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Mr. Djoko Rising 09/11/2010 - 9:51 PM


by Pete Bodo

NEW YORK—I had intended to parse a Roger Federer or Novak Djokovic presser as a companion piece to my earlier post on Rafael Nadal, but the second men's semifinal here at the U.S. Open demands some commentary. You know, the match that "ruined" the putative dream final, but sent Djokovic's stock higher than it's been since he bagged his first and thus far only major in Australia a few years ago.

The other day I wrote that Rafa and Roger have been advancing through the tournament as if pulled on separate rails by an invisible hand. It began when each of them had one of the year's most dangerous players placed in his path: Rafa had Tomas Berdych (who didn't make it past the first round), Roger had Robin Soderling. Each man had an intense "wind match" and so forth. . .

But the most compelling parallel was hidden from view until Djokovic knocked Federer out of the tournament this evening, in a spectacularly entertaining match featuring the best fifth set we've seen in a long time. But instead of ruining the theme, it only reinforces it: For now, Rafa is in exactly the same position Federer experienced in 2009 at Roland Garros. With his great rival cleared out of his path, Rafa will have to take all the pressure onto his shoulders. I'm not going to underestimate the threat Djokovic represents, but when you go toe-to-toe with the consensus GOAT (an encomium that will hold up for at least 16 more hours) for three hours and 45 minutes, you will pay a price.

In Paris last year, Federer had to navigate by four dangerous opponents after Nadal lost, but everyone suddenly expected Roger to win the whole shooting match. He had some shaky moments against Tommy Haas, Gael Monfils, Juan Martin del Potro and Robin Soderling, but he came through. Rafa's task was made easier today by the fact that Federer survived to the semis; he's got just one man to beat, although he couldn't be any more dangerous—if you discount the 800-pound gorilla in the room, fatigue.

I'll say this for Djokovic, his attitude tonight after he dismissed Federer was strikingly good. He might have come in complaining about the general unfairness of life, or at least the USTA and the CBS network, but he chose to take the high road. At times, he even laughed at the dimensions of his problem. When I asked him to walk us through his next few, critical hours of recovery—if he would be taking an ice-bath, a massage, etc.—he quipped:

"No. Popcorn, watching TV, relaxing."

The cavalier way he said it caused the assembled reporters to collectively guffaw. Djokovic laughed right along with them, then added: "Yeah, I will do anything that comes up to your mind legally, recovery-wise. (More laughter). I will do it. You know, I cannot go into details too much. . . Emotional recovery with my girlfriend, and a couple of things that I cannot talk about. (More laughter). It's not what you think, I know what you're thinking. . . "

I pressed him on that—was he djoking around, or playing his cards close to his vest?

"Well, you know, everyone has his own private things he does off the court. Just not for public, I guess. But definitely I will have to do a lot of recovery."

I don't know how his legs will bounce back, but his spirits and good-natured optimism have already recovered.

All seven of Djokovic's wins over Nadal (the head-to-head is 14-7 in favor of Rafa) have come on a hard court, and Djokovic sees a slight mental advantage in that statistic. But he knows what he's up against and he appears untroubled. Djokovic also fielded a number of questions on the rivalry between Federer and Nadal. Under the circumstances, you couldn't blame him if he had yelled "What am I, chopped liver?" and hurled the mike at his interlocutor.

But of our obsession with the two top players, he said: "Yeah, well it's normal. They are the two most dominant players in the the last five, six years, so it's logical that people talk about them mostly and that they want to see them playing in the finals. Everybody talks about their rivalry, their, you know, match-ups, the greatness of each player.

It's normal. For me, I don't think I've done bad the last three or four years. I don't think I've done bad with my achievements. But I am not, you know, kind of disappointed that people are not talking about me more. It's just waiting for my moment to come.

I'm competing in an era of two, you know, great-greats. Two players winning most of the majors. It's not easy, if you know what I mean."

Spoken like a champ, no matter what tomorrow brings.

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Posted by Papo (Got Nadal?) 09/11/2010 at 09:57 PM

Well done Novak!

Posted by ActionFlunky 09/11/2010 at 10:01 PM

"I'm not going to underestimate the threat Djokovic represents, but when you go toe-to-toe with the consensus GOAT (an encomium that will hold up for at least 16 more hours) for three hours and 45 minutes, you will pay a price."


Posted by Christopher 09/11/2010 at 10:03 PM

I boldly predict Nadal in straights. Had Federer won one of those match points, I probably would have had to predict the same.

I'm not a huge fan of Djokovic and obviously wanted Fed to win today, but Novak was massively impressive under pressure. I like a lot of what he brings to the game and want him to win tomorrow, predictions notwithstanding.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:03 PM

Really impressed by how Novak stepped up and took the 4th and 5th. Good on him.

Bad on Fed that he somehow forgot to set his alarm for his serve. Given how poorly he was serving and how quickly that lack of serve pulled the rest of his game down, it is some sort of miracle he survived for 4.9 sets.

Back when Rafa lost to Soderling at the 09 FO, jewell..yes THAT jewell, major Rafa fan...said that though she was of course upset that Rafa lost, some small part of her was having a giggle because it was to Soderling..the Baby Punter...the face of true evil to many Rafa fans.. at the time. And the irony was just too deft to not appreciate.

I sort of feel the same way about Fed and his AWOL serve...he serves BRILLIANTLY in gale force wind and when asked about it, tosses off, "Oh well, you could wake me up at 4 am and I could hit serves...' Clearly this match needed to be scheduled for 4 am because today, ironically, Fed couldn't find a first serve for love or money. No idea why...I hope someone in the presser asked him about it. But is was a definite live and die by the sword moment.

As for Novak.... from reading Pete's report, it seems like Novak will bounce back emotionally and not be too drained to put up a fight tomorrow. I guess we will see...because for my money, the emotional toll of today will weigh just as heavily as the physical.

Posted by Aussiemarg,Queen Bee,Do It For Wayne Rafa! 09/11/2010 at 10:06 PM

Pete Thanks.I have been waiting for Novak to stand up mentally and focus on big points in a match like today for sometime now.Yes indeed he did it.He didnt go away.Thats the mind of a player "wanting it" no matter what comes there way.Also willing to go to 5 sets to prove it.

