. It’s like the biggest mystery of tennis, WHEN will Roger Federer begin losing in the slams?”

Now that I agree with. Clearly his dominance in all tournaments previously is over – I think however that this is a natural progression.

The added pressure of performing in slams allows him to stay a step ahead of the competition in that environment, because I think he handles it better than others. But this too will diminish over time – how much time is a very interesting question.

Giapetto Says:

“Look back at the quarterfinals of the Australian Open where Davydenko was rolling through Federer. Federer wasn’t playing his best and Davydenko definitely was, but Federer still had a look about him that said he was trying to think of anything he could do to turn the match. Where was that look against Gulbis?”

I have made this exact statement several times before, referring to the Davydenko match. I slept through my alarm that night and only woke up at the start of the 2nd set, but I wasn’t at all worried about the outcome. I could see that look on Fed’s face – he was waiting for his chance. And once Davy missed his 2nd breakpoint opportunity at 3-1, his face showed a touch of frustration and doubt. Federer saw this, pounced, and took 13 straight games.

I haven’t had that same feeling in any of the 3 Fed losses since. In the cases of Berdych and Gulbis, they showed obvious self-doubt and/or frustration at multiple points, but Federer just ends up showing even more self-doubt than them.

Where is the body language of the last 6 years of supremacy that said “I know I am going to beat you, it doesn’t matter what you do”?

Skorocel Says:

Can’t believe how much criticism is Federer getting from some of his most devoted fans here… The guy owns almost EVERY single record in tennis (and certainly ALL the most important ones – that is the record for most slam titles, career grandslam, and within 7 weeks also the record for most weeks spent at the No 1. spot), and you’re slamming him for losing a tight 3 setter against an hot up-and-comer who’s only nearing his prime…. Don’t know about you, but I’d be 300 times happier if he wins just 4 tournaments per year and loses in the very 1st round in all the others (PROVIDED these 4 tournaments he wins would be slams), rather than see him winning say 3 MS events and just 1 slam + finishing as a runner up in another 3-4 tourneys. To put it bluntly, I’d rather see him smacking Murray or Nadal in a SLAM final than anything else!

Numbers & records wise, the guy doesn’t need to prove anything to anybody. He’s nearing his 30s, has a wife & 2 kids, so what would you expect from him? It’s only logical he’d focus on the majors – moreover because his opponents are getting younger, quicker, and fresher with each year… Whichever way you look at it – his 16 major titles (and generally, his perfomances in the slams) is perhaps the most acclaimed achievement in tennis to date. Now I’m not saying it’ll automatically make you the GOAT or that the other tournaments don’t count – it’s just that this record NEVER lies. You may win 1 slam with some luck, but never 16. Not only are the grandslams the most important tournaments in tennis (requiring to win 7 best of 5 set matches), but you can’t win as many as 16 of them in double time either (even though with Federer, it was actually the case)… What I want to say is that there are only 4 slams per year, so if you want to win as many as 16, you’ll have to be AT A VERY HIGH LEVEL for at least 4-5 years. In other words, such number also requires a certain amount of longevity.

And regarding the MS 1000 events, there’s still Madrid, isn’t it? Should Fed wins it, no one will ever say a word… Fact is, his results on clay last year weren’t great either (2nd round in MC, semi in Rome), and then all of a sudden, he beat Nadal for the Madrid title, didn’t he? Better win just 1 tourney rather than 3 or 4 matches in each event but end up titleless. After all, for players like Federer it’s (usually) always about the titles. 3rd round or semi doesn’t really matter…

Skorocel Says:

„It’s irrelevant how much merchandise you bought or how many events you attended. You did so by your own choice, your own free will. You were never compelled to do so by anyone, least of all by Federer. He’s not obligated in any way nor does he owe you anything just because you have chosen to live vicariously through him.

Very well written, Voicemale1!


Chan: „Also how many times I can watch Australian open final until federer wins again. So far I watched it more than 20 times.“

Then watch that spanking again! This match alone (along with the USO 2008 final) was better than anything which Fed has done in the last 2 years, if we don’t count that long-yearned-for FO title, of course. And boy, was it worth of watching! THESE are the matches & tournaments than define one’s career, not Monte Carlos or Basels.


Storm: „Can’t believe that his (Fed’s) confidence isn’t shaken at least a little by all these first/second round losses.“

Judging from his perfomances in the slams, I’d say it clearly ISN’T shaken, so why all this complaining?


jane: „But Fed keeps playing because he’s still at the top and has some things he’d like to accomplish – i.e., most weeks @ #1; a gold at the 2012 Olympics; tie Pete’s number of Wimbledons (or has he done that one?); maybe he’s even shooting for the calendar slam.

You can bet he IS! And people here are crying over such things like losing a 3rd set errorfest to Gulbis… LOL :-)

Kimmi Says:

madmax:(Kimmi, I know you said YOU were the “hugest” fan here for fed, but sorry, IT’S ME! :))))))

I dont recall saying that.

But who is comparing and how do you measure this anyways? LOLZ it does not matter maxi, I don’t own him. Federer is what made me start watching tennis. A few years back he was probably the only one I watched the most. But I enjoy any good tennis nowadays and have learnt to like and enjoy a lot of other players.

Well, hope he gets back strong, coz it is always nice to watch him when he is playing well…

MMT Says:

But Mindy – why jump to the conclusion that this is all down to Federer’s motivation, and by virtue his preparation and/or effort?

Isn’t it possible that he is equally motivated, equally prepared, but due to various reasons (a slump, opponents performing better, etc.) he just isn’t getting the results?

And by the way, I also think Rafa fans were losing it during his title drought. I may have been guilty of over-analyzing as well, but I just checked his results and here’s an interesting statistic.

With the exception of his dismal performance at the YEC, EVERY ONE of Rafa’s losses since Rome of last year were to either the eventual champion or finalist.

