Concrete Elbow by Steve Tignor - Loco Djoko
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Loco Djoko 01/25/2008 - 12:43 PM

LocoWatching the first few games of the Federer-Djokovic semi this morning, I found myself thinking, “Does Federer ever get tired of having to win these things? Is he ever tempted to say, ‘Forget it, I just can’t deal with this today’?” Something about the look in his eye at the very start of the match put that thought into my head. Darren Cahill saw it, too, from his sideline perch. He commented that Federer looked “flat” and didn’t have the “anger” he usually has when he goes up against Djokovic.

But those thoughts didn’t stay in my head for long. Federer seemed to have the measure of Djokovic early. He was mixing up his backhand slice crosscourt with his down-the-line topspin backhand, and making some headway going after Djokovic’s forehand. The only problem was that that helped Djokovic get into a groove with his forehand, which he started using to take control of rallies. That’s when the match swung—Djokovic won four straight games at 3-5 to take the first set—and swung for good.

The key here is that Federer didn’t get a set under his belt. You know what happens then: He relaxes and gets on a roll, the way he did against Andy Roddick in the semis here a year ago. This time Federer just got tighter. He floated his backhand slices higher and softer than usual, and he pressed on his forehand, missing a bunch of them from midcourt. No matter what he says, Djokovic’s forthright confidence and talk of becoming No. 1 gets under Federer’s skin (that's the anger Cahill was talking about). He pressed against him in Montreal last summer and made those same uncharacteristic errors.

Djokovic did everything well, as he usually does. He negated the effectiveness of Federer’s slice by getting down for it and knocking strong backhands crosscourt and into the corner, which gave him an advantage in rallies. He defended extremely well; I don’t think I’d realized until today just how fast and rangy he is when he’s scrambling in the back of the court. Most important, he served well when he had to, winning lots of important points with the slider out wide in the deuce court and the flat one up the middle in the ad court.

There were two moments that tested Djokovic’s nerve. On both occasions he pulled out a trick from the old Jimmy Connors book of motivational ploys. In the second set, Federer came back from 1-5 to 3-5 and showed some signs of life. The chair umpire chose that moment to give Djokovic a warning for taking too much time between points. The Serb won the next point and stared at the umpire, and he did it again after he held for the set. The scenario repeated itself at the end of the match, this time with the Aussie crowd serving as Djokovic's motivation. After a bad miss during the tiebreaker, he mocked the audience for clapping at his mistake. When he won the next few points, he stared into the crowd and gave them the classic cocky jock nod—as in, “Um hmmm, that’s right.” (In 4th grade, we always said “That's right, I’m bad" when we did this, but I didn't read that on Djokovic's lips.) If he’d lost the tiebreaker, I might have said this stuff was unnecessarily self-distracting, but as with Connors, Djokovic thrived on being able to direct his nervous energy at something—or more precisely, someone.

My friend and fellow TENNIS editor Tom Perrotta, who was at the match, wrote in his blog that Federer was a step slow and that the stomach flu he had before the tournament had “impeded” him in this match because it had cut into his preparation time. (Federer himself was noncommittal on whether it had an effect.) I'm going to disagree with Tom on this one (don't kill me, TP!). If we start making excuses for losses by citing illnesses from two weeks earlier, we can use anything as an excuse. It’s not as if this was a shocking upset that needs to be explained by outside circumstances. Djokovic was already the second-best hard-court player in the world, had beaten Federer on the stuff before, and had looked impeccable in his earlier rounds here. Djokovic won by playing well at the right times and not letting Federer build any momentum—that’s enough explanation for me.

What does that fact mean long-term? Could this be called a changing of the guard? It will be awhile before we know that. I would say it’s a half-turn. Federer will not necessarily lose any confidence after this, though he did say afterward that it gets tiring always being the favorite (I knew I saw that look in his eye at the beginning!). He’s going to keep winning his share of majors—if all else fails, Wimbledon should serve as his "firewall," as they say on the campaign trail. What we can say for sure is that Djokovic has now proven himself to be a rival and threat for those majors, and that, between him and Nadal, Federer will have serious competition for all of them, and for the No. 1 ranking as well.

Would fans of men’s tennis want it any other way?


 
117
Comments
 
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Posted by audrey 01/25/2008 at 12:59 PM

Djoko has been an amazing player for a while. As a big Rafa fan, I am really afraid that Rafa would never have a chance for No. 1; and Djoko would eventually overtake him and be in that position.

2008 would be tough for Rafa to maintain his position, he has to defend every point for the clay season.


Posted by audrey 01/25/2008 at 01:02 PM

to continue my above comment:

I am so rooting for Tsonga tonight.

Posted by Nara 01/25/2008 at 01:11 PM

Steve, I agree that Djokovic played well and crucially did not choke but Federer has been off since his 3rd round match. I don't think his stomach flu can be dismissed as glibly as you do. He was noticeably thinner and I'm sure that took a toll on his strength. He appeared a step slow and was dropping a lot of his favorite forehands short (even against Berdych and Blake). If he'd played like he did in Shanghai, the Djoker would have had no shot. That being said, as annoying as I find the Djoker's constant self-promotion and mannerisms, I think he's a great player and deserves the victory.

Posted by audrey 01/25/2008 at 01:25 PM

I agree with Nara.

I find Djoko annoying in the same way too. However, I think we are too used to the gentleman and classy ways of Federer and Rafa. Djoko rubs us the wrong way like a nouveau riche braggart.

Too bad that character and athletic ability dont always collide, first one comes to mind is Barry Bonds.

Posted by just horsen 01/25/2008 at 01:38 PM

I hope Tsonga smashes Djoko.

Posted by Charles 01/25/2008 at 01:41 PM

The result of this match was what I expected before the tournament based on Djokovic's confidence (cockiness) level, (check my comments from then in this column...). so I can't say I'm surprised. Maybe a little alarmed tho, being a die-hard Fed fan... I also predicted then that Djokovic would roll thru the final. Shall soon see if the crystal ball was working...

Posted by TG Randini 01/25/2008 at 01:44 PM

Fed 04-07 was the greatest tennis player in history... at least the greatest in the past fifty years that I've watched.

But I could see a tiredness setting in within Federer last year... an ennui... a certain 'boredom'... with the same old same-old... and I think Fed nailed it with his (being tired of being the favorite all the time). Maybe this is the spark he needs. We'll see. Maybe he'll attack in the Parisian red dirt.

And having had food poisoning myself twice, you are not back to normal in two weeks... especially if normal means beating the likes of the Joker and Rafa.

Posted by devv 01/25/2008 at 01:45 PM

Federer was a step slow and misfiring consistently. Federer at 90% will beat Djokovic at 100%, but Federer at 75% won't, and such was the case today. And yes, Djokovic is off-puttingly cocky, but he may be the least obnoxious member of his family: witness his demonically cheering family and their antics in the players' box. This guy not only has the prototypical tennis parents, but also two mini-me tennis brothers.

Posted by rogi 01/25/2008 at 01:46 PM

Steve,
Right on the money! After reading Tom's piece, I thought the same - this is just making an excuse. Stomach flu? Noticeably thinner? If Fed was great in the first two matches at the AO (as implied by the comment that he did not look the same after the third round), that would mean that the flu was a thing of the past at that point. How about a bad day - that is a much better excuse? But why looking for one? Couldn't it just be that, today, Djokovic was just a better player and did not allow Fed to be Fed of yore? Sometimes armies look invincible just beacuse no one really (and I mean REALLY) tried. I would not also be surprised if Fed him self were to be sick of the burden to keep fending of the young gunners. In essence, this is a bit like alpha male in a chimp troop. At some point there is going to be a bit of an opening that...

