Djokovic Denies Federer, Faces Nadal In Rome Title Rematch; Who’s The Pick?
by Sean Randall | May 19th, 2012, 6:38 pm
  • 208 Comments

After a subpar start to his clay season Novak Djokovic desperately needed a big win and today he got it. The Serb elevated his game thumping Roger Federer 6-2, 7-6(4) to advance to Sunday’s Rome Tennis Masters final where he’ll meet rival Rafael Nadal.

Djokovic started out the match against the in-form Federer looking like his 2011 unbeatable self. While his serve wasn’t quite there, Djokovic dominated play with his powerful, heavy groundstrokes and jaw-dropping defense. And really for the first hour of the affair it was a mismatch.

Credit to Federer, who didn’t go away. Djokovic served for the match at 5-4 but Roger wouldn’t let him slam the door shut as he turned the tables by ripping his own forehand winner down matchpoint. At one point, Federer had reeled off 15 of 19 points and stood two points on Novak’s serve from forcing a third.

Djokovic, though, regrouped just in a nick of time, got to the tiebreak and finished off Federer in confident fashion.

Djokovic has now won two straight over Roger and five consecutive sets going back to the US Open. Federer still leads their series 14-11 but Djokovic right now has the upper hand.

For Federer, after some question marks if he’d even play, he had a good week in Rome reaching the semifinals. I just not sure if just playing on a slippery blue surface in Madrid and then Rome is going to be enough. For me, it’s hard to put much stock in Madrid, leaving Rome where Federer collected wins over three very average players. So I don’t know how he’s going to beat both Djokovic and Nadal in best-of-5 sets on clay to win the French. It may just be too tough a task these days for a guy his age. He may very well need some help in Paris.

”Overall, I don’t think I was playing good enough,” Federer admitted to the AP. ”Plus, I was a bit tired. I’ve been playing a lot lately.”

In the earlier semifinal, Nadal stayed perfect this year on the red clay, again beating his countryman David Ferrer in straight sets, this time 7-6(6), 6-0. The near-90 minute first set was an absolute slugfest with Nadal escaping by the slimmest of margins.

“The first set was unbelievable, how David set the match with amazing rhythm and aggression,” said Nadal who’ll bid for a sixth Rome title. “His movements were unbelievably good and so I did the best possible for me. The thing that I tried to do was to maintain the score close. After the first seven games of the match [it was] more equal; before it was not.”

For Ferrer, maybe this is the year he finally makes the French Open semifinals? With Andy Murray slumping and Tomas Berdych/Juan Martin Del Potro unknowns, this could very well be the last best shot for the 30-year-old who’s made the last four at the US and Australian Opens but never in Paris.

Looking to tomorrow, Nadal-Djokovic is the best rivalry in tennis right now. Nadal leads 17-14 but his last win in Monte Carlo comes with an asterisk as Djokovic was dealing with the death of his grandfather. Before that, Djokovic had won seven straight including the Rome title a year ago.

Both guys come into Sunday, fit, fresh and in-form. So for me, this one carries with it much more weight than Monte Carlo. And I think Nadal knows that and takes Djokovic down again.

After all those losses last year, Rafa came awfully close in Australia and then got the paper win in Monte Carlo. Now, to cement his momentum going into the French he needs this one.

That said, the match will rest on Novak’s racquet. Djokovic’s best beats Nadal’s best, on any surface. If the Djokovic ups his serve and plays from the ground like he did at the start against Federer, he’ll win. His game just matches up so well against Nadal – diffusing the Nadal forehand and attacking Rafa’s weak second serve – and we know he’s already well inside the Spaniard’s head.

In the end I just think Nadal finishes the job here. He hasn’t lost a set on the red clay this season and Novak will need two to win. And even though he looked much, much better today, I’m still not convinced Novak’s is back in 2011 form, and to beat Nadal in best-of-3 he’ll need to be.

Djokovic has also made it clear his big goal is the French Open where history will await the “Djoker Slam”. And after getting that big win today part of me wonders how much he’s willing to expend Sunday when the bigger prize is down the road.

Who would be more upset losing Sunday, Rafa or Novak? I say Rafa.

”We’re both physically fit and fresh and ready to deliver our best tomorrow,” Djokovic said to the AP. ”We have a great rivalry. He’s the player I’ve played the most against in my career and there are no secrets. It’s going to be a good fight. It would be good for both of us to get that trophy before Paris.

”Playing Rafa is always a challenge. He’s the best player ever on this surface. But after 2011, I know I can win now,” Djokovic added. ”I need to step into the court and take chances and not allow him to move me around.”

In the women’s final, after Serena Williams decided to rest for Roland Garros, it’s reigning French Open champion Li Na against Maria Sharapova.

Tennis Channel has coverage live coverage starting at 7:30am ET. And as always with Nadal-Djokovic matches be sure to block out a good chuck of your Sunday because it’s likely going to be a long, very long final.

SUNDAY ROME SCHEDULE

CENTRALE start 11:30 am
[3] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA – Doubles Final

Not Before 1:45 PM
[8] N Li (CHN) vs [2] M Sharapova (RUS) – WTA – Singles Final

Not Before 4:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP – Singles Final


Also Check Out:
Djokovic Denies Federer; Nadal Gains Revenge On Ferrer At ATP Finals, Can Clinch No. 1 Wednesday
Sharapova Camp Denies Rumor; Behind Serena Losing No. 1
Novak Djokovic: Wawrinka is a Big Challenge [Video]
Nadal on Fire Heading into Tennis Masters Rome
Back To Red: Can Nadal, Djokovic Regain Their Form In Rome?

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208 Comments for Djokovic Denies Federer, Faces Nadal In Rome Title Rematch; Who’s The Pick?

Brando Says:

“We’re both physically fit and fresh and ready to deliver our best tomorrow,” Djokovic said to the AP”- so NO EXCUSES NOW, both want it- it’s on now!


Steve 27 Says:

This goes for Tiriac and Serena Williams! Madrid’s experiment should not be repeated. Good, in clay, they are now, the rest is a fantasy that people think is best, which is totally wrong and common sense is lost.


ismaell Says:

seems like another long ping pong final.
with +time between serves for bouncing and scratching.
rafa may like the victory as much as he want, but i think djokovic will decide the match.
and he will decide it with the french in mind.
if he win he will not face federer until the final, and the gamble is nadal wich he can fight in the semi or a in the final if federer cant win againts nadal like usual.
if he loses he will not face nadal until the final, and federer will be the gamble.
many would secure skip nadal until the final, but djokovic had a comfortable upper hand vs nadal, montecarlo was not a real win from nadal, but againts federer dont had the clear upper hand, he past federer in the us by luck, and if not for federer he already would had the “djoker slam” so if i was djokovic i would skip federer, and he may lose if nadal lands in his draw, securing a clean path for djokovic for the win.
but either way, like i say before, the winner of the french may be decided by luck, federer cant win vs nadal, nadal cant win vs djokovic, djokovic cant win vs federer, at least thats the history.
taking those facts the drawing will tell who will play each other in the semi, and the final for that matter.


sheila Says:

well disappointed, but not really surprised that roger didnt win. just confirms my belief that it will b so tuff 4him 2win another major if he cant get by these 2 guys. he would have to have a gr8 deal of luck w/a good draw to aid him along. as for madrid, i think roger beat some heavy hitters & here in rome he lucked out w/an easy draw. nadal hasnt had incredibly hard draws either, other than the possibility that berdych might have grown a pair of tennis balls & maybe could beat him. hoping djokovic pulls off the impossible tomorrow & beats nadal in final. nadal is looking unbeatable


Mila Says:

I think it’s crystal clear now that Roger cannot win a major for he has to beat both Rafa and Novak and they are much better players than him. It’s sad but true – it is the life’s way to even things out after all those GS wins against sub-par opponents in early 2000s. Something like Roger’s personal Jin & Jang.

Fans and media (including Sean Randal) tend to hype Roger up these days all while he is beating players like Seppi, and talk about his “amazing form”. However, once he meets Rafa or Novak, it is a collective “ooops” over and over again. Look at this GS facts:
USO 2010 – Novak
AO 2011 – Novak
FO 2011 – Rafa
W 2011 – Tsonga ??? wtf…
USO 2011 – Novak
AO 2012 – Rafa

In statistics, there is something called extrapolation. If you try to extrapolate the list above, and figure in his age disadvantage, things are not looking sunny for Roger. I just hope he keeps playing until Novak edges him in H2H, which is 4 more encounters.
As for Roger-Rafa’s H2H, that’s book is closed long time ago.

My apologies to all Roger fans for, apparently, pessimistic tone, but I am just stating the obvious. Not unlike the kid in the “Emperor’s New Clothes” story.


Dan Martin Says:

If I have to pick, I think Rafa wins in a closer match than we saw in Monte Carlo.


skeezer Says:

Mila,

I get what your saying….I am a bit of a pessimism when it come to Fed also. BUT…..20–3,20–4,4–1. Those are his numbers in Slams since 2010. He has gotten to at least every Semi ( ok, a qtr in Wimby )in Slams since then. I am a believer that if anyone gets to a Semi in a Slam anything can happen anytime. The players all know once the get there, they are only 2 matches away from liftin the trophy. The key here is to ge there, otherwise, there is no chance. Fans are spoiled cause Fed has gotten there so many times its expected and its a big upset if he doesn’t. Well it just goes to show his already legendary status. Everyone knows he’s got game.

On the positive side, Fed has been playing real well, and has beatned Djoker at WTF, and Rafa twice in the last two meetings.

I question his ability in 5 setters now too, but if he goes through the draw in straights me thinks he still has a shot. And yes its always good to get some draw help. Throw in a 4 setter here and there maybe. He has played a lot of tennis lately. Remember he was waffling playing Rome to begin with….


Andrea Says:

Roger still has chances at Wimbledon and us open. His style of play has always been aggressive – he’ll always opt to end the point sooner than later – and clay, as he gets older, will become too much of a grind.

Would prefer to watch Novak against nadal anyway….hope he takes nadal out.


skeezer Says:

@Dan..

You’re pickin Rafa? I think Nole has the game and strategy( he also has kryptonite underwear he wears against Rafa, his secret weapon ) to hold him off. It’s on Nole’s racquet, not Rafa’s. Nole’s game has to breakdown somehow for Rafa to win.


Ben Pronin Says:

Looks like Federer losing to Nadal at the French last year makes everyone overlook the fact that he beat Novak in the semi? And he was only 1 point away from doing the same at the US Open. You can say that he’s struggled mentally against them, but he’s definitely not a worse player. We know he can beat Novak in a best of 5. Nadal? I’d say no, maybe like a 10% chance. But he can beat him. Maybe like a 0.5% chance at the French, but anything can happen. It’s not because he’s some kind of terrible player. It’s amazing how Federer loses a match and all these vultures come out telling him to hit the retirement home. Seriously, people, show some respect, and relax.

As for tomorrow, I think Nadal is the slight favorite. But it’s got to be closer than their Monte Carlo match, right?


trufan Says:

Mila,

in statistics, you have be VERY careful with extrapolation. Past is very rarely a predictor of the future.

As for Federer – If he has to beat both Nadal and Djokovic (which is what has been happening, since Nadal’s draws magically come out with Federer on Djokovic side all the time…) then its difficult for Fed, except at Wimbledon (and perhaps at USO). His losing to Nadal at FO should not be a surprise to anyone.

Don’t forget, Djokovic is SIX YEARS younger than Fed. Fed is almost 31. Djoke is at his prime at 25. What do you expect?

Nadal is FIVE YEARS younger to Fed, at almost 26.

Lets see how Nadal fares at 30 and 31 years of age (if he is still playing).

I don’t give Fed much of a chance at RG, but he has a pretty good shot at Wimbledon, given his current form (this is the best start to the year he has had since 2007…).

It should be interesting today in Rome. I hope Djoke wins – regardless, it will be a slow game, with both players violating the rules on EVERY DAMN SINGLE point. I am shocked umpires don’t call it out.

