Federer Gets a Coach, Gets Some Wins

by Sean Randall | April 17th, 2008, 1:35 pm

So far so good for Roger Federer, who is a perfect 2-0 under new coach Jose Higueras at Estoril this week. It’s not an impressive 2-0 – beating Olivier Rochus and today Victor Hanescu is no cause for celebration – but I’m sure at this point given the year Federer has had – mono or no mono, zero final appearances through the first three months – he’ll take it. And in the first round he did manage his first three set win since January, beating Rochus in the distance, so that’s a good sign. ADHEREL

But the main story this week is Federer getting with Higueras. And credit to Fed for swallowing some pride (recall Fed once told Sports Illustrated that he could figure out his opponents in 15 seconds) and making the call, even if it’s only week-to-week trial with Jose.

“I am excited as I have asked Jose Higueras, one of the most respected and accomplished coaches in the world of tennis, to join me,” Federer said. “We are going to spend the week together to see if we could make a good team.”

Fact is, Federer needed to make a change, any change. New haircut, new girlfriend, maybe add a tattoo. He needed to do something. What use to work – conferring with Mirka or Yves or sheiks in Dubai – was no longer working. The pack was catching up, his aura of invincibility was vanishing. Something needed to happen to shake things up, and he made the move. I think the partnership with Higueras, who’s also coached Jim Courier, Michael Chang and Pete Sampras, is a good fit and should help Fed get back in the winner’s circle. Though it will be hard to come by this week with Nikolay Davydenko lurking as possible finalist opponent.

If the rain in Estoril continues it should help Federer, who finds his footing more stable in the “slop” than on the slick, dry clay. And a meeting with Davydenko in the final would be an excellent measuring stick of just where the Swiss is and what we can expect of him this clay season.

Now back to this weekend.

It’s been a busy week for me, and I know I’m a few days late, but allow me to close up last weekend’s D-Cup. First, I know I’ve been pretty awful with the picks in ‘08, but in Davis Cup I’m a perfect 12-0 this year after nailing all four quarterfinal winners. I admit, picking D-Cup hasn’t been that difficult this season, but like Fed, after the stretch I’ve had I’m going to run with it and raise it up the flagpole.

As for the results, nothing really too surprising as I suspected. Nice to see Marat Safin finally find some sort of form in beating play-a-like Tomas Berdych in five. Russia took the tie when Berdych retired with a bum right leg in the fifth set against Davydenko on Sunday. David Nalbandian and his favored Argentine Gauchos got through on Sweden when David did what David does best, win in five sets, beating Robin Soderling 9-7 in the fifth, in another typical Nalbandian match.

Then of course there’s the curious case of Richard Gasquet, who did what Richard Gasquet does best, and that is bail out. According to French coach Guy Forget, Gasquet was too injured to play on Friday and too scared to play on Sunday when his team needed him to keep hope alive against Roddick and the U.S.

And Forget wasn’t shy about ripping into his top guy. “[Richard] didn’t want to play Roddick because he felt Roddick was playing too good for him, that he probably had no chance. … You know, I’m disappointed that he was not fit to play, he was not mentally confident. He had no will to going out, although he was probably not in the best possible shape.”

“No will to going out.” That’s a tough statement. But it’s a true one.

Gasquet had passed on the live Roddick match, but did make himself available for a deciding fifth if it came to that. But as I’m sure he figured, Roddick did his part clinching the tie over Mathieu allowing Richard to breathe a big sigh of relief in knowing he wouldn’t have to invent another excuse and pull out of a live fifth. Hope you enjoyed your weekend, Richard, good career move. I’m sure the French press won’t hit you too hard for that effort.

Gasquet, in my mind he’s one of the ten best players in the game, and among the top 3 talent-wise, but he’s going to have to get his act together between the ears, grow some stones and find a “will” if he’s going to make any further headway in the game. It’s just that simple.

As for the semifinal matchups, we are left with the U.S. at Spain and Russia and Argentina. Looking forward to late September.

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73 Comments for Federer Gets a Coach, Gets Some Wins

penise Says:

Higueras coached Rafa for a while, so maybe that is one reason Fed is giving him a try.

johnnhoj Says:

from the Estoril Open website:

Federer: ”I’ve been thinking about a coach for a long time, I had a few names but there isn’t too many out there. Once I had Jose in mind I asked him if he’d be interested. He was quite flexible and came over. I took the decision when I was in the States.”

Seems it has less to do with swallowing one’s pride and more to do with taking the time and deciding on the proper coach to help his game.
They apparently met in Palm Springs around the time of the Pacific Life Open to discuss the possibility of teaming up just in time for the beginning of the clay season, with the option of continuing the coaching relationship into the rest of the season should it prove to be a satisfactory partnership.
He’s been interested in a regular-basis coach for some time, and it’s only been for indefinite periods between coaches that he’s gone coachless (and been pretty successful at times).
Choosing the right coach is obviously important, so the selection process shouldn’t be hasty. Fed was fortunate that Higueras was available and willing to assist him going into Estoril, and according to Courier he’s an excellent choice. We’ll see about that.

johnnhoj Says:

Also to be considered is whether or not Higueras will be able to help Fed implement a claycourt strategy that favors a player with a one-handed backhand, including tactics that can successfully disrupt or break apart heavy-duty baseline rallies and counterpunching so that the irritating forehand and backhand errors are significantly reduced during a match. It’s not enough to just say ”You gotta come to the net more. You gotta throw in some more volleys.” Yeah, more of that helps, but it’s important to figure out how to construct the points so that one can implement a more prominent volley game. It may be that Federer would also be helped by serving wide much more often with varying pace instead of down-the-T. It works when done properly.

johnnhoj Says:

I’ve blown a gasket over Gasquet numerous times. I’m not the first, nor will I be the last. I’m pretty sure.

How does that song go, Von?
”Ay, ay, it’s Andy Roddick / de way he hit de ball is so quixotic, psychotic, hypnotic…”

jane Says:

Let’s call him Guessquet, shall we? ‘Cause ya just never know who’s gonna show up with this guy. He keeps us guessing.

di-10S Says:

that Fed pic is udderly hilarious

grendle Says:

For a while, Rochus looked as if he had Fed’s, measure. And the shot making was coming from him. Some phenomenal backhands down the line. What’s new? He had match point against Fed in Halle a couple of years ago, and has given him one or two other very difficult matches. And he regularly gives Safin heart disease. Apparently, Rochus was asked some years what he’d like, if he could have anything. More inches, he responded. And you do wonder. Is there anyone who actually has more skill than him? (Apart from Fed, of course….).

Fed looked good today, but against weak opposition – so the jury’s still out. Some great backhands, almost as good as Rochus one or two of them, the usual shanks (on both wings) and some remarkably poor attempts at dropshots. Lovely movement and all in all,thoroughly enjoyable to watch. Be excellent to see a Fed/Davydenko final. Wouldn’t like to call that one.

What’s this bump Federer has on his cheek? Looks like someone’s taken a swing at him. An impressive swelling, with just that little bit of questionable colour that gives the old mind something to work on. Still, he probably fell out of bed.

Federer is looking very business like in this tournament. I love it, myself. Couldn’t quite say why. Some people find it stony, featureless and boring. I find it reassuring – a signal that the master is back at work. Buckets out, chaps? Some of you, anyway. I think Fed’s enjoying himself – he looked interested. He hasn’t done that for a long time.

About Gasquet – I can see why Forget is sick. Not a man you really want on your team. But from the point of view of an observer, he’s a treasure. You know when he ducked out of the AO that year, complaining of a headache or something – he was spotted at a football match that evening. You don’t know what to expect from him – typical Frog, some might say, but I dunno. The French have built him up like he was their saviour since he was about 6. But this is not a tough guy – not like Federer, to whom he is often (misleadingly)compared. It’s easy to see why he cracks from time to time. Frankly, he displays, on the whole, more composure than we have a right to expect. And he is deliciously perverse. Just when you think, bloody French wanker, he plays out of his skull.

