Federer Into 9th Wimbledon Final After Clinical Disposal of Raonic

This post was written by Ru-an on July 5, 2014
Posted Under: Uncategorized

Hello friends. The stars have once again aligned for Roger, haven’t they? Not that Roger has not played his part. It has cost a lot of persistence and changes to be in this position again. 2013 was a wretched old season but I always had the feeling that if Roger pushed through it that he would reach a new high. It also forced him to make some very necessary changes so in that sense it was a great thing. The hiring of a new coach and changing his racquet has paid off, but the job is not quite done yet. Only if Roger wins a record 8th Wimbledon title will things have come full circle for him again. Well it was another day of exciting and quality tennis. It was the upcoming generation against the old guard and the day belonged to the old guard as I expected it would. The Dimitrov/Djokovic clash was also the closer affair as was expected.

The Federer/Raonic encounter was much more routine, but it was experience that won the day in both cases. Djokovic started well and won the opening set, but allowed Dimitrov back into the match by playing a poor second set. After getting  the break early on and taking a 3-1 lead, he lost the plot and lost five straight games to lose the second set. The third set was tight with no breaks, but in the tie break Djokovic’s experience came through as he raised his game and took it comfortably. At 4-5 in the fourth set with Djokovic serving to stay in the set Dimitrov played a game where he threw the kitchen sink at Djokovic, but Djokovic held on and the fourth set would be decided on the breaker again. Dimitrov got the mini break and it looked like we were heading for a deciding set at 6-3 for Dimitrov in the breaker, but again Djokovic’s experience won the day as he took the breaker 9-7.

In the end Djokovic showed good mental strength by winning in four sets, but my overall impression of the match was that Djokovic was mentally a shadow of the player he was before that devastating loss to Nadal in the 2013 French Open. Since then he has lost all three slam finals he played in and even lost to Stan in the quarter finals of his best slam. That point where he touched the net on a smash will probably forever haunt him. Before that he was known for his mental clutchness. Now he is struggling to close out inexperienced youngsters in slams after being a set and a break up. The Djokovic of old would probably have done the same to Dimitrov that Roger did to Raonic. I mean he was on his way to doing that at a set and a break up, but then inexplicably lost the plot for the rest of the set.

I don’t want to take anything away from Dimitrov. He did well to make the match very competitive but I couldn’t help noticing the big contrast in how Roger clinically disposed of Raonic, while Djokovic allowed Dimitrov to drag the match out to the brink of a deciding set. Historically Djokovic has been more clutch than Roger if you look at the way he dealt with Nadal pre French Open 2013 and even what he did to Roger in the US Open semis in 2010 and 2011. But judging from the Wimbledon semis you would say Roger is now the more clutch one. The way he disposed of Raonic was as clinical as it gets. The fact that there wasn’t even one tie break against probably the biggest server in the sport says it all really. Roger broke once in each set of the 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory to make his 9th Wimbledon final.

Roger already had the record for the most Wimbledon finals with eight, and he now sets the bar a little higher. The record that he is really looking for though is the number of Wimbledon titles, which he will break if he wins on Sunday. Raonic came out nervous in the first game which was to be expected and Roger took immediate advantage by getting the break. Roger looked very comfortable on his own serve and faced only one break point in the entire match. Roger even had a second break chance at 3-1 but Raonic held on. At 5-4 Roger served out the set to 30. At 4-4 in the second set Roger hit a beautiful backhand down the line winner to go up 30-0 on the Raonic serve. On the next point Roger put up a high defensive lob after Raonic was in the dominant position, but Raonic nervously missed the overhead long.

Raonic saved one break point but on the next point Roger came up with an almost identical backhand down the line winner to get the break. The backhand is something the new racquet has helped with and Roger is really hitting that down the line one beautifully now. He then held serve to 30 again to clinch the second set. On to the third set and at the very least I was expecting this set to go to the breaker, but again Roger played a masterful game at 4-4 where he was just very solid and allowed Raonic to self-destruct. Roger’s vast experience was proving to be too much for the first time Wimbledon semi-finalist to handle. Roger broke to 15 again and the last game was slightly nervy again as has been the tradition in the last two matches, but Roger held serve to 30 to cap off another tennis clinic.

The match stats were flawless again. The break point conversion rate of 3/7 was actually very good against a huge serve like Raonic. Also 32 net approaches in a match of this length was quite a lot too. The mental calm and net play of Roger continues to impress me and remains the key for me. Incidentally Djokovic seems more eager to approach the net too which surely is something Becker is trying to get him to do. I think that is something that is very important for Djokovic and of course tomorrow is huge for him. If he wins he goes back to #1 in the world, but more importantly he wins his first slam since that demoralizing loss to Nadal at the 2013 French Open. He lost his magic since that match and he badly needs it back. This is what he hired Becker for and tomorrow there will be a revival of the Wimbledon rivalry of Becker and Edberg, this time as coaches.

