Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - In the End, a Beginning
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In the End, a Beginning 01/28/2008 - 3:29 PM

TsdjEvery major overflows. After two weeks of tennis, seemingly unforgettable moments from earlier in the tournament teeter on the edge of oblivion. Remember the Hewitt-Baghdatis five-setter? The one that ended at 4:30 in the morning? It’s been wiped away, at least in my mind, in a blur of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga forehand winners and Novak Djokovic chest thumps, and won’t be heard from again until tennis journalists make up their year-end Top 10 lists.

In Melbourne this year, we started out debating court speed and late-night starting times, but we finished with two logical, acceptable champions, and a potentially galvanizing new star. So I’m going to forego the tournament wrap-up this time and stick with the two guys who played the best tennis these last 14 days.

To start, Djokovic’s breakthrough should have been a surprise to no one, even though he's only 20 years old. The Serb, with his customary matter-of-fact self-assurance, even said in his victory speech that he was happy that his “first” major came in Australia. The implication is that there will be many more, and they won't just happen in Oz.

He won with his strong point: all-around competence. Djokovic didn’t offer us anything we didn’t already know about his game, but the slow surface gave him a chance to show off his defense like never before. Few players counterpunch their way back into points as aggressively as he does; he runs forward and into hard-hit shots, turning the tables from there. I felt like Djokovic’s backhand was the key in the last two matches. It gave him another attacking option, but a safe one. Both Federer and Tsonga, who relied more heavily on the forehand, went for broke and missed on numerous occasions with it.

Djokovic also won efficiently. He lost only one set, on a miraculous running topspin lob by Tsonga in the final. He vanquished Roger Federer by playing the important points more confidently and serving more effectively than a 12-time Slam champ. And he wore down Tsonga in the final by not making careless errors. Unlike the Frenchman, when Djokovic gained the advantage in a point, he made no mistake with it. In the fourth-set tiebreaker, with his opponent surging, Djokovic didn’t commit a single unforced error, while Tsonga made three and threw in a double fault. After all the running, slugging, jumping, and fist-pumping between these two guys, that mundane fact decided the tournament.

The win was the first at a Slam by someone other than Federer or Rafael Nadal in three years. The crowd was giddy from the start and the match felt fresh, even from the perspective of a TV viewer. It was frankly a relief not to have to hear the announcers try to come up with new and ever-more-grandiose ways to describe Federer’s play. As good as Djokovic is, he remains human for the moment. He showed a lot of that humanity in the final. The man who has worked for the crowd’s love in the past suddenly couldn’t get any of it from the Aussies, who were enamored with the more unlikely—and therefore hipper—Tsonga. Djokovic was thrown off for a full set because his family was involved in an altercation with a group of nearby Tsonga supporters. That’s the downside of making your support group such a big part of your performance. Djokovic's family really does function like a team, which is touching; but it’s also dangerous in an individual sport where you have to isolate yourself to play your best.

As a fan, I’ve enjoyed the wacky Djokovic clan so far—their brazen cheesiness was refreshing on Sunday after the long, entitled reign of that sphinx of the sidelines, Mirka. But how will we feel about Srdjan and company as Djokovic continues to ascend? On Sunday we saw Djokovic as a future king of the sport for the first time, rather than an up-and-coming, attention-seeking class clown. Here’s a guess: His crew’s coordinated shirts and relentless cheerleading—not to mention his own “Yes, I have heart, it’s located here!” chest thumps—are going to wear extremely thin if Djokovic begins to dominate the sport. But we’re not there yet, and we should forgive him his over-the-top excitement this time. He certainly went a long way to charming his enemies in the audience with his victory speech. “I know you wanted him to win. But that’s OK, I still love you guys.” Those are the gracious and honest words of a future king, not an obnoxious attention seeker, and I thought it was one of the highlights of the tournament.

Which leads to a final question: What does his win Down Under mean for men’s tennis? After the final, I had a sense that the days of Federer’s easy dominance were suddenly over. That’s just a feeling, of course; only time will tell, and all predictions are useless. I’m not saying the guard has changed after one match, but Djokovic is also too good to say that this was merely a one-day occurrence. Federer remains the man to beat, but Djokovic just took a big step toward making that a two-man position.

Djokovic will be in Federer’s head the next time they meet. It will be up to Federer to get him out. Until now, I don’t think he’s considered, or wanted to consider, Djokovic as a full-time rival—that spot has been reserved for Nadal in his mind. I don’t get the feeling Federer was fully prepared, from a mental standpoint, to engage in total war against the Serb in Melbourne. That should change when we get to Indian Wells and Key Biscayne, two places that have brought out the best in both guys in the past.

Now what about Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the man who single-handedly called to mind two American sports legends, one with his name (as in Jo Willie Namath) and one with his face (as in Cassius Clay), and who was the phenomenon of the event? Is he for real?

For obvious reasons, the player I think of first is Marcos Baghdatis. Like Tsonga this year, at the 2006 Open the Cypriot came out of nowhere to reach the final, win the first set 7-5, and lose the next three. The two players also faced off in the U.S. Open junior final a few years ago (Tsonga won). Again, predictions are useless, especially with someone who has been so hit-and-miss in the past, but right now Tsonga appears to have more upside than Baghdatis. He can go off form at times, but the Frenchman wasn’t flaky or faint-hearted at any point over the last two weeks. Put that together with all the athleticism and hitting ability and . . . well, we’ll see.

I’ve never seen a pro play as straight up and down as Tsonga. He barely bends his body during his ground strokes. The effect is one of utter relaxation; the paradoxical result is more racquet-head speed, more pop on the ball, and a high strike zone, which makes taking the ball on the rise a no-brainer. Tsonga also distinguishes himself from his fellow young French rivals, Gasquet and Monfils, with his ability to move forward and take the ball early. He doesn’t camp out behind the baseline and rally passively, which makes for better entertainment. The downside became visible as Tsonga got tired in the final. His relaxed stance and footwork left him out of position as the rallies wore on. He was no longer getting to the ball in time to take it early and dictate play.

Tsonga has seemed too one-dimensional and erratic to me in the past. He bombed out of the U.S. Open last year to Nadal in an unsightly straight-setter. This makes me think he can be distracted and adversely affected by surrounding conditions, expecially wind and noise. Tsonga’s other trouble has been his fitness, and it cost him over the last two sets on Sunday. Otherwise, his attitude in Melbourne was the right one. As relaxed as he appeared to be during points, he maintained that attitude between them. Like Cassius and Jo Willie, Tsonga looks and acts like a star who loves to be at the center of the arena.

If, after two weeks, the Aussie Open has given us a new challenger for No. 1 and a new charismatic athlete, that’s more than enough to remember, and a very promising start to the year.

