For some reason I had it in my head that Roger would play today, so I missed this match. I think I have a pretty good idea of what happened though after gathering information from different sources. But feel welcome to correct me or add anything that I missed. Roger played very well in the first set but in the second set his level dropped somewhat. He won the first set 6-2 after getting two breaks. In the second set he also went a break up and served for the match at 5-4, but then played a poor game to get broken. We saw this a lot from Roger last year, but I thought Roger was clutch in the breaker to come back from a break down and win it 7-5. That’s the big difference between Roger of last year and the current Roger. Of course you are not gonna be at your very best in every match.
The main thing is to win regardless, and Roger has been doing that well of late. Like I have said before the main difference is in the mental department. The motivation and will to win is there which allows him to get many wins, which in turn results in confidence. And confidence is probably the most important thing in tennis, or in life for that matter. So as far as I’m concerned nothing went ‘wrong’ in this match, even though I didn’t see it. The match stats are still good aside from the winner/unforced error ratio. Roger made quite a few errors on his backhand side, which is probably because of the different court surface in Indian Wells. It’s probably quite a bit slower than in Dubai and higher bouncing, and that of course is not ideal conditions for Roger’s backhand. The winner to unforced error ratio shows me that this was an ugly win.
Still good in the break point department…
And that is what we want to see from Roger when he is not at his best. The ability to get the job done no matter what. The only thing that is of minor concern is the fact that the courts are pretty slow and high bouncing, especially if Roger has to face Nadal again. It’s very disappointing to me that the courts have been slowed down so much these days. It gives a definite advantage to Nadal in the Fedal rivalry. But of course people don’t mention this when they talk about how lopsided the rivalry is. That said, Roger did beat Nadal here in 2012. So it surely can be done. Of course last year Nadal all of a sudden became a hard court monster, and I suppose if he reaches that form again it could be a problem. But Nadal has to get by Murray in the quarters first while Roger has to get by Stan.
Talking of Nadal, he scraped by Stepanek today in his usual never-say-die manner after losing the first set to win 2-6, 6-4, 7-5. It seems like Stepanek continued the good form he showed against Roger in Dubai, but the poor guy can’t get a win given the quality of the opposition. He did have a good win over Istomin in the first round it has to be said. As for Nadal you have to respect the way he always seems to find a way to win. He just does it time and time again, like that match against Andujar in Rio. If it happens that often it definitely does not come down to luck, as some extremist Fedfans would have you believe. Anyway Nadal doesn’t seem to be in great form which is to be expected after what happened in Melbourne. He also recently said that the loss against Stan hurt more than the marathon one against Djokovic in the 2012 final.
Roger stepped up his game in the outfits this year too. Loved it!
So it’s tough to know what will happen going forward in Indian Wells with him, but you know he can be dangerous when he scrapes through these close ones. That’s why I said I don’t know yet what to expect from Nadal for this year. Usually he would slump in this situation, but you can’t be sure. He now plays Dolgopolov who I thought actually played very well against Nadal in the Rio final, so who knows what he can do. On a good day he is definitely a dangerous player that can potentially upset Nadal if Nadal is not at his best on hard court. Stan also won 6-3, 7-5 against his tricky first round opponent Karlovic. From what I hear he played very well and no doubt he would be a very tough opponent for Roger in the quarters. The courts probably suit him better than it does Roger too because he likes slower conditions and long base line rallies.
Roger next plays Tursunov against whom he leads the head-to-head 3-0. Last but not least, Roger played doubles with Stan on Friday and beat the 6th seeds 6-2, 6-7(4,) 10-6. I watched that match and even though Roger started poorly in the final set super tie break he came up with some good stuff to help him and Stan progress to the next round where they will face Gulbis and Raonic. I thought they would play today but it looks like they will play tomorrow which would mean Roger has to play singles and doubles on the same day. I hope playing doubles won’t catch up with him physically at some point but I’m sure he knows what he is doing and it could help his singles game too. It will also help the Swiss Davis Cup chances that him and Stan is playing doubles together. I’ll talk to you again on Tuesday, hopefully with some more good news!