That only ever lost to a player playing better than (almost) everyone in the draw at the time. It’s not like he was losing to journeymen either – everyone on that list is a top 10 player.

Madrid – Federer (Champion)
Roland Garros – Soderling (Finalist)
Montreal – del Potro (Finalist)
Cincinnati – Djokovic (Finalist)
US Open – del Potro (Champion)
Beijing – Cilic (Finalist)
Shanghai – Davydenko (Champion)
Paris – Djokovic (Champion)
Doha – Davydenko (Champion)
Australian Open – Murray (Finalist)
Indian Wells – Ljubicic (Champion)
Miami – Roddick (Champion)

I think we all have a tendency to get alarmed when a player who dominated (either Rafa or Roger) suddenly doesn’t. It may signal a slump or the beginning of the end for them – we’ll only know for sure in the light of hindsight.

But to question a players motivation, preparation and effort, based purely on a disparity between expected and actual results is, in my opinion, not on.

Roger Federer Says:

For all those who thought I didn’t try hard enough, give the old man a break. Do you have any idea how good these players who beat me are? They may not be much in your eyes because they haven’t won much, but on any given day, they can do damage to anyone.

I’m 28 going on 29. Regardless of what I said in the press, the body and mind are just not the same as when I was 23. One slip of concentration coupled with the opponent’s playing well and it could cost me the set. You said I could have raised my game to beat them in the end? A tennis match is not a walk in the park. I’m not a magician. My mind would be saying to the forehand: Just keep it in the court, but the forehand wouldn’t listen.

It’s true I try to pace myself to peak at Slams, and I care more about Slams than the MS series, but I don’t want to lose ever. What good would that do me? Now I’m out of match play at Rome and have to wait until Estoril. The truth of the matter is that with advancing age, if I try to play every match like my life depends on it, I might still lose and have nothing left for the Slams. Now that is a scenario neither you or I want.

So cut me some slack, because the time will come when I try really hard at Slam and still exit early. I’m just extremely lucky it hasn’t happened yet. Look at Sampras, from 28 on he could only win Wimbledon and made a last hurrah at the US Open. I’m still trying to deliver my very best for you at all Slams, just cut back a little at the smaller tournaments, not out of disdain but out of absolute necessity.

thark Says:

roger federer is a human being.

and so is ben pronin.

keep in mind that ben writes these articles cold, without the benefit of all these points to add his counterpoint to…

there seems to be some confusion about the difference between opinions and money. as far as rolex, nike, wilson, and the ATP are concerned, if you are paying them, then you like what’s going on. they can’t hear your complaining unless you are “complaining” by giving them less money. you always have the “right” to complain about anything you like, but if you think you are not getting the entertainment you wanted from watching players (fed or anyone else), then you have to stop putting money into the system. complaining about how you are unsatisfied, while simultaneously continuing to buy the products a player promotes (or attending/watching the events in which he/she gives less than their best effort) is pointless.

i don’t understand voicemale’s venom, and i think keeping things civil is definitely the way to go, but i do think some people misunderstand the way the system works. you don’t pay the money up front, and then the player is in debt to you. it’s quite the opposite. the player provides incredible entertainment by bringing excellence to the sport, and the money follows. in your mind, you may think you are paying for something in the future, but the ideas in your head that cause you to buy today’s ticket came from things that happened last tournament, or last year. the player has already done that work. the millions from nike come AFTER the first few big wins.

anyway – it has been said already, and i agree, that no one owes anyone anything – federer is free to play as he chooses, and we are free to support him financially and emotionally as we see fit.

i don’t know how much i’ve paid to federer, but i know i haven’t given ben a penny for his efforts. let’s give them both a break…

manfid Says:

Why nobody blame the ATP ?!?!?!

“IF” in fact Federer played to lose, or played as if were just a practice day (he can do it, no matter his money come from “fans” or what “fans” think he own them… in that context everybody enter a tournament for money, they can play their best or their worst, prize is motivation, money is for winners, simples facts of life)

“THEN” blame the ATP tour, not Federer, the ATP force top players to enter a tournament, no matter if the player want to play it or not, clearly Nadal want play montecarlo, clearly Murray (he said it) did not want play lately

“SO” montecarlo is not forced, so Federer no played it, maybe if rome wasnt forced, he wouldnt played it or if montecarlo was forced now we were talking about 2 Federer loses in a row.

“TOP TEN PLAYERS IN EACH 1000 MASTER” yeah lol, as long as they are healthy, not tired, not with doctor/trainer/bishop advising him to skip the tournament, and even if they show at the tournament, they may do it to skip sanctions, as i say, 95% of times, if a Q beat a TOP 10 in a second round, clearly show who wants to be in the tournament and who just show for the TV… blame the ATP!!!

“FEDERER” well he is not getting any younger, and no matter what he said, he wants a GRAND SLAM YEAR, he had been so close 3 times with nadal always crushing the dream, he cant battle nadal all clay and grass season like 4 years ago, nadal is 5 years younger. Federer knows that this year is not his last chance but every year will be more uphill, i think thats why he was in practice ratter than playing tournaments lately… maybe he changed the strategic from 2006 where he battled nadal hard every tournament, surely that strategy worked badly in 2008 roland and wimbledon, sure the mono didnt help (clearly there was a Federer-fitness before and after january-2008, as today Federer meltdown in long matches, its seen clearly in 5 sets matchs (WIM 08-AUS 09-USA 09) when before january-2008 Federer was at his best in the 5 set)

manfid Says:

@MTT — great stat
“Rafa’s losses since Rome of last year were to either the eventual champion or finalist”
seems i was too hard on nadal the other day, it didnt do too bad last year, but for him standards didnt do too good either.

kind of remind me the record of Federer in slams, since wimbledon 2004 he has either won the slam or lose to the eventual champion…
23 consecutive slams…
in short for the last 6 years if you wanted to win a slam you need to beat Federer.