But unlike nadal ferrer – we have a contrast in styles. Nadal moonballs, while Djokovic hits attractive shots. Both delay. Yes, get ready for a 4 hour match (3 sets).

The reason Djokovic is in Nadal’s head is because he takes even more time than Nadal, just keeps on bouncing the ball, and Nadal then gets antsy and wants to pick his butt again, but can’t do that because he doesn’t know when suddenly Djoke will serve. Then he gets distracted. Boy, I feel sorry for people who shake hands with Nadal (given how many hundreds of time it goes into his butt!)


the mind reels Says:

@Mila: you’re writing off a guy who has lost all of 4 matches since the 2011 US Open. He’s made big strides to close the gap between himself and Nadal/Djokovic, and realistically, if he has a decent run at the French and a good couple weeks at Wimbledon, you could be looking at the re-establishment of Federer at #1 in the world.

I have to agree with Ben’s post above — so the guy lost a match to the #1 player in the world and you are writing it off as “crystal clear” logic that he can’t win another major? I agree that it will be *harder* for him to do so, but he’s certainly still putting himself in contention. I certainly won’t make any bets that his GS title days are over.


Mila Says:

“You can say that he’s struggled mentally against them, but he’s definitely not a worse player.”

He is.
I am sorry to break that news to you Ben, but it is the reality, regardless of your acceptance of it… I listed the last several majors and data speak for itself. I am not basing it only on today’s drubbing by Novak, as you seems to assume.


dari Says:

Mila, rafa and novak are playing better than roger is
now -true.

I cannot read with a straight face that they are better players than him though. They are not better tennis players than roger in general. Right now they are younger, faster, and mentally tougher and performing better.

I know its splitting hairs but save that particular statement for when novak and rafa are 30+ with sixteen slams and still hinting with two tremendous players 5-6 years their junior


Steve 27 Says:

Federer looks like the combative Connors, which reached the quarterfinals, semifinals of the majors with 34, 35, but he always played a Mc Enroe, Lendl it resented the party, I think the Swiss case is similar. It is proven that after 31 (not counting the case of Rosewall or Gimeno) is almost impossible to succeed in the GS. I say almost, because only Agassi. with 32 years 8 months could do it in Australia 2003, although the draw favored him, obviously, but he took his chance well. So, mathematically speaking, the Swiss would be left up to 6 more chances to Wimbledon 2013, where he will be 10 years of his first major. But the reality is different: if it fails this year, especially in SW 19 and the cement of NY, we can say that will all be over for the master of Basel, continue doing magic with the racket, but the days of glory won the major tournaments will be over.


skeezer Says:

” I just hope he keeps playing until Novak edges him in H2H, which is 4 more encounters”

WHY? You can extrapolate all you want and make things of reason for your fav. Nole will be remembered for his Slams, not his H2H encounter, that is a schoolboy tactic that is already being used by Rafa fans. ….this always cracks me up, and just shows how great Fed is in this era. No one comes close to his Slam count, so its “but I can beat him, I beat him!”.

This is the old schoolyard rule;

” I am better than you so I am better than everybody. ”

Sorry, its professional Tennis. Nole, and Rafa, did not get #1 by solely beating Fed. They earned it by beating the field.


Lisa Says:

Im happy for Federer’s performance thus far, he did what I’d predicted him to do…..Reach Semis….get enough match practice on red dirt, putting himself in a nice perspective and get a feel of what he needs to do at Roland Garros…..

For people writting him off after that loss…..remember….this isnt his favourite tournament….and he wasnt as hungry as Novak and Rafa to win it anyway……Better, think he had rather a better perspective in terms of his preperation for the upcomming Grand Slam…..

I diffinately know he’ll step it up atFO…….Trust me everyone..


Ben Pronin Says:

Skeezer, completely agree. But I do want to add that Djokovic has played extremely impressive tennis in the last two rounds, knocking out two guys who have/had winning records over him in pretty routine fashion. Not say that it matters in the grand scheme of things or anything, but it’s gotta be a confidence boost for Djokovic for sure.


Lisa Says:

Im happy for Federer’s performance thus far, he did what I’d predicted him to do…..Reach Semis….get enough match practice on red dirt, putting himself in a nice perspective and get a feel of what he needs to do at Roland Garros…..

For people writting him off after that loss…..remember….this isn’t his favourite tournament….and he wasn’t as hungry as Novak and Rafa to win it anyway……Better, think he had rather a better perspective in terms of his preperation for the upcomming Grand Slam…..

I diffinately know he’ll step it up atFO…….Trust me everyone..


Anna Says:

Skeeze – What you say is true, but it’s always nice to have a positive H2H, no?


Tennis Vagabond Says:

I think most Fed fans have come to the point of realizing that each Slam, our guy is a fairly distant third pick. However, you get Fed on a roll as he’s been these last months, beating Nadal etc, and you can believe he’s close. To me, this match showed that on clay at least, Roger will be a distant third pick at RG.
I totally agree with Skeeze that anyone who consistently makes semis has a shot- hell, people pick Tsonga, Murray, Del Potro to win slams, certainly Federer remains a better risk than them.
Sampras was less odds-on when he won his last. Johanson or whatever certainly.
It will never be out of the question for Federer to play two Fed matches in a row. So it is always a beautiful, often tragic, hope for us.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

And for the record, I’m going with Djokovic tomorrow, and for Roland Garros. Rafa’s dominance on clay has been awesome, but its time for a real challenge.


Steve 27 Says:

….and he wasn’t as hungry as Novak and Rafa to win it anyway

Yes, but Nadal and Djokovic will be more hungrier than Federer in Roland Garros. They had two special reasons. If the hunger to win titles, now Murray would be a great all-time, lol.


skeezer Says:

Ben,

Agreed. Nole looks lately like 2011 Nole. He has made it clear his eye is on the prize. FO and 4 Slams in a row. A historic achievement if he can do it. I still think he has a huge mental advantage over Rafa. No one has brought it up but you don’t think Rafa has it in his head that he has lost 7 consectutive times to the Man? And he playing him tomorrow? If Nole defends well tomorrow, watch the UE’s come out from Rafa.

This is why I said that Rafa winning or losing Rome is extremely important. Forget FO if he loses here. But, if he wins here, his confidence grows bigtime. This imo is a very important match for these 2 and there remainin season its a “set the tone”match.


skeezer Says:

Anna,

Ok i will own up. If my fav had a winning h2h i would be all over that, i admit ;). But that is from a fan perspective….

TV….welcome aboard…either we are right and rule the roost or we are wrong and eat the tennis hat. Either way I am having fun watching with a Beer in hand ( although the projected length of the match I will have to regulate consumption, 1 beer, 1 hour, max…..wait 6 hours 22 minutes?….better have Ice Tea at hand…)


Lisa Says:

Pffffff!…..Age a factor, I’d like to see if Djokovic can beat Federer at FO this year, so much for blabbering, cant wait for that FO semifinal!……


Nina Says:

ismaell Says: the winner of the french may be decided by luck, federer cant win vs nadal, nadal cant win vs djokovic, djokovic cant win vs federer, at least thats the history.

Ejem… that’s the wrong story. Novak has won 5 of the last 6 matches against Federer. How does that translate into “Djokovic cant win vs federer?

Please enlighten me because it doesn’t make sense. Their encounters tend to be closer than others, but that doesn’t mean anything. Federer is a super dangerous player and probably the most difficult to beat. So what’s your point? For me since last year Novak is the clear superior player, both to Federer and Nadal.

Federer is now 30. What he’s doing at his age is still impressive. I don’t see any other players doing that at his age. And I definitely think he can win another slam if the stars align right. Impossible? No. Likely? I’d say neither. But the fact that he’s still competing for slams tells us what a great champion he is. The best in history for sure.

But the present is now and right now this is a private dance between Nole and Rafa.


Wog boy Says:

Lisa,
How do you know that Nole and Roger are going to be in the same half at FO?

Nina,
Nice way to say it without offending anybody:)

Skeezer,
One beer for every hour, that is an offense for somebody with Celtic blood:)


X Says:

@Mila

I think it’s already been established that Federer is on a decline. If fans and media are hyping things up these days, it’s because they have a reason for doing so. He’s obviously playing much better than the past couple of years and has the most titles to date.

You probably can’t stand the talks about Nole not being able to repeat his 2011 season or Rafa becoming the biggest whiner on tour that you have to be so pessimistic about Roger winning.

And I love how you try to emphasize that you’re just stating the obvious to his fans. Yeah it’s so obvious, you actually didn’t need to bother posting it. That’s why they’re called fans. Win or lose, they’ll support Fed. What do you want them to do? Cheer for Rafa or Nole instead while Fed is still playing just because you extrapolated his future isn’t so “sunny” anymore?


Michael Says:

Roger lost the match because he didn’t serve well. To win against the likes of Nadal and Novak, Roger’s first serves should click. It didn’t happen and he lost unable to withstand the pressure exerted by Novak on his second serve. I thought Roger played well from the baseline in the first set but was still outplayed by Novak. That shows the terrible form of Novak and it is in the second set that Roger played average Tennis and still was able to take the match to a tie break after denying Novak match points. That shows the fighting qualities of Roger. This is nothing negative for Roger. He had a good tournament reaching the Semis and beating Novak here would only have helped Nadal cement his place at No.2 as it will be too tough for Roger to beak both Novak and Nadal back-to-back in Clay. So the wise thing to do is to lose the match and let Nadal try to tame the Novak demon.


Michael Says:

All said and done, whom to give the edge in the final. It is a very tough call to make. But still I raise my neck out to say that it would be Novak who would emerge as the winner.


skeezer Says:

@X

Shaaamooon!


Michael Says:

My sympathies to David Ferrer. Even the law of averages does not seem to help him when he plays Nadal. He is always at the receiving end whenever there is a net cord, bad umpiring call, shots at important moments etc when he plays Nadal. He executed a very fine first set today matching Nadal shot-by-shot. But even though leading in the tie break, he made a typical silly drop shot which spoiled his chances. Once he lost the first set, the match turned out in the usual way and Nadal triumphed when David collapsed in the second set.


jane Says:

Just saw on the ATP website that Kubot and Tipsa are in the Rome doubles final; good for them!


Michael Says:

I would say this Rome finals would be a critical match for both Novak and Nadal. Whoever wins here will have the momentum going into the French and Wimbledon. It is a do or die match in my opinion.


Michael Says:

And one more thing to add, this is a critical match for Roger too as his being No.2 or 3 depends on Novak’s racquet. Being No.2 is crucial for Roger to have chances at the majors. It will be pretty tough for him to beat both Novak and Nadal back-to-back at this age and that too in five sets.


Lisa Says:

@Nina

Sure thats kind of true……

But if your talking about present……Ok since USO last year, Federer is the most dominant player in terms of points…then Rafa and Nole……..so what do mean a private encounter between Rafa and Nole??, surely you cannot be a blind eye to what Federer had achieved over the last 7 months…..

You have to take into account that it is off no significant value for him to win this tournament………If anything…It is rather just practice for themain tournament(French Open)….So you can’t go crazy at a win considered a training ground(at least in federer’s Mind)…….

You remember what happened at 2007 Kooyong Classics(Tournament prior to AO). These as mostly regarded as warm-up tournments leading up to AO……..Well Roodick defeated Federer in the Finals…..Federer then later met Roddick at AO and completely dominated that match, winning in 3 straight sets…..

Thus what I’m saying is, you cannot rule Federer after one loss, simply at a tournament that his definately not in it to win it…..

I will only consider Djokovic as more superior then Federer,if he beats Federer at Roland Garros this year, anywhere else, forget it…….Why?? because thats where it matters most for Federer….

If you read my previous comments, you’d have an idea of my point maybe…..


King Federer Says:

X:

your post is the virtual equivalent of reaching across the cyber world and giving a tight slap across the face!

mila, might be one of those fair weather fans who jumped to the djokovic bandwagon after he started winning. tomorrow if somebody wins, she might trash the clown. there is a name for such people who keep changing their loyalties. i am sure most people know that word.

as for Roger losing to nadal/djokovic. the guy is beyond his prime. djokovic should be ashamed he lost to a guy 6years older than him at a GS last year. i know i would be if some guy past his prime beats me in my sport. As sean said it, the USO 2011 was a match fed should have won. the joke is on the clown that he still needs 5 sets to close out a champ well past his prime.