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Posted by Basil 01/28/2008 at 03:47 PM


Posted by Rolo Tomassi 01/28/2008 at 03:49 PM

Hey, Steve,

I thoguht it was a great Open, too. If only the women's side had produced a better final... (or semis, for that matter)

Btw, my favorite line in this post was a passing one: "entitled reign of that sphinx of the sidelines" - oh, snap!

Posted by zolarafa 01/28/2008 at 03:55 PM

Steve, nice post.
Indeed this is a very excitig start to the year. With the new rankings, Fed is ahead of Rafa with 650 points and Djoko is behind Rafa with a little moe than 80 points. Very close and anything can happen.

Of course as a Rafa fan, this makes me nervous. As much as I like Rafa to be No 1, I can see the possibility of him losing it to Djoko. So, in my opinion, this will take Rafa and Fed out of their comfort zona. They need to work harder and be more careful.

One thing about Fed, I read that the virus was more serious than reported and he was under medication in most of the matches. It was very uncharacteristic of him to move that poorly. I think he is not "dead" yet. He is very much alive and still No 1 and very competetive. Sure thing, Dubai, IW and Miami will be very exciting.

Tsonga is very charismatic, but he abandoned his game( the one that he used to beat Rafa) when he faced Djoko. He needs to prove that he is not another Baghdatis or Gonzo. But he has the cutest face, I have to admit!

VAmos RAfa!

Posted by antihype 01/28/2008 at 03:56 PM

Djokovic's talent is undeniable and he may be a multiple slam winner. However, I couldn't take such a benign attitude towards his parents.

Some rather shocking comments from his mom in the link I posted

I still have to wait and see how Federer deals with this loss before proclaming his demise.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 03:58 PM

great post, the ususal with you Steve...

Posted by Matt Renoue, DC 01/28/2008 at 04:04 PM

Very good post... Great start to what will hopefully be an interesting and unpredictable year.

Posted by patrick 01/28/2008 at 04:05 PM

It was indeed a pleasure to watch the match live with 2 different finalists with intriguing story lines. Novak EARNED his way to the 2008 AO win and Tsonga may start to win titles if he sticks to his attacking style but how will it fare on clay? However, do you know where Cliff Drysdale was during the latter stages of the tourney?

Posted by abybaby 01/28/2008 at 04:07 PM

'Tsonga is very charismatic, but he abandoned his game( the one that he used to beat Rafa) when he faced Djoko.'

Djoker hits a much flatter and deeper ball than Rafa. Many times Rafa's shorts will land short and Tsonga would take them on rise and follow in. But Djoker did not give him that chance much.

I think Rafa needs to play more aggressively on hard courts. He will loose more matches in process, but will be worth it in long run.

Posted by elenas 01/28/2008 at 04:10 PM

This looks to be an exciting year of tennis on both mens and womens side.
It will be interesting to see if Rogers loss to Djokovic really changes anything. Can Rafa and Djoko catch up - a new #1 maybe . How about does he do from now on...

On the womens side...Sharapova looks to dominate...can she continue...Justine will probably start winning everything again but will be careful against Sharapova....How about the Williams when the year began they were very motivated - so disappointing at the open...are they done or can they pull a few slams... time will tell

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 04:17 PM

Federer will do what he has soooooooooo many times in the past. I really dislike people counting him out just yet. He is more than likely to make up for the points he lost last year at IW and Miami since the Guillermo Cañas incident... On the other hand though Djokovic defends a final and a title at those 2.

650 points over Rafa is certainly not much. Rafa is going to play in Rotterdam in 20 days time while Federer will not see action until Dubai and he could be overtaken as the world's #1 tennis player but that is just a mere supposition...

Djokovic.... ffffffffff (blowing air outta my mouth in exhaustion) is a good (and new) ingredient thrown into the mix. But I very much doubt that "the king is dead" and that he will of any threat to Nadal on clay, not even Federer plays as good on any surface as Nadal does on clay, remember the level he reached in Rome last year? when Djokovic deliberately hit the ball to the net on matchpoint to get the whole thing over with? Nadal is stronger, faster and if I may say much smarter on the red stuff..

Federer will always have Wimbledon as his high note tournament of the season plus this year he goes for the olympics as well. Let's see how he bounces back and how well in shape he can get (I for one don't doubt it) and see where that takes agains Djokovic next time they meet. Please think of the 2005 season. Lost in the semis in Autralia and Roland Garros and took the faster surface slams so no reason to think he won't do it again.

Posted by South_Paw 01/28/2008 at 04:19 PM

The Dijana comments change nothing. Parents are known not to be very objective when it comes down to their offsprings.
However, it's also understandable that a youngster like Novak needs a little confidence-building when coming up against someone of Roger's caliber and aura - which many other pros help maintain : Andy, James, ... and several others are clearly in awe, and Nadal is too polite to make disparaging comments (he reserves his ferocious competitiveness for RG).

Novak makes an excellent new addition to the previous grand-slam-lockdown that Nadal/Federer maintained - it's great to see it open up.
But I am equally looking forward to Nalbandian, Tsonga, Gasquet, Murray and few others to collect their share of fresh scalps.

Many viewers don't like the i) thumbs down, ii) throat-slash, iii) tongue-in-cheek comments like : "He's (federer) going down".
Tennis isn't for the faint of heart. Conversely it should maintain a certain class, thus swearing, vulgarities should warrant sound punishment from the proper authorities, but extending this to the parents/fans is a little ridiculous.

However, saying that the mighty Fed is done is equally ludicrous, but he better be warned - he may find winning his 13th, 14th and record-breaking 15th much tougher than the first 10. Arguably he toiled some to beat Agassi (USO '05) and Nadal (Wimbledon '07), but the rest hasn't been to dramatic.
I get the feeling this is about to change ...



Posted by Manolo 01/28/2008 at 04:20 PM

Abybaby: I dont think it was the difference in Djoko´s game that made Tsonga struggle, I think it was the fact that he wasnt pulling out those jaw-dropping-eye-candy volleys.

Antihype: Very shocking comments indeed. I for one want Fed to make her eat their words... with bagels if possible :)

Posted by athanguy 01/28/2008 at 04:21 PM

Federer will rise back from this defeat and will show Djoko who is number 1. He will maintain a stronghold to his number 1 position for the entire year and might even win the French Open. his loss at Melbourne will make him more motivated at the French. Meanwhile, as I said in another blog, Djoko will lose to unknown players while Fed will maintain almost invincible; losing only to great plays.

Posted by Evie 01/28/2008 at 04:42 PM

It is curious the use of the word "King" by Novak's parents. Do anyone think that Federer would seriously think of himself as king. Silly!

