Roger Federer: I’m Picking Rafa to Beat Djokovic Sunday
by Tom Gainey | April 2nd, 2011, 12:34 pm

A disconsolate Roger Federer spoke to the media last night and he picked his friend Rafael Nadal to beat Novak Djokovic Sunday in the Sony Ericsson Open men’s final.

“Novak has been playing great this season,” Federer said after suffering a 63, 62 semifinal loss Friday night to Nadal. “I think Rafa is going to give Novak a run for the money, and I’m going to pick Rafa.”

Federer turned away Nadal in the 2005 Miami final in their last meeting in America. “He should have beaten me here six years ago I was down two sets to love and a break and breakpoints if I am not mistaken. So he should have gotten that one, but I snuck that one out on him.”

About the Friday match, Federer, who falls to 15-8 against Nadal, said it tough was tough adjusting to a left-handed player and that the slow surface hurt his chances.

“I knew it was slow, but just makes it so hard it hit through him on a surface like this,” Federer said. “Then maybe you try to overhit a bit, and then obviously I start taking wrong decisions on big points.”

“Particularly against players like Rafa who like to have a bit more time and gives the, an opportunity to return from way back, from in front, defend like they can and so forth, it’s definitely helpful. You can’t sort of shoot through the court too much. It’s always got to be worked out every rally. That’s not how we played against each other in London, and knew it wasn’t going to be anything like this tonight. But, yeah, it’s what it is. I’ve played really well on this surface in the past. Tonight, unfortunately, it wasn’t the night for me.”

Federer admitted to trying to shorten the rallies and try some different tactics, but nothing was working against the blistering Nadal.

“I was determined and trying to cut down the length of the rallies, taking the ball early, serving well and mixing it up well and then a few specific details I’m not going to share but I wasn’t able to do to tonight; Rafa was able to do his game plan, and he deserves to be in the finals.”

Against his main rivals Nadal and Djokovic, Federer is 0-4 in 2011 with only one set won in 10.

“I wish I could play better right now against those guys, but it is what it is,” the Swiss added. “I’m the last guy who gets pulled all the way down and then can’t get up for the next tournament.”

Federer says he’ll now fly to Monte Carlo for the red clay tournament which begins next Monday.

Here are Nadal-Federer highlights (or lowlights if you are a Federer fan) from the match yesterday:

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33 Comments for Roger Federer: I’m Picking Rafa to Beat Djokovic Sunday

billyboy512 Says:

I feel so sorry for him.

leo vixen Says:

I feel sorry for him as well. The media has not been nice to Roger these past few years, awaiting his downfall, as if he was a Gladiator in a Coliseum about to be slaughtered and everyone is cheering for his head on a platter. He has accomplished a great deal in his career and the bar he has set for himself and others is incredibly high. Unfortunately, in the life of such a tremendous athlete and all athletes, father time is not very kind. It is the natural order of things. I hope for his sake he can win several more majors and then retire on a high and finally silence everyone else once and for all.

billyboy512 Says:

NO, I feel sorry for him that he thinks he can win any more majors. Poor thing.

van orten Says:

the media is talking writing shit…i wonder if they will treat rafa the same when he starts losing every tournament he enters in the semis or finals…people are crazy …fed is so right he just shouldnt answer any more

grendel Says:

““I knew it was slow, but just makes it so hard it hit through him on a surface like this,” Federer said. “Then maybe you try to overhit a bit, and then obviously I start taking wrong decisions on big points.”

That seems to be it in a nutshell. I didn’t see the Nadal/Berdych match, but presumably Berdych DID manage to hit through Nadal from time to time, and even if Nadal wasn’t playing as well as against Federer, this is still significant. Fed’s movement not being quite so good as it was, it’s going to affect his timing. And Federer’s timing used to be second to none – brute force just never was his forte.

I think Federer’s allusion to the previous Miami battle (which he says Nadal should have won) was not accidental. He is signalling, perhaps, that on this type of court Nadal would always have had the advantage on him. The implication then is that the defeat is not too desperate – things can turn around on surfaces more conducive to his style of play.

