Federer Unflustered with Djokovic Dominance before Miami

This post was written by Ru-an on March 25, 2011
Posted Under: Uncategorized

Q.  You have a very solid outlook, but are you puzzled, annoyed, or amused by people who say that the Federer era is over, he’s down to 3 and sinking?

I still think I’ve had a great six months.  I feel like I’m playing really good tennis, and right now Novak is just a bit better than the rest.  And that’s okay.
I’ve gone through phases like this on multiple occasions with Rafa, with Murray, with even Agassi and Hewitt and Roddick and so forth.  It’s just something that’s part of the game.

http://www.sonyericssonopen.com/News/Tennis/2011/Interview-Transcripts/Interview-Transcripts/Extra-Column/2011-Roger-Federer.aspx

There is so much hype around the Federer downfall of late that I just wanted to post this to put things in perspective. With Roger losing three straight times to Djokovic and falling to number three in the rankings many people are writing him off. Let them do it. We know the media is all about extremes. When Djokovic dominates for a while he is the next GOAT and when the real GOAT is dropping just one spot in the rankings he is over and done with. But life isn’t that extreme. Of course Roger is getting older and he is past his peak, but does that mean he is a no good has been? No. The last match I saw him play was against the hottest player on tour and it was a pretty close affair. If Roger was just slightly more confident and held serve at 2-2 and 40-15 in the third he might have ended up winning that match.

As always tennis is a mental game, and right now Djokovic has the mental edge over the rest of the field. More accurately, tennis is a confidence game. Djokovic has all the momentum and confidence right now. He is like a tsunami wave that is just gonna crush everything in his path. But even tsunami waves come to an end. It takes one telling loss to stop that momentum. Remember at the beginning of 2009 when Roger just lost to Nadal in the Oz Open finals and Nadal was crushing everyone in his path? Ring a bell? Roger got one telling win over him in Madrid that year and it was all down hill from there for Nadal. Roger got a shot in the arm and took over dominance from Nadal. Roger and Nadal have both been through this kind of momentum swing with each other a couple of times.

New outfit? I like.

This is however the first time Djokovic have dominated the tour like this. Is he mature enough to handle it? We will see how he fares after he suffers his first telling loss. These hot streaks never lasts forever. It is bound to come to an end and then we will see how Djokovic deals with the loss of momentum. He will probably start losing somewhere in the clay court season and then Roger will get his chance to take back the number two spot. He may even lose in Miami given all the tennis he has played of late. The momentum will come to an end at some point. Just a few months ago Roger was the one with the momentum and it finally came to an end at the Oz Open. This is just the way it goes when you have three strong players at the top. Roger has seen it all before and he is not gonna let the critics bury him before his time.

He will patiently wait for the tide to turn and take his opportunity. There is a lot of tennis to be played on the clay and grass and a lot of ranking points for Roger to gain. It would be a critical error for Roger to believe he can’t still take back the number one ranking and prove everyone(including Navratilova) wrong. But of course he is too experienced for that. He has seen this all before. The important thing is that he is playing well. He is just lacking that edge he had during the indoor season and in Doha this year. He will keep pushing however and working hard until he finds his best form. He isn’t far off. The main thing is that his attitude is good as always. I’m hoping for a breakthrough in Miami, but if that doesn’t happen there is always the clay and grass court seasons. If Roger stays with his current form and keeps knocking he is bound to break through.

Update: Another article that emphasizes my blog post nicely. It’s about all the negativity going on in America after Roger’s loss to Djokovic, while  Roger’s game is actually in fine shape.

“I know that people always judge you on your recent results. As they forget what you have achieved over the last 10 years, that can happen, but you shouldn’t also be forgetting what I’ve done the last six months. It seems that it is never good enough.”

“That’s why I don’t understand if there is some negativity. I’ve been able to avoid first-round losses and losing against the No 80 in the world and all those things. ”

“The whole thing motivates me. It’s about trying to return to world No 1, winning grand slams, trying to win the Olympics, staying healthy. I want to stay around for as long as possible.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/rogerfederer/8404563/Roger-Federer-insists-recent-criticism-is-unfair-as-he-prepares-for-Sony-Ericsson-Open-in-Miami.html

I don’t understand why people get negative so easily either. It kind of boggles the mind. Nadal has struggled since winning the US Open. Why is the negativity not focused on him? He is the world number one, and since the beginning of the year he has lost to Davydenko, Ferrer, and Djokovic. It’s as if the people are looking for reasons to bury Roger and I don’t know why. If anything he has proven in the last few years that it is a very dangerous business writing him off. He never seems to prove himself enough. It never ends. But in a way I like it because I love it as a fan when he proves the critics wrong. Over the last six months  Roger has been extremely consistent and has beaten Djokovic as much as he has lost to him. I guess these people will never ‘get’ Roger Federer. While the critics are begging for Roger’s downfall, Roger’s sights is set on the number one ranking, grand slam titles, and the Olympics gold.