Still celebrating Fed’s Dubai title? I’m definitely in a better place since then. Literally and figuratively. One thing I neglected to mention in my last post was the fact that Roger passed Mcenroe in total titles won with his Dubai title, putting him on 78 overall titles. That is particularly sweet, given all the smack Mcenroe have talked in the past. His comments smack of Nadal fanboyism and dislike for Roger. The two most ridiculous comments he has made that I am aware of is that Nadal has better volleys than Roger and that Nadal is already the greatest of all time. I will let you draw your own conclusions. As for the Indian Wells draw it’s not the easiest for Roger but not the hardest either. It’s pretty good until the quarters with qualifier, Tursunov, and Haas/Nishikori. In his current form he will probably not have many problems in making the quarters.
Then of course he could face Stan, who plays his first tournament back since his Melbourne triumph. He could well face Karlovic in the second round who would be a tricky first match for him. If he gets past that he will probably make quarters. So there is a good chance of an all Swiss quarter final in that section of the draw, which would be very interesting. Stan will still be very confident from his first slam title while Roger is playing some exceptional tennis himself. Of course historically Roger has owned Stan so it is difficult to say what will happen. I’d like Roger’s chances anyway. If Roger makes semis he could face Nadal again. But Nadal making semis is not as certain as a while back. I think he is still vulnerable after the loss in Melbourne and hopefully Murray makes the quarters so he could really test Nadal.
Edberg is back…
Murray and Nadal haven’t played each other for 29 months! Hopefully they finally meet again in Indian Wells. Murray has struggled to get back to his best after his back surgery, losing to in form players. Should he get as far as the quarters I’m sure he would want to beat Nadal to show people he is back. But if it’s a Fedal semi I would like Roger’s chances anyway. I was impressed with his mental strength in Dubai, and should a Fedal semi materialize I think he could well get a win over Nadal this time. Last year he lost to Nadal in Indian Wells and in 2012 he beat him there. So it’s his turn to get the win. He is the one that is currently on the rise while Nadal is looking vulnerable again, and he is overdue for a win against Nadal. Anyway there is a long way to go and I don’t really have expectations.
I am just happy about what happened in Dubai and want to enjoy every match Roger plays in Indian Wells. With the form he showed in Dubai he can no doubt win a 5th Indian Wells title, but we don’t know if he can keep that up and expectation creates disappointment so personally I have none. As far as the bottom half goes it will be interesting to see what Dimitrov does. He is in Gulbis’ bracket again and these two are 1-1 this year and both have been playing well. The top section in the bottom half is the weakest section in the draw. I see Del Potro is playing as well which is slightly surprising after he got a wrist problem again in Acapulco. Probably Djokovic is the favorite to make it to the final again. Hopefully Roger can make it in the top half and we can have a repeat of what happened in Dubai!
Well what did you expect? That he was going to lose? ;-) That was a crazy good week from Roger in Dubai, and to top it all off his baby version Dimitrov picked up his first ATP 500 title in Acapulco after winning the ATP 250 in Stockholm last year. When I woke up this morning I didn’t know the results yet, and when I heard them I thought I’d woken up in tennis heaven. OK I did expect both of them to win, but how great is it to see this kind of tennis triumphing on the ATP?! I am becoming more of a Dimitrov fan all the time too. And the same goes for Roger, if that is even possible. Both Roger and Dimitrov impressed me big time this week. You wouldn’t even think that’s possible any more with Roger, given how much he has already done in the game. But like I said in my last post he doesn’t stop.
He breaks new ground and keeps scaling new heights. Just a huge privilege for me to be his fan and to have a blog about him. With this win he truly inspires me, and it couldn’t come at a better time. The adjustment to my new environment in the East has been anything but easy, although interesting. On top of that I got food poisoning a week ago and it took me all week to recover. I’ve just been on an emotional low which is why I say this revival from Roger could not have come at a better time for me. And I never expected it. I just hoped he would make semis and give a decent showing against Djokovic. But what a sensational win it was against Djokovic. That was probably better than anything I saw in 2012 from Roger, and I think he may have found a new level here. Why do I say that?