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 04:47 PM

Federer's best is better than anyone else's best!

Posted by elenas 01/28/2008 at 04:48 PM

athanguy...Federer winning the not so sure...The french is Nadals baby.

As for Djoko losing to unknown players...what are you basing that on....Djoko has been consistently improving and he is only getting better...He can still beat Federer again this very year if they met a couple of time...Look at how well hes done on slams just last yr alone...consistency

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 04:52 PM


Consitency is what Federer Has shown since Feb. 2nd 2004 til today. That is consistecy.

Posted by Manolo 01/28/2008 at 04:53 PM

Elenas: Consistency is more than Grand slams, but yes, Djoko was very consistent last year. What I think athanguy means is that Djoko can be beaten by top players at their best, while Federer can be beaten by top players at their best *sometimes*. And noone can beat Federer at his best (Ok maybe Nadal in clay... at his best)

Posted by Krazy Eyez 01/28/2008 at 04:55 PM

Outstanding post and wrap up of a great 2008 AO!

Unless Tsonga was a mirage, then we now have 4 players who will provide interest like we have not seen in many years. Name me a match between and combination of nadal, tsonga, fed & Djokovic which is not intriguing on any surface (maybe not tsonga on clay)?

What is interesting to me is how federer will respond. I don't buy the stomach illness and think it had zero effect on his outcome. He was just not very consistent off the ground which i think has been a problem for him since post french open last year. I think he has covered up these inconsistencies with his serve since wimbledon of 2007. Although he self analyzes very well, hopefully he analyzes well enough to admit he needs a coach to get him through this bump in the road. The competition has risen!

Posted by Manolo 01/28/2008 at 05:04 PM

Krazy: Fed´s greatness as a player is founded on his movement. When he´s movement is not doing well, his whole game suffers a lot. And the sickness did have something to do with his fitness. Look at this photo in...

...and tell me that those three players are equally healthy. Allthough I agree he needs a coach.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 05:13 PM

That is exactly what Mary Carillo implied: When Roger's footwork is not working, his forehand is not working and in the end that is exactly what cost him the match against Djokovic.

Posted by Matt Renoue, DC 01/28/2008 at 05:21 PM

FedEx will be the one to bit for at least another 2 or 3 years. And there is not doubt in my mind that he’ll reach 14 GS titles. AO was a great wake up call for him, but was also a sign that it definitely won’t be easy as it was for the past 3 years.

Djoker is coming into his own, only 20 years old with a GS in his pocket and a world of confidence and game to match it. More to it, he has beaten Roger when healthy, sick or whatever, and played him though in AO last year. What separates him from others is his willingness to stake his claim for the #1 and to go after it! I personally take him a lot more seriously then Rafa, because Rafa just simply doesn’t have a game for faster surfaces (which majority of tennis is played on). Rivalry on clay is ok, but Nadal dominates there because of his great physicality, not so much the tennis techniques. I want to see somebody take it to Roger on AO and Wimbledon, and watch some great tennis. Novak can do that; he can give us great tennis in year to come… One great player slowly comes up, the other great slowly approaching late years of this career. It should be a dandy!

Im not going into mom's article at all... She's A MOM, and really has nothing to do with tennis.

Posted by Bob 01/28/2008 at 05:27 PM

The reality is that Federer wasn't playing very well for the entire tournament against good players. I expect him to be playing his usual stuff next time, and he'll be back to winning almost everything. Same with Henin. They are getting older, though. Their best tennis won't last much longer, perhaps a couple of years. Federer was really off with his forehand, and Henin wasn't even going for her shots, and had horrible serving problems. Djokovic served incredibly against Federer. If he had served in the semis like he did in the final, Federer would have beaten him.

Mothers and anyone else can say whatever they want. What will happen will be decided on the tennis court. That's the great thing about tennis. It's one on one, with no votes or polls or anything except offense and defense. This will certainly fire Federer up, and I look forward to the next big event. Federer needs to win it on the court, and so does Djokovic and the others.

Posted by Margolis 01/28/2008 at 05:35 PM

Great post, as usual, steve.

Posted by Matt Renoue, DC 01/28/2008 at 05:44 PM

I second that Bob... People get caught up in personal non-tennis related stuff entirely too often and for no good reason whatsoever. Will see how this year plays out… it started interesting, thats certein.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 05:53 PM

I would not want to be a guy Federer wants to beat badly. He does not have that anger when goes against Nadal anymore, but Steve and Darren Cahill pointed it out. The anger that Federer usually has going on when he is to play Djokovic did not show up in the court. He was just due. They are more than likely to face off in Dubai, IW and Miami and Federer will restore order to the Tennis world.

Posted by Kenneth 01/28/2008 at 06:29 PM

Great post, Steve!

I think order has been created with the new winner of the Aussie Open, and with the runner up. I think for sure we will have parity when it comes to the men's tour, just as the ladies have had it for years now. What's more exciting than unpredictable slams? Like Bodo said, that's the way it's always been and the way it should be. Even if Federer never wins another slam, the years he's amassed as number one and all the scintillating play to win those 12 titles is something we've all been priveledged to see. Think of the talent it will take to topple the kind of tennis Federer has bought to the big stages these past few years. Easily the best the world has ever seen. I have no doubt he'll re-find that form and I can't wait to see how the others respond. You know, a rising tide and all that...

Posted by Supersnark 01/28/2008 at 06:44 PM

Novak's parents are well on their way to digging a lame PR ditch for lil Nole.

"Federer's best is better than anyone else's best!" - This fact dulls the pain of the recent defeat.

Posted by Krazy Eyez 01/28/2008 at 06:47 PM

by the way, mary carillo insinuated fed was emotional in the press conference...i did not notice this and i watched it a few times. naturally he was not jovial, but hardly fighting back tears. that being said, i really felt that fed was feeling sorry for himself and that is not like him.

Posted by Andrew 01/28/2008 at 07:07 PM


I'll sign up to everything except "easy dominance." I think it's a bit like a well-executed FH volley - it looks easy, but it isn't. It's extremely hard.

We may be in a similar situation to late 2003, when Roddick, Ferrero and Federer were contesting for the no 1 slot. Now it's Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. But the big difference is the level.

At Dec 15 2003, it was Roddick 4535, Federer 4375, Ferrero 4205. As at Jan 28 2008, it's Federer 6630, Nadal 5980, Djokovic 5165. The "Big 3" 2008 are separated from the next player, Davydenko, by more than 2400 points: in late 2003, Agassi was 800 points behind Ferrero.

So the 2008 Big 3 are playing at a level that just wasn't contemplated in the early part of the decade (Lleyton Hewitt had a highest rating of 5205).

Lucky us.

