Federer Advances As Murray Falls, Djokovic Withdraws In Paris
by Staff | November 11th, 2011, 11:51 pm
  • 112 Comments

Roger Federer’s main rivals fell by the wayside Friday in Paris. Top seed Novak Djokovic withdrew from the tournament at the start of the day because of continued pain in his right shoulder while No. 2 seed Andy Murray and No. 4 David Ferrer were both upset.

Murray began the session on Center Court losing a tight three set thriller to Tomas Berdych 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in 3-hours, 13-minutes.

“It was really one of the best three set matches I [have] played, even with the quality,” said Berdych who has now won three straight matches against Murray. “All three sets [were] very close. I’m the happier one today. But I think it was just a great game.”

Murray came into the contest riding a 17-match win streak, but the Scot still leaves feeling confident for a strong showing in London later this month.

“I got good practice going into London, which I didn’t have coming in here,” said Murray. “I’ll need to work on a few things. I was moving much better than I did in my first match by the end of this one.

“I was really unhappy with the way I hit my backhand today, which is normally my most solid shot, so that’s something I’ll look to work on. I didn’t feel all that comfortable on my serve this week, even though I didn’t get broken the first couple of matches.”

Federer was up next and despite a sloppy performance he subdued Juan Monaco 6-3, 7-5 to win his 800th career ATP match.

“I only heard about it yesterday,” said Federer of the milestone. “It’s nice. It’s a lot of matches, a lot of tennis [that] I’ve played – I know that. But I know there are many other players that have played more tennis than I have. So it’s just another win, but it’s a special one nevertheless, because 800 is definitely a big number.”

Federer will battle Berdych in the first semifinal on Saturday. The Swiss has never been to the Paris indoor final while Berdych won this title in 2005 as a 20-year-old. Federer leads 9-4 in their series but Berdych has won three of the last four.

With Djokovic withdrawn, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga didn’t have to hit a ball to reach the semifinals where tomorrow the Frenchman will face big-serving big man John Isner. The American upset David Ferrer 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 to reach his first career ATP Masters 1000 semifinal.

“I feel great,” said Isner. “It was my first Masters quarter-final, as well. I’m just thrilled to have won tonight, given that Ferrer is such a tough player. He’s No. 5 in the world for a reason. I played very well, and I’m very, very happy.”

In their only prior meeting Isner beat Tsonga in a third-set tiebreak at Washington in 2009.

CENTRAL COURT start 11:45
[3] M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) vs [7] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)

Not Before 2:00 PM
[3] R Federer (SUI) vs [5] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 5:00 PM
[6] J Tsonga (FRA) vs J Isner (USA)
[WC] J Benneteau (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) vs S Gonzalez (MEX) / C Kas (GER)


Also Check Out:
Rafael Nadal Withdraws from Paris Masters
Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Paris Masters
ATP Injuries Mount: Juan Martin Del Potro Withdraws From Paris
Rafael Nadal Withdraws From Paris, London ATP Finals
Federer Falls Off Again in SF Loss to Djokovic at Rome

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112 Comments for Federer Advances As Murray Falls, Djokovic Withdraws In Paris

jane Says:

I didn’t even realize that Murray and Fed have not faced each other once this season! An article on Murray/Berdy match:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/tennis/article-2060512/Andy-Murray-loses-Tomas-Berdych-Paris-Masters.html


margot Says:

Ooh jane…dreaded Daily Mail, can’t look…;)
Hope Berdych hasn’t shot his bolt.


Brando Says:

Awful news: apparently rafa, probably feeling sympathy for nole, has injured his shoulder during training. He and djokovic are said to be serious doubts for WTF. Here is the link: http://www.tennisworldusa.org/ATP-World-Tour-Finals—Nadals-Participation-In-Doubt-articolo2212.html. I have never been to this website before, so I am not too sure as to whether it is a reliable source of information.


Kimmi Says:

brando – hope it is nothing serious. WTF needs a healthy rafa, nole and fish..I want to see great tennis please.

Hoping for a federer win today but….


alison hodge Says:

brando it will be bad luck for the wtf,if rafa and|or nole were to pull out,on the other hand both will have much needed r and r,and can throw the kitchen sink at next season,rafa maybe is thinking ahead to the dc,nole has been crocked for a while though now,both have dominated most of the year,hardly surprising both are now feeling the strain.


Little Wing Says:

Brando,

From what I’ve read it’s not serious, it’s just some discomfort from over-working the shoulder when he was practising his serve and forehand. He’s been to the doctor in the week for treatment after which he had to rest it for a bit so in his practice session on Friday he only worked on the backhand.

You can see some quotes from Rafa and Toni on Friday on this twitter account just scroll down http://twitter.com/#!/davidjnadal

He’s a Mallorcan Journalist, no relation to Rafa.


Little Wing Says:

Sorry, the full link should include his name.


Kimberly Says:

I can promise you the alternates will get some play at wtf, but one questions if they themselves are healthy enough, ie. tipsy!


Kimmi Says:

In the last 4 matches berdych and federer played, berdych beat federer 3 times. Poor record for fed, he better win today.

c’mon rog!


