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Round-Trip Ticket 06/30/2010 - 2:19 PM

102545163 

by Pete Bodo

It's the cruelest swing of all, in a game that can be full of them. One moment, you're up 5-4 and serving for the match at Wimbledon, where a single service break can be insurmountable. It's match point, but something goes awry and you fail to convert. Deuce. You lose the next point, and you're now down break point—one measly forehand error or double fault away from dead even. You've slid from the summit of achievement all the way down into the valley of despair.

Tomas Berdych found himself in just that position today, in the fourth set of his match against Roger Federer, the defending Wimbledon champion and six-time singles titlist. Worse yet, he then served up a fault on first serve. The world, or at least that portion fixated on tennis, held its collective breath. And Federer could provide them no reason to exhale. As the ball approached his powerful, quick-strike forehand, his knees locked up and he more or less waved at the ball, sending it on a leisurely trip into the net.

It was a telling moment, and don't for a moment think it had anything to do with the back or leg injuries that Federer cited in his subsequent press conferences. It wasn't his back that failed, and it wasn't his leg. It was his nerve. That's how it is when a great champion's determination and courage begin to ebb. And, like the proverbial cuckold, he's always the last to know.

True, it isn't as if converting that break point would have guaranteed Federer yet another back-from-the-brink win of the kind he managed in his first-round match with Alejandro Falla. And it's not like Federer has morphed from the greatest player of all time into chump-of-the-month. But that point represents Federer's present dilemma, and it will stand as a handy symbol for the price Federer has had to pay for emerging from that cocoon of invincibility in which he's lived so long.

For most of this year, Federer has—consciously or not—operated on the premise that when it really matters, he'd be able to summon up not just his A-game, but his A-desire. His A-appetite. His A-determination.

Not true. What he conjured up today, when he most needed to perform like a storybook hero, was his A-humanity. He's just like you and me. Only better at tennis. As he would say, after an unconvincing if healthy bout of excuse-making (turns out he was "unlucky" as well as hurt), "I definitely gave away this match, I feel."

The man Federer "gave" it to saw it a little differently. Berdych was reasonable in his assessment of Federer's post-match comments, suggesting without malice that Federer was just "looking for excuses." He dismissed the bad-luck motif, and told us that all this stuff about the back and whatnot was news to him—when he'd read the newspaper in the morning, Federer said he felt "fine," and pointed out that despite Berdych's win over him at Wimbledon, Federer won "pretty easy" the last time the men met there.

Neither Federer nor Berdych is given to trash-talking, and Berdych understands that a multiple Wimbledon champion and owner of 16 major titles is unlikely to pronounce himself unworthy of beating a guy who's only made the semifinals at one other Grand Slam event—a month ago in Paris. But it's also unlikely that Berdych is going to melt back into the tour woodwork, just another big guy with a big serve and equally menacing ground strokes who happened to come up with a hot hand when it most mattered.

Greg Couch, an AOL.com columnist, asked a pertinent question of Federer: Are these big, strapping guys taking your measure, do you need to do anything differently to combat the threat they represent? After all, Berdych, who's now 2-0 against Federer in 2010, as well as Robin Soderling, who blasted Federer out of the French Open in the quarterfinals (thereby ending TMF's Grand Slam semifinal streak at 23) are among the top performers this year (Soderling lost today to Rafael Nadal, albeit while suffering from an injury that was confirmed by a televised close up of his heavily taped foot during an injury timeout).

The way Berdych and Soderling have been playing is bound to resuscitate the "big men will rule" predictions that began when Marat Safin astonishingly belted his way to the U.S. Open title back at the dawn of the new millenium, and which Roger Federer, with assists from Rafael Nadal and the unreliable Safin himself, stopped dead in its ontological tracks. But now that Federer appears increasingly vulnerable, and Soderling and Berdych have shown themselves capable of beating both icons, it's bound to re-emerge—with a vengeance.

102545937 Federer dismissed Couch's suggestion, saying, "Well, if I'm healthy I can handle those guys, you know. Obviously it's a pity that [Juan Martin] del Potro is not around, because I think he would have a run at world No. 1 or a run at another Grand Slam. It's unfortunate for him. But, you know, he's been playing well, and these guys do play very well. I played these guys 10 times. They're not going to reinvent themselves in a year, you know." 

Funny that Federer should mention del Potro, who overwhelmed him in the U.S. Open final last September. Del Potro has been sidelined since the beginning of this year with a terrible wrist injury, and his return has been put off month after month. But put him in the company of Berdych, Soderling, and perhaps even Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, as a new wave of big men reviving an old theory. Perhaps Federer, in his signature passive-aggressive way, is not as oblivious to the big man theme as he made out. It's undeniable that in the last four Grand Slam events he's played, he's lost to one of the towering, physical players three times (on the fourth occasion, he beat Andy Murray for the Australian Open title in February).

Federer was talking about his sore back when he said, "It's just not nice when it doesn't go away and you can't play freely. That's what I was missing today." But it was not simply Federer's back that prevented him from assuming leadership in the match, and working his magic untrammeled. As he said a little later:
"He [Berdych] played well when he had to. It was brutal for me. Every time he had a chance, he took it. On the break points—he played great on those. Then when I had chances early on, I was actually not too bad, I just felt like I got the unlucky bounce once in a while, you know. Thirty-all he got it on the line over and over again. I just felt like I couldn't create enough chances to really get the breakthrough. When I did have chances, I played poorly. It was just a frustrating match the way it all went."

With those words, Federer gave a fair description of exactly why it can be so hard to beat a big, powerful player who can lean on you, take your time away, irrespective of the state of your back, or leg. It's true on any fast surface, and particularly so here at Wimbledon. Sure, the courts have been slowed down, making life easier for ground-strokers and baseline players. But the impact on the serve has been less pronounced, and the serve remains a greater weapon on grass than any other surface.

So what of that critical swing at the end of the match, with Berdych going from match point up to break point down?

"I think it was one of my, like, toughest close up of a match when I was serving. I would say through all my career matches, this one was the toughest one to close up, this match against Roger, Centre Court in Wimbledon. But, you know, I handle it pretty well. I just closing up with my serve. I didn't lost it. And, you know, I mean, that's how it is. It was a really close match, about a few points. This day it just went on my side."

That's an honest and humble assessment from a man who made the round-trip from the peak to the valley and lived to tell about it. Luck had very little, if anything, to do with that exalted journey.


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Posted by Neveah 06/30/2010 at 02:25 PM

Let the fireworks begin....

Posted by Andrew 06/30/2010 at 02:32 PM

Today was a day (becoming more and more frequent recently, alas), when Federer couldn't pull off a win well below his best level. Berdych moved very well today, I thought. We'll see whether Federer continues to believe, over the next eight months or so, that physical issues have been the problem. I don't think they are, but I'm not sure it's nerve either. The game is shifting, and I don't think the (rats) former champion is shifting with it.