Long live Gasquet, I say. And if he never wins a grand slam, so what. Any sensible person knows that talent is only one of a number of attributes required to win the biguns. Gasquet’s long on talent and a touch short on some of the other things. So he brings his own flavour to the mix – and me say:yum yum.

Hypnos Says:

Federer is Sampras’ guy not only because of his dignified public persona, but because of his champion’s anger.

Gasquet should work at McDonald’s.

Von Says:


“How does that song go, Von?
‘’Ay, ay, it’s Andy Roddick / de way he hit de ball is so quixotic, psychotic, hypnotic…’’

You have me tapping my feet. Here are the words:

“Hey Hey! It’s Andy Roddick – Watchin’ that boy play it’s so hypnotic, exotic, quixotic
Hey Hey! It’s Andy Roddick – The way he smash that ball it’s so psychotic, hypnotic, erotic..”

The inflection sounds more like, hypnotik, exotik, quixotik, psychotik … Hey, Hey, it’s Andy Roddick … sing

Skorocel Says:

grendle said: “What’s this bump Federer has on his cheek?”

I wondered about it too… At Fed’s site they say it must’ve been some sort of a bee or wasp sting, but my gut feeling tells me that Mirka simply had enough of those bad results, so she just wanted to “send” him a little reminder :) The guy indeed looked like a badly beaten boxer yesterday :)

grendle Says:

“champion’s anger”? Yes, I think you put it well, Hypnos. Under the business like approach I alluded to, there is something quietly seething. When Federer was doing one of his bizarre mistakes – the ball not just out, you know – whereas he or anyone else might normally show irritation, or rueful humour, he seemed to just nod his head as if to say: I see, so this is where I am at; this, therefore, is what I have to do.

I’ve always thought Federer – like McEnroe before him – lives on a knife edge. Just a little bit off, and it can all go wrong. And that can happen any time. As Federer pointed out recently, people think that he always used to win easy – not true. There were those wonderful days when his tennis was, as SG has said “surreal”. But that is the exception. Frequently he has had to battle hard for his wins, against all sorts, not just the top. And then he’ll double bagle Hewitt in US Open final – and next set he’s in trouble, and you can see a just possible comeback. Plenty of his matches with Roddick have been, for a while, highly competitive. Something special was required to shift the balance – and that is why Roddick is one of Fed’s greatest supporters. I don’t mean he’s a fan, obviously. I mean he understands, far better than most, just how good the Swiss is.

I don’t think I’m wrong. I don’t have a tennis player’s expert knowledge, but I have watched Fed a lot, and you get to sense these things. It’s like if you have a reasonably good ear, and you listen enough, you become able to discriminate between particular performances with just as much sensitivity as a pro musician – even though you have no knowledge of the mechanics, the architecture of the music, etc.

The question which remains to be answered of Federer’s champion’s anger is this: is it a “raging against the dying of the light”? Or is it a cleansing anger, harbouring renewal? We shall see.

About Gasquet. He’s not a champion. But he’s a treasure all the same, and we are privileged to be able to watch him. In my father’s house lie many mansions…..

Dave B Says:

Gasquet should immediately take the folowing steps.
-See a sports shrink who can teach him how to win.
– stop wearing black socks.
– turn his baseball cap right side forward
To me the worst move is the black socks. The French are supposed to have fashion sense. He’s a mess.

jane Says:

“Under the business like approach I alluded to, there is something quietly seething”

Yes, that would be the big pimple he has on his cheek. LOL.

jane Says:

Rochus is no slouch, to be sure; he had match point against Fed in 2006 on grass, so…. It does make one wonder, if he was just that little bit taller?

Just curious: if Rafa is to lose on clay this year, to whom would that be? Top three contenders for clay MS titles – or even a RG title – besides Rafa would be?

Von Says:


“..but my gut feeling tells me that Mirka simply had enough of those bad results, so she just wanted to “send” him a little reminder The guy indeed looked like a badly beaten boxer yesterday …”

Hot damn! The girl’s finally acquired some spunk. That knockout punch was not a reminder about bad results, it was a reminder that if he didn’t get moving buying an engagement ring, he’ll be in for some more right hooks. :) The guy looks like a truck ran over him both in body and face. Normally, minus the red mark, he’s not drop dead handsome, but now he has a face only a loving mother could love. :) LOL. I’m dodging the bullets. Andy Roddick startd the whole thing by becoming engaged to Brooklyn Decker — blame it on those two. Andy’s only known his Brooklyn for 8 months, Fed has been skating on thin ice for over 7+ years. It’s about time MIRKA asserted herself.

grendle Says:

“Just curious: if Rafa is to lose on clay this year, to whom would that be? Top three contenders for clay MS titles – or even a RG title – besides Rafa would be?”.

I’m getting deja vu. Been here before, huh? All I can say is, Fed’s looking remarkably good at the moment – especially at the net, all manner of different volleys he’s playing, including some incredible drop volleys.

But all this counts for nothing till he meets the big boys, especially of course his Rafaship.

Frankly, until it can be shown otherwise, it’s Rafa for RG, and everyone else nowhere. No one has got near Rafa on clay since Federer in Rome – since apparently Hamburg doesn’t count. Wait, I’m forgetting Davydenko – he gave Nadal pause for thought, didn’t he.

So: chief contenders for giving Nadal pause for thought: Federer, Davydenko, Ferrer, Almagro, Djokovic.

Chief contenders to Nadal in actual fact: , , not to mention: .

All of this may change. People at the summit always look as if they’re wedged there in cement. It’s only afterwards that you think: oh, yes of course, I always thought he might… No you didn’t, you lying prat. It just seems as if you did. You thought of so and so briefly, and now you kid yourself that you had a sneaky dollar on him.

Nevertheless, someone will beat Nadal on clay this year, though probably not at RG.

How about a surprise?

How about Roddick?

andrea Says:

“How about Roddick?”

bwaa, ha ha ha ha ha ha……

grendle Says:

Forgot about Nalbie – that’s for the Pause for Thought candidates.

But for the real thing, I’m sticking with Roddick. You might as well think bold in these matters. Why ponce around with your 5 to 3 geezers? They’re all over the place, and one bet’s as good as another.

But Roddick, now. He’s a genuine 30 to 1 man.

I see him sneaking in on the inside. Pay for my holiday.

jane Says:

“I’m getting deja vu. Been here before, huh?”

Yep – but now that the dirt season is actually underway I thought more people might want to have a say in the matter. Guess not.

My long shot money goes on Tsonga; I know he doesn’t have a clay game and he’s a better bet on grass, but if his knee’s in better shape I’ll peg him to go deep(ish) at RG, if only for the local accolades.

Hamburg might be Djoko’s chance to win a clay title because the weather’s agreeable for him there, but then again, it might be Fed’s place to triumph again.

That’s where Rafa’ll lose again this year. I agree that he’s the chief at RG. There’d have to be quite a coo to take that one away.

Now that the clay season is even more shmushed, however, he’s bound to tire out at some point. So Hamburg it is.

Looking ahead: why-oh-why are there not more grass tournaments? Sigh.

jane Says:

coup, sorry – not coo!! (i.e., it’d be much bloodier than a mere cheep)

johnnhoj Says:

Here’s a deja-vu argument.
Some have argued that there should be one Masters Series tournament on grass, but part of what’s special about Wimbledon is that there are a select few warm-up tournaments on grass and a very narrow window of time prior to the main event. It adds somewhat to the prestige. Clay has Monte Carlo and Rome, so it would make sense to convert Hamburg to grass and have it held between Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Then again, that would alter the history and tradition of that tourney, plus it would throw an even heftier wrench into the already-challenging conditions created by the practically-back-to-back RG-Wimby gauntlet. Wimbledon is really tough to win, according to Borg, just to name one. But that’s coming from a guy whose main surface of expertise was clay, which makes his success pretty damn remarkable.