Fortunately Edberg leads that rivalry 2-1, but the Becker/Djokovic combination certainly can’t be written off. This is almost make or break for them. Djokovic hired Becker to help him get his magic back and losing in a second consecutive slam final after Becker became his coach won’t be what he planned. The positive Fedfans could take out of the final should Roger lose it is that Djokovic will gain huge confidence from it and feel like he is back, which in turn wouldn’t bode well for Nadal’s chances to win more slams. So in a way this is a win-win situation for Fedfans, but of course we want the best outcome which is that Roger wins his 18th slam and lifts his record 8th Wimby trophy. We have waited long enough and this may be Roger’s last chance to win a slam. There is just the feeling that this is once again Roger’s year.

I do think Roger is the favorite given what happened in both the semis and the fact that grass is Roger best surface while it’s probably Djokovic’s worst. It is the surface where Roger has the best chance of beating Djokovic anyway. Djokovic actually struggles a lot with his movement on grass, and Roger can exploit Djokovic’s base line game the best on grass. But again the Becker/Djokovic team can’t be underestimated. I noticed Djokovic’s intent in approaching the net more for the first time against Dimitrov and that could definitely help him against Roger. After yesterday’s matches I felt Roger was easily the favorite for the final because of how mentally fragile Djokovic appeared and how mentally stable Roger appeared. But after a bit of thought I don’t think it’s as straight forward as that.

This is massive for Djokovic and you can’t keep a player like that down for long. He is now 1-5 in his last 6 slam finals and like I said before, how long can he keep losing in slams finals? But in the end I would say he will just have to wait a little longer if he wants to break the curse. Roger has looked like a man on a mission and he couldn’t be in better shape before the big final after what happened in the semis. No doubt Djokovic is dangerous though and this could be a lot closer than people think. Djokovic looked mentally fragile against Dimitrov, but he did come back from 3-6 in the fourth set tie break to close it out in four sets, didn’t he? Even though the magic is gone for the time being it is lying there in dormant form, waiting to erupt again. If Roger falters even for a second then Djokovic will smell blood and make him pay dearly.

So I feel it’s very important that Roger remains clinical and focused, and to make a good start. If he wins the first set it would already make Djokovic think twice about his chances. I think Djokovic will be desperate to turn around his fortunes in grand slam finals with Becker in his corner, but in the end I would have to go with Roger here again. He took care of Djokovic in four sets in the 2012 Wimbledon semis and I see something similar happening in the final tomorrow. I have been very hesitant to make any predictions for Roger at this Wimbledon and I still think Djokovic can’t be counted out here. I just think that Roger has looked very mature and composed of late. There is a sense of destiny about him again, and who would bet against his chances in what has become his own back yard over the years?

Let the games begin.

 

Ps. This will be the 35th meeting in the Djokerer rivalry which Roger leads 18-16, and only their second slam final meeting since the 2007 US Open final which Roger won in straight sets. I think most people would agree that is it one of the better match ups and more interesting rivalries in tennis, and I am looking forward to a good match. Roger is also back to #3 in the rankings after the semis and is back to where he belongs as the Swiss #1!

Highlights:

Presserhttp://www.wimbledon.com/en_GB/news/interviews/2014-07-04/201407041404500340019.html

Reader Comments

Great post, I too give slight edge to Roger. He has been very focus throughout the 2 weeks. Not to discount Djoker, he would want to reverse the rut. Roger has to serve well, calm and always ready to hit extra shot. I would like Roger to win here so that he can keep a slight distance between himself and Nadal. Go Roger!!!

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#1 
Written By Dippy on July 5th, 2014 @ 1:12 pm

Hey Ru-an! Great post!!! I agree with everything that you said. I think that (and logic tells me) that based on the way Roger and Novak have played at this year’s Wimbledon, it should really be no contest.

However, Novak should not be underestimated. What gives me some calm is that after the new racquet, Roger is playing much more comfortably against Djokovic and did beat him in 2/3 last meetings and was in position at the IW finals as well. At that final, maybe he was a bit fatigued which definitely won’t be the case tomorrow. If anything, Djokovic might be slight fatigued.

If everything goes as planned, Roger should jump on Novak rather quickly and then, it’s just a matter of holding the pedal to the metal and not let Djokovic back in the match. Roger has had some struggle closing out sets and matches and he’ll need to be super focused.

However, he hasn’t wasted much mental energy while Djokovic has wasted a lot during this fortnight and it should give Roger the edge.

So all in all, Roger should be getting this trophy! Let’s hope he does! It will be another epic match and I can’t wait for it to get started!

Allez Roger!!! Come on!

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Ru-an Reply:

Thanks Vily. Good point about the tougher road to the final. Djokovic had actually expended a lot of energy, while Roger has conserved a lot of energy. Everything is really in Roger’s favor; the surface, the road to the final, and even the crowd will surely pull for Roger tomorrow. Should be good entertainment!

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#2 
Written By Vily on July 5th, 2014 @ 1:34 pm

Even though the magic is
gone for the time being it is lying
there in dormant form, waiting to
erupt again.Couldent agree more Ruan, same thing happened at Indian wells. Djokovic was findind his form throughout the tournament and finally found it in the last two sets of the final.But the best of five format probably favoirs Roger only at Wimbeldon against his top two rivals…And what about Tony saying Nadal coulve won Wimbeldon if not for a couple of points. Probably true but after the tournament he had to say that after the fourth round shows their true humility..I just cant believe Roger is gonna win another slam after the disastrous 2013. I think it was just destiny that Roger finishes on an even 18 slams. Ala Roger.

