Roger Federer: Playing Djokovic, “It’s Going To Be An Interesting Day” [Video]
by Tom Gainey | May 31st, 2011, 6:31 pm

The only man who hasn’t lost a set at the French Open this year is Roger Federer. The 2009 champion defeated French favorite Gael Monfils today in straight sets 64, 63, 76(3) to reach another French Open and Grand Slam semifinal.

Monfils mounted a challenge late in the third set but the Frenchman appeared to injure his groin just as Federer pulled away in the tiebreaker. It was the third time Federer has knocked out Monfils at the French Open,

On Friday Federer will face off against the near-invincible Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. And Djokovic has won 43 straight matches and is perfect 41-0 this year.

“I think there’s less at stake for me than for him,” Federer said. “He’s got a lot of things going on for him. Sure, I’d love to be again in the Grand Slam final because I haven’t achieved that in a few slams. But nothing major for me as long as I, you know, keep on giving myself chances. I think I’m playing really well again.”

Federer though has lost three straight to Novak this year, but still leads 13-9 overall in their series.

“We’ve played quite a bit up until Indian Wells really in a six month period,” Federer said. “I think we played six, seven times, maybe. So this is obviously different. They were all on hard court, indoor, and so forth. This is on clay. Like we saw today, I mean, windy conditions change everything, really.

“I have a couple of days to prepare for that and come up with a good game plan,” he added. “I don’t think I have to change a whole lot, but there is a lot to change because it’s a clay court match.”

A win by Djokovic over Federer would earn him the No. 1 ranking, a fact not lost on Federer.

“Obviously a big question remains, how long can you keep it up? I said it a couple weeks ago,” Federer said. “It’s just hard day in and day out to be asked the questions, How many more wins can you get? You would just like to, you know, not talk about it. Just go out there and do it over and over again. So I’m sure it’s been tricky for him, but he’s been doing a great job.

“Now maybe the streak is less at stake in some ways because it’s more of a big match against me so it’s easier to focus just on playing me instead of the whole situation. But I think the No. 1 situation is the big one right now for him, I think, and not so much the streak. But it all goes hand in hand. It’s going to be an interesting day.”

And one last word from the victim, Monfils, who says it’s going to be a great match. “Novak plays so well that there’s going to be an incredible match, a wonderful semifinal. I’ll be the first one to watch the match.”

Djokovic was the recipient of a rare walkover from Fabio Fognini who withdrew from the tournament because of the leg injury.

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23 Comments for Roger Federer: Playing Djokovic, “It’s Going To Be An Interesting Day” [Video]

dari Says:

Fed looks like a pimp in his tan jacket!
On a serious note, I am very pleased with the fed I have seen at the FO this year so far. Great serving, aggressive clay court tennis, minor and non-detrimental break point-itis. keeping a positive and clear attitude along the way amidst all the Rafa is down, nole streak, Murray ankle, crazy ballboy…
Rog is just there doing his thing, quite drama free.
Allez Rog

Dan Martin Says:

I think this speaks to Roger’s crazy consistency since he started winning slams. Prior to this year at the slam on his worst surface he has won 1 title, been a 3 time runner-up, reached one semi and two quarters. This year will mean at worst a 2nd semifinal finish. Those are better FO results than just about any one time French Open winner (JCF, Muster, Chang, Agassi, Costa, Gaudio, Gomez …).

andrea Says:

i hope he makes it to the final if only to witness the media frenzy wondering “is he back?”

damn the guy is almost 30 and still makes the sport look effortless.

Kimmi Says:

allez rog

dave Says:

What the victim said in full:
Question: “Now that you’ve played against Federer, what do you think about the semifinals between Federer and Djokovic? Who’s going to win this?”
Gael Monfils: “Who’s going to win? I have no idea. As usual, you know, Roger, as I said yesterday we tend to forget this, by the way Roger is always very much present. He’s got a lot of ambitions still. However, today I wanted to offer a good match to him. But as usual, he was present. He was there. But Novak plays so well that there’s going to be an incredible match, a wonderful semifinal. I’ll be the first one to watch the match.”
Question: “What bothers you in (Federer’s) game? Is it that he plays fast? You don’t have enough time?”
Gael Monfils: “Yes, he changes the pace, and he changes the pace so quickly. This hurts. He’s the only one almost to hurt you that much, that quickly. All of a sudden he strikes the ball.”