Concerning RG:
Roddick’s a 30-to-1 guy? Last I heard he was something like 300-to-1. What a stunner that would be! I would suffer a traumatic shock or something. I don’t think I could take it. I still say go for it.

Von Says:


“Roddick’s a 30-to-1 guy? Last I heard he was something like 300-to-1. What a stunner that would be! I would suffer a traumatic shock or something. I don’t think I could take it. I still say go for it.”

Just remember you still owe me that ‘finest cuisine dinner’. At that time you stated if Roddick beat Fed you’ll just have to give up and walk away, scratching your head. Be careful, you might just get what you ask for. And, I’ll be singing:

“Hey Hey! It’s Andy Roddick – Watchin’ that boy play it’s so hypnotic, exotic, quixotic

Hey Hey! It’s Andy Roddick – The way he smash that ball it’s so psychotic, hypnotic, erotic..”

And, you’ll be crying, while uttering:

“True is it that we have seen better days”. :)

johnnhoj Says:

I must make it clear that I NEVER said I would give up and walk away if Roddick beat Federer. I said that if it happened I’d be proud of Andy, but I’d be left scratching my head simply out of bewilderment. I firmly believed Andy brought the goods more consistently that night and deserved to win. I just didn’t expect it prior to the match.

We’ve had our virtual dinner, Von, (or should I say I had it) and it was absolutely delicious!!! It was everything you would have liked it to be (I couldn’t make up my mind on what to serve, so I had a little bit of everything). I just can’t believe you were a no-show! :^D

Von Says:


“Von, I must make it clear that I NEVER said I would give up and walk away if Roddick beat Federer.”

Sorry, for misquoting you, that’s what happens when I try to write from memory. Those brain potions are not working. :)

“(I couldn’t make up my mind on what to serve, so I had a little bit of everything). I just can’t believe you were a no-show! :^D”

I apologize for not showing up. I got the dates mixed up. :) There’ll be another time, and I promise I won’t be a ‘no show’.

Dan Martin Says:

I think clay is a good place for a player to get back on track. If timing and confidence are off, the slower court allows for a player to kind of hit through their troubles and regain their form. Federer may have hit through trouble in round 1 vs. Rochus and has been playing pretty well since.

jane Says:

Perhaps, but Gremelmayr (whom I don’t know) won the first set easily and then lost a tough 2nd set 7-5. Looks like he’s completely gone away in the 3rd. So kind of a roller-coaster match for Federer this last one.

Had a quick look at the Monte Carlo draw – Fed’s got Nalby in his quarter; it’d be fun to see a rematch between those two. Djoko might face Kuerten his first match! Could be an early and tough loss for the Serb. Kuerten would have to get by Ljubicic first though. Rafa might face Ancic his first match but otherwise his quarter looks okay.

I see Almagro is cruising this week — he’s one to watch. Be interesting if he could do well at RG this year. Things do seem to be coming together for him. He might’ve beat Youzh on hardcourt were it not for Youz’s madman act.

johnnhoj Says:

vs. Minar: 2-6 6-2 6-4
vs. Gicquel: 6-4 5-7 6-3

vs. O. Rochus: 4-6 6-3 6-2
vs. Gremelmayr: 2-6 7-5 6-1

Looks like pretty equal footing going into this final.
The slower surface will give Fed more time to organize some type of offensive, should he perform at an adequate level. Davydenko will no doubt be firing on all cylinders, out to get that first win against Fed.
Should be interesting.

Eduardo Brandão Says:

Federer will win Estoril Open, and doing so regaining momentum for the rest of the season.

Von Says:

Both Davydenko and Federer had easy draws, that being the case, can we call winning the title any significant accomplishment for both, except in Davy’s case, if he beats Fed? But, for Fed winning against sub-par players, is not saying much. He didn’t even face a top 20 player. He hasn’t been tested enough for one to think that he’s back on track. These matches gave him some match practice and helped him to sharpen his shot making skills. However, the real test will come in the QF in Monte Carlo when, and if, he faces Nalbandian, and that also depends on which Nalby shows up. Ony time will tell ….

Von Says:

Sean Randall:

I’m posting to you against my better judgment. Why? You seem to selectively ignore my posts, and that can be a bit of a turnoff. But, despite my better judgment, here I am. will there be a thread on the Monte Carlo tournament, which has already begun. If so, how soon? Thanks.


The Monte Carlo tournament will be broadcasted by the Tennis Channel beginning on Monday, April 21st at 4:00 a.m, US Eastern time. if they run true to form, e.g., last year, they dedicated unlimited hours to the clay tournaments, Monte Carlo, Rome, and Hamburg, you’re in for a treat. Their commentators are superior to those of ESPN and FSN. Pure joy. This is where that $4-$8 per month subscription pays off. Enjoy.

On another note, the Houston, TX, SF clay tournament will be broadcasted at 7:00 pm. this evening and the finals will be tomorrow, Sunday, at 3:00 pm, US Eastern time, on the Tennis Channel.

WTA Charleston, SC, clay court finals will be broadcasted on ESPN tomorrow. Check your listings. Enjoy!!

grendle Says:

Finally got to see the Fed/Gemelmayr match, Eurosport having eurosportishly extended the snooker without either explanation or apology.

I have to admit, I was unduly optimistic earlier in the tourney, getting the impression that Fed was moving on. Well, he very nearly did – move on and out! It was noticeable how unafraid Gemelmayr was – no doubt at all that Fed has lost the aura, and it’s not really plausible that he’ll regain it. We’re talking about belief here – but rational belief, not some kind of self-hypnosis. Players have observed Fed’s repeated stumbles, and are quite capable of drawing their own conclusions. The fact that some of these players are barely in the top 150 is neither here nor there. You think #150 can’t play quality tennis? Think again. Another lowly ranked German called Bremmer or something outplayed Fed for nearly two sets in Basle last year. Dear old British (borrowed from some Balkan spot, however) Alex Bogdanovic gave Roddick a fright at Queens last year, and for a while looked the better player. Nalbandian constantly falls to Mr.Who, and even Nadal had trouble one year at US Open from some Aussie called Jones. Only t’other day, Djokovic got shown the door by – well, everyone recalls that. The fact is, these guys can play, and on any given day, can play just about as well as anybody else. As Baghdatis keeps saying, anybody can beat anybody (except, perhaps, poor old Baghdatis these days). Difference tends to be mental.- and today provided a good example of that.

But carrying on the mental theme, Frew Macmillan, the delightfully dry and astute commentator (and one of the great doubles champions of all time) predicted at the end of last year that Federer would have a difficult 2008. Partly the work catches up with you, but mainly the problem (as Macmillan sees it) is of concentration:”it’s almost as if you can only have so much concentration in you”. That’s a very interesting remark, if one ponders it. The analogy to the physical (wear and tear of a certain kind), seems surprising. But it feels right. The illness is presumably coincidental, although one can’t be sure, given how difficult it can be to disentangle the physical from the mental. What needs to be said is that the noise surrounding this debility, and the subsequent reflection on Federer’s sportsmanship (which, by the way, strikes me as not especially remarkable – either way) is at best absurd, at worst delusional on the part of those determined to make a song and dance about it in their anxiety to discredit Federer. The illness has been real, has had a real effect, but probably is fairly unimportant in the general picture of Fed’s decline. In short, if Fed had not been ill, the likelihood is he would still be struggling. The evidence seems fairly conclusive by now.