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#3 
Written By Vijay on July 5th, 2014 @ 6:12 pm

It’s crazy how many people think seven Wimbledon titles count for so little. Grass is Federer’s court and he knows a thousand ways to win here. Age isn’t a problem—Federer’s game is ageless. He controls the court with his shots, and sets up with his serve so he doesn’t have to do much running.

After all, Federer gives up nearly ten years to Raonic, the Canadian should be able to outrun Federer easily. Yet he was the one looking slow and lumbering, Federer nimble and quick.

In the semis, Federer picked the ground on which the match would be fought ahead of time, and simply removed Raonic’s strengths from the equation through his choice of tactics. The battle was thus won before it was fought. Raonic is still too one-dimensional a player to be able to change things up and force Federer to adjust, so Federer simply cruised, especially since he was able to break in the opening game.

Federer served well and protected his serve with first-strike tennis. He picked on Raonic’s lack of mobility and found Raonic’s backhand consistently, especially on the return, using deep, biting slices to force Raonic to bend and make difficult pickups. And when he saw that Raonic was leaving his forehand side open, he arrowed those beautiful DTL backhands.

My hypothesis is that part of Djokovic’s recent lack of success in major finals is because he no longer has the stomach to grind and grind endlessly against the mindless grinder Nadal (he had a similar issue with Murray at Wimbledon). His mind wanders at the decisive moments and he loses concentration. His desire to win is no longer strong enough to overcome the boredom of playing the same tedious point over and over again for four or five hours.

However, against Federer things are likely to be different since Federer doesn’t grind. If Federer lets up on Djokovic and allows him some rhythm from the baseline, Djokovic will gain in confidence and start to be very dangerous. But if Federer takes his time away and denies him that rhythm his game will collapse.

At the end of the day, Djokovic is fundamentally a baseliner, Becker or no Becker. But grass favors shotmaking players and Federer has the complete all-court grass game. His serve and first-strike game, grass-court footwork, approach/volley game, slice, and variety are all superior to Djokovic’s. He may even be able to employ an even more aggressive game plan than he used in 2012, since he’s serving more consistently and playing better tennis in the forecourt with the new racket and Edberg’s tutelage. As Vily said, he’s also saved a lot of energy both physically and mentally, having dropped only one set.

If Federer uses these advantages that he has on grass and continuously maintains an attacking mindset, he will blitz Djokovic and sweep him away.

C’mon Roger, fly high!

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#4 
Written By steve on July 5th, 2014 @ 9:27 pm

I actually wonder if Djokovic might try to surprise Roger by coming to the net more than usual tomorrow. I’ve heard him say twice in interviews recently that Becker’s influence won’t change his fundamental approach to tennis, that he’s not going to become a S&V player, etc. That kind of statement, especially when repeated, makes me wonder. And he came to the net 47 times against Dimitrov.

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elizabeth Reply:

Roger playing great tennis, I think the biggest thing going for him against Novak is the footing. In all the years I’ve watched Wimbledon can’t ever remember so much slipping and sliding as in the match between Grigor and Novak. Totally different senario with Fed and Raonic. So you have to feel that Novak would be slightly more concerned about the surface…but different day, different match so all I can say is C’MON ROGER !!!!!!!

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#5 
Written By Joe on July 6th, 2014 @ 1:07 am

Not to rain on the Fed parade, but there is a mistake here: “The stars have once again aligned for Roger, hasn’t it?” Since “stars” is plural, please correct this to “haven’t they?”

Otherwise, kiss hello to #18, baby! Hate Nole, Fed all the way tomorrow!!

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Ru-an Reply:

Thanks for the correction Thomas, not a native English speaker here.

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#6 
Written By Thomas on July 6th, 2014 @ 1:49 am

Great post Ru-an! I loved this from your previous post about wonder kid Kyrgios, “He didn’t overstay his welcome either. He moved the immovable and then departed himself in the next round!” So funny, yet so beautifully and aptly put too! It would be interesting how The GOAT responds to The GROAT (greatest returner of all time) and when he gets one more ball back. Roger hasn’t been really tested by a baseliner/defender of Djoker’s calibre yet. But this is grass and Roger has, quote the Great(!) Steve above, “a thousand and one ways” to win it. Serve for Roger is key (especially as Djoker himself has high percentage of first serves too) and his all court and net play must be on. If these are working, don’t see Roger losing. Also, he must maintain his calm and focus against Djoker’s onslaught. The losses in USO to Djoker was entirely because he got rattled. Btw, am I right to think that his return game was firing against Raonic?! So much variety and depth; I was shocked!! And did Roger have to do that?! Reducing poor Emperor to a Buffalo on grass?! Pity, please, Roger!! Lol! It was almost embarrassing after all that pre match pumping himself up; honestly I felt a little sorry for Raonic. Don’t forget folks, tonight, everyone, CROSS your fingers!! It worked in the Kyrgios match. Let’s keep the victorious vibe going! Haha! C’mon Roger!!!

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Ru-an Reply:

Thanks Veronnie! No doubt Kyrgios was very dangerous so I didn’t really want him facing Fed, even though Fed would have probably won anyway. That’s right what Steve says. Even if Djokovic changes things up Fed can still adapt. I’m not too worried but Nole can’t be underestimated of course. Too many people are counting him out.