That’s a reasonable hypothesis, so we just have to wait and see and hope. But as a rider – it wasn’t just that it was a defeat, it was the manner of the defeat. That has to be of concern, regardless of the surface.

sheila Says:

ive read some horrible things about federer w/this defeat. hes still #3 in the world & hes 5 yrs older than nadal & 6yrs older than djokovic. true his consistency has slipped hes still a gr8 player. on tennis bleacher report, the mean spirited remarks against federer r simply uncalled 4. when nadal starts losing will people b as mean spirited towards him. federer has accomplished so much & yet people rip him 2shreds. we all have r fvt players but 2b so mean spirited boggles my naive little mind

madmax Says:

Federer has enough class to ride the storm sheila. I read a couple of things on bleacher too today, but this one, I think is kind of funny in a way – especially as the writer most definitely does NOT want roger to befriend rafa. He says the bromance can wait until they both retire. He might have a point.

billyboy, that’s just a stupid thing to say and you show your ignorance. the last thing any great champion wants is what you’re offering.

Queen Says:

I am not a Fed fan but what he did for the sport is remarkable. Whover writes shit about his demise etc, c’mon people have some respect. If he wins more slams only time will show. I just think that it is very disrespectful to treat him and any other player this way. If I was Fed I would tell the world to f..k off.

jane Says:

Stat: “The final will be the first time since 1995 that those two Masters have featured the same two finalists. It was Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras who split the honours on that occasion.”

CY Says:

I usually keep my peace when reading comments about the greatest rivalry in sporting history. But, following the semi-finals I’m a bit on the perturbed side.

First thing’s first: Roger played poorly. Rafa played better than he did. That’s why he won. End of story.

Secondly: Because of the nature of humanity, building up “idols” in order to beat them down again, we’re always going to get talk of the inevitable downfall when they don’t win tournaments (when Rafa beat Roger at Wimbledon; when Rafa lost Roland Garros for the first time; etc.) It’s childish instigation that doesn’t belong in any intelligent conversation about sport.

Reading through comments on either side of this so-called debate has disgusted me for the past two days and I felt the urge to speak up for some reason. All I know is that these two have redefined sport for the past decade and to disrespect one in lieu of praising another’s greatness is appalling. I know I’m setting myself up to be upset, but I torture myself reading through unintelligent opinions anyway…I’m an idiot, let’s just move on. From the Bleacher Report to YouTube, it seems the only thing you’ll ever find are die-hard fans of either one of these men degrading the other (calling Federer old or any other manner of ridiculous claim; leaving derogatory comments, bordering on hate speech, against Nadal, mostly geared towards his heritage or how he doesn’t play the way that Federer plays). It’s sickening.

It seems the last thing anyone ever wants to do is show respect. I’m a Rafa fan, let’s just say it plainly. However, you’d have to be daft to the point of idiocy to not appreciate the grace and elegance of Federer’s game, the domination he’s had over the sport for the better half of a decade. On the flip side, you’d have to be ignorant and down right uncouth to suggest that Rafa’s passion for the sport, his humility, and his ever-evolving game isn’t worthy of admiration.

These men are giants among so many mortals and deserve respect in both victory and defeat. Anything less is inflammatory and shouldn’t be allowed in the mix with those who want nothing more than to enjoy the complexities of their rivalry and the earnestness of their off-court friendship.

Yes, Roger played poorly last night; Rafa earned his victory by playing his game and playing it well. He elevates when he plays the best. However, both know the feeling of having an off day or a shaky start to the season. It’s the story of sport, my friends.

I’m sorry for being so long-winded, but I just feel as though most people (media especially) are so ready to forget how masterful these two actually are in their respective style of play. It’s a shame that we create these idols just to enjoy watching them suffer professionally. I suppose that’s all I’ve got to say. I love Rafa and wish him the best of luck tomorrow. I admire and respect Roger and know whether or not we does win another Major title, this sport owes him everything. Without these two greats, tennis would’ve fizzled into obscurity after Pete and Andre for quite some time. I just wish that people could show respect and leave the derogatory speech in kindergarten where it belongs.

Mila Says:

While ago, when media was glorifying his wins and his superiority, Federer was enjoying press conferences – did not mind questions at all.
Now, all of sudden, he is getting annoyed with legitimate and obvious concerns about his decline. I did not notice a single personal or insulting question at yesterday’s press conference, yet he gets very annoyed – similar to Martina Navratilova statement that annoyed him so much that he became personal by turning to sarcasm and mentioning her hiking trips to Africa.

That is why, I cannot like the guy even if I tried hard to. His character flaws are getting harder to hide as he starts to lose more and on regular basis. His inevitable decline as a player has started, but his decline as a human being is even uglier to witness. And admit it or not, very few of us are capable judging a player solely on his game skills, character is often the most important part of a player’s appeal.

