Federer Falls Off Again in SF Loss to Djokovic at Rome

by Staff | May 2nd, 2009, 11:14 am

Former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero’s career was never the same after an illness, and Swiss Roger Federer seems to be on the same career arc. Federer contracted mono at the end of 2007, and has never been the same player since.
On Saturday Federer had another of what have been patented third- or fifth-set collapses in big matches, squandering a 3-1 break lead in the third set to lose 4-6, 6-3, 6-3 to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals of the ATP Masters-Rome.

Federer’s poor serving was compounded by 42 unforced errors off the ground, with the Swiss converting only three of 11 break point chances over the three sets.

Djokovic trailer Federer 3-7 overall and 0-2 on clay during their careers entering the match.

Djokovic advances to the final where he will face the winner of world No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Chilean Fernando “Gonzo” Gonzalez.

Nadal has won 28 straight matches on clay dating to May 7 of last year when he lost to Ferrero in the second round here in Rome. Nadal beat Djokovic earlier this year at the beginning of the claycourt season in Monte Carlo.

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85 Comments for Federer Falls Off Again in SF Loss to Djokovic at Rome

Ra Says:


Did “Staff” know about this ahead of time?

fed is afraid Says:

roger is a joke, just retire already, will ya? you are stinking up the sport.

madmax Says:

Go easy fed is afraid…..As a massive fed fan it has been really difficult to acclimatise to him being No. 2 and not playing to the consistently high level he did for the last ‘almost’ five years. There is no need for him to retire. He is still reaching either the finals for the slams (19 in a row up to January 2009), and has reached 3 semis this year already. That is a brilliant statistic. We all know what he needs to do but have to trust Roger to know better. It’s his game. He knows what is at stake. Tennis would not be the same without him. We have a new champion in Rafa who deserves to be there. Novak was lucky today. He held it together. Damned rain break! Roger lost the rhythm. He needs to regroup and if Roger got to the Semi Finals of each masters this year and the Finals of each slam I would be happy for that. But I really believe that his mindset is with the Slams right now. He will step it up and come away with two slams this year. The FO (no one believes he will, but he will) and either US open or Wimby. He is such an excellent player. Don’t forget that. Just accept that he his not the player he was, but he still has all the tools in the box. He’s just got to work ’em!

olu Says:

Every champion has his/her time..guess federer’ has now passed.Just a pity.Think he should be considering retirement now.Kudos to the Nadals,Novaks AND Murrays.

jane Says:

madmax “e is still reaching either the finals for the slams (19 in a row up to January 2009)”

Er. slight correction – Federer did NOT reach the final of the Australian Open in 2008. Djokovic and Tsonga did, and it was a fun match.

jane Says:

Fed used to be such a good front runner, but that’s not the case anymore, particularly against players who hang in there against him.

Kevin CK Says:

Federer did not have the heart to fight back at this match. In fact, he lost it some time. If there is no break through in his confidence in these few months, it can’t expect that he will be No.1 again.

Von Says:

People lose the spark/desire to fight after they have achieved most of their dreams. For Fed he got his fulfillment in just 4e years where some do it over an 8-10 year period. When that happens, the unfulfilled part becomes a chore for them and it all depends on how badly they still want it, because it takes a lot of discipline and will-power once that zeal has dwindled. Perhaps Fed will find the will to fight back and then perhaps not, only time will tell….

jane Says:

Novak’s going to need a MAJOR spark tomorrow, as the Terminator on clay continues to bulldoze the competition.

Skorocel Says:

Kevin CK:

Save an injury, Nadal’s year end No. 1 ranking is already a foregone conclusion, so this is rather irrelevant for Fed. Right now, it’s all about slams – whether we like it or not…

Steve Says:

I don’t think Fed will feel his career is complete until he surpasses Sampras’s career Slam record, we saw the emotional effect losing at the Australian Open had on him, and mentally he’s finding it more and more difficult to keep it together when the pressure is really on. I thought today he proved to me the shots are all there, it’s mental toughness at crunch time that isn’t, he needs to find that belief again.

zola Says:

you have good points. No need to be disappointed in Federer. He has taken tennis to a higher for four years and no one can stay in that level forever.
Before Rome he said that he still wants to win FO and play better in Rome. He did play much better than MC. I think he will improve in Madrid and then in RG.

The level of commitment from his is excellent. The guy just married a couple of weeks ago and has played two tournaments since. It seems to be a matter of conficence and perhaps some fitness. We all know he knows how to play.

zola Says:

***the Terminator on clay***

lol! I like that! but he has a very fierce competition in Djoko. After MC, Djoko said he knows how to win Rafa and is looking for another chance. I don’t think it will be an easy one for Rafa. Rafa needs to serve much better at the least.

Skorocel Says:

Well, seems like Fed’s building a nice tradition with those “final set collapses” :-) Really, to squander a possible 3-0 lead in the 2nd (remember he had that one BP just before the rain came out!), and then a 3-1 lead in the 3rd (by losing your own service game to love!), that really takes some doing… Unfassbar!

Anyway, tough to say whether a Fed fan should be that much dissapointed from such a performance – simply because with this kind of “form”, Roger wouldn’t stand a chance against the “Terminator” anyway :-) I know it may seem as a heresy for someone, but one has to feel it was indeed a good thing for Fed to lose now rather than have another blemish in his already disastrous H2H vs Nadal… Good luck Nole tomorrow, and bring on the FO!

jane Says:

zola, I can’t take credit for it, lol. I read it on another site. I think it was Tennis Planet, where I go to look at photos, but occasionally read the comments because they’re funny. Or maybe it was Tennis Talk. Anyhow, I know i read it somewhere.

i just read Novak and Roger’s pre-today’s-match interviews, and although Novak expressed much respect for Roger, he really seemed to believe in his chances. Roger expressed the hope that he play better than he did in Miami, and indeed he did, so it can’t be all bad.

Pietjep Says:

Well nothing new on this front. Fed has bigger meltdowns than nuclear powerplants….