Nole not only beat Roger today.He won the battle inside himself.He proved to himself he has what it takes again to win a GS title.

Nole well done.

Posted by linex 09/11/2010 at 10:07 PM

A fantastic match by Nole, but I do not think that he will have enough left in the tank and in his legs for tomorrow considering how physical a rival he will face in the final.

Posted by Northern boy 09/11/2010 at 10:08 PM

Praying for rain tomorrow on Djokovic's behalf, he really deserves some help from fate to make it a fair contest with Nadal. Now that's a final I'd pay to see.

Posted by wilson75 09/11/2010 at 10:11 PM

Pete go and tell your colleague Patrick McEnroe and your other associates at the USTA that Super Saturday sucks and is ruining the USO.

Posted by tennis truth patrol 09/11/2010 at 10:11 PM

You sort of wonder when Federer makes a remark like ``You could wake me up at 2am or 4am and I can hit serves" whether there's sort of a bad karma thing going on there. Once you become too aware that you're doing something great, you might start thinking about it too much. He certainly could have made his life a lot easier today if his serving had been tidier.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/11/2010 at 10:15 PM

Yeah, I think Roger does get a bit cocky after a great performance. The "You can wake me up at 2 AM or 4 AM in the morning and I can hit serves !" remark after the Soderling match, as if to say - it's all so easy for me. That kind of talk was good for '04 through '06, because he backed it up. Now, his serving, like the rest of his game, is woefully inconsistent. So - if he's woken up at 2 AM, chances are he'll get only 10% of first serves in ! My hope is that he works on his serve with Annacone, and gets it to be as routinely easy as to make his statement actually true.

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 10:15 PM

haha its gonna rain tomorrow, djoker gets rest and he wins the title!

hee! the ONE glitch in the otherwise perfect Rafa script, the rain is gonna melt the cupcake, i just saw the forecast, 60 percent chance Sunday night... the match starts at 5, no?

Posted by Samantha Elin, Caro believe!. 09/11/2010 at 10:16 PM

Nadal in straights. The ladies final was really bad, it would have been nice to see how Kim would have done against the much improved Caro.

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 10:19 PM

CL< the emotional toll can in fact work in his favor, he has a big monkey off his back, and that is very liberating, and energizing...

Posted by Diane 09/11/2010 at 10:19 PM

Sam E

Agree with you about the ladies final

Caro had a bad day in the semis so we will never know how she would have done

Posted by griff 09/11/2010 at 10:20 PM

I actually thing that this win,not his GS title,has made him officially-"one of the big boys",gamewise.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:21 PM

Crazy-for-Rog and tennis truth patrol...I am not sure irony every lays such a direct path...and I was really talking more about how 'I' felt about it. I honestly don't think Roger was being esp, arrogant when he said that, (he is always a LITTLE arrogant and that is ok by me...but he is never the overwhelmingly arrogant jerk the 'haters' need him to be.); I think he was responding with the first thing that popped into his head. Another failing/strong point of his.

It just struck ME as kinda funny and all through the match I kept wishing it was 4am.

Posted by wilson75 09/11/2010 at 10:21 PM

There's nothing wrong with what Roger said, about his serving he was just kidding around. I wish everybody including his so-called fans would stop taking everything he says literally. Geez!

Posted by griff 09/11/2010 at 10:22 PM

Also LOL at the picture.It strikes me as if Fed was grumbling while packing his stuff :)

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:24 PM

Tim - anything is possible.

I keep waiting for Fed's presser transcript to appear, but from reactions to the video version it doesn't sound like anyone asked him about his serve, which is the kind of thing that drives me CRAZY (ier). How can they be so oblivious to the obvious???

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 10:24 PM

cant a guy with 16 Grand Slams be a little arrogant in a press conference??

i mean, do you really expect him to talk like 'gee whiz, who me, win?' every time?

i mean cmon, what great athlete especially after years of winning big isnt going to talk up their chances? rafa may talk a good game but its all part of managing the press and keeping them off his back, more than his true feeling, u really think he doesnt think he can win every match deep down?

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:29 PM

wislon - I agree...we parse their words more carefully than those of presidents and prime ministers. But I wasn't trying to do that...just remarking on the irony of a truly great serving day, that was noted, being followed by a truly crappy serving day. And now, that the press at least so far, seems to be NOT noting.

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 10:29 PM

i think our expectations of our GOATS is pretty ridiculous ... i look forward to Fed challenging the Young Guns for the rest of his career, and being a true underdog, and creating some surpises, and at least at 30, the media should be giving him credit where its due, and let Rafa assume all the pressure as the NO. 1, let Fed enjoy these years< i hate to say but i kind of think this is a blessing for next year, he can be the grand old man, crowd favorite, and slight underdog, giving the youngins a pain in the ass on court!

Posted by Haile 09/11/2010 at 10:29 PM

Novak has a shot. He fought Fed, he fought himself, he fought the pro-Fed crowd and he fought history today squashing the dream of a Fedal final. I bet Novak and Rafa's manager is happy and Tacchini. Piss on Adiddas. LOL

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:34 PM

According to the Weather Underground, there is a 50% chance of showers from about noon on tomorrow...which means there is also a 50% shot of NO showers.

Posted by griff 09/11/2010 at 10:35 PM

What about Fed's serve?He wasn't serving great that's a fact.Novak was winning lots of important points with only his second serve.I mean Roddick and Ivo could justify their defeats in that way.Fed is just way too good tennis player for those excuses.Novak beat him in baseline play and thats that.

Posted by AO OPEN 09/11/2010 at 10:38 PM

Anyone know where I can get the whole Djoko presser in words?

Posted by wilson75 09/11/2010 at 10:39 PM

CL: We cannot expect players to have great serving days every time they step on the court.

Posted by griff 09/11/2010 at 10:39 PM

Tim,totally agree on the "old" Fed.But i think he'll be like that in 33-4 years of age.Age doesn't affect his grand slam game as much as i expected.He'll definitely be a man to beat for at least 2 years.I guarantee.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/11/2010 at 10:39 PM

CL et al ... I don't think Roger's an arrogant jerk, either, but he can get a tad "pleased with himself", if you will. I didn't think he meant it literally, either, but he does act somewhat smug when he has played well. Nevertheless, I've gotten used to cocky Fed over the years, and it's a trait that I accept. At least he treats everybody around him with respect, and that's the most important thing. Unlike other players who berate and belittle line judges and umpires.