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Veronica Reply:

You creative genius! Love it!! Few more minutes, Ru-an, before Roger’s gonna rewrite history…..again!!! Alez!

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#7 
Written By Veronica on July 6th, 2014 @ 6:54 am

Guys, relax! Roger’s got this! It may even be a riot! I just sense it!

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Veronica Reply:

Haha! Vily, I just love your passion and enthusiasm. But not so fast, remember USO last year??!!! You never know with Djoker, all this weak mentality talk and not winning his last few finals. He can just suddenly turn things around just when you think he is out of it already. He is the best player in the world now and is still one of the biggest mental giants in the game. And playing Dimitrov in the semi may just be the advantage Djoker needed. But nothing will stop us believing in our champ this time, yah?!! C’mon Roger!!

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Ru-an Reply:

Exactly Veronica. You seem so knowledgeable about tennis these days. Could it be that my blog played a little roll in that? Haha. You have touched on something very important that I’ve been worrying about some. Djokovic is someone you can’t keep down for long. He is a mental giant and he can only lose so many slam finals before he wins one again. I still like Roger’s chances but this is more like 55-45 now, whereas before I thought it was like 70-30.

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Veronica Reply:

Definitely, Ru-an! Your blog here is like a coach kicking and forcing me to keep fit and sharp in tennis talk. If not, your many slam winners here will knock me out of this space in straight sets!! Haha!

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Ru-an Reply:

I like the sports culture of the Aussies though. It’s like second nature for you over there. You are all smart about it.

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#8 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 8:00 am

Hey guys… Djoko said in thi presser that Dimi plays like fed, so he got a good idea as to how to prepare himself for the finals.. u think that this will have a bearing on the Final, coz fed could not have aplayed an opponent more diff from Djoko… also, the fact that the only test fed has had so far is Stan.. n Fed only won coz Stan’s level dropped..

if djoko plays in the zone and his level does NOT drop.. then, i feel its trouble for Fed…

M

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Veronica Reply:

Agree, Mihir, I think Djoker definitely has an advantage having Dimitrov prep him for final; although Dimi is clearly not Roger. If Djoker starts putting a lot of balls in play and doesn’t allow Roger to dictate with his serve and forehand, it may smell trouble for Roger.

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#9 
Written By Mihir on July 6th, 2014 @ 9:41 am

Firstly, where is everyone? Only 10 comments before a Wimbledon final?
Anyway, my internet has been down for a while, so I’m using a really bad netbook with a horrible internet connection here, so apologies for any weird typos. I think what will be key is how often Roger comes to the net, compared with how often he can force Novak to the net.Yes, Novak has improved his volleys, but they’re still not as good as Roger’s. If Novak comes to the net on Roger’s terms, he is likely to get passed or lobbed. As well, first serve percentage must be 65% or more. Positive winners to unforced errors and 65% plus 1st serve % and Roger should win. Federer in 4!

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Ru-an Reply:

Good question Charlie. I expected more comments before the big final. If Djoker comes to the net a lot it could trouble Fed because it’s not something he is used to from him. He knows what to do to beat the ‘old’ Djoker on grass. Yes Djoker is not the volleyer Fed is but he isn’t that bad at net and it’s the factor of surprise here that could upset Fed’s rhythm. We shall see.

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Veronica Reply:

I’d like to think that everyone is just too nervous to comment right now, Ru-an! Gosh! I am SO nervous, Ru-an! Wimby 2012 seems so long ago and I cannot believe that I am about to witness a Roger slam final!! Which Fedfan in their right mind would have thought today can happen after a horrific last year? Both of them want it so bad. The tension will be palpable! The player who can hold it all together wins.

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Ru-an Reply:

Yeah I guess that must be it Vronica, the nerves. As for me I’m just looking forward to a good match. I won’t let nerves spoil that for me. Even if Roger loses there is an up side so I’m just gonna try to enjoy this and not be worried about a specific outcome.

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Veronica Reply:

Thanks so much, Ru-an, I feel a little bit better, already! I must watch it the way you do. It’s gonna be a huge waste to watch a match wishing your player to win but watching it as a great tennis match. Ok I’m zen! Haha!

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#10 
Written By Charlie on July 6th, 2014 @ 9:58 am

I think everyone expected more comments before the final especially since it’s been two years since Roger has even had a sniff at another grand slam trophy. I don’t really know what to say about the upcoming match other than I am afraid to jinx roger’s chances. I believe you said it well in your post that Djoker cannot be held down for too long.

For me it is still difficult to believe that Roger is in yet another grand slam final. And knowing what the steaks are I feel Roger has to (and he will no doubt) give his all to win this. He definitely has a great chance. But I am way too nervous about him and what it will do to him should he not win today. He’s running out of time.

I share the same thoughts about djoker. I like him as a player. He’s given us fed fans so much joy when we watch him dismantle nadal. 2011 was the best year ever in my opinion (beat nadal in 7 consecutive finals – into 2012 as well). So it will sadden me a little to see djokovic keep losing in grand slam finals since I believe that he deserves to win more slams.

But of course, federer has worked extremely hard to be where he is now and he also deserves another wimby title. First and foremost I am a fed fan so I hope that destiny is smiling at roger today.