Posted by Caroline 06/30/2010 at 02:35 PM

So that everyone can make up their own minds about what Roger actually said and how he said it, here is the link to the video of his press conference:

http://www.livestream.com/wimbledon/video?clipId=pla_b1abd7c8-24d7-433b-83b4-00c16b42707d&utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-thumb

It never fails to shock me how journalists who should know better and have prospered royally thanks to a certain all time great player are so devoid of any sense of balance or propriety when rushing to cast the first stone. And worse than that, don't even go to the primary source. L Jon Wertheim are you listening?

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 02:38 PM

Wow Pete. The double-standard continues. Roger is ripped apart for even mentioning that he was having a few physical issues today but Nadal can use his damn knees excuse every time and it's just fine and dandy - never gamesmanship. Roger never called at MTO today. I guess he should have - works for Nadal. But then, Soderling did today and well, it's gamesmanship when he does it too, but Nadal gets a free pass.

How about being fair? Roger is one of the very few players who rarely calls a MTO. Has never, ever retired from a match. And yet... on the few occasions when he does mention something, he gets ripped for it. How come Nadal gets a free pass and Fed doesn't??

Posted by Caroline 06/30/2010 at 02:47 PM

I'm not sure that you can blame Roger for not shifting. Of course, there are many technical aspects of Roger's game that are not as good as they were, but if all the wear and tear is finally starting to catch up with your body and all the young guys have built up their games watching the gold standard and are much, much bigger what do you do? Even if he worked and worked on all the things which fans point out as wrong, you cannot overcome age and size consistently.

Posted by Pete 06/30/2010 at 02:49 PM

Well, Alexis, all I can say is that I call them as I see them, and Berdych's own comments are all the evidence required to confirm that coming in and talking about injuries, right off the bat, was not the wisest move by Fed. My own feeling is that Federer was hurting, and more than he knew, but not in the places he mentioned. But I refrained from writing a sympathy post because that would have been unfair to the winner.

Posted by RC27 06/30/2010 at 02:49 PM

It is no surprise to me that federer lost today. His form has been off since the AO + his aura of invincibility has been breached. The funny thing here is that if Djokovic makes the finals I think he becomes # 2 in the world despite his recent woes. Rafa, who most here predicted would lose, came through like a champion over soderling by moving him around. Semis should be interesting- I give Rafa a 60/40 chance over Murray who has had the easiest draw possible + Djokovic a 55/45 shot over berdych. I think Novak only has a slight edge here because he has a slam win under his belt. Berdych should be riding high after his win today + the confidence will prove especially invaluable if he realizes he has nothing to lose. I pick Rafa because I am a fan and I think if they both play well rafa wins. Sorry Fed fans even a kind draw could not pull this one out for you.
Vamos!!

Posted by wilson75 06/30/2010 at 02:54 PM

Yeah, whatever.

Posted by Kenneth (mourning for Venus) 06/30/2010 at 02:55 PM

Bodo I still enjoy your writing, and it's why I continue to support this site after four years and counting.

Don't worry guys, Federer will take solace in the sportsmanship award he's sure to win yet again.

Agreed Andrew, I think Federer is like all past great champions: stubborn. Of course his game is enough to win slams, he did just best all five short months ago. But he still can take measures to make sure his game is trending with the tour. Let's see what his USO journey will look like.

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro to the haters, don't you wish your pusher was hott like me. 06/30/2010 at 02:55 PM

Great job Pete, enjoyed reading this and thanks to everyone for the tennis talk, enjoyed it. Real life calling. Ciao dudes!

Posted by TGiT 06/30/2010 at 02:56 PM

Say it Caroline and Alexis!

The Bodo double continues.

RF is not following the script of these over paid writers. He is suppose to be humble to a freaking sports writer who probably can't touch his toes. Please!

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 02:56 PM

Pete, I'm not taking anything away from Tomas. He played very well and deserved to win. I don't think that Fed lost today strictly because he had some physical issues. Even Fed said that they weren't that bad... more like just frustrating because he couldn't quite do what he wanted. The bottom line is Berdych played better on the big points. He took advantage of his opportunities and Fed didn't - par for the course this year. I have no problem with Berdych at all.

What I'm complaining about is why Fed (or anyone else) gets ripped for 'having an excuse' for poor play and Nadal never does. How come he gets a free pass every time? How comes his knees are always accepted as an excuse?? Man... who wouldn't love to have knee problems like that. Must be nice.

Posted by wilson75 06/30/2010 at 03:01 PM

Sometimes, I wish Roger would call a MTO so that the press wouldn't think he was making excuses. But then again, he did that in Shanghai against Murray and the press wasn't sympathetic to that either.

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 03:02 PM

And despite Fed's obvious disappointment.... he still waited for Berdych so they could walk off the court together. That says it all about the man you ever need know. What a champion.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/30/2010 at 03:03 PM

Yes,IMO too something is preventing Federer from finding his game.

Maybe he accepts too much that he is going to lose someday? He dosen't want to lose, but he seems to be letting matches slip.

This wasn't as close as the one in spring, but he did have his chances.

Ofcourse, it is highly likely that his health is preventing him from finding his game...in which case, we will know soon enough at the other majors.

Its an intriguing period...and its kind of fascinating to watch...inspite of being a FedKAD. How does the player with an almost infinite toolset, great tactics,remarkable consistency and a relaxed disposition go down the hill? Especially one who is not dependent on a coach to provide advice/motivation/drive?

Its puzzling but also interesting at the same time.

Its hard to read what is really going on his mind...but I wouldn't put it past him for still winning majors. Who knows how he will play tomorrow? Cincinnati 2009 was such a joy!

Posted by Anjali 06/30/2010 at 03:05 PM

Pete--Here's a question (let's leave aside the question of whether Fed is a bad sportsman or not, or if Nadal is a cheater for getting on court coaching--these are all subjective and fan-induced judgments!)---what do you think Federer has to do to win against these big hitters? I'm thinking here of Andre Agassi who did change his game in the last part of his career. I don't think Fed can add mph to his serve by beefing up (as Darren Cahill noted, Fed falters when he tries to press his serve too much) but if he continues to serve and hit without more pace, he will get outplayed. Yet, we also know that Fed used to love to play guys who smacked the ball in his earlier years, so could this just be age? I ask as a die-hard Fed fan who has accepted that the King is dead but he may live on in a few short bursts of genius in the future.

P.S. and one of this days, do write a column on the injury timeouts that are plaguing tennis.

Posted by FED FRED 06/30/2010 at 03:07 PM

Alexis,

Nadal has the worse draw of anyone
and he plays on even with the injuries.

It is within in the rules to call a trainer.

No one has ever gotten better treatment than cry baby Fed.
Seeded #1 when he had a bad hard court season and given a cream puff draw.