Anything fed wins from here is gravy. Even at 30+, the dude made no fuss about playing on a slippery surface and got the job done. unfortunately, you cannot say the same for rafa/nole who can only win in slow conditions – and they should be thankful the atp slowed down the conditions. look at the indoors, where it still plays faster than the rest of the season.

jokeb!ch fans have to accept the fact that joker will finish only the 3rd best of his generation!


Wog boy Says:

Michael,
When it comes to Ferrer it appears that pattern is, if he doesn’t use his chances in the first set he is usually losing the match. I didn’t pay attention until QF with Noleat AO this year.
I was too nervous at the end of second set so I ducked out for a beer. Then I have to wait three games until they let us back in RL arena. As I was watching nervously on the big screen outside, young tall bloke (about 2m) with tennis sport bag was standing next to and calmly told me:
“don’t worry your man is winning this one, Novak gave him too many chances, he didn’t use them and he is going to lose, that is Ferrer”. and he added “best match so far at AO.”
He was absolutely confident and he was right. Novak was break up already. He told me he is Swiss but I forgot to aked him for name, he was either player, he looked young, or something to do with coaching. But he was right, Nole finished matc with no problems, whatsoever.


Wog boy Says:

Michael,
BTW, you might earned another drink if you are right, I already have three? Against your name:)


Sean Randall Says:

Unfortunately for Federer there’s just no getting around the fact that he’s 0-8 in his last 8 Slams, with just one appearance in a final.

So either he is in decline – as I think many of us would agree – or he’s still in prime but Djokovic and Nadal are just better players. Pick your poison.

In 10 years no one will care about Masters titles like Rome, Monte Carlo and Indian Wells – remember how many Miami Masters titles Sampras won? Nor can I – or that Roger accumulated the most points between the US and French Opens.

The game boils down to Slam titles and if you want the No. 1 ranking. That’s how guys like Federer, Nadal and Novak will be measured.

But as I said, it’s been over two years since Roger won his last Major and with Rafa/Novak and even Murray/Delpo he’s going to have to work very hard or get awfully lucky to pocket a few more.

That said, it’s more than possible.


Michael Says:

Wog Boy,

Yeah I agree. He doesn’t take his chances especially against the top three. He matches up with them well except for Roger but loses his mind in critical moments. That is the reason why he has not been able to break the jinx so far. He is already 28 and there is not much time left for him. Such a fine player and he is yet to win even a Masters event ??? What to say – only tragic.

Thank you Wog Boy for the drink. Hope to get three and I rely on Novak to deliver it. I am sure he will not disappoint


Michael Says:

Sean,

I think too much importance is given for majors thereby making other tournaments irrelevant. Do you know Connors is rated as one of the GREATEST not by his major wins but only tournament wins ?? Yeah major counts but so are the World Series, Masters Event and even the Olympics. It is a combination of achievements which makes one great and not just by winning majors.


Sean Randall Says:

In regards to the seedings, the realistic best case scenario for Federer – barring complete upset armageddon in Paris – is Federer gets the No. 2 seed and Nadal ends up in Djokovic’s half.

If that happened Roger has a great chance at the title if Djokovic can beat Nadal in the semifinal.

Federer should beat Murray/Delpo/Berdych/Ferrer in his SF and with the pressure of the Djoker Slam I think Novak loses in the final to Roger.

That said, I think if Nadal wins tomorrow he really puts a hammerlock on the French Open. My feeling is Djokovic is the only guy with a good chance to beat Rafa in Paris, and he can only do it in the semifinals. Again, because of the pressure of the Djoker Slam I don’t think he’ll be able to cap it against either Nadal or Federer in the final. That’s too much pressure.


Sean Randall Says:

Michael, that’s true. Connors holds the record with 109 titles, a mark Federer/Nadal/Novak likely won’t approach. But his 8 Slams is on par with other greats like Lendl, Agassi and Rosewall and that carries more weight than titles in places like Roanoke, Indianapolis or Little Rock.


jane Says:

Maybe Sean, or maybe Nole would rise to the occasion and embrace the pressure. At Wimbledon last year he rose to the occasion in the final, and with it, he secured number 1 and beat Nadal in a slam final for the first time. He did lose at the FO last year, but I think with the streak it was too much tennis by then, physically and mentally – I mean he had won EVERYTHING he’d played until then. This year, he’s played considerably less. Anyhow I can’t predict the future. Rafa looks to be in great form and is probably a lock for the FO title. jamie, who knows people who can predict the future, apparently, says Nole will lose at the FO. Maybe that’s the case. But you never know. i guess we have to wait and see. :)


Jatt Says:

Seeing Rafa play Monte Carlo against djoker ….I think he has figured out how to play him…I know passing of his grandpa and his emotional condition were critical factors but still nole wanted to win Monte Carlo but could not …I think it attributes to the small adjustments which Rafa has made..let’s see tomorrow if this really is.the case.I think Rafa is going to win this one..


Steve 27 Says:

The problem for Nadal against Djokovic is his BH, like yesterday: he hit his bh so shortly allowing his opponent to win the point easily. He failed so much a year ago and with Ferrer. This is the main key here: if Nadal plays well on clay, nobody beats him.


Lisa Says:

For tomorrow’s match…..I think it’s going to be a tough match for both Rafa and Nole…….it’s 50/50 to pick a winner.

Both players would want to win badly, definately because both would want to make a point, it’s very obvious…….and because of that…..it would work much more as a disadvantage for Djokovic then Nadal……

Because if Nadal wins easily and in 2 straight sets, it would be a big blow to Djokovic’s confidence….But that too would seem quite unlikely….then again, only time will tell….

But as a Federer fan, if Nole wins, the road to FO final would be alot easier for Fed…….


Michael Says:

Sean,

Michael, that’s true. Connors holds the record with 109 titles, a mark Federer/Nadal/Novak likely won’t approach. But his 8 Slams is on par with other greats like Lendl, Agassi and Rosewall and that carries more weight than titles in places like Roanoke, Indianapolis or Little Rock.

Precisely. That is the reason I said it is a combination of major and relatively small tournament wins that makes a Player great. Connors would not have been called as one of the Greatest if he had not won those 8 majors plus his monumental 109 titles. If majors are the only one that bothers Analysts, then well I think it is not the right thing to assess the greatness of a player. Of the current lot, Roger has the perfect mixture covering all surfaces.


trufan Says:

Slams are clearly the most important, but other records matter too. How many YEC has the player won, how many other main tournaments, versatility across surfaces, how long no. 1 ranking was held, level of competition, etc.

Lendl also won 8 slams. But he perhaps had the toughest competition of anyone. Sampras’s 14 were with relatively less competition (the only top player he faced at THEIR peak was Agassi, and even he goofed off post 1995). Plus Sampras drew a complete blank on clay (24-13 at the French, only one semi). So Sampras’s 14 are not as impressive as it seems.

With all the other stats that Fed has (and still counting), his 16 are far stronger than just 16 slams on paper.


Dave Says:

Federer threw down the gauntlet to Djokovic ahead of the match when he publicly announced at press conference after the Seppi match: “The goals have to be the same against Djokovic ­ take it to him and play my game.” And Djokovic bit the bait. Federer said: “Novak really put the pressure on me from the start. He came out fast, played really aggressive early, was eager to win.” In other words, Djokovic played his best clay court match and showed Federer (and Nadal) what Novak’s best game on clay really looks like. On the other side, Novak emerged from the match with little oncourt understanding of where Federer’s level is really at.

The reason Federer gave for his loss was what I said: he had been playing too much tennis — 9 matches in 12 days since Madrid started. “Overall, I wasn’t playing quite good enough,” said Federer, who admitted that he was relieved the tournament was over. ‘Plus, I was a bit tired. I’ve been playing a lot lately… I’ve played a lot of tennis in the last few weeks. Novak was looking fresh, he was better tonight…. I had a couple of chances in the second set but couldn’t take them…. I would have taken my results from these two weeks, so I am very happy going into Paris.”

However, when Federer publicly admits something, it may not be the real issue or is no longer the issue. Which leads me to believe the real reasons may be that his back inflammation has been flaring up from playing in cool nights (hence the 49% first serves against Djokovic and 51% against Ferrero); he’s happy with his level and doesn’t want to risk injury, exhaustion or burnout on the eve of a Slam; and/or he wants to let Nadal and Djokovic kill each other over this smaller title.

Had Djokovic played poorly, Federer of course would have taken a straight sets victory to close the points gap with Djokovic. But Djokovic played well, and so it would have been stupid to risk further injury trying to battle him and Nadal for the Rome title. A one hour 40 minute match was more than enough and had the Italian crowd not gotten into it, Federer would have taken a quicker loss. Certainly Federer’s uncharacteristically poor serving performance—just 39% of first serves in the first set against Djokovic compared with 86% in the first set against Seppi — is a key issue to understanding what happened against Djokovic. Regardless, we should remember that the second set was actually very close (42-40 total points) even without Federer playing his best. Given that Djokovic, Nadal and Ferrer have had much more time to practice on Monte Carlo, Barcelona and/or Rome’s slower red clay courts — and had more rest since Madrid — Federer and Berdych should be happy with how they played after all the time they spent on Madrid’s different blue clay courts.

Federer knows the risks of exerting himself too much, having emerged from 2007 and 2011 French Opens with a reported groin injury. Had Federer exhausted and injured himself coming out of Rome, that 6 week break after Miami would have been for nothing. On the other hand, Djokovic and Nadal have played more matches than Federer since Indian Wells, so if battling for Rome burns them out before summer, all the better for Roger. Winning Madrid and Rome did not give Djokovic momentum for winning the French Open. In fact, besides Nadal, most players who won Rome failed to win the French Open in the open era.

It’s curious to see how Federer was moving against Djokovic — he was more energetic on his feet against Seppi than Djokovic. For Federer, the giveaway is his feet, not his body language. If he truly wanted to beat Djokovic, a far more dangerous opponnet than Seppi, Roger would have shown more urgency in how his feet moved. Federer would be very happy to see Nadal and Djokovic in a bloody battle for three or four hours, with Nadal eventually prevailing. “It’s going to be an interesting one, especially after what happened in Monaco,” said Federer. “Djokovic has pressure to defend his points and his title and Nadal wants to close the points gap with me.” But Djokovic has a good chance to win Rome. If he does, the clay season’s three Masters will be split between Nadal, Federer and Djokovic.

Federer has to keep his focus on his larger goal to retake the No. 1 ranking and win Slams over the next four months of summer. Federer is right where he wants to be, after a 6-week break and ahead of the French Open to Olympics stretch. Roger’s overall level was significantly higher in this year’s Madrid and Rome than it was in last year’s Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome. Federer was written off at the start of the 2011 French Open, and the main story was Djokovic maintaining his match winning streak and winning the championship. The physical nature of the French Open was considered physically beyond Federer’s capabilities. Yet whatever work Federer put in after 2011 Rome paid off as Federer was arguably the best player overall over the seven rounds of the French Open, even though Nadal won the title.
http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/simon-reed/superb-federer-back-stunning-best-6276.html

The Rome final has influenced a lot of people to see the French Open as a two horse race between Nadal and Djokovic (though Sean has a viabe scenario). But remember: so far there have been only three Djokovic-Nadal finals this year. Regardless of how both look tomorrow, don’t be surprised if at least one of them is eliminated before the French Open final — there are several players besides Federer who could do this if they have a very hot day: Ferrer, Del Potro, Berdych, Almagro, Isner, Murray, Wawrinka, Raonic, Monfils, Nalbandian, Verdasco, Andujar, Bellucci. Of course they would have to play the clay match of their life. Even Nadal is no longer as invincible on clay as he has been in previous years, even breaking down mentally against Verdasco and narrowly dodging loss of first set to Ferrer.