Posted by wilson75 09/11/2010 at 10:40 PM

AO OPEN: Novak's presser is on the US Open website.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:42 PM

er, Griff...Roger's first serve % was under 50...for 4 out of the 5 sets it was in the mid 40% range. For the rest of the tournament it was slightly over 60%. QFs...nearer to 70%. No first serve/harder to set up groundies. Novak WAS better off the baseline for portions of the match today, but Fed's poor serving was a part of that. And I am not calling it an 'excuse.' Its Fed's one else's...that he didn't serve better. I am just remarking on it. And wondering why.

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/11/2010 at 10:43 PM

Tim - quite honestly, I think this result could turn out to be a good thing for Roger. I think it will force Roger to take stock of where his game is at, and it will make him listen more to Annacone's input. When he wins a couple slams a year, he tends to get complacent, thinking he only needs to "maintain" his level - because clearly, he needs to better it.

Posted by Neveah*Free Weezy! Vamos Rafa!* 09/11/2010 at 10:48 PM

I'm so proud of you Nole, you stepped up and in that 5th set I cheered you the same way that I did when you won your first GS. I'm still not recovered from that match..Well Done!!!!

I'm happy for you to finally get to another GS title, but Rafa is chasing history!

I can't abandon him now...Sorry but I'm still proud of you! Against anyone else and you got me.;)

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 10:48 PM

Fed didnt serve and volley once, did he? what about those chip and charge plans re annacone ? wll give him time, he comes back with a flourish im sure, i mean a seminfinal isnt terrible in teh big picture..

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:50 PM

wilson - oh, I know...its just that it was such a steep drop off from the QF and even from his other previous matches that is really jumps out at me. And the fact that no one seems to think to ask him about far as I can tell, so far..makes it more of a puzzle. Of course, even if they DID ask, dunno what he would say...'bad day at the serve office' probably, which would be neither insightful or interesting. But at least, he would have been ASKED and there would be some small satisfaction...for me at that. Sort of like when Andrew asked him about his serve back in the spring HC season of '09. But I will stop obsessing now. Probably. ;-)

Carzy-for-Rog...sorry...didn't mean to imply that YOU thought that...just that that is one of the knocks frequently put on Rog by people who don't like him. I think Fed's 'arrogance' tip toes around a fine line with his honesty... and its all ok by me.

Posted by tina ( GLOATING in the "Đ-block") 09/11/2010 at 10:52 PM

Wow, after what we all saw this afternoon, I'm amazed people still have doubts about the possibility of Novak beating Nadal on a hard court, especially Ashe Stadium. It's not always easy being a Djokovic fan around here, with trophy hogs Fed and Nadal around, but I'll still be gloating tomorrow night, regardless of the outcome. If I were just a "fairweather fan" it would be much more difficult to be a Djokovic fan.

Weather report, schmeather report - I am not looking for rain to "save" my guy. He'll be fine tomorrow.

You now how sometimes people describe certain matches as the "real final"? Well, to me, this was the "real final" --

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 09/11/2010 at 10:56 PM

I agree about the lack of depth in the questions posed at the presser. How come not one reporter asked him "What is the reason for the huge drop in level from the previous match? You served phenomenally in windy conditions, but today you couldn't manage even 50% through most of the match?" or "How do you plan to address the ups and downs you keep having? What do you think is preventing you from maintaining a somewhat consistent range in level of play?"

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 10:56 PM

tina, a semi does not an Open title make, you never know when u getback to a Slam finla, Novak better make the most of it ... Andy Murray alert!

Posted by karin1492 09/11/2010 at 10:59 PM

If Djokovic and his fans think the weather is going to help them out tomorrow, they're in for a severe disappointment. There's not much rain that's coming, and it's only for a short period of time. It's not going to rain out the match tomorrow, it may only delay it for a short period of time. There is only a 30% chance of rain at any point tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 10:59 PM

Tim - I think just once..on a second serve...and got burned. OTH, when he was forcing the issue with a big forehand, he did quite well at net. But his FH wasn't reliable enough today to do it very frequently. Also had some success with the short chip..not Novak's favorite shot to hit.

Other than his serve, it was his return game that let him down the most.** He seemed utterly befuddled by how to handle Novak's second serve, (which he got to see a boat load of), and in their pervious matches that has not been a problem for him. It MAY be that he was caught a bit between trying to implement a more aggressive return strategy and failing to do so, and being undecided about whether he should try and remain aggressive or go back to more chipped returns...and the indecision meant that he wasn't able to execute either strategy well.

Good news is, that in some ways this match can be a template that Annacone can use as a 'what not to do.'

**and did I mention the shanks? ;-)

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 10:59 PM

its incredible how bad the questions are inthe pressers, and from many recognizable reporters, too ... they seem cowed by the players and scared to ask real questions, dont u sense either fear or stupidity every time?

Posted by 09/11/2010 at 11:00 PM

Rafa won after an exhausting semi at Australia 2009 to a well 24 more hours rested Roger, in what was described by Navratilova as the most impresive display of athleticism she had ever seen.

Nole could well overcome the emotional wearingness of today´s semi with Roger. But even so, at perfect condition, there would still be right there the man who is winning everything, and still hungry. Nole, you will add more GS´s to your belt, but not this one. And Rafa will fairly claim at 24 his candidature to the GOAT recognition.

Posted by Master Ace 09/11/2010 at 11:00 PM

Did Novak return Roger's 2nd serve well and Roger only got in 47% of his first serve in so that may have taken the serve and volley out of his game plan?

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 11:01 PM

well CL its a little harsh to say he was beffudled, he was one point from winning, he played two horrible sets, is the problem and that was more of a mental letdown, frm my view ... he playd well enough to win, no doubt...

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 11:01 PM

tina- glad for your guy..honest..but why was this the 'real final'?

Posted by griff 09/11/2010 at 11:03 PM

tina,Getting Rafa out of the FO didn't win Soderling his "rightly earned" Grand Slam :)I mean it really sucks that you're not the favorite to win GS after eliminating the gargantuan tennis Behemoth that is Federer or Rafa at FO.The Golden Age of tennis can be cruel,no?