Posted by rogi 01/25/2008 at 01:46 PM

Steve,
Right on the money! After reading Tom's piece, I thought the same - this is just making an excuse. Stomach flu? Noticeably thinner? If Fed was great in the first two matches at the AO (as implied by the comment that he did not look the same after the third round), that would mean that the flu was a thing of the past at that point. How about a bad day - that is a much better excuse? But why looking for one? Couldn't it just be that, today, Djokovic was just a better player and did not allow Fed to be Fed of yore? Sometimes armies look invincible just beacuse no one really (and I mean REALLY) tried. I would not also be surprised if Fed him self were to be sick of the burden to keep fending of the young gunners. In essence, this is a bit like alpha male in a chimp troop. At some point there is going to be a bit of an opening that...

Posted by rgrace 01/25/2008 at 01:47 PM

It always happens in men's tennis. We didn't think Fed's run could go on forever, did we? Someone younger and stronger always comes along sooner or later to knock the top dog off his perch.

I agree, I'm not excited about Djokovic. However, he is quite young. Hopefully he'll grow up fairly quickly.

Posted by rgrace 01/25/2008 at 01:48 PM

It always happens in men's tennis. We didn't think Fed's run could go on forever, did we? Someone younger and stronger always comes along sooner or later to knock the top dog off his perch.

I agree, I'm not excited about Djokovic. However, he is quite young. Hopefully he'll grow up fairly quickly.

Posted by rgrace 01/25/2008 at 01:48 PM

Sorry for the double post...

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/25/2008 at 01:54 PM

Steve,

What do you think about the final though? I think that if Tsonga brings his "A" game into it as he did against Nadal (and he is more than capable of it) he's got. That flat and deep inside-out forehand, his net approaching and those drop volleys are lethal to an extent I'd say he'd have a legitimate shot at Federer at his best and I am the ultimate Federer fan.

Give us your thoughts on that encounter, a prediction maybe? I go for Tsonga in 4.

Posted by Nick 01/25/2008 at 01:54 PM

Wouldn't be an intriguing situation if Djokovic displaced Nadal as #2 before the French Open, and then Roger possibly having to face Rafa in the Semis at Roland Garros? Oy!

Posted by Chiconinja 01/25/2008 at 01:57 PM

It would suck big time if Roger lost his #1 ranking to Nole instead of Rafa.

Rafa being my favorite player and Roger someone I really admire, I'm ok with them being #1 and #2 no matter in which order. But Djokovic, I just don't feel him.

I'm not sure I like his attitude and I personally find his impresionations really lame. I also think they show a lack of respect for the other players.

I like Nole's backhand, though. When hitting a backhand, notice how he keeps his balance even when hitting the ball above his head. He doesn't jump or anything. And he always follows through all the way.

Congrats Nole on this win over Roger. It is big news because of the standards we've had for Roger over the years.

I still think Rafa will take RG and Roger will come back to take Wimby and the US Open.

Posted by Tom in Smalltown 01/25/2008 at 01:58 PM

Everyone has his/her own likes and dislikes. I'm not going to say I'm right, but I sure know that I don't like the cocky self assurance that some champions show. I didn't like Conners when he played, and I disdained Mac, but now I like them both because I'm not faced with their cock sure display every time I watch tennis. Federer and Sampras, although you read that they both share a champion's sense of self assurance, never really flash (or flashed) it in a bombastic display of macho bravado. I like that kind of champion. On the other hand, I don't like quiet unbelief--the kind I see in Blake at times and the kind I have when I'm on the courts. I can tell the difference between the two quiet displays. So, if this is the changing of the guard, then I'll have to put up with another champ that I feel compelled to root against. If the guard is still in place, then I'll enjoy what little time I have left to root FOR the champ. That's just more fun for me. Unfortunately, for a fellow of my ilk, this AO will end up going to a guy I feel compelled to root against, no matter who wins. So I guess I'll just have to enjoy the tennis for its own sake. Novel thought.

Posted by HK 01/25/2008 at 01:59 PM

I completely agree Steve that an illness from two weeks ago is not an excuse. I did some replaying of some points, especially service returns, this morning in slow motion, and it was quite clear that Djokovic was a step or two faster today. He was also reading Fed's serve extremely well. On Fed's part, he definitely seemed to me to be not as sharp on return of serve as he was even in some earlier matches. Now, maybe that was Djoko's variation on the serve, maybe it was him getting down on himself, or unable to fire himself up. Whatever, the reason, it did seem like he was not as effective as normal in returning serve. I looked up the serve speeds to see if Djokovic was serving bombs, but he was not serving extraordinarily fast. His performance on return of serve makes me wonder if he was a step slower compared to his own normal self. But, again, even if that was the case, it is not legitimate to blame that on an illness from two weeks ago. And above all, Djokovic won this because he played extremely well, and served extremely well, especially on the big points. He was his absolute best when it mattered. Coming after his USO performance, after which I was tempted to refer to him as Chokovic, this was a richly deserved redemption for him.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/25/2008 at 02:03 PM

I said it on Perrotta's post and I'll say it herer again. Tsonga's drop volleys are extremely effective and beautiful killers. Something not seen since McEnroe or Nastase were around. So good they are that the fastest player on tour (Nadal) could not get to them, more of the same and he'll lift the trophy on Sunday.

Posted by michele 01/25/2008 at 02:14 PM

After rising at 3:30AM to watch the match live, I'm still in shock and in mourning. I agree with your assessment, Steve, of Fed's demeanor. The only other time I've seen that lack of fire in a slam was witnessing it live at the French last year. There's nothing more disheartening to see my favorite player looking discouraged and uninspired.

I can't say whether the illness affected him, but what I do know is that he wasn't moving his feet and his serve failed him. The Djoker played a smart, solid match and outserved Fed, period. My only hope is that Fed gets fired up for the French but I probably won't be spending a fortune to see it live again this year.

Go Tsonga!

Posted by Sakhi 01/25/2008 at 02:21 PM

Folks: Appreciate Steve's and TP's analysis on this. And also glad to hear other Fed fans quietly note that it might be too early to predict his demise. I think Fed has set such impossibly high standards (as he himself noted--his "monster") that one major loss makes us doubt his feats. I think the mark of greatness here will be to see how Fed rebounds. Will he get a new coach, or revamp (as others earlier have noted)? I have a feeling Fed will indeed get a new coach--but I think it might be someone we don't necessarily expect. Cahill is of course our fave, but he's already said he doesn't want to go to full-time coaching again. I predict Fed will roar back at the French open. and yes, he'll do so by staying away from any livestock that has the potential to carry virus!!
The king is not dead! and Nole is annoying, full of inflated hubris, and needs to get an inhaler so he can stop heaving and creating unnecessary drama.

Posted by Rakesh 01/25/2008 at 02:23 PM

Steve,

"If we start making excuses for losses by citing illnesses from two weeks earlier, we can use anything as an excuse."

Not exactly. Let's not take anything away from Djoko. He played a very good and smart game. But, Federer was clearly not himself. He was someone else in terms of movement and thats his biggest weapon. So you can't simply disregard it. I doubt if there is any match at all in which the opponent hits more winners than Federer. Last night we saw that.

Its good for Federer in a way that he will have a little less pressure the next time he plays Djoko or for that matter any talented young gun.