Some people say that Federer has lost interest in the small tourneys, and wants to focus on the grand slams. I’ve always been sceptical of this notion. Given the huge importance which confidence plays, how on earth is Fed supposed to draw on this if he keeps getting beaten, or nearly beaten, all the time. Federer himself is , and always has been, perfectly candid about how important a sense of confidence is to him – and how easy it is to lose, and how correspondingly difficult to regain. I suppose confidence comes in layers. So there is the immediate sense of confidence, which Fed clearly lacks. But then there is the deep, ingrained confidence, hard earned over many years, which may kick into play when real trouble looms – particularly if the opponent is inexperienced. Both these types of confidence (or lack thereof) seemed to be on display today. But even this deep confidence will, one presumes, be eventually at risk if the tables don’t turn.

It’s going to be very interesting indeed to see if Federer can turn the tide just from time to time. The old dominance is of course gone forever. But nor is even the occasional triumph guaranteed. Why should it be? It is not unknown for great champions to fall away very suddenly, the most startling instance of which must be John McEnroe – and Federer has, in a subtle way, a good deal in common with a player who many would see as his antithesis.

I do really believe that this is unknown territory, and that opinions as to whether, for example, Federer is likely to overhaul Sampras are not based on evidence. The mind is a strange and ill understood entity – and it is mind we are dealing with, Federer is still quite young, after all.

Meanwhile, sign of the times.: a pleased looking Davydenko, following his semifinal victory, talked about now facing “the great Roger”.. In the days when Davydenko had to face Federer in a grand slam, and clearly didn’t expect to win, he would come up with a lot of bluster about how he had the tools to hurt Fed. Although undoubtedly true, you always knew, and you knew that Davydenko knew too, that after putting on a good show, and even outplaying Fed from time to time, at a critical moment Davydenko would do the decent thing, and quietly fade away, letting our hero take the acclaim. It’s not like that any more, is it. Davydenko believes he can win – and so he buries “the great Roger” with praise. It’s pretty funny when you think about it. Incidentally, Davydenko is not at his best, weary no doubt following his exploits at Miami and Davis Cup, but he’s surely got to be favourite tomorrow. What a turnaround.

Dan Martin Says:

The one thing I will say about the draw being easy for Davydenko or Federer is it is a surface transition and clay court acumen is not always reflected in the 52 week entry ranking system. Lots of European and South American players that Federer or Davydenko would be expected to roll on a hard court can come out with big forehands and run down a lot of balls on clay. I think 4 wins with 8 sets won and 2 sets lost has to be a good showing for any player not named Nadal making their transition to clay. It may not be a great showing to get that fifth win tomorrow, but I believe both men will prefer a 5-0 week to a 4-1 week.

grendle Says:

That Nadal/Jones match was last year, wasn’t it, not two years ago. This sort of thing is happening more often, I notice. Hmmm…

sensationalsafin Says:

Federer is not going to fade away.

jane Says:

Especially if people keep retiring and/or giving him walkovers, which has now happened at the last THREE tournaments: Haas (IW), Soderling (Miami) and now Davydenko. Sheesh!

A well fought title match would’ve been nice; I am sure that even Federer’s most ardent fans would’ve preferred to see him win this thing from Davy.

sensationalsafin Says:

Atleast he got the first set. Still dissappointing. Grendle, why should any player be afraid of Federer? First everyone’s bitching that people walk out against him having already lost the match and now everyone’s bitching that his aura has disappeared. God damn, this is just ridiculous. It’s bad when he’s perfect and it’s bad when he sucks. Will his retirement make everyone happy?

johnnhoj Says:

It’d have been nice to have a complete match. Though I haven’t yet seen that first set (just the score), it seemed like it was on its way to being a close fight. I don’t know if Davydenko began losing hope and gave up or was genuinely hurt, pushed himself too hard or what. I wonder if Davydenko still harbors a certain sense of dread when facing Federer.

From the very beginning this tournament was nothing more than a warm-up session for Fed since there clearly weren’t going to be any high-stakes matches, other than perhaps a possible loss to a qualifier. This was pure corrosion treatment, for his game and his ranking.

johnnhoj Says:

People like to kick other people when they’re down, sensaf. It’s an unfortunate primitive aspect of human nature, to prey upon those who show any sign of weakness.

jane Says:

Bitching vs stating the truth are two different things sensationalsafin; people *have* been walking out on Fed.

Facts are facts.

I think it would’ve been better for Roger had Davy played out the match: confidence-wise, looking ahead, a competitive match, etc. Mind you, if Davy’s seriously injured then that’s another matter. I do think johnnhoj has a point, in that Davy’s often melted down playing against Fed (last year’s USO a case in point), but in this case, I believe Davy was genuinely hurt.

johnnhoj Says:

Anti-Feds shouldn’t have to make a big thing out of match retirements and/or walkovers since in his case they’ve become something of a bad omen.
I was aggravated by Tommy Haas’ pull-outs, and I like Federer. I don’t really think it made his situation any easier given his recent track record (if one believes lack of matchplay is detrimental). I do think, for example, that Mathieu’s retirement against Rafa at the Aussie Open after one set and three games seemingly gifted Nadal a doozy of a draw (he didn’t have to work as hard), not foreseeing Tsonga’s great performance. This Fedenko match was different only in that it was a final. It’s happened to other players besides Federer. Gonzalez’s win this year at Vina del Mar comes to mind (only his was a walkover win).

jane Says:

Personally I’m not anit-anyone; I’ve always admitted Fed isn’t one of my faves but that doesn’t have anything to do with my comment. It hasn’t been good that Fed’s had all of these walkovers: Haas’ may’ve worked to his detriment but that’s hard to say since Fed didn’t look his best against Fish. Soderling’s retirement might’ve been a boon in that they got one good set in. But I think had Fed won this title with Davy playing full-on, it would’ve been better.

Of course walkovers /retirements happen to all players, but come on. It is unusual for it to happen three tournaments in succession for the same player, isn’t it? Maybe I’m way off statistically speaking, but it does seem unusual to me.

jane Says:

Roger got the W, which is great for him and for his fans.

But it does make it a little difficult to judge his form since Davy was the first top 10 contender he’s faced since his loss to Andy. It says something that Roger was able to win that first set tiebreaker, and that should make fans happy. With Davy injured though it’s hard to say if that wasn’t a factor. So it’s a bit of a catch-22 win.

Monte Carlo should be a better indication of the clay season to come. There’ll be a nice & deep field there and we can all see some competitive and exciting matches.

BTW, David Ferrer also snapped a drought, which was nice to see. He beat Almagro, too, who’s no slouch. Maybe David’s back in the mix. Maybe those Davis Cup matched helped his confidence? Anyhow, he’s a contender, the road runner.

johnnhoj Says:

Jane, I don’t mean to stamp you as an “Anti-Fed” (henceforth I’ll avoid labeling) as I can understand your view. It was a short, snappy term I remember reading (for lack of a better short-and-snappy term), and I direct it more toward those who’ve complained endlessly about Federer’s momentum through tournaments, displaying what I’ve perceived to be a strange contempt and a desire to discredit a player who’s earned his place, or like he’s some tyrant (who isn’t even tyrannical) who needs to be brought down and penalized for having had tremendous success. That’s something I just don’t get. I can understand the interest in seeing new faces at the top, but I gotta say it’s great to watch a player who’s “A-game” I admire having a tremendously successful run. I don’t think his time’s up. I’ve stuck by the guy as a solid fan because of what he’s been able to achieve with his playing style – To attain such a level of succes with a one-handed backhand is really something. Those are the players I like the most. Personality is a distant second to court performance. That’s my perspective as a tennis fan.
As far as retirements and walkovers, what can you really say about that since those types of situations pop up all the time throughout the season? I don’t believe they’ve been key to Fed’s career success.