Skeezerweezer Says:

thark post at April 28th, 2010 at 7:31 pm,


rave Says:

Hi all. I enjoy reading your posts, but have not posted here. First and foremost I am a rabid Fed fan. I get teary eyed and depressed for days when Federer loses. It is hard to know what is going on in Fed’s head or why he is losing to players he could beat blindfolded in the past. I cannnot believe that the losses do not hurt him as well and he is trying not to panic or let anyone know that he is panicking. I do believe he is sincere when he says he is motivated. Something is just not clicking. I hope he fixes it before it bomes a permanent habit. Also, can you imagine if he said he is not motivated any more, the plethora of media on that alone would boggle the mind. Either way, he cannot win the media battle.

I also believe that Federer cares about his fan base. He does give back. He always thanks his fans for supporting him. He has conducted himself with integrity on and off the court. He has refused 60 million dollars worth of endorsements last year(ESPN magazine). Does that not say that his heart is still with tennis and his fans. Please give him a break. He has come this far, he has worked hard, given back to the world through his charities. Maybe he is coming to the end of his career, just as Pete and many other greats did. I know that I would like to have him around forever, winning forever. Realistically, that is not going to happen. And who are we to tell him to retire even if he slips in the rankings. If he enjoys tennis he should be able to play as long as he wants.

So, all of Fed’s fans, give him a break. I still will root for him, I will still will buy his brands. He has given me so many years of enjoyment. I refuse to desert him now. But that does not mean I won’t get mad at him when he loses or cry my heart out. Go, Fed, Go.

Elwin Says:

‘Nice’ first post by Voicemale1, and then the replies. This ‘forum’ should have a system that allows people to directly reply on someone’s post and receive emails for getting replies on posts, because now i see people clicking on F5 every minute when they are in a heated discussion ;-)

skeezerweezer Says:


What’s clickin an F5?

You talkin F5 Tornado?


Welcome. Nice post :) If Fed is looking for someone to take over those 60mil endorsements….uh….er…..I’m available!

skeezerweezer Says:

MMT April 28th, 2010 at 7:17 pm,

Niiiceee post:)

An opinion with some facts brings merit to the argument.

thark Says:

@skeezerweezer: f5 = refresh page.

Sean Randall Says:

Elwin, thanks for the tip on F5! I had no idea it was the “short reload” button.

As for the topic, there’s certainly merit to the argument. I do think Roger tries – he’s not tanking! But I doubt he beats himself up over these losses.

Ben Pronin Says:

I use ctrl-R but f5 is certainly easier.

JJack Says:

@Rave and others,

I don’t understand this drama here. What’s the big deal? Don’t you know Roger’s Rome history? He has never won this tournament, Not even in his best years. Now that he decides to go out on the first round you guys talk it’s the end of the word. He is right to be more careful to manage his schedule at his age.
He is doing just fine.

Mindy Says:


Yes, I am aware of Rafa losing to the eventual winner and posting respectable finishes. But that did not deter some of his loyal fans from becoming semi-hysterical over his inability to get a win. I tried to be the voice of reason and optimism and got my head handed to me for my trouble.

I guess that I should have presented some “facts”, rather than think my thought process, logic and reason would be enough. Feelings are running quite high here. I do not think it was intent to put the entire blame on Fed, merely to give my assessment of the various factors that be coming into play at the moment. I am certain that players now feel that they have a good shot at Fed and Rafa. They will both be challenged a lot more now.

I have no doubt that opponents are performing better against Fed, but he always seemed to still have the answer. I also do believe that the quality of his game is not there at the moment. Even Fed himself said as much. He knows his standard better than anyone. He SET the standard.

I do thank you for those stats about Rafa. Boy, could I have used you on a Rafa forum a few months ago! But then I tried to make that case myself, to no avail. Panic is a mild word for what was going on some months ago on some Rafa forums.

rave Says:

It truly is no big deal. Just a little drama and a tad bit worried for Fed. Sean, it is hard to tell if Fed beats himself up after these losses. A litle is good and then put it it behind him and go on to the next tournament.

Skeerzerweezer, I’d share that 60 million. I could quit my job and live happily ever after. Funny, ha. ha

Von Says:

I’m not one for speculating, but after reading the comments and/or speculations of several posters, as well as the media, I have decided to add my two farthings worth of comments. I think it would be wise for us to listen to the man himself, Roger Federer, with respect to his mind-set on entering tourneys and, what is currently happening to him.

For starters, Fed, in most tourneys, usually does not produce a stellar performance in his first round matches, but one always has the feeling that he’ll win the match, and he does. then, as he plays the subsequent rounds, he begins playing himself into form, — that’s his way. I’ve heard him state many times, that he likes to play himself into the torunament, and he has been able to do so for many years, with the exception of yesterday in Rome, and a few scattered occasions

Fed’s MO is also manifested in presser which Ben has quoted above, after his loss to Baghdatis, vis-a-vis: “I think as the tournament would have gone forward I would have found my groove more and more, and who knows what would have happened?”

That sentence, sums up Fed’s mindset when entering a tournament, and he has been able to execute that plan to perfection most times, simultaneously becoming match-grooved and/or working himself into the tournament.

However, over the past two years, there have been times whereby Fed has struggled in the Masters tourneys, more than normal, in his early round matches through to the QFs, thereby scaring his fans and placing some doubts in their minds as to whether Fed will be able to go deep and/or win the respective tourneys. And, in the majority of cases in ’09 2010, in the MS tourneys, Fed has failed to get past the SF, with the exception of Madrid, which he won, hence, the panic is a trifle justified.

For the greater part of ’09 and this year, Fed seems to have gotten a bit side-tracked due to his personal life, which is understandable, as two babies and a wife, will put stress on any man. He’s got 3 additional people to think about now, instead of just one.

