Federer Comes Up Short Against Raonic, Number One Ranking Out of His Hands

He had to play Paris, didn’t he? If he didn’t then there would have been no chance of getting to #1. Roger have played a lot of late and the fact that Paris was right after Basel with no break meant Roger could get tired. I’m not saying he was tired against Raonic or trying to make any excuses, but maybe he was not as sharp as he could have been had he been fully rested. I mean losing in straight sets to a guy who he hadn’t dropped a set against in the last three matches has to tell you something. Yes Raonic played an amazing match and served up a storm but even then Roger probably has too much game for him. When Raonic plays like this there is very little margin for error and it all comes down to a couple of points basically. Like for instance in the tie break where Roger broke the Raonic serve on the opening point and then loses both his own serves.

That won’t get it done. Not that Roger played badly. He played well but by recent standards he just seemed to lack a spark, which I put down to all the tennis he has played of late. He was slightly unlucky to run into Raonic playing this well too. But all credit to Raonic who had to win to have a chance of qualifying for London. His serve was simply unplayable. There isn’t much you can do when he serves like this. Even Roger who matches up very well against big servers couldn’t get the job done. In the second set at 5-4 Roger had a set point but Raonic just dropped another bomb that Roger could not lay a racquet on. And then at 5-5 Roger got broken after a very clutch pass from Raonic. So really in the end there wasn’t much he could do, nor does he need to regret much. It is only his fans who are never satisfied who will regret this loss. The loss of course meant that the #1 ranking was now out of Roger’s control.

To remain 490 points behind Djokovic Djokovic he had to lose against Murray which did not happen, as he defeated Murray easily 7-5, 6-2. I thought Murray would do much better but we know he is not mentally the strongest player around. Now it comes down to Nishikori to save Roger’s #1 hopes as Djokovic is now 670 points ahead of Roger. If Djokovic loses to Nishikori and Roger is the undefeated winner in London, beating a previously unbeaten Djokovic in the final, he will be 170 points behind Djokovic going into the Davis Cup final. Then he’d need to win both singles matches and Switzerland must win the Davis Cup, which would give him 225 points and the #1 ranking. But it looks unlikely now. I wouldn’t look any further than the Nishikori/Djokovic match right now, because if Djokovic wins that Roger can forget about the #1 ranking. Nishikori defeated Ferrer 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 after being down 0-4 and 2-5 in the tie break.

Clearly Nishikori is much more dependable than the mentally unstable Scotsman but there is obviously no guarantee that he will win. I wouldn’t be surprised if he does though, and it would certainly make things a lot more interesting for London. Roger said himself after his loss that he always thought the #1 ranking would be decided in London. That is yet to be seen though. Was it an attempt to put pressure on Djokovic? The #1 ranking will pretty much be decided in Paris if Djokovic makes the final or wins the title. By making the final he would already be 910 points ahead of Roger going into London. And if he makes the final you expect him to win the title. But even if he does not then undefeated finalist in London would be enough to get the job done. And if Djokovic wins Paris then he only needs a couple of wins in London. And that is all assuming Roger gets maximum points for London and Davis Cup.

So definitely things have become a lot more complicated with the year end #1 now and I would say Djokovic would have to lose to Nishikori for Roger to have a realistic chance of getting #1. But like I said before Roger already won five titles this year and the rest is gravy. No doubt it would have been nice if Roger got the #1 ranking after what happened at Wimbledon, but it is now up to Djokovic. I would still like Roger to win London if he can not get the year end #1. He has a couple of days extra rest now which he admitted himself is big and it means he will go more refreshed to London. If he can win the title there he will still have a shot of getting #1 early next year, even if he doesn’t get it by year end. But he’d have to win the Australian Open probably. Will this be the year of near misses for Roger? It is possible but I don’t have as negative an outlook as many Fedfans. I still think it’s been a great year regardless of what happens from here on.

That said, I definitely won’t mind him winning the title in London!

 

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Ps. Feel free to correct me if I made any mistakes with the rankings. I just did the calculations quickly off the top of my head.

Paris RD 3: Federer def Pouille 6-4, 6-4, to Face Raonic in Quarter Finals

Hi there tennis fans. Roger kept a 14-match winning streak alive today as he routined Pouille to make the quarter finals in Bercy. I liked Pouille’s game, although the high toss on his serve won’t make things easy outside on a windy day. I think he will become another top player for the French but he’s still young and Roger didn’t need to play his best tennis to win fairly comfortably. Roger was never in trouble on his own serve and didn’t face any break points, while he broke Pouille in the seventh game of each set to get the win. I find matches like these boring but as long as Roger is winning you can’t complain. The match stats proves that Roger didn’t need a very high level to get the win and I wouldn’t worry about his 20% break point conversion rate. He just did what was needed. It was nice that he got this routine win after the long match with Chardy because it saves him energy.