Jane, you posed a question regarding possible threats (to Nadal) on clay this year. I pretty much see things right now as you do, but I have yet to analyze the Monte Carlo draw and consider the strengths and weaknesses of certain match-ups.
By the way, are you getting any video access of these matches, or have you just been getting live scores?

johnnhoj Says:

Please excuse the previous typos.
Also, Jane, I’m referring to the Valencia and Estoril tournaments.
WERE you getting any LIVE video of those matches?

Von Says:

It’s been an historical disadvantage for non-Fed fans to voice an objective viewpoint on these threads, concerning Federer, for the following reasons:

♦ There are so many of you, and an unbalanced majority if I might add, who are just slavisly fanatical fans, who just like and/or worship Fedx as the ‘god’ of the tennis world, and who knows depending on how wide their world is, of the whole darn world, and their lives.

♦ Then there are those who are the vacillators — one day, they’re huge Fed fans, next day, they’re Djoko’s fans and the next day, well any old joe and his brother , who happens to win a sizeable title.

♦ And, lastly, there are the objective, not subjective fans (who are but a very small minority), who do not view Fedx as an infallible ‘god’ but a human being and can come to terms with his flaws, foibles and frailties, as an athlethe and a human being. These fans are adaptable to the ebbs and flows of his game and performance, are analytical, and with whom there can be a reasonale discussion.

The unbalanced, slavish, fanatical group are just well, fanatical. There is absolutely nothing that can be written that will be viewed by them as objective but a condemnation, except if one were to laud false praises upon Federer, then you’re their friend. One has to tow the line or lead the fool further. They view everything that’s not favorably said about Fedx as a personal attack on themselves NOT Federer, because in their minds, they ARE Federer. Their defense of Federer is not really defending Federer but them personally. With these fans one only has to state a point that they interpret as a criticism, and all hell breaks loose. They revert to obscene language and name calling. It becomes a proverbial nightmare, and even when the supposed enemy poster stops posting, the assaults still continue. that poster becomes a target in the future. (The proverbial Pavlov’s Bell rings when that poster name appear on a post.) These fans become very personal and grossly offensive, so disjointed, that a psychiatrist will have a field day, in an attempt to separate the two melded personalites. In their minds, because they are Fed fans, and he’s No. 1, the’re king — they’ve assumed his identitiy, and are superior to any other player’s fans and anyone else. It’s akin to the secretary and/or Admin assistant, who has assumed the identity of her boss, the president or whatever, of a large company, and decides to make decisions and speak on his behalf. They then become the boss. I’m sure that those who work know of one such individual. A travesty indeed.

The seond group, viz:, the vacillators — it’s very difficult to understand them. If Fed loses, then they don’t want him, or are contradictory. They latch onto another ‘god’. They move around from player to player and goes with the tide. A very difficult group to even try to figure out, and it makes expressing one’s views problematical, because one never knows when the tide is going to change.

And, then we come to the last group. These are the posters for whom I have the most respect. They exhibit a balanced view and CAN and DO accept that Fed is human, he’s capable of distorting facts and yes, he can falter, because no one is infallible, except for the Almighty. They are a cut above the rest and can call a spade a spade. They can break down and analyze his game and can see when he’s not performing at his peak. In other words, they don’t have on rose-colored glasses, and have not set this man up in their minds as a ‘god’. They have separate identities and can move on with their lives, despite Federer’s performance. I happen to have the privilege of an email relationship with one of these fans and it’s refreshing to know that there are some Fed fans who can see beyond his aura and be truthfully objective. That objectivity in no way lessens his devotion as a fan.

My take on Fed’s win today, is that he had to struggle to win this match — it was not an easy 6-2, 6-4 match, as he’s been used to having in prior times against Davydenko. Had Davy not been injured, it could have gone either way, but would have been a BIG struggle for Fed to get the win. If I were a Fed fan, would I be satisfied with his performance and feel comfortable that he’s gotten the cobwebs out of his head and his game? My answer would be an emphatic NO. I would have that niggling thought about the couldas, wouldas, shouldas. This should be his fans thoughts moving fcrward. Is he finally on track or which Fed will show up at his next match? Only time will tell … and the jury’s still out.

For whatever it’s worth, coming from me in view of the above, CONGRATS to Fed and all of his fans on his victory. This is a sincere, well-intended, congratulation. Dont’ worry, be happy.
Just remember, “Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast”. Some food for thought.

grendle Says:

I’ve just watched the match, or what there was of it, delayed again by the snooker. Sensational Safin, I’m certainly not bitching about his losing his aura – it just seems to me a demonstrable fact, for good or ill. Although funnily enough, I think Davydenko – who had several set points – did allow Fed’s hold over him to get to him yet again; he played loosely on the crunch points. So my prediction was wrong. Well, it usually is. Fun to make them, all the same. I certainly hope you’re right and that Federer doesn’t fade away.

b.t.w. I’ve been meaning to ask you a question relating to an earlier post of yours, Sensational Safin. It’s completely off topic, but on the other hand we’re in between tourneys. You remarked that the movement of the arm in serving is very akin to the type of movement generated by throwing a ball. My son’s Scottish tennis coach told me that in America, a lot of coaching schools don’t permit their young pupils to even consider serving until such time as they have mastered throwing. Throwing seems to be such an obvious, natural movement that some people might be surprised that anyone has any difficulty with it – but some do, including both mys sons, in fact, it’s pretty mystifying to me but there it is. But is the tennis coach’s story really true – are you familiar with his claim? This coach has been patiently teaching my son to serve, and leaving aside body rotation, he’s basically shown him three arm movements, culminating in a snap of the wrist in an anti-clockwise turn – that does seem completely counterintuitive to me, if anything I’d have thought clockwise. The coach has tried to show me the movements, so I can monitor my son’s practice – but it’s so difficult to copy movement just by eye, I just don’t seem to retain the memory of it. My lad’s getting it, though, at long last – just shows what you can do with perseverance, since he’s not at all a natural. Some kids get it straight away – bastards. Incidentally, the Scottish coach in question knows of Judy Murray, Scotland is pretty tiny, and the tennis milieu even more so, and word is that Andy (in pre-Spain days) was talented, but lazy. Has the leopard changed his spots?

jane Says:

“WERE you getting any LIVE video of those matches?”

Not really – only some sketchy eurosport coverage, sporadic; I mainly watched live scores and stats of most matches from those tournaments. Hence, I wasn’t commenting too much on form.

Can’t wait to see what happens next week; if this year has shown us tennis junkies anything, it’s that anything is possible. As Grendle “Hmmmmd” about earlier, those down in the 100s are capable of snapping a win at any moment from almost anyone!

grendle Says:

b.t.w., Sensational Safin, a quick (am I able to be quick?) clarification on this “fading away” business. I’ve watched tennis for a long time, and have had many heroes, including Safin. But noone has ever approached federer (for me) in terms of pleasure given, and I’ll be watching him till the day he retires. I have one of these deplorable personalities which anticipates the worst – something to do with childhood, you know, the usual story – and, by meeting disaster head on, hopes somehow to not exactly magic it away (although I believe there is something childish of this nature going on) but to at least soften the effects. It’s pretty irrational, I know. But I also have a cussed streak in me, never been a joiner, even when you might expect it. I’m always the first to get tossed out of the club. But there is also this business of truth. It just is a fact that Fed’s days in the big time may be over – as the warning of McEnroe suggests. And I thought Frew Macmillan’s comments on “concentration” extremely cogent. But Macmillan also thinks it is perfectly possible that Federer may indeed win more grand slams – it’s just going to be much tougher from now on; surely you agree with this, you yourself pointed out some months ago to Fed’s relative decline.

Oh, dear, I don’t think I have been very brief….

Von Says:

“..those down in the 100s are capable of snapping a win at any moment from almost anyone!”