Posted by Sakhi 01/28/2008 at 07:14 PM

Hey Steve,
Interesting post. Though your description of the overly present Djokovic clan made me think more of Hewitt's family problems from a few years ago. That is, Hewitt was seen to be too close to his parents to have a thought on his own, further extended by parents working his coach etc...Not that I think Nole is Hewitt, but that thought did cross my mind. What's curious about all this post-match "is Fed dead or alive" commentary is that no-one has remarked on the fact that Pete Sampras lost so much more at Slams than Federer even has or will. His domination is exemplary and my sense is that he will come back with a different game plan. I think Nole is an entirely tiresome player--too much chest-baring, and he looks like his arm will fall off when he hits his forehands. My question is do you think his fitness will bear up? Tsonga was an easy opponent on many fronts--he didn't really make Nole run as much as Fed or even Murray could on a good day.

Posted by Juan José 01/28/2008 at 07:15 PM

I was waiting for this one eagerly, and it was quite worth it. Thanks again, Steve.

The only thing about the match I would add is how importand Djokovic's return of serve is. The way I see it, if the guy gets in his zone (like Federer noticed when he talked about the second set), he really umps up the pressure on the other guy.

Darren Cahill went a little overboard in calling Djoko the best returner in the game "by far". I'd say that there are few people who get first serves back in play like he does (Federer might be the other one). But what sets him apart from Federer is how consistent he is with the second serve return: right from the start he takes control of the point, whereas Federer calmly slices back those softy spinny serves.

I really do wish that Tsonga doesn't follow Baghdatis' path. For one, I think Tsonga appreciates his body a lot more than Baghdatis, who still looks out of shape and completely disinterested in improving it. However, Tsonga knows about two ways to win a match, while Baghdatis might accidentally know a few more.

There's no way of knowing what will happen with that guy. What we do know is something you already wrote about: from here on out, Federer will find it increasingly difficult to come up with Slams. For one, I will never, EVER understimate Nadal on clay again, so the French is his.

It's all about what happens in Wimbledon. There's a chance that 2005 happens once more: Federer may well arrive there Slamless, Nadal will arrive with a boatload of confidence, and the Djoko will arrive with his customary resolve. Back in 2005, Federer found his ultra-whipping boy Roddick in the final, and promptly destroyed him. Odds are that won't happen again, with Nadal and Djokovic putting so much pressure there.

So we'll see.

Posted by zolarafa 01/28/2008 at 07:52 PM

something completely off, but I noticed it after Novak metioned about it is one of his pressers. Notice how without Fed and Rafa , Nike was replaced in the final by Addidas ( both Djoko and Tsonga!)

so, that's a new beginning too!

I hope we see more of Tsonga. I was a bit disappointed by his game i the final, but he sure has the ability to troubleanyone on any surface.

All in all , a very exciting new year!

Posted by AI 01/28/2008 at 08:08 PM

Posted by ad 01/28/2008 at 08:19 PM

Thanks AI. Interesting article and maybe will provide some perspective for those who are so anti Novak and his family.

Posted by michele 01/28/2008 at 08:30 PM

Great summary, best I've read so far. While I was disappointed not to see Fed in the final, I could actually relax watching it this time around. I wasn't as invested in who won and, therefore, could just enjoy the tennis for the tennis.

It was Djokovic's time and he deserved to win. I expect he'll be a threat to everyone this year but I wish I liked him more. The arrogance, the shirtlessness. That attitude was the same reason I disliked Boris Becker so much when he arrived on the scene.

The changing of the guard is indeed upon us but it's never easy to see your idols begin their descent.

Posted by jhurwi 01/28/2008 at 09:50 PM

Evie: "The king is dead, long live the king [his successor]" is a historical phrase expressing the concept that the office of the leader never lapses even if the persons who fill that office change. I assume Djokovic's mother was quoting it as a proverb rather than implying that Federer thinks of himself as "king."
(However, back in the sixteenth century when that phrase had actual meaning, it was also treason in English law to even talk about the possibility of the king's death before it actually occurred. So maybe Mrs. Djokovic should keep quiet!)

Posted by abbey 01/28/2008 at 10:06 PM

steve, i loved your summary. you covered all the bases from technical tennis to big picture implications. from the nuances of the final and the finalists.

can't wait how the rest of the year will unfold.

Posted by yyyy guy 01/28/2008 at 11:47 PM

For us true lovers of the game, The Mighty Fed's reign at the top has been a thing of grace and beauty. The next couple of years could see a titanic battle for the crown as the inevitable aging of the king occurs. It would indeed be a sad day in the land if the mantle ends up passing to Djerkovic The Obnoxious rather than the more worthy Rafa The Long Shorts or Andy The Bruce or Jo-Willie "Sing a" Tsonga ... carried away a bit there, forgot it was just tennis...

Posted by Anna 01/29/2008 at 02:03 AM

I thought it was a terrific Australian Open.
Surprises for me were Kohlschrieber (who I had rarely seen play before)and of course Tsonga.
I thought Tsonga's only chance in the final was to play exactly the level he did against Nadal and to win in 3 sets. Doesn't anyone else find it amazing that his level could drop so dramatically from his previous matches but he was only a few points away from forcing a fifth? What I liked about Tsonga was how he could have so easily faded away in that 4th set, but he didn't. Fitness and experience will come with effort and time, but heart and fight are harder to come by and it seems like he was born with them.

Novak didn't surprise me at all. He is a fast learner and he displayed the patience and consistency that has helped him rise to the top. As far as his personality goes, I think he's walking a tightrope between confidence and arrogance and should be very careful. For those wondering if the crowd in Oz were against him because they were pulling for the underdog Tsonga? As an Aussie who has spent much time at Melbourne Park this year and past years, it's clear that in tennis as in our culture, Aussie's don't like arrogance. And the feeling was that Novak was very close to this. Tsonga excited the crowd. But Australian's genuinely like Federer. Against Bagdahtis when the whole country was swept up in Marcos-fever and Baggy was clearly the ultimate under-dog, the crowd cheered extremely loudly for Federer. Against Tipsaravic when it came to the crunch of cheering for the underdog to pull off the upset, the crowd clearly got behind Fed. Australian's like him. Full stop. Perhaps coming from New York where brash confidence is perhaps more admired and where he was the crowd-darling, Novak exected the same here. But it's a different culture. Not better or worse but just different.
As far as his family's comments go, I found them classless, but will forget them.