Tennis is and always will be a mental game first of all, and I have never seen Roger as mentally tough as I saw him this week. It was like nothing was going to stop him. Almost that kind of mental strength you see from Nadal. Just the utter refusal to lose. Someone said they think it is because of Edberg. That may play a roll but to me the main thing is what he went through in 2013. Suffering makes you strong, if you don’t allow it to break you. I think 2013 was a real test of his character with the back problem. With so many critics and even his own fans calling for retirement he refused to listen to them. He was completely self-determined. He was not gonna let anyone dictate to him what he should do when deep down he still knew he had the game left in him. Fighting back from the lowest point in his career to here has made him stronger mentally.
I know from my own life experience. There is no other way to become strong and to build character than through facing immense challenges and persevering. No one likes to suffer, but if you can push through it somehow the result is always worth it. You grow as a person and you become stronger. Fed 4.0 may just be a different animal from anything we have seen before. It’s early days though. This is probably just the beginning. I just think that if you could ever criticize Roger it would be in the mental department. Not that there were much room for criticism there but since his prime there definitely appeared some mental shortcomings, which was first of all exposed by Nadal. I think if he becomes invincible in that area, like what seemed to be the case in Dubai, he will be completely invincible.
The funny thing is I have always said I believe that the game is still there and that it was a matter of confidence. If there is one statement I ever take pride in making then it is that one, because it appears to be so true. All of a sudden no fault can be found with his game, right? Yet he did not become a different Roger Federer overnight. He did not change his strokes or anything of that nature. Yet all of a sudden the criticism about his footwork, his backhand, his tactics, you name it, is gone. Did he make any big changes to any of those things? No. He simply slowly built up his confidence since Cincy last year to the point where everything clicked again this week. It all really comes down to confidence and winning at this level. You do all the right things when you are confident, and you shut the mouths of all the critics when you win.
The new racquet and coach are just adjustments. Federer is winning again, and all of a sudden his foot speed is great, his backhand is almost a weapon, he is using the right tactics, and he is doing all the right things. I couldn’t watch the match against Berdych because my stream was too poor but I caught the highlights and from what I hear he was not at his best. Like that matters. Any win against Berdych is a great win for Roger because Berdych is a difficult opponent for him. He won, and that is all that matters anyway. No one was expecting him to play another match like he did against Djokovic. But what a brilliant way to cap off an extraordinary week by beating Berdych who has been a very tricky opponent for him historically. And again the mental strength he showed in doing so is what stands out.
Tennis Jesus performing one of his miracles
There were two key moments in the match. The first was at 2-3 in the second set where Roger was a break down after having lost the first set. They don’t show it on the highlights but I was told he broke right back there. That was obviously crucial. Again he showed refusal to lie down even though things were not going his way. He fought back from the brink to turn the set and the match around. The second big moment was at 4-2 in the third set where Roger was down 15-40 on his serve. Berdych was threatening to break back and had he done so the momentum would have changed again. So it was clutch from Roger to hold onto his serve there and make sure Berdych didn’t find a way back into the match. Even though I didn’t watch the match it strikes me as another very good mental victory for Roger.
He was not at his best but his strength of will pulled him through. Defeat was not an option. This is the warrior-like attitude I have referred to in the past. As talented as Roger Federer is, if he has that mindset there will be no stopping him. Even at age 32. As I said it is early days and the future can’t be predicted by me. But if the motivation and will power remains the way it is now there can be very good things ahead. Interestingly every year he won Dubai he also won Wimbledon that year. Judging from his form this week I can easily see him winning Wimbledon again. But I won’t be looking too far ahead. Next is Indian Wells which has been a happy hunting ground for Roger and he can certainly win the title there as well in his current form. I’m not so sure Nadal will be much of a factor there this year.
Nor everywhere else probably. I think the loss to Wawrinka scarred him, and he was lucky not to lose to Andujar in Rio. I definitely don’t think Nadal will have as good a year as he had last year anyway. If he doesn’t slump really badly as he has in the past after a tough loss, then Roger will be ready for him anyway. As long as Roger has the refusal-to-lose attitude he had in Dubai I don’t see him losing to Nadal. He is invincible with that mindset, even against Nadal. The hard times Roger went through last year may just serve him well in the future against his big rival and finally allow him to get some much needed wins over him again. We will just have to see how things play out but I have a lot of hope now, I’m inspired, and I’m excited. I can write an awful lot more but I’m gonna cut it here and let you guys fill in the rest.
Who wouldn’t be charmed by such a smile?
We did it, we are back on top!!