Posted by CWATC 09/11/2010 at 11:03 PM

CL, the interview transcript is up on the uso website and no one asked about the serve. Instead they asked about the forehand, and then separately about the backhand. Roger said he had no problems w/ the backhand. I agree. WTH??
Really the journo's should watch the match w/ those earpieces w/ the commentary so they could have seen the first serve % and asked.

Posted by spacenoxx (Vamos Rafa) 09/11/2010 at 11:05 PM

Northern boy 10:08 PM

"Praying for rain tomorrow on Djokovic's behalf, he really deserves some help from fate to make it a fair contest with Nadal. Now that's a final I'd pay to see."

I really wont mind this. Nole had some very tough losses against Rafa. After his win he more than deserves a decent recovery period. If it comes due to rain that will be a proper "flip the bird" to those CBS/USTA folks.

I will take any Rafa win but would love it so much more if he does it in style while playing a fully rested Nole. I wont be sad at all if Nole wins it. I will be happy for my guys dubs partner. Poor guy never even got half the recognition that a no.2 and GS winner deserves.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/11/2010 at 11:06 PM


"Rafa won after an exhausting semi at Australia 2009 to a well 24 more hours rested Roger, in what was described by Navratilova as the most impresive display of athleticism she had ever seen."

Rafa had 24 hrs rest before the final. Roger had two days off, while Rafa had one. Its not comparable for today's situation.

All the other slams have a day off between SFs and finals. What happens at USO is the exception.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 11:06 PM

Tim - heh- I don't think 'befuddled' is harsh at all...I think it is accurate. The question is why? Novak's second serve has never seemed to trouble him that least not since the days of the AO 08 and when Novak was beating both Fed and Rafa in Canada. And Novak's FIRST serve was better then. It is purely supposition on my part, but I think he was like a man who was neither on foot nor on horseback on his aggresion vs. old chip. And therefore fell in between the two and could execute neither. Anyway, returns under the bridge now..

Posted by tina ( GLOATING in the "Đ-block") 09/11/2010 at 11:07 PM

Dude, Novak was the original Andy Murray. I am well aware that a semi is a semi and not a title - but if you think about it a bit, you'd realize that I was actually for the first time in years paying Fed a compliment!

And as I said, I am no fairweather fan - I stick with Novak even when he's positively enfuriating and blowing matches he should easily win.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 11:08 PM

Wait - I hafta go find body move!!!!

Posted by spacenoxx (Vamos Rafa) 09/11/2010 at 11:08 PM

Even Andy-No-Slam-Muzz is in a GS discussion and Nole is completely sidelined.

Posted by Bobby 09/11/2010 at 11:10 PM

It's so nice to be a fan of both Nole and Rafa. I really can't lose. Although I think Nole has a better chance of winning here in later years so I hope Rafa wins this time. I think it'll be a highly competitive match regardless. I don't think the 5-setter will really play that much of a role, considering how mentally energizing the win must have been for Nole. 3 straight years of losing to Roger here, almost everyone had written him off, and then he came through with true grit!

As for the ladies final, sure it was disappointing that there wasn't more of it but my enthusiasm for Kim remains undiminished. She really showed up to win today. I've seen her lose her **** when her opponents were playing badly before and there was no sign of that today. She played absolutely phenomenal tennis, beautiful to see.

And I'm not sure if this is cruel, but to me there was a strange beauty in Vera's losing efforts. She rarely makes a lot of noise during rallies but tonight you could hear her fighting to stay alive. And she didn't come apart half as much as we might have expected given the significance of the moment and her history. Actually I think she hit a lot of great shots but Kim was just unflappable and got everything back. Go Kim! Now you just need to win a different major and people will start to give you the respect you deserve!

Posted by Jeff 09/11/2010 at 11:10 PM

its weird u noe, how come the first 2 sets djokovic won was at 1 and 2, does he just have an amazing on switch or something?

Posted by ActionFlunky 09/11/2010 at 11:11 PM

The madly impressive thing about Djoker today, beyond his late match nerve, was his CC FH. He was matching Fed shot-for-shot with, and even beating him when it came to dueling from the baseline (though even a scuffling Fed still has the best put-away midcourt/transitional FH ever). Let's hope this is a breakout win for Novak. Some of his defense is every bit as good as Fed's (in his prime) and Rafa's -- the Serb made some eyepopping gets today. And though I don't have the final stats, I thought he was pretty solid at net. As Andrew accurately spelled it out in his patented post-match summary, Federer was a bit of a robber to have pushed this match to five. Djokovic was dominant enough to have won in four.

Fed? Meh. But this is how it's going to be. The AO was a gift. It was absurd to place this type of expectation on any 29 year old in the open era no matter where he may rank among the greats. Go look at the other legends of the last thirty or forty years and see what their results were at 29; heck, you can even check some of them out at 28 and 27 and 26. Agassi and Lendl played well late and that's about it. Well, Connors too, though I don't think ever won a Slam beyond mid to late twenties, if that. Can Fed win another one? Hmmmmmm ... even though I think he's the best USO HC player ever (and I still give Sampras the nod at Wimby), I think Fed's best bet will remain at the AEC, or maybe, the AO. The FO, there will always be Rafa, if not Soderling or someone else, and though I think he'll continue to play well at the USO, the Super Saturday thing will doom him going forward unless he gets a tremendously fortuitious draw and slips in through the back door -- sort of like Sampras did in his final major. Frankly, if Fed had won today, I think he would have been pretty well cashed against Rafa. Personally, I think back-to-back day thing caught up with him even a little last year against DelPo, and he only played three sets the previous day.

Fed's era, to me, ended when 23 did on that raw day in Paris, but he's not quite done yet. Just his time/his era stuff is. It's a credit to him that it lasted as long as it did. Anyway, it's Rafa's time now. He and the young guys. We'll see if any step up as one did today.

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/11/2010 at 11:13 PM

sorry novaks got a Slam, he's in another final, be better take it seriously and play to win, there are no guarantees he's get back to the Open final again, he must know this after all the disappointments of the past Slams...

Posted by ladyjulia 09/11/2010 at 11:13 PM


Great post...agree 100% with whatever you said!

Posted by ladyjulia 09/11/2010 at 11:14 PM


Am dying of curiosity, what is it?