Posted by frances 01/25/2008 at 02:31 PM

I love dynasties -- but they need to be tested every now and then in order to remain relevant in my mind. Federer needed this -- he needs to improve his backhand -- now, maybe he will. That said, I don't see myself ever getting behind Djokovic -- because of his 2003? USO match against his then good friend Gael Monfils. I don't need to repeat the story here -- everyone who follows tennis knows that Djokovic cheated (he admitted it) by taking dubious injury timeouts each time the super-atheletic Monfils, who had been regularly beating Djokovic and was doing the same in this match, went on a roll, etc. Monfils was successfully cooled off and ended up losing the match -- despite Monfils' pleas to the chair ump to stop Djokovic from doing what he was doing, the chair refused. Djokovic destroyed a friendship (I think it will come to haunt him), simply to win a tennis match. Monfils and Tsonga are tight (from what I read). Kick his ass Jo-Wilfred!!

Posted by Austin 01/25/2008 at 02:41 PM

Is the future now??

That was a sweeping display by Djokovic. While staying up until dawn to watch the affair, as much I wanted to say Federer had Nole on this facet, or that facet, there was nothing. Cross-court forehand: Advantage Djoko. Service in crucial moments: advantage Djoko. Return game: Djoko. Movement: Ad Djoko. Shot depth: Ad Djoko.

Certainly a frustrating thing to witness for all the Federer supporters. You're quite right, Steve, that Fed was floating that slice was too much and overall was just surrendering control of points. It wasn't even that close. And you're also right about Fed not getting a set and being able to loosen up. (Great observation of Djoko directing his anger, too. I saw the same thing.)

Against Tipsarevic especially, you never saw the ability to exceed his level on the biggest points and capitalize and it caught up with and played a big role against an in form player of Djoko's quality, namely in Set 1, but the entire match too.

That difference in backhands was so glaring, too. Roger hit no more than 10 control-taking backhands all match, that is, backhands that result in winners or taking clear advantage of the point. Djoko's backhand return, just the return, far exceeded the production of Federer's other wing the entire match.

Just to warn everyone: Tsonga isn't exactly class like Federer or Nadal, you just don't know as much of his antics. He has his share of "punk" moments so whether or not Djokovic's brashness is your taste, to be sure, Tsonga is not the antithesis. Either way, the season has gotten interesting already and it's only January.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/25/2008 at 02:50 PM

Sure Tsonga is not the antithesis but if he brings that fire to the final Djokovic is lost...

Posted by anonymous 01/25/2008 at 02:51 PM

I am a Joker fan. I think his brashness is great. You cannot beat Federer with your head up his behind, which is what most of the players do. He stated his intention to be #1 two years ago. I don't find that troubling, I find it refreshing, because if you don't want to win grand slams and be #1 you never will do either of them (James Blake, James Blake, James Blake). There were some fine articles last year on Federer's nice guy act lulling the other players to sleep. You've got to go out there wanting to beat the guy and at times, not liking him. Otherwise you're toast. Navratilova had to change her mindset after the first part of her career when she was friends with Evert. You can't always be Best Friends Forever. I think the Nadal v. Federer thing is getting boring. It's clear to me that Nadal is going to struggle when he's not on red clay, unless he changes his game.

Posted by nenad srbija 01/25/2008 at 02:55 PM

mamicu vam jebem Djokovic ima da razbuca sve tenisere.On je sam vrh.Jebovas i Federer i Nadal

Posted by anonymous 01/25/2008 at 02:56 PM

I also think those who don't find Joker funny, like Federer, need to get a grip. This game has always had wonderful personalities, funny guys, arrogant jerks, tough guys, you name it. Tennis would be boring without them. I think it's amazing that Joker gets criticized for his outgoing personality. He's 20 years old! Remember Agassi at 20! He was insufferable! An overrated jerk who embarassed an opponent during Davis Cup. A guy who SPIT at an umpire! Yet he recovered. IF Joker SPIT at an umpire you would want him banned for life.

Posted by Austin 01/25/2008 at 03:06 PM

I tend to agree anonymous. I don't necessarily like or dislike Djokovic, I'm still deciding, though I've always found the brash, arrogant players a bit more interesting than the quiet introverts. In my book it takes a certain swagger to be great and Djokovic's is quite outward.

Like him or dislike him, no one can disagree that in the top of the ranks in men's tennis, the plot has now thickened.

Posted by nica 01/25/2008 at 03:32 PM

I am a big fed fan and was disappointed in the loss. I don't
think the virus was the reason--I think Fed knows that if
he is not playing something close to his A game, Djokovic
will beat him. Similar to Nadal and Nalbandian.

Fed seemed to get nervous serving for the set and seemed to
meltdown after losing the set. He couldn't get it together
until late second set and by then it was too late. Finally
he seemed to decide to compete in the third set and seemed
shocked at having missed the forehand that cost him the match.

In the end, he needed to take care of his serve as he did
against Tipsarevic, his slice hasn't seemed to be the same
all tournament--no bite and he seems unable to produce that
really short slice in the middle of the service box. His slices
against Djokovic seemed too long and floating and on top of
this Djokovic wasn't looking for them. His return of serve
was really un-Fed like. Even against Tipsarevic we missed
a lot of return of serves which kept Tipsarevic in the match.

Anyways, hope Tsonga isn't a one-time wonder. Perhaps he will
do what Pete did to Andre in that first US Open final. Every
one thought Andre was going to win but Pete came out of
no where and won the title.

Posted by nica 01/25/2008 at 03:35 PM

I obviously meant Djokovic was looking for the slice not "wasn't looking for them" in my previous post.

Posted by RedTennis 01/25/2008 at 03:36 PM

I agree about not blaming the stomach virus. I think djoko broght his A game and Federer brought his B gmae. Maybe Fed is getting tired of always being number one. That being said I hpoe he isnt too tire, while it is always nice to see new faces in a final I think Federer is one of tennis biggest gentelmen and I;m hpoe he contiues to win majors. If Djoko is going to be sticking around and continuing to challege Fed and Rafa, I hope he can bring a little more class to the sport, he certainly has the talent
Looking foward to the clay season it should be intersesting!

Posted by Bob 01/25/2008 at 03:39 PM

Like Henin, Federer has not been playing well in this event. His forehand was really off. He had 3 ridiculous errors serving at 5-4 in the first set, so started putting more topspin on the forehand, which slowed them down, and Djokovic was winning the forehand exchanges. That topspin caused them to sit up and Djokovic would blast them back with flatter forehands and Federer could't get to them. Federer started flattening them out more, since he had to, and that kept Djokovic from hitting so many forehand winners cross court, but then Federer started missing them again. Basically, he got out-forehanded and also out-served. Djokovic's serve saved him several times.

I'm not a fan of Djokovic, but he certainly deserved to win this match. He was the better player today, but Federer should have won the first set, which might have changed the match. Those were uncharacteristic errors, and he made some again in the tie-break. He just hasn't been playing that well for the entire event. His backhand was pretty good, but his killer forehand was not there, and hasn't been all tournament. He should have started guessing on Djokovic's serve. That would have given him a chance to return half of the big serves. As it was, he was not returning any of them out wide or down the T. I think the players should stand a bit farther back on the first serves, when they are getting so many serves blown by them. It gives you more time, especially returning down the T serves. Federer had no answer to Djokovic's first serves, and you need to change things when you are losing.

As with Henin, I don't regard this as any major disaster. Neither of them were playing anywhere near their best. Both of them need to re-examine some of their tactics against these two opponents, but mainly they were't playing that great, and there isn't much you can do about that. I hope Tsonga wins. He needs to relax and keep hitting all those flat rockets and coming in. He has amazing touch and movement at the net for such a large man. The players keep getting bigger. The men's final has two 6'2" guys, and the women's a 6'2" woman against a 6'1" woman.

Posted by misael 01/25/2008 at 03:44 PM

I'am so glad Novak won,he had alot of chances when they played at the US Open Final ,but this time he was mentally stronger.I like his arrogance,I'am so tired of other players always kissing Federer's behind,especially Blake and Roddick.I think the same about his country women Ana,she says she wamts to be #1,not all players say this ,very few, and when they do I tend to believe them.