Brando Says:

OPEN PUBLIC QUESTION: everyone has mentioned everything so far- h2h, meaning of match, favourite etc. BUT what about the conditions of the match? Apparently it shall rain in Rome, with delays occuring due to this. I’m not too sure who’s game this would favour. I’m thinking djokovic since rafa prefers sunny conditions, whilst novak may not want it too sunny. Thoughts?


madmax Says:

Ben Pronin Says:
Looks like Federer losing to Nadal at the French last year makes everyone overlook the fact that he beat Novak in the semi? And he was only 1 point away from doing the same at the US Open. You can say that he’s struggled mentally against them, “but he’s definitely not a worse player”. We know he can beat Novak in a best of 5. Nadal? I’d say no, maybe like a 10% chance. But he can beat him. Maybe like a 0.5% chance at the French, but anything can happen. It’s not because he’s some kind of terrible player. It’s amazing how Federer loses a match and all these vultures come out telling him to hit the retirement home. Seriously, people, show some respect, and relax.

As for tomorrow, I think Nadal is the slight favorite. But it’s got to be closer than their Monte Carlo match, right?

May 19th, 2012 at 8:41 pm

Ben,

how many times here on TX have you said over and over again that Federer is in decline? and then you change your tune. I honestly don’t know where you stand. Federer has been in decline since 2008 (go back then and read your posts, plenty of them). Nadal’s have broken down (and have been breaking down since 2009). It’s all crap.

Count since then the amount of times that both Federer and Nadal have continued to win tournaments.

Decline or ascendency. Who cares? The questions to answer are:

a) Is Federer still playing well.

Answer? Yes or No

b) Does Federer still have the hunger to play?

Answer? Yes or No

c) Is Federer still winning tournaments at the age of 30?

Answer? Yes or No

The facts are that Federer is still in the mix.

When he wins another slam, it’s all going to be about whether Federer can win another one. It’s never going to stop for him because he is the best of the history. No?

He’s damned if he wins. He’s damned if he doesn’t.

What needs to happen from here on in, is for Sean to stop making predictions.

He is just so bad at doing this since 2008.

I didn’t expect Federer to win against Novak yesterday. Following his achievements closely and the way that he has played, Fed has more than enough match practice under his belt to go really deep at the FO.

And honestly. Ferrer is the same age, yet he isn’t in decline? The guy is an animal. Love the Ferrer spirit! and we can’t say that about Roger?

I will be honest with you. Best of 5? I think federer at the slams needs to go in with the mentality that it is a masters and wrap them up in 3. Get it done. Over. Done. Finished in 3.

Then we are talking.

I expect Federer to do extremely well this year. He has planned and punched for the fights of 2012 and he is still so ambitious. When people want to try and bring him down, it’s their own projections.

As someone said earlier, anything now, well it is just gravy.

Federer turns up time and time again in tourneys and gets blasted when he doesn’t win them.

Novak and Rafa go out 3rd round in Madrid, hardly any criticism. Fed wins and because the colour is blue, let’s forget it.

It’s like Federer reaches the finals of slams, loses and that doesn’t count. Who else has been able to get to the finals in slams?

I am glad Federer is still around to captivate his audiences with his audacious play. Because believe me, when he does leave, tennis is going to be oh so boring.


Brando Says:

@madmax: I AGREE re fed. Can you tell us please how the weather/ conditions are in Rome- and as to whether it shall affect play? Thanks


madmax Says:

Brando, I think I would agree with you.

I can say, right now, it isn’t raining in Rome. (I am looking out of my window).

The sky is a light grey/white, but no doubt will rain later – that’s the forecast anyway.


Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Sean “Looking to tomorrow, Nadal-Djokovic is the best rivalry in tennis right now. Nadal leads 17-14 but his last win in Monte Carlo comes with an asterisk as Djokovic was dealing with the death of his grandfather.”

Please save us the asterisk. Djokovic nearly lost to Monaco long after his grandfather’s death.


Brando Says:

@madmax: thanks for the reply. I’ll hope anyway that it doesn’t rain. Nonetheless, have a good day there anyhow.:-)


Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:

Sean – “I am glad Federer is still around to captivate his audiences with his audacious play. Because believe me, when he does leave, tennis is going to be oh so boring.”

On the contrary, it’s Federer who is boring to watch.


serbian hammer Says:

ismaell,Djokovic cant win against Federer ,but he won 5 of the last 6 matches,and just take him out in Rome.Do you even watch tennis nowadays.


Lisa Says:

Its quite odd……..???? That first serve percentage(36%) against Novak…

Its a game of chess, apparently, someone took the bait…..


serbian hammer Says:

Its as simple as this ,Federer at his very ,very ,very best is not as good as Djokovic at his best right now,not even close.End of story.I know it hurts Fed fans,but for once stop lying to your self,Djokovic is as close to complete player as it gets,and he beat Federer because he is simply surpased him.His level is higher than Federer level,Federer cant run away with a match,and confuse him like he can other players,Djokovic is just to good right now.You need to rally with Djokovic longer,and just hope his level will drop,otherwise you lose whoever you are.Djokovic is beatable,at his best,but not by Nadal or Federer,not any more,maybe some other player will appear one day with enough skill and will to beat Djokovic consistently at his best,until then enjoy his beastly tennis while it lasts.Aggressive Djokovic is a monster,as simple as that.Just hope that Djokovic can always rise his level like this,and be aggressive because that is his nature.


Brando Says:

@Lisa:

I’m not a fan of either (fed or nole) BUT i have to say federer did not play like someone who has had the MOST success post AO 12 yesterday.

49% 1st serves in, just 1 BP chance against a nole who ONLY got 58% 1st serves in- thats not the performance one would expect from a player on a winning run!

Most telling was his footwork- or the LACK of it. Nole played well, but federer didn’t help himself IMHO.


mat4 Says:

Just read the debate about Roger’s chances in GS.

There is a sentence in Rafa’s biography that could be important: Rafa always felt that he could wear down Roger. That’s what Rafa and Novak usually do: they transform the match in heavy physical fight, and with Roger playing a very risky game, it usually pays off.

But I think we have seen another Federer in Indian Wells against Rafa. A Roger that has enough patience to stick to his game plan, to wait for openings, to do it over and over again. I don’t know if he can do it for 5 sets at the FO, but on a surface that suits him better, on grass, where he can serve out many points, I have no doubts that he can, and that he can win a slam. And his repeated victories after the USO counts for something. Just ask Rafa or Nole.

About Nole: I think that he is behind his schedule about his game improvements, and that his new serve isn’t yet working well enough. I am certain that in the next two years we will see an important evolution in his game, especially if he manages to play without pressure.


mat4 Says:

About the draw:

Usually, it is not difficult to predict the draw of the top 4 players in France. Roger usually has the benefit of a good draw: form 2007, Novak has always landed in Rafa’s half except in 2009, when he played all the finals on clay before Roland Garros, and Roger had that abysmal performance in the final the year before. But in 2010 and 2011, Roger again had the easier draw.

This year it could change, although I don’t believe it. If Rafa wins today, Roger will land in Novak’s half. If Novak’s win, well, the organisers could opt for a historic final: Rafa fighting for his 7th RG against Novak fighting for the GS.


Lisa Says:

@Brando…..thats what Im saying….but dont you find it a little suspicious, to go from (86%) previous match to (36%) against Novak?

@Serbian hammer

I assure you, come 2012 FO…..Federer vs Djokovic


mat4 Says:

About Roger’s footwork:

It was obvious in Rome 2009 already. Roger has to slice his BH otherwise he can’t keep the pace on this backhand side. Nothing new there. He did a great job in the semi, last year, and if he didn’t repeat it yesterday it was, perhaps, in the sense of Gomez words after a loss against Muster: “You don’t show everything you got before it really matters.”

But Novak has worked very much on his CC backhand, and it is very difficult now to do much with such underspin backhand. We could see in Paris who has improved more.


mat4 Says:

@Lisa:

No, it is not strange. Roger was very nervous against Novak. I think that a victory meant much to both, they were both very tense, they both served awfully. When you look the stats and see their performance on second serve you can see why.


serbian hammer Says:

Brando,Federer played with high risk,he tryed to hit trough Djokovic which is the only way for him to win.Its normal that he started to miss first serve when he was hitting with all he’s got.Djokovic just did what he should always should have done against Federer,he hit right back at him very hard.Bottom line,he is more solid and complete player uses both wings,backhand and forehand well,and explore Federer tendency to run anound the backhand,with his backhand down the line which he hit perfectly yesterday.Djokovic first serve was 56%,not so good either,but this is clay,one must expect long points,serve can be neutralized here.


serbian hammer Says:

Cant wait for French open,it should be fun.Everybody play well and high level now.


mat4 Says:

BTW, I rewatched most of the match. It was an excellent match, and if we don’t count the serve, they both played very, very well.


Lisa Says:

@mat4, ok but the victory meant more for Djokovic, not so Federer…

If you read @Dave’s comment, you might understand why…..

Federer will raise his level, when it mattered most (FO), not at a tournament considered as a preparation….


mat4 Says:

@Lisa:

I don’t read those comments.

Rewatch the match.


Brando Says:

Federer was serving at 39% 1st serves in the 1st set!

He made 40 + UE in the match ( i think that much anyhow- correct me if im wrong.)

the man in question said this about his play:

”Overall, I don’t think I was playing good enough,”

ALL that considered- there’s no way it can be said that fed played well yesterday!

I’m not a fan of either, but IMHO tsonga gave djokovic a better challenge than federer last night. Federer was listlessly bad for the majority of the match- i mean where was his variety? to me he seemed AWOL most of the match- and i think Dave maybe right- he TANKED the match on purpose.


Kimberly Says:

http://www.tourneytopia.com/RacquetBracketFrenchOpenWTA/tennisxxxx/default.aspx

Here is the pre-registration link for the WTA french open bracket challenge. Picks will open Friday. I can’t find the create a private pool link for the ATP and have emailed tennis channel. Kimmi, we need you on the WTA this time!


Kimberly Says:

Sharapova getting demolished. Nadal and the Heat playing later. Hope I don’t go 0 for 3. I’ll happily take 1.


Kimberly Says:

well she got one break back but i think its too little to late.


mat4 Says:

@Brando:

The stats about the UE could be very wrong. Many of them were FE. Just rewatch the match, please. It is a completely different experience. I had the impression that he played bad too, but I am certain it wasn’t the case. I thought he should have tried to slow down the pace playing more slices, but otherwise it was OK. And, once again, Novak makes all his opponents look bad.

The man in question lost, so what could you expect him to say: “I played great, but since Novak beat me 6 times out of the 7 last matches, he is just the better player.” The day he will say so, it would be time to retire. It will not be Roger Federer any more.

Was he tired? Probably mentally, after that win in Madrid. The motivation is never the same. But I believe he is always very motivated when he plays Novak. It is not a question of personal relations, but of match-up and legacy.

Finally, about the serve: when Roger’s serve is under pressure, his % is lower. Though it is clear that the % in the first set was abysmal.

Another thing: I didn’t understand what you meant by “pattern” in a previous post. For me, the pattern in question was to protect Federer from Murray and Nadal from Djokovic in the semi, to obtain a Fedal final. In RG, the pattern was a bit different: since Murray doesn’t count, Novak was almost always on Rafa’s side, except in 2009, for obvious reasons. What is your opinion?


serbian hammer Says:

Brando,well then Djokovic didnt played well at the French Open last year if thats the case ,that is why he lost to Fed.He had the lead couple of times,in the first set and the forth,a break up but he lost in the end.Thats sport.Those days nobody said that maybe Djokovic didnt played his best tennis ,it was just Federer masterclass.I dont see it that way,there is no exuse for loss,this was a clean win for Djokovic where both players played on a very high level and hit some amazing shots.End of story.I hope for more of the matches like this,where i can see players play aggressive like this.This is great tennis.


Brando Says:

@mat4:

re rome SF: we’ll agree to disagree. I think otherwise, BUT novak did play well.

re pattern: the pattern i have noticed is that in the AO, RG, USO slams seed 1 is drawn seed 4, and seed 2 is drawn seed 3. it’s happened the MAJORITY of time, IRRESPECTIVE of the guy who occupies the seed. In most other draws its also panned out like this. THAT’S WHY when people say seed 2 is important for federer in RG, i disagree since in all likelihood federer would still get rafa anyway.