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#11 
Written By Alex on July 6th, 2014 @ 11:50 am

Been offline for two days. Fantastic post, ru-an. In a crowded bar in Switzerland watching this :) . Go Roger. ALLEZ, ALLEZ!!?,

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Ru-an Reply:

Thanks Eric and great to hear from you! Clearly something was missing from my blog!

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#12 
Written By Eric on July 6th, 2014 @ 1:24 pm

First few games Djoker already looking very strong. Looks dialed in. Not gonna be easy for Roger.

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#13 
Written By Veronica on July 6th, 2014 @ 1:28 pm

Would love to see RF do a little more w the approach shots, but his serve out wide rush the net combo one two punch is simply indefensible. Simply nothing can be done to stop him except cheating towards the alley and risking getting aced down the T. Love it!! Let’s get a break baby.

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Eric Reply:

If he doesn’t win, this will be why. He’s got to do more w the approach shots. Still serving beautifully though. .

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#14 
Written By Eric on July 6th, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

First set Federer. That will give him even more confidence.

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#15 
Written By Alex on July 6th, 2014 @ 2:03 pm

Roger just STOLE this set!!! Huge!!! I hope Djokovic dismantles a bit now!!!

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#16 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 2:04 pm

Well that’s that. Guess 17 is where it ends. Good effort though.

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Eric Reply:

Bullshit!!!

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Alex Reply:

I hope I eat my words.

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Joe Reply:

What a tremendous champion Roger is. What an amazing comeback to win the fourth!

C’mon Roger!!!

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#17 
Written By Alex on July 6th, 2014 @ 3:34 pm

This hurts. This really hurts.

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rahan Reply:

Yes, Chris, it hurts. I just can find the word to describe it :(

I remember the 2008 loss to Nadal (by the way, this was the moment I began to be a RF fan)

I wasn’t sad at all, but this loss was the beginning of a beautiful fanship.

Now 6 years later: it really, really hurts !!

I guess this is life, you cannot win them all.

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#18 
Written By Chris on July 6th, 2014 @ 4:02 pm

Incredible fight! After failing to break Djokovic for three and a half sets, he breaks three times, coming back from a break down twice and surviving match point on his own serve, and then taking it to a decider!

Remember, in Dubai he was a set down against Djokovic and triumphed for the first time from that situation. It is possible. Djokovic has failed to make the most of his chances and finally Federer’s variety seems to be making an impact on Djokovic’s defense.

C’mon Roger. You’ve been given a chance here, please take it!

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Alex Reply:

Come on just one final push! Use the momentum from the end of the 4th. You can do this!!!

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Alex Reply:

Oh no. This might be on purpose. Trainer being called is a bad thing. Will stop Roger’s momentum. Bad bad bad!

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#19 
Written By steve on July 6th, 2014 @ 4:29 pm

It’s over. What a frustrating way to lose–coming from 5-2 down in the fourth set to level only to make some UEs to hand Djokovic the title. Missing that smash at 4-all, 15-all cost him.

Can’t fault his fight. Just wasn’t enough against Djokovic’s endless grinding and consistency. Even on his favorite court, which now plays so slowly that it might as well be AO.

Nothing to do for him but go on vacation and rest up for HC season.

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#20 
Written By steve on July 6th, 2014 @ 5:12 pm

What a gut-wrenching loss!!! Roger was so so close! But you can’t win them all. He won his 6th Wimbledon with luck against Roddick. Now he almost did it again. This will sting for a little while… Djokovic fought so hard. So did Roger. Roger even had a break point at 3:3 but it just wasn’t meant to be. Novak deserved it so no hard feelings but it would have been sweet. It’s a lesson in life! You can’t have everything in life. You may get close but at the end of that day, you love on!

Roger is still the best! He may not win another major but he is the greatest in my mind. But this will hurt for a little while. Don’t get me wrong. Hopefully Djokovic will take this as a huge boost and kill Nadal so that at least Roger’s record will stay intact!

:-((( It still hurts though… :-(((

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Aravindhan Reply:

Now Federer might feel what Roddick had to in 2009!!

CIRCLE OF LIFE !!!

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Joe Reply:

I’m sorry for Roger’s sake, but I’m certainly not disappointed as a fan. What a tremendous match he played! I’m very proud of how well Roger played today, and I’m extremely proud to be a fan.

All the best, everyone. We’ll catch up again at the Rogers Cup!

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Tom Reply:

On what he’s showed today he’ll definitely win another major.

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steve Reply:

They both played insane tennis and fought to the absolute limit. But it’s hard to appreciate the other guy’s level when Federer loses in such a close battle.

I mean, Djokovic was mentally fried in his Wimbledon final against Murray and gave away easy points, apathetic against Nadal in New York and in Paris (after getting the early lead), but when Federer shows up he plays an absolute blinder, the best tennis he’s played in more than two years, even after losing the first set and the fourth set after being way up.

A month ago people were wondering if Djokovic was done as a top player–this Djokovic who fought and fought and fought was nowhere to be seen against Nadal. He was slipping and sliding and looking totally out of it. Compare that to the incredible focus and sharpness he showed today. It was the man on the other side of the net brought it out of him. If he’d played like this against Nadal he’d have blown the Beast away.