Kimmi Says:

tomas berdych has a new girl friend. what happened to lucie safarova ?


Dory Says:

Yay yay yay Federer is going to win Paris!! (Dancing)


Lulu Iberica Says:

Rafa’s shoulder issue better not be serious! I’ve been missing his tennis and looking forward to the WTF so much. I hope he and Roger both do well the rest of the season!


BT Says:

@Kimmi

Apparently Sofia Arvidsson was quoted as saying the following:

” I made a fool of myself a bit last week. I met with Lucie Safarova (Tomas’ girl for a long time) with a Suitcase (…) on the way home;
(Me:) Well, you should go home. So you should not stay and watch Thomas?
(Lucie:) No, we’re not together anymore …. (Oops, embarrassing)”


alison hodge Says:

@dory while i have no doubt rogers playing fantastic,nows not the time to count any chickens just yet,he hasnt beaten berdych yet,and if or when he does he will have to beat either tsonga or isner,dont get me wrong,while i love your positivity,and i also hope roger wins paris,i wouldnt take anything for granted just yet.


margot Says:

grendel: Fed’s first serve percentage 80%, he is winning, quel surprise.
If Andy had served like that yesterday, he would’ve won. He is a much better all court player than Berdych.
Couldna, shouldna, wouldna, I know.
I hope Berdych makes a match of this.


Kimmi Says:

i agree with you alison. fed first serve has been good so far. hope is able to serve it out. Second set will a ball game all together.


Kimmi Says:

DF!! whoooo!

C’mon fed


Kimberly Says:

nice opening set from Fed.


alison hodge Says:

margot it looks like roger will take this 1st set,however hopefully berdych wont just go away and at least make it a contest,i personally want to see roger really tested by berdych in a 3 set thriller,like andy was yesterday.


Kimmi Says:

Finds the first serve on second set point. Go fed!

Apart from that first game, berdych has played well. federer has done well to take adv of berdych second serves. very good.

Now to second set. fed needs to keep the serving up. I have notice berdych attacking fed second serves, but there werent too many.

fed needs to continue serving well.


Kimmi Says:

wow! early break again. Gooooo fed!


Kimmi Says:

great serving to confirm the break. go fed!


alison hodge Says:

kimmi rogers playing great,berds not doing much wrong,rogers just better thats all,could be fatigued from yesterdays match,looks like fed will run away with this match,i was just hoping for more of a contest though.


Kimmi Says:

alison, i dont want a three set thriller. my nerves cant handle it :) fed in two pleeeease!


Kimmi Says:

some really great scrambling here. great hold. go fed!


alison hodge Says:

kimmi looks like you will get your way,cant see fed loosing from a set and 3|1 up,fed in 2,stop panicking lol.


Gannu Says:

My feddy bear …watching him after ages and he is playing so well.. come on fedex onto title no 69 and then 70 at world masters….show to the world that u are still the greatest,…just keep holding ur serve and victory is urs…!

Kimmi, madmax, huh, skeez, daniel and other fedfans..missed all of you! and where is the funny humble rafa…love ur quotes and one liners ;-)


Kimmi Says:

The net sensor is going crazy i think.


Kimmi Says:

alison i hope so. hope fed can keep it up.


Kimmi Says:

Hi gannu. got my fingers crossed for fed to just hold his serve two more times.


alison hodge Says:

kimmi as jane said to me about rafa at the uso,trust me 10 grand slams,or in rogers case 16 grand slams,rogers sitting pretty now,he wont let this one slip,dont worry.


Gannu Says:

kimmi that was a virtual match point squandered by our man….hope he just keeps holding…thats the prob with fed of today vs fed of 05-07…come on feddy…dont complicate life and matters for us ;-)


Kimmi Says:

alison, i always worry till its over. berdych is a dangerous player. fed needs the win today.


Kimmi Says:

WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! what a backhand. go fed!


Kimmi Says:

going for big second serve, DF! concentrate fed! yay!


alison hodge Says:

kimmi feds too good even at this stage in his career,just trying to reasure you,sorry if its not working lol.


Gannu Says:

Wow…so great to see that wonderful smile on feddy bear…love you to death man…well done…Yippeeee…..i will be there watching u for the final and ur firt bercy title baby…well played


Kimmi Says:

YAY! fed! what a performance. Great tennis today. the swiss maestro was here today.

Go fed!!


Daniel Says:

Congrats Roger!!!

First player to have reach all Masters finals, including late Hamburg and Madrid on Hard: IW, Miami, Monte Carlo, Rome, Madrid (clay), MAdrid (hard), Hamburg (clay), Montreal/Toronto, Cincy, Shangai and now Paris.

The only other player who can repeat the feats is guess who? Nadal! Missing only Cincy.