Posted by wilson75 09/11/2010 at 11:15 PM

CL; Remember Roger had 2 days off that can throw a player of their rhythm as they are conditioned to played every other day day then all of a sudden he's not playing for 2 days.

Posted by tina ( GLOATING in the "Đ-block") 09/11/2010 at 11:16 PM

I consider it the "real final" because I felt it actually lived up to the impossible hype of the Final that Never Happened, i.e. the Greatest Match in History. A 5-set nail-biter. I suspect tomorrow will be a let-down regardless of the outcome.

Just like the Women's final felt like a letdown after both of those semis.

Posted by leah 09/11/2010 at 11:20 PM

The simple FACT of the matter is that Fed did not play that well, very unfortunately, did not play well enough to win even though he almost did win. Lot of ways to look at a match, and one way is stats: look at every Fed match, ever, and look initially from the stats perspective of first serve and UFE. Saturday afternoon barely 50% first serve in, and 66 UFE. 66! Has Fed ever had that many UFE in any 5-set match? Not likely. Maybe once. Djokovic did not beat Fed today, Fed beat Fed today.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 11:20 PM

tina - if that was for me, the dude' and boy do I abide..I guess I get it...sort of. And I guess I get that it is a compliment to Fed..but still, a final is a final, no? In any case, hope Novak has some gas left in the tank for tomorrow and plays well.

So..this meme about how Rafa had SO MUCH LESS rest than Fed before the AO 09 final that has gotten garbled and corrected and re-garbled several times now?

I leave you with this...

This is actually a story about how facts almost never catch up with perceptions and the more dearly held the perception, the less chance the facts have...the slant here is politics, but clearly applies to sports fandom as well. Very interesting stuff...listen or read when you have time or interest...

Action Flunky -maybe re Fed. Re one on his tail like he has been on Fed's ya know? Muzz has been a bust..and we will see about Novak..beyond that, no there there.

CWATC - thanks...I'll read it later. I think we need a presser where WE get to ask the 'journalists' questions.

Posted by CL/Hold the Foam 09/11/2010 at 11:22 PM

lady j - its @11:20 hope it doesn't disappoint.

g-night all.

Posted by griff 09/11/2010 at 11:23 PM

Rafa-Nole matches are never a let down.Except at every GS match they ever played.But the two setters were epic.

Posted by CWATC 09/11/2010 at 11:24 PM

Jeff, no those sets were more about Fed suddenly pushing his own "off" switch (esp the 2nd set). Djoke's level was pretty consistant throughout the match, maybe playing his best at the very end.

Posted by tina ( GLOATING in the "Đ-block") 09/11/2010 at 11:32 PM

@CL - Dude = Tim. I was responding to his "Andy Murray alert" quip and stating the obvious that today was a semi, not the Championship.

And now we've already got the "Fed beat Fed" theme up and running, already? I'm outtie. See y'all tomorrow.

Posted by Sherlock 09/11/2010 at 11:41 PM

"Fed didnt serve and volley once, did he?"

Good question, Tim. I didn't think about that.

And I'm NOT trying to take anything away from the great performance by Nole, but Roger's movement sure didn't look at all normal today after the first set or two. Maybe I'm just dreaming, but that's just what it seemed like to me.

Nole's an interesting one though. So many slam disappointments lately, I was beginning to think he didn't have this in him anymore.

Posted by Tennis Expert 09/11/2010 at 11:42 PM

16 hours from now, Roger Federer will not be the GOAT ;

2-5 losing record to nadal in slams; 7-14 overall;

one of the GOATs : yes, Roger is one of the GOATS;

but quite arrogant (serve at 2 am, 4 am?);

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/11/2010 at 11:42 PM

I've covered college football since 9 a.m. and did not watch a single point of the match.

I want to extend huge, robust, full-throated, hearty, abundant CONGRATULATIONS to Tina, Bobby, Lollipop, Gauloises, Neveah, and the many other Djokovic fans here.

This is such a sweet triumph and such a satisfying grow-up moment that will hopefully make Djokovic a steely late-stage major competitor on a consistent basis. After all the times Fed has denied Djokovic at the US Open, this is an immensely gratifying and redemptive bounce-back for all who cheer Nole and have cringed when he's failed to reach the finish line first against Fed. Every match, even the 2007 and 2009 straight-setters, has been very contentious.

It's also worth pointing out that Djokovic has crafted a body of work at the majors which CLEARLY outstrips Murray, the man I and others were tabbing as the favorite before the US Open began.

As for the scheduling, yes, the attractiveness and TV-friendliness of Super Saturday have really become far too minimal compared to the effects on the integrity and equity of the competition.

This event shows us once again (if any of us ever lost sight of it) that Wimbledon - by aligning the men's and women's draws in mid-stream and having two-day breaks between quarters, semis and finals - is by far the fairest of the 4 majors when it comes to scheduling. The Aussie Open plays its men's semis on separate days; the French plays its QFs on separate days and has 2 of the 4 women play QFs and SFs on consecutive days. The US Open - with the back-to-back days for semis and final - is a joke. (Hopefully there will indeed be rain and lead CBS to consider a Monday prime-time final in future years.)

Wimbledon sets the standard.

Fed? Hey - he just isn't as consistent as he gets older. Djokovic, though, still had to fight with maximum heart and energy just to nip him at the wire. Federer rarely gets dismissed at a major without an opponent spilling the tank. The fact that his losses coincide with peak performances from opponents is testament to how great a standard Federer still sets, even when not playing at his best.

Again, I have rooted for the New York Yankees of tennis since 2004. There is absolutely no reason for me to complain. Today, the sunshine bathes Djokovic fans, and what a well-deserved moment it is for the Nole Nation! I tip the cap to all Nole's fans, and can truly say that while his family still irritates me to no end, Nole himself has ripened into a first-rate sportsman free of the contentiousness that marked him as recently as 18 months ago.

We don't talk about Djokovic's odd behavior anymore, and not coincidentally, he's become a better competitor with more consistency than Andy Murray. That's definitely something to celebrate.

Fed fans, I'm going to write more about this in a little bit. Hold your heads high.

PS - Classy press conference from Roger, which counts a ton. He learned from Wimbledon, and that means a lot.

Posted by Sherlock 09/11/2010 at 11:44 PM

And if it does rain, watch out Monday. Nole's given Rafa hell on hardcourts the past year or two.