It demonstrates yet again that Federer’s greatness inspires his opponents to levels that they would not reach against anyone else. They want to beat the biggest name out there. Which is not always fun for Federer fans, but in the end is better for tennis. It’s the price Federer pays for greatness. He will always have to do a little bit extra to seize his victories because his opponents will always fight twice as hard against him, even as they lie down for lesser lights.

I don’t hope for Djokovic to beat Nadal in Grand Slams again. The chances of it are far lower, because Nadal just doesn’t inspire Djokovic to play the same level of tennis. It’s three times in a row now he’s lost to Nadal in major finals. He’ll be married and have a kid soon, and it’ll be harder for him to maintain his focus. This might well be his last year as a dominant champion.

The only consolation is that Federer played so well and gave absolutely everything he had and it was just day form that made the difference in the end. One has to be proud that he’s still so passionate about the game, so hungry to win, so willing to endure defeats on the biggest stages in tennis just for one more great victory. I’m sure he will learn from this loss and move on to the next tournament.

Last time Federer lost the Wimbledon final he went out and won the US Open. He should be in better shape during the HC season this year than he was in 2012, so I’m hoping he can do well. C’mon Roger!

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#21 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 5:18 pm

Not all bad news. Djokovic gets a boost of confidence. Nadal back to no.2. The only frustrating thing is that fed played well enough to win this thing. There was so little between them.

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Eric Reply:

Totally agree. I love that Roger can still hang with the best. He did great and Djoko deserved the win.

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#22 
Written By Alex on July 6th, 2014 @ 5:21 pm

It’s so so tough to serve second in the 5th! That’s what ultimately did Roger in! He would not have a chance to break back! Djokovic was so gracious though. This loss feels a lot kinda like the loss to Del Potro! I feel like at the end of the day, Djokovic deserved it! Roger was shaky – would serve 40-love hold and then face 2 break points in the following service game! If he was serving first, maybe he would have has the opportunity to break back but it wasn’t meant to be! So tough to swallow but Roger is just such a great champion – what a tease though to put is that 5th set after crazy comebacks and also having a break point. I am happy for Novak though! I can see the joy in his eyes! I can only imagine what deep depression he would have got into if he lost! So congrats to Novak and we’ll move on!

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Chris Reply:

Yeah, but now I’M in a depression because he won!

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#23 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 5:28 pm

From this point on, it is not about winning Grand Slams or keeping any records. It’s about watching Roger Federer play. We must enjoy what he does on court and cherish whatever wins he gets.

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Vily Reply:

I agree! This could have ended so disappointingly in the 4th. It didn’t. I truly hoped that Roger would pull trough but if anyone else deserved it other than Roger, it was Djokovic. I just hope that he takes this and schools Nadal and not let him win 1 MORE major. Not even 1 more! I don’t care!

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#24 
Written By Chris on July 6th, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

What an incredible final. Such a treat to watch, Djokovic was relentless in the end and fair play to him. But Federer gave his all and on this performance how can we say that this was his last chance for 18?! You could say that he missed his chance in that 3rd set breaker and played poorly at the beginning of the fourth but honestly how he never lost belief and the fight back he delivered despite of this really does cancel it out. He’ll be back in the winners circle before long. Great grass season all round, now rest up for the American hard courts, BRAVO ROGER!

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#25 
Written By Tom on July 6th, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

Now that I’ve thought about it – despite this loss, Roger should KEEP his head HIGH!!!

I mean – looking at Roger’s GS finals apart from the French Open,

He’s always lost in 5 set matches in the finals – i.e he always pushes the opponent to the brink.

And when you look at the Tennis Gods – they give and they take. The sweetest and biggest victory – his number 15 at Wimbledon was HUGE – with the lucky break in the 5th. Today, it was payback time.

But Roger has achieved SO SO MUCH in this game! What a brilliant champion!!!

Will he win another one? Maybe or maybe not – but the way he played today was so brilliant. If he continue to play like this, with some lucky breaks, maybe! But even If he doesn’t, his LEGEND will still live on! I hope he’ll recover from this rather quickly. And as far as Djokovic, he’s winning the US Open this year for sure.

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#26 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 6:00 pm

So many 5 set losses in grand slams, it really seems inevitable. He already faced off a few break points in the game at 4-3. I am not sure why, I guess in the end it’s just mental and physical fatigue, even if he doesn’t show it.

Sometimes though it feels there is some force out there that wants us to lose in a heartbreaking 5th set…Djokovic at the US open twice, losing to Murray 2013 AO, Del Potro of course 2009, and two more at the hands of Nadal. Aprart from the 2008 loss at Wimbledon, he always seemed to lose meekly.

It seems to me now that winning the 3rd set was the key, as he was never going to win in 5. Served great until the end though. I think history will show that this was his last ‘best’ chance, but he hopefully will get another crack at it, but it’s hard to see it now.