I also think that Novak perhaps is reading too much into his win over Federer. All these tid-bits coming out about Roger's fever, weight loss, speaking to his trainer because he felt litte strength and power in his legs..... I though his movement was no where near it's normal level. I get the impression Novak thinks it was his great play that won him that match, but I don't think so. I think that to beat Roger Federer in straights in a GS, you have to play a blinder. I've seen Novak play blinders and that was not one. So either, Roger's illness impacted him him or he simply had a very bad day, either way I think the result was more to do with Federer than Novak. Novak played an incredibly smart, consistence, steady, patient, and well played game. But I don't expect this Fed to show up again anytime soon.
That SF didn't show me anything I didn't know. Fed's B-game can beat most top 15 players (Blake, Berdych) but not Novak. I think this versions of Fed's B-game has quite a bit to do with his illness. But his Montreal B-game wasn't. So nothing new learnt. Novak's too good a player for anything less than an A-game to cut it. Those that think Fed doesn't still have is A-game are kidding themselves.

I think Nadal will be kicking himself that he was playing possessed-Tsonga and not the Tsonga that turned up for the final, otherwise he would quite possibly be #1 now. He can comfort himself that he was playing an un-playable hot player, but on the other hand, he has problems on hard court that are still there despite a semi final appearance. As has been noted, he did not play a player with any weapons unitl then. But Rafa deserves credit because he gets the job done against the rest.

I expect interesting times ahead: Now is where Novak and Rafa start defending some serious ranking points. I will be interested to see how both schedule their year considering their second half fade-outs. I hope they are both a force in the second half of the year. I think that Federer will probably have a similar year to 2007; scratchy but gutsy games, one or two unexpected defeats, patches of sublime brilliance. I think that those who write off Fed (players, journo's, fans) should be prepared. He was written off at Shangahai after Gonzo and proved everyone wrong.

Posted by Chloe02 01/29/2008 at 03:34 AM

Steve - thanks for another great post although I was looking forward to your round-up of winners/losers and grade points. My biggest disappointment was Nalbandian - following his run in Madrid and Paris, for the guy to go completely off the boil at the Aussie Open is unforgiveable. How can such peerless play crumble to nothing in 2 short months???

I agree that Djoko's team should re-think their approach for this coming year. I was concerned watching Novak and his parents that all the yelling and leaping up and down early in the match would simple exhaust their boy before the match was done. Plus, why aren't those other two boys in school? but hey, that's just a mum speaking...

From Fed's point of view, obviously the guy should just give up and retire and hope someone offers him a coaching gig. Although should Fed decide that maybe the sky isn't falling in just yet, he actually is well placed coming into Miami/Indian Wells - bearing in mind he has fewer points to defend than Rafa and Djoko after his early exits last year. There may be a glimmer of life in the old dog yet!

Posted by Eoin 01/29/2008 at 05:14 AM

Nice one Steve,

I was just wondering about Djokovic and his sliding on hard courts. I'm no physio or medical expert, but it appears to me that it cannot be good for his legs (or muscles). I think if he continues, he going to have alot of injuries, and a short career. He was clearly in trouble in the fourth set, and was very lucky on break point down.

Thoughts anyone?

Posted by md 01/29/2008 at 05:30 AM

I hate to say I told you so but I predicted that Federer would not be able to win this tournament if he had had stomach flu. There is no way that anyone can recover energy that quickly after a genuine flu. Post viral fatigue can affect a player for months. I would not be surprised to see him take it very easy and miss some of the US hard court season. There are numerous precedents for players taking a long time to recover from post viral fatigue, eg Henin, Lendl (after winning the French Open in 1984 felt drained for the rest of the year)etc. I would be surprised to see Federer back to his best before Wimbledon.

Posted by FS 01/29/2008 at 07:36 AM

About the flu thing. I just want to inform you that Tipsarevic also had similar problem at the beginning of the year, which caused his retirement in Doha.

Posted by Or 01/29/2008 at 07:50 AM

Just regarding the boys not being in school, I think your brother playing in a grand slam with a good chance of winning it is a good enough reason to yank the boys out of school.

There is more to life than education.

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 08:20 AM

Life IS education. It's just that it does not always have to take place in the classroom---it can take place in the player's box at a grand slam.

Posted by FS 01/29/2008 at 09:19 AM

Talking about Roland Garros, it seems that you all forgot David Ferrer.

Posted by Rakesh 01/29/2008 at 09:33 AM

"It was frankly a relief not to have to hear the announcers try to come up with new and ever-more-grandiose ways to describe Federer’s play."

Federer has earned all the grandiose ways of description when he plays. He is that good! Did you really feel it was a relief not to hear the words again? I'm not sure why.

Posted by Donal 01/29/2008 at 09:35 AM

It was a wonderful Aussie Open. On the men's side. The fembot big swinging duels on the women's side were the dullest tennis I've ever seen. So tedious to hear announcers and journalists claim that women's tennis has become more entertaining simply because the players are cuter and more marketable. I think it's left behind a lot of people who loved it for the actual tennis. Thank God for classic women's matches on YouTube.

Posted by Donal 01/29/2008 at 09:39 AM

Rakesh there is a difference between finding the play boring and finding the description of the play boring. I love the Smiths but if I read another retrospective on how great they were I think I'm gonna puke. The cliches the announcers spout don't come close to describing Federer's play so it can get boring listening to them.

Posted by athanguy 01/29/2008 at 09:47 AM

About djoko's Fed-like potential this year, I don't think so. You just have to look at Montreal. Won that Master's series and lost in the first round in the next tournament. I hope he is reading this because he just has to look back at what happened there and realize how difficult it is to stay winning week after week after week. Like Federer has been doing like brushing one's teeth every morning. The problem is we want to see another Federer and since Nadal can't really win outside Paris, we are so excited over this new guy and thought he will be the successor. Federer is still at his peak to be overtaken by either Nadal or Djoko. Let's wait till he is 28.

Posted by zolarafa 01/29/2008 at 09:53 AM

That will be very unlucky for Fed if he can't compete before wimbledon. I didn't know stomach flu can take so much out if a player. Hopefully not 6 months!

I agree with you on Nadal. Tsonga kept his best play for him, but again, Rafa is No 2 and should be able to wipe him out. He gave him too many loopy shots to set up those amazing dropshots. He did not serve well at all. So, yes, if he could take Tsonga to 4-5 sets, he could have been No 1 right now. But still lots of credit to him and I am so happy that he is coming out of AO without injuries!

I agree that Djoko did not playe "The Federer" as we know. We will see how Fed will recover . So their next match should be interesting. Of course according to Novak , it was his game not Fed's illness. But we will see. Let's say the Gods of tennis were with on his side and he plaed a convincing final.

Posted by patrick 01/29/2008 at 09:56 AM

Unless Novak backs out at the last minute, his next action will be against Russia in Davis Cup action. Serbia will be playing at Russia.