Wimbledon seem to do their own thing- it’s difficult to predict their draws. BUT the others are pretty predictable. they don’t set out to favour anyone- it’s a pattern that has usually been there.

I think in RG it shall be :

nadal v federer & djokovic v murray.


Kimmi Says:

thanks Kimberly for the reminder.

ugh! what is happening with Li, she is doing a kvitova. so sad.


Brando Says:

@Serbian Hammer:

that match most people consider as match of the year. BOTH turned up- ANY neutral commentator shall say that.

Yesterday, novak played well BUT federer was below par for the majority of the match.

For example, when tipsarevic beate novak at madrid do people say novak was at his best even when he saved a few MPs? OF COURSE NOT. federer yesterday, IMHO, was AWFUL for a long while.

Nonetheless, novak played well. He took care of business- regardless of how federer played.


dari Says:

First Maria in a run of several bad games, now Li! First ten games of first set were high qualitu from both.
Hope we get the quality back in the third, regardless of winner


Kimberly Says:

well it looks like sharapova somehow recovered from 0-4. well, well. I guess we have a match.


Kimmi Says:

I think Li gets broken here that is it. she is gone off cant seem to recover. needs to see a shrink. You cant do that at this level…


Kimberly Says:

There are matches where one player plays AWFUL, Novak in Montecarlo, Rafa in Indian Wells, Roger in Miami 2011 and yes the other player played well. But the key is still the other player has to FINISH them because it is very easy to relax and then what do you know, Roger Rafa Novak wake up. It is still a win because you still have to take it, even if your opponent is below par. Nadal was starting to wake up in IW and Roger finished him. Roger and Novak never woke up in the other two matches, but look at this match right now, Sharapova wasn’t finished off, and here we are in a third set. Serena, Azarenka in 2010 Australian Open prime example. Serena well below par but then all of a sudden, boom.


Kimberly Says:

kimmi–lol on the shrink comment


Kimberly Says:

Unfortuantely I am going to a tennis fundraiser in a few to raise money for underprivileged children to go to our tennis camp so I will miss the match. Then I am going to the Beach. Hope Rafa does well.


Nina Says:

Funny how federer fans dismiss this loss useless because in their minds Federer was tired or hurt (big lol) but they keep bringing the RG semifinal when Novak there was clearly tired (he was mentally and physically, he came from a monstrous 40 something streak) and lost momentum when he didn’t play Fognini.
So don’t give me that BS. The fact remains: Novak has won 5 of the last 6 matches he has played against Federer. Novak played well yesterday but it wasn’t his best match on clay, that’s for sure.

Good preparation for FO, regardless of whether he wins or loses today.


Wog boy Says:

Just woke up hoping for a good match. I rewatched the match this afternoon, mind you it was 4am here when it started. I am never able to watch Nole’s matches and judge them properly before I rewatch them. I can asure you Federer wanted to win but couldn’t. He started taking the ball very early aggressively then he was pushed further behind the line and didn’t work neither way because Nole played consinstantly well with deep balls moving Federer left and right at wish, using BC CC and FH CCR and DTL and not giving him any short or easy balls. Of course everybody will look through different glasses particulary if you are fan of one of them. He was just too good last night for Federer and doesn’t mean that it is going to be the same next time when they meet. Tonight it is going to be different story because Rafa can move much better than Federer and I think ATM it is 60:40 Rafa way since he made changes in his game.
Let’s the game start:)


Kimberly Says:

Sharapova with the double break now in the third.


mat4 Says:

@Brando:

Ok, let’s check, starting since 2008.

AO 2008: Fed 1, Novak 3 x
FO 2008: Rafa 2, Novak 3, OK
WB 2008: Fed 1, Novak 3, x
USO 2008: Rafa 1, Novak 3, OK
AO 2009: Fed 2, Novak 3, OK
FO 2009: Fed 2, Novak 4, x
WB 2009: Fed 2, Novak 4, x
USO 2009: Fed 1, Novak 4, OK
AO 2010: Fed 1, Novak 3, x
RG 2010: Rafa 2, Novak 3, OK
WB 2010: Fed 1, Novak 3, x
USO 2010: Fed 2, Novak 3, OK
AO 2011: Fed 2, Novak 3, OK
FO 2011: Fed 3, Novak 2, OK
WB 2011: Fed 3, Novak 2 OK
USO 2011: Novak 1, Fed 3, x
AO 2011: Rafa 2, Fed 3, OK (change of pattern: now it is clear that there probably won’t be a Fedal in the final, so there are booked for the semi).

It seems clear that my view is a bit closer to the data.


trufan Says:

Federer gained 290 points from Rome. Not much, but he has been steadily inching forward this year. Very close to 10,000 points now, with the 10,000 point 13 week stretch starting next week. He has a good chance of getting to No. 1.

I frankly don’t give him much chance at the French. I think he loses in the semi. Wimbledon is where he has the best shot – shorter rallies, lower bounce, even if the courts get pretty worn out and slow by the second weekend. I think he is the favorite at wimbledon. Its not too hot either – stamina matters, and don’t forget Fed is almost 31. So he needs some break in best of 5 matches against much younger top players like Nadal and Djokovic.

The next 3.5 months are all about gathering points. And I think it will take at least 13,000 ranking points to be No. 1.

I hope Djoke puts down the hammer on Nadal. I expect a close match though.


mat4 Says:

WB, 9.55:

Spot on! :-)


mat4 Says:

@trufan:

I agree.


trufan Says:

Djoke IS a better player than Federer today. No questions about that. Why should you expect anything different from a 25 year old current No 1 versus a 31 year old past No. 1?

But Federer has had a better record against Nadal than against Djokovic in the past 12 months. Nadal is not a better player than Federer – EXCEPT on clay, even today.

Federer is a pale version of his 2006 peak. The fact that he can still take it to Nadal outside of clay, and to Djokovic most of the time – speaks volumes about their peak games


mat4 Says:

@trufan:

Now, I don’t agree. I believe that today Federer is a more complete player but, on the other side, he has lost some speed and the mental fortitude he use to have. Of course, it is just guesswork.


mat4 Says:

There is a think we don’t write about, and that Jean-Paul Loth (Mouratoglou wrote about it too) revealed in a radio emission: Roger had long term problems with his back, and it impacted his game. In the meantime, he worked with a known French physio and improved his condition a lot.


madmax Says:

Everyone is entitled to my opinion Says:
Sean – “I am glad Federer is still around to captivate his audiences with his audacious play. Because believe me, when he does leave, tennis is going to be oh so boring.”

On the contrary, it’s Federer who is boring to watch.

May 20th, 2012 at 5:57 am

and you ‘Everyone Is..’ are boring to read. If you read the post carefully, you will see that it wasn’t sean who wrote it.

Say something constructive will you?

Brando, it’s still okay weather wise. Will let you know when it starts to rain, but so far, so good.


Wog boy Says:

mat4,
Thanks, finally :)

What is going on in Rome, is it raining?


trufan Says:

mat4,

Certainly, from a technical perspective, I fully agree with you, Fed is a more complete player today than ever before.

However, as is INEVITABLE with age, the first things to go are speed and reflexes. Nobody can avoid that. They can work out as much they want and keep STRENGTH and STAMINA, but they can’t do much about SPEED and REFLEXES. It is here that Fed has been affected, with the result that only against the very top players, it affects him more, and especially in best of 5 matches that go beyond 3 hours – a older person has a greater reduction in speed and reflexes as they get tired than a younger person.

And, as you know, speed and reflexes are so critical in tennis especially at that level. That 2% drop is enough to lose a point here and a point there, which turns the match around.

And that affects mental confidence immensely, since you KNOW you can’t compensate beyond a point, and that your opponent is 5 or 6 years younger, so the handicap is inevitable.


skeezer Says:

Its good to know Fed has lost speed, mental fortitude, is 30, but still can beat up everybody. The legend, the myth, the man. Magic. Maestro.

http://www.skynews.com.au/sport/article.aspx?id=752230&vId=


Brando Says:

@Mat4:

You listed 17 draws there- seed meet seed 3, 8/17 occassions- almost half the time.

You stopped at A02011. In the last 4 slams, seed 2 drew seed 4 3/4 occassions.

11/ 22 therefore- seed 2 v seed 3!

Shows i may have point.

Either way- IM GLAD that there is an even split:-)


trufan Says:

I predict that neither Djokovic nor Nadal will be top 10 past 30 years of age. Djokovic also has health issues, and chronic shoulder problem – once he is half a step slower, he will drop precipitously.

As for Nadal, how long can he just win matches by running around like a rabbit and moonballing everything back? One small level in his play, and he is done. Especially with his knees.

Federer might outlast them!!

Interesting nobody is even talking about Murray. Though there is not much worth talking about there.


Kimberly Says:

wogboy–sharapova and li na are still playing


Brando Says:

@Madmax:

Thanks:-)


trufan Says:

Skeezer,

I am a BIG fed fan, but lets be honest, Djokovic is better than him TODAY (of course, he is 6 years younger).

So Fed is not beating up on EVERYONE. He is beating up on everone EXCEPT Djoke. With Nadal, his results are the similar to earlier in his career.

I thin Federer is the best 31 year old tennis player that has ever played tennis. Federer of 2006 is the best tennis player ever. Based on stats and records, he is the best tennis player ever.

But he is not the best today. A close second best, perhaps. He does have a good shot at being No. 1 though!


madmax Says:

Wog boy Says:
mat4,
Thanks, finally :)

What is going on in Rome, is it raining?

May 20th, 2012 at 10:12 am

Wog boy, it is spitting with rain in Rome. Just looked out of my window, and the sky looks grey.


Brando Says:

@trufan:

i’m glad to have seen your last post- it revealed the TRUE IDIOT in you. The manner in which you addressed rafa and murray, very graceful indeed.


Brando Says:

DAMN- its pouring it down! Very heavy- you could hear the thud of it on the umbrellas :-(


Green900 Says:

I dont understand. After set 1 both coaches of sharapova and Li got coaching, with their chokes coming on court. Is that the new rule?


Brando Says:

Court will play slippery and slick now, i believe.

should FAVOUR novak.


mat4 Says:

@Brando:

You didn’t read my post, otherwise you will notice that I made a mistake in the last line: it should be AO 2012, not 2011.

So we have 10 vs 7 in the last 17 slams. It looks random to me. But you have Fed/Novak, outside the FO, 12 of 13, and it was 12 of 12. THIS IS NOT RANDOM!


Wog boy Says:

Kimberly, madmax,

Thanks


Brando Says:

@Mat4:

Noted. S2 has meet S4, 3/4 times on your list.

So it should be 2 v 3 this year. BUT it’s been a while since 1 v 3, so who knows……


Lisa Says:

@Nina, @mat 4 and @Serbian hammer

All players will be fit for FO, I pray for all of them that that will happen……

If so, there should be no more excuses….then will see who comes out superior at 2012 FO, Djokovic or Federer…..

Surely we all accepted the fact that Djokovic had a valid reason why he lost to Nadal at Monte Carlo…..We excepted it……it seems true

But when we give Federer a valid case for his loss, everybody starts throwing stones without even for a slight chance considered that……just maybe….just maybe…..Djokovic’s dominace will be true only if he beats Federer at FO……Noooo…. Federer dont get that……That just shows how lame you Djokovic fans are……Wheres the spirit of sportmanship…….

Hell I even took Rafa’s win at Monte Carlo for granted…..Having in mind that the real clay rivalry for Rafa and Novak would begin at Rome…..

If Rafa’s win was taken for granted at Monte Carlo, Djokovic has no more excuses if he loses to Nadal here at Rome…..Goodluck…..


mat4 Says:

@trufan:

That’s what I meant. I wrote that he lost some speed. But it is hard to notice, except perhaps with the return. I think that last night Roger’s return was the key of the match.

@Skeezer:

No doubts that Federer is a great champion. As you have seen, he is still able to serve the best when he needs it, he is still strong in key moments, so… if decline there is, I would like to decline that way.