What worries me more; the guy is not living in reality: press interview Rome after Djoko: “…I was in the match obviously all the way through. I feel like this is not a match I should have given away because (I was a) break up in the second, break up in the third and I usually don’t give away opportunities like this”

Fed; are you joking me??? How many examples do you need of squandered leads and opportunities? Against Murray, Djoko and Rafa…. They are abundant!!!!

fed is afraid Says:

it will soon be 15 master shields for rafa, one more than roger. rafa is a legend!!!

zola Says:

OK folks, need to get back to life. See ya all tomorrow.

Kevin CK Says:


I just wish Federer will climb to no.1 for few weeks in 2010, but when I saw Nadal, Djoko and Murray played much and much better, but Federer is far below his abilities at critical games, it is no hope. Fed will not the one to break Pete’s GS record. Furthermore, the chance of Nadal to get all 4 GS is much, much bigger than Fed

Al Says:

I actually enjoyed the match–not just because Nole won. I thought that there were a lot of great points in the match. I know sometimes people say that Federer is focused on only winning GS. My thinking is that if you can not produce your best tennis during crunch time, I do not think you will be able to do it at the GS. I could be wrong though. People are starting to believe that they have a shot at beating Federer now, something that did not exist before. It did seem that Fed was serving much better than before. So that is a positive sign for him.
I am pulling for Nole against Nadal-and I do like Rafa–someone has to be able to stop his clay run, it would make the FO more interesting if someone can challege him. We will see.

bob Says:

I have noticed that if Federer is serving below 70% he has a poor record. I also noticed that he used to not rely on his serve for cheap points. as the competition has improved, he has had to use his serve for more points. We all know that 40% serve percentage is not going to get you into many finals. The fact that he is able to make it to semis with that stat is a testament to his talent. Further, I believe that he is going to need to reinvent his game if he wants to beat Sampras’ slam record. He needs a coach/strategist, back therapy to help his serve as he now admits and a change of attitude. It’s a different world out there with many talented hungry players. He definitely has the tools to win, but does he has the desire and the humility to change his game? Only time will tell.

jane Says:

Al I agree there were some GREAT shots in the Fed-Djoko semi: Nole hit 31 winners and Fed hit 28!! Combined that’s nearly 60 winners over 3 sets – not too shabby. I definitely think Novak might’ve served better, however. I am re-watching the match on TSN now as I had only been able to see it on crappy streaming and I missed most of the first set, so I am enjoying what I am seeing on my big TV. Nice shot-making from both so far.

NachoF Says:

… and people thought 2008 was a bad year for Fed… he will soon have to defend many points and if he cant he could drop to the fifth, sixth place of the ranking.

Skorocel Says:

Kevin CK:

I wouldn’t be that skeptical re: that Sampras’ GS record… As you may know, Fed (along with Nadal, of course) is still THE man to beat at the slams, and Murray & Djoker know this fact very well… I too wish Fed had retaken that No. 1 spot (and broken those Sampras’ 286 weeks), but that seems like mission impossible right now. It will take at least one full year (if not more) till someone is able to dethrone Nadal, and who knows where Fed will be at that time…

Anyway, I’m more than convinced Fed will do everything in his might to be 100 % ready for the FO (and the remaining slams, for that matter), simply because it is actually the slams which are his (so to speak) last chance to redeem himself… We all know he has already won almost everything, BUT, we also know that he has yet to REALLY prove his fighting abilities… That always seemed questionable with Fed, and ya know who the real measuring stick was (and still is) for him in this department… In other words, if Fed can somehow overcome those brutal odds and beat the Spaniard in Paris, then he’ll prove he’s a fighter as well as the maestro…

I know there are people who may think it’s just unnecessary to have such “strict” demands for a certain player, but that’s how it is… I mean, what would happen if Nadal beats him again in the FO final, and then Fed beats him at SW19? Apart from winning that 14th Slam and equaling Sampras’ number, it still wouldn’t mean that much for Fed, because on clay, their H2H would still be a blowout, and outside the clay, it’d be 50:50 (at best)… In other words, if Fed wants to be the so-called GOAT, then it’s simply unthinkable for him to have such poor H2H with his main rival (who’s still improving and may well finish somewhere near him, btw)… Especially when Nadal’s no Djoker or Nalby (who can have a great tourney, and then completely fall apart in the next one). Nadal’s just too good for that…

Voicemale1 Says:

Yeah – Fed bashing at this point isn’t a good thing. They guy has played in the last four Major Finals. Everyone on the tour, save 1 guy, would give anything for the last 18 months Federer has had.

Credit where it’s due to Djokovic. A year ago, rescuing matches that seemed lost wasn’t exactly a strength of his. It clearly is now, doing it twice to Federer this year. The more he learns about how to in, and not just how to hit, he’ll be able to do this more and more. Seems the Murray ascent has made Djokovic take his job more seriously, and we as spectators are all better off for it.

And he has a chance tomorrow. His backhand withstands the Nadal uber-bouncing punishment better than most. In a Best of 3 Match on clay, Djokovic will give Nadal all he can handle, even though I think Nadal will get trough it. It will go three sets, and it might be a case of Nadal squeezing the last breath out of Djokovic to eventually take it. But Djokovic will make him earn it.

TD (Tam) Says:

quote Staff- “Federer contracted mono at the end of 2007, and has never been the same player since.”

Please stop making excuses. Mario Ancic has truly suffered the effects of mono but not Federer. Roger is completely healthy he is simply losing to better players now that is all.

congratulations to the Dokovic fans. I hope he can give Nadal a good push in the final.

Dave B Says:

If you find Jokeboy insufferable now can you imagine if he actually wins tomorrow? But that won’t happen unless Rafa is hit by a meteor. It is sad watching Roger. IMHO the top match of the tournament was Monaco-Gonzalez. The funniest Vollandri-/Fognini: two Italians yelling and gesticulating at each other.

jane Says:

Duro – don’t forget: you have something to tell me tomorrow during or after the finals.

sar Says:

Federer: I feel like this is not a match I should have given away because (I was a) break up in the second, break up in the third and I usually don’t give away opportunities like this.


sar Says:

Duro please let us know the news!!

jane Says:

I’d actually disagree that Djoko was “pretty flat” prior to the rain delay early in the second set. The first 8 games of the match were lovely, although Fed was serving more consistently. But good shots were coming from both ends. Maybe Fed just means after Novak got broken at 4-4 in the first set, so thus at the end of the first set and the start of the second, that Djoko was “flat”, in which case, I’d agree. Djoko lost his concentration after the whistle, which is basically what the commentators noted as well.