Posted by Serpiko 01/29/2008 at 10:08 AM

Djoko lost in the 1st round of Cincinati deliberately so he can properly prepare for the US Open. 99,9% of people knew that he will lose in Cincinati because he wanted to keep energy for US Open. he did not lose because Moya was better, he lost because he planed to lose there early.
By end of 2008 Djoker will be player #1 in the World. As I said, I will eat myself if this not happen!

Posted by teacher 01/29/2008 at 10:10 AM

They were not in school because of the winter holidays in Serbia. They just missed five days of school...But since they play tennis themselves it was worth it,I guess.

Posted by zolarafa 01/29/2008 at 10:11 AM

****he did not lose because Moya was better, he lost because he planed to lose there early.****

planned to lose? does ATP know this?

well, and Davydenko gets fined for "lack of effort" and Djokovic doesn't! talk about double standards!

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 10:14 AM

"Tsonga is very charismatic, but he abandoned his game( the one that he used to beat Rafa) when he faced Djoko. He needs to prove that he is not another Baghdatis or Gonzo. But he has the cutest face, I have to admit!"

I don't think he abandoned his game that much. I just think Djokovic is a much better hard court player than Nadal. He simply couldn't do what he did to Nadal that he could do to Djokovic. Plus,he looked a little tired towards the end. To me,that played a much bigger part in his loss.

Posted by lilly potter 01/29/2008 at 10:18 AM

Novak will play DC in Moscow for sure. But maybe he'll have to skip Marseille, since the tourney starts right after the tie.

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 10:18 AM

"As for Djoko losing to unknown players...what are you basing that on....Djoko has been consistently improving and he is only getting better...He can still beat Federer again this very year if they met a couple of time...Look at how well hes done on slams just last yr alone...consistency"

I agree. I don't think some people are realistic. That is just wishful thinking on their parts.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 10:19 AM

Djokovic did not plan to loose. Federer was in the finals in Montreal, Cincinnati and US Open. Djokovic is just not as fit and cannot keep up with the mental and physical pressure as well as Federer does, that's it.

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 10:33 AM

@Matt Renoue, DC

Nadal has "taken it" to Roger in both 2006/2007 Wimbledon Final. Last year,Roger was very lucky his Wimbledon streak wasn't ended by Nadal. Give credit where it is due. I don't see anyone else challenging Federer on the grass and on clay other than Nadal. Plus,he is improving on hard courts as seen at the AO. He is much more than just a "dirt baller".

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 10:37 AM

"Tsonga was an easy opponent on many fronts--he didn't really make Nole run as much as Fed or even Murray could on a good day. "

I disagree with this comment. If that were the case Tsonga wouldn't have beaten precious Andy Murray in the first round. Andy would actually have to win a match. I guess we'll never know,by the way Andy's playing. Lol!

Posted by Dj 01/29/2008 at 10:44 AM

The youngest of brothers is not in school in Serbia anyway. He is in Niki Pilic academy, here in Munich most of the time. So it is mail schooling, I guess, with ocational visits to local gymnasium.

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 10:46 AM

"Doesn't anyone else find it amazing that his level could drop so dramatically from his previous matches but he was only a few points away from forcing a fifth? "

I didn't think his level dropped that much. I think he played probably the best hard court player out there today.

Posted by Serpiko 01/29/2008 at 10:47 AM

@Swiss Maestro
.........Of course Djoko is not fit as Fed..Djoko is 20 years old and Fed is 26-7 years old now.... You should take this into consideration before making any conclusions on this topic. Djoko planned to lose 100% because he was keeping his energy for US Open. He lost against Moya who was than after on US open trashed by 3-0 in sets...

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 10:58 AM

Hey Serpiko,

I supposed the same happened in Hamburg right? He decided to loose to Moya so he could save stamina and endurance for the FO?? senseless and maybe the same in Rome where Nadal demolished him so bad he hit the ball deliberately to the net on matchpoint to get the whole thing over with, what about Montecarlo when he lost to David Ferrer in the second round in straight sets?... I know, ridiculous...

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 11:01 AM

oh!, and by the way, Federer made it to the final in 3 out of 4 of those tournaments ending Nadal's 81 match winning streak on clay...

Posted by patrick 01/29/2008 at 11:21 AM

I agree with Zolarafa on why the ATP fine Novak for "lack of effort" against Moya in Cincy is Novak planned on losing. Novak may have been tired for using all of his energy to beat Fed in Montreal. Also, Novak did have to play a lot of sets at 2008 USO(especially that long 5 setter against Stepanek in round 2).

Posted by steve 01/29/2008 at 11:37 AM

biggest disappointment: Nalbandian. the guy would have gotten an F if i'd done the grades. i won't be speculating about him to win anything big for a while.

serena's strange play against jankovic was also puzzling and disappointing.

as for sharapova, i still don't see her as a consistent No. 1. she's starting to remind me of agassi—she's good at coming out of nowhere, just when she's counted out, and winning big. but she's not as good when she's the favorite and the pressure shifts to her. andre was the same way.

new players to watch: cirstea and paszek. they could be coming up wuick on the serb girls.

pleasant surprise: mary carillo. she was much better than she has been and had some nice insights, though i spent half the tournament with the mute button on listening to music. in the future: more darren cahill.

eoin: sliding on hard courts has slowly become accepted somehow, but i think it's asking for an injury. monfils does this and is constantly injured, and djokovic pulled up a couple time after doing it in australia. i can't imagine doing it myself—seems crazy.

Posted by TennisGrace 01/29/2008 at 11:45 AM

"Best of Federer is better than the best of anyone"
Way....better - indeed!

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 11:54 AM

"Federer has earned all the grandiose ways of description when he plays. He is that good! Did you really feel it was a relief not to hear the words again? I'm not sure why.

I was relieved mainly because they can be over the top with their praise sometimes. They might was well say "how dare you beat Federer".

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 11:55 AM

My favorite comentator is John McEnroe by far (even more so than his brother) too bad he was not around for the OZ Open, at least I did not catch him in the Tennis Channel either, I really hope he is around for Roland Garros and Wimbledon, as the TENNIS magazine said "he is a natural in the booth". Mary Carillo is the best out of the women and Darren Cahill's insightful analysis pleases everyone though I find it somehow a little redundant at times, I won't say anything about any other commentator as I don't have much good stuff to bring up.

Posted by Lee 01/29/2008 at 11:58 AM


Novak will have to seriously rethink what tournaments he will attend to. In 2007 he played as much as 24 tournaments (against Federer 17). Of course his young body can't cope with.
But he dad to figure out which tournaments are good for him. This is the reason why on Wimby and FO he lost too much energy on early stages. So when he had to go against big dogs, he had no power left.
On Wimbledon he won the first set while he had strength. I wonder what could happened if Nole finished his early stage matches quicker.

Personally I think there is more chance of Novak taking Wimbledon than FO this year.

