Hey folks. I hope you all had a good weekend and are ready for the coming week. Above you see the draw for Basel which is pretty tough for Roger and pretty easy for Nadal. I’m not usually the type that believes in conspiracies but ever since Nadal’s comeback he has gotten easy draws in every tournament he played. Yet still he has lost to Klizan and Lopez. So I guess no draw is easy for Nadal at this point. The opposite can be said for Roger who is in such great form that no draw appears difficult for him. Not indoors anyway. It just seems strange that Nadal gets a qualifier in the first round while Roger gets a good indoor player in Muller. Then Roger could play Janowicz in the next round who has a huge serve and has been fighting his way back after a very poor start to the year. Nadal on the other hand gets another qualifier or Roger-Vasselin, who is not exactly a big danger.
In the quarters Roger will most likely play Dimitrov who is the most difficult opponent in the quarters for any of the top four seeds, while Nadal gets Gulbis who was just routined by Agut in the semis of Moscow. Looking at Stan he has a pretty tough draw himself because Kukushkin is a dangerous player, and then he has Karlovic in the quarters. I’m sure Stan will desperately want to find some form in Basel after losing his first match to Simon in Shanghai. I’m sure he’d at least want to make semis, but it won’t be easy. If he does make semis he could be another tough opponent for Roger. Nadal on the other hand could face Raonic or Goffin. Raonic lost his first match to Berankis in Moscow. So he isn’t in the greatest of form either. I am hoping for a Fedal final, but with Nadal being in the form he is in that could be a tough ask. We will see. Draws are unpredictable.
Claycourt practice #dirtysocks#sliding#grinding
But I guess Nadal will be as desperate as anyone to get some wins under the belt after his recent defeats, so I won’t be surprised if he makes the final either. Definitely this idea that he has appendicitis should not be taken seriously, because we know by now that he uses those things to take pressure off himself and then he comes out playing the best tennis of his life. So if I was Roger I would expect him to make the final and be at his best. And even if he is at his best I still like Roger’s chances given the way he played in Shanghai, which is why I want to see a Fedal final. Roger hasn’t had a win over Nadal since Indian Wells in 2012 and lost their last five encounters. And as is usually the case Nadal have beaten Roger when he was at his worst(four times in 2013), while he has been able to dodge Roger this year when his own form has been poor and Roger has been playing well.
Therefor I won’t be surprised if he dodges Roger again in Basel if Roger makes the final, but I’m hoping for something different anyway. Of course nothing in tennis is more satisfying than Roger beating Nadal, and this is the ideal timing with Roger in top form and Basel being indoors and home for Roger. Not that tournament director Brenwald is trying to make Roger feel at home. I wouldn’t even be surprised if he had something to do with Roger’s tough draw and Nadal’s easy draw. But like I said that hardly matters given the form Roger has been in. The more important issue is that it sounds like Roger will skip Paris to prepare on clay for Davis Cup. Roger has already posted two pictures of himself training on clay on twitter of late so he is clearly very serious about the Davis Cup. He said since the beginning that the Masters Cup and Davis Cup will be his main focuses, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.
Day 3 on clay #done
But then again he didn’t know what his form would be like in Shanghai. There has been no official confirmation, but there has been a report from a French paper I think that Roger will skip Paris to prepare on clay for Davis Cup. You will remember I said before Shanghai that Roger should skip Paris, but I never expected he would win Shanghai. So I was actually disappointed to hear he might skip Paris. If he was gonna skip anything I’d rather it is Basel where Brenwald has historically treated him poorly anyway. If he played Paris instead then he would still have a chance of getting the year end #1. If he skips it and Djokovic plays then there is no chance. I’m not sure about this idea of preparing on clay during the indoor season either. How does that affect his play indoors? I know for Roger Davis Cup is a huge deal but for me personally it is only a means to an end, so I am somewhat disappointed by all of this.
Of course there has been no confirmation that Roger will withdraw from Paris, but it does look likely. I know if Roger wins Davis Cup it could really inspire him for the Australian Open next year, but wouldn’t being #1 at age 33 do the same? Obviously Roger knows his own body and he knows what is best for him, but personally I would have liked him to focus more on the indoor season and getting the year end #1. If he wins the Masters Cup or end the year #1 it will give him confidence for Davis Cup anyway. Why does he need to prepare so early on clay? He will have four days after the Masters Cup. Now it seems complicated how he is alternating between surfaces. If he skips Paris he can pretty much forget about the #1 ranking. I just hope this alternating of surfaces doesn’t cost him the Masters Cup too. And what if he loses the Davis Cup too? Yup, then he has nothing.