Posted by ActionFlunky 09/11/2010 at 11:50 PM

"And if it does rain, watch out Monday. Nole's given Rafa hell on hardcourts the past year or two."

Agreed. If there's a washout, Nole will have no excuse not to win this, and I'm really not trying to give him one now (no astericks for me) but I do think he'll be a bit spent tomorrow. But yes, I said even BEFORE today's match that Nole has been the second-best USO player over the stretch of the last few years. Frankly, a couple of years ago, I thought he'd be the HC player to beat once Fed gave way. Still think he needs to fix his serve though.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/11/2010 at 11:52 PM


Interesting article...the one from Boston Globe is the only one i read from all those links.

But explains a lot of things i was puzzled about recently.

Posted by imjimmy 09/12/2010 at 12:17 AM

""And if it does rain, watch out Monday. Nole's given Rafa hell on hardcourts the past year or two. ""

It doesn't matter when they play the match. If Nadal is fit and his movement is NOT compromised with the blisters, he will give Novak a match to remember.

This is not a mickey mouse tournament. The Nadal that faces Djokovic on Sunday/Monday - will be different from the one that lost to him in WTF, Cincy etc..

Posted by tony m from north cali 09/12/2010 at 12:17 AM

Credit to Novak for his 5 set victory against Federer. For whatever reason, Fed thought that Novak would go away after the first and third sets which were both 7-5. He attacked and went to the net where he controlled the play. Yet in the second, fourth, and fifth sets, Fed elected to play Novak from the backcourt which obviously wasn't the right strategy. Paul Annacone must have been cringing in the players box to see Fed employ such lousy tactics in those sets. Do you think that when Fed had double match point at 15-40, 4-5 in the fifth with Novak serving, he could have chipped and charged the net on those second serves. Instead, he elected to play it safe on both points. And Novak ripped a crosscourt forehand winner and inside out forehand winner. At 5-5 in the fifth, Fed produces two terrible forehand errors from the ad side of the court to lose serve. Match over, Novak closes him out even with a break point against him. Fed played too safe. Novak played more aggressively and deserved to win. I think the pressure got to Fed to reach the final against Rafa which is probably a good thing for him. To lose to Rafa in another GS final and to complete Rafa's career GS would have really made him cried which I wouldn't have wanted to see.

Posted by Liz (4 Federer, Venus & Serena - 4 ever!) 09/12/2010 at 12:21 AM

I honestly don't think Nole can beat Roger & Rafa in the same just ain't going to happen ;-(

I say this as a Fed fan too...he's in full, "pick your battles" mode. He just made Annacone his coach, do you think we should expect improvement that fast? With his loss, Roger has practically handed Rafa the trophy. Heck, he's won the US Open 5 times. Fed wasn't that upset he lost last year and he will get over this loss, believe me. At least he made it to another Semi. I would be very surprised if Nole is going to have anything left in the tank in tomorrow's final against Rafa. In his one and only GS title match, he took a doggone INJURY TIME OUT. Sure this was 2 years ago, but he hasn't really changed that much.

Just when I was ready to dismiss Nole as a One Slam Wonder. Now he's gotten himself in another slam final against Rafa of all people. Shudder, Rafa will mop up the court w/him


it looks like I'm in for another sight of Rafa ruining his dental work on another trophy

Posted by Predrag 09/12/2010 at 12:41 AM

Well done Nole I was waiting for this to come, always new that you will grow up into a real champion. It was just mater of time.I wish you all sucess you deserve to be the champion.

Posted by Ben 09/12/2010 at 12:57 AM

Like all champions it's harder and harder to get psyched up for matches as you get older and with Roger it's no different. Who knows he may have a resurgence like Connors in his late 30's and surprise us all.

I am disappointed like everyone else for a Federer Vs Nadal dream final, but maybe it's just not meant to be this year.
Until next USO....go RAFA!

Posted by Sammy 09/12/2010 at 01:00 AM

I'm a huge Rafa fan and I was actually rooting for Federer to win since I believe Rafa has a better chance against him in the final. Rafa's game simply gives Federer trouble, but Novak seems to be able to handle it better (despite the similar head to head superiority that Rafa has over each, with 14-7 wins his favour - mostly on clay of course).

Having said that, Novak just played incredible today and he deserved to win. True, Federer didn't play his best for extended stretches during the match, but he also showed numerous flashes of his genius throughout the match. Problem is that Novak was on fire and played his best ever tennis to beat Federer. The final should be very competitive and I don't believe that Novak will let this long match impede his chances to win the USO for the first time. True champs rise to the occasion, like Nadal did in the 2009 AO and beat Federer in the final despite playing the longest (and probably best) match in the tournament history against Verdasco in the semi-final little more than a day prior. I still think/hope Nadal will prevail, but it will be very tight.

Posted by Tim (Outlaw the Moonpie aka lil Tim!) 09/12/2010 at 01:03 AM

the more dearly held the perception, the less chance the facts have...


Posted by reggie 09/12/2010 at 01:56 AM

One thing for sure: whoever wins tomorrow, there will not be tears, consolations to spoil the winner's presentation ceremony - let the winner enjoy his due glory, Let's congratulate the new US Open champion with full hearts and cheers for all!

Posted by Kwaku 09/12/2010 at 05:54 AM

CL,"Bad on Fed that he somehow forgot to set his alarm for his serve. Given how poorly he was serving and how quickly that lack of serve pulled the rest of his game down, it is some sort of miracle he survived for 4.9 sets."

I quite agree. Actually it came as nothing really unexpected to me, no matter how he had served against Sod. Fed himself gave a hint when he said after the match "If I don't know how to serve, I'm in trouble". Or, as I put it myself, "In my experience (and others'), the serve seems to be the most autonomous stroke, meaning that the day it works it works, and the day it doesn't it doesn't. It seems to have its own life. For a player fairly much based on his serve as Federer (even if he clearly also has other weapons), that is disturbing."
Of course Nole bringing such big game to the table, specially the baseline power exchanges, did not help Fed. It is difficult to escape from those for 5 sets.

Posted by Kwaku 09/12/2010 at 06:12 AM

"wilson75 09/11/2010 at 10:21 PM
There's nothing wrong with what Roger said, about his serving he was just kidding around. I wish everybody including his so-called fans would stop taking everything he says literally. Geez!"