For Federer, this is just a beginning – there’ll be more humiliating defeats like the one last night, more press conferences filled with questions he dislikes, and more tears both privately and publicly displayed.

At the end he’ll emerge better person from it all, with a real sense of humility, something he badly needed all his tennis career.

In the meantime, it’ll be ugly to watch, but I will enjoy every single second of it, similar to how some of his fans enjoyed his convincing victories (e.g. over Rochus the other night).

Looking forward to the new era of tennis with emotional players and gracious losers such as Rafael, Novak, and Andy M.

dari Says:

Mila, sounds like you took the press conference more seriously than fed.
“At the end he’ll emerge better person from it all, with a real sense of humility, something he badly needed all his tennis career.” I almost laughed out loud- who are you to say what roger federer needed during his wildly successful career?
I can’t believe that you wrote that you are going to enjoy the “ugly” part of his career in the same sense that people enjoy some good shot- making of his. Sounds like fed isn’t the only one who needs to work on his character.

skeezerweezer Says:

^ “ditto” here dari, otherwise, not worth the longer response, will let others chime in…

Kimmi Says:

djoko had an easy draw this time..i wonder if that is a disadvantage for him.

rafa draw was easy in IW when he got a challenge in the final he folded. but this time he is all prepared i think.

Hope we get a good match and hoping for nole win.

ha-ha last week i was rooting for nadal he lost..this week i am rooting for nole..hope i am not a jinx.

Kimberly Says:

my two cents and i’m not trying to cause trouble:

I wasn’t at the match last night and everyone on this sight knows i’m a hardcore rafa fan but the consensus amongst those were there last night at the match today (they were very disappointed and were hardcore fed fans) was that Roger really didn’t show up and that he owed his fans and tennis more. That after a few games, struggling with the conditions he conceded rather than fought. And had he fought who knew what might have happenend. Their opinion not mine. Maybe he would have still lost. Maybe not.

The Miami Herald absolutely tore him apart. My husband who is a fed fan althoguh lessening and spreading out to other players (still hardcore anti-rafa) thinks he deserved it. He thinks that as a 16 time GS champion world class player, number 3 in the world you don’t simply not show up to match that people paid $2000 to see. You’ve got to believe you can win it. Sharapova got completely torn apart by Azarenka, result was really never in doubt from the third game on, but she still tried to rally at the end from 0-4 and fight. SHe still tried and fought and cared even though she was comprehensively outplayed.

In the grand scheme of things, lets not assign overimportance to a master series tournament performance, however. If Fed starts having these types of matches in grand slams then I think the decline talk is more justified. And lets not forget the fact that Kim Cljsters essentially did a no show against Azarenka. Obviously Fed held to a higher standard than Kim, there weren’t any screaming headlines about her no-show. Then again, her seats were prob selling at $200 per ticket max, not $2000.

And Daveed Ferrer basically conceded the match at the beginning of the second set against Fish.

Vani Says:

THIS MILA HAS SOME ISSUES IM TELLING. GIRL you are hateful human being ok! For your info i was there at the Sony Ericsson and Novak and Nadal who I admired so much stop for only a few autographys without one single smile like their were kings, while Roger sign up auto for everybody that was in line waiting for him. Novak WILL NEVER ACHIEVE what Roger did because he has no personality and he is full of himself> he does have the game but Roger and Nadal will always be the our favorites and Novak will always be the shadow. Roger was a great champion and will always be but unfortunately everything must come to an end. Now for you Mila you need serious mental help honey. or maybe a HEART. You probably never hold a racquet so you have no idea what this game is about.

Tennis Vagabond Says:

You know, you drop a tiny bit on the scale and the odds of any eventuality change across the board. The odds of losing to Rafa or Novak in general increase, and the odds of losing badly go up just a tad. I will go out on a limb to say he is not going to play this bad every time he plays Rafa or Novak. But the odds are just a bit higher on any given day, right?
Roger had a very bad day. Doesn’t still mean he won’t win a major. Just a little worse odds.

dari Says:

I read the Miami herald article(s) and neither of them or what you heard, Kimberly say the same thing as mila’s post.
I paid nothing and I was pissed at the poor play and attitude!

funches Says:

Funny, but it seems to me Federer is playing better on hard courts this year than the last few. Instead of losing to Canas twice or Berdych/Baghdatis, he loses to Djokovic and Nadal. That’s improvement, and that’s why he gets so irritated with the Fed is dead line of questioning.

killerc Says:

Roger got ROCKED. He served bad, didn’t alter his return of serve position and shanked too many volleys– not to mention was feeling Nadal’s speed soooo he was going for too much (aiming too wide)- rather than building a better point.
If Federer is gonna make it back he’s gonna have to alter his patterns against the top 2 guys, work his strengths more (changing paces – slices, placing better serves/ground strokes, fh down the line on ad court and most importantly FINISH AT THE NET BETTER). Can’t teach an old dog new tricks they say but I believe this what many call the GOAT … Can do it! Agassi came back and won the French Open at 29! So age doesn’t matter to a point.
Djoker is on a mad streak like McEnroe 84′ I believe he’s gonna take sunday’s rafa match. His return of serve and BH has been on fire.

WTF Says:

Kim that’s contradictory to what Fed himself actually said. Why would he not fight? In his interview, he said he tried everything but nothing was working.

“I was determined and trying to cut down the length of the rallies, taking the ball early, serving well and mixing it up well and then a few specific details I’m not going to share but I wasn’t able to do to tonight; Rafa was able to do his game plan, and he deserves to be in the finals.”

funches Says:

Yeah, Federer tried hard. He just didn’t have it. He also got unlucky that he didn’t break Rafa at the start of the second set, with first a Rafa shot clipping the back of the baseline and then a Rafa shot hitting the tape, going over and messing up Fed’s timing.

Might have been a closer match with that break, more similar to the Rafa-Berdych match.

margot Says:

Mila @6.01 is it not possible to acknowledge Fed as one of the gr8est ever, while also not wishing to invite him for dinner?

madmax Says:

Mila you ought to read federer’s interviews and get your facts right before you start making such wild accusations about federer. Federer always gives his time but there comes a point where the same questions to him by reporters goading him into retirement are going to get to him and I think he was remarkably restrained. When the same questions have been asked of him since 2008. And as for autograph signing? I was in the crowd last year and he spent more than 45 minutes AFTER the match signing autographs AND then he gave his interviews straight after, one after the other – so dont tell me that federer doesn’t give of his time willingly. Everyone knows he does.

This time (compared to last year), he played both IW and Miami much more positively this year, NOW he needs to take it to the next level.

He was out in the fourth rounds last year and I remember his comments very clearly after his post match interview – ‘Thank God the hard court season is over’. Because Roger has beaten everybody else but Rafa and Nole right now, and he’s having trouble with them because they’ve spent the last half a decade raising their game in order to beat him. It’s just he has been so used to winning everything. Those times have gone. That has to be a readjustment for him mentally. Even more recently in terms of the psychology of the sport.

I really wish the media would stop asking him those benign questions because soon, they are going to get a shock. ROGER FEDERER RETIRES – how odd does that sound? That is what they are goading him into.

Roger is 0-4 this year against Rafa and Nole, and 22-0 against everyone else. I think that’s an awesome stat. Roger hasn’t played Rafa as frequently as he used to, and in the meantime, Rafa has improved every aspect of his game his serve, his placement, his ability to adapt.

Roger lacked the fire in his tennis yesterday and that could be for a number of reasons. When a player keeps telling you in interviews that their love for the sport and their motivation is what keeps them going and the drive to regain no. 1 then to me, that’s a target. That’s something to aim for and there isn’t anything wrong with that. If he still believes he can do it and is willing to be assigned to a new coach (who has made changes to his game), then who are we to argue with the mighty fed?

Mila your post is ridiculous. It was just a disappointing display from someone who is so much better than last night.

We all know that.

Kimberly Says:

I really wish the media would stop asking him those benign questions because soon, they are going to get a shock. ROGER FEDERER RETIRES – how odd does that sound? That is what they are goading him into.


I don’t think that is a headline anyone, fed fans, nadalites, anti-fed fans, or the media even want to see for at least two years. But the media suck. THey have to spin some kind of story to get people to read their crap. You can understand why some of the players can be jerks during their pressers. Having been on the other side of it with Rafa, during the 11 month title drought I can sympathize. And actually Roger stood up for him during the interviews that they relentlessly questioned him abouot Nadals demise and title drought.