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#27 
Written By Bharata on July 6th, 2014 @ 6:08 pm

Now watching the replay!!! He never missed an overhead all tournament at 4:4 5th set 15:15 he had to go 15:30 and put pressure and Djokovic – and boom into the net! That hurt! I knew it would be tough serving the next game but if he had broken – maybe it would go to 5:5 but no – and there was no way a Roger will save another championship point… I mean from a chance to serve for it he just lost it in 5 minutes. It happens sometimes – I wish not so often on the biggest stage – but hey! The comeback in the 4th set was for the history books so no fault there. I just wished that he wouldn’t be forced to stay in the match! The last time he did and it was an EPIC performance was in the Olympics 2012 semi against DelPo! But not today! Djokovic was too tough!

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#28 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 6:25 pm

God, am I gutted. I really had a positive belief Roger was going to take this in 4 sets. Djoker should not have been allowed to take that phony and contrived MTO in the fifth set before Roger’s serve. I knew when he pulled that, that he was going to come back strong.

What is sad is that Roger’s FH was horrible all match. Nole completely dominated on the FH side, can you imagine that happening in Roger’s prime? The new racket has helped his BH and serve, but the FH is a shadow of its former glory.

Roger is not a great fighter and folds in epic matches, unless it’s against his pigeon, Roddick, or against someone like Hewitt or Safin. I literally cried after MP, Roger went down so tamely in that final game!! This feel as bad as the USO in ’09!

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#29 
Written By Candace on July 6th, 2014 @ 7:21 pm

I am sorry if I am overwhelming this post right now but I just feel that sharing my thoughts will ease a bit of the pain!

I think that last year was such a depressing year for Roger that I was worried that he might leave the game on a bad note.

Thus year is so-so different. I mean Roger has had a marvelous year – not an amazing year but nonetheless a great one.

Brisbane Final, Australian Open Semis, Dubai Title, Indian Wells Final, Monte Carlo Final, 4th Round French Open, Halle Title, Wimbledon Title, etc.

To me, I am just worried about how much Roger has left in the tank! Unbelievably, he looks amazing both physically and mentally. Therefore, if we don’t look at the age, then we should trust that Roger will have another shot at a Major. Obviously, stars were aligned this year but it didn’t happen!

But if you look at just his level of play, you’ve got to say that he is right there. Therefore, there is hope for more – titles, majors! Whatever! Anything at this point would be great for his confidence! You could see how many finals Novak had to lose in order to finally win his 7th. Roger has been unbelievably clutch in the few opportunities that he has had. I think that with smart scheduling, good diet, etc. he’ll have another chance sometime somewhere. I actually listened to his whole press-conference and they asked him this very same question – and he said – that people asked him how many more in 2003. And he said I don’t know. So he answered in 2014 – again I don’t know.

I’ve felt the same way exactly as I feel now in 2009 when he lost that US Open Final – it almost felt he was saying goodbye then – and here we are again in 2014 and he’s still going strong. Few points decided the winner. He refused to go away and didn’t get broken early in the 5th. He was right there. So was Roddick in 2009 so this year Djokovic got the lucky break! But if I had to pick one guy – apart from Roger – Novak deserved it so much as well.. That makes the pain do much more bearable. The respect and admiration that he showed – and the “Thank you for letting me win this one” – so sweet. Also, don’t forget – the suffering cries of Murray at the 2012 Wimbledon Final. I told myself then that next time, it will be Roger’s turn to cry! So you never know. By the way, thinking about it – the US Open is coming so not all is lost! If Roger navigates through the draw like he did here – you never know! Roger is the man! Guys, he’ll be back! In some shape or form – Roger will be back! He still has some unfinished business at the US Open. It won’t be easy but you never know. Federer always strikes when you least expect him to!!! :-))))

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#30 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

Meant to say Wimbledon Final (sorry, I wish right!) ;-)

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#31 
Written By Vily on July 6th, 2014 @ 7:24 pm

With due respect Vily, I don’t understand why a fan should start thinking their guy may not win another slam when he’s just from putting on one of the best tennis shows ever, even though he lost, this match should be an encouragement to Fedfans for the future. Forget his age, the reason Roger is still playing is because he still believe he can win more majors, why shouldn’t you as a fan. Believe me he is not doing it for survival, he definitely does not need to play for survival anymore, it records, trophies, slams. One heart breaking reverse like this one should not retire him. This is exactly what Venus was talking about in her presser after losing to Kvitova that fans like retiring their players before their time just because of a loss or two. I am 35, I started playing tennis at thirty, I play every morning before going to the office and I am now able to play and even beat young guys who are 18 and aspiring to be pros. I do not feel old when i am on the court, why should a 32 year old who’s been playing the sport all his life be told he may never win another slam?. To me this is not realism,it is simply negativism. No hard feelings my guy, I enjoy your comments but I believe we should be more positive even as we try to be realistic. Imagine Roger reading some of these comments from his beloved fans, the people he plays the game to please, he would lose his enthusiasm and retire. I am not ready for that yet.

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Vily Reply:

Hi,

I never said that Roger won’t win another major! I think it will be difficult but if he gets another dream draw, the way he is playing you never know!

All I am trying to say is that I’ve followed Roger since 2006 and he’s right by saying that he doesn’t know how many more chances he’ll get. The way he played today’s shows me that the game is still there and that he’ll get more chances. Things will have to fall his way, though! He can’t beat Nadal and Djokovic back to back – or at least I don’t think that’s possible at this stage! I may be wrong. But if Roger gets deep – maybe even at this year’s US Open and certain things fall his way, he may be lifting this trophy! So, all in all, I believe! I maybe slightly sad but no way I am calling for retirement. He’s simply playing too good right now!