And even if you take it literally, so what? This is the one kind of talk I despise --what I call gossip (I can actually smile to the fashion talk). I can never understand why it is so important for so many people wheather a player is arrogant or a sore loser. I LOVE to read pressers, but just for match analysis / insights and info on the players' physical and confidence state.
(Btw, what's the difference between Geez and Sheesh?)

Posted by Kwaku 09/12/2010 at 06:25 AM

Tim, "rafa may talk a good game but its all part of managing the press and keeping them off his back, more than his true feeling, u really think he doesnt think he can win every match deep down?"
Yes, because he has a normal contact with reality (OCD notwithstanding).
You don't understand a thing.

Posted by tina ( GLOATING in the "Đ-block") 09/12/2010 at 07:35 AM

I am choosing to see a good omen in the fact that Serbia knocked defending champion Spain out of the World Basketball Championships a couple of days ago.

Posted by tina ( GLOATING in the "Đ-block") 09/12/2010 at 07:54 AM

@griff - I saved this just for you:

griff 09/02/2010 at 11:22 PM

There's no way Nole is a serious candidate for this USO,it's that obvious.He just can't connect those moments of brilliance throughout a match.He'll be happy to be in SF,i reckon.

Well, now it's down to only two candidates. Is he a serious candidate yet?

Posted by TheMightyFunk 09/12/2010 at 08:25 AM

so, the day after. Still not feeling that bummed about the Fed's loss yesterday which is a good thing. In fact, I'm feeling really good about Federer and Tennis right now. As a Fed fan, I think th epost-Wimby HC season put to bed any notion that Federer was "done", A final, title and USO SF loss to a guy who played as well as he could on the day is not bad at all. Federer is going to be a contender at majors for a couple more years at least and will treat his fans to some brilliant tennis while at it. That said, the days when he was a lock to get to the semis and a huge favourite in every major except the FO are gone. Each match, at least the QF on will be decided on who has the better form on the day. And that is ok. It is as it should be when one reaches 29 years of age in competitive sport.

It is also very heartening to see the young guns like Djokovic come into their own in a match like this. It means men's tennis will continue to be played at a high level, and will be competitive and entertaining even after the Federer era. As a tennis fan, its all I can ask for

Just one point about this in Pete's post, which I enjoyed: "but when you go toe-to-toe with the consensus GOAT (an encomium that will hold up for at least 16 more hours)" - The GOAT debate will rage on till the end of time without resolution, but Nadal winning the USO will not in any way change federer's position in that debate. Will it bring Nadal closer to that conversation? Absolutely. It will be an interesting final. May the best man win, but I'll be rooting for Nole. I've really warmed up to the guy after yesterday. :)

Posted by Kwaku 09/12/2010 at 08:39 AM

TMFunk, "Nadal winning the USO will not in any way change federer's position in that debate".
Don't be so sure. Look what Bodo has just written (
"If Nadal wins here and afterward, heaven forbid, has to quit the game, the areas where Federer will look the better player will all have to do with longevity and consistency. And that will be offset by... [.] ...they will all add to the claim that Nadal may not have been as prolific or long-lasting, but he was, simply, better."

Posted by TheMightyFunk 09/12/2010 at 08:51 AM

Oh, I was not talking about the media. Of course the media will use any opportunity they get to fuel the GOAT/H2H debate. In fact, looking at Rafa and Nole's pressers, it is quite pathetic to see how hard they were trying to bait both Rafa and Nole on the H2H factor. Both handled the attempted baiting exceptionally well and intelligently I might add. Frankly, Pete's response in that interview is simply to fuel that fire, imo.

I was simply stating my opinion based on a rational analysis of the factors contributing to the GOAT debate. This loss simply does not change where Federer sits in that conversation because none of the contributing factors vis-a-vis Federer change. He still has the same #of majors, titles, weeks at #1, consecutive weeks at #1 etc etc. If Nadal wins it would bring him closer to that conversation by virtue of inclusion in the career grand slam club, but he would still be way behind on too many other factors - # of grand slams, weeks at #1 etc etc to be in the conversation yet, even though he's ahead on Masters titles, Olympics and Davis cup. Can he be in the conversation a few years down the line? Of course. Will he? We shall see.

Posted by fuzzyball 09/12/2010 at 09:39 AM

Posted by tennis truth patrol 09/11/2010 at 10:11 PM
You sort of wonder when Federer makes a remark like ``You could wake me up at 2am or 4am and I can hit serves" whether there's sort of a bad karma thing going on there. Once you become too aware that you're doing something great, you might start thinking about it too much. He certainly could have made his life a lot easier today if his serving had been tidier.

wow cant believe someone else remembered this quote... finally his cocky arrogance caught up with him. he is the most flippant smug man in tennis so glad he got smacked around last night

Posted by TheMightyFunk 09/12/2010 at 09:48 AM

fuzzyball - With due respect, to me, this is yet another example of interpretation adjusting to align with preconceived conculsion. If you saw Federer's on-court interview, he clearly used the word "we" when referring to serving being part of what he AND other professional tennis players practice and execute on a daily basis, and so if he could not serve in the wind it would be a problem. His comment about being able to serve at 2 in the morning was in that context, i.e., serving is an act ingrained in his AND other professional tennis professional's DNA as professional tennis players. He was, imho, definitely not talking about his personal greatness vis-a-vis serving in the wind. He went on to make several comments indicating the conditions were difficult for both his and Soderling and that he was glad his serve worked the way it did. I'm sure the on-court interview is available on youtube somewhere and if you didn't get a chance to see it live, I'd suggest you take a look.

Of course, to those who already think Fed is a cocky, arrogant SOB, he will continue to be a cocky, arrogant SOB. To each his/her own I guess.

Posted by tina ( GLOATING in the "Đ-block") 09/12/2010 at 09:49 AM

One of the funniest things about the video of Novak's presser is the Bodo sighting, when Pete could be seen on camera getting to his seat. Nice one, Pete.

Posted by wilson75 09/12/2010 at 09:53 AM

TMF: I could agree more with your comments on Federer.

Posted by Kwaku 09/12/2010 at 09:57 AM


Not to take a couple of sentences out of context, but:

a) "Nadal winning the USO will not in any way change federer's position in that debate"

b) "simply stating my opinion based on a rational analysis".

seem to belong to different planes. The first is about a debate, i.e. where other people may have different positions than yours (and maybe even rational too ;). The second seems to refer to your personal opinion, which you feel a rational one.