I’m positive that Federer is cognizant of his current situation and from his statements, it’s also obvious that even though he’s aware of his match play difficulties, he’s not worried, but confident he’ll bounce back. Fed sums up his feelings by stating:“But I don’t need to worry about that anymore. It’s about resting because I do feel the first match in my body. It’s something that always is tough, coming from a long layover and all of a sudden playing matches. But, the season is long. There’s no need to panic here.”

Hence, from the foregoing, it would be logical to assume that Fed is not panicked, so why are his fans panicking? I feel that we should pay attention to what Federer’s saying, as therein lies the answer to what’s happening to Federer with respect to his tennis and how he views the current situation.

I think it’s too early still to tell if Federer has lost a part of his game. Yes, he is a bit rusty, but again, that’s due to not being match-grooved, which in turn, is the result of his early exits from tourneys in which he should have gone deeper. It’s somewhat of a vicious circle .. lack of match-groove = early exits. His frustration is also understandable (the throwing of the water bottles) and that’s indicative of the fact that he deeply cares about his game, he’s frustrated at his performance, as he’s a very prideful man, and does not like losing, especially to the lesser ranked players. It’s called pride, and who among us isn’t prideful?

IMO, there is no need for alarm as Fed will make up some lost points if he wins Estoril, defends Madrid and the FO. If he fails to win Estoril and does not go deep in Madrid, then it’s time to begin lightly tapping the panic button. Additionally, if he fails to defend the FO and Wimby, then that would be cause for pounding the panic button, big time, but certainly not before then.

Fed’s fans and the media should reflect back to ’09, which IMO, was a good year for Fed. Considering he won three (3) of the last four (4) GS tournaments, beginning with the FO in ’09. those results speaks volumes for Fed’s performance, so what more can a fan ask of him?

Obviously Nadal is the favorite at the French, and the way Federer is playing right now I think we could possibly see his streak of Grand Slam semi-finals ended, but that is not carved in stone, as he could flip the switch, which he’s done many times, and dramatically turn things around, and then we’ll hear Federer is back, .. .. but only time will tell…..

skeezerweezer Says:


Well written post and IMO. It is nice to see that before someone writes they take the time to read others input,,,,,Kudos to u :)

Von Says:

Dkeezer: thjanks.

Here’s a link on the Fed/Gulbis match.

Dan Martin that means you also:


Von Says:

Sorry Skeezer: @ 12:36 am — Dkeezer s/b skeezer.

skeezerweezer Says:

Thanks for the link Von,

If anyone thinks Roger could care less about the loss,,,, well a picture tells a thousand whatevers? Check out Von’s link…Does he look like a tanker? Not! No “who cares” look there….lol

Von Says:

I guess here’s a good place to post this link on Roddick’s withdrawal from Rome, as it gives a little tid-bit on the 600 match tour exemption rule = Roddick will not be fined for playing on the beach with the double-Decker.


jane Says:

I just read Tignor’s blog on Fed’s loss; thought I’d post the link as he touches on a number of ideas expressed here:


skeezerweezer Says:


Awesome article, tx,

“his season would be intriguing primarily because he was in a position that few, if any, players had ever reached. He was starting his tennis afterlife; Federer had reached every individual goal imaginable, but he still had years left on his career.”

Insightful stuff…..

margot Says:

At the tail end of this as usual cos of time difference but…inevitably, yes inevitably this tennis magician will start to lose more and more matches. How will he cope with this, how will we? Being a sports superstar is not like other jobs and even in some sports eg golf you seem to have a far longer shelf life. I myself hope Fed wins a couple more slams, gets his unassailable record and then says, “Goodbye and thanks for all the fish!” Will his ego allow him to do so? I hope so, I myself would hate a miserable, undignified long drawn out ending.

montecarlo Says:

Interesting post by MMT above showing Rafa lost to eventual winner or Runner up in all tournaments.

I think another important reason for Federer not performing well in Masters and performing really well in Slams is how the Draws are made. We all know Federer (and he himself admitted this) takes some time to settle down and adapt to the conditions.

Now if we look on to the slams, there are 32 seeds and that makes sure Federer always gets first two rounds against much lower ranked players. We also noticed that many of Federer’s tough matches are usually in round 3 or round 4 (where he either has to face a seeded player or someone who has already beaten a seeded player the likes of andreev, tipsarevic etc etc). So he gets two easy rounds to settle down into a rhythm which helps him to overcome those slightly tougher 3rd and 4th round matches (which in turn helps him against even higher ranked opponents later).

Now in Masters there are only 16 seeds and therefore Federer has to face a top 30 player in first two rounds itself. Since he hasn’t settle down enough he still lacks the rhythm or confidence to go for his shots in crucial stages of those matches which ultimately causes these upsets.

Lenny Says:

Fascinating debate going on here. Here’re my two bits – well, okay, there may be more than two bits :P

Voicemale, you write wonderfully, and I agree with SOME of what you said, but attacking Ben like that was a bit harsh, IMO.

I, too, cannot STAND the kind of fan who thinks that the object of his admiration “owes” him something personally. Like Adam Lambert said “entitlement is not sexy”. But I don’t think that’s what Ben was saying; as others have pointed out, he could’ve worded things a little differently.

I think Tennis Vagabond put it in perspective perfectly when he/she said: “athletes who carry with themselves a feeling of responsibility to give the paying fan their money’s worth; or who feel a personal drive to give the best of themselves each and every time out of respect for their sport, are the ones we admire.”

All a player “owes” anyone – including themselves – is their respect and their best effort.

Keeping that in mind, I DO object to what Ben seems to be implying – that Fed’s not trying hard enough, or is being deliberately untruthful about being motivated enough for these “lesser” tournaments.