And why not?

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Reader Comments

Roger lost to Murray 4 straight times and to Nadal 5 straight times between 2008 and 2009! And he came back from that to win more slams and regain #1. Given the low quality of the opponents Nadal has beaten this year, I’d say Roger is the second best player on the tour at the moment.

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#1 
Written By Katarina_YYZ on March 25th, 2011 @ 2:10 am

I love this blog. G

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#2 
Written By Gary on March 25th, 2011 @ 2:58 am

Much is being made of Djokovic’s current form, but
the titles he’s won this year (AO, Dubai, IW) are all ones he’s won before; he just hasn’t been able to string together such a consistent run, though he was close in ’08. He’s more or less repeating history from that year; he even beat Nadal at IW then, just as he did this year.

I don’t think the Nadal of IW was the unstoppable winning machine we seem to see only at Grand Slams and during clay season. He had a pretty soft draw which disguised his relatively poor form; a less-than-peak Del Potro was his toughest opponent till the final, and he barely escaped Karlovic.

It’s not surprising that Djokovic, riding a wave of confidence, could beat a non-supercharged Nadal on hard courts. But the clay courts will test Djokovic’s stamina, and “Super Nadal” will make a sudden reappearance starting with Monte Carlo and I think he’ll grind down Djokovic if they meet again.

Federer is the only one who can sustain top performance year in, year out. The last time Nadal went into the French Open holding three of the four majors and the #1 ranking he lost early and didn’t win a title for a year.

That seemed to be as much mental as physical; whenever Nadal is faced with making history for himself (as opposed to simply following in Roger’s footsteps) he always gets “injured” or “ill”, unless he can go in as the underdog and put the expectations and pressure on someone else. He had a chance to break Borg’s record of four FO titles in a row and didn’t even make the final, and this year he had a chance to win four majors in a row and again failed to make the final.

Even at USO last year Nadal wasn’t the favorite until Federer lost in the semis; there wasn’t enough time for the media to build up a lot of hype around him, and even then, Djokovic was favored to win the title by many analysts. So it all worked out very well to keep the pressure off Nadal.

This year he will be heavily favored to equal Borg’s record of FO titles and the expectations will be squarely on him.

Given all this I think the circumstances are propitious for Roger to make a strong run during the clay season. If he can get a good result there he can tackle the grass with a great chance to regain #1 by the end of the year.

If he can win the French Open, Nadal will be a long time recovering mentally and it will give him some breathing room to consolidate the #1 ranking. Aside from Nadal, I don’t think there’s any top player who can seriously challenge Federer on grass, save maybe Roddick, so Federer should be able to win there.

As for Djokovic the slow hard courts are clearly his very best surface. Clay and grass are not so well suited to him. I don’t think he will be getting a lot of points then, especially given that he’s going to get tired pretty soon.

He’s also very good on fast hard courts but I don’t see him dominating there like he did on slow hard. There are a lot of other players, Federer, Murray, Davydenko, Roddick–who can beat him there.

Only Federer with his very efficient and versatile game has shown the ability to maintain top performance year-round on all surfaces. The others can’t manage it physically. Even Nadal with his magically limitless stamina hasn’t been able to do it.

Also Federer’s the only one who’s proven able to handle the pressure of the top spot for a long time without cracking. He did show some nerves when he was going for Sampras’ record and the career Slam in 2008 and early 2009, but even then he managed to make Grand Slam finals and win the USO. Now that burden’s gone and he can play for himself and set his own goals and milestones instead of chasing someone else’s. So if he manages to regain the top spot, I think he’ll be able to keep it for a while, barring illness or injury.

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#3 
Written By steve on March 25th, 2011 @ 3:14 am

I agree. My sense is that the Fedal duopoly will return as soon we get back to clay. I really don’t see the Djoker maintaining his dominance. IT’s really fascinating how if you go to tennis.com (the leading tennis site on the web), not one of the experts has Federer winning Miami–he’s not even considered a threat. Wow. I mean, seriously, I’d consider Fed a threat even on crutches! All this to say, I’m not saying Fed will win Miami–I just think he’ll keep improving and peak sooner than later. So, body-parts crossed for JesusFed to return soon!

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Jiten Reply:

Thank God that Tignor in tennis.com has not picked Federer as a potential winner in Miami. In the past, all his prediction went wrong; he has a history of jinxing his “pick” for titles who end up losing it before the finals. Mr. Bodo slotted Fed to get upset in early rounds in IW as well.

Augers well for Fed though!