He now plays Raonic who defeated Bautista-Agut. Roger leads the head-to-head 6-0 and the last three wins have been routine. It seems Roger just needed a few matches to figure Raonic out and now it’s easy going. It’s not like Raonic has a plan B once you figure out how to neutralize his massive serve. He is a one-dimensional player. Obviously you don’t want to become too comfortable and underestimate your opponent but it’s pretty hard to see Roger losing. I would be more worried is he has to face Berdych in the semis, who is playing against Anderson. Unbelievably Stan lost from 5-4 and 30-0 up on his serve in the third set against Anderson. I don’t want to take anything away from Anderson because he did well to win the second set and hang in the third set long enough to get the win, but it was ultimately due to Stan’s inability to close out the match that he won.

Stan’s game is basically in ruins since he won the Australian Open, but so what? I’m sure if he was given the choice to win the Australian Open and struggle for the rest of the year he would take it any day. He is still in the top four in the world and going to London. He also won Monte Carlo and made quarters at the French and Wimbledon. Stan is just very low right now and it doesn’t bode well for the Swiss’ Davis Cup chances. Maybe people understand a little better now why Davis Cup doesn’t mean an awful lot to me and why I’d much rather see Roger get the year end #1. In fact I forgot to mention it in my last post but Roger said after his match with Chardy that he would rather become world #1 again than win a slam. A lot of people were surprised by the answer but it’s not really that surprising given that you have to play consistently well over a twelve month period to become #1, whereas to win a slam you only have to play well for two weeks.

And maybe people understand a little better now why I made such a big deal of #1. I think it would be unbelievable if Roger becomes #1 at age 33 again. When Roger lost in the Wimbledon final many Fedfans were shattered but I kept believing that it just wasn’t meant to be at the time and that Roger would still get his reward. Well that reward may just be the year end #1, and yes I think it would help his GOAT claim as much as a slam would. Think about it this way: You can win a slam but not be #1, but it’s very hard to be #1 without winning a slam. Rios is the only #1 I can remember who did not win a slam, but there were many players who won slams without becoming #1. Ivanisevic, Johansson, Krajicek, and Korda, just to name a few off the top of my head. Then you have Stan and Cilic who won slams this year and still have chances to become #1, but probably won’t.

Stan is a great example because he won a slam but look how poorly he fared since. Murray may be the best example because he has won two slams and yet he has never been #1. To become #1 takes tremendous consistency which is possibly harder than winning a slam. In fact it is harder if you look at how many players that won slams became #1, as apposed to players who became #1 that did not win slams. Becoming #1 is harder than winning a slam which is why Roger said what he said. It is not rocket science. The only reason why winning a slam seems to be so important is because people tend to remember who won slams, whereas weeks at #1 are less remembered. I think weeks at #1 is underrated and should hold more prestige than the amount of slams you win. Roger has already occupied the top spot for the most consecutive weeks and most weeks in total.

The only thing he doesn’t have is the record for year end #1’s which Sampras holds at six years. It’s not the year end #1 that is so important though. If Roger became #1 again it would be significant because of his age. Actually if Roger wins Paris and Djokovic does not make the final he will be #1 for at least two weeks, since the Masters Cup points come off before the tournament starts. Roger has already spent 302 weeks in the top sport which is unbelievable. Adding to that would just cement his status as the GOAT. I said earlier this year that if Roger won a record eighth Wimbledon title it would make him the undisputed GOAT in my mind. Well if he returns to #1 it would achieve the same thing. Certainly becoming #1 should not hold any less prestige than winning a slam, and this would be the fourth time Roger scales those heights. So I am really hoping Roger can get it because in a way that would be better than if he had won Wimbledon this year.

And the first thing he has to do to get is is to out perform Djokovic in Paris. Djokovic now plays Murray who destroyed Dimitrov 6-3, 6-3 and by doing so qualified for London. As I said before, he is too good not to be there. He looks to be back in great form and it is not impossible that he can defeat Djokovic. All the pressure is off after successfully completing his campaign of qualifying for London and he can now go out there and swing freely with nothing to lose. Even if Djokovic wins he could be in for a potentially very difficult semi against Nishikori. Nishikori looked very solid again in his win over Tsonga and I think he will take care of Ferrer. So it is a tough road to the final for Djokovic and Roger has to make sure he keeps winning. He must beat Raonic and preferably without expending too much energy because he could have a potentially difficult match with Berdych in the semis.