It’s human nature to be MORE motivated for the bigger stage – it doesn’t mean you’re not for the smaller ones. Surely Sampras’ and Agassi’s records ARE solid motivation for a player as invested in the history of the sport and his place in it, as Federer clearly is? It’s also human nature to be more motivated earlier on in your career – ANY career – when you have a lot more to prove.

Also, as some others have pointed out as well, let’s look at Federer’s ENTIRE career for a minute? That he has been on top of the sport SO consistently, and for SO long says enough about how fiercely motivated and invested he is, and how he ALWAYS tries to perform at his best. Sometimes, as much as you want it, your best just takes a vacation from you.

Yes, at times in the recent past he has been like an ADD puppy who gets tired of chasing the ball and wants to go for a romp in the park instead. These mental walkabouts are hard to watch, sure, but he’s HUMAN, which we seem very quick to forget sometimes – and that IS partly Fed’s fault for being so godly for so long :) He’s also getting on in years (in tennis terms, anyway), and DOES have other priorities in his life. I think, too, as Von pointed out, it DOES tend to take Fed a while to get into a tournament. And as he ages, I believe it’s going to be tougher and tougher to find a way to win with the long breaks he takes between tournaments. And the 5-set Slam format just gives him more time to play himself into a match. ALL these factors have to be taken into account, and his performances seen in context of his life, his years in the sport and his age.

Mother Nature and Father Time. That bitch and that d*** get us ALL in the end, and they’ll get Federer, too. :(

NONE of this translates to him not CARING about the non-Slam events. I don’t for a SECOND lend any credence to the declaration from some fans and naysayers, alike, that he considers these tournaments beneath him. He is too much of a champion to act like that. And WE as FANS owe HIM better than that.

I was one of those “panicking” Rafa fans until I realised that myself. (Not that I ever TURNED on him the way some fans will!) I think what worried some of us more was not the FACT of the losses, but the way he lost some of those recent matches. He seemed to have Federer-like mental walkabouts – and that’s just SO UNLIKE Rafa.

FedFan Says:

I’m with Kimo, Roger still have to give 100% at smaller tournaments not just GS he owes it not only to fans, but tournament organizers + viewers on Tv.He’s a “Pro”(We pay his Salary).Whats the point of being seeded unless you are expected to go deep into the tournament. What bugs me is Roger is clearly only motivated to give 100% only at GS. I think you have better odds Roger “not” winning a Masters Tournament then Winning. A few years back that would be UN-thinkable. Roger even till today is consistently winning GS or reaching the finals but has a Poor record in smaller tournaments, pre 2007 he was winning whatever tournament he entered!What has changed is He now has the most GS titles + he married and has children. The only thing stopping him from retiring is Grand Slams! I’ll put it another way…Roger the last few years has increasingly canceled appearing in smaller tournament through illness, tiredness…but miraculously he is always fine during Grand slams?? I do not even bother expecting to see Roger play well unless it’s a Grand Slam now a days which is really SAD!!! He is the number 1 player in the world…so he should show it!!!!

49man Says:

Federer is definitely not serious at the moment!!! We definitely do not like the fact that Federer had a mediocre attitude about his play!!

Federer, some of your fans cry after your loss…You’ve gotta step up!

I trust Federer though!..I think he needs to get back to harder trainings and take nothing for granted!!

Go Federer!

Tennis Fan Says:

Apologies if someone has mentioned this already, but, one thing I have noticed is (from initial reading) no-one mentioned the fact his wife wasn’t there. Maybe his kids were ill or whatever, maybe this now plays in his thoughts when he is on court. Maybe it’s just not as much fun playing guys he’s beaten many, many times on cold rainy days. He is human after all and these factors affect nearly every other human on the planet. Also as I think someone else mentioned, over 5 sets none of those players, who won in 3 sets this year, would have beaten him, in 5. No way, look what happened to Davydenko after he blasted the first set in AO. Gulbis looked like he had Parkinsons serving for the match, he was shaking so badly – no way would his nerves have held out, and Berdyck remember he’s the guy who was two sets up and a break in the AO two years ago and he lost.

madmax Says:

Really enjoying some of the debate on this forum everyone.

I found this (only an excerpt) from one of the UK papers – The Times (I know a lot of you are American/Canadian over here, but I dont read much of the SI, though I know it is big where you are. This is a reputable paper, The Times – and here is an extract from a journo called Neil Harman, who follows Federer around at various tournaments, Rome being one of them.

The 21-year-old — ranked outside the top 100 last September — has recovered his teenage poise, surged to No 40 and his 2-6, 6-1, 7-5 victory as thunder rumbled, will cause the Swiss to stop and think about what he must do on clay to add to his 16-strong grand slam title collection when he starts the defence of his French Open crown in 3½ weeks.

If anyone can do it, Federer can. He is the master of compartmentalising defeats, steadying the ship and turning on the grace and style when it really matters, in best-of-five-set occasions. It was clear from watching him practise that the Swiss was loose and apparently unconcerned that he was shanking so many routine shots. Although he sped through the first set, the minute Gulbis sharpened his range-finder, he took great delight in imposing his game on the world’s best.

Gulbis needed seven match points to secure victory, six being squandered in the tenth game with a mixture of outrageously brave serving and monstrous mis-hits. “I was shaking, it was a terrible feeling,” Gulbis said.

But Federer’s serve had been hit and miss throughout the final set and he conceded the advantage Gulbis had given him right back to his opponent. The Latvian then served out to love.

“You cannot be 100 per cent all the time,” Federer said. “Sometimes it takes a loss like this to wake up and shake your mind. It can be that things are too simple, and days like this make you realise how difficult it is to dominate the tour. I didn’t feel safe at any time today, my game wasn’t up to its normal standard. Of course Roland Garros is in the back of my mind but I have two tournaments to get the wins I need. And I’m still in the doubles.”