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#4 
Written By Sakhi on March 25th, 2011 @ 4:10 am
#5 
Written By marron on March 25th, 2011 @ 4:52 am

Of course Roger can’t be written off; he is still one of the top 3 players in the world. However, I don’t think he can currently beat Novak and probably not Nadal – not while they are “juiced”, as I think they are. I think Nadal will roar back, as he usually does, in the clay-court season. I also think Djokovic will be chasing his tail on clay but unless they have an unexpected lapse in form I wouldn’t be picking Roger to beat either of them until Wimbledon, which is his next best chance.

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Ru-an Reply:

Should be interesting to see what happens between Roger and Djokovic on clay. Djokovic is good on clay and with his current form he will probably fare well on the dirt. Its not as important for Roger to beat Djokovic on clay as it is to make deep runs and rack up the ranking points. Nadal will be very tough to beat but a win over him or Djokovic in the clay season wouldnt hurt Roger.

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Andrew Reply:

The problem however is that because Federer is now ranked number 3 in the world he will have to beat either Nadal or DJ in the semi finals or final for sure. Nadal is not going to lose until the very late stages. So Roger’s job in getting ranking points will be made all the more difficult.

That being said- I think Roger has more chance on clay than slow hard courts against DJ in his current form. Roger has perfected the drop shot now and DJ doesn’t move as well forward into the court as he does 5 foot beyond the base line getting to impossible would be winners

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Ru-an Reply:

Good points Andrew. It will be difficult for Roger if he is to meet Nadal in the semis but at least he will still be gaining ranking points. The drop shot is certainly a shot he can use to outfox Djokovic and any other opponent for that matter on clay.

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Jiten Reply:

Based on the last six month’s performances, including the recent losses to Nole, Fed has a better chance of defeating Nadal than Nadal defeating him on hard courts. Nadal was lucky enough to escape defeats in the earlier rounds of IW; he has been shaky all through 2011. There is something missing from his game right now. I doubt the clay season in 2011 will be cakewalk for him.

By the way, what happened to his boisterous serve resulting from slight change in grip? I am sure Neil has an answer to that. LOL.

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#6 
Written By neil on March 25th, 2011 @ 5:38 am

Funny comment Jiten! Hopefully Roger will do well in this tournament. I’m British and I’m ashamed of how terrible Murray is playing. I wouldn’t mind if he had an injury or if he had a good reason to lose- but he just bottles it!! He is pathetic. And people write Roger off!!! When Roger starts to lose in the 1st round in every tournament then he’s done. But as he says in his interview he’s making the semi finals or better and has been for 6 months. The press are so full of it. Murray is finished. Nadal is about to slump big time in my opinion. He’s hitting the ball so badly. Awful tennis. DJ will go off the boil and Roger will rise again. Who else is there except the GOAT?

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mel Reply:

Your post is full of wishful thinking…there is no way in hell that Murray is supposedly “finished”- the guy is 23 and he has plenty of years yet to correct his game and mentality. Besides, he had the same slump last year and came out of it and in my opinion he stands nothing to gain really by excelling at the master tournaments (everyone knows he can win them)- it’s at the grand slam level that he has to do well. Nadal’s slump is highly unlikely to happen especially as the clay season approaches- even an under par Nadal is no match on the red stuff for the majority of the tour and Djokovic too, who is no slouch on clay is riding a wave of confidence that will be hard to stem. The only way ahead for Roger is to be able to consistently beat Nadal and Djokovic when they are healthy and playing well- suggesting that Fed can profit from a drop in form from these players in the near future seems wishful and connotes that he cannot keep up with them on his own terms.

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Jiten Reply:

Well, Murray has to have faith in the Federer mantra: FORM IS TEMPORARY, CLASS IS PERMANENT. It is all about self belief. That’s what make me laugh at Fed’s critics. If he didn’t have self-belief (along with that self esteem, which is misinterpreted as arrogance by many), we would have heard his swansong in 2008 itself.

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#7 
Written By andrew on March 25th, 2011 @ 9:07 pm

Nadal’s “.. boisterous serve” – good description, Jiten.

I guess he has gone back to the old grip, but hasn’t told us about it. I am sure with the extra power in Nole’s game these days he has been trying a few “grip changes”, too. His obviously work better than Nadal’s, for the moment anyway. I am picking all that will change at Monte Carlo.

Maybe that’s what Roger needs – a grip change or two? It’s a simple answer, as Nadal showed at last year’s USO.

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#8 
Written By neil on March 25th, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

Personally, I think Roger’s going to be fine here and in the months ahead. He’s going to win a ton of matches, and if he doesn’t let that mindset get taken over by the fact the titles won’t be coming in bunches, he should do well at the Majors: if that makes sense!

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#9 
Written By Van on March 29th, 2011 @ 8:29 pm

Joker is, and will be no 1, in next 10 years

go Djokovic

Simona

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#10 
Written By Simona on July 25th, 2011 @ 3:36 pm

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