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David C. Reply:

One thing to note is that Roger didn’t get a dream draw this time either. Sure, Nadal wasn’t there, but he still played both Wawrinka and Novak, the 2 other top players he was supposed to face. Either way, I think Fed can still win another major.

As for retirement. Honestly, had Roger won today, he wouldn’t have announced his retirement. I don’t think we will see a Sampras moment. After all, I don’t recall any other all-time great player won his last match in a slam final and then call it quit. Sampras is very unique in this sense. All things considered, Roger will probably play till 2016. I believe as long as he is healthy, Roger will still be in the top 10, and has a chance to win another slam.

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Ru-an Reply:

Good comment Chimya I agree. Fans get too emotional and negative.

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#32 
Written By Chimya on July 6th, 2014 @ 7:49 pm

Well am a nadal and fan and for once am happy for novak preventing number 18. Make no mistake I like federer but I think 17 is enough… Thanks ruan I lovethis blog even though majority of people here always wish nadal to lose to anybody

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#33 
Written By Chassooh on July 6th, 2014 @ 7:52 pm

My bad Vily, guess I got you wrong. I really wanted 8, 18 and 80 to happen today, but I guess an 18th will come another day. I am encouraged by today’s performance and am now looking forward to the hard court season with more confidence in Roger.

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Vily Reply:

Even John McEnroe admitted that based on what he saw, Roger will have another chance to win another major and that he is now more of a believer. So you never know. All in all, order prevails and you could see how much this trophy meant to both players, and especially for Novak!

Now it’s up to to Roger to step up and try again – possibly at Flushing Meadows!!! ;-) At least this win gives me calm that Nadal will not smell another one for a LoNG time! ;-)

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#34 
Written By Chimya on July 6th, 2014 @ 8:22 pm

What a match, sorry that Roger lost but what a tennis player he is, the 4th set what a fantastic set of tennis! Don’t really think that Novak needed the Med/T/O as he seemed to be running ok…but congrats to the winner. After such a display you know why you are a Federer Fan x

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#35 
Written By elizabeth on July 6th, 2014 @ 8:26 pm

When Roger took the first set I felt happy and relieved. But it was not a dominant performance as I would want it to be. I went to bed because my heart and head were not prepared for the roller coaster ride. Judging from the comments as I haven’t checked my recorder yet, Roger can still win a slam if he maintains this form in the coming months, continues to work with Edberg and maintains his love, hunger and passion for the game. When most commentators are still tipping him to win before the start of the game, it says a lot about Roger’s current game. Thanks Ruan and everyone for keeping this blog. I just feel that a fairy tale ending can still happen and if it doesn’t, well I would be happy with 17.

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#36 
Written By Roger Federer on July 6th, 2014 @ 9:05 pm

Well, so much for my male intuition! But I certainly foresaw correctly the great fight of the Slam King! What a gritty comeback in the 4th set!… To everyone on this site, please never trash Roger again about his weak will. He displayed his steely determination over and over again for all the world to see. He showed what great caliber and fortitude it takes to win 17 Majors. Also, my respect for Novak just grew by leaps and bounds. He is a magnificent champion in his own right, and could easily end up with 10-12 Majors. And the way he acknowledged Roger’s great career during the trophy presentation made me realize how much he has grown in character. As for the Maestro, do not despair, fed fans. He might yet win his 18th. And even if he doesn’t, just enjoy his artistry and elegance on the court while you can. You owe this legendary champion that much at least, for he has given you so many awe-inspiring moments, so many heroic victories, so many realized dreams to motivate you in your own lives. Yes, all hail Roger Federer! The Paragon of Paragons! The Olympian of Olympians! He is truly One for the Ages!… Even Zeus nods in his direction today.

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Vily Reply:

Wonderfully put, Balthazar, as always. All the post-match commentary is very positive for Roger. It was an EPIC final and Roger did actually seem quite fresh after 4 hours of play which bodes well for the future! Roger is gonna have a great seeding for the US Open and if Nadal loses early, Roger may get another crack at Djokovic! ;-)

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#37 
Written By balthazar on July 6th, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

I’m proud of Roger’s performance even though he didn’t win. I was disheartened when he was 2-5 down in the 4th set but hung in and won the next 5 games to go into a 5th set! The crowd went wild. There’s still 50/50 chance he could win because he didn’t play that well as well as he did in the 2012 sems against Novak. However, Novak had a game plan and he kept attacking Roger’s backland relentlessly until he breaks down. However, what impressed me is Roger’s mental toughness was more apparent this time though at the last game of 5th set he just went out of gas.

From here on it’s not going to be easy for him but as long he keeps flighting he’ll put himself a position to be another final. US Open is his next 2nd best GS to win but has not done well in the past 3 years(QF/QF/4th round) but I believe this year he is on another gear to go deep into the 2nd week. If he has Wawrinka’s backhand he would be unbeatable if he continue to work on it(already one of the greatest one handed backhand ever!), and help in his approach shot as well.

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#38 
Written By Pistol2014 on July 7th, 2014 @ 8:45 am

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