FED is out...Deal with it,,,

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 03:07 PM

Exactly wilson75. It's damned if Roger does, and damned if Roger doesn't. Roger's back was killing him in that TMC match against Murray and it was hardly mentioned. And what about that TMC final against Nalbandian? Who cares that Roger was on crutches right before that started. Yet... how often when we read about a Nadal loss do we get the caveat of "his poor knees" or "he was tired".

I'm sorry Rafa fans. I don't mean to trash your guy. He totally earned his win today. I'm just so sick and tired of the double standard when it comes to this topic.

Posted by eric 06/30/2010 at 03:08 PM

now we really see federer. easy to be gracious and smiley, laughy, goofy when you always win. now that he has to face the rest of the field catching up, he proves to be a pouty excuse-maker. that's who he was all along, it just never surfaced because he usually always won. look how nadal made him CRY......rather WEEP on the trophy stand in the aussie open. buck up fed, you've got 16 and will be considered the best for a long time. give credit to berdych, hold your head up high, answer honestly, leave the excuses at home, and be a man for chrissakes.

Posted by eric 06/30/2010 at 03:11 PM

now we really see federer. easy to be gracious and smiley, laughy, goofy when you always win. now that he has to face the rest of the field catching up, he proves to be a pouty excuse-maker. that's who he was all along, it just never surfaced because he usually always won. look how nadal made him CRY......rather WEEP on the trophy stand in the aussie open. buck up fed, you've got 16 and will be considered the best for a long time. give credit to berdych, hold your head up high, answer honestly, leave the excuses at home, and be a man for chrissakes.

Posted by ladyjulia 06/30/2010 at 03:14 PM

Alexis,

That is interesting. There does seem to be some double standard on that topic.

But I also think its because that is how the players have marketed themselves. Roger so rarely mentions injury...his image was so invincible..that when he actually gets old and wants to ramble on about his injuries, he gets called out for it.

Rafa on the other hand, has this image of the underdog...with fighting adversity at every point (he had to challenge Roger too for three years for the ranking) that the knees very nicely fit into that narrative. Rafa builds himself up (never claiming to be favorite) that if he wins, its against adversity.

While Roger always claims he is a favorite if he is...that its pre-ordained that he will win. He never claims to face any adversity and downplays whatever he has.

Jim Courier said Roger actually lied about how many times he fell ill in 2008...we have no information on that...so we expected him to do what he did in 2007.

Its a nicely built narrative..one that will last no doubt for history.

Posted by TeamNadal 06/30/2010 at 03:14 PM

VAMOS!!!!!!! SNEER........

http://i49.tinypic.com/2uorhpv.jpg

Posted by AB 06/30/2010 at 03:14 PM

I went a read all the pressers. Since they're in english, I would have preferred to be able to see video as the nuances are difficult when people are not speaking they're first languages.

That qualifier out of the way, I think that Roger is providing analysis, as he always does. Part of analysis is providing information of relevant conditions. Arguably, he could have waited until the end of the presser to talk about his physical condition and perhaps wouldn't be criticized as much.

I, personally, am interested in *all* the factors present in a match. So, if he would have made the same statements had he won, I don't see the problem.

Posted by didi 06/30/2010 at 03:14 PM

Did Roger not say Berdych played well when he had too so why is everyone getting upset. He blames himself too. Every player does that.
Golly I no for one when Roger retires I will quit watching tennis just like I did when the brats McEnroe and Connors were playing and I couldn't stand to watch their behaviour on court.
This guy has showed up for years every tournament, never retires in a match unlike the current number one, never has gotten fined for on court coaching like the current number one and has won multiple sportsmanship awards unlike the current number one.
Give him a break. He is 29 and still motivated and deserves to get the credit he deserves. Even Pat McEnroe and Darren admit Roger elevated the game so give the guy some credit people please!

Posted by ladyjulia 06/30/2010 at 03:15 PM

And I agree with the journos who call him out for it...since its uncharacteristic.

Posted by Rusty 06/30/2010 at 03:16 PM

Good grief. Why is it OK for Nadal to talk about his wretched knees before (in case he loses) and after (to show what a 'champion' he is) just about every match, but Roger mentions once that he is injured and we get snide comments about how Soderling's injuries are 'confirmed', therefore implying that Roger's are invented? He has been so patient with the press in 3 languages for so many years and yet they are circling like vultures, waiting for him to finally fall. I've read two articles about this loss - this one, and on the Wimbledon site - and both can only be described as gleeful.

Pete I've defended you on rf.com for a good while now but no more - you are no better than all the rest of them.

Posted by TeamNadal 06/30/2010 at 03:16 PM

Murray Live!

http://www.livestream.com/wimbledon?utm_source=lslibrary&utm_medium=ui-channel-text

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 03:16 PM

FED FRED - How did Nadal get the worst draw? Up until Soderling, he avoided all the players that were supposed to cause him trouble when the draw came out. Please.

And you are just showing ignorance when you bring up his being seeded #1. It's a calculation that Wimbledon uses every year. We knew after the FO that Fed would be seeded #1. You know, when you try to make a point, it helps to know the facts. Obviously you don't.

Yes, it is within the rules to call the trainer and some player abuse that more than others. Fed is in the latter group. Oh "latter" means the second one. :)

And I have no problem with Fed being out. Berdych played better and that is that. Fed has his 16 majors and career slam. I don't much care about anything else.

Posted by sideline 06/30/2010 at 03:19 PM

Eric, Fed gave credit to Berdych for what he achieved, he simply mentioned the physical problem he had. Maybe next time, before writing your bullsh*t, you should listen to his presser and put your hate on the side. It's obvious you don't like him and just wait for the occasion to trash talk the guy. Pathetic.

Posted by andrea 06/30/2010 at 03:19 PM

sorry fed! this year's wimbledon seemed pretty ominous starting out with a 5 setter. wasn't seeing the usual ease. (clement and meltzer in my mind don't really count as they should have been as they were - 3 setters).

as many have noted with previous posts, the power game from the younger players is catching up with the soon-to-be 29 year old body of fed. we can't really be surprised anymore. everyone acts like the sport of tennis is imploding with him losing in the quarters.

roger is my favorite player so it sucks to not have him to root for in finals, but to me, the shock of him not winning everything came and went in 2008.

time is everyone's enemy.

Posted by Pete 06/30/2010 at 03:21 PM

Anjali - that's a tough question to answer. In general, I think Federer has to rely less on the kind of mercurial shotmaking and escapes that are easier for an explosive, young player (like he was) to pull off. But look, you can't expect a leopard to change spots; Federer should have told Greg Couch that there isn't much he CAN do to alter his game to meet the Berdychs etc. What he can do is sort of level out, pick his spots and really ratchet it up on those occasions. But that's hard for a guy with a lot of miles on the odometer. I don't see any easy answers,nor do I see Federer going into an extended tailspin. He's just beatable in some matches now - matches in which he used to reliably find a way to win.