Hopefully he gets his fifth title of the year in Basel anyway. First things first.
Hey guys. Just a quick post about something I thought was interesting. I hope you are still enjoying Roger’s title in Shanghai and caught up on the highlights if you missed the matches. Since Roger won Shanghai all of a sudden there is the very real possibility that he could claim the year end #1. I didn’t think he would win Shanghai which is why I wanted him to play Basel and skip Paris to rest up for the Davis Cup. But winning Shanghai means he can claim the a record 6th year end #1 if he plays Paris. So now I definitely want him to play Paris if he feels his body can handle it. And if I read correctly between the lines from Roger’s interviews in the press I think he will play Paris. For me the year end #1 is now more important than Davis Cup. Davis Cup is a team competition and doesn’t mean much for the individual resume. You cannot win the Davis Cup on your own.
I talked about slowing things down in my last post…
You need the help of your team mates. Roger could for instance win both his singles matches in the final, and if Stan loses both of his(which is not out of the question given his inconsistency this year) then the Swiss will probably lose the tie. So I would like to see Roger play Paris even if it could mean he may be tired for Davis Cup. I don’t think that will be the case since there are enough rest days in between, but still Roger has played a lot of tennis of late. He made the final in Toronto, Cincy, semis in New York, and now the final in Shanghai. If he makes the final in Basel, Paris, and London too, which could very well happen, then maybe he can be tired for Davis Cup. But I think it is worth the stretch anyway. I think Davis Cup is important for Roger. More than the critics wants us to believe anyway. So I don’t think he will take any risks with his schedule if he feels he could be tired.
…and the result was a second consecutive Masters title.
But I think he is feeling very good about his game right now and may just feel like he can do the Basel/Paris/London triple again. For me personally the year end #1 is more important than the Davis Cup title, but that is just me. Ideally I obviously want him to win the Masters Cup, get the year end #1, and win the Davis Cup. In order of importance for me it would be the year end #1(just because it would tie Sampras’ record and at age 33), the Masters Cup, and Davis Cup. So as far as I’m concerned he should take advantage of this rich vein of form and play Basel, Paris, London, and Davis Cup. He has the whole week now to rest at home before Basel, doesn’t have to travel anywhere for Basel, and then he can take a quick flight to Paris. Then there is another week of rest before London. And again four days rest before Davis Cup. I say he should go for it all!
How about you?
Boom. Title #81 in the bag, Masters title #23 in the bag, and closing in fast on a record 6th year end #1 at age 33. Old in tennis terms? Roger Federer says no! Judging by the way he played this week there may as well be a whole new era of Federer dominance ahead. OK maybe that is going over board a bit but is 100 titles and 20 slams within range? Just a thought. This Shanghai title is a big deal and should be appreciated on its own terms. Never mind what lies ahead. Roger has now won 7 out of the 9 Masters titles and is only missing Monte Carlo and Rome. It’s a pity he couldn’t win Monte Carlo this year after coming so close against Stan, not to mention how close he came in Rome against Nadal in the 2006 final. As far as overall Masters titles go Roger is now alone in second place moving ahead of Lendl on 22. Nadal is on 27 but he has a bit of an advantage since there are three Masters on clay and none on grass.
If there were an equal amount of Masters on clay and grass, or at least one on grass and two on clay, then you bet Roger would have been ahead in that category as well. But no matter, he still leads in the most important categories like slams, weeks at #1, and Masters Cup titles. This is now Roger’s 4th title of the year after missing out on some big chances in Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, and Toronto. And he only just missed out on those chances too. So this is very satisfying in that regard. That puts him now only one short of his goal of winning 5 titles this season(if I remember correctly). That would be a good number of titles in my view anyway. It would top 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2013 in terms of titles won. But of course he lacks the all important slam so in that regard he would only top 2011 and 2013. In 2011 Roger also won the Masters Cup so Roger would probably have to achieve that feat to top 2011 too.
Whatever the case may be it has already been a terrific comeback season after the big low of 2013. And the way he played this week makes me not only excited for what lies ahead the rest of this season but after that too. I think Roger showed something very special this week in Shanghai. And I am not necessarily talking about the way he played and the title that he won. Maybe the most impressive of all to me was his mental fortitude. It showed in his first match against Mayer, it showed in the first set against Benneteau, it showed against Djokovic, and maybe today it was the most impressive. OK I realize saving match points against Mayer in his first match took titanium balls but there was less at stake than in the final, especially after Roger had already done the hard work by defeating Djokovic. He had already lost three Masters finals this year and this was an opportunity he did not want to let slip.