Also, Federer 99th final match in a Toruney he clinched his 800th career win. This tourney is looking Federer all the way. But let’s hope for a good final. I think against Tsonga would be more entertaining.


margot Says:

A master class from the maestro but what a boring match after the thriller yesterday!
In fairness to Berdych though, doubt if Andy would’ve performed any better, probably worse as he looked busted after the match.
Fed was taking the ball so early, hope Andy was watching, that’s the way to do it!


steve-o Says:

Woot! Congrats to Federer on win #801 over a very dangerous opponent.


alison hodge Says:

kimmi you can come out now panick over,sorry you will have to go through it all again tomorrow though, im sensing he will face tsonga,congrats to roger and all his fans,on getting to another final,kimmi hope your nerves can stand it,tennis is not for the fainted thats for sure.


Kimmi Says:

lol alison. tennis not for the fainted for sure. I am surprised i am still standing. federer has given me so many joys throughout his career. it is tough now for his fans. but still behind the man. good to see he can still produce this kind of tennis. long live the king!!

OK, let me come out now, should be relaxed to watch tsonga/isner. hope we will see some great tennis.


dari Says:

Yay! Came back from tennis in the bubble and Rog beat Berd! I think I must stay away when Rog has tough opponents, I will stop watching for slams maybe
Go Rog in the final!


alison hodge Says:

kimmi lol you fed fans are so lucky that the good times far out way the bad times,sadly all good things come to an end eventually,still great to see roger contesting finals,and winning titles at the ripe old age of 30.


Kimmi Says:

why have they got a big break between fist match and second match? does not make sense to me.


steve-o Says:

Watching Federer at his best is never boring, even if the opponent doesn’t manage to win a game.

His masterclass performances are getting rarer as time goes by, but he can still come up with the goods. In some ways he’s improved with age, he’s using more of his mind-boggling variety and his shots and movement have become even smoother and more efficient with time.


grendel Says:

@margot: Fed’s first serve percentage 80%, he is winning, quel surprise.
If Andy had served like that yesterday, he would’ve won. He is a much better all court player than Berdych.”

I’m not so sure about that. Berdych has tremendous weapons and can beat anyone, no matter how good, on his day. He was plainly tired today, as Alison pointed out, which was a pity. He was still striking the ball extremely well, just didn’t have the legs. Federer was well into most of Berdych’s service games – I don’t think that was true of Murray.

Of course, Federer was sublime today – what about that bh, eh, from a deep, powefully hit bh of Berdych’s own to the the corner, somehow Fed got it back for a winner.

I am concerned, though. It looks like again, Federer is reserving his best tennis for the end of the season. But that’s not when we want him to be playing his best. I mean, you’ve got to be realistic, every player’s form fluctuates during the season, particularly as they get older – I want Federer to be playing at his absolute best when he meets Djokovic or Nadal or Murray in a semi and final.

Berdych got pretty ratty when he had 2 lets called in a row. The umpire plaintively said it wasn’t him, it was the machine – but really, what a deeply silly and irritating rule. Again and again, you see perfectly good serves disallowed just because some damn machine imagines it has detected the faintest glimmer of a whisper of a touch. What damned nonsense. And if occasionally, the let is gross and favours the server – and this is only very occasional – so what? Bit of luck, that’s how it goes. Chance is part of life and it should be part of sport – trying to outlaw it is perverse and leads to perverse results.

About poor old Safarova. Yes, Berdych has engaged a new Blonde Mark 2. And very spanking and shiny the new model looks,too, although a little too redolent of a Stepford Wife for my taste. Meanwhile, the old model Mark 1 has been discarded to the scrap heap. I saw her in the Fed Cup, and she looked kind of sad and faded. But still beautiful. But these old models have to make way for the new – such, after all, is progress.

Who is Bob Sinclair? The camera kept focusing on this geezer in Federer’s entourage. Looks like a tramp or even a beggar, and so I rather took to him although he had a fancy white scarf, the acquisition of which suggested a steady income. Of course, a beggar with imagination and iniative can do pretty well for himself, and yet, I can’t help feeling, beggars do not easily find themselves in the Federer set. So I pondered: who is this Sinclair fellow, there was a computer geek of the name, but no……


alison hodge Says:

grendel bob sinclair is a music producer,written dance tracks for some various people,cant think who but ill let you know later as i have to go to work now,ill have a look on you tube tonight.


Kimmi Says:

bob sinclar lol grendel


Kimmi Says:

“I would say, and I’m pretty confident to say, that that’s the old Roger,” said Berdych. “You know, the years that he was really winning everything. We can count the unforced errors that he hit, like maybe, on the fingers on one hand, which is incredible. He started every set really great and just didn’t give me any chance at all.”

source: http://www.atpworldtour.com/News/Tennis/2011/11/45/Paris-Friday-Federer-Beats-Berdych-Into-Final.aspx


madmax Says:

Kimmi what’s so great is that I always thought that Berdych looked a bit like Robocop..and then fed says this:

“I thought the match was tough. I took advantage of Tomas being a touch slow maybe in the first couple of games, because once that machine is warmed up he’s a very dangerous player. But I really played great today. I didn’t give Tomas much. I was able to play aggressive and serve good, so it was overall a wonderful performance.”

Way to go Fed!