Posted by AB 06/30/2010 at 03:21 PM

ladyjulia: I think you've put your finger on it. Though, to be fair, the media often creates and enforces the brand.

As I said in my earlier post, if Roger would have given the same assessment had he won, no problem. And, per your post, I'm not sure he would have. That can create a backlash.

Any player would be chary about revealing information that oppos could use to build confidence. What they choose to reveal (or not) is fascinating and does provide insight into their self-image.

Posted by Or 06/30/2010 at 03:23 PM

Birdy's presser is up. Man, they are REALLY trying to get a rise out of him regarding Roger.

He got through it just fine, obviously disagreeing with Roger. Did say he was making excuses, but, hard to blame him for it.

Gave Roger a lot of credit for everything he had achieved in the past, gave himself full credit for today. Only fair.

Posted by Or 06/30/2010 at 03:24 PM

There is one person hurting more than Roger Federer right now.

Andy Roddick.

Posted by Jean 06/30/2010 at 03:25 PM

This comment is in response to Alexi's comments about Nadal and how Nadal gets a FREE pass? Now what does that mean? Does he get free points for getting treatment? He plays on and never complains- no cry daddy! like your pal Federer. When Federer wins, he is a champ and so excellent, and when he loses, he is blaming everything else but his lack-luster games. Isn't it evident? Come now, be fair- Nadal is an excellent fighter and he is always so humble-not full of himself and blaming everything for a loss.
Jean

Posted by creig bryan 06/30/2010 at 03:25 PM

Explanations...reasons...excuses...causes...rationales...

How do you expect any group of individuals to reach any agreement on the differences (or similarities) of these multiply-defined English words?

Not to mention their individual applications to winning/losing tennis gladiators (and gladiatorettes).

Keep Smiling

Posted by Christopher 06/30/2010 at 03:25 PM

Good and even-handed take on the match, Pete.

At the same time, I'm not going to believe the "big-man theory" until we really see players like this consistently winning slams. JMDP is, thus far, the only flat hitting tall guy to win a slam since Safin (I don't think Djokovic really fits in with this group). For all his great upsets, Soderling hasn't won a slam. Berdych is hardly new to the tour, even if his self-confidence is. Who knows what JMDP would have done had he not been injured (or depressed, or whatever). The fact remains that when I look at the rankings, the top five players are not ball pounding giants.

I wonder if that kind of game simply has too small a margin for error and too little variety to consistently escape from matches when one isn't playing particularly well (and despite what L. Jon says, I don't see monofil strings as a huge help for flat hitters). Nadal gives himself a lot of margin for error. Federer has a lot to play around with. When he is playing his best, Djokovic is a wonder at using consistent safe tennis to get himself out of patches of bad play. I've seen JMDP, Berdych, and Soderling burn very bright, but I haven't yet seen them really sustain it.

The next few years should be telling in this regard.

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 03:27 PM

Rusty, it is pathetic isn't it? The press are like vultures just waiting to trash you. Roger even said something about that - he knows what they are going to write. I'm glad he gave them some sarcasm in his interview.

I expect it. The press has been doing it for years and to every great athlete. They'll do it to Nadal or whomever the next Golden boy is, the next time they fail to live up to the expectations. Of course, if Nadal loses to Murray or in the final... look for the knee excuse. I mean, the guy won't lose for any other reason, it seems.

Posted by Nguyen 06/30/2010 at 03:31 PM

People say this is Federer losing his magic, that he's getting too old. But, if you ask me, he's just having a rough patch. He won the Australian Open just a few months back so he's still got it in him. He will be back for the U.S. Open and hopefully he will do just fine. Many people don't like watching Federer but he is one of the best who ever played and possibly the best. Watching him and Nadal is just the best ever. I hope he isn't ready to retire

Posted by Rob 06/30/2010 at 03:31 PM

Tough luck for Fed and his fans - my sympathies.

It's remarkable that the "take his time away" tactic is only now working, when he is 29. Shows how prime his prime really was. In my mind, it's Fed's defense that has broken down, not his offense ... he dispatched these guys over and again through the years.

Posted by jbradhunter 06/30/2010 at 03:33 PM

RE: Lambasting Nadal
This post isn't really about Nadal and his injuries, but barely skimming thru the TW and Twitter comments about Nadal taking an MTO will produce many many comments of disbelief-- even Nadal's opponents (Petzscher) question the legitimacy of his injuries-- saying "1 player does THIS so therefore this player's THAT can't be that bad" is not the strongest way to argue right/wrong

RE: Lambasting Federer for "making excuses"
The man is a grass court master- winning 6 of the last 7 Wimbledons-- he should never lose to Berdych unless he is injured and as he puts it- unlucky... come on- There are Grand Slam Champions and then there is everyone else-- I don't mind Roger's assessment and think he's just sour grapes, because he's right

Posted by Or 06/30/2010 at 03:36 PM

The only thing the big guys are doing which is new and innovative is beating Roger.

While Rafa had struggled against flat hitter guys with big swings in the past (Blake, Sod, Berdych) - those guys were losing routinely to Roger.

I think what Roger was trying to say, and I don't think he's actually wrong - that the big hitters are still the same guys he's beaten over and over in the past, Soderling and Berdych - better, more consistent, but not fundamentally different.

It is him who have changed, and it's hard to examine this, because I suspect 2006 Roger would have beaten Berdych today in three, and that should be the true meassuring stick.

Birdy is 4.5 years younger than Roger. Sod is what, 4 years younger? Del Potro is a baby. He was by far the oldest guy in the top 8.

These guys are all in the very prime of their tennis, while Roger is past it. The things that enabled Roger to outplay big hitters were his ROS, movement and timing on the FO, and those are the things he seemed to have lost today, they are also what you lose with age.

I just don't buy the theory of 'big guys - the true new generation' - the only thing stopping those guys in previous tournaments was Roger, and he's struggling with them now - but is it because of what they are doing, or because he's losing that something extra that enabled him to beat them?

Hard to answer that.

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 03:36 PM

Jean.... I'm talking about the free pass that Nadal gets IN THE PRESS. He goes 5 sets in two of his matches at this tournament and there's the knee problem again. Amazing isn't it? I mean... Nadal only lost to Soderling at last year's FO because his knee was hurting. He only lost to Fed at Madrid last year because he was tired. And for whatever reason, he couldn't finish the last three games of his AO match against Murray because of.... his knees, right? How come it is okay for Nadal to have those excuses but no one else? Mathieu questioned whether Rafa really did have a problem in their match but I guess that isn't news. It sure is when Fed mentions a problem and Berdych has the same response.

Posted by wilson75 06/30/2010 at 03:37 PM

The media hasn't even picked up the fact that Roddick's much touted victory over Rafa in Miami now has to be discounted just as Soderling's in Paris last year because Rafa has now admitted that he was injured in that match.