Brando Says:

@mat4:

VERY INTERESTING- the fed v novak draw outside RG- just ONCE they were not scheduled to meet and EVEN THEN it was seed 1 v seed 3. INTERESTING.

Why would the other slams, based on this, have a fed-nole match scheduled MOST of the time and RG seemingly not be too fussed?

what’s your take on RG draws?


Brando Says:

raining VERY HARD now:-(


mat4 Says:

@Lisa:

I don’t understand you. I think you underestimate Roger’s level last night. And I don’t make excuses for Novak: he had time to prepare for MC, he chose to play and was beaten soundly. In five years only the result will matter.


mat4 Says:

@Brando:

I wrote it above I think. In France, Fed was always protected, but from Novak (on hard, the semi Fed/Muzza and Rafa/Novak were avoided). The exception is 2009: that year, Nole and Rafa played the finals in MC, Rome, Madrid, and there was also the result of the final in 2008. So Novak landed in Fed half, otherwise he was always with Rafa.


Wog boy Says:

What I am going to do now? It is raining, doesn’t look like match is going to start anytime soon, it is 1am here and I cannot sleep because I slept all evening. It is easy for you in Europe and America, it is day time, well I have to watch Nole-Federer for the third time:-) well I don’t mind:-)

mat4,Brando, if you don’t mind, maybe one of the reason for that strange draw is marketing value of Rafa and Roger compare to Nole. Nole can be #1 for next five years but marketing vise the other two will still be miles ahead. Nole knows that, we Nole’s fans know that, you cannot change it and we don’t care less.
“Money makes the world goes round”…… Cabaret and Liza Minnelli !


Brando Says:

@Wog Boy:

I AGREE. I DO NOT want to sound rude at all, but yes, in terms of marketability roger and rafa are very far ahead of novak.

Those 2 are an established brand for a number of years now.

I think IF the draws do get rigged, then a fedal is the final they would want- it brings the BIGGEST payday allround- i.e. tv ratings, tickets sold etc. it’s BOX OFFICE stuff!

Unfortunately, and I HOPE its not true, that is the world we live in today. The organisers at madrid showed that this year too. MONEY > Players wishes.

it’s ALL ABOUT THE MONEY. PERIOD :-(


Nims Says:

I remember Soderling say after his FO, that most of his matches against Roger were bad, because Roger makes him play bad.

I think same applies to Roger vs Novak too. Shortly we may hear such statement from Roger about Novak. Till then lets assume he is tired and saving his energy blah blah.

Looks like Roger now has two bad match ups in tennis. His longtime rival Rafa and Nole now.


Nims Says:

I think Roger understands his position in tennis today. He knows his game is well behind Rafa and Nole. He is not going to sweat it out till the USO. Post USO Rafa and Nole would start loosening up on tennis and focus on their commercials, while we see the resurgence of Roger again winning tournaments.

Let’s wait till then. Now is the time for the big guns to take centre stage till USO.


skeezer Says:

Clearly, as of today, Nole is #1. But Fed has proven this past year he can still beat anyone, even with posters saying how much he is declining and think he should retire. He stopped Novak soundly in the last FO , barely lost to him in 5 sets at USO, and at the WTF has beaten Rafa soundly and at the slow courts of IW. He has the best record since USO. Just sayin, he’s still very capable when he was claimed declining a years ago


Brando Says:

the conditions are VERY SLIPPERY NOW. Li Na nearly slipped badly in the last game.

its past 5 in rome also- wonder what they’ll do for the final since rain is forecast for evening also- i think.


Brando Says:

IMHO regarding federer- without any sentiment or bias- i feel that he can still win EITHER one of wimbldeon or USO.

His game is still PERFECT for those 2 venues- more than ANY other player atm.

Especially USO! Fact is he won 5 in a row, was the RU the next year, after which he lost 2 SF in which he had MP!

Sooner or later he’ll make a USO final and he’ll be hard to beat.

ANY slow surface, 3 or 5 sets, he IS NOT the fav against rafa or nole. They shall outlast him 9/10 times.

ANYWHERE were the courts are quick, IMHO, he’s still the best player.

He won Dubai this year, and IF he meet Novak in the SF or final of Cincy or USO, i’d back fed to win since his A game is better than the rest on a quick surface.

His BIGGEST weaknesses, IMO, are age related. For me his reflexes seem slow at times, along with his concentration ability.

His game though, is the best it has been for AT LEAST 2 years- that is an ACHIEVEMENT at age 30!


Brando Says:

UPDATE FROM ROME WEBSITE:

”1656: Really not good outside I’m afraid. No official announcement but this weather looks pretty set in.”

NOT LOOKING GOOD ATM.


the mind reels Says:

@Brando: considering that the women’s final still has to finish if and when the rain stops, it seems unlikely that the men will get around to playing.

One less day for those guys to rest up before RG, and assuming it’s the slugfest we’re all thinking it will be — all 3.5 or 4 hours that it will go — could be a very interesting couple of weeks.


Brando Says:

@the mind reels:

I AGREE. It’s 5.40 pm at rome now- the earlist women’s can restart is at 6.10 pm. Do remember post that final, there is the presentation ceremony also.

So earlist men’s start is 7pm.

IF no play commences by 6.30 pm in rome- then men’s final shall be moved to tommorrow IMO.


Wog boy Says:

It looks that I have to take another day off?

I don’t think that is going to affect Rafa and Nole for FO, if they cannot recuperate for FO then they don’t deserve to win it, as simple as that.


the mind reels Says:

@Brando: if my phone’s weather app is any decent indicator (which I fully submit it may not be), the rain is forecasted to continue straight through the night. Looks like we’ll have a Monday final, if I were a betting man.


Brando Says:

@the mind reels:

I AGREE- im quitting hoping for play today. In a way im glad. I think overcast conditions would favour novak.

BUT i agree with wog boy, the day delay won’t hurt WHOEVER that shall win.

IF ONE of these 2 loses at FO its because someone put up the performance of a lifetime NOT because of faitgue from rome.

they are 2 athletes at their peak- AO 2012 final showed that!


jane Says:

Hi Nina, nice to see you. I agree with this “Good preparation for FO, regardless of whether he wins or loses today.”

——-

I rewatched the Fedole match last night, and Fed was moving well; he defends so well still and he was aggressive from the baseline as always. Both he and Nole didn’t come forward a lot but how could they – there were lasers coming off their racquets from both ends. Very entertaining.

It is true Fed didn’t get in as many first serves as he’d've wanted to, because those give him easier points, cutting down on the rallies. But i did notice that even when he got first serves in, Nole was on them. Fed still hit 6 aces and no doubles. Maybe Fed’s return needs work, especially his second serve return.

I think Nole’s return doesn’t get enough notice sometimes. Due to the constant pressure he puts on servers to serve well, they tend to go for too much on their first serves. That leads to more second serves or sometimes more double faults. I’ve seen it happen a lot. Nole can negate that weapon. Not always: i.e., in the case of a player having an exceptional serving day, if Nole’s not serving well or consistently, it can swing the match. But if a player is having a good-average serving day, Nole can return return return and then take control on the rallies.

But I watched the match closely last night, with no nerves, and Fed hit some great shots; he also moved tremendously well, imo. He’s still one of the fastest players on tour, and Nole has to really step up to beat Fed; he played well. Sure, there were areas for improvement in both of their games; neither served particularly outstanding, although this is clay. But it was still an exciting and well played match by two of the game’s present best – some serious slugging of that ball! I enjoy watching their matches.


Gene Says:

what’s the latest? any signs of the match starting soon?


JJ Says:

@Brando
You’re certainly entitled to your own opinions, and are free to share them with others.

However, I agree with some and disagree on others:

I AGREE. Fed is playing amazing tennis still and can win at Wimbledon and USO. I would add AO to the list, and even FO given some luck of the draw. Almost unbelievable at his age, really. But then again he’s not your average all-time tennis great. He’s the GOAT by most accounts.

“His game is still PERFECT for those 2 venues- more than ANY other player atm.”
I DISagree. You are correct. His game is still perfect for Wimbledon and USO. But not more perfect than ANY other player atm. ATM, in my opinion, Nadal beats Federer on the Wimbledon grass, and Djokovic has him on outdoor hardcourts, including USO (and AO). Recent GS results bear this out, which is indicative of whose tennis is “more perfect”. It’s all relative.


mat4 Says:

jane: I had the same impression. Federer’s defence was mind boggling on occasions. As I wrote above, watching the game without pressure gives a completely different vision of the match.


jane Says:

skeezer, that article you posted is kind of sad. :( Sounds like Fed is missing time with his family and the little girls – he misses dinners with them, and putting them to bed. Awww. Maybe that’s why he took off all that time between Miami and Madrid, so he could be with them. I wonder if they’ll have more kids soon.


Brando Says:

rafole is on SOON….


jane Says:

mat4, it was great to watch it knowing who wins, then I don’t have to panic and sweep and run around the house biting my nails. LOL. And yeah, Fed got back some shots that others would not have, then again so did Nole. The both defend and attack so well, it creates for some very exciting rallies.


jane Says:

Congrats to Sharapova. It’d be great to see her win the FO and complete her set.


Kimmi Says:

congrats sharapova! Li Na should have won this much imo but she is not strong mentally. That is the strongest asset maria has.

So, do we have mens tennis now?


racquet Says:

@kimmi – they have a 45 minute window to start this match, otherwise it’ll be played tomorrow.


Kimmi Says:

only 45 minutes racquet!! if they start, there is no use playing for such a short time. too bad, i was looking forward to watch this match today.

luckily its public holiday in canada tomorrow. I will get a chance to watch it live.


Dory Says:

Guys anyone know what’s going on? Is the match going to be started Nadal vs Djoker? The website isn’t showing anything and the TV channel and streams are showing something else.


Brando Says:

It’s 7.50 pm in Rome now- what’s the point of playing know when you know you’ll be back 2moro?


racquet Says:

They are going to inspect the court in a few minutes and make a decision. A journalist tweeting from Rome thinks it isn’t going to happen. We’ll know either way shortly.


ckr Says:

Yesterday the semi final match started @8pm. Why do you think they will not start today, unless weather is an issue..


racquet Says:

Uncle Toni and Marian Vajda are on the court now discussing whether to proceed. My TV channel is showing it.


Kimmi Says:

why the coaches have to decide?


racquet Says:

I’m sure the players trust their judgement. It was just announced that the players will come out to play in 30 minutes and – as long as it isn’t raining.


Dave Says:

If I knew on Saturday morning that the weather report predicted rain on Sunday afternoon, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday… you can bet that Federer had more accurate forecasts. Federer is relaxing and resting right now, not stuck in an unpredictable rain delay. If they don’t finish the match tonight, there’s no guarantee they will finish it tomorrow with the weather.

For sure, as Lisa said, winning Rome by beating Federer and Nadal means a lot more to Djokovic — given his aura of invincibility has faded in recent months — than it does to Federer (if Roger really wanted to win Rome he would have put more effort after that heartbreak loss in 2006).

And Brando is probably right about Federer tanking (though Roger’s back inflammation may have also been a factor playing three straight cool nights). Sometimes decisions to tank are obvious (a player decides at the start to lose the match) and sometimes it’s not so obvious (the player first sees where the match is headed and how much effort he has to put in, before deciding to tank). Had Djokovic not played so well from the start — and he did play at a high level throughout most of the match — Federer would have been obliged to win the match in straight sets and take the ranking points. I believe Federer was only prepared to put in a certain amount of effort, risk (of injury and exhaustion) and time into winning this match — and credit to Djokovic for push Roger beyond the limits he was prepared to spend in the match. And given the weather reports Roger had less motivation to stick around.

Federer is Mr Exhibition so some people who will believe Fedeer was trying throughout and overestimate Roger’s level last night — but the only way you can tell if he’s making an effort is by looking carefully at his feet and movement (and even then it could be due to injury or motivation). But when the Italian crowd started chanting and cheering for him, Federer either obliged and got a little carried away and tried harder to take it to a tiebreak (doesn’t anyone think it was odd that, during the tiebreaker, Federer was feeding Novak three straight mid-court puffballs, and Novak needed three shots to finally put it away?).