He played just wowsa!


jane Says:

So far it is looking like Fed will face another surprise finalist this week: Nishikori then maybe Isner. Tsonga is not going to win, unless he finds some headway into Isner’s service games.


margot Says:

grendel, Andy’s first serve percentage would approve massively if let rule went out of the window.
Have to disagree re Andy’s talents and Berdych’s and have to notice, apart from Fed, you rather admire these massive ball crunchers, whereas I prefer a more subtle approach.


margot Says:

jane, Isner has stamina issues I think. Comm just said he’s not chasing so much down, “wilting” was used. Must say his game has improved massively though, good for him.
Serve stats: first set Isner serving 80%!!!
second: 57%


jane Says:

Agree margot, re: Isner. Admittedly, I feel disappointed as I think Tsonga and Fed would have made for a more exciting final; they have had an actual rivalry this year, so the match would build on that, the local crowd would be into it, etc. I think Fed would have won anyhow as his form seems to be the best right now. However, it probably would have been close and charged. With Isner I feel like the final could be somewhat of an anticlimax, like last weekend, though that was partly just a personal thing for me because Nole was injured.


margot Says:

jane, think Tsonga’s gonna win, but very close.


jane Says:

Oops, I see Jo has broken back so hope springs eternal! Come on!


Kimmi Says:

tsonga with 3 break points..


Kimmi Says:

ah, the court was open on his second BP, tsonga dumps it on the net. that is it. the chance is gone now. isner finds the big bombs to close it out


jane Says:

Tsonga has not been able to capitalize on any break points today. From love-40 Isner holds. First game of the set Jo had chances too. :/


margot Says:

Oh ouch! Tsonga has 3 break points and squanders them! Glad it’s not just Andy gets tight!


Kimmi Says:

there was not breaks in the third set jane. i am just surprised you say Jo has broken back.


jane Says:

I looked at live scores on my ipad and it said 4-2 for Isner Kimmi. Unless my eyes did an uncanny on me? I am trying to read a novel while following scores at the same time. Not watching steeaming as son dominating desk top computer to play games!


Kimmi Says:

it was probably your eyes. no breaks. i see a tie break coming.


steve-o Says:

I smell third set tiebreak…


jane Says:

Please hold Tsonga and at least force the tiebreak, though I hate third set tiebreaks. Arrrgh.


Kimmi Says:

isner is ahead now 6-5. Tsonga to serve to stay in this match.


jane Says:

Ugh. Match point to Isner.


Kimmi Says:

oh lord! isner win adv now. MATCH POINT


Kimmi Says:

crazy. third match pint.


Kimmi Says:

isner cant hit the ball. he he he


steve-o Says:

Tsonga survives three match points! We enter the final-set tiebreak!


jane Says:

Tsonga, phew. He had better win now, but it feels like a roll of the dice now.


Kimmi Says:

tsonga holds. saving 3 match points.

tie break


Kimmi Says:

tsonga looking good so far


jane Says:

Yay! So happy for Tsonga. I think we will see a cracker of a final if Jo is not to tired. These are the two guys I picked for the finals so my bracket challenge thanks them. :)

Good fight from Isner though, close.


Kimmi Says:

congrats to jo. great come back.


jane Says:

*too tired


Kimmi Says:

great picking jane.


jane Says:

Kimmi, not too unique, I think most of us picked either Fed or Tsonga to get to the final, and I think at least four of us picked both, with some picking Fed others Tsonga to win. But thanks, better than kamikaze draw that is for sure. ;)


margot Says:

OMG how tense and tight was that at the end?? Makes Andy look calm and poised…well almost…
Do hope Joe’s got some energy left for tomorrow and we get a good competitive match.


andrea Says:

vintage federer demolition – you know he wants this one bad. some of those backhands were lasers. sweet!

too bad isner…tantalizingly close.

but, good for tsonga to make it through for the french crowds.


Ben Pronin Says:

Federer has always played really well indoors, ever since he first turned pro. I don’t think he’s purposely playing his best at the end of the year. That’s like saying Nadal purposely plays his best in April and May. He does because clay suits him best, same for Federer and indoors.


grendel Says:

margot -@” Have to disagree re Andy’s talents and Berdych’s and have to notice, apart from Fed, you rather admire these massive ball crunchers, whereas I prefer a more subtle approach.”

You misunderstood me,I realised as soon as I wrote it my post was open to misinterpretation, but I couldn’t be bothered to elaborate – I agree Murray is more talented than Berdych, on the whole, but it is not always the more talented who win, particularly not when a player has the massive armoury of a Berdych. I used to support (on the side, as it were) a player called Mecir, he was very talented and perhaps as subtle as Murray (though he lacked his power, funnily enough, and also his doggedness)but I was on to a hiding to nothing. He didn’t win a great deal.

Meanwhile, I reject your categorising of players like Berdych as “massive ball crunchers”. “Ballbashers” is another not too subtle insult to such players. The fact is, the game of tennis can encompass all kinds of talents, and is much the more interesting for that. Berdych in full flight is one of the glories of sport – anyone should be able to see that. The same is true – or was – of del Potro. Djokovic and Nadal I admire enormously (like everybody else), but can’t quite take to – but I am happy to admit that this is a peculiarity, perhaps a weakness, of mine. Tastes do differ, although mine is pretty wide ranging – I share your admiration for young Tomic and Dimitrov, and have been pulling for Nishikori more or less since his emergence.