This is an interesting quotation from Federer:

““I think the last few years it’s helped Rafa playing me before Paris,” said the 13-time Grand Slam champion when the subject of the French Open came up. “Just that he knew maybe a bit more what to expect from me, whereas you know exactly what you’re going to get with Rafa.”

FedGetALife Says:

As a former big fan of Fed i’m getting really sick of him lately. Not because he is losing, but because of zero class he shows during those maches and in the conferences. Crying at the AO was raelly the worst, spoiling the moment for everybody. You could understand if i was his first major final, or last at age 35, but that…

And now still spouting nonsense in the press. Yea Nadal is really at an advantage now that he hasn’t play you on clay this season, after mentaly crushing you on the other 2 surfaces in slams, he really needs that. Does Fed himslef believe the crap he’s saying?

“What to expect from me”…honestly, everbody knows what to expect when playing him by know, it’s no longer mistery. With that backhand, he only had 2 stlyes left to play, so shut up. Get a coach, lose some weight (he looked huge today), face the fact you’ve been surpassed by sevral players since the surfaces cahnges so much and maybe something good can come out it. If not, at least yo won’t annoy people anymore.

I’ve read an interview with Sampras a while back, where he says he regrets not trying to change to a bigger racquet, esspecialy for FO. Chances are we’ll be hearing the same lament from Fed in 3 years, now that almost all surfaces play like clay.

sensationalsafin Says:

…Wow. Fed’s not perfect. No one ever said he was. But seriously. FedGetALife, that’s just pure disrespect. Fed’s going through a rough time. I realized that you can’t really take his interviews all too seriously because he’s obviously trying to encourage himself more than anything else. Saying that Nadal had somewhat of an advantage isn’t all too far fetched. Besides the fact that Nadal’s game troubles Fed in general, think about last year. In Monte Carlo and Hamburg, Fed had plenty of opportunities and dominated in patches. What happened at the FO? I’m pretty sure it wasn’t Roger Federer who played in that final but nonetheless, Nadal obviously knew what to expect and Fed looked like he just wanted to get it over with. I do agree that Fed should switch racquets. He’s being quite stubborn.

Duro Says:

Ha ha ha, I don’t want to spoil it! Enjoy your finals!

NachoF Says:

… Fed should change to a different racket?… I dont much about that topic… whats wrong with his racket?

Tom Says:

It’s not Fed’s health; his age; or his game. He is simply doing something that he never did before 2008. He is choking. You can see it in how he loses the big points with his tentativeness; nervous errors; and overall body language. In today’s match, the more he choked and tightened up, the more it seemed that Novak was relishing the moment and becoming looser (hitting out, in full flight). It was always the other way around.

Fed can still win a couple more slams (Wimby still his best shot). But he needs to remember who he is. He needs to relax and enjoy those final sets. He needs to play to win as opposed to playing “not to lose”. He needs to chill and become Fed-like. Again.

sensationalsafin Says:

Headsize is too small. It justifies a lot of his mishits.

jane Says:

Djoko’s thoughts on today, from the BNL d’italia Official website:

“It was really important,” the Serb said of the 70-minute break. “If you look at it, obviously everybody will say that the rain helped me, and it’s a fact. I played much better after the break, I started being more patient, moving much better, giving him more balls back and making him play more. This is what I didn’t do in the end of the first and start of the second set. He could have broken me again to have a double break, and then it would be much tougher for me to come back. In the first set I played quite well. I was a little bit distracted by some things, and then suddenly a lot unforced errors resulted with a loss. I didn’t like the guy who was whistling (which preceded a break of serve). There were some things that were happening, but it shouldn’t happen in my head – I should just not care about it. But it was really not nice gesture – it was second serve on breakpoint, so it wasn’t really nice.”

“It isn’t easy to remain in the same level of performance,” said Djokovic of his “game of two halves”-type display. “If you get more balls back and if the opponent makes you play more balls and makes you run more, then it’s normal that you’re under pressure. That’s why he probably made a lot more unforced errors than before the rain break. I was patient more and playing more compatible and wiser after the break, more on his backhand side and trying to wait for chances. I think that was the key.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s final against No1 seed Nadal, Djokovic was in realistic but confident mood. “There’s not much to say about Rafa, especially on clay. He’s going to be absolute favorite to win it again, but I have my chances, especially after the great performance in Monte Carlo. I have no reason not to believe that I can win. I won a set against him in Monte Carlo, I played really good to start the third set, and learned that I have to really play every point against him, so that’s what I’m going to try to do tomorrow. Physically to prepare, to be ready to play long rallies, because that’s what’s happening when you play against him, and just wait for the chances. I think my forehand has been working quite well throughout the event and my serve is better and should be better for tomorrow’s match, especially if you play Rafa who gets a lot of balls back on this surface. I have to put pressure with the serve at least, so I’m going to try to work on that. I’ve been playing really well, so I’m going to celebrate my victory tonight, because I think it’s a great win for me, and then try to get the best out of tomorrow’s match.”

Joe O'Brien Says:

I comepletly agree about Feds racket.
I definetly think he needs to change it. It definetly doesnt suit him. Apparently it helps his game only when he is playing very well, but when your timing is a little off it can be a nightmare.(so I read somewhere before)
I dont even like the look of the racket anymore. It reminds me of horrible backhand errors. :(

Giner Says:

“Former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero’s career was never the same after an illness”

It should be noted that he also changed his racquet at the end of his personal best season (he reached no. 1 that year), and was never the same again. He won Madrid 2003 then not another title again until a few weeks ago. 6 years!

“and Swiss Roger Federer seems to be on the same career arc. Federer contracted mono at the end of 2007, and has never been the same player since.”

It’s too early to write him off. He was written off for most of last year until he spectacularly schooled Andy Murray in the US Open final. He is obviously not at his best, but even at his less-than-best level, he is a threat to win a slam.

Von Says:


I’ve got to agree that the rain definitely helped Djoko. It helped him in several ways, but more importantly, he was able to regroup and get some much needed REST because he looked tired after having to work extremely hard in several games to hold serve, where he was so pressured.

This is reminiscent of the Wimby final, Fed v. Roddick, where Fed was helped by the rain and Roddick lost due to the momentum shift.