What an eye-opening revelation! Just being facetious, but this is so very true. I recently heard a female top 10 player state that the ranking and seeding is not that huge a factor when one’s game is on song. however, it does help not having to meet a top 4 player in your quarter, if you’re struggling. But that has now been changed because there’s so much talent throught the top 100 and beyond.

When Roddick won San Jose, it was stated by many Fed fans (this was on a thread about Roddick’s antics against Neishikori) and it was stated that Roddick can only win ‘small’ tournaments, such as San Jose, due to the lack of top 5 players in the field. However, slowly the tennis world and fans are realzing that it’s not a cake walk to see a ranked 65 player in the draw, because that player can possess some great shot-making skills, and it’s not an easy done deal. Maybe the day he meets the top 5 player, it’s the very day everything is just clicking, and a huge upset happens. It’s not about the top 10 players losing their aura, it’s about the top 100 having great games.

Again, in Miami, when Roddick had to go 3 sets in each match against Troicki, Minar and Benneteau, he was criticized for struggling and it was stated that in order for him to win matches he has to ‘serve out of his mind 24/7’, to beat Fed. Well, Fed had Minar and a few other non-top 50 players and struggled to get those wins. My point is, don’t be so quick to tear another non-Fed player down, because it can come back to bite. I had one Fed fan, who has since disappeared, because he was so sure Fed would beat Roddick, mention this before Roddick met Fed, and we all know the result. I supposze now Fed has won Estoril, these non-Roddick fans will appear — some sort of redemption for their bad predictions. :) Keep an open mind guys and be slow to predict and/or speculate. I refrain from so doing because it’s an exercise in futility. Nothing’s a certanty — and that’s what’s great about tennis nowadays. Just enjoy the great match play.

Daniel Says:

Changing subject…
As we all know, the remain question that will really be a factor in this clay season is: Can Nadal maintain the dominace of the last 3 years? As happened to Fed, eventually he will loose more on clay, but when?
This is certainly one of the most exciting weeks of the year, and we just get out of March madness. Fed and Ferrer do their job, now all eyes will be on Nadal.
I personally think he won`t repeat his last three years performance, with players like Davydenko, Ferrer and Djokovic, all unsuccessful on clay against Nadal, being more encouraged due to victories on hardcourts. Not to mention Nalby who never faced Nadal on clay.
I can`t wait till next sunday when we`ll now the two finalists of the first clay MS of the season!

Skorocel Says:

To Von:

Thanks for putting me into that “3rd category”:) But seriously, I agree with you completely… Fed may have won another title, but it’s still too premature (to say the least) to draw any conclusions from this… The fact is, Davydenko and Rochus were the only mentionable opponents which he faced this week in Portugal, and he struggled against both of them… NOT TO MENTION his semi vs Gremelmayr (where he lost the 1st set 2:6 and only barely managed to turn things around), and also his 1/4 final vs Gil (who, despite being an ABSOLUTE NOBODY, was able to break the Swiss twice in that match)… The only reasonably good match which Fed played this week was the one against Hanescu, but then again, the Romanian (who’s by no means a world beater) offered only little resistance in that match (at least from what I saw)… Well, where are those times when the guy used to straigh-set everyone on clay except Nadal (?)…

Anyway, what I certainly didn’t like about Fed this past week were those weird topspin-like shots which he often played from his forehand… What is he thinking? Will it help him in his matches vs Nadal? I don’t think so, but I can’t help myself – it seems to me as if he’s somehow wanted to “alter” this stroke to sort of increase his chances vs the Spaniard (similar to what A-Rod was trying to do in order to beat Fed), but that’s totally unnecessary in my opinion… That forehand simply ISN’T the same since Dubai 2007, but the fact is – he DOESN’T need to change anything on his game to finally beat the Spaniard in Paris. That’s at least how I see it… It just isn’t neccessary to change your game just because one particular match… The fact is, even though he’s 1-6 vs Nadal on clay, many of those matches were pretty close! In that Rome 2006 final, he maybe lost, but the fact is, the outcome of that match was in HIS hands. On that day, he played exactly how he had to against the Spaniard on clay – that is varying his strokes, not giving him any rhythm, and approaching the net whenever there was a reasonable opportunity to do so. And that’s the ONLY way how to beat Nadal on clay… You just can’t outplay him from the baseline hitting winners left-right – he’s too good for that… If you can’t do that regularly on a hard-court or grass, then how the hell on clay-court? You just have to be patient, mix it up, and hope he has an off day as well…

Anyway, the next tourneys will definitely tell us more about Fed – that’s for sure! He’s got pretty tough draw in MC (both Djoko and Nalby in his half), but then again, neither of those matchups are guaranteed to happen… Personally, I’m a bit skeptical (as always), but only time will tell… This win in Estoril is by no means a significant one, but on the other hand, it at least gave him some much-needed match practice, so we’ll see…

Von Says:


“Thanks for putting me into that “3rd category”:)”

That was you? I thought I was speaking about A-Rod. :) But, seriously though, yes, you are one of the most analytical and fair-minded Fed fans I’ve known, not to mention your knowledge of the game. Some are fans but they don’t know didly about the game. The pleasure was all mine. :) Haven’t you noticed what a softie I’ve become regarding Fed? Can’t believe I’m behaving this way. Lord help me. I’m losing my mind. :) :)

“Anyway, what I certainly didn’t like about Fed this past week were those weird topspin-like shots which he often played from his forehand… What is he thinking? Will it help him in his matches vs Nadal?”

Maybe, this is his new coach’s approach. As the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. But, this is a ‘play to win’ at all costs situation, no need to imitate Nadal and try out new things before a huge tourney like MC. Perfect what works for you not against you. He can try that out some other time — but not at this point in time. Yes, many of those matches were very close, especially that 2006 Rome match, when Fed was leading in the 5th set by 2 games, and then he let Nadal back into the match, and the rest is history. I felt that Fed almost had the doubt that he could beat Nadal in that match and just got nervous. It’s sort of a reverse where some of the players feel the same about Fed in crunch time. They falter and he just capitlizes on those doubts.

“That forehand simply ISN’T the same since Dubai 2007, but the fact is – he DOESN’T need to change anything on his game to finally beat the Spaniard in Paris.”

I’ve been watching a re-broadcast of the ’07 Monte Carlo match on the Tennis Channel, and that forehand was so bad in that match. The first set Fed made 19 UFEs, 13 from the FH; second set 19 UFEs, 12 from the FH. Same happened in a few other matches. His FH will be his downfall unless he can temper it. So maybe that’s what Higueras is trying to do with the top spins, but when Fed gets into a crunch, he’ll forget those top spins and fall back on his usual play. We’re creatures of habit — so trying new things at this point, is going to be difficult to implement. Later.

I hope Higueras works out for Fed, but I’ve lost respect for Higueras. He was coaching Ginepri just the week prior to hooking up with Fed and has dumped the poor guy for greener pastures. What sort of world is this? Ginepri just broke back into the top 90 group, why do this to him? A very wrong move by Higueras, but I don’t think others will see it that way. It looks good on his resume to coach a No.1 player, and if Fed wins one of those tourneys, then it’s a big plus, but, there should be an asterisk against that win, and a nota bene at the bottom depicting “I dumped Ginepri when he needed me most, to coaach the No. 1 player, Federer.” Shame on Higueras!

“Anyway, the next tourneys will definitely tell us more about Fed – that’s for sure! He’s got pretty tough draw in MC (both Djoko and Nalby in his half),..”

Yes, the real test and the effect of Higueras’ coaching wil come into effect in MC. His draw is not that tough. He’s No.1 and should beat anyone — Fed, welcome to the world of the peons, who get tough draws. I know you won’t like this, but sorry. :0

jane Says:

But Skorocel makes a very interesting point too, about players changing their games/shots/styles all due to ONE nemesis. Skorocel rightly connects that to Roddick trying this, that, and the other thing all to try and beat Federer (mainly under Connors tutelage) and Roger trying various tactics (under Roche’s advice) to try to overcome Rafa on clay.