(Incidentally, if Nadal advances toward GOAT-like achievements while Federer's remain the same, well, Federer has not moved, but his position has undoubtedly changed, because that position, by definition, is relative to the other contenders'.)

So I absolutely respect your opinion, but I was only pointing out that other people will have and are already having different views. And not just espnalanaldo et al, but Pete Bodo for instance.

Or Nole himself. This is from his presser:

"Q. You mentioned that Federer is the greatest player ever. Nadal is going also for a career Grand Slam. He's younger than Federer. He has a better head‑to‑head record than Federer. In your mind, what are the chances that some day Nadal will be the greatest player ever?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I give him a big chance. I think already he's one of the best ever because he has won Olympic gold medal, he has won Davis Cup, he has won every major except this one, and so many tournaments. He has the records of 1000 events as well, and he's still only 24 years old. So it's just incredible what he has done so far in his career. He's still a great champion and a great person off the court.
So, you know, it's a big challenge for both of us, obviously, you know. There is a lot at stake for him to win a career slam and for me to win another Grand Slam title."

So Nole also seems to think that Rafa winning his first career grand slam at the age of 24 would indeed change his position in the GOAT debate (just not right now).

Quite frankly, me too. Not as a point of arrival, but as an extremely important milestone in the way to the GOAT, if he is going to complete it successfully.

Having said that, I'm not getting ahead of myself. I fear Nole a lot today and give him lots of chances. Losing today would be a huge setback for Rafa, because said milestone might never present itself at reach again. And because when your worst surface is hard, you have half as many chances to amass many grand slam titles.

P.S. I agree with your "Can he be in the conversation a few years down the line? Of course. Will he? We shall see." But Bodo thinks that conversation could start tonight ("if Nadal wins here and afterward, heaven forbid, has to quit the game...")

Posted by federerfan 09/12/2010 at 10:08 AM

Here's one thought, a really happy thot as a fed fan, matter what happens at this year's USO final now....the real 800 pound gorilla which has sat on fed's back for the past 6 years and dragged him back....will vacate and find a new home....that famed rear doesnt matter if rafa wins or not.

if he wins....celebrate a day....and then lug the gorilla around until you are too tired of it and let up, ur only 24 and have conquered all of tennis, its upto you to define what the next step is, nothing will ever get easier going forward.

if he loses...a cocktail of the andy murray 'can he win a slam' and the past 'can roger ever win FO' presure will be on rafa's tail...and things will definitely not get easier.

While my commies are to Rafa on that situation, i am really glad that fed can play without any pressure going forward...atleast nothing close to what he has felt till date. I can almost say, i am happy he lost yesterday! :)

Posted by Christopher 09/12/2010 at 10:16 AM

Kwaku-- After Bodo's claim that Federer's FO win deserves an asterisk because he didn't play Nadal, if Nadal wins I'm waiting for a similar asterisk article because Nadal didn't have to play JMDP, who completely destroyed him 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 last year. At least Federer beat the guy who beat Nadal at the FO. JMDP isn't even in the event this year.

Now personally I think the asterisk talk is silly, but if Pete is going to bring it up in one case he should do it an another in which it is equally applicable.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 09/12/2010 at 10:27 AM

kwaku - I will agree with you that personal opinion and rational analysis in the same sentence is a bit of an oxymoron :) But you are an intelligent and very analytical poster, so I think you knew what I meant. Let me rephrase: I completely agree that Rafa's position in the debate, vis-a-vis him getting closer to the conversation would change if he won the USO. I get that. All I am saying is that Federer stays were he is currently irrespective of the result today. A bit like the ATP rankings system. Federer has the same number of points today in the GOAT "rankings" as he did before he played the semi yesterday. If Nadal wins today, he would "gain" points but imho Federer would still be ahead in overall points. Much like Nadal would still be ahead of Djokovich in overall points in the ATP rankings whether he wins tomorrow or not.

And yes, as I said in my first post on the topic, the GOAT debate will rage on till the end of time because it is so subjective in nature.

Posted by Christopher 09/12/2010 at 10:28 AM

Pete's assertion also begs the question of what the word "better" means. The whole point of the silly GOAT debate should be "more successful over the course of a career" not, "had the best single year" or "played better in one match than anyone in history."

It is true that Nadal has achieve more at his calender age than Federer had at that point. But if we look at their time frame as top players, there's not much difference. Nadal won his first slam in 2005 and I think we can safely say that marks his appearance at the top of the game. In the six seasons starting then he has won 8 slam titles, possibly 9 by the end of today. Federer won his first slam at Wimbledon in 2003, in the six seasons since then he won 13 slams and never lost before the semifinals of any event. That's far beyond what Nadal achieved in that same period. So, if Nadal retires tomorrow, I just don't buy the argument that he was "better" in terms of his accomplishments as a tennis player. Yet.

Posted by TheMightyFunk 09/12/2010 at 10:30 AM

My last comment on the topic: Its without question a face-off between Borg and Nadal for Greatest 24-year-old Of All Time :) (G24YOOAT!)

Posted by Jai 09/12/2010 at 10:32 AM

"Here's one thought, a really happy thot as a fed fan, matter what happens at this year's USO final now....the real 800 pound gorilla which has sat on fed's back for the past 6 years and dragged him back..."

I find the tone of this statement a bit strange coming from a Federer fan. The reason that 800-pound gorilla exists is because Roger had a truly extraordinary period of dominance between 2004-2007 (the sort of dominance that Rafa hasn't come close to achieving). The dominance and the monster it created are inseparable from each other. So why such negativity about the gorilla? Or do you now regret that Roger won those 16 Slams, had 23 straight semis, three 3-Slam calendar years etc etc?

As for the rest of your comment, including the "commies to Rafa", I'll just say what some Rafa fans have said here before: many of us never expected Rafa to reach Roger's heights anyway. At times I still rub my eyes wondering if Wimby 2008, the AO 2009, and this year's French-Wimby double were just a dream. So no, I'm not going to be biting my fingers worrying about the inevitable decline, the possible failure to defend his titles next year, etc. As far as I'm concerned, he's already overachieved.

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