He has to make the right selections of tournaments this year, and finish his early matches quickly (as Federer does). Fitness and body strength will come with the age.

Posted by Sam 01/29/2008 at 11:58 AM

Steve: Good analogy about Sharapova and Agassi. What do you think it is about both players that makes them that way?

Regarding sliding on hard courts, the first player I recall to ever do that was Michael Chang back in the mid-90s. But he had a lower center of gravity and shoes with mega ankle supports.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 12:07 PM


What about finding a way to win somewhat more effortless so it can be 'energy-economic' for the body. Federer does it and that's why he is always fit. He avoids injury not only by pacing himself but also because of his flexibility. Flexible people are less likely to get injured than not-as-flexible people. Remember Federer's celebration of his second wimbledon title? (It looks just painful for the eyes, doesn't it?)how he bends back on his kness and just bounces back up as if his legs were rubber bands, that is flexible for a tennis player...

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 12:13 PM

"The fembot big swinging duels on the women's side were the dullest tennis I've ever seen. So tedious to hear announcers and journalists claim that women's tennis has become more entertaining simply because the players are cuter and more marketable."

Thank you!!!

Frankly,the close-ups of Maria in this tournament solidified the fact(for me anyway)that this girl is overrated in the looks department. Has horrible skin and not much of a figure. Her tennis however is what I care about and even though I'm not a fan I can admit that she impressed me.

Ivonavic is pretty,but can be overweight. I don't like her shape-particulary her legs. They look like "fat woman's legs"(please don't hate me for saying that),but they've bugged me the entire tournament as did Kim C. when she was playing. I'm bias though,I tend to like the more slender leggy type maybe because I am one(I know TMI).

Posted by Christin 01/29/2008 at 12:27 PM

It's exciting that Djokovic has fully joined the top 3 as a grand Slam champion and full-fledged threat to Roger and Rafa's reign. I don't particularly like his act, but fully respect his tennis. I think Roger at his best can still beat him consistently, he almost held Djoker off even while apparently sick and debilitated last week, with poor footwork and missing easy forehands all over the place. But Fed is going to have to prove it tournament by tournament to preserve his #1 status, and that should be great fun to watch.

The Draws are going to be more important than ever this year. 3 top players (head and shoulders above the Rest) to fill 4 Quarters in each tournament. The Big Question: Does #1 or #2 get #3 on his side of the draw? Does Fed get Djoker or Davydenko/Ferrer on his side? This will go along way to determining the outcome. At Oz, if Djoker had been on Nadal's side, Fed would very likely have made the final and his record would be intact at 11, even in his weakened/off-form condition.

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 12:30 PM


Exactly. He has to save energy for semis and finals. Like FedEx does.
An that is the biggest thing he has to improve in this year. And than we will have really ecstatic year of tennis in front of us.

Personally, I believe Nadal was never a threat to FedEx. Just a regular customer of his. And that is the reason why Fed "likes" Nadal - he feels no threat of him. And for me it is a bit patronizing.
But Djoko is another story, and Fed recognises the threat. And that messes up his play. After all, Fed is just a human. Very close to GOAT, but just a man.

Posted by Serpiko 01/29/2008 at 12:35 PM

SwissMaestro.. I was talking about Cincy and not about the clay season. On clay he gave his best . Nadal got him in Rome but (I dont know if you watched the match) the match was really close despite the result and even Nadal admitted that.
Djoko prefers hardcourt and he give his best at this surface. But, he can always well play on clay and I am sure this year he will improve his results there.
Anyway, I like your passion about Federer and the only thing I cannot understand about you Maestro is that you are trying constantly to underestimate Novak's accomplishements so far..

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 01:00 PM


Not understimate, not at all. I might not like him or his family as people for to me they are pretty arrogant and cocky but I do respect him as a player and a serious contender for the big titles, that's a whole different issue and not admitting he is a serious and a great adversary for Federer and Nadal would be foolish but I think people make a bigger deal than what he really is. He should be more gracious in defeat and less arrogant when he wins.

Statements such as those made by him and his team are completely out of place to me. He has not reached the top of the rankings yet and they are talking as if he already has. He better bring up one hell of a year, or two, or three to back all this foretalking up or else he is going to look like someone that stuffed his mouth with a lot more food than what he can chew.

Talking about the days of Federer being over and that the "death of the king" is near is just going to get back at him in no time and Djkovic will not know what hit him and then he will look foolish.

In the summer is har to think he tanked the match against Moya in Cincinnatti. He just lost because he could not keep up the burden and by bringing the results of the clay season I meant that he got beaten by Moya again and that it was no casualty at all.

Posted by 01/29/2008 at 01:01 PM

"They look like "fat woman's legs"(please don't hate me for saying that),"

Then don't say it. Every person's body type is different--not to mention I hate using the word "fat" in describing a world-class athlete. Athletes might not be as fit as they should be to achieve best results. But fat? Puh-lease.

Incidentally, I have no problem with "skinny" as long as a person's weight looks NATURAL (no counting ribs, please.)

Posted by Serpiko 01/29/2008 at 01:17 PM

Someone explained on this forum the stamement of Djokovic's mother regarding the King.. We (Serbs) are very emotional people and I am 100% sure that she said this not in a way to show disrespect to Roger but it was more like a "Tennis has a new champion". They respect him, Novak is this constantly repeating but there is one more thing which is probably annoying Novak and his family... For some reason, Fed never wants to admit Djoko as a serious contented. NEVER! This is called arrogance. He knows that DJoko is someone who can possible dethrone him, someone who can damage his career and for this reason he always pushes Rafa as his successor...Common, I love Rafa very much but no way he will be number one. He plays not constitenly enough and he simple is not developing his game. On the other hand Ferrer improved a lot his game and you can see the results...
Coming back to Fed and Djoko... Dont judge his parents based on their statements just 20 minutes after their son won the Grand Slam about which the whole family and whole Serbia dreamt of for such a long time...
I repeat, he lost in Cincy due to preparation for US Open where he killed Moya easily. Clas season is different, obviously he was not at his maximum which means he has place for improvement there.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 01:27 PM


Alright, then as I said... He better back all this feelings up with 2 or 3 Federer-like years or he is gonna get it from everyone. Including the media and the players themselves and this my Serbian friend, is going to bare down on him sooner or later...

What's wrong with admitting you just got beaten and letting your racquet do all the talking in the court like Roger does? Federer said in his press conference "There's no doubt I've played better before but I'd like to give credit to my opponent", that is a class at its best and not arrogance because he does not rub his overwhelming dominance of the tennis world over everyone else. They are set to meet in Dubai, IW and Miami and Federer will be a different Federer next time, wait and see...