I think Federer spoke truthfully when he said he does not give away opportunities such as the breaks he’s squandered in those 2 final sets. Well those are the breaks in sports, isn’t it? I wish that Roddick would have had a rain break the last time he played Fed in Miami and be able to cash in on some of the luck v. Federer that Djoko has been able to receive.
I don’t understand why Staff is making these excuses for Federer, and the correlation of Juan Carlos Ferrero’s chicken pox with Fed’s very minute case of mono. I agree with TD that had Fed suffered the ill effects of mono similar to Ancic, he would not have been able to play without any break in his schedule — he would definitely have had several months of feeling completely wiped out.

Staff needs to stick to the actual news in tennis instead of trying to over-shadow the wins of every opponent Federer has faced and lost to by pulling out the mono card. Fed’s not doing it, so why is staff? Reporting should be about the news as it actually happens and not about coming up with these excuses we see, which are totally irrelevant to what has happened today. I don’t think if Federer had won today, Staff would have mentioned the mono.

Also, I know these articles are just for blogging, but some editing skills should be employed by Staff.

NachoF Says:

So you don’t agree that Federer was never the same again after the first time the mono came up??…I see that as the point when it all changed.

Didid Says:

Go look up chicken pox and then mono in a medical dictionary and you will realize how mono does affect you more than Chicken pox. Mono lasts alot longer and can be insidious in its attack on someone for months. You may feel great one day and horrible the next. Anyone with a medical knowledge could look at Federer last year and know he had mono. His coloring for one was horrible. He probably should have taken off but he didn’t and you could see his stamina was severly affected and anyone watching his matches could see that. Having an illness at his level of an athelete has had an effect. He lost pretty much the whole year with his fitness, stamina, and training. Look at Ancic for example. He plays in a tournament and then he is out for awhile.
I am not defending his losses this year but last year I am because of the mono. I strongly believe having the mono is affecting his ability to get back on top because not only did it effect his physical well being but also his mental. He lost alot of matches last year and that has to hurt his confidence and we can only hope with continued health and winning some more matches his “choking” will go away.

jane Says:

NachoF, imo, there was evidence of things changing for Federer before the mono; there were a lot more shanks and a few surprising losses in 2007, not to mention the close call at Wimbledon. Mono may’ve escalated what was already underway – ageing.

fed is afraid Says:

roger is too arrogant and stupid to change anything so he will continue to lose.

Ra Says:


in retrospect and after a good nap, I feel like both guys played a pretty good first set. Not their absolute bests, but it made for a competitive affair at that stage. Federer was still not capitalizing on breakpoints like he has done in the (increasingly distant) past, but that was partially his own fault and partially to Novak’s credit. That lame whistle between Novak’s 1st and 2nd serve certainly didn’t help DJ Oko’s mindset going into the 2nd set, but I don’t think it cost him the 1st either. If I recall correctly, Federer had converted 2 of 10 bp opportunities to take the lead early in the second, while Novak still had yet to earn a single bp opportunity of his own.

During the rain delay, I can only imagine that Djokovic received a serious pep talk and made solid use of some time to regroup with Vajda (whereas Federer maybe stared at the wall?). In any case, Novak certainly came out looking more focused than he had when he left, and he showed maturity in the way he held on for the duration. To my perception, though, Federer fell apart in such a way that did not require Novak to play exceptionally to come out with the win; he may have been able to do so, though, if needed (so my earlier comment of him sucking less to take the win was a little harsh, but still Federer found a way to lose, too, given the opportunities he squandered in both the 2nd and 3rd).

“Didid Says,

Anyone with a medical knowledge could look at Federer last year and know he had mono.”

I fully agree with that sentiment, however I do feel that he seemed pretty well (if not completely) physically over it by the French Open (or thereabouts). As you maybe pointed out, though, he seemed to continue to feel the effects of the altered training schedule for much longer. (More related commentary below)

“jane Says:

…Mono may’ve escalated what was already underway – ageing.”

There is that. He certainly is not as fast as he was in 2006, and the back issues which he says he has dealt with intermittently throughout his career are likely more significant due to aging (although, medically speaking, that could in fact be mono related too – not that it is necessarily one or the other). Regardless, in a loss such as today’s, I don’t see aging or any other physical issue as the culprit. To me he plainly boffed a match he had taken control of and should have been able to close out the first time and then second time he went up a break.

The salient lasting effect of the mono, though, I find to be the fact that it (combined with the alteration in scheduled training it caused) opened up the door to leave his confidence level vulnerable; a circumstance that rapidly improving up and comers were poised and motivated to capitalize on.

I do still think his back is at least partially to blame for his decline in consistent serving, because whether or not it is actually injured at the moment, there seems to me to have been a process of compensation, attempted decompensation, recompensation etc., and the serve is such a temperamental part of the game to begin with (just look at the yips). Also, though I know Federer said that he practiced his serve and forehand in preparation for Rome, he’s mentioned in the past that he can’t really practice that element because it hurts him to serve over and over again. Maybe a really good coach would be able to construct a regimen for him that could allow him to effectively practice elements of his serve without actually going through the full motion over and over again, but in any case it doesn’t sound like it’s an easy issue for him to address.

jane Says:

Oops I misspelled aging. Sorry.

Sure, his mono functioned to exacerbate things already underway, namely, nature, and I can totally see the bolder-rolling-down-hill effect you delineate Ra. That is to say, Federer’s timing and movement may’ve been slowed a touch by 2007, then he’s hit with the mono, which slows his ability to stay fit, train, and so forth, AND because he took no time off for said illness, he may’ve increased the stress on his body, due to the lack of sustained training (vicious circle innit?), which then lead to the back injury, which may’ve been coming due to age, illness, AND wear and tear – lest we forget the man Federer had been on a tear in the ATP for what? 3 years~! winning almost everything in sight! Something HAD to give. NOW, add into all of that the shot to the confidence and aura which the multiple losses in 2008 & 2009 would’ve had, and NOW add in the rain delay, AND the fact that Djoko doesn’t, after all, suck too badly, AND he has a coach with whom to consult when the rain gods grant him the opportunity to do so at a critical juncture in the match, and FINALLY, we have arrived at a quasi, hypothetical, proposition as to why Federer lost in the semi-finals of Rome today.