Gannu Says:

“But motivation and will and desire are only semi-conscious attributes—you can’t fool your own mind into wanting something more than it really does”

Thats a classic quote from steve tignor.. that sums up feddy bear’s attitude in non-slams and slams

Skorocel Says:

„I don’t understand this drama here. What’s the big deal? Don’t you know Roger’s Rome history? He has never won this tournament, Not even in his best years. Now that he decides to go out on the first round you guys talk it’s the end of the word. He is right to be more careful to manage his schedule at his age. He is doing just fine.“

Talk about calling the things with their true names, JJack! ;-)

Skorocel Says:

„IMO, there is no need for alarm as Fed will make up some lost points if he wins Estoril, defends Madrid and the FO. If he fails to win Estoril and does not go deep in Madrid, then it’s time to begin lightly tapping the panic button. Additionally, if he fails to defend the FO and Wimby, then that would be cause for pounding the panic button, big time, but certainly not before then.“

Exactly my thoughts, Von! Btw, thanks for those jokes! The one about Oprah Winfrey was a classic! :-)

jane Says:

montecarlo, “Since he hasn’t settle down enough he still lacks the rhythm or confidence to go for his shots in crucial stages of those matches”

Interesting points @ 2:39 re: the difference between playing into form at a slam and playing into form at a Masters, and how the latter is more difficult due to early round challenges with higher seeds from the get-go. Plus upsets are easier to achieve over 3 sets.

The quote above also works if we feel Fed’s timing is crucial to his stellar shot-making, because if he hasn’t found a rhythm that will make his efforts more difficult. Add to that any serve difficulties plus a hungry opponent, and he’s got a tough go on his hands.

JJack Says:

[B]I think Tennis Vagabond put it in perspective perfectly when he/she said: “athletes who carry with themselves a feeling of responsibility to give the paying fan their money’s worth; or who feel a personal drive to give the best of themselves each and every time out of respect for their sport, are the ones we admire.”[/B]

I couldn’t disagree more.

An athlete’s first responsibility should be to himself, his own health and career and this is what true fans ultimately would prefer to see over cheering him up over beating a 21yo Gulbis with no achievements. What would be the response if you asked those fans whether they prefer to see a master title or an all time record of more than 20 semifinals? Federer has not done particularly well in Master titles since 2007 and to me that’s just setting new priorities that are forced by motivation, age and health concerns.

And talking about responsibility, the fact that he has never walked away from a match once he has started it, speaks volumes versus the guy who feels the responsibility to beat down everybody in his way 6-0 6-1 and then deflates and retires from the next.

Consistency. No one has shown that better than Federer on big stages. That “Give me my money’s worht” you are advocating here is good for some 2hr cinema goers. He is playing for history and that’s what true fans would like to see him do.

SG Says:

I wouldn’t judge Fed’s mental state by how he does in non-slam events.

Polo Says:

The camera just focused on Corretja. I know it has no basis but I cannot shake off the feeling the Corretja is to Murray the way Martin was to Djokovic. I am not a psychic but I think there is bad karma in that association.

Ben Pronin Says:

Jjack, I think breaking the Masters titles won record is a significant historical achievement.

JJack Says:


We dont know if he is not going to do that yet. But if he doesnt he still has the most important record.
The closest is Nadal. I bet you he will deflate right after, or shortly after, Clay season again. Rodge still has his opportunities.

Von Says:

Skorocel: You’re welcome. I got a kick out of that one especially. LOL

skeezerweezer Says:


A lot of you folks up here are counting on Fed to be all right for this years slams…and that his recent losses ( early exits )are not indicative of his future play, hope you are all right! :)

Denverdriver Says:

Roger has been a great champion, probably the greatest, and also a fine gentleman. But he can’t be number one forever. Age slowly takes a subtle toll on the body and the spirit. Many of the younger players are getting better as Roger starts to fade, and I believe that is what we are seeing. The results through the rest of this year will tell the story.

sheila Says:

as a federer fan, sadly i think other players are now going into a match with him believing they can win. federer has had a good run, but unfortunately his dominance is no longer what it was. however, i dont c federer being happy as a no. 5 player, so motivation 2 stay no. 1 would be there. federer is a lot more vulnerable and the young players like gulbis have really big games. i guess what i dont understand is how a gulbis or an isner dont win nadal, especially on hard courts. djokovic, although i don’t like his personality, is in my opinion the best of the young players. hes the most consistent. it amazes me that tsonga and solderling havent won more tournaments. big games but streaky players. they should not only be winning the likes of federer, but murray and nadal as well, on hardcourt that is. as for my fvt federer, i do think hes not the player he once was. i will however hope that in the slams he shows us his magic. hes got lots of points to defend

Skorocel Says:

sheila: Federer is winning slams like it’s the easiest thing to do and is still the No. 1 player – what else do you want from him?! Gosh, what would Murray, Djokovic or even Nadal give to have such luxury!

Andrew Miller Says:

Ben Pronin is right. Federer owes himself and the sport better playing outside of the Slams.

I only disagreed with one thing: that Baghdatis didnt play an exceptional match to beat Federer. I watched every set and by the end Baghdatis was looking more like Federer in the 2007 US Open Final (winning games but looking like he was losing) and Federer looked more like Djokovic in the 2007 US Open final (losing games but looking like he was winning).

Otherwise, is it possible Federer’s practice schedule is “shot” these days? Before he looked like he lacked “tournament” match play in opening rounds of events after time away from tennis (meaning you better believe he practiced better and harder and smarter than any player on tour). Federer is a player whose shots must be grooved to win, and he looks like he lacks more than tournament toughness.

He looks like he lacks practice all together.

Federer could play the first set of any match left handed and beat most players outside the top 10(in 3 sets).

Maybe these losses are showing all the work Federer USED TO PUT IN to win in the past – probably more than we could fathom or comprehend while watching his sheer brilliance day in and day out.

Ben Pronin Says:

“He looks like he lacks practice all together.”