I think it’s like music – one can richly enjoy Bach AND Wagner (although I know fools who angrily deny this), Jimi Hendrix AND Jeff Buckley and so on. It seems that there are parts of one’s “soul” which demand different types of expression. Same with almost anything worthwhile, really. There are plenty of science fiction writers I rate much more highly than some of the more precious literary types. Merit finds all kinds of strange corners to curl up in -too many, perhaps, life is so short!

Ben Pronin – I wonder if your post was directed to something I said about being a bit worried that Federer is finding his form now, will it be at the expense his form in the slams? A somewhat feeble lack of faith in my man, perhaps, and your point is well taken. One can question it a bit, however. It is true, obviously, that Nadal plays best in April and May because the surface suits him. However, don’t you think it’s a little bit likely that because of this, Nadal does his best to ensure that he peaks at just that time of year? Maybe Federer does the same – but once, it didn’t matter much. After all, he was a master on all surfaces, he could expect to do well on all, and the nature of his game was such that he could peak again and again and again. Apparently. Just as Djokovic almost managed to do this year (but he didn’t quite, did he, which puts into perspective the remarkable nature of Federer’s achievements).

But these days, Federer has to be more selective, that’s in the nature of being a veteran. Really, that’s what I was addressing. For don’t forget, Federer has been very well rested since the US, and he has made a point of telling us all just how fresh and eager and motivated he is. That can’t just be due to the indoors surface.


Leon Says:

An interesting indirect discussion between grendel and Ben Pronin. Tempting for being involved in, in spite for having some trouble to shape the thoughts, even for myself. I’ll try, nevertheless.
Grendel, once before Basel I supposed that Federer had seemingly decided to stop playing truly competitive tennis (like to be involved into the ranking race, big records counting, etc) and switched to a kinda exhibition mode. You replied then that, even if so, you’d rather see that as kinda waiting a proper instant for a (last?) great performance on a big stage in some theatrical fashion (that I’d agree with). Today, during the match vs Berdych, I felt smth like that, even though the stage was not that big – nevertheless, seeing his game, I literally couldn’t check tears. And I catch myself at the thought of indifference to his possible next titles and big wins as such – he has simply crossed the line behind which they matter. What/whom to compete with? time (RN, ND, AM…)? It would be stupid, eventually. Unless him himself. Presently, the tour is not a battlefield for him any longer, it’s rather a canvas for a great unexampled picture he is standing in front of, trying the last strokes (can’t help thinking in such a pseudo-passionate way, sorry).
Along these lines, I also don’t think you seriously want/claim him to play his best in proper time against proper opponents, etc. Returning to those prosaic terms, he certainly does his present best; the rest is inessential (although fascinating for us mere mortals) details, no?


jane Says:

That is a touching post Leon; your passion for Fed as artist-cum-tennis player is palpable. :)


jamie Says:

“Federer is reserving his best tennis for the end of the season”

_______________

Of course now that the top 4 players are all tired and injured, now at the end of the season, Olderer comes and wins some titles. Just like rats come out when it’s night. Color me surprise.


jamie Says:

“Federer is reserving his best tennis for the end of the season”

_______________

Of course now that the top 4 players are all tired and injured, now at the end of the season, Olderer comes and wins some titles. Just like rats come out when it’s night. Color me surprised. Next year Olderer will go slam-less AGAIN.


Dc Says:

@jamie Says:
“Federer is reserving his best tennis for the end of the season”

_______________

Of course now that the top 4 players are all tired and injured, now at the end of the season, Olderer comes and wins some titles. Just like rats come out when it’s night. Color me surprised. Next year Olderer will go slam-less AGAIN.
———————————————–
Jamie -I always wondered why champions wouldn’t keep winning forever?Your wonderful insight has answered my questions – as players get old they will go slam less…Hmmm.


Arrow Says:

Hey, what about Nadal? Should I remind you that he is back to Dr. Angel Ruiz Cotorro a specialist on how to dodge doping control. Unfortunately this is fully entrached in Spanish sports system. My expectations will be – he will be ready for a match and to pass doping tests ;)
Interesting article on drugs in tennis:
http://www.insidetennis.com/2009/10/short-history-drugs-tennis/


grendel Says:

Leon – I know what you mean, I think. Federer’s match against Berdych was a little gem, complete in itself and forever memorable. In cricket (which I used to follow avidly) one of the innings I remember best was Ted Dexter’s 76 against Australia. Many, many moons ago. It was a savagely controlled performance, prefiguring Botham smashing Lilly all round the ground. But this match ended in defeat, and Dexter was viciously criticised for not doing what English sportsmen are supposed to do – put up shop and defend to the bitter end. The Australian captain Richie Benaud, always an unorthodox thinker, disagreed – he understood what Dexter had been trying to do and really, apart from being an astonishing display of batting skills, it was a noble failure. And somehow, one remembers it above the massive double centuries and grinding victories. It leaves a little halo of sunshine, tinged with sadness, in one’s heart.