Posted by Andrew 01/25/2008 at 03:56 PM

hi steve,

Federer hasn't quite had his best stuff since the match with Tipsarevic - the break backs against Blake, the misjudged volley leaves, etc. But I'm with you that "the killer virus" wasn't that. Sooner or later a top 10 player will find a way to beat you if you aren't bringing your best stuff and he's nearer his best.

Posted by sol 01/25/2008 at 04:00 PM

it is about time to show that somebody is not scared or put to sleep by federer antics.Djokovic's played perfect and won it .I am happy him.

Posted by msd 01/25/2008 at 04:02 PM

"Tsonga isn't exactly class like Federer or Nadal, you just don't know as much of his antics. He has his share of "punk" moments so whether or not Djokovic's brashness is your taste, to be sure, Tsonga is not the antithesis."

Oooh, that's made me curious. What sort of past antics?? I know next to nothing about him; just what I've seen in the past few days.

Posted by A pity he lost 01/25/2008 at 04:05 PM

This is a great day for tennis fans. The moment we have been waiting for. Somebody finally decided that they had enough of Federer's endless luck and want to put an end to the arrogant Swiss streak in slam finals.

It is not so surprising to see Federer's biggest fan, Steve Tignor, try to make excuses for his idol's loss. Djokovic was simply the better player today and outplayed Federer in every department.

Federer sore loser press conference is also not a shock but I am sure that Tignor will not mention it at all.

Posted by Love AO 01/25/2008 at 04:20 PM

This board is getting interestinger and interestinger! I dont usually post here but couldnt resist. I too got up at 3.30 to watch the match and took hours to recover. My first thoughts were the same as most viewers. This is finally a good thing that has happened - it lifts the load off Fed's shoulders and may allow him to play freely without the 'statistics' and 'greatest ever' hanging over him. However, he was outplayed today and he needs to evaluate his game at this point. One thing I did notice was Nole's camp and all of those people who were routing for him. Federer seemed awfully lonely till the stadium decided to do something about it. It is high time he got a coach but as Bodo writes - who -would be a very good question. On the whole the tennis for the rest of the season has immediatly got more interesting. I am sure Fed will recover and return as all champions do. When and where - we will have to wait and see. But for now I am glad I will be able to finally see a men's final without being emotionally invested. I don't really care who wins -I am just waiting for some fabulous tennis!!

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/25/2008 at 04:21 PM

Hey 'A pity he lost'

You should think twice what you just typed, Stephen Tignor was being very impartial and ecuanimous. Federer has more fire, heart and grit in him than Djokovic and Tipsarevic combined, he is a ferocious competitor. He will in no time put down Djokovic on his behind to remind him who the best player in the world is. He was just simply due to lose a match at event where he was expected to win. Now he will remember how good winning felt (specially if it is over someone as cocky and fake as Djokovic). Mark Agassi's words, "there's a fine line between getting pumped and awaking a sleeping giant, I assure you".

Posted by Syd 01/25/2008 at 04:22 PM

I don't think that this one event heralds the end of Fed. I think he was sick for a week, lost weight, and most important was not peaking during the tournament due to lack of match play. He did not win Kooyong last year as he said he didn't expect to peak in one tourney, he went on to win Oz. I admit, it was a shocking display from him especially when he was serving for the first set. Federer needs a coach. He needs a coach! As for the arrogant Djoko, and his motley crew, they need to learn some manners.

Posted by Charles 01/25/2008 at 04:31 PM

If Djokovic wins, his record will be 10-3 at each slam

Posted by Bob 01/25/2008 at 04:33 PM

Federer certainly wasn't alone. Most of the crowd were clearly for him, and not only because they wanted a longer match. He's very popular everywhere, and deservedly so. Just not a good even for either #1 in the world, or either #2, for that matter. This will certainly irk Federer, and I expect him to be playing much better in the next event. He's 26, so his best years are mostly behind him, and I think he'll realize that and focus more. He hasn't been happy with his tennis for more than a week.

Posted by Irony 01/25/2008 at 04:48 PM

Interesting how many negative comments regarding Djoko when Djoko won against Federer. When djoko was trying to move up and lost US Open there were a lot of "pad on the back" kind of comments and assurance that he did great and cant hate himself because he played the unbeatable player. Now that he won..hmmm. Interesting observation of true Federer fans. Now Novak is childlish, selfish, cocky, cheater etc. One thing is sure. Federer can kiss goodbuy all grand slams but maybe Wimbledon if he shows up.

Posted by Fed-Police 01/25/2008 at 04:57 PM

Hey Irony,

I am EAGER to see Federer killing Djokovic in Dubai, IW and Miami back to back to back in semis or the finals and then maybe people that assure Federer is gone for good (like you) will keep comments like this to yourselves, how about that?

Posted by ingrid 01/25/2008 at 04:58 PM

Congrats Novak Djokovic!!!
Your character is great. We all can learn so much from you...

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/25/2008 at 04:58 PM

wow, that was a true Federer Police comment right there...

Posted by monterey 01/25/2008 at 05:03 PM

Man, I can't believe it.

Fed has won 12 of the last 19 slams (including this year's AO) and people get on his case because he dared to lose one slam semi-final against a very good and improving player. It had to happen at some point. What's truly surprising is that it hasn't happened a lot sooner.

Now the really interesting thing for Nole is the upcoming final. All the pressure is on him. He has more big match experience, including one slam final, and is the No. 3 player in the world so he's expected to win. Now imagine if he loses to Tsonga. What will people say about him having been to two slam finals and coming up short?

I'm sure he doesn't want to be stuck with the choker label after Sunday, especially considering he took out tne main man, Federer.

Will he rise up to the challenge? He's getting a small taste of what it feels like to be Roger.

Posted by Irony 01/25/2008 at 05:15 PM

Well, here is a true Fed Fan probably with "RF" on his hat too. Maybe you didnt watch the same match we did. You know, "the one" where Federer lost in 3 straight or maby the one he lost in Montreal. And by most accounts, he had better chances of winning the US Open then Federer did Australian. So, lets recap the last three meetings. Now that he won in command i doubt he will ever give Federer the same chances he did in US Open. Nether will the bookies. And you are telling me that he will kick Djoko back to back? ...You get the point:)

Posted by Story of Os 01/25/2008 at 05:24 PM

Federer was taking his opponent too lightly when serving at 5-4 in the first set. He was flat almost for the whole match. When he finally woke up in the 3rd set tiebreak and wanted to fight, he missed his forehands.
Djokovic played an excellent match but might not have gained any fans. The result of this match can be good for tennis though. The top spot is no longer reserved for Fed this year. Just hope that Fed will find his desire to play attacking tennis and raise the level of the playing field once again.

Posted by Story of Os 01/25/2008 at 05:24 PM

Federer was taking his opponent too lightly when serving at 5-4 in the first set. He was flat almost for the whole match. When he finally woke up in the 3rd set tiebreak and wanted to fight, he missed his forehands.
Djokovic played an excellent match but might not have gained any fans. The result of this match can be good for tennis though. The top spot is no longer reserved for Fed this year. Just hope that Fed will find his desire to play attacking tennis and raise the level of the playing field once again.

Posted by ingrid 01/25/2008 at 05:25 PM

I like and respect Federer... but it is obvious that Djokovic must be fantastic and strong character, too.

Posted by tom p. 01/25/2008 at 05:38 PM

Nice post, steve. I didn't buy the virus stuff until the Blake match -- never seen
Fed so slow before (losing serve to Blake as easily as he did a few times).
Very bad sign. He just looked weak and slow; so unusual.