That’s what my article is implying. Not that Federer didn’t try in the match, but all the random shots he was missing (his backhand slice deserted him against Berdych) in his macthes is indicative of not enough practice. It could be just a slump but Fed’s form looks awfully bad.

t-man Says:

Hats off Ben, Voicemale & Co. Doesn matter how you mean this blog is suppoused to work Ben, but I think it deserves the attention it gets.

For me, I have to take side with Voicemale with you judging Federer too harshly, even if your point about the players owing to the fans to give it their all on court is totally valid.

Two reasons:
1. The season and thus expectation buildup timespan among fans stretches over the calendar. Not one match in the early rounds of a tournament where those paying the tickets have also other options to who they can watch.

2. The mindgame nature of tennis.

Federer is presumably a perfectionist and has achieved just about everything in his field. He talks about equalling Sampras in times finished number one at the end of the year being his goal for 2010, but I think he actually is still going for the biggest prize in tennis – the calendar slam. At the moment he has gone one set short from completeng a “Fed”-slam so he has to believe he can do it. And therefore everything he does is has to be seen as a plan to achieve it. And any Fedfan should have atleast a hunch of this while deciding to put the money on table.

In this sense the importance of the Fed-Gulbis match dropped significantly for Federer after the first set. He proved to himself that he has the game. He still has two tournaments to find the groove. It is unfair against Gulbis to say that Federer could have won that match by purely wanting to(*look below). If you dont have the fire, the tour is tough enough to take down the best, and Gulbis is no slouch. A prodigy waiting to happen, first tournament win in the beginning of the year and the reports about him upping his training speaks of hunger.

By concentrating on the Slams and thus opimizing his chances of achieving a calendar slam, Federer gives himself and the tennisfans all over a chance to witness something extraordinary.

t-man Says:


Team game some years back, type Davis cup. In the morning I get a call with some disheartening news, type make you think if Tennis is maybe not the first thing you should be thinking of. But as a member who was “expected to win” his matches, you dont want to let the guys down, but instead try to channel the emotions into energy on the court. But it just doesnt work. No matter how much you try – you fall flat. It got to the point where the anger boiled over in a perfectly lined up smash that I hit with everything I got, and happened to hit it dead perfect. Broke three or four strings on the same time(match was on clay), never happened before or since :).

I kind of associate the Federer water botlle incident with that smash, even though it also might be more as an apologetic gesture to the people in the stands. Who knows.

Ryan Says:

Federer fan’s (like myself) want to see him play and win matches, not go out early in tournaments to players who do not have half his natural ability. In his match against Berdych, his body language showed that he did not care. All we want as his fan is for his to give it his all. That has not been the case lately. I find it hard to beleive that he is putting in full practice hours the way he is playing.

Also, if Fed is losing in 1st rounds of tourneys, his opponents are going to have a lot more confidence playing his in the slams. It will be harder to win at the big tourney’s the way things are going.

Huh Says:

Good to see the fantastic post of Voicemale reminding Ben of some ground realities.

Huh Says:

Great posts by Mrs.Von and Mindy. But best thing is different people have different opinions and mine is Akin to voicemail on this issue. Fed doesn’t owe anything to his fans. Why should he? He’s already given his fans so much to cheer about! One must not be too greedy though being loving is allowed.

Huh Says:

Ok, instead of the term ‘greedy’ in my previous post, let it be understood over-expecting of Federer.

madmax Says:

Hello huh! It’s been a while, so hope you are keeping well and studying hard my man! have been reading a lot of roger’s reports at the moment, and whilst i dont really want to annoy anyone with this GOAT argument, it is a pleasant way for me to read about roger right now, so am going to share.

Who’s the GOAT? 1-Federer v 12-Laver
Fri Apr 30 12:18PM

In the first of our Greatest Of All Time semi-finals the two men with arguably the strongest claim to the title go head-to-head.

Top seed Roger Federer takes on Australian legend Rod Laver for a place in the title match.

Roger Federer

Nationality: Swiss

Seeded: 1

Grand Slam titles: 16

Australian Open winner (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010)

French Open winner (2009)

Wimbledon winner (2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009)

US Open winner (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Rod Laver

Nationality: Australian

Seeded: 12

Grand Slam titles: 11

Australian Open winner (1960, 1962, 1969)

French Open winner (1962, 1969)

Wimbledon winner (1961, 1962, 1968, 1969)

US Open winner (1962, 1969)

Simon Reed’s verdict

When Laver did his first Grand Slam most of the other big names had turned pro so he was comfortably the best player left around. You can never say a Grand Slam isn’t impressive but it meant less than the second one.

Although by the time the second one came around, most of these guys had got older and were beginning to retire. So in many ways that gap worked for him either side.

But he was a heck of a player and a delight to watch. It was great watching him play, he did elevate men’s tennis to a new level. But Federer has done that also.

If you imagine Laver playing Federer, Federer wins every time, that’s the problem with this one; you can’t get that out of your head.

On grass Federer would have been too good. I would see him winning that with at least one break of serve and possibly two, definitely comfortably.

The other two surfaces would be tougher. I think we underestimate Federer on clay because of Rafael Nadal. I think Nadal has been the best ever clay court player and if it hadn’t been for Rafa I’m convinced Federer would have won three of four French Opens.

I think he’s a very good clay court player and I have Federer winning on all three surfaces.

You have to imagine how Laver would play and there’s no doubt he would be very difficult to knock over. He would be even fitter, even stronger and all the court craft he had, the wonderful game and fantastic backhand he had, he wouldn’t have been easy.

But Federer’s record is better than Laver’s; he has won more Slams and he has elevated men’s tennis in the way that Laver did. He is the better all round player.

Final verdict

Federer wins: 6-3 (grass) 7-5 (clay) 6-3 (hard)

Von Says:

Ben: Below is a link to an interesting article on Federer’s slum/Nadal’s rise.