It didn’t work for Andy; now that he’s gone back to his strengths he’s playing better. That said, Connors truly did help with Andy’s backhand.

It’ll be interesting to see if it works for Roger, if Higueras can help him find what he needs to win against Rafa on clay (at RG especially).

BTW Von, I was surprised when I heard Higueras was already Ginepri’s coach; is this common? A coach taking on two players at once? Apparently he’s still coaching Ginepri…

grendle Says:

Higueras coaches the Israeli Peer,as well. Could be seasonal, even geographical, if it’s all part time. So far as Roche is concerned, we don’t really know what he attempted with Federer.
Daniel, there was a poster from about a year ago who sternly opined that all speculation was futile. Considering that the experts always get predictions wrong, he was right in a sense. The point is, everyone enjoys doing it. Here’s to futility!

So far as our man Fed is concerned, I’m really completely clueless. I’ve already made a long post speculating that Fed MAY be on the way down. Maintaining his level of motivation, given his success, is just phenomenally hard. But who knows? There’s plenty of room for improvement on clay. All Fed fans know his final against Nadal in Monte Carlo was abysmal – mainly for his fatalistic attitude. Rome – Volandri; then Hamburg, well he won, though people say Nadal was out of sorts. However that may be, he did struggle in the earlier rounds, especially against Ferrer and I think Moya, and had a tough fight in earlier round against (I think) Monaco. At RG – well, he was somewhat fortunate to get by Davydenko. So, paradoxically, it could be the case that Fed will do BETTER this year on clay than last year. It wouldn’t surprise me. I’m a man for all seasons, you know.
As for Nadal, it’s impossible to see beyond him. I agree, someone will beat him. When that person has beaten him, we’ll all think, oh yes, of course, I always knew HE might, that was always a strong possibility…

jane Says:

“So far as Roche is concerned, we don’t really know what he attempted with Federer.”

Here’s what one online source said: “Federer hired Roche for the opposite reason that Lendl hired him: to work on his clay court game (as Roche had won the French Open).”

Roche was Roger’s coach at the AO last year, in 2007, where Fed was virtually untouchable, as well as through 05 and 06, his very dominant seasons. I don’t know if Roche had anything to do with those or not.

But it seems the one thing that eluded Roger under Roche’s tutelage is more success (titles) on clay. That Fed fired Roche shortly after a few bad (for Roger) losses at IW, Miami and then in Rome, on clay, makes one wonder why he fired him – did they stop working together? Did Fed not want to change his game (the stubborness of a champ, as McEnroe calls it)? Did Roger lose faith in Roche? I don’t know much about this and haven’t read anything on the matter.

Still, one can presume they’d’ve attempted to better his clay results over the time they worked together, and since that was also during the time when Rafa has utterly dominated on clay, presumably they’d’ve worked on strategies to overcome him in particular.

Von Says:


“BTW Von, I was surprised when I heard Higueras was already Ginepri’s coach; is this common? A coach taking on two players at once? Apparently he’s still coaching Ginepri..”

I don’t know if its common for the coaches to spread themselves among 2 players, but what I do know is that Ginepri will be left hanging for approx. 2-3 months, that is, assuming that relationship is still intact. Geographically, it’s a nightmare. Roddick tried it with Connors, and the rest is history. What is Ginepri supposed to do for the time being, given the geographics? How would this duo coaching stuff work if Ginepri plays at the FO? And, what about the USO? The USO is Ginepri’s focus and long term goal. If the Fed/Higueras coaching is still working at the USO, what would happen to Ginepri? I’d say Robby needs to find another coach.

As regards Peer/Higueras, from what I had read, that relationship was over and she has moved on to greener pastures with another coach. Similarly, Golovin tried doing the long distance coaching stuff with Wilanders and it became a disaster, which ended.

Re: speculation/prediction, I mentioned this in passing and as a personal choice and would hope no one would follow my thinking. Each individual has the right and freedom of choice to speculate, it’s a personal thing, however, it’s not my cup of tea. I just feel given the amount of knowledgeable posters on this site, I would be laughed out of the water, as can be seen from some of the responses regarding predictions. I’m not that tough yet. For example, Dubai, I had only ventured to mention to Skorocel, in a private email, when all the speculations and predictions were happening, I stated the Sunday night prior to the tournament that I felt, and it was a gut feeling, Roddick would win, but I also stated, if I mentioned this on the Dubai thread, I’d be in for some real laughs. I kept quiet, and the rest is history.

Ergo, please feel free to make your predictions and speculate as much as you want — it’s just not my cup of tea.

grendle Says:

“Did Roger lose faith in Roche?” I’ve heard that he was a bit pissed that Roche didn’t bother to contact him following his losses against Cannas. Don’t know if that’s true. Sounds human enough.

Daniel Says:

As Skorocel wisely putted Fed has made some litle changes in his game, the top spin forehand!

Before I concluded my point of view I will put a question.

Have you all noticed that Nadal never misses shots (UE) in the net? He simply don`t miss any stupid shots. He plays the best deffensive style and wait for the precise moment to strike back. And he is by far the most successfully player on clay with this tatic, due his recent records, which, are still counting.

I think that Fed stop to think about this a little bit. He knows he has the best all around offensive game of the circuit (leaving history aside) and Nadal has the most effective deffensive-attack game in clay history. So he thinks: almost all the matches he lost to Nadal on clay he had huge unforced errors, specially on the forehand (everytime he missed those paralel forehands, that usually dismentle the adversary settling the way to the net, killed me!), so he decides to play a more conservative way (with top spin) to reduces his errors and wait for the most confortable moment to attack.

I personally think that has nothing wrong with the way he played Nadal so far (being offensive) and he has a complete game to beat Nadal with it, but I give credit to him to try doing somethink different. If this more passive Fed will emerge victorius, only in two months we`ll know!

sensationalsafin Says:

You people should just come out with your own novels. I love reading your posts but it’s just too much.

Grendle I’ll answer you first since you asked me a direct question. I’m not 100% sure that coaches make kids master throwing before serving. I know about this because years ago when I was struggling with my serve my cousin told me to just practice throwing for a while so that I get used to the motion. The problem I had is that I’m a lefty but strangely enough I throw with my right hand so it was awkward serving at first. Nowadays the only thing I have left to do is master the toss because I tend to toss the ball too much to the right instead of in front of me. I still can’t really throw with my left hand but my service motion works well.

Now then, onto Federer. Many of you disregard the GOAT arguement because you claim it’s impossible to compare players from different eras. Well I believe the same thing can be said when it comes to comparing Federer to McEnroe or whoever else. Sure there are plenty of similarities but at the end of the day, they’re completely different people and players and just because McEnroe faded doesn’t mean Federer will follow. McEnroe was never the hard worker nor the most focused tennis player. To me, as much as I love the guy, he was just an extremely lucky person with so much talent that he made an amazing living off tennis. Federer is extremely hard working and focused. So he’s slipped a little. It happens. But he’s still got an incredible game and there’s no reason he can’t step it up. He’s not like Hewitt who relied on his speed to win every match and is now too old to beat players like that. Federer is still fast and along with that he has every single other shot in the game. There are a million ways he can win one match and he can do it.

A change in his game? The topspin forehand? The most elementary shot in the game… and Federer just added it to his arsenal? Is that a joke?

Von Says:


“You people should just come out with your own novels. I love reading your posts but it’s just too much.”

How else would the posts be enjoyable reading if they were terse two liners. It’s difficult, and I speak for myself on this, albeit, self-conscious, to fully express oe-self in a few concise lines. hence, your previous post. :) There you go, you got caught in the web of the ‘wordy’. :)

On another topic, re Nadal not missing shots in the net and UFEs. Nadal just grinds and grinds that return to death, and waits to draw the UFE from his opponent. He can do this at the tender age of 21 but he’ll tire and want to end the points earlier and/or make them shorter, (this happens with age) and then we’ll se UFEs galore.