Federer may have lost three straight to Novak this year (Australian Open and Indian Wells: Federer won 49% of points, Djokovic 51%). But Federer remains the last player to beat Djokovic, when he blitzed Novak at November’s World Tour Finals semifinal. That was the third consecutive match that Djokovic lost to Federer (Shanghai, Basel, WTF). Djokovic has turned the tables on Federer since January. By that time Novak had benefitted from the ‘doctor’ he hired last July (whom he admitted is “a great psychologist as well”). Regardless, at the French Open, Djokovic showed cracks against Del Potro, but the Argentine did not have enough match practice and confidence to exploit his opportunities (and he was a slow starter on both days). Thus it would be interesting to see how Djokovic performs against Federer on Friday. It’s likely that both Federer and Nadal have been training hard and practising new tactics to beat Djokovic (that’s probably one reason why Nadal has been patchy recently — the changes to his ‘A’ Game are not yet grooved).

Federer — like every other player — knows that Djokovic would get the No. 1 ranking by wining on Friday. He mentioned this obvious fact in answer to a reporter’s question. If Djokovic wins the French Open and becomes No. 1 for a short term, it actually benefits Roger as it silences those pundits who had jumped on the Nadal bandwagon. In any case, a win by Federer on Friday is possible and nice, but not necessary. Federer has nothing to lose as Djokovic is the favourite. Federer’s form at Roland Garros suggests he will continue to have chances at future majors (especially Wimbledon). After Agassi reached Federer’s age today, he won three more majors over a span of 13 majors (but Andre was nowhere as consistent as Roger in reaching the latter rounds of majors or remaining among the top three players).

Federer’s level of performance remains consistently high. In ATP tournaments since 2010 Wimbledon, Federer has a win-loss match record of 68-11 compared to Nadal’s 58-11 and Djokovic’s 67-8 (despite Novak’s 41 consecutive wins this year). Federer is the only player who has reached at least the quarterfinals or better of 20 of his last 21 consecutive tournaments since 2010 Estoril (13 months ago). At this French Open, Federer is the only player to quickly win all his matches without dropping a set. What’s more amazing is that Federer faced more rounds of seeded or dangerous opponents (four rounds: No. 9 Monfils, No. 14 Wawrinka, No. 32 Tipsarevic, No. 41 Feliciano Lopez) compared to either Djokovic (two rounds: No. 16 Gasquet, No. 26 Del Potro) or Nadal (three rounds: No. 5 Soderling, No. 37 Ljubicic, No.39 Isner). Federer appears to win without much challenge because Roger has the unique ability to do a lot of different things and change his game up to disrupt his opponent’s rhythm and timing, thus nullifying their pace and game. Had Federer faced Isner, Andujar or Del Potro, it’s possible he would not have dropped a set given the form he is in.

Federer interview

Monfils interview

Dory Says:

dave, WONDERFUL POST!!!!! I see you show how Roger is THE BEST!!!!!!!

stu Says:

lol “I’m very happy”

Eric Says:

dave yes, great post! very informative and interesting… go roger

madmax Says:

I’ll second that Eric. Dave, you must spend hours on finding out all that information! Good for you!

Want to wish Roger all the best for Friday. Really hope he can beat novak, though I respect Novak and what he has achieved, it is time for Roger to establish again that he is a major force in slams. I know he’s reached the semis, so onwards and upwards for roge! I think he can do this.

I have been really impressed with Roger’s frame of mind and his determination during this tournament. He is such a joy to watch.

Go Roger!

kriket Says:

Hopefully, it will be even more interesting to Đoković, after their match :)

jane Says:

andrea, by chance do you work for cbc? Just curious. GO CANUCKS!

fed is afraid Says:

roger has a better chance against novak than nadal does.