Posted by Walimoh 06/30/2010 at 03:41 PM

Stop it with the excuses you people. Players have lost and won with injuries. Federer lost today, he did not look like the Federer of the past. The semis and finals from here on in all slams are about big hitting and great defence. It's that simple. May the best man win.

Posted by Benny 06/30/2010 at 03:41 PM

If Fed states his leg and back were bothering him, then he's fully credible in my book. I have seen him move much better such as the AO and being able to dig balls out of the corners with much greater assertion. Today, Roger just looked a bit slower and the injuries he described now explain why his defense was not up to his usual standard. You can get away with this type of discomfort against Melzer and Clement, but a big hitter like Berdych will take full advantage.

Posted by ivan 06/30/2010 at 03:43 PM

I don't think we've seen Federer's top game the entire tournament, especially in terms of movement, lending some evidence to his self reported physical problems. Also, Fed's backhand suffered more than the rest, and he needs to set that up more. Finally, I think we've seen that Federer is quite the competitor and very strategic about not letting people know of injuries beforehand, to avoid giving them tips on how to play or confidence.

A different matter is whether Federer, or anyone else, should try to not mention an injury after a loss, regardless, even when it is true.

I say it's up to them. But it is childish to lash out against a player if they do. They are tennis player for chrissakes! Not meant to be your all round perfect role models. Wasn't Tiger enough to put this idea to rest. Give me a break.

Let's write more substantive analysis about what happened on the court, not in the presser.

Bodo you disappoint me and I thought you were my all round perfect role model...

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 03:43 PM

Or, I think you are right. And Roger was absolutely right in his presser. Berdych and Soderling are not fundamentally different now than they used to be. Roger used to beat these guys before and now he's not. So what's the more likely - that their games are so much better or that Roger has come down a bit. Roger has definitely come down a bit. His RoS is way worse than it used to be. I've been saying that for a few years now. Maybe he's lost half-a-step, who knows? He's almost 29 now, he's married, and he's a father to twin toddlers. Of course things have changed. I don't expect him to be the same player he was 5 years ago. But he still can be the player he was 5 months ago when he won the AO.

Posted by vetmama 06/30/2010 at 03:44 PM

Let the air clear and give the guy a week or two to digest what's happened before we parse what he says and pronounce that he's in denial.
(Yes, I've been guilty of calling him that in past myself)

I feel strongly that the post-match interview, while being highly entertaining and great for pot-stirring journos in need of a story, is reeeally difficult for any player.

They're not allowed enough time to blow off their negative emotions before entering the press room.
That time is highly necessary to these highly competitive individuals, even if they are usually good-natured.

Roger's real, long-term view won't be revealed after he's had time to analyze in his own mind what happened.

So give him a break.
And don't judge him (or any player) by what he says today.

Posted by Fred Mertz 06/30/2010 at 03:45 PM

Kvitova beat Kenepi.

I am thrilled.

Posted by Anna 06/30/2010 at 03:46 PM

Of course Rafa's loss to Soderling last year was due to his knees. And it was a serious enough injury that kept him out for a few months, including last year's Wimbledon. And I do not believe that he is nowhere near being fully fit with his knees, it is now a chronic condition, but as long as he is not having an acute injury (like at the 2009 FO), he has to learn to live with it, and his losses/ troubles are real.
On the other hand, of all the people who are talking about him retiring all the time because of his knees- when did Rafa retire other than the AO this year?

Posted by vetmama 06/30/2010 at 03:47 PM

In that same vein, why do you think Rafa steps around any question like he's avoiding stepping in dog poo?

The only way to avoid this kind of response after a disapointing loss is to keep your mouth shut as much as possible, or completely avoid answering in any detail.

Posted by didi 06/30/2010 at 03:48 PM

Christopher
Love your post and you are so right. For years now the press keeps wanting to give us the next golden boy. Is was Djoker, Murray, etc. Djoker has won one slam and hasn't even made a final since. Murray has made 2 finals and lost. Soderling 2 finals and lost, Berdych no finals, Delpo one and out now with injury, Roddick was on the cover of Tennis and Tennis Life and everyone predicted him to win Wimbledon and look what happened. Nadal has won mostly FO. NO one has the talent, persistance and day in and day out work ethnic Roger does. Best part is he doesn't pick his butt like the current number one.

Posted by Or 06/30/2010 at 03:49 PM

TW ATE my very long post.

Okay, in a nutshell, again.

I don't buy the theory about the new big guys being the next best thing. Rafa, since the beginning of time, was vulnerable to big hitters, and Flat hitters. Blake, Sod, Berdych.

Rafa is in his prime now, when he's fit - he beats them, after a struggle. When he's not 100% fit, he's losing in straights. Sod, Del Potro.

Those guys never got anywhere because Roger stropped them time after time. Big flat hitters were his specialty, strong servers were the guys we had hoped to see in the draw.

Now he's not stopping them, they advnace in the tournament one round better than their seeding, and their own ranking improves.

Is that because they got better, or because they are 24-25 years old and in the prime of their careers (and tall guys mature later) while Roger is 29, and the very things that made him so great against the big hitters - reflex, movement, ROS - are the first things to go as you get older?

Would 2006 Rog beat Berdy? I think so. I think that's what Roger was saying - they haven't come up with anything I haven't seen before and beat into the ground before, it's just that I needed some of my best tennis to deal with that, and I didn't have it today.

Del Potro in the USO, IMHO - was playing a tennis which was a level up from Berdych today. and I think Roger, even in the 4 set (the fifth was a nightmare) - was playing way better tennis than we've seen from him today.

That's why, I believe - he resent the 'what have they done differently' - that brand of tennis isn't the tennis he is used to struggle against, but it is very possible that this 29 years old version of Roger does. Doesn't mean the tennis changed or that the game has passed him by, just that those extra qualities (whether they aren't there because of age or because of injury today) that made him able to beat them even on a good day aren't there.

Posted by vetmama 06/30/2010 at 03:50 PM

BTW, Rafa fans...

Congratulations!
Rafa did a great job against Soderling, who could have been quite a landmine on Rafa's way to the finals.

Good for him.

Posted by Aquafiffler Sussonoonieclump 06/30/2010 at 03:50 PM

Talking about your injuries is poor sportsmanship because it takes away from your opponent's performance - and unfairly.

Fatigue and injuries are part of the game.

If you can play, then you are not injured.

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 03:51 PM

vetmama... that is true. It's too bad that the players have to speak to the press so soon after a loss. They are understandably upset. I can't imagine having to speak to the press so soon after a disappointment. When I think of some of the things I said after my tean lost the SuperBowl many moons ago... wow... I'm glad I wasn't on Candid Camera.