What are Tsonga's chances, do you think? He's been leaps and bounds better than anyone
here. Just not sure that he can do it one more time.

Posted by deuce 01/25/2008 at 06:22 PM

anonymous @ 2:51 PM is spot on!

Posted by Nick123 01/25/2008 at 06:22 PM

It's pretty amazing how quickly Djokovic fans are to jump on Federer as if this is the end of the Fed and he's simply unable to compete on hard courts against a played like Djokovic. Fed played pretty poorly this match given his extremely high standards and was still very very close to winning two of the three sets vs. Novak, who was playing one of the better matches I've ever seen him play. Hopefully this loss gets Federer angry enough he becomes inspired again. I for one am not ready to declare, "The King is dead!"

Posted by 01/25/2008 at 06:27 PM

Also, as far as Nadal "struggling" give me a break. The guy has had two incredible Wimbledons, won a hard court Masters event and just had his best finish at a hard court slam to date, losing to a guy playing one of the best matches he'll probably ever play [admittedly Nadal served terribly]. Give Rafa a break.

Posted by fedfan 01/25/2008 at 06:33 PM

Couldn't bring myself to watch much of the Doko match, but I can't say I was surprised by the result. Fed seemed tetchy and irritable in the Blake and Berdych matches, always lashing out at the little Aussie bugs that seem to gather at the serving ends and rolling his eyes at line calls. He seemed listless in the Tipsarevic match as well. I wonder if at some level he was a bit exhausted by the thought of facing and figuring out the rampaging and hungry young Tsongas in the final after fending off Doko. Who knows? Doko played extraordinarily well. I think the young guys were excited that Nadal had been knocked off and Fed was looking vulnerable. That kind of fire can be contagious.

Posted by TorontoStar 01/25/2008 at 07:04 PM

I am so amused with the amount of badwill Djoko has attracted with this win.

What I believe happened is, that so many of us tennis fans, felt so blessed to be able to see Federer's run to greatness and the likely spot as the greatest player ever. It was SO close, like this year close. And we tolerated Nadal not only because he is likeable but also because he respectfully lost to Federer everywhere but on his home turf, thus making Fed's run to record books just more interesting.

And now this, who-the-hell-he-think-he-is 'Djoko' wants to ruin all our plans. We were so hoping to see the king of the kings annointed with 15 slams as early as this year, and this kid now wants to spoil all of that. We are back to square one with regards to who is the best player ever. Is Federer the best player ever? Sampras had more slams. He also spent more time as #1. Laver had GRAND slams. Borg was routinely winning French AND Wimbledon and had better win % at majors and if he ever bothered to play Australian Open he would likely have like even more slams. We could even talk about Agassi's career grand slam and Federer's lack of.

Anyways it seems like Djoko, spoiling the quick end to the great debate, is now suddenly considered annoying. His taking off the shirt is suddenly unacceptable (but somehow Tsonga doing the same is OK). His 'staring' at umpire is 'cocky'. (That on the night when Fed was seen actually muttering to umpire, two days after Roddick asking umpire whether she had ears attached to her head etc) Even his family's cheering for their own son and brother has been labeled 'demonic' in this forum (?) Perhaps we should bomb the poor Serbia again just in case?

Anyways looking at the game itself, Fed did not lose because of stomach flu. Nope, their previous two matches, Fed lost one, and won one in tight three sets. Tonight he lost one in tight three sets. So facts are telling us, this is not flu or luck or wrong alignment of the stars, it is just the fact that Djoko has caught up and his game is at the same level as Federer's. And BTW if anyone had health issues last night, it was Djoko who had visible problems breathing but came through anyways.

And even though I am pissed with the fact that we will have to wait for the best player ever some more, this night's game could actually
make it happen sooner. This could help Federer find his motivation again and get really really ready for the French. With Rafa plagued with injuries (he will not win a major ever again), and all eyes and pressure on Djokovic, a well-prepared Fed could actually get the French. And I can't wait to see that.

As for Tsonga, he obviously has potential, but no consistency. His chances against Djoko are slim: Djoko has excellent game always, and spectacular game sometimes. Tsongas game sucks most of the time and is spectacular sometimes. Now good people of Melbourne don't give away their prized slam for popularity or artistic impression or what you could have been if you were on your best. Nope they count the points and add them up so this is going to be Djokos first Slam, likely in three sets.

Posted by Irony 01/25/2008 at 07:10 PM

Here is a thing that Fed fans just cant figure out. Djoko is relentless in his persuit of perfection and he will not stop until he destroys his competition and becomes No1. I understand your fears Fed Fans. Here is something scary to think about and why i think Fed is not going to win more then 1 grand slam this year, Djoko now belives he can beat him any day grand slam or not. That being said, if Djoko keeps up and gets past Nadal Fed will not see any more slams.

Posted by Robert 01/25/2008 at 07:27 PM

Just to set the record straight: the stomach flu is terrible, whether you're vomiting or having diarrhea. When it lasts for more than a week (I had it for two--throwing up every 90 minutes, even at night), it really wears you down. Even after you stop having the symptoms, you are impaired for weeks. Roger was able to play the tournament, because he is a professional athlete. Nevertheless, the first hard match (against Tipsarevic, in which Federer was certainly less than his best) took its toll in that Federer could not erase that energy deficit as he was trying to gain back his strength and endurance.

Djokovic played well and deserved to win, but let's not call it the end of an era simply because Federer failed to win a Grand Slam event. If he goes all year without a Slam, then it's the end of an era.

Posted by Mike 01/25/2008 at 07:31 PM

During the past few years when Federer has struggled with Rafa much has been said about how the Fed struggles with a high bouncing lefty spin to his backhand. However, because of the focus on the matchup between Fed and Rafa I think another soft spot in the Fed's game hasn't been talked about. Fed's loss to Djokovic I think exposes his other soft spot that is still not being commented upon as yet. Against players who can hit penetrating shots such as Safin and now Djokovic who can do it more consistently than Safin, Federer's slice return of serves get him into trouble. The power hitters return those slices and get the Fed in situations where he can't get set for a shot. At times it appears that Federer recognizes this and tries to make topspin returns but abandons this tactic quickly if he misses a few. On the contrary, the new young big hitters look to return serves with topspin and gain the offensive. Perhaps if Federer hired a coach who could help him develop skill and confidence in looking first to attack serves, he would become an even stronger player.

Posted by Kenneth 01/25/2008 at 07:41 PM

Yeah, I'm with most who think this a minor, though Major-minor, blip in the overall scheme. I don't believe in excuses of any kind for anyone; a loss is a loss is a loss, and everything else is semantics. However, I cannot help but feel that we haven't seen a match where both players were playing at their max since the first week ended; feels like the fire slowly waned down and we were left with empty molds of real matches. Even Tsonga-Nadal didn't quite live up to the projected hype, and I'm still not sure if that was the result of an on-fire Tsonga or a flat Nadal. Obviously Federer wasn't playing his best-I still think his best is a bit better than the rest. But, as is often the case with losses, it was Djokovic who took Federer out of his comfort zone in the very way it had to be done. Last night was the road map on how to make Federer tight (absolutely MUST win the first set), and make him press (absolutely MUST come correct with first serves). Djokovic did what he had to do, got lucky on some points because, as P Mac often notes, good things happen to those who are doing good things on the court, and prevailed. How many times have we heard that at this level, the upper-echelon of tennis greats, so little separates the top players? A forehand made here, a stronger backhand there, and Federer is facing a gimme in the final. As it is, the route of lop-sided matches may end up bringing about the best final we've seen since last year's Wimby...

Posted by Kenneth 01/25/2008 at 07:46 PM

One more side note-

Perhaps this is the very reason the first week of a slam should be best of three. What real fan would object to high quality tennis during the second week of a slam rather than the first?