Polo Says:

Roger has a better chance against Novak than Nadal.
Novak has a better chance against Nadal than Roger.
Nadal has a better chance against Federer than Novak.
All three has a better chance against Andy than vice versa.
If we follow this probabilities, Nadal wins.

dave Says:

Thanks Dory, Eric and Madmax. Madmax, actually it just takes only a few minutes of quick counting as well as memory, once you know where to find the facts. Btw, Nadal’s ATP tourney win-loss since Wimbledon improved to 59-11 today.

Federer has beaten Djokovic more times (four) over the past one year than any other player. This suggests the player most likely to beat Djokovic is Federer. Federer has a better chance against Djokovic on Friday than he did at the Australian Open (where Djokovic’s improved form since the World Tour Finals surely caught Federer and Nadal by surprise).

Federer has a dilemma. Of course he wants to beat Djokovic (to be the player who bookended the start and end of Djokovic’s streak), win a second French Open (and in the process win his second Career Grand Slam) and regain the No. 1 ranking (which he might if he won the French Open and Wimbledon, with an early loss by Djokovic).

Yet, oddly, Roger’s legacy (relative to Nadal’s legacy) may benefit more if Djokovic takes the No. 1 ranking from Nadal at his peak (if so, this would be the second time Nadal lost No. 1 in his prime, this time to a player in his age group) than if Federer regained the No. 1 ranking from Nadal or protected Nadal’s No. 1 ranking. Federer at his peak remained No. 1 for almost 4.5 years unbroken.

Common wisdom is that Nadal owns Federer in Roland Garros. But this year Federer may be most prepared to beat a distracted Nadal since 2006. At Madrid, Federer showed Djokovic and others the blueprint to beat Nadal on clay. The next day Djokovic showed more focus and consistency in better executing a similar game plan.

Federer’s results at Madrid/Rome may be due to his over-training just after Monte Carlo (but he is now reaping the dividends of that training). According to Pierre Paganini, Federer’s fitness and conditioning coach: “After the Monte Carlo tournament, he trained intensively for two weeks. During the season, physical preparation can be divided into three periods. There’s one in December, one between February and April, and the third in summer. Sometimes there’s a fourth in the autumn. This helps Roger sharpen up constantly for key moments. Each period lasts for a minimum two to three weeks. The emphasis is on the fundamentals at the physical and tennis levels. The different types of training are spread out appropriately so that he can deepen [his knowledge of tennis] and recuperate from this work, and especially put this into best practice on the tennis court. Between these periods, there are intensive weeks of maintaining physical condition and prevention of injuries.”

Regardless, until beaten, Djokovic remains the favourite to beat everyone he plays right now. As well, Nadal’s five French Opens and best open era record on clay have to be respected. Nadal entering the French Open 2011 is in some ways similar to Federer entering US Open 2008 (both questioned as favourites, yet still won the title).

The dark horse with the least to lose: Andy Murray. He just needs to shut up about his chances and walk around in crutches to gain the sympathy of the French crowd.

Skeezerweezer Says:


As usual great stuff. Somehow imo think its destiny for Nole. No facts to justify it this time, just a hunch. The stars have been aligned. Hope as a Fed fan I am wrong of course. Fed’s performance here however is an awesome sign for Wimby. In that, he has already come out here a big winner.

Michael Says:

It would really benefit Federer more if he loses to Djokovic tomorrow. That would automatically mean that his arch rival and nemesis will lose his No.1 ranking and he also will not have the pressure of facing Nadal once again at the French and getting beaten. I am sorry to say this, but Nadal’s game just doesn’t suit Federer and it is a terrible match up. He would do well to remember his disgraceful defeat in 2008 when he was lynched 6-3,6-1,6-0 by Nadal. So, even for Federer’s sake, he should allow Novak to challenge Nadal. That will be on helluva of a fight.

madmax Says:

Michael, why so negative? Who wants to remember a loss? The reason why federer is so great, is that he is able to put those losses behind him; move forward and win more titles.