Dory Says:

India SUCKS. No channel is broadcasting the ATP final but three channels are broadcasting the same repeat telecast of Cricket World Cup Final again. My internet isn’t fast enough to view streaming either. So I will miss the final (crying).

Mike Says:

Mila sounds like one of those idiotic Nadal fangirls

“enjoy every minute” of his downfall? you know the only reasons anti-Fedites say stuff like this is because they suffered every minute of his 5 year domination

and i know will suffer again when Federer does knock off the occasional big win here and there so that makes me glad

Skeezerweezer Says:

^ “ditto” Mike, and the pain she will have to live with for all time with Feds 16 slams will be something she will have to bear.

That said, Kudos and props to all the other Novak fans, who have been more than fair about Fed/Rafa and been patient to get there due praise of Novak…hottest player of 2011!!!!

Swiss Maestro Says:

Come on guys! nadal has been ripped apart by nalbandian in madrid and paris, davydenko in a miami final, roddick at usopen 2004, federer in shanghai 07, gonzo in 06 aus open, delpotro in usopen 09 and so on….

fed himself was beaten very badly by fish in 08 indianwells, french open 08 final and a few more that i am sure idiots like mila will surely remember.

the point i am trying to make is that even the best get ripped apart on off days.

to those who claim fed was not trying enough, remember a few things :

i think steve tignor says it quite often, fed makes everything look effortless and easy that even when he loses, many a time it looks like he is doing so effortlessly.

let us not forget nadal is 5years younger than federer, he should be more hungry for a win at this point than federer. so federer getting outplayed is the norm and the surprise should be when he actually beats these guys.

Let us not forget what djokovic did to nadal two days later. if joker was not a league below nadal and federer, (in the bigger picture, maybe he will end up quite a few rungs below even nadal)he would have absolutely thrashed nadal in miami.

the underdog will always have the advantage against a champion of repute in pressure situations. nadal swings so freely when he played federer, because he was the guy hunting. if djokovic was a better player he would have realised the advantage of his position as a hunter and rafa being the hunted much earlier. murray definitely did that in usopen 08, and aus open 2010. djokovic on the other hand choked away in wimbledon 2007, hamburg 2008, madrid 2009, olymipcs 2008 and usopen 2010.

as a federer fan, i would say better late than never. forget how many further slams federer will win, i think the clock is ticking for nadal’s success at slams. with murray, delpotro and djokovic entering their peak times, nadal’s decline might have well started. he used to have a tremendous recodr in finals, he has now lost 3 straight. he used to have a terrific record winning the matches after winning the 1st, now he has lost 2 in consecutive matches to djokovic.

while the journalists are busy trying to push roger into retirement, i feel the odds of rafa retiring before roger are steadily on the rise. the injuries and playing style mean it is not at all a improbable scenario at all.

dari Says:

Rafa retires before roger!
I know I’ve heard it before, but my eyes are bulging out of their sockets right now!
Rafa has said before he doesn’t want to play to 30 years of age, I think his words were “if I am still playing tennis at 30 years…” finish with “drag me off the court” whatever you like, but he was not entertaining the idea in the slightest.
So if he turns 25 this summer and roger 30, then roger juat has to play to 35?
Interesting. It will depend on how competitive fed is, cause he is not the hang around type in my opinion.
Is there a baby boy roger in the future? Keep embossing “roger federer” on grand slam.plaques?

MalaMo Says:

@ CY
BRAVO for your post!

manfif Says:

just my 2 cents…
i think nadal had a big advantage vs federer, 5 years old its a lot in tennis.
and federer was not in rhythm, he played one hot day, then the next at 1am, and then he didnt play one match.
those who says that a forfeit is an advantage, dont played tennis in life.
you need those 2 and 3 round matches, anyone can see how players start tournaments so-so, and get better and better after each match, nadal was in rhythm, federer dont.
and all we know nadal will be winning more matches as times go…
those miami 2005, rome and montecarlo 2006, those match to remenber were 5 years ago, when federer was 25.
those who think we will ever see another great match between federer and nadal, like in the 2006, are kidding themselves.

Reyter Says:

Federer is finished. His skill game has been smashed apart by the power of Djokovic and Nadal.

A more interesting question is if Federer is now trying to conceal his hatred of Djokovic? He accepts Nadal is better than him but he would rather lose to any other player 6 times in a row than to Djokovic 3 times in a row.

Poor Roger…… I expect that he goes home and cries after getting smashed by Djokovic.

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