With his fans’ expectations in mind, Fed stated the following:

“I’ll still go and play the smaller tournaments, you know, the Masters 1000s, the ones we’re supposed to play,” he said after winning the Australian. “I try to give my best everywhere I go to because, I think there’s not only the Grand Slams.

“Of course, they are important. But I try to respect every tournament that invites me to go play there. There’s the fans who pay tickets. I want to live up to my expectations, too.”

Ben Pronin Says:

That’s interesting. But is it a big deal if Federer can’t overcome Nadal at this point? I mean if we’re allowed to say he’s slumping because his aging is causing a decline in his game and therefore his losses to Baghdatis, Berdych, and Gulbis aren’t overly shocking, shouldn’t the same apply to a future loss to Nadal? Especially considering Nadal has a winning record over a young Federer.

Andrew Miller Says:

I just agree with the analysis from the story. Federer’s game now is lots and lots of shanking, nervousness and more than a “lack of confidence” -there is a PRONOUNCED lack of form.

Federer’s play in the crucial moments was awful. Gulbis is not Federer. But Federer at the moment is not Federer. Which Federer will show up.

He’s looking like 2003 again…vs. Luis Horna at the end of the match. See for yourself.


Ben Pronin Says:

I forget who said it, but someone made a great point in that Federer has come full circle in his career and is back to playing like a novice, especially in the crucial moments. Back in 03, there was pressure on him to make something of himself. He wasn’t sure how to do it. But now he’s accomplished more than he ever wanted so he doesn’t know which direction to go in with his tennis.

Andrew Miller Says:

I also think there is a little bit of disinterest on Federer’s part. It’s a pretty easy habit to pick up.

First you feel you need the time off. After all, you’re the best player in history.

Then, you feel that if just you had some more practice, everything would work out.

Finally, you feel that because you’ve done it before, everything will work out this time.

Sorry, it’s all faulty logic. Federer has to do what he’s done before: innovate and find another gear and another way to win. Last year and this year he didnt just win because he knew how to win – he won because he was better, knew how to seize opportunities within a match, and had faith in the shots he worked on all year. He was, every tournament, an improved Federer.

So which one will show up…the guy who thinks it’s a pity to lose or the one who appreciates the battle and knows how to co-opt his opponent and lure them into a devastating loss. The Federer who plays with his prey before taking them out – with no mercy during the match but some kind words after.

We shall see….

Andrew Miller Says:

You are right Ben, Federer is playing like a novice, like he doesn’t know how to play.

Sure, tennis can make all players feel stupid. But Federer?

I like what your analysis suggested regarding lack of interest. He was tuned in during the Davydenko match. Now he loses focus.

For one of the most focused players in the history of the sport, it’s ugly to watch Federer at crunch time.

Andrew Miller Says:

Sorry to bring up Andre Agassi, but Agassi got a kick out of beating the upstarts in the game – guys like Gulbis.

Why isnt Federer up for this anymore?

Kimmi Says:

More of verdasco quotes:

“Of course I feel tired!” he grinned, exhaustedly. “ I played many matches but I’m also very happy because I am in the semi-finals again tomorrow. I don’t know how I will feel but I hope good. I think if you have to look at something today, then it was my mentality, how I was taking the match up in the important points like that tie-break in the first set and also how I felt the match in the last game because he didn’t give me an easy time and so if I need to look at something then, it is the way I controlled the situation.”

about working with darren cahill

“He’s just been trying to give me advice and tried to make me a better player. I haven’t been with him since Miami. Darren is supporting me and he’s coming to Madrid to teach me and make me a better player but nothing else. Everybody around me is helping in some parts of the game. Of course Darren was helping me in Indian Wells and Miami and also a little bit in Australia and he’s trying to make me a better player tactically and with many specific things.”

Kimmi Says:

Oooops! Sorry wrong thread!

Von Says:

Huh: @ http://www.tennis-x.com/xblog/2010-04-28/4025.php#comment-135593

@ April 30,4:40 pm, Thank you. Nice you see you posting, hon, and I hope you’ll stick around!

You mentioned recently that you’re concentrating on rounding out your personality — kudos to you. Also, I’m glad to hear that you’re receiving the approval of your teachers and class-mates, and it appears that your hard work is coming to fruition. I’m happy for you. Way to go Huh, and keep up the good work!!

Purcell Says:

Thank you Voicemail and Grandslamman for your astute pieces.
Following on from these, it seems to me that Ben and some other so called fans should show Roger a bit of support instead of behaving like left-overs from the ‘I want it now generation.’ To rant about this thoroughly professional sportsman who loves the game, holds his predecessors and the history of the game in great regard and has a fantastic and respectful relationship with his fans is pretty ripe and extremely disrespectful. Have you forgotten what he’s given to you and millions of others and for how long he’s been doing it? I’m quite happy to watch a sub-par Federer produce one or two shots of which only he is capable as I don’t expect or demand any more of the man now.
It’s clear from watching Roger’s recent matches and hearing his judgement in press conferences that he has timing issues and lack of match play. Dare I suggest that these may be because of his chest infection or will I get excuses, excuses……….? What was it you said Ben? “Don’t know whether he is lying or not…..” Well this smacks of 2008 when some people doubted that he had mono. You know the press debacle that ensued throughout that year. It was as if his past achievements counted for nothing.
I could go on but you’ve heard it all before. I will reiterate however that you should show this decent man and his family a bit of support at what is clearly an awkward time. He may well be on a downward slide so take what you can, remember what you can,watch what you can and don’t hold hold on to this perception that he is letting you and the fans down. It was your choice to invest time and money in him. I’ve done the same but I’m happy with what I’ve had and maybe there will be some more to come, in which case…. hooray.

Andrew Miller Says:

Federer’s sub-par performance at the Masters speaks for itself. He of course has the talent to produce wins. He isn’t doing it now.

Clear as daylight.

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