Again, I'm not making excuses for Fed. I'm sorry he lost, but Berdych deserved to win, so I have no problem saying that. Berdych played very well on the big points and that made the difference. And I have no problem saying that Nadal deserved his win over Soderling. My bitching has been on the discrepancy on how the PRESS reports physical issues. Believe me... I wish Roger got the same 'pass' that Nadal does.

Posted by Or 06/30/2010 at 03:52 PM

Okay, it didn't eat it. It just refused to show it. Ah, I hate it when it happens.

Posted by piyush 06/30/2010 at 03:52 PM

Caroline & Other Federer fans! Good to read your comments standing up for Roger! Hurt to see him lose today.. I could tell that something was affecting his game - it was not the 100% Federer out there today or for that matter this whole tournament. His movement was off.. and his serve was not like it has been in the past (probably coz of his back injury problems).
Oh well - hopefully he gets some rest now and then has a better remainder of the year!

Posted by Christopher 06/30/2010 at 03:53 PM

didi-- Thanks, but I don't share you opinion of Nadal, who I DO think has persistence and a great work ethic too. Beyond the FO, 3 Wimbledon finals (and, of course, one win) and a AO title put him far beyond the other contenders, such as they are.

Posted by Benny 06/30/2010 at 03:54 PM

didi, you are spot on with Rogers work ethic, persistence and talent remarks. Undoubtebly this is a huge wake up call for Roger and I expect to see a revitalized and healthy Roger for the American h/c season and especially at the MS events. FYI...I don't think he actually pick's his butt, rather he adjusts his shorts. If you haven't noticed, Rafa is highly fidgety.

Posted by agastya 06/30/2010 at 03:54 PM

Ladyjulia@3:03: "Its an intriguing period...and its kind of fascinating to watch...inspite of being a FedKAD. How does the player with an almost infinite toolset, great tactics,remarkable consistency and a relaxed disposition go down the hill?" - My 2 cents is that all the tools in that amazing toolset are not independent tools but interconnected and tied together with the thread of excellent movement, hand-eye coordination, reflexes etc that he came blessed with...when that underlying thread starts attritioning due to age, all tools start to shows signs of damage simultaneously...maybe I'm wrong - would like the input of the more knowledgable posters here.

With respect to the presser criticisms that he should have not mentioned his injuries and given Berdych more credit, IMHO as a huge fed fan, I think Federer always says it like he sees it. He is, for better or worse, depending on your point of view, not a politically correct person. And what that means is, sometimes he will say HE had more to do with a loss than his opponent (Murray after Dubai, today to an extent) and other times he will say his opponent was the better player (Murray after his fourth straight loss to him, Del Potro after US open, Soderling after FO, Nadal numerous times). And at other times he will say he was lucky to have won when he should have lost (Falla, after first round). That's just the way he is, and whether one likes it or not completely depends on your own projection of how a sportsman should behave - IMO no right or wrong there. Personally, I like the "call it as he/she sees it version" rather than the PC version - just more insightful and fun, IMO :). Irrespective of which side of the fence you are on, I think most can agree that he doesn't always refer to injuries after a loss...this is an exception more than a rule, and that needs to be factored into any judgement of his comments.

Posted by Jenn 06/30/2010 at 03:55 PM

Its incredible how the topic of a big upset of Federer cannot be discussed without it immediately turning into a discussion of Rafa and whether he has gotten a "free pass." Both players have had legitimate injury or illness problems from time to time, as do most players. Rafa's issues have been more obvious to a viewer because they have involved knees having to be taped, etc. than say, Fed's mono or even a back injury that is not visible. Nobody is getting a "free pass." Whatever losses were incurred are still in the L column, and whatever titles were won, with or without having to beat the other rival, are still counted in the history books. I understand that this horse will still be flogged from time to time, but I wish it did not have to be the predominate topic on TW. Sigh.

Posted by CL 06/30/2010 at 03:55 PM

Alexis - exactly - what people write here and think about excuses and/or injuries is just so much internet fan blather. (And boy can we BLATHER!)

But the double standard that get applied by the so-called professional media to Roger and Rafa is truly breathtaking As is their ignorance of it, if Pete's response to you is any indication.

Win or lose, it is ok for Rafa to talk about his knees, his teeth, his abs, his parents' divorce, his foot, his teeth, any and all of it, as a FACTOR in his matches. If Fed does the same, he is toast.

Posted by Grant 06/30/2010 at 03:56 PM

"If you can play, then you are not injured."

Or you're injured and playing anyway, but why let reality interfere with nonsensical pronouncements?

Posted by rgrace 06/30/2010 at 03:57 PM

We're witnessing the end of an era. I look back at the last 6 1/2 years and it's almost a work of science fiction. Everyone should appreciate this man for what he has done for the sport of tennis, and the mind-bending results that he achieved. It's not going to be the same without him. I think Roger has one or two more major titles in him, but it's going to be nip-and-tuck. I also would not be surprised to see him top out at 16.

It happens to everyone. Roger's run is over, and it could not go on forever. I'm not a fan of the big-bopper style of play. I'm rooting for Rafa now.

Posted by Aquafiffler Sussonoonieclump 06/30/2010 at 03:58 PM

Federer lost.

Being 100% is part of the game.

Roger obviously messed something up in his training if he was not ready to play.

People making excuses - please leave and take your crying towels with you.

Posted by CL 06/30/2010 at 03:58 PM

Vetmama- hey, I left a note for you on the other thread..I love when you call me by my 'full name' - makes me feel all grown-up. Or...oh wait.. are you trying to TELL me to grop up? lol.

piyush! Your're back!

Posted by mick1303 06/30/2010 at 03:59 PM

Posted by Jean 06/30/2010 at 03:25 PM
This comment is in response to Alexi's comments about Nadal and how Nadal gets a FREE pass? Now what does that mean? Does he get free points for getting treatment?
=========================
He plays on and never complains- no cry daddy! like your pal Federer.
=========================
This is an outright lie.

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 04:00 PM

"If you can play, then you are not injured."

Well, maybe not injured, but certainly you can be less than 100% when you play. I know in Roger's case (like he said today), if he takes the court, then he has every intention of fighting all the way with what he does have. That's why he has never, ever retired from a match. But I think we all know that most players take the court without being 100%. Most players have some kind of nagging thing. Personally, I don't think you should be allowed a MTO unless you get injured during the match.

Posted by fedfan 06/30/2010 at 04:02 PM

I am so sad about this. I had a feeling this wouldn't be Rog's year. Calvin Trillin had a great article about whether or not Fed could win another Wimbledon in the June 28 New Yorker. He's like me, he can't watch Fed when he's afraid he'll lose.

Posted by Mark 06/30/2010 at 04:02 PM

Peter Bodo is such a idiot.