Posted by Tom in Smalltown 01/29/2008 at 01:45 PM

What a final! I suffered through all the complaining combatants, even as I enjoyed the tennis. And just when I was ready to once and for all say that I don't like this cocky Serb, he goes and lets loose with an endearing statement in his post match stadium interview. He's either a very good politition whom we only catch in his real form when the heat is on, or he's really a young nice guy who will mature past his grating displays of in-your-face macho as he ages. I have no doubt, though, that the Djoker's game has come to maturity in front of us all during this AO.

Posted by Serpiko 01/29/2008 at 02:04 PM

We have no other option than to wait to see what is going to happen on the tournaments just ahead of us.
One thing is for sure, this tennis season is going to be muuuuch more interesting than 2007...
I cant wait to see Gulbis making his mark...he is hot!

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 02:08 PM

I'd be in awe if he can pull off 3 out 4 slams and make it to the final of the remaining one 2 or 3 years in a row...

Posted by Love 40 01/29/2008 at 03:21 PM

If Novak soon overtakes Rafa in rankings Fed might meet Rafa before the finals in RG. If he (Fed) is unlucky he might as well meet Jo Tsonga along the way. All that will make his path to win a new grand slam much more difficult. At the same time it will work very well for Novak.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 03:48 PM

Love 40,

Only on clay... As Federer remains the man to beat on any other surface. Roger uppended Nadal in Shanghai worse than he did at Wimbledon (because it's faster). Nadal could land on Djokovic's half of the draw as well and give him Rome 2007 to think about.

Posted by lynee 01/29/2008 at 03:54 PM

That was the best grand slam EVER!!
It was so wonderful to see two new faces in the final instead of Federer's arrogant smirk and his boring tennis. thank god for Novack Djokovic!- he is a breath of fresh air and pumps new life into tennis which has stagnated for years under the reign of Robo Fed.

uh oh it looks like the hideous Federer fans have come out of their hiding places to bash Novack. dont hate him for doing to Roger what roger has done unto others before~

Posted by lynee 01/29/2008 at 04:00 PM

"It was frankly a relief not to have to hear the announcers try to come up with new and ever-more-grandiose ways to describe Federer’s play."

It is always a pleasure to not have to deal with the drooling biased announcers kissing Federer's backside all year long and now we wont have to read it from the biased writers at Tennis.Com neither! :)

tennis has been saved by the serbian king!

Posted by lynee 01/29/2008 at 04:03 PM

"It is curious the use of the word "King" by Novak's parents. Do anyone think that Federer would seriously think of himself as king."

are you being silly because Federer clearly thinks himself high and mightier like a king on the court. Dont be such a blind fangirl. even his hideous fans call him King all the time

Posted by Tim ($3.03 today on Starbucks!) 01/29/2008 at 04:13 PM

lynee, are you actually Novak's mother posting in disguise?

and if losing ONE hardcourt Grand Slam match in the last three years is death, then sign me up!

and ... so I guess the next time Djoker loses in a Grand Slam, he's dead again too? and tennis once again is lost?

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 04:14 PM


Whatever you believe in your own little world buddy! but calling Federer's game boring??? Hahaha, you are a little too out of your element right now or you have not seen the kind of tennis he plays... Looking forward for 3 rematches at Dubai, IW and Miami and see who comes out on top!

Posted by Love 40 01/29/2008 at 04:18 PM

@ Serpico
...Someone explained on this forum the stamement of Djokovic's mother regarding the King.. We (Serbs) are very emotional people and I am 100% sure that she said this not in a way to show disrespect to Roger ...

I agree 100%.

I am surprised to see how little knowlege some people on this forum have about literature. "The King is dead long live the King" is a very old saying, as it was explained earlier. dijana wanted to say that they have finally found the way how to play Roger: - It was meant: "we now know how to play you in order to win against you". I do not see anything wrong with that. Very nice actually.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 04:27 PM

That is a very fearsome assumption. What is it going to be next time Federer pounds Djokovic bad? an excuse? Dijana is going to be embarrased? wait a minute... didn't they know "how to beat Federer?" I'm eager to see it!!

Posted by seaweed 01/29/2008 at 04:30 PM

1. i agree with that bit about economy of play. whether nole and his camp admit it or not, he is a much more defensive player than roger is. while it is true that great defense can be a great offense, defending exacts a higher price. now nole can work really hard, but the body can only take so much punishment. if he wants longevity in the game, he needs to learn to play a more compact game.

2. as for that article in the new york times, hardship in the past is not really an excuse for behaving in an abrasive way: ana ivanovic, jelena jankovic and venus williams come to mind as models of nice.

3. parents can be forgiven for thinking so highly of their children--that is only natural--but trying to get rid of fans who paid good money to watch a tennis match is an entirely different story.

4. visibly lost in this discussion is a crucial bottomline: roger 12, nole 1. any comparison at this point is moot and academic. for now it only makes for a lively conversation. nevertheless, if nole finally ascends to the top, no one--certainly not nole--can take anything away from the greatness of roger's many achievements.

5. as for rafael nadal, unless he learns to hit balls that penetrate more deeply on a hard court, guys like jo-wilfred tsonga and mikhail youzhny will only continue to maul him. isn't it about time he starts working with someone besides toni nadal?

6. as for there being more to life than education, the reverse is also true: there is more to life than tennis. certainly, the world is a whole lot bigger than a plexicushion court. i can only wish that the djokovices will give the two younger boys options.

Posted by Love 40 01/29/2008 at 04:35 PM

I do not remember exactly where it was (2007) Nole lost against Roger and he explained at the pressconf: "We still haven't found the way how to play Roger" (he and his team). Many think they have found the way now!

Posted by Tim ($3.03 today on Starbucks!) 01/29/2008 at 04:39 PM

Love40 cmon, spin it anyway you w ant but that statement is never going to come across as anything but a diss to the (on that day) fallen champion ... if Djoker keeps winning his family box and overall attitude are gonna get very old, very fast ... the last thing we need is another boorish athlete like Hewitt in his prime... lets hope thats not the case

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/29/2008 at 04:40 PM

Love 40,

So you are saying is going to work everytime? Because I mean, if the Serbs have found a way to beat Federer then it should be for good, no??? YEAH RIGHT!! Federer made waaaaaaaaay to many forehand unforced errors, had he put half on those in play you would not be in this forum right now. Wait for Dubai!

Posted by Love 40 01/29/2008 at 04:47 PM

...if nole finally ascends to the top, no one--certainly not nole--can take anything away from the greatness of roger's many achievements....

Nole respects Roger a lot. Roger was his idol. Why would he like to take anything away from the greatness of roger's? I do not get it! If he wants to be "Roger" it should be only a compliment to Roger.

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