Posted by Underspin 01/25/2008 at 11:16 PM

I think Toronto star and anonymous are spot on...fedfans are so defensive and panicky...just admit for one match he was outplayed. recognizing djoker's efforts today doesn't mean that djoker's fans are saying the fed era is dead. Just get used to someone not kissing fed's butt when he hits a winner. finally tennis is a lot more interesting when maybe the grand slams are up for grabs than just fed and nadal.

Posted by Irene 01/26/2008 at 01:31 AM

As a huge fan of both Federer and Djokovic (yes, despite some people's disbelief, it IS possible to be a fan of both players), last night's match was interesting in many ways.
First, I agree with those who mentioned that Djokovic deserved to win by playing the big points well and not panicking. Second, I also agree with Steve about the "look" in Federer's eyes. He was standing there with the ball and racquet in his hands, but he looked tired(perhaps mentally) and a little far away, if I may say. His usual game face was not on last night, and I was wondering if he's starting to enjoy tennis itself a little less than before.
As he mentioned couple of days ago in one of his AO interviews, his motivation is more directed into playing against history rather than against present players. So one of my biggest fears has always been him losing motivation to keep up the unbelievably high level and being uninspired. That being said, I was more than happy to hear that Pete Sampras was doing a couple of exhibitions with Federer, since I thought it would be a great opportunity for Roger to be re-inspired by playing one of the best (if not THE best) players ever. I don't know if he WAS inspired but he clearly seemed to enjoy playing against Sampras (I saw it in Seoul), and it was so heartwarming to see the happy face he had put on while playing tennis like if it was something he truly enjoyed.
Long story, but what I'm trying to say here is that this loss could act as a trigger for Roger to get fired up once again. I believe this has nothing to do with the end of an era, though if Roger feels more pressure and less joy in playing tennis more and more throughout the year, things could get really complicated for him.
Oh, and one last word about Novak being practically "bombed" here because of his overwhelming confidence. Everybody has different opinions, that's why there are some people who think that even Roger is arrogant. And if Roger can be considered arrogant to some one, I can easily imagine how Novak could be. However, it's not like Djokovic behaves unrespectfully towards Federer or any other player(Fed once mentioned in his interview that Novak IS respectful in the locker room and that he has absolutely no problem with what Novak has been saying) nor does he say harsh words to the umpire, for instance.
It's just that we are so used to seeing Federer and Nadal (who are somewhat less vocal) for a couple of years, and now we just have some different personalities on court. The only problem I have with Novak is him throwing his racquet at times. A lot of players do it and even Roger did it A LOT in his early days, but I hope when he gets a little older he will be able to control his emotions in a more mature way.
Anyway, I really wish that Federer could get his flame back on court and that I would be able to see some high-quality matches between him and Djokovic. After all, we're all in this to see some wonderful tennis.

Posted by jem 01/26/2008 at 02:46 AM

I have been a Federer fan since 1998 and really hate to see him losed. Full credit to Djoko, he won the match, Fed did not lose it.

However, he simply won a semi-final match. He still has to win the final, which, hopefully, will not be easy.

Any talk of a changing of the guard is careless and premature.

The point spread has certainly tightened, no easing of the pressure to perform there.

If this is to be the ushering in of the Djokovic era, I fervently hope his mother learns to think before speaking, or at least learn to be gracious.

Posted by Nick123 01/26/2008 at 03:52 AM

Not that I want to resort to name-calling, but saying Rafa won't win another major is quite possibly the dumbest thing I've seen written on this site, by anyone. He's shown himself to be so far above everyone else on clay it's almost impossible he doesn't win another one for the rest of his career, assuming he doesn't suffer a career-ending injury, which is I guess the assumption you ARE making, but with what information I couldn't say.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/26/2008 at 11:31 AM

The first thing that came to my mind about the match and Fed was "out of synch", and I mean com-ple-te-ly. The Swiss does not move as much as he "glides" around the court, and that day Djoko was wrong-footing him very easily. He looked "heavy" by his usual standards.

I found very illuminating what Pete Bodo wrote about the Fed's "reactive tennis", the fact that he has been for some time (a very long time actually) merely fighting away others' mere attempts at attacking him. It is becoming not quite sufficient with these new great players (Rafa on clay is the best example) and the Fed has not been developing new game plans and tactics when facing them. I know, I know, his tennis (technique, strategic sense) is so fantastic it's easy to dismiss that but even GOAT's need game plan and specific tactics once in a while. I think his reluctance to have a specifically new "play" in RG is one of the reasons he cannot beat Rafa. Someone who does not evolve, well just REGRESSES and Federer is experiencing that to a certain extent (or perhaps "stagnates", which means for him losing from time to time). Players he could beat (and he can beat Djoko), just get the best of his day now. Djokovic attacked him on his forehand like crazy and I did not see any response from Federer! His serve was AWOL that day but he did not have a plan B for Djokovic (or for Nalbandian)...how is that possible?

I don't think it's the virus that was responsible for his defeat (although it certainly didn't help because it botched his preparation) but it's more this increasingly problematic way of thinking and managing the opposition that is responsible IMO. Fed needs a coach, needs specific killer plans for the new guys coming at him at full speed.

I'm not afraid to say that he has been resting on his laurels for too long, and that this Sampras/GOAT/records "conversation" has just been distracting him from doing more mundane tactical readjustments. Fed has been complacent for too long and it's not forgiven when you have very talented guys like Djokovic breathing down your neck.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/26/2008 at 11:38 AM

as for Rafa and Tsonga: the Spaniard was just "stunned" and bullied into impotence by Jo-Willy. There was nothing he could have done that day. Tsonga played absolutely "lights out". The Australian press uses the expression Tsunami-Jo (or something like that) well, it's true, there's nothing you can do against a tidal wave when you're not prepared.

And by the way, had it been Federer on the other side (the Federer of this tournament), I'm pretty sure the result would have been the same with the Frenchman winning the match in straight sets.

Posted by Matt 01/26/2008 at 12:36 PM

I don't understand all of you people agonizing over Djokovic's "cockiness." You play the game to win, not to lose. And if you want to win, you first must believe without a doubt that you will. What a sad bunch of wannabe former JV tennis players, respectively. Tsonga's got no chance. Novak's playing lights out and his confidence level at this point is unshakeable.

His win over Fed in the semis was impressive. Roger will always have some leeway, and rightfully so, but I don't think he can say that he played poorly against Novak. Because the fact is that Federer played good tennis, was up 5-3 in the first set and then lost it, and was severely pressured by Djokovic's wicked backhand down the line and his improving net play.

Give credit where it's due, and stop being envious of prodigious play by a 20 year old.

Posted by john smith 01/26/2008 at 12:57 PM

There's something I just don't agree in what most people mean by saying Federer was "slower". That's not true...

The thing is:
1) Djokovic has an outstanding footwork, he is every time in front of the ball... looks like he is floating, has a perfect setup for making the shot, unlike Rafa who is off-balance most of time.
2) Hits the ball well in front on forehand. Actually I don't know any other player who's hitting the ball that way. His opponents are not in right position for taking a shot by the time the ball reaches them. He gives them no time...

That's what makes him overpowering. Federer got through couple of times on experience and finesse, but I think this is slowly getting over.

The final will be interesting because Tsonga and Djokovic never played but I think Novak is going to take it easily. He won't allow Tsonga to play a game he did against Nadal and will press him a lot which will result in many mistakes for the Frenchman, he is just way too much error prone.

We won't see Djokovic one meter behind the baseline chasing off balance shots while Tsonga is on the net...