OR, could we just say “bad day at the office” and move on. :)

Ra Says:


I certainly didn’t at all mean to imply at any point that Djokovic generally sucks. I think he is in general a top notch tennis player, but I’m also sure that all tennis players are capable of sucking or sucking less than another on a given day.

“OR, could we just say ‘bad day at the office’ and move on.”

If it weren’t such a pattern that evidently concerns many, many people, I would love to say just that. But it doesn’t seem to me at all to be just that. I mean… what, would you prefer we write about things that are actually relevant to our personal lives? :)

Von Says:


“So you don’t agree that Federer was never the same again after the first time the mono came up??…I see that as the point when it all changed.”

Do we even know when Fed’s mono began, or does Fed know for sure when it all stated? The answer is a resounding NO. He said at one point that he had it in 2006.

In 2008, pre-AO, when Fed had gotten sick with stomach flu, there was some speculation as to the reason for his stomach problems, and food poisoning was the diagnosis at the time. Then later, after he lost the ’08 AO, and then Dubai, the mono thing appeared. I’m not saying he didn’t have the mono, I’m only saying his was indeed a very ‘mild’ case, where he was not forced to stop playing or anything similar to what Ancic suffered. Would you say Fed’s mono effects are the same as Ancic’s? Hardly likely.

My daughter, at 13, contracted mono sipping her girlfriend’s soda, (who had an undiagnosed case of mono, but didn’t know she had it). The reason I felt something was wrong with my kid was her symptoms. She was listless, couldn’t play soccer nor attend school, and slept most of the day. After a doctor’s visit, and several tests were done, she was diagnosed with mono, and was placed on complete bed rest and banned from playing soccer and attending school for 3 months. She’s fine now, but her recovery was due to us acting quickly and the imposed rest. Additionally, with mono, an individual who plays sport can incur splenic rupture, which is another reason why I’m saying Fed’s case was a mild one.

“Go look up chicken pox and then mono in a medical dictionary and you will realize how mono does affect you more than Chicken pox.”

This is why I don’t understand Staff’s correlation, and the reason it was even mentioned. Also, it’s the reason I stated Fed’s case of mono was very mild, because whether a person wants to play or work or whatever, having mono prevents them from so doing. Ergo, in view of those facts, and going by Ancic’s case of mono, we have to agree that Fed had to have had a very mild case of mono indeed, because he was able to play and compete without any disruption to his schedule.

I’ve stated previously that Fed’s problem is one of fitness, but the majority of the posters and Sean Randall also, thinks I’m wrong, and feel that his problems are “mental”. So going by what most feel, wouldn’t you say that the mono is not a problem for Fed presently? Or has the mono been the root cause of his mental problems? Or is it both? He has mono, and he also has a mental problem? If so, why hasn’t his doctors instructed him to rest? Meanwhile, Fed keeps claiming he’s “fine”. Also, there’s mention of a back problem nolw, but has there been a diagnosis? Is it degenerative disc disease, arthritis, or spondylosis, a sore back due to tired muscles, or what? He hasn’t stated, and no one knows for sure the diagnosis nor the prognosis.

As jane mentioned, there was evidence of problems before the mono diagnosis, which can be corroborated if you were to view his matches in 2006. I’ve recently watched Fed’s clay matches in 2006 MC and Rome, and it’s evident that his errant FH woes were apparent since then. The mental problem was also there. Watch Rome ’06 final, he was leading 4-1 in the last set and still lost. His FH cost him big time.

I’m not saying that nothing’s wrong with Fed, because the signs are there. I’m saying that some things don’t correlate and we have grey areas and unknown facts, but only Fed knows what’s wrong. Hence, I don’t feel that the mono should be now used as a reason for his decline, especially in view of his loss today. And, as I mentioned in my prior post, had he won, would we have seen the mono mentioned? It wasn’t mentioned when he won the USO in ’08, so why are we seeing it only when he loses? I don’t think it’s fair to his opponents for Staff to bring it up today, that’s all.

jane Says:

Ra, I was being facetious and having fun with that. That’s all. :) I know many are concerned. But all-in-all, having got to the semis and having played, I thought, much better than in that Miami semi, I think Federer fans should try to see the bright side. But it might just be the red wine talking. Cheers! :)

NachoF Says:

I guess we could never know for sure if it was the mono or not… Im just saying that since 08 something very decisive happened and he was never the same again…. the Federer that won the 07 Shaghai Masters Cup was not the same guy that stepped into the Aussie Open 08…. whatever happened Im not sure… but I’ll take his word and say it was the mono.

jane Says:

Von, you raise valid points: two keys ones imo are (a) that the mono didn’t really have a place in today’s article and (b) that Roger’s mono seems to have been on the milder scale. My brother had it when he was in high school and was laid up in his bedroom for weeks; I also had a student who came down with it last fall and he could barely write his final, even though he’d already missed 3 weeks of school to stay in bed. So from the two cases I’ve seen personally, it generally knocks a guy’s/gal’s socks off and he or she is laid up for at least a while. Again, like you, I am not suggesting Fed didn’t have it, only that it must’ve been a milder form, and as I said in my facetious post to Ra, the fact that Fed didn’t really take the rest he may have needed may have only added to the fitness/training problems, having a snowball effect. But that goes back to your first point that I agree with; Fed has since played in what 4 grand slams finals, winning one of them. Therefore he can’t be faring TOO badly. Therefore, why are we discussing his health? He looks quite healthy. Maybe he tweaked his back last fall and back problems do tend to linger.

In my humble opinion this may be down to the sheer number of matches he’s played to be as dominant as he has in the last few years, and thus, things were bound to catch up to him on some level. He’s still doing well; he’s still number 2. So it doesn’t seem as drastic to me I guess.

Ra Says:


I figured as much, but I’m a touch leery of being misconstrued on this site and so want to be extra clear.

“But all-in-all, having got to the semis and having played, I thought, much better than in that Miami semi, I think Federer fans should try to see the bright side.”

The first part of what you said is what makes it all the more frustrating to have seen him collapse again, but it does sound that Federer is trying to take positives out of it.

Oh, and cheers!