Despite not playing anywhere near his best, Federer comes out of the match knowing that the second set against Djokovic’s best was a virtual tie (42-40 in total points). Federer also comes out knowing he has the endurance to still play nine straight matches, that his level and confidence after the Rome this year is higher than last year, that he’s not wasting time waiting to complete the Rome final… and that reports that Djokovic is Rome’s favorite son have been exaggerated.

Roger had been practising hard against two lefties (Levine and Berrer) during part of his his 6 week break, which suggests that he’s more concerned about beating Nadal at French Open and Wimbledon than beating Djokovic when it really matters. If he were smarter, he’d invest some of his $350 million wealth in two permanent hitting partners who can mimic Nadal and Djokovic, and invest in the development of a ball machine that can shoot out heavier and bouncier topspin than Rafa can. These are just some things that Annacone should have told Roger when they first started in mid-2010.

Does anybody know if the seeding at the French Open draw will be based on the rankings last week… or next week? Frankly, I wish the French Open used a formula similar to Wimbledon — because it’s only right that Nadal deserves top seed, not third seed.


Kimmi Says:

players will be out in 30 minutes if there is no rain.


Dory Says:

Thanks racquet for letting us know. I remember yesterday’s match started exactly around this time so I think it might start! I have waited whole day for this and now I don’t want it cancelled. It’s 11:30 PM in IND.


racquet Says:

LOL @ Dave’s post. Comedy gold.


Brando Says:

@dave: I LOVE your 2.01 post- your best one yet. I too wish FO seeded like wimby. I did not know fed was ONLY 2 points of nole in the 2nd set. Interesting. I’m not a fan of either one, BUT for me fed didn’t show up for the majority of the match. That he kept it close in the 2nd set, bodes well for him at RG.


Kimmi Says:

federer played matches that were started at 9pm couple of times this week. So, no big deal if they start late.


marron Says:

Yes, it is, racquet.

*chuckle*


racquet Says:

The final is postponed until tomorrow at noon. Just saw an announcement by ATPWorldTour. Bummer.


Dory Says:

O dear no!!!! Why do they have to have these stupid combined ATP+WTA events? They are to blame for this (besides the rain). I HATE COMBINED EVENTS. HATE TO TOLERATE WOMEN’S CRAP NOW AT ATP EVENTS TOO BESIDES SLAMS.


jane Says:

Is that for sure racquet? Maybe it’s good not to have starting and stopping. I guess Nice was rained out too – no main draw action today.


Mila Says:

“you can bet that Federer had more accurate forecasts. Federer is relaxing and resting right now, not stuck in an unpredictable rain delay.”

One word: PRICELESS!


Maso Says:

Damn, waited all day for this final. What a wasted Sunday!


jane Says:

racquet, you’re a neutral in Fedole right? What did you think of the semi? Just curious.

Here’s the full match; personally I think Fed was putting in some serious effort. To imply he “didn’t show up” or was in “exhibition”, well, whatever. Nevermind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qfI4EHvBRI8


Dory Says:

The http://www.internazionalibnlditalia.com/ website is also one of the worst and most useless. No weather status, no quick news announcements. ATP FAIL.


What? Says:

Oh God no way I can watch it at 3 am. Seriously bummed. And yes who cares about WTA, let them go last!!


Dory Says:

I think Federer made an effort like usual but Nole was just too good for him. Federer has become streaky. He plays well but sometimes plays uncontrollably bad for long streaks. And his usual weaknesses – backhand making errors on important points, not so well return of serve, poor break point conversion rate all showed up in yesterday’s match. And I saw this as one of the biggest Roger fans who considers him GOAT no question. He’s in his sunset period so he will have flashes of brilliance. He may even get to No.1 and win a Slam or two but not the sustained dominance for months which only Nadal or Djoker can do now. Just my honest observation. Still his records will always remain unmatched. In yesterday’s match Federer didn’t play like the No.2 player but still he had reached it purely by playing well this year so all kudos to him. Nole’s superlative defense, movement and controlled aggression hurt him.


jane Says:

Dory, Fed said similar to you: “Novak was looking fresh, he was better tonight. He really put pressure on me.” The last part, about putting pressure, seems honest from Roger. He was really going for his shots looking to keep rallies short and made more errors because of it (long, wide, etc). This is Novak’s observation too: “”I was hitting the ball well and returning extremely well. I was making him play the extra shot and make errors. ” So this may’ve also been the reason for the poor first serve percentage, though it may’ve been a combo of fatigue and pressure. It’s interesting that Nole and Fed say similar things, about “putting pressure” and “make errors”. It suggests there must be truth to this – it comes from the players themselves not fans.


Brando Says:

Folks listen to koening’s analysis post the 1st set. Djokovic wins it 6-2, and what he spends most of the time doing is going over federer’s listless play. I don’t blame him, since federer’s woes were more telling than djokovic’s play.

IMHO this win for djokovic is like nadal’s over federer is miami SF 2011.

Yes you beat him- BUT it’s nothing to write home about, as the other guy may as well not have been there.

Like koening says, federer’s game is setup from his serve- and that was ABYSMAL in the set especially.

I backed novak to win, BUT i didn’t expect a poor show from federer as that.


jane Says:

Brando, listen to the players themselves above.


serbian hammer Says:

Brando,why not US Open for the match of the year,it was 5 sets,and Djokovic saved some match points.And dont compare this match in Rome with a match against Tipsarevic,Tipsarevic was better player on that day ,and played better on blue clay and thats it.It wasnt on the level of Djokovic -Federer match in Rome where two titans meet,not even close.


Brando Says:

ONE THING federer does need to improve, going forward, is his RETURN. Despite his serve being a letdown on his general level, he HAD oppurtunities to take it to djokovic on his serve, and he just DIDN’T.

novak’s serve has been in PREVIOUS matches, last night not so much. I think he didn’t even mention it in his presser, when he was going over the positives for him in the match.

EITHER way, had fed been returning well- he MAY have made things a bit easier for himself.

It’s the RETURN were he truly lags BEHIND the other 3 atm IMHO.


jane Says:

Brando “the other guy may as well not have been there.” – wow this is quite insulting imo.


Dave Says:

racquet and marron: what’s purer comedy gold is picking the wrong battles to fight, instead of winning the war. Bad weather was forecast for Sunday to Thursday (the tournament in Nice was cancelled today), so all three camps should have seen this coming. At best, Djokovic and Nadal have wasted over one day waiting and remaining emotionally high for the match. The weather forecast still shows rain tomorrow, so if they play a long match it may end up finishing late tomorrow or Tuesday.

Brando, you’re right that Federer wasn’t mentally into this match. You can see the match stats by clicking on today’s results, clicking the left arrow, clicking on Djokovic d Federer, then clicking on the ’2′ on the right of match (1 and 2 give you the set stats). In set two, Federer got his serve up to 55% (though inconsistently), and he won 83% of first serve points — while Djokovic won only 73% of first serve points. So someone who just saw the second set (and missed the first set) would see this as a closer match.
http://www.protennislive.com/frameset.asp?year=2012&wkno=20&lang=en&tabno=1&eventid=m009&ref=www.atpworldtour.com/


racquet Says:

jane, yes it’s definite. Apparently the crowd weren’t too pleased and threw water bottles and popcorn onto the court.

As far as the Nole-Fed match, I agree that it’s complete nonsense that Roger didn’t show up or tanked the match. I can’t believe any of his fans actually think that he – the consummate professional – would do something as unprofessional as tanking. They replayed the match today and I saw nothing to suggest Fed wasn’t trying his best. He did serve poorly but he was outhit for much of the match and either forced to go for too much or to make an error.


Brando Says:

@Serbian Hammer:

Point 1: USO had 2 NO CONTEST sets- 3, 4. While FO EACH and EVERY set was COMPETITIVE. Read nole’s presser- on another day he could have easily walked away with the win. It was THAT close- THROUGHOUT the match.

Point 2: I raised the madrid match since, IMHO, it was similar in the sense that one player was seemingly none existent during the match. He happened to be the world no.1. I found that to be STRANGE. With all due respect to tipsy, he isn’t GOOD ENOUGH to make novak look like a spectator.

Like i said, federer to me seemed VERY LISTLESS in his display- some of it had to do with novak’s play, BUT IMHO, ALOT of it was uncharacteristic of him.

NONETHELESS, the FACTS show in his serve %, his number of UEs etc. IF you want to take that as a sign of novak’s superiority over him- fine go ahead. Personally, i felt he was unusually listless at times.

”Overall, I don’t think I was playing good enough,” Federer admitted to the AP. ”Plus, I was a bit tired. I’ve been playing a lot lately.”

YES you were roger.


jane Says:

racquet, thanks for the update: I can totally see the fans doing that, ha ha. And thanks for your opinion on the semi. I know you were more-or-less neutral so I was curious. BTW, you should think about doing the FO bracket challenge. They’re kind of fun. ^_^


jane Says:

I understand Fed may’ve been tired, but come on he hasn’t played that much! He had like 6 weeks off between losing in the 3rd round at Miami (where Nole won and Rafa got to the semis) and playing Madrid, and at Madrid he played only 2 more matches than Rafa and Nole. Plus Nole and Rafa played Monte Carlo and reached the semis, and Rafa played Barca too. Now, I know Fed is older and requires more recovery. I am just saying he can’t have been THAT tired. He played DC, Rotterdam, Dubai, an EXO, and IW all in a row, and won all of them. So why would playing Madrid and then Rome make him so tired. To me it seems uncharacteristic.


jane Says:

* Correction: Rafa and Nole reached MC final; Fed didn’t win DC.


Brando Says:

@Jane:

I ASSURE you it was intended to be- BUT if you find it as such, i apologise. Of all the bloggers here, i wouldn’t want to offend the fairest one at all.

My meaning in that statement was, when rafa beat fed last year at Miami, whislt it was comprehensive, i DID NOT feel that rafa played all that great- as the biggest factor on that occassion for me was fed’s poor play.

IMHO, last night was similar to that miami match also. Fed, was poor for most of the match- i even mentioned earlier somewhere that i thought tsonga was more competitive against novak than fed last night.

As you know, i’m not a fan of either, and i did back novak to win pre match anyhow, it’s just that how i GENUINELY saw the match whislt it was unfolding.

Credit to nole for the win nonetheless.


racquet Says:

Jane – okay, maybe I’ll try it for the FO. I’ll skip Wimbledon though because I can become quite irrational and superstitious about jinxing my picks. ;)


Brando Says:

@Dave:

Thanks for that. i tried looking for the stats for this match earlier online- i couldn’t find ANYWHERE that list the no. of UE that federer made in this match.

I would find it interesting to know how many UE fed made- especially in either set.


madmax Says:

jane Says:
I understand Fed may’ve been tired, but come on he hasn’t played that much! He had like 6 weeks off between losing in the 3rd round at Miami (where Nole won and Rafa got to the semis) and playing Madrid, and at Madrid he played only 2 more matches than Rafa and Nole. Plus Nole and Rafa played Monte Carlo and reached the semis, and Rafa played Barca too. Now, I know Fed is older and requires more recovery. I am just saying he can’t have been THAT tired. He played DC, Rotterdam, Dubai, an EXO, and IW all in a row, and won all of them. So why would playing Madrid and then Rome make him so tired. To me it seems uncharacteristic.

May 20th, 2012 at 3:08 pm

Jane,

I think it is the cumulative effect of all those victories and actually the time off he has had after winning those tournaments, he has still continued to practice. Imagine the mental strain. It doesn’t necessarily have to be physical, but mentally and emotionally draining. I understand why he would be tired now and of course he isn’t going to tell the whole story. To be honest. I don’t know how he does it with a young family and he seems a very hands on dad -reading skeezer’s link earlier – combining family life and professional tour with two young kids, has to play on his mental state. He is doing pretty well I would say.

Understand where he is coming from completely.

Hope he is able to rest up some more this week and come back refreshed and full of hope for more glory!