Since 2008, irrespective of “that loss” against rafa, (thanks for pointing that out), he has gone on to win 3 more slams.

Try to remember the wins Michael, it’ll make you feel better about yourself and life in general.

Dave, yes. I read that article you posted about pagnini. I thought it was awesome.

Fed’s training regime is seriously underrated.

All this, he’s lost a step on the court nonsense. Fed is playing great tennis. drive volleying a lot more, and having more confidence with placement of his serve.

I do think that the serve is pivotal to his game. It may be that he is slow to start from the blocks tomorrow but I hope he just focuses on the novak match and doesn’t think about sunday’s final.

If he reaches the final, I will be happy.

Federer is making me smile again and again.

Michael Says:

Madmax, I am not in anyway belittling Federer. I was only pointing out the benefits of a Federer loss more than a win against Djokovic. Ofcourse, you can never discount a player of such calibre as Federer. Who knows, he may go on to win the Trophy after beating Djokovic and Nadal. It is possible, but not probable given that Federer’s game over the years has deteroriated to a considerable extent and he makes far too unforced errors. Beating Djokovic and Nadal in succession is a gigantic task. If Federer does that, then inarguably he will become the Greatest Player ever.

madmax Says:

Hi Michael! I agree, it is a tough ask. I didn’t take it as you belittling him Michael, it’s just we’ve heard it all before haven’t we? THAT loss. I am not even going to think about the final to be honest. Tomorrow will be difficult enough. Just one match at a time.

It will be interesting as am sure all the rafa fans will be rooting for federer (probably rafa too!).

If Novak wins tomorrow, then I wish him all the best for the final.

In my eyes, federer IS the greatest player, win or lose.

Cheers michael.

Nina Says:

I’ll be rooting for Novak all the way til the final and to win this Grand Slam. It’s written in the stars, they call it destiny. :)

Duro Says:

Easy, Nina… Don’t spoil it. ;-)

dave Says:

Michael. Federer is already — by majority acclamation — the greatest player ever. Roger at 30 years does not have to keep beating players like Nadal and Djokovic who have not accomplished the comprehensive track record that Roger has already accomplished. There will always be something that someone will demand that Federer prove. No he does not. He is the GOAT. Nadal and Djokovic have yet to perform as comprehensively as Federer did when he was at his peak: remaining No. 1 for 4.5 years as well as winning 3 Grand Slams and WTF plus finalist at the fourth major, etc, etc.

You claim that “Federer’s game over the years has deteroriated to a considerable extent and he makes far too unforced errors.” The truth is that Federer is playing better at this French Open than he did in the 2008, 2009 and 2010 French Opens. The last time he reached the French Open semifinals without dropping a set was in 2005. Yet Federer faced more rounds (four) with seeded or dangerous players than either Djokovic (two) or Nadal (three) at this French Open.

You claim “(Federer’s) disgraceful defeat in 2008 when he was lynched 6-3,6-1,6-0 by Nadal.” That is an absolutely wrong assessment. In truth, it was a heroic and superhuman effort for any human to even reach the tough French Open finals and Wimbledon finals within months after suffering viral mononucleosis (glandular fever) and a dangerously-enlarged spleen (due to playing the Australian Open at the height of his illness). As Jim Courier said, Federer really should have taken six months off the tour to recover, recuperate and retrain (i.e., he should not have played 2008 Australian Open to 2008 Wimbledon), but instead Federer chose to fight and defend his No. 1 ranking and titles even if he had suffer losses due to compromised physical ability, energy and endurance. In his mono-compromised state, he was in danger of losing to any player, not just Nadal. In other words Federer should not have played the 2008 French Open, yet he did (in 2009, Nadal, pulled out of Wimbledon more than three weeks after losing to Soderling; yet he was able to play exhibition grass matches with Lletyton Hewitt and Stan Wawrinka without visible signs of injury according to newspaper reports).