So, yes, Federer’s performance yesterday will certainly rest securely in my memory. Nevertheless, Federer is a warrior as well as a consummate artist, and warriors are self-centred as well as courageous etc, and I would guess most of his fans respond to that aspect of him as well, identify with it, in fact. Strange how a fan takes the credit for his hero’s deeds. Kind of mad, really, but that’s what we do.

In that respect, personally I can’t help wanting Federer to win another slam or two. You seem to have a purity of motive which is hard to match. But it’s not just greed where most fans are concerned, though it certainly is that – a greed for records is rooted in the desire to accumulate just as surely as a greed for wealth. But it’s excitement, as well. Where does it all end? Larry Holmes, a great heavyweight boxing champion, once remarked (amidst some bitter contemplations of the fate of Mohammad Ali)that there was always the temptation to keep going and, just like that extra cigarette might tip the scales into lung cancer, so another fight could spell calamity. But the rewards – nothing so crude and stupid as money – insidiously beckon.

Not sure if I’m making any sense. But you got me thinking, Leon.


Leon Says:

As always, pleased to see your reply, grendel. Sure, Federer remains to be a warrior, and, honestly, I want him to win slams badly, too (I am a mere mortal, after all). May I only say that this does not contradict my previous post and that “purity of motive” you (more than kindly) mentioned. That’s a dual nature of human thinking and existence in general. The older we are, the stronger we are forced to put aside some issues like standard measures of life success in terms of wins, so on, or at least to think “in parallel” with everyday needs. As for the rest, I agree with you, and thanks for very interesting reminiscences…


steve-o Says:

For Federer, perfect tennis is the goal, and winning titles is a necessary and inevitable corollary of that goal.

Most sublunary players seek to win titles, to be #1, to get all the swag and the fame that come with the top spot. Of course, Federer enjoys all those things, but what he’s really after is perfection.

He has an aesthetic philosophy: if he places each ball perfectly, in complete accord with some inner vision only he perceives, then he will win the match no matter what the opponent does.

If he loses it was because he failed to realize that vision.

He feels very deeply that there is one and only one right way to place each shot, and it’s up to him to find that one right way.

What compels him to continue playing, time and again, is the urge to achieve that inner vision on the tennis court. That is, of course, the artist’s urge to create.

Because he is not just an artist, but a professional athlete, he cannot always be so high minded. Sometimes he has to scramble and hustle and be content with winning through something less than perfection.

As he has high professional standards and integrity, he understands that he is not being paid millions of dollars to indulge his own aesthetic preferences–people have paid to see him, and he’s obligated to give them a good performance even on a day when he cannot produce quite the perfect tennis he would like to play. And then of course, like any competitive athlete, he doesn’t like losing.

But really you feel he would prefer to win through creating a masterpiece of perfect shotmaking, where all the balls are placed in precisely the right way, and no other.

They say that cinema is the only artistic field where art and commerce collide; I would say that is also true of Roger Federer’s tennis.

Regarding the USO semi: one could sense Federer’s discontent in the press conference, that ran deeper than mere disappointment at losing a match from two sets up, after having match points on his own serve.

It wasn’t just a question of hitting better serves on match point. Somehow the problem lay much deeper. If he had succeeded in playing a perfect match, they would never have been in the situation where Djokovic would have been able to hit that amazing forehand to turn it around.

The tennis he played that day was ingenious, clever, brilliant. But it wasn’t perfect. There was an infinitesimal crack somewhere, and Djokovic found it and slipped through.

“I set it all up perfect,” Federer said, “but I couldn’t finish it.” In other words: I tried as hard as I could to paint a masterpiece, but it turned out to be a flawed work. His dissatisfaction was the dissatisfaction of an artist frustrated in a failed attempt to bring form out of formlessness.

Like Michelangelo in his old age, brooding over sculptures he could not finish because he felt unable to realize the conception he had in his mind.

However, I think Federer will succeed in realizing a few more of his conceptions before he hangs up his racket.


margot Says:

grendel, I take your point about liking a smorgasboard of different players, which Conty made to me ages ago when I expressed surprise at her liking Fed and Soderling, players at opposite ends of the spectrum for me. Doesn’t work for me though, tennis as an art form is about subtlety, movement, variety and surprise so Andy, Fed, Dolgopolov, Tomic etc.
BTW sampras was 6’4″ don’t you feel players above that have far too much advantage in terms of power. Perhaps we should have a super league?
Music analogy doesn’t quite hold for me either, like most but will run screaming from the room when “Folk” is played, thus I run screaming from the room when Delpotro plays….;)


madmax Says:

Steve – O/Leon/grendel…

LOVED your posts..Wowsa..such detail and finesse in your own writing…great to wake up to that.

and then there’s Jamie, who is a painter on his own

jamie Says:
“Federer is reserving his best tennis for the end of the season”

_______________

Of course now that the top 4 players are all tired and injured, now at the end of the season, Olderer comes and wins some titles. Just like rats come out when it’s night. Color me surprised. Next year Olderer will go slam-less AGAIN.