Von Says:

correction: 2nd para, 2nd line, s/b ‘onesself’ insted of onself. *** last para, last line s/b ‘see’ instead of ‘se’. Sorry.

Daniel Says:


As simple as it may be, I’ve never saw Fed use that particular shot on clay before, hence I mention that I think his using it to avoid miss net shots. That`s the way I see it (and I said a litle change, not A change), and as you pointed, I too think he can beat everybody with what he`s got.

sensationalsafin Says:

Every single ground stroke must be hit with topspin. How much a player applies to a particular shot is a different atory. If Federer is in fact spinning it more than usual then all I can say is let’s wait and pray it works out for him. He’s not a defensive player and there’s no garauntee playing like one will work for him but I hope it does.

I’ve seen Nadal hit some awful UEs into the net on hardcourts but on clay he has all the time in the world to get under the ball, spin it like mad, and just loop it over the net knowing he can get away with it against pretty much everyone.

grendle Says:

“just because McEnroe faded doesn’t mean Federer will follow.” Absolutely. My point only was that a great champion CAN fade with startling abruptness. In a different sort of way, Borg is another example. Let’s hope Fed doesn’t follow suit – given how good Djokovic is looking these days, Fed only needs to drop his standard by a very small amount, and he’s gone. But who knows – perhaps he’ll get even better, once he’s sorted whatever it is that’s been bothering him.

What about your man Safin, eh? Now if he can continue playing like that, he goes right to the top of the list of those who can challenge Nadal on clay. Trouble is…..

sensationalsafin Says:

My hopes are a little higher for Nalbandian. But Safin vs Nadal on clay, damn what a match that COULD be. Only trouble is Safin could easily double bagel himself by missing every other shot like he loves to do.

I don’t think it’s possible for Federer to fade away. Even if he loses the top spot to think that he’s not gonna stay in the top 5 or even top 3 is madness. If by the end of the year Federer has 0 slams, then we have a problem. And Djokovic is never gonna be the dominator like Federer so even if he gets better, he’s still gonna burn out once in a while and lose to players he shouldn’t lose to. Djokovic is and, I think, will always be that kind of champion. Doesn’t mean he won’t end this year numero uno.

jane Says:

“Djokovic is and, I think, will always be that kind of champion. Doesn’t mean he won’t end this year numero uno.”

I love Djoko as a both player & personality, but I have a feeling you’re right about this sensationalsafin. Mainly it’s because of his apparent physical frailty that I think this could be the case. But I dunno: some think that’s all an act. And given his acting abilities, well, one never knows, does one?

He’s got the confidence and spirit for two champs in a way though; he’s always believed, they say, from the time he picked up a racquet, that he could and would be numero uno, so that’s one thing he’s got going for him besides his all round great game.

He’s such a good returner.

Von Says:

Today I watched the Djoko v. Ljubicic, and Djoko was very nervous. Ljubicic broke him in the first game. However, he was able to break back and won the match. Albeit, not a very good showing for the No.3 in his first match, especially the fact that Ljubicic has lost his direction, but, I think Djoko will do better as the tourney moves on.

At the end of the match the camera focused on his family who were obviously happy. I have noticed that since the AO fiasco and all of the bad press regarding his family’s behavior, that the camera does not move in their direction throughout his match, until after his win. Thank God for small mercies.

Tommy Haas should retire permanently. Yesterday he retired against Rochus. It’s ridiculous what he’s been doing — all of these retirements. I just wonder though if something can’t be done about too many retirements from a player. It’s been so many coming from Haas. Bummer.

sensationalsafin Says:

Haas should retire. If he can’t play full matches then why does he keep trying? Djokovic still won 3 and 3 so just because he was nervous doesn’t mean he can’t shake off his nerves. He’s tough.

jane Says:

Yeah, Djoko is surprising tough for a frail guy. He’s mentally tough and able to focus in tense moments. He’s friends with Ivan and I think that was playing on him a bit. Towards the end of the second set he was really hitting his stride, returning remarkably. His serve wasn’t as strong as it might’ve been today but neither was Murray’s in his match. It’ll be fun to watch those two. I don’t know who’ll win, but Djoko’s got to the round of 16 now so he won’t lose any points. I am sure, though, that he wants to go deeper. I’m also sure Murray wants to prove himself, too. Should be a good one unless someone craps out.

Course that’s not until Thursday. Tomorrow is Rafa vs. Ancic and Fed vs. a young Spaniard. Onward and upward…

Von Says:

It’s easy to shake off one’s nerves and present a good showing against a not-in-form competitor, such as Ljubicic, who has not been able to string more than 2 matches together in any tournament for the past 18 months. It was just one break of serve in each set. Ljub’s performance has been on a deep decline since he got married – that’s not saying too much for married life. On the reverse, Davy has been doing much better since his marriage. His wife is a psychologist and one can only assume that that’s been a huge boon fcr his mind set and his ability to overcome the problems presented by the ATP investigation, and his performance, as a whole.

On anothr topic, Safin has been doing much better, sringing match wins. Apparently, he was doing well in Valencia, and then he blew a gasket, according to the MC commentators. Let’s just hope he can move forwrd in MC which is a court he should be familiar with, considering he lives there. Same for Djoko who lives there as well.

Murray looked pretty impressive, yesterday and then again today, with his new coach in tow, Corretja. I did not see/hear any of the on-court conversations between Murray and his imaginary friend. That should keep him focused and I hope he cn go deep into this tournament. It would be great if he could pull out a surprise and win the whold darn thing. My gut feeling, which I try to kep to myself. Now that would be one to send the bettors into a frenzy. Hot damn!! :)

jane Says:

It was 2 breaks of serve in the second set; Djoko broke Ljubicic to win the match. But sure, it’s easier to shake off nerves when not playing the best. Novak has -this year and at times last year – been able to shake off nerves against most top ten players as well. He’s pretty focused.

I’d be happy if Murray wins, but just as happy if Djoko does – it’s win-win either way for me. I plan to enjoy the tennis; just sit back and enjoy what these two young guns can string together.

I fear David might drive Marat mad, but am hoping Safin will keep his cool against the road runner. He needs to be, well, wily.

Von Says:

“I fear David might drive Marat mad, but am hoping Safin will keep his cool against the road runner.”

There’s just one man that drives Marat mad — Santoro. Considering Santoro’s no where near Marat in this tourney, who knows what Safin could pull off? He’s said whenever he sees Santoro’s name in his part of the draw, he’s on edge. I’m hoping that the ‘mercurial’ one can find some helium to lift him into the clouds, and then it’ll be, up, up, and away …….. but not into oblivion. :) GO SAFIN!!

grendle Says:

“Haas should retire. If he can’t play full matches then why does he keep trying”. I agree, Sensational Safin, Haas should retire – but let’s put it in context. Haas has been#2 in the world, and been forced to take long breaks due to chronic shoulder injury and also taking time to look after a sick parent. What you have to remember is that Haas truly loves the game – he is one of the great enthusiasts, almost like an amateur. It’s not just money and fame which glint out of his eyes. And he knows he is very, very good. When he has been injury free he has, for instance, toyed with Roddick – utterly exposed his limitations – and come within spitting distance of beating Federer in a a grand slam (AO). So not surprisingly, he keeps hoping, hoping, that THIS time, the shoulder has cleared. But it never does. From his point of view, it must be frustrating beyond belief – the thing that he was, so to speak, put on earth to do, is taken away from him; and soon he’ll be too old anyway. You can see why he refuses to accept reality. Even so, for his own sake, I hope he does.

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