October 2009 interview with Pierre Paganini (conditioning coach of Federer as well as Swiss Davis Cup team):

Question: “In 2008 he was set back by glandular fever. In your view, when did he recover from this, athletically?”
Paganini: “Last year (2008), he lacked always two or three percent. Glandular fever is a really hard thing. And then the back pain came in the fall, that did not help either. I would say that from 2009 he was again his old self. But it was sensational, the way he fought through everything in 2008, even though he was limited. That limitation makes a big difference at this high level, and challenged him mentally to the extreme. 2008 was from the mental side one of his best years.”

August 2008 interview with Pierre Paganini:

Question: “Does that mean he doesn’t suffer from the glandular fever any more, which has often been speculated? He himself said that he misses about 20 days of training.”
Paganini: “To answer that question I have to draw back somewhat. In 2007 we said: For the 2008 season we will do two important training blocks, the first in December 2007, the second one in February 08. We would have liked to do a third one in July, but that wasn’t possible because of the Olympic Games. The Main Block was the one in February. That one should have helped him to be in good shape till after the Olympics. At first everything went as planned: Roger was fit as ever, in every way his state of fitness was impressive. No doubt about that.

Question: “But then the problems began.”
Paganini: “At first he had this stomach-virus in Australia, that made him sick for about 10, 11 days. He was 24 hours in hospital, had fever, took antibiotics, lost three Kilos of weight. If you are ill or injured, it takes three times as long to reach the status quo (of fitness). That means, the first fitness block from December was more or less worthless.”

Question: “Despite this fact, he reached the Semis of the AO.”
Paganini: “Right. And when we came back home, we discovered in February, that he suffered since December of glandular fever. From the medical point of view it was finished on 23rd of February – just one week before Dubai (where roger lost to Andy Murray). That means, we could’nt even start the second main block in February. So roger was out of form and had lost a lot of stamina. Therefore we had 2 possibilities: Taking a break for 3 month without playing any tournament and giving everything out of the hand without a fight, or to make new 3-day training blocks between the tournaments to regain at least a bit of the stamina.”

Question: “You chose the 2nd possibility.”
Paganini: “I´ve never seen roger so courageous like this year. He had to deal with a complete different rhythm of tournaments, hard work and recovery. He was tired when he wasn’t in the past, and you had to be careful not to train too much. It was really tough, and it impressed me a lot how he handled everything. In the past everyone said: Federer runs automatically, he always wins, he is a nice guy without a lot of internal power. But now you see what it takes to achieve things like he did. This year we saw the real roger, 2008 he was more the human than the machine. He had to deal with emotions, losses and disappointments.”

Question: “The results remained below the expectations.
Paganini: “A lot of people are talking of a down – but i´d like to have such a down in my life! Of course he remained below the expectations and the standards that he set himself the last couple of years. But he still had great results. He was runner up in 2 GS finals and is nr. 3 in the champions race. Of course you can say I´m not objective because I work with him. But what I just told you are facts that no one can deny. Apart from that it´s not about defending roger. It´s about seeing the situation just like it is and how roger has experienced it.”

Question: “Federer said it might have been a mistake to play Toronto and Cinncy before the Olympics. What´s your opinion on that?”
Paganini: “Afterwards you always know more. That´s the exciting thing, that a player has to decide before the tournaments if he plays. But there where not enough reasons to withdraw. He won Halle and showed some super-tennis in Wimbledon. From the medical side everything was fine, what a blood-test proved after Wimby. If he had won the last 9:7 in the final, people would talk differently.”

Question: “Do you think he can regain his old form that made him a 12-times GS-Champion?”
Paganini: “I am convinced of that, for 100 %. You don’t lose your potential from one day to another. If someone is able to speak 7 languages and has a headache, he doesn’t forget how to speak the languages. There were a lot of situations where he showed his enormous potential, even this year. He just couldn’t do it on a consistent basis like in the past years. And already some say: He´s done. That’s real madness and shows, how high he has set the standards. He cant fail without being buried.”

Dory Says:

No doubt about it. Federer IS the GOAT. Just see any random ATP records and you will see Federer’s name on top of most lists. For example, this one (

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