November 12th, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Jamie,

You forget that both Novak and Murray gave clear and unequivocal interviews prior to Percy that they were fit and healthy to play..of course they are both going to be tired firstly with the crazy perfect year that Novak has had, but he had the same amount of time off as Federer, secondly Murray took those opporunities that Federer wasn’t playing in Shanghai, and came out victorious…both supreme athletes are aware of the injuries/tiredness circle and it gets a bit weary when these are used as excuses Jamie by you.

Federer, on the other hand, appears to be fresh as a daisy and bringing that artistic flair on the court is wonderful to see once again.

Why don’t you just say, you don’t like watching him play and be honest about it?

Margot, funny with the folk thing! (seems to be many folk type songs in the Radio 1 charts right now, it’s quite strange I have to say!).


alison hodge Says:

grendel sorry of topic,just to let you know,bob sinclair is a dj,and remixes songs for a record lable called yellow,i know useless bit of imformation,but now you know lol.


grendel Says:

very interesting post, and hope you’re right, steve-o -although I had to smile at the idea that artists are “highminded”. In most ways, they’re just like the rest of us, full of the usual bullshit (among other things), but we value them for being able to express in tantalising ways that budding urge which we all feel in differing degrees but are unable to express. So when you see Federer doing miraculous things, you feel a kind of pride – it’s as if he has spoken for you, and in a strange way he has.

Leon, yes, there’s a dual side to everything, isn’t there, even something supposedly innocent like love.

margot – smorgasbord, nice image. The point, as I see it, is not to like all the different types (of music, tennis whatever), clearly impossible and undesireable too, but to acknowledge they exist. So if you happen not to like one, you don’t immediately think – oh, that must be crap. It’s just possible that the deficiency lies in the perceiver and not the object. For instance, are you so sure that you have grasped the range of Berdych’s skills? Which is not to say anything goes, obviously – but this is where it gets tricky…

Re Sampras’ height, Tommy Haas allegedly said all players above a certain height should be banned, admittedly tongue in cheek. But it seems to me gravity takes care of all this. What the very tall player gains in one area (serving, say) he loses in another (mobility, say).

alison, cheers. Fed thinking of taking to the boards for a spot of song and dance, then?


dari Says:

I found your post compelling steve -o and that same quote after uso has stuck in my mind.
Hope he gets his perfect way in 2012


Nina Says:

Reading all your posts made me think. Why do you actually believe we support the players we support? I think deep down they are the mirror where we can see ourselves. For some reason or another you just identify with a certain player and the values that he brings. I know that because as much as I am a fan and admirer of Nole’s game, I admit I am a fan of the man first. I identify with his hunger, his fighting spirit, his will to always be better and improve, to swim against the current, to get over obstacles, to be himself, his need for love and respect, to be as human as he can be.

So i guess for Federer fans is the same, as it is for Nadal fans or Murray fans or whoever. I usually think that Federer fans identify with that search for perfection as Steve O put it.

I know many fans admire Nadal because he is the supreme fighter, because he never gives up, because he makes the most of his limitations and turn them into a gift, and as talented as he is, he’s not the artist that Federer is, but for that same reason his fans identify with him and admire him more because of it.

Those fans don’t necessarily want perfection, they’d rather admire someone who has to work hard for it unlike Federer for whom it seems tennis comes easy and natural to him. Of course, different appeals to different fans.

I’d say there is always something to admire in every top player.


jane Says:

Nice post Nina: definitely we identify with and project onto the players. For some there is the patriotic element too, but for me first and foremost it is probably identification. i.e., I like and relate to that person, and wow, his/her tennis rocks too. ;)


alison hodge Says:

yeah i agree with your post nina,rafa reminds me a lot of my myself in that there was a time when i hit rock bottom,and still managed to fight back through the odds,like rafa nothing has ever come easy to me,murrays more like my husband needs a bit of good luck and a decent break,and a bit of a headcase at times too lol.


steve-o Says:

@nina: I have to object to the implication that what Federer does is “easy”.

The effortlessness of Federer’s play comes only through grueling effort, and constant hard work.

His game is much more complex and high-risk than Nadal’s or Djokovic’s.

His velvet-smooth groundstrokes are the product not just of talent. To hit so many clean winners so close to the lines requires impeccable footwork, movement and timing. Those abilities can only be maintained at the highest level through constant, rigorous practice.

Unlike other players, it’s not enough for him to merely be fast–he needs to be able to react properly, to move properly on the court so that he can be in exactly the right position to hit exactly the shots he wants to hit.

Whereas for a Nadal or Djokovic, precise positioning isn’t so important. They are so strong and can hit so much topspin, that their games are much safer, so they can afford to be less precise.

If Federer’s timing and movement are even a little off, he will shank one or two balls that he would otherwise be hitting for winners. And that can mean the difference between victory and defeat. The margin of error for him is so tiny.