Go Fed!

He has won the most titles on tour since October last year?

Enough said.


jane Says:

I’d say he’s doing “pretty well” too madmax. It’s insulting to him and Nole to suggest Federer tanked the match because he knew it was going to rain today or because he wanted to rest. No way. Fed is too much of a competitor with a lot of pride to do such a thing. He played hard, but on the day Nole just played better. End of.

I actually felt sad reading that link skeezer posted. I know how it feels as a parent to be pulled between wanting to be with family and wanting to do good work. But it hasn’t slowed Fed down so far. If anything he seems more competitive.


jane Says:

racquet, good. i know what you mean about the suspicious/jinxing thing. Funny.


jane Says:

Brando, I saw the two matches differently, the Miami semi last year and Madrid semi this. Oddly, considering Miami is hard court, last year’s semi kind of felt like slow-mo, to use a film analogy, and I remember Fed’s errors being almost kind of embarrassing, like misses at the net or shankopolises (skeezer’s word I think). I felt like this match, by contrast, was fast. The rallies were cooking, and Fed’s misses, for the most part, seemed like good misses, i.e., just wide or just long, when he was going for a winner. He did hit a few in the net. But overall I thought his groundstrokes were darn good and his defending/movement also very strong. But I think, as we said earlier, we should agree to disagree. :) BTW, I know you weren’t meaning to be insulting. But I think Nole had quite a formidable opponent across from his yesterday, not no one. :)


Brando Says:

@Jane:

So were cool, phew! I thought i had somehow, inadvertently of course, managed to rile a usually, calm, collected poster. DO NOT want to do that at all. :-)

I AGREE- nole didn’t have no one across the net- that was going abit too far.

I may have to watch the match/highlights again, BUT what i think may have been the case for me was that i was expecting a close, hard fought contest and what unfolded led me to focus on federer’s shortcomings in the match as opposed to novak’s play.

Nole seemed pretty good in most department, BAR the serve, i felt.


madmax Says:

Jane,

I read the comments earlier about fed tanking the match, and I think for anyone to even suggest that is not worthy of comment. It’s ridiculous. There was a point in the match where he sat down and said something to the umpire, I don’t know what as I couldn’t hear what was said, but he looked pretty focussed to me on winning, that was for sure. Novak’s and Roger’s matches are always close, to me they have a similar style of play and though Novak has played a few more matches against rafa, Roger and Novak have a good rivalry too.

Novak was better on the day, and I am happy for him and his win.

Overall, Roger should be pleased with his matches so far, he is definitely match tough by now and is ready for Roland Garros in my view.

The more rest for him the better so that he can make a serious assault.

I have every faith in him.

I read two different reports.

a) The match starts at 1pm tomorrow
b) The match starts at 3pm tomorrow.


mat4 Says:

Brando,

Fed made 42 UE, 20 winners. I try to count them too after our last chat, but my numbers for the first set seemed to low, because I thought many of the errors were forced. But yes, Roger made some unusual errors.

You can never know what are the intention of a player. So, did he tank? Did Novak dodge Roger in Basel and Madrid? You can never know.


Dave Says:

Here’s the weather forecast for Rome airport on Monday: rain, rain, and rain. Hmmm, if their match lasts less than 90 mins and finishes before the next rain shower… what are we to think :)
http://www.weather-forecast.com/locations/Rome-Ciampino-Airport/forecasts/latest

racquet: I think it’s even more complete nonsense that someone who is not a Federer fan would claim to know more about Federer than any of his fans. I have a HD broadcast of the match on my DVR — I’ve seen enough of Federer (and Djokovic) live on site and on TV to notice subtle variances in his play. Like I said to Brando, it certainly wasn’t at the level Federer would have put in if he wanted to beat Djokovic. But whether it was due to a pure tanking, injury and/or weariness — nobody knows for sure, but it’s probably a combination of all three. Brando is right: “federer to me seemed VERY LISTLESS in his display- some of it had to do with novak’s play, BUT IMHO, ALOT of it was uncharacteristic of him.” I doubt there is any top player in tennis history who has never tanked a match — and what do we call Nadal withdrawing from his Miami semifinal clash with Murray on a supposed knee injury? Federer was not going to withdraw from a semifinal match, but given the effort Djokovic put into the match, there was only so much Federer was prepared to invest in such a match or title. In business or sports, the smarter people learn to pick their battles.

jane: it’s nonsense that “(Federer) hasn’t played that much!” Federer is reaching 31 years age, yet Federer played a lot even though he had 6 weeks two days break from competition between Miami and Madrid. Fact is Federer has played more than Djokovic this year, and just one match less than Nadal. Federer has played more than Nadal and Djokovic since 2011 US Open. And Federer has played about as much as Djokovic and Nadal since 2011 French Open. Before losing to Djokovic, Federer was 31-3 this season (48-3 since US Open, 7 titles), Djokovic is 29-4 (35-9 since USO, 2 titles) and Nadal is 31-4 (41-9 since USO, 2 titles). Since 2011 French Open, Federer has been 61-7, Djokovic 58-10, Murray 66-12 and Nadal 57-13.

When Federer returned to Madrid, his first match wasn’t a puffball match like Djokovic (Gimeno-Traver, NO. 298 on year-to-date race rankings) and Nadal (slumping Davydenko, No. 61 on YTD rankings). Federer got a 2 hour 14 minute 202 point battle from the hot Milos Raonic, who was No. 8 on the year to date rankings because he has been hot (Raonic actually won 4 more points than Federer). After a 6 week break, a match like that is a shock to the body and straight away he played 9 straight matches in 12 days. When Federer played 19 matches in the 46 days between Davis Cup on Feb 10 to Miami on Mar 26, he had a lot of breaks in between — one week break between Rotterdam to Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami were two-week tournaments with a bye in the first round, etc. At no point during that stretch did Federer play so many matches in 12 days.

You can do the math: 9 matches in 12 days versus 19 matches in 46 days.


spankanthony Says:

of course, roger didn’t tank the match. He wanted it bad they both did. Nole delivered. I think it’s hard for fed fans to accept that roger is no longer the best and dominant player like he was circa 2007. He is one of the greatest of all time if not the best, but in current day he is third best and still magnificent. He can pretty much whop ass everday of the week on players ranked fourth and lower. but against in form rafa and nole he has been relegated to the challenger and great challenger, it’s not like he’s getting spanked by rafa and nole regularly but he’s not coming through against them in the majors other than last years french semi but then of course he usually has to face the other in the final. I think at this point that may be too big of a one two punch for roger to deliver. And it’s not sad, he thumped everyone for years and left his opponents heartbroken at the finish line. And now it’s his turn that’s the normal cycle in sports.


Brando Says:

@mat4:

THANK YOU! im glad you mentioned the UE stat, and that some errors were unusual.

”You can never know what are the intention of a player. So, did he tank? Did Novak dodge Roger in Basel and Madrid? You can never know.”

I’M GLAD you also wrote that too. I AGREE- NO ONE knows the intention of a player. IMHO, im a nadal fan and i personally think he MAY have withdrawn for more than knee concerns in miami. i DON’T blame him.

BUT i do not want to post anymore on the nole-fed match.

I’LL END by saying REGARDLESS of what i think, i KNOW novak’s BH, FH, movement looked very good last night. He did step up his game.

My guys in for a match – FOR SURE!


Dave Says:

Brando: Federer committed more than twice as many unforced errors as Djokovic, 42-20. I don’t have the unforced error count for the sets as my broadcast had commercials when the first set stats were presumably flashed. I bet two-thirds of those 42 unforced errors were in the first set.


alison hodge Says:

Brando our guys in for a match,yeah that is for sure,and one he will no doubt be relishing,(i know i am),unfortunatly i wont get to see the match tomorrow as i am back at work,but will record it and watch when i get home,anyway hope Rafa can grab the title tomorrow,hes looked pretty good this week,serving breadsticks and bagels at will,and the stats have been pretty solid,not lost serve much,and not dropped a set,just hope he can take that form into the final tomorrow,vamos Rafa.


jane Says:

Fed ““Novak was looking fresh, he was better tonight. He really put pressure on me.”

Nole ““”I was hitting the ball well and returning extremely well. I was making him play the extra shot and make errors.”

——————————–

racquet, look at this: https://twitter.com/#!/RobKoenigTennis/status/204277250554740737/photo/1


Brando Says:

@Dave:

Thanks for the effort. In the link jane kindly posted, the no.s where:

MATCH:

- UE: Nole- 20, Federer- 42

- WINNERS: Nole- 14, Federer- 22 ( this SURPRISES ME!)

SET 1: (41.14 mark in the link)

- UE: Nole- 9, Federer- 19 (that is a SHOCK)

- WINNERS: Nole- 6, Federer- 8.

So that would mean for set 2:

- UE: Nole- 11, Federer- 23

-WINNERS: Nole- 8, Federer- 14.

I’m GENUINELY SURPRISED that federer had more UE in set 2 than 1- unbelievable i find! Surprised at novaks UE count too.

Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between ALL the various arguements.


Brando Says:

@Alison:

Hi, hope all’s well for you. I agree re rafa’s form. I’M PLEASED with where it is at atm.

i just HOPE he brings this form in the final. IF he can do that, he’ll leave the court with contentment- and i for one will be pleased with whatever the outcome.

HOPE he brings his best- win or lose!


skeezer Says:

I am one of the ones that believe Fed was worn out at this match. Posted. that observation right after the match and before Feds presser before he admitted so. Maybe have watched too many of his matches. It was just an observation however NOT an excuse. He showed up to play, and played well all things considering. Nole was the better man yesterday.

Hope his batteries are charges for FO!


jane Says:

Brando, I suspect this is usually the case :): ‘Maybe the truth lies somewhere in between ALL the various arguments.”


racquet Says:

jane, that’s funny. Don’t mess with Italian fans.


Dave Says:

Brando: Although Federer had more total unforced errors in set 2, he had relatiively less UEs in set two because more points were played in the second set (82 points) than first set (49 points).

Of 49 total points in the first set:
- Federer made 19 unforced errors (39% of 49) and 8 winners (16%)
- Djokovic made 9 unforced errors (18%) and 6 winners (12%)

Of 82 total points in the second set:
- Federer made 23 unforced errors (28% of 82) and 14 winners (17%)
- Djokovic made 11 unforced errors (13%) and 8 winners (10%)

I stress again, no one is saying that Djokovic did not play well — he played very well and completely deserves the victory regardless of his opponent.

However if we want to understand what could happen over the next few months, then it’s important to assess and analyze Federer’s performance, issues and motivations. The one thing we need to understand with Federer is that he is a long term planner. When he included 2012 Rotterdam in his schedule, he decided on it in April 2011 (see link). Some small-minded pundits presumed he wanted a big appearance fee, but Fed doesn’t need the money. What he did was use Rotterdam to get lift off for the Dubai to Miami stretch (he didn’t want to get caught napping by Djokovic like last year in Dubai and Indian Wells). Whatever Fed is doing now, his priority is to keep his body fresh and ready for the important battles. He is too wise and experienced to squander his 30-31 year old body on the wrong battles.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t-fNfVz5iY


Brando Says:

@Dave:

Excellent post. Fed no doubt doesn’t need the money. Year in year out, he earns the most off court.


Dave Says:

Brando: You’re right. I estimate he currently has about $350 million, based on last year’s wealth of $316 million. Prize money makes up only $70 of that $350 m.

Personally I’d love to see a super tour within the ATP World Tour comprising only the top players and surface specialists playing more often against each other — extending the World Tour Finals to allow for more head to head battles on a best of five format — whether it’s one special tournament that’s like an extended WTF or four different ‘WTFs’ held on the four different surfaces and conditions throughout the year. I think that’s what fans want – to see the best battle it out.


trufan Says:

Oh, Brando – got your panties in a bunch, did you? Relax sweetie, we are all just making comments about players, stick to that.


Steve 27 Says:

Dave, why no another WTF outdoor, like Houston 2003 and 2004? Do you know where they will play the WTF the coming years? I expect a “neutral” surface and not only that favors short points.


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