By the way, I fully agree that mono had no place in this article. Possibly it was just conveniently inserted to draw more discussion and hits on the web…

Ezorra Says:

I think at this particular moment, 1 thing that differenciate Nadal and Federer in injury department is the fact that when Federer had mono and back problem, he “believes” in it too much whereas Nadal, when he got knee problems, blisters and so on and so forth, he doesn’t believes in them at all…


jane Says:

Ra, I can imagine the collapses must be hard to watch as a Federer fan; coming from a man who is so extremely talented on the court, they seem so illogical or inexplicable. But alas, Federer is merely human and is slumping for probably a myriad of reasons. Still, he may yet shine when and where we least expect it. :)

Anyhow, I think I should stop posting and blathering on, and go do something more important, like paint my newly trimmed finger-nails, so people don’t have to see “jane says” yet again. lol. But have a great evening; keep your fingers and toes crossed for Djoko tomorrow.

Von Says:


As you know, I’m not a Fed nor a Djoko fan, but I honestly try to leave any of my personal felings aside whenever I’m commenting on their actual match play — feelings don’t have a place in factual observtions.

Yes, something is definitely wrong with Fed, and it’s why I maintain he has fitness issues. Fitness falls under the umbrella of anything pertaining to one’s health, and mono, back problems, etc., are all part and parcel of an athlete’s fitness.

I don’t know if you could find the TMC tourney in ’07, but Fed did not play well in the initial and subsequent RR rounds until the SF and finals. Gonzalez beat him, and Fed was really a mess v. Davydenko, but he won because Davy always chokes against Fed. Then Fed beat Roddick who had a frozen back at the time, and after that win, Fed blazed through the SF and finals. Therefore, going by that TMC, we could hazard a guess and say that the mono was present at that time and Fed had good and bad days. However, things changed, and he seemed in tip top form when he was playing those exhos v. Sampras, after the TMC. And, then we all know about 2008. So, going from those previous scenarios, it would be logical to assume that Fed has been having intermittent good and bad days since the end of ’07 to the present time. Again, I say, his problem is fitness = mental breakdown/lapses. If an individual does not feel well physically, it translates to mental lapses and impaired thinking.

Ra Says:


Though I do give Rafa the clear edge mentally, I think part of what makes it look more as you’re saying may be that Rafa is still on his run after having taken over the no. 1 spot by going through Federer; and when Rafa loses, the media seems generally quite sympathetic (at this point. It’s probably worth noting, though, that Rafa had it rougher on the way up with everyone qualifying every compliment with “on clay”…). Meanwhile, when Federer began to lose, the media was like, “What happened? You are supposed to be Jesus; Why are you such a failure now?”.

Von Says:


“I think at this particular moment, 1 thing that differenciate Nadal and Federer in injury department is the fact that when Federer had mono and back problem, he “believes” in it too much whereas Nadal, when he got knee problems, blisters and so on and so forth, he doesn’t believes in them at all…


That’s not a fair statement because the two issues are miles apart. One is where an individual is completely exhausted and can’t find the energy to move or think normally, and the other is an inflammatory condition that comes and goes, and one which I have a problem understanding. For example, I have knee pain that comes and goes, and I can assure you I could not run nor do what Nadal does. And blisters, well they are only occasion and could be completely avoided if nadal were to wear the correct size shoes. I also believe the shoes throws off his balance and could be responsible for the pressure his knees are subjected to, hence the patella irritation. Look at Tsonga and now Monfils, they have to skip tourneys because of tendinitis and recently Verdasco, his painful knees was painful to watch. Hence, it’s not fair to say one person is dwelling on something and the other is not, because one is systematic and the other is not.

Anyway, I’ve said enough, and I had better stop before the towers of wrath come tumbling down on my head.

JoshDragon Says:

Fed’s game is a mess these days. I hope he puts some effort into the French Open.

vared Says:

They both had the same exact rain delay, you’d think Fed would be able to handle these delays after all this time and all those Wimbledons.

I think Fed might tank the FO early and work on his grass game.

TD (Tam) Says:

I am so happy to see you again! and you are once again my hero for saying this-
“I don’t understand why Staff is making these excuses for Federer, and the correlation of Juan Carlos Ferrero’s chicken pox with Fed’s very minute case of mono. I agree with TD that had Fed suffered the ill effects of mono similar to Ancic, he would not have been able to play without any break in his schedule — he would definitely have had several months of feeling completely wiped out.

Staff needs to stick to the actual news in tennis instead of trying to over-shadow the wins of every opponent Federer has faced and lost to by pulling out the mono card. Fed’s not doing it, so why is staff? Reporting should be about the news as it actually happens and not about coming up with these excuses we see, which are totally irrelevant to what has happened today. I don’t think if Federer had won today, Staff would have mentioned the mono.

Also, I know these articles are just for blogging, but some editing skills should be employed by Staff.”

good luck to the nadal and dokvoic fans tomorrow! I am excited to see this final.

pete Says:

Is the final being rain delayed as well now?

arbiter Says:

Every tennis player has injuries. But to always talk about injuries when you lose is BAD TASTE and players and true fans do not respect that.

This is what Federer said, and other people agree: “If you are fit, you play. If you play, you are fit. End of story”. Which also means – “If you are NOT FIT, then you DON’T PLAY.

That’s simple, right?

arbiter Says:

Federer should not have played AO if he was sick. Djokovic would have beaten some other player, a healthy one, and that guy would not complain that he was sick. If Federer was sick, HE SHOULD NOT HAVE PLAYED.

Ra Says:

“arbiter Says:

Every tennis player has injuries. But to always talk about injuries when you lose is BAD TASTE and players and true fans do not respect that.”

The following is all I can find from Federer after the semifinal loss to Novak in which he makes any mention of injury. I don’t find this to be in bad taste, personally. Are you taking issue with this or with “Staff”? Or maybe you have another source wherein Federer makes additional reference to injury regarding this loss. What I’m seeing here seems to me a totally reasonable assessment of what he feels he needs to accomplish for the rest of the clay season.