His regimen is probably among the most exacting of any player’s, because he has to attend to so many small details and nuances in his game, and if he neglects even one, it could spell disaster.

It may not mean he runs the most laps–although he also works extremely hard to maintain fitness and conditioning–but it means he has to constantly do many complex and rigorous forms of training, that are mentally as well as physically demanding.

All the effort and struggle and hard work goes into hiding the work and struggle and effort, into making tennis–which is a difficult, demanding, and unnatural thing for human beings to play–look natural, smooth, and effortless.

Federer’s like a ballet dancer. You see the dancer perform, and it’s so easy and natural you think he was born knowing how to dance. Not so: it’s the product of constant, exacting training.

You’re not supposed to see the hours of training –running, hitting balls, footwork drills, fitness drills–that went into a Federer match.

All you are supposed to see is beautiful tennis.


margot Says:

Nina, how interesting and apart from loving the way Andy plays, yes I do empathise with his mental struggles – his determination, his daemons, his stubborness, his bad behaviour, his frailty even. He is not an automaton for sure. Life is not easy, it’s messy and complicated and we often don’t get what we deserve.
jane, patriotism has nothing to do with it for me. Couldn’t stand Henman and co, loved Johnny Mac.
grendel…cheeky…;) of course I recognise Berdych’s talents….yawn…


grendel Says:

margot:”of course I recognise Berdych’s talents….yawn…” you don’t recognize a player’s talents by referring patronisingly to them as massive ballcrunchers and the like. There’s a mental block here..sneeze..


margot Says:

grendel: oh dear, caught a cold…have a tissue….
and what about a super league? You wouldn’t have Ali fighting um, dunno enough, but say Khan, so why is tennis different?


grendel Says:

I suppose basically because a heavyweight boxer would actually kill a flyweight, lay him under, deprive him of breath on a permanant basis and so forth. Whereas a Rochus can occasionally torment a Safin….


skeezerweezer Says:

steve-o

Great post @8:11. Very good description of Feds game compared to others.

Nina,

There are those who are attracted with the man/woman first, then the player.
Then you have those that are attracted to the player, his game, and the interest in the man/woman follows.

Its all good, whatever attracts you to follow the game of tennis and become a fan :)


margot Says:

grendel, or a Davydenko a Delpotro…true.


grendel Says:

steve-o says (w.r.t.Nadal and Djokovic):. “They are so strong and can hit so much topspin, that their games are much safer,”. I wonder how exact this is, though. I recall Martina Navratilova recounting how she had had a long hit with Federer and how astounded she had been at the sheer levels of spin – types of spin she hadn’t realised existed – Federer had imparted to the ball. I confess to ignorance here (complete and unqualified), but when Fed hits those long balls which look like they’re going out but don’t, there must surely be a lot of spin on them. Of course, there are so many different shots, different types of swerve (aren’t they just delicious?) and it’s kind of fun to try to spot them.

So much of this seems to be about confidence, too. Yesterday, when Tsonga was in full flight, he could hit the ball anywhere (with his fh), anywhere at all, and it invariably landed just in. That’s a pretty subtle thing when you think about it. That a feeling of confidence can allow you to really let rip at a ball, sending it a tremendous distance, and know almost to an inch where it will land simply by very slight adjustments of the appropriate muscles. Of course, that must take untold hours on the practice court.

J.B.Priestley , a forgotten English novelist and man of letters, used to say “10% inspiration, 90% perspiration”.


Tennislover Says:

Federer uses a lot of spin and is probably next only to Nadal. It is just that Nadal uses so much more that he seems to overshadow everybody else in this regard. The amount of racket-head speed Federer generates is quite incredible. In the absence of a lot of spin, he’d probably shank the ball, and shank it big, most of the time. The modern rackets and strings technology have benefited Federer too and not just Nadal or Djokovic.


Tennislover Says:

margot: Sampras was 6’1″. Murray, at 6’3″, is a giant for the Rochus brothers or, say, Dudi Sela. You know, Safin was actually terrified by the prospect of playing Santoro. He had a 2-7 losing record vs the magician. Imagine a guy, who gave Sampras a real pasting in a USO final, being petrified of playing a relative lightweight. While I can understand concerns about brute power dominating everything, Berd’s power is, at least to me, very easy on the eyes and there is a lot of skill involved in timing the ball so sweetly. He doesn’t need to be very subtle since he has a simple and uncomplicated game which works for him. A slightly better mental framework and a more focused approach would have seen him reach much greater heights than he has in his career.

I sometimes want Murray to do something similar. As clever as Murray is, he is sometimes too clever for his own good. He is still struggling to find the right balance between defense and offense. He has to make offense his default mode of play to avoid expending unnecessary energy running around the court. This could be crucial in a draining five-setter. Gifted players with immense abilities and variety seem to get confused since they have so many options. Federer had the same problem till he got his mind uncluttered and started focusing on using a limited number of weapons from his arsenal for a vast majority of points. Unnecessary cat and mouse or chess isn’t always helpful. I am really encouraged by the aggression he showed in Asia and I hope the Berd match is an aberration.

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