Posted by didi 06/30/2010 at 04:03 PM

Christopher and Benny.
Agree Nadal has a good work ethic although I question his gamemanship. All the timeouts etc are not enjoyable to watch at all. This has been discussed ad nauseum and there will always be differing opinions. I for one just respect a player who is not consistently taking timeouts. Even other players questions Nadal "habit" of doing this.
Picking his butt, pulling at his shorts. Who cares. He is a grown man and should know that is not appealing to watch. Change your brand of shorts if they are that annoying.
Roger will come back. He is motivated and I just hope the nagging injuries are serious.

Posted by Aquafiffler Sussonoonieclump 06/30/2010 at 04:04 PM

"If you can play then you're not injured"

That is a famous piece of advice from the famous Harry Hopman the well-known Australian Davis Cup Coach.

You people making excuses:

1) Do not understand competitive sports;
2) Sound like poor sports
3) Sound like crybabies.

Being prepared and fit for your match is part of the game. It is something for which the player is responsible.

Whining about injuries after a match is poor sportsmanship because it detracts from the accomplishment of your opponent. For you top not realize this you must be kind of insensitive and stupid.

Posted by Alex 06/30/2010 at 04:04 PM

I see the long knives are out again ready to pronounce Fed=dead. How gleefully they stomp about, in giddy anticipation of his tennis obituary.

Posted by CL 06/30/2010 at 04:07 PM

Vetmama- but Rafa ...and/or Toni DON'T keep their mouths shut..they talk a LOT about Rafa's injuries WHEN it suits them. Go back and read Rafa's presser after the Ent hit him off the court at the 09 USO. And suddenly, after a couple of 5 setters at Wimby there is a flurry of knee talk...after silence on that front for several weeks. To the point of trying to call Roddicks' win over Rafa in Miami into some doubt. Timing in preemptive excuses making, as in comedy, is everything. Rafa and Toni are great at it. Roger stinks at it. He clearly doesn't understand the concept of 'preemptive'. His timing in that is as bad as his ROS timing.

And again, here? ***shrug** That's what cyber chat is all about. But shouldn't the 'real journalists' be better than us and at least pretend to be fair..or at a rock bottom minimum, pay attention?

Posted by rick 06/30/2010 at 04:08 PM

I like and respect Federer, but his fans make it increasingly difficult.

To you cool-aid drinking Fed fans, his wins are proof he is the greatest ever, his losses can only be caused by injury, or bad conditions, or bad umpiring--or anything other than being outplayed. If he's classy in his press conference, you give him full credit, if not, the press criticism is a double standard.

He lost in the quarters in the last two majors. He will win more majors, but will never return to the force of 3-5 years ago. Get over it.

Posted by mick1303 06/30/2010 at 04:08 PM

Posted by Anna 06/30/2010 at 03:46 PM
Of course Rafa's loss to Soderling last year was due to his knees. And it was a serious enough injury that kept him out for a few months, including last year's Wimbledon. And I do not believe that he is nowhere near being fully fit with his knees, it is now a chronic condition, but as long as he is not having an acute injury (like at the 2009 FO), he has to learn to live with it, and his losses/ troubles are real.
On the other hand, of all the people who are talking about him retiring all the time because of his knees- when did Rafa retire other than the AO this year?

==========
Paris Indoors against Davydenko

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 04:09 PM

agastya, you are exactly right. Like it or not, Fed is 'honest' in his pressers. He was totally honest when he said that Falla should have won that first round match and Fed was 'lucky' to win. Fed said today that if Falla had won, he would not have mentioned a physical issue because a physical issue had no bearing on his game that day, but since it did have some bearing on how he played today, he mentioned it. Simple as that. But that doesn't detract from how Berdych played. Berdych played the bigger points better today.

The bottom line is... both Fed and Rafa KADs believe that if their guy is 100% and playing his "A" game, he won't lose. Are Roger and Rafa always 100% and playing their "A" game? No. Sometimes they still win and sometimes they don't.

Posted by Chris 06/30/2010 at 04:10 PM

Pete, I think luck deserves a little more credit than you, and most followers of sport, are willing to give it. It's seductive to think that determination, courage, focus, etc. can explain every outcome, but it just isn't true.

Here's one model: bad swings indicate a failure of focus or courage, and the champion's mentality includes high levels of focus and courage at key points in the match. Here's another model: even for very good players, bad swings happen with some small probability, and the champion's mentality includes not compounding this danger by "getting tight" at key points in the match.

Fed made a bad attempt at a service return on break point in that final game. Does that indicate that his mental game isn't what it used to be, or was it bad luck? It's not obvious, I think. Part of the intrigue of sports is how difficult it is to say which of those two models applies to a particular player or a particular match.

Posted by Vilu 06/30/2010 at 04:11 PM

I think the biggest failure in this conversation is what Federer answered to Couch's question. Saying that he would "handle" all these big guys when he's healthy was kinda shame to hear. We've heard him bark at Djokovic about his medical timeouts, we've heard him say Murray won't rise to Top-10 if he doesn't change his game, but this is a little too much. With that comment he looks down on Berdych, Gulbis, Söderling and Karlovic (remember Cincy -08?). He saved himself a little bit with his comment about del Potro, but the worst had already happened. I think THAT was where he had some unsportsmanlike manners.

Posted by @work 06/30/2010 at 04:11 PM

Jenn @ 3.55pm

Well said.

I still don't understand the 'Nadal has been given a free pass' because of the amount of criticism I have heard and read of Nadal from the media and fans alike about many things including MTOs, coaching, serving delays, etc.

By the way, I didn't get that Mr. Bodo was criticizing Fed for talking about his injuries but expressing his opinion on what he thought was behind the loss. Of course I could be wrong.

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 04:12 PM

"Whining about injuries after a match is poor sportsmanship because it detracts from the accomplishment of your opponent. For you to not realize this you must be kind of insensitive and stupid."

I'm assuming you feel this way about all players, right? I mean, you feel this is wrong when both Fed and Nadal do it, right? Or any other player?

Posted by Grant 06/30/2010 at 04:13 PM

"Being prepared and fit for your match is part of the game. It is something for which the player is responsible."

This is true. Mind you, it's only true for some injuries (I doubt you're going to blame Seles for hers, for example), but hey, it's a start.

"Whining about injuries after a match is poor sportsmanship because it detracts from the accomplishment of your opponent."

But since the former is true, the latter is nonsense. Part of the opponent's accomplishment was in being fit and prepared, which you've stated is part of the game. For you 'top' not realize this indicates that you lost the house in your divorce from reality.

Posted by Aquafiffler Sussonoonieclump 06/30/2010 at 04:13 PM

In the 1999 AO semifinal between Agassi and Sampras - which was called "the virtual final"

Agassi came back and beat Sampras in 5 sets.

I am pretty sure that Sampras hurt his back in the 4th set and did not have his full range of motion in the 5th which he lost 6-2.

But he had enough class to not mention it because he did not want to detract from the great accomplishment of Agassi.

It's called SPORTSMANSHIP.