Posted by john smith 01/26/2008 at 01:15 PM

Frenchie,


I seriously doubt Tsonga could beat Federer. He can beat Nadal, a player with no strategy, no intelligent play who relies just on hitting the ball hard with top-spin while being left handed gives him certain advantage. Nadal is fierce competitor but technically is not a great player, he has a very poor serve and no game plan other than outrunning the opponent.

The deal is, Novak is still underrated for most of fans. Instead of saying he's played a hell of tennis people say Roger played bad. Well, that's the road to victory... not allowing your opponents to have a match of their career against you. Look at Roddick, on every grand slam there is some "Kohlschreibber" who beats him. That's why he is not a great tennis player. What are good 70 winners if your opponent makes 100?

Another thing. Even though this tournament looks like it's about Tsonga who's had a remarkable run, sport writers should sit and think for a moment...

I think it's about some other guy who just started a rampage to that No.1 spot... he clearly sent us a message...

Posted by john smith 01/26/2008 at 01:19 PM

Frenchie,


I seriously doubt Tsonga could beat Federer. He can beat Nadal, a player with no strategy, no intelligent play who relies just on hitting the ball hard with top-spin while being left handed gives him certain advantage. Nadal is fierce competitor but technically is not a great player, he has a very poor serve and no game plan other than outrunning the opponent.

The deal is, Novak is still underrated for most of fans. Instead of saying he's played a hell of tennis people say Roger played bad. Well, that's the road to victory... not allowing your opponents to have a match of their career against you. Look at Roddick, on every grand slam there is some "Kohlschreibber" who beats him. That's why he is not a great tennis player. What are good 70 winners if your opponent makes 100?

Another thing. Even though this tournament looks like it's about Tsonga who's had a remarkable run, sport writers should sit and think for a moment...

I think it's about some other guy who just started a rampage to that No.1 spot... like it or not, he clearly sent us a message...

Posted by The Original French(ie) 01/26/2008 at 02:44 PM

hi john smith,

well I said the "current Federer". What has been hampering Federer lately is precisely his lack of tactical response to very specific problems. Rafa on clay, now Djokovic againt his own forehand, Nalbandian and his killer serve and net game etc.... I honestly believe that if the semis would have been switched Tsonga playing Federer and Djoko playing Rafa, Tsonga would have beaten Federer. I have absolutely no doubt Tsonga's serve & volley would have been unreachable for the Fed and the drop shots at 10 cm form the net too. Did you see how Fed was moving, like an old man? Tsonga was commending the entire court without having to make more a couple of steps! Federer's serve was off that day too, how could he not be broken by Tsonga?

As for Rafa-Djokovic (I know it's bit silly). I think Rafa is a tad underestimated. His match against Moya in chennai was fantastic and he WON Indian Wells didn't he? He reaches quarters on hard court. I wouldn't throw that away. Against Djokovic, I think Djokovic would have won (the Serb is a great player) but the battle would have been very fierce, not the "little" 3 sets we saw with Tsonga.

For Roddick: well he won a slam didn't he? while Kohlschreiber won Auckland and lost to Nieminen. Who is greater? But if you'd ask me who has the best backhand of the field, I'd answer without hesitation that it's the German. It was superb, even sublime that day. The reason Roddick lost that extremely competitive match was because the German was able to return Roddick's mega serves like they were tiny puffballs! I'm still amazed by the technical prowess from that match.

Posted by lynee 01/26/2008 at 03:09 PM

Oh boy isnt it great to see that arrogant smirk wiped off of Federer's face? Ditto his pet cow Mirka who can be just as obnoxious, arrogant, and divalike as her fancyboy Man. Tennis is fun again!

This Australian Open has been brilliant tennis. I wish all slams could be like this.: exciting, unpredictable, and most of all, Federer-free. This is the first grand slam final in years that I am actually excited to watch.

Thank you Tsonga and especially THANK YOU Djokovic. When Federer loses tennis is the winner.

Posted by federerfan 01/26/2008 at 03:11 PM

dont think the monster has been put to bed yet, fed is still going to feel this huge pressure through out 2008, until he is dethroned, he may finish the year as #3 in the world (with djoker as #1) but having said that...i feel it will only be good for him to get rid of that monster...it was so plainly clear that roger can beat djoko (even a 100% firing djoko) in the first 8 games...he just had to do a few things right....but as soon as he got to the pressure point...he was playing the djoker and the monster..and he lost that game and everything after that....
he must get down to a point where he is no longer expected to win against nadal or djoker and thats when he can play his usual tennis against just one opponent (i.e. no monster)...then he is going to kick djoker hard in his pants...
Both Nadal and Djoker are still nothin better than very very very good challengers....yes....still challengers but not the challenged....why doesnt anybody fret about Nadal losing in straights to an unseeded player with a worse scoreline than when fed loses to an arguably more accomplished #3 with a much tighter scoreline?...therein lies the effect of this monster that fed himself has created.....
Let us see how (if and when) nadal or djoker get to #1, handle the pressure of going to tournaments week after week and winning or making the finals or semi finals...leave alone doing it for 4 years...then the djoker will learn to shut up and not be a loose cannon...
Dont think the world will appreciate what roger has made look so easy until somebody else shows how they tear apart under the pressure and how quickly too, which will be painful to watch.

The djoker played a great game, no question, a solid game...to take nothing away from him...but if he thinks he single handedly beat federer and is going to continue to do so....he has things to learn....its like Roddick thinking he came close to match point or beat roger at an exo, so roger wasslowing down or beatable...roger is fightng too many things (admittedly of his own creation) every darn time he gets on the court...and Randini is right...it must become same old, same old....otherwise he is not human....his great bull run is due for a correction (not a crash) and then he is going to be back spanking all these so called young guns....
as a very nervous roger fan...i used to be literally terrified of nadal's supremacy of the fed...but...from 6-1 (after 06 french) in nadals favor it is now 8-6...i.e. 5-2 in the last 1.5 years in feds favor...he has slowly but surely turned it around...although nadal still holds an edge....fed has convinced me...he is not one who is going to give up....he means it when he says...he plans to be playing competitively until the 2012 olympics at wimbledone....and by then....lets see how many years/weeks...nadal and djoker have managed at #1 and what baby monsters they manage to create...or if they get eaten up by other so called "young guns"....

Posted by federerfan 01/26/2008 at 03:22 PM

just to add to my prev post....lets see whether nadal manages to defend his IW and the djoker his Miami title..or how close t they come to it even...fed's#1 is protected for now...i think..until atelast wimbledon....lets see if the so called #1s in waiting manage even this amount of pressure...of defending their masters shield. Ofcourse..the djoker is still to win against tsonga...

Posted by john smith 01/26/2008 at 04:28 PM

Frenchie,

sorry, but I don't agree with you saying Tsonga would beat Federer... ever. That's precisely the point I wanted to make.

That's just wrong because you attribute Federer's loss as his bad game, not by improvements in the game (+ head) Djokovic made. So suddenly a man riding 19 game AO streak, the best of all time, the most dominating player, etc... is not that good anymore, would get choked by a first-timer? That would never happen simply because Federer would not be who he is...

Now the reality is Federer is still the best, a man to beat but he needs to accept that his dominance days are on count. He will keep winning, but needs to accept the fact he will have to share the reign with some other player and will have to fight harder than ever to keep No.1 spot. It's not like the world is ending, it's just now there exists a player with his "number", such normal thing in tennis... it always existed until he came...

I think from now to on, his victories will be much sweeter and more emotional than used to. It's going to be tight but I'm sure he will appreciate the challenge and will be able to enjoy that stage of his career also... he just have to admit it...

Posted by craighickmanontennis 01/26/2008 at 04:50 PM

Wimbledon may be Fed's firewall, but grass is Tsonga's favorite surface. And he has just the kind of power and complete game that could make any man's knees buckle on the lawns, even Raja's.