From http://www.internazionalibnlditalia.it/1/PopNews.asp?LNG=EN&IDNews=484

“I think I’m playing better obviously than Monaco. The hard work has been paying off, but I’ve just got to fix my serve a little bit. I have the feeling that maybe since I had the back problem, my serve is just not working there where I want it to be. It maybe could have saved me a few times and it didn’t, so that’s something I have to make sure I can fix for Paris. Other than that, there was some good moments which is a good thing. Also some bad ones – I have to make sure they don’t happen as frequently, obviously.”

blah, seriously Says:

It seems to me that people really hold Federer to a completely different standard than other players. While he may be supposedly the “greatest of all time,” he is still a tennis player and is therefore subject to all of the same pitfalls as Djokovic, Murray, Nadal, and the rest. I know that there is a strong tendency to expect more from Fed, but come on. He is aging. He is facing several great players. The playing field is completely different from when he was dominating the game.

Federer came up at a time when there were really no other ‘complete’ players. Hewitt was the best (that should say something, by the way) and Rog only needed to mature mentally in order to usurp the Aussie. Roddick was also rising at the time, but he also did not have a complete game; he heavily relied on his serve. While I do not mean to take anything away from the brilliance of Federer’s game, he emerged and reigned over a swath of players that honestly did not have the ability to overcome his complete game.

As a result, Fed forced the game to another level. Now, players such as Djokovic, Nadal, and Murray have had to cultivate skills that can rival Federer in terms of versatility. Nadal is superb is every part of the court. Djokovic has massively improved his net game. Murray has incredible touch. These three baseliners have therefore become much more than grinders as a direct result of Federer’s mastery over each element of the game.

I would argue, in closing, that Federer is indeed the most technically proficient player of all time. However, he is simply not the greatest competitor. Throughout his most dominant years, he relied on his technical superiority to dominate the field. This is admirable indeed, of course, but…

To call Fed the ‘GOAT’ is another story. He is obviously one of the greatest, but he has won as a result of his complete game at a time when others could not match him. Now that the top 3 guys can stick with him, Federer does not have the same edge, and therefore is unable to win as consistently.

I am a huge fan of Federer. I hope, for his sake, that he is able to break the record. But hope and loyalty is beside the point here; he is past his prime as a result of his own greatness. He has forced the field to catch up to him and, in doing so, has facilitated his own downfall from dominance.

James Says:

Wow, Federer lost once again. He really is a big loser with no talent.

margot Says:

Hi Von: how nice 2 c u back! I’ve been in London for a week and have missed this tournament, just as well after Andy M debacle! Do hope that defeat gives the young man a well needed kick up the youknowwhat! Honestly though, the British Press is so chauvenistic, if a Brit is not playing the tournament is virtually ignored! So much for fans like me who just love the game whatever.
Hi jane: in spite of a Rafa win enabling Andy to move up the rankings, do hope Novak pulls it off today. It would be so great for tennis.

Trish Says:

every players have bad time in their career…..but that doesn’t mean its over. federer is having the same time now…he will improve soon. i believe him. I’m sure he can break the record of pete sampras if he’ll try a little harder.but i hope this in the next year. i know he’ll do it. i don’t care what other says, because i know he’s the best……….u all mus8 understand this.Rog…..go i’m with u always……

q Says:

Why should he retire? He still can compete. It’s not like he’s getting blown away by Nadal or Djoko or Murray. He is below his best. That’s for sure. Nadal is a legend? Of course but Fed’s achievements is still a benchmark. Nadal got his break in the year Fed got mononuclesosis which took a lot of effort by Fed to be cured. So it’s not impossible that Nadal will get an injury or a disease that will make others take advantage of it. Nadal has more masters shield if he wins tomorrow. But Masters Cup still zero.

Cindy_Brady Says:

I don’t think Federer’s Mono had anything to do with his current situation.

Federer had set standards which were impossible to maintain. Also, no one was challenging him on a consistent basis. The competition at the top is just stronger now. He’s getting older. Errors are creeping into his game. His confidence isn’t what it used to be. No coach. Extreme arrogance on his part. Stubbornness. These things lead to collapses against good players at the end of big matches. Alla the 5th set at the AO, Miami and now Rome.

Nadal, Murray, and Djokovic don’t give into him. Don’t beat themselves. They know if they hang in points long enough, extend matches, Fed will make errors. Those 3 have both the fire power and defensive capabilities to wear down Fed’s game.

No more grand slams for Fed.

Ezorra Says:

Thanks for your reply Ra. I appreciate it.

To my dear Von, thanks to you too. Miss you so very much. Please don’t leave us again…


Jane always reminds me of Paula Abdul of American Idol
MMT – Randy Jackson
Von – Simon Cowell of course!
Sean – Ryan Seacrast because he always has on and off relationship with Von :)

Vvx Says:

Pathetic Pathology

7 Jan 2008 – Federer – I have a tummy ache and I can’t play Kooyong.

15 Jan 2008 – Federer sweeps past Diego Hartfield in the 1st rnd of the Australian Open and states:

“Yeah, I’m fine now, like nothing ever happened, which is a good thing. I was never in doubt of not playing here. I’m past being sick. I’m looking forward to a healthy two weeks.”

17 Jan 2008 – Federer betters Tipsarevic

“No, I mean, I’m happy that the sickness didn’t bother me today in the match, and that’s what I told you guys. I wasn’t bluffing or anything. I thought I was ready for those matches, and I proved it tonight, which is nice.”

21 Jan 2008 – Federer blows away Berdych

Q. Any effects from the five-set match the other night?
A. “I felt good. Looking forward to see how I feel in the next match again.”

23 Jan 2008 – Federer blasts Blake

“I’m very happy the way it’s been going.”

25 Jan 2008 – Floundering Federer schooled by Dominant Djokovic

The dormant “virus” reappears:

“It (the “virus”) might have had an effect on my movement, I don’t know. But I definitely didn’t feel as quick, you know, as some other times.”

2 Mar 2008 – Federer looks forward to Dubai

“I am feeling mentally and physically refreshed and I think (taking the break) was a good decision. What is more important is that I am feeling much better now than I was ever feeling at the Australian Open. So, after struggling a bit there, I am just happy and excited to be back on the court healthy.”

3 Mar 2008 – Mauled by Murray, Federer fumes about opponent’s tactics and gets his first real bashing from the press for being a sore loser.

No mention of illness.

8 Mar 2008 – Mysterious Mono Mauls Frail Federer

Out of nowhere, what started as food poisoning has become the weakest strain of mononucleosis that ever existed.