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 04:14 PM

Rick wrote: "To you cool-aid drinking Fed fans, his wins are proof he is the greatest ever, his losses can only be caused by injury, or bad conditions, or bad umpiring--or anything other than being outplayed. "

As opposed to Rafa KADs? Or any other KADs?

Posted by Frances 06/30/2010 at 04:15 PM

I've seen a many versions of TMF's descent but just as much of TMF's ressurection from Pete.

Roger will be Roger... I still dont count him out... I am not a roger fan.. but even a rafakad will admit the TMF is to me the GOAT...

injuries or what not TMF has had a lot of milieage in his tank.. but i know he has more to offer.. Good luck next time rog.. I know you will bounce back

Posted by jbradhunter 06/30/2010 at 04:15 PM

Rafa and Fed are special, like Venus, Serena, Kim, Justine, Maria- they know how to win Grand Slam tournaments- and more than just once-they know how to gut out wins when they should've lost- they know how to win matches when winning seems impossible-- over and over and over again-- when these players lose, it's a weird event- all things physical and mental being equal, Roger Rafa Venus Serena Kim Justine Maria should win way more than lose and the greater the pressure of a match then the more likely they are to win that match- these players are winners-- the rest of the players on tour are contenders, and can win from time to time, but they are nowhere near as gifted as the aforementioned players

Posted by Sher 06/30/2010 at 04:16 PM

Jenn, word. Or, yep.

>For you 'top' not realize this indicates that you lost the house in your divorce from reality.

lol Grant.

Pete, you always seem ready to assume the worst.

Posted by Frances 06/30/2010 at 04:16 PM

"The bottom line is... both Fed and Rafa KADs believe that if their guy is 100% and playing his "A" game, he won't lose. Are Roger and Rafa always 100% and playing their "A" game? No. Sometimes they still win and sometimes they don't."

@ Alexis AMEN!

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 06/30/2010 at 04:17 PM

Caroline,

Thanks for the link to Roger's press room interview. Never ceaees to amaze me how inane some of the questions can be. I thought Roger hand;ed the last one particularly creatively.

You know, sometimes a tennis match is simply a tennis match, and not a harbinger of things to come. And sometimes a loss is due simply to the other guy making a higher percentage of very bold plays than he usually does. Not much you can do about that.

Posted by pollypurebred 06/30/2010 at 04:19 PM

Had so many 5 setters, maybe he's been injured all along, but hasn't mentioned that since he won. Let's face it, the guy is on the downside of his career. He's a dad to one year old twins. Maybe the time has come to hang it up, and concentrate on his personal life. How much more money does he need anyway. Give credit to the victor, keep your injuries to yourself. Who knows, maybe the mono has flared up again!

Posted by Alexis 06/30/2010 at 04:21 PM

Stop picking and choosing examples, Aquafiffler. Sampras is also the same guy who made some sarcastic crack about the difference between him and Rafter was "12 grand slams" when the press guy had the audacity to insinuate to Sampras that Rafter might actually have a chance to beat him in their match. Sampras wasn't immune to saying something less than 'sporting'. So you think Roger was less than 'sporting' today. Maybe so. But I can show a million examples where he was.

Posted by jbradhunter 06/30/2010 at 04:24 PM

okay... so how is a person supposed to answer a question "why did you lose today?"
If they are injured, and they believe that had something to do with it, then are they expected to LIE about it, or avoid mentioning it in the name of good sportsmanship? That's such a repressive view of good sportsmanship- like the opponent/winner in most cases can't handle the truth- certainly doesn't give much credit to the mental fortitude of the winner either

Honesty seems way more appropriate to Good sportsmanship than pretending like something wasn't bothering you- this isn't the Donna Reed show- we shouldn't be encouraged to lie

Posted by Benny 06/30/2010 at 04:27 PM

didi, are you insane? Nadal is fidgedy! It has nothing to do with his brand of shorts rather it's his chemical makeup so lighten up, it's far from criminal behavior. Stay on topic which is disecting Roger's loss and resulting psyche!

Posted by Grant 06/30/2010 at 04:27 PM

"I am pretty sure that Sampras hurt his back in the 4th set and did not have his full range of motion in the 5th which he lost 6-2."

i am pretty sure he didn't because if you're playing you aren't injured, QED

Posted by mellow yellow 06/30/2010 at 04:28 PM

Berdych and Sod are VERY different players now. their technical game might be the same stokes, but their MENTAL and CONFIDENCE are so much higher than they have ever been and ANYONE who plays tennis knows it can seriously change your game. Fed isnt playing different strokes either, but he mentally has checked out. his confidence is not there anymore. he will get beat. plain and simple. back/leg issues or not.

Posted by commonsense 06/30/2010 at 04:29 PM

Federer's leg was wrapped since the beginning of the tournament. Since that's unusual (as was his poor first-round play) if would be idiotic to discount the obvious fact that he was hurting. However, I don't recall him taking a MTO before Falla's serve in the 3rd set when he should have lost. Whether he went out in the first round or the quarterfinals, he was going to go out in the natural course of the game, not use his injury to his advantage to ice his opponent. If we believe what he says about being injured in Halle, he obviously knew going into the tournament that he would have a rough time. When Nadal was faced with a similar situation in 2009, he quit. It was easier to wimp out and hope that people would be foolish enough to buy into the ridiculous narrative that he would have been a shoo-in if healthy, when he had won the tournament only once to Federer's 5 titles (now 6). Similarly, when Nadal was getting spanked by Murray in Australia, he quit. Federer's plan A is to win, and his plan B is to lose. Nadal's plan A is to win, plan B is to cheat, and plan C is to quit. I predict that he will not age gracefully. As time goes by, he will look less and less like a tennis player, and the gimmicks he relies on will get more and more stale. He will never approach Federer's level of dominance or command of the No. 1 ranking when he was in his prime. So I say, enjoy your hour, uncouth rule-breaking excuse for a champion. You have to roughly double your slam wins before you're even in the conversation, and the clock is ticking.

Posted by Or 06/30/2010 at 04:29 PM

Aquafiffler Sussonoonieclump-

Two things made the Sampras-Agassi match (which I've never seen) different.

1) It was a final

2) It was Agassi.

If this was a final vs. Rafa, I imagine Roger wouldn't have said anything, either.

Posted by JJB 06/30/2010 at 04:30 PM

To me it's not really important what other people say about Fed's injuries or Nadal's injuries, only what they themselves say. I don't remember one time when Nadal used the bad knees as an excuse for any loss including the Soderling match at the '09 French. It's not Nadal's fault if commentators or his fans are talking about the knees. Nadal never makes the excuses himself.

The more notable Fed comment, however, is the statement about the unlucky bounces. You just don't hear this kind of statement from any other player. Bad bounces do occur on grass without a doubt, but both players are playing on the same surface. I remember at least a few bad bounces for Berdych too.

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