But Simon proved to be an incredibly difficult and worthy opponent. I won’t lie to you. At times during the match I hated Simon because of the way he plays, but you have to respect the way he competed. I said in my last post that Roger could crush Simon, but right out of the starting blocks I knew there is no way that would happen. Roger was no doubt in for another very difficult match. Roger went down an early break even, but in the nick of time at 4-5 got the break back after adjusting his game plan. The game plan he used against Djokovic where he took the initiative and played full out offensive tennis was clearly not going to work against Simon. Simon likes pace and he absorbs it very well, then catches you unaware with some pace of his own. Roger was caught off guard in the first set but I thought he did extremely well to adjust his tactics in time and not let the first set slip.
It was clear that he had to be slightly more patient in the rallies and not give Simon as much pace. Once he figured that out things became easier, but not by much. Simon was still making a massive nuisance of himself. He kept Roger 100% honest and gave him absolutely nothing throughout. Roger really had to win this final the hard way by busting his butt. In the first tie break Simon got the early break but Roger pulled him back and got a mini break of his own. But Simon wouldn’t let him pull away and broke back too. Then at 5-4 and Simon serving I thought there was a big moment when Roger missed a volley he really should have made which could have given him two set points. I thought that would cost Roger the first set but again he was hugely impressive in the mental department, by holding on to his own serve and making a beautiful clutch pass down the line at 7-6 in the breaker.
To my great relief the first set was in the bag, but there was no letting up from Simon. He just kept making life very difficult indeed for Roger. Roger had a break point at 1-1 but Simon wouldn’t let him get away. Then with Simon serving at 5-5 and 15-30 down there was another big volley miss from Roger which could have given him another virtual two set and match points. Again I thought it would cost him the set, because in the next game Simon had two set points on Roger’s serve at 15-40. But again Roger showed great mental fortitude to dig himself out of a difficult situation and force the tie break. In the tie break Roger got the early break but Simon pulled him back one more time. Simon hold serve once to even at 2-2 but after that it was all Roger. With Simon serving to stay in it at 2-5 Roger was taking no more prisoners as he ripped a forehand return winner to set up four match points.
On match point Simon netted a forehand after a base line rally and it was all over. Roger had finally gotten this incredibly difficult and annoying opponent off his back. If Roger ever deserved a Masters title then it is this one. First he saved match points in his first match, then straight setted the world #1 in an absolute master class, and finally shows tremendous composure to overcome a very difficult final opponent. I rate this Masters title among Roger’s best. People will look at the match and the stats of the final and say Roger played OK but not great, and they would miss the point completely. Tennis is definitely not always about looking good when you win. Tennis is a match up game and some opponents simply won’t allow you to look good against them. For me this victory is right on par with the win against Djokovic. Maybe even better because mentally it was a tougher test.
Roger was actually a break down and had to change his game plan mid match to find a way back into the match. And Simon never loosened his grip in the second set like I expected he would. That’s why I say he kept Roger 100% honest. But whether people appreciated the mental effort of Roger or not doesn’t matter. The title is in the bag and he is looking awfully good towards the end of the season here. I think Roger may even play Paris and not skip an event. We will see. I don’t think he will skip Basel anyway. The fact that Djokovic will possibly skip Paris due to his baby’s birth gives Roger the unique opportunity to end the year ranked #1 for a record 6th time. Roger comes away with a delicious 1000 points after his title and is now almost 1000 points ahead of Nadal in the rankings. And of course in the race he is only 990 points behind Djokovic.
I mean if Djokovic skips Paris and Roger plays Basel and Paris then Roger can already be in the lead when the Masters Cup begins. I’m not sure when Djokovic’s baby is expected though and I’m not sure if he will skip Paris, so we’ll have to see. But given the way Roger is playing the chances actually look more than decent that he can end the year ranked #1. How cool would it be if he wins the Masters Cup, ends the year as #1, and wins the Davis Cup? It couldn’t get better than that of course but to win Davis Cup for one thing he will need the help of Stan, and he won’t be allowed any room for error himself. Stan is still struggling and I hope he can play himself into some better form before the all important Davis Cup final. Well it’s been another terrific week as a tennis fan and a Fedfan and I very much enjoyed sharing this experience with all of you, so thank you!
I can’t wait to see what is next!