Make what you will of this pathetic pathology but the only two things can be deduced for certain from this chain of events are that:

1) Federer’s word means absolutely nothing

2) If indeed Federer did have mono, then he must have had a strain that was so weak that doctors should really try to isolate it and use it as a vaccine.

If you have mono, you go to bed, possibly for weeks. You do not run around in the Melbourne heat for 5 sets against Tipsarevic and then return to blow away Berdych two days later.

All that happened in the SF in Australia 2008 is that Federer lost to a more complete player whose head was on straight for a change that day.

Al Says:

Personally I do not think it matters if Federer is injured or not, was sick or not. It is irrelevant. Fitness is part of sports. All players have things that they need to deal with.

I do believe that Federer in his press conferences is trying to stay positive and focused. Reading his interview after the match, I actually thought it was an actual his honest assesment of the match. No one can maintain the level that Federer has maintained forever, it just is not possible. It happens to all players. Certainly, things can work itself out for him and maybe he can grab another slam or 2 but for anyone think that he will once again be a dominant force as before is foolishness.
I have read that Federer had a mild case of mono. I remember when Vladisova had mono around the same time as Anic had she was out for a very long period of time as well. Now she was never the same again. Federer–he will be okay.

Anyway looking forward to the Final-GO NOLE!!

Polo Says:

BAD KARMA: Federer’s decline started when he played that series of exhibition matches with Sampras. That series seemed to have been prematurely and preposterously claiming that Federer is the best ever. I thought that Federer did not have to get involved in that because he had nothing to gain from it (well, lots of money but I figured he already has more than enough). True enough, he lost one match in that series which I thought means that he could not be considered the GOAT (though I never believed in that title)if he could be beaten by a guy well past his prime and who has not played competitively for years. And what follows is what we have been seeing from Federer lately. Call it bad karma.

Skorocel Says:

Huh, this Fed is one funny man! Does he really think that all those matches he played before the FO against Nadal really helped the Spaniard?! Hm, maybe in raising his confidence, but that was already sky-high when Nadal trashed him back in Miami 2004… You’re so funny, Roger! The truth is, if there was someone who should learn something from these matches, it should be YOU, not Nadal :-) He has your number virtually since 2005, and after all, it’s not like you’ve won, say, the first 2 or 3 of your matches on clay, and then Rafa has turned the series around… Funny boy, this Roger!

Skorocel Says:

“Former No. 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero’s career was never the same after an illness, and Swiss Roger Federer seems to be on the same career arc. Federer contracted mono at the end of 2007, and has never been the same player since.”

Ha ha, you’re making my day with this one, tennis-x.com staff! This dry humour and irony is precisely WHY I love this website! Comparing Ferrero to Federer? Hilarious :-)

Skorocel Says:

NachoF said: “the Federer that won the 07 Shaghai Masters Cup was not the same guy that stepped into the Aussie Open 08….”

What makes you think he was THAT good in Shanghai? To tell you the truth, I’m a BIG fan of his, but even I have to admit that, except his serve (which, in the semis and finals of that particular tourney, was almost Sampras-like), there wasn’t that much to celebrate… Yeah, he gave Nadal the biggest thrashing thus far, but that was at a time when the Spaniard was already too tired after another golden clay & SW19 harvest, and MOREOVER, on perhaps the quickest surface you can play tennis nowadays… In other words, you WOULD EXPECT Fed beating the Spaniard in those particular circumstances!

As for the other matches, I guess there’s nothing much to say… He first lost to Gonzo (after a pretty decent performance, but still, it was a LOSS), and then beat the eternal underachiever Davy (who, as Von already pointed out, always chokes against him) and A-Rod (who, thus far, managed to win as many as 2 matches vs Fed)… And Ferrer? This guy’s game was (and still is) literally SUITED for the Swiss, so after all, what was that great on his TMC 2007 run?

zola Says:

Perhaps Federer needs to take proper time , maybe six months, a year , off and attend to his body (back, mono, etc.) and come back healthy to achieve his goals. If it is so serious to cost him a match, maybe he should not play while having these conditions ( mono, back, etc.)

Skorocel Says:

Anyone watching the final? Is it again gonna be a best of 3?

Kimmi Says:

All finals in MS are best of 3. Nadal in scary good form. C’mon Djoker you can do it.

Yan Says:

What is a good online site to watch this at? thanks,

zinaldo Says:

Federer problem is that back in 2004 – 2007 no one could really push or believed they could beat him, you could see federer doing the same things he is doing now back then whenever someone stood up to him the just doesn’t like being pressurized, federer wins with his immense talent but whenever he has to fight to do so, he just not able to.

You could see yesterday anytime the points got bigger of any pressure points, he was just panicking,it was ok when djoko wasn’t making him work federer was handling it way better, that should tell you about someone psyche.

But what is now more than obvious is that whenever top players attack roger backhand they will get a fair chance at beating him, coz that shot is just ridiculously rubbish, he pretty much can’t rally with it, and also he only seems to be able to hit cross court with,the shot is so weak, djokovic attacked him more on that side and turned the match in his favour,a bit like rafa and murray have done, it is now clear that unless roger is having a good day he can’t beat them guys from the back of the court anymore, that is why you see him slice a lot coz he just doesn’t have the confidence and the consistency to do so anymore.

One thing that really tells me roger ain’t gonna be the same anymore was watching roger struggled against andy roddick, a guy he has only lost to twice but you would have thought it was the other way around, unless someone really helps roger mental psyche i cannot see him doing much ever again in the slams.

SG Says:

2007 Wimbledon signalled a bit of a changing of the guard. Yes, Federer beat Nadal. But he beat an injured Nadal and he didn’t beat him by much. I’ll go back even a little further. I think the turning point in Fed’s career happened while he was in the midst of his dominance. He lost that unbelievable 5 set final to Nadal in Rome. That loss put a dent in Fed’s psyche that I don’t think he ever fully recovered from. And it gave Nadal the belief that if he can just hang in there with Federer, he will eventually wear him down.

SG Says:

And Nadal has built his success against Fed on a solid foundation. He’s beaten Federer on every surface and he’s never wilted in the big moments.

Top story: Rafael Nadal Confirms He'll Skip Wimbledon, Focus On Olympics