Chum Jetze!

 

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Federer Survives Tough Test from Chardy to Make Paris Third Round

Hi guys. Isn’t it nice to see Roger in action for consecutive weeks? Especially with him playing this well? The 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 6-4 win over Chardy was clearly not a straight forward one, but the people who claim Roger played badly are delusional at best. Chardy was on fire and is a very destructive player when that is the case. He has a huge serve and forehand. How on earth did Roger play badly if he defeated him? It is just astonishing what utter nonsense people can come up with. What do people expect anyway? That Roger should show up at every tournament and peak from beginning to end? That is not how it works. It takes time to adjust to the new conditions and you try to peak later in the event against the best players. Chardy had already played a match while this was Roger’s first. So Chardy had the advantage of being better adjusted. For one thing these courts are slow and the bounce is high.

Very unfortunate that the ATP keeps doing this but it is what it is. Indoor tennis used to be played on carpet, but nowadays they have  surfaces that plays more like indoor clay. Too bad for Nadal he sat Paris out yet again. He probably would have loved this surface. It certainly is not what indoor tennis used to be but that was not gonna stop the GOAT. These days there isn’t much that can stop the GOAT. It seems he has forgotten how to lose and is not only winning all the routine matches but the close ones as well. Since that match with Mayer in Shanghai Roger has been especially impressive in the mental department. He gets through all the close ones even when he is not at his best. It’s like they say: winning is a habit. It’s the opposite situation of what we had last year when losing seemed to be a habit with Roger. It just goes to show the importance of confidence and momentum in tennis.

Pretty decent match stats in the end

Roger came out cold as he got broken in his opening service game and fell behind 0-3. Chardy on the other hand came out hot after his first round win and was smoking that forehand. It really is quite a delicious shot to watch when in full flow. Chardy even had a break point at 4-1 for the insurance break, and if he had won that point the first set would surely have been over. But Roger played a very solid point and then held serve. Then at 5-3 with Chardy serving for the set Roger broke back to 15 after a forehand return winner. As we have seen so regularly from Roger of late he breaks back in the nick of time to steal a set. This has happened at least a couple of times since Shanghai and therefor it has very little to do with luck, and everything to do with confidence and self belief. After Roger broke back he then faced three set points on his own serve. And again that would not have been the first time that happened since Shanghai.

You almost expect him to save those set points now. He is just mentally extremely solid. It has to be said that there was some poor tennis in there as well from Roger, but nothing that cost him too much. It was just mental adjustment after the two day break and coming down from the high of the tournament win in Basel I think. Some sloppy play at times but like I said nothing that cost him much. At 5-5 Roger then broke serve himself, to love, and served for the set at 6-5. Again he played kind of a sloppy game and this time it was Chardy who broke him to force the tie break. It wasn’t the highest of quality tennis in the first set but exciting and enjoyable because it was not predictable. In the tie break Chardy dropped his serve on the opening point and I don’t think he ever recovered from there. Once Roger won the opening set it was difficult to bet against him winning the match, but it certainly wasn’t all straight forward from there.

Yep, it was that kind of day

In the second set it was Roger who set up two match points at 40-15 after some ridiculous defensive play on the Chardy serve. This time it was Chardy who saved the match points though and the second set would be decided by a tie break as well. Roger got the early mini break but Chardy broke back and at 6-5 he blasted a forehand winner to break serve and win the second set. It was all squared but Roger wasted no time in taking control of the match again as he broke in the opening game of the third set. At 3-1 Roger had a chance to get the insurance break, a lot like Chardy did in the first set, but Chardy saved it. Unlike Chardy in the first set though Roger was not gonna let him back in the match and served out the match to love at 5-4. All in all it was a very entertaining match with many twists and turns but with Roger’s mental fortitude winning at the end of the day once more.

Roger will now play local player Pouille who pulled off the upset over the crazy Fognini. I watched some of that match and even though Fognini did his usual clown act by losing the second set from 5-2 up, Pouille did a good job and I like the look of his game. I’m looking forward to his match with Roger today and since he is a relative unknown him and Roger have never played before. Other results of interest yesterday were that Stan won his first match for some time which I’m sure Roger will be relieved about. The only other seed than Fognini who lost was Isner who lost to Monfils who will now play Djokovic. Djokovic looked very solid in his win over Kohlschreiber and despite the fact that he has a much tougher draw than Roger he could win this title. The slowish conditions favors him which is why I kind of hope he loses before the final. Or Roger’s year end #1 hopes could suffer a fatal blow…

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