I'm not suggesting Fed is done winning Slams. But history has also told us that a great player CAN be done winning Slams at 12 and at the seeming height of his powers.

Posted by nesha 01/26/2008 at 05:04 PM

hi i am serbian-greek all of you people are very very geoulus on nole

Posted by nesha 01/26/2008 at 05:23 PM

anna and novak will be in 2008 n1 players and you now why because thay have passion your american and english players dont have i am also tennis teacher i can learn you passionate tennis for only 100euro per hour and make you fast champions because in tennis like in the life you need simple things tennis is not the siencety like your schools presents tennis is just the game make it simple and love it

Posted by Kevin 01/26/2008 at 06:33 PM

I've been a rabid tennis fan all my life. I've watched Borg, Lendl, Mac, Connors, Sampras, Aggasi, Becker, Edberg, all of them (with the exception of Laver - which is a big exception, admittedly), and Federer is the best I've seen period. Of course he's going to lose. Everybody does. Does anybody remember Safin's total domination of Sampras about 8 years ago in the U.S. Open final? Safin was utterly superior to Sampras in every phase of the game that day. And you know what, it didn't mean jack. The guy's done nothing since, and Sampras is arguably the GOAT. A loss is a loss, period. Don't overanalyze this people. I think we all know, outside of a miracle, Djoko's probably not going to win 12 majors. It happens rarely for a reason. As others have said, what matters now is what both Fed and Djoko do in the future.

Posted by albabru 01/26/2008 at 07:39 PM

As Tsonga said - Murray was my hardest opponent so dont forget folks other players will play a part in the future. Some will improve and others will fall by the wayside.

Posted by albabru 01/26/2008 at 07:40 PM

As Tsonga said - Murray was my hardest opponent so dont forget folks other players will play a part in the future. Some will improve and others will fall by the wayside.

Posted by Dee 01/26/2008 at 08:17 PM

Nice post, Steve. A half-turn is good enough for me at this time. We cannot really predict the way things will go this year for the top guns. I think I posted something about the domination of the triumvirate after Montreal last year - Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. It will be good for the ATP, having an honest to goodness world no. 3 in the ATP, and not just Federer and Nadal dominating the scene for the last few years.

I think someone else is going to take the no. 1 spot this year, and it will not be Federer.

Posted by Dan Scarlett 01/27/2008 at 12:13 AM

"Oh boy, isn't it great to see that arrogant smirk wiped off Federer's face?"
Thanks, lynee, for saying exactly what MANY of us non-idolaators think ---in spite of the media-hyped version of the 'modest, self-effacing" Fed. Remember whlen he referred to Nadal as a 'one-dimensional player' ! And now, in addition to leaning on his illness two weeks ago, he has the gall to say that Novak "doesnt usually play this well" !! Happy funk,Raja!

Posted by Dr_Ale 01/27/2008 at 08:55 AM

What has happened today people? Tsonga was probably playing "badly"?
It was a true performance of the Joker, and Tsonga was the one who lost today, not because of some flu or whatever, but simply because Djoko is where he is No. 3. And that is not without a reason.

As for Federer he will probably rule this and the next year, but we'll have to wait and see it. My opinion is that he is simply getting older, and even that he is at the peak of his strength soon there will be a new champion, and most of you who are Fedex police and ultra fans will simply switch to the next one.

I sincerely hope that Djoko will improve his game further and get on that top which he is hungry for. (We all are!)

Posted by bsmith 01/27/2008 at 01:07 PM

djokovic annoys the hell out of me. Why does he feel need to take his shirt off after every single match? He's not even that good looking.

Posted by jj 01/27/2008 at 02:06 PM

roger will come back for sure...sometimes "shxt" happens...

Posted by Dark_o 01/27/2008 at 03:32 PM

I can only conclude that many people here are pretty jealous on Djoker.Look, He IS a great player and has improved even more through AO. He has been working on his psyche, which gave result this time.Remember that Djoker could have beaten Federer at US open, but could not handle the preasure-this time he learned it.
Not to mention Montreal game where he too downed Federer.
So, get used to look at Djoker,a serb, he is going to hang arround for a while guys. Commentators from Australia may have problemm with serbs cause of case called Dokic (?)

Posted by choko 01/27/2008 at 03:45 PM

i agree one doesn't bounce back so easily from a stomach flu. i had stomach problems for months, lost weight but still felt my strokes were good. but i kept losing to my usual partner although we were usually close. i had stamina and cramping problems then.

about djoko's antics, they pale in comparison to mcenroe and connors. it's actually quite refreshing to see someone with a fiery personality outside as well as inside apart from the usual fed/rafa demeanor.

what i really see is that rafa keeps on saying he's fine with number two while joko is gunning for number one and saying it publicly. guess who's gonna replace fed? it ain't gonna be the no. 2 guy right now. that's coz there's 2 things that usually happens with any alpha male when really threatened with a young upstart: get angry and wipe em out, or get tight and tense and lose. fed doesn't feel that with rafa but definitely he feels that with joko. and the constant pressure will wear one down.

Posted by 01/27/2008 at 06:12 PM

From RF.com

More info on "The Illness" I couldn't resist!

From USENET Group (rec.sport.tennis):

However, this story got me curious and I dug around to find some
Luzern and other respectable Swiss papers. These newspapers also
mentioned Roger being in the hospital for 6 days, but they claim he
only stayed overnight for 2 nights. He was on an IV drip because the
diarhhea dehydrated him. The other 4 days he came into the hospital
for tests, but didn't spend the night. The Luzern paper said he took a
bathroom break between sets when playing Blake and threw up. I don't
recall Fed taking a bathroom break during that match. They also said
during his Tipsy match he was on a non-drowsy form of Dramimine, which
prevents nausea and vomitting.

Posted by john10 01/28/2008 at 01:51 AM

I'm looking forward to Dubai, IW, and Miami. There's going to be great potential matchups in these tournaments. But, has anyone noticed that Fed doesn't play another match until 3/3 in Dubai. Almost 5 weeks for Fed to think about exactly what he has to do to protect his ranking and win more majors.

His number one goal is to defend Wimbledon. Period. This will save his year no matter what else happens. Number 2 is winning the french. If he goes back to back, french and wimbledon, everything else(olympics, us open, and number 1 ranking) will just be a bonus to him.

Posted by janet 01/28/2008 at 10:50 AM

Rafa too far from Gentleman. Federer boring because of chasing all time records. these young guys make tennis loveable and not so predictible

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 11:37 AM

Posted by 01/27/2008 @ 6:12 PM

From RF.com

More info on "The Illness" I couldn't resist!

From USENET Group (rec.sport.tennis):

However, this story got me curious and I dug around to find some
Luzern and other respectable Swiss papers. These newspapers also
mentioned Roger being in the hospital for 6 days, but they claim he
only stayed overnight for 2 nights. He was on an IV drip because the
diarhhea dehydrated him. The other 4 days he came into the hospital
for tests, but didn't spend the night. The Luzern paper said he took a
bathroom break between sets when playing Blake and threw up. I don't
recall Fed taking a bathroom break during that match. They also said
during his Tipsy match he was on a non-drowsy form of Dramimine, which
prevents nausea and vomitting.

---------------------------


Federer sis take a bathroom break. Remember that scene the camera caught when a dolly was being pushed by an employee and almost tripped Federer shouldn't he had jumped over it???

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 11:38 AM

*DID instead of "sis", sorry for the misspeling...

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 11:42 AM

I guess people don't really quite get how important was for Djokovic to have broken Federer back for 5-All in the first set. Should Roger have taken that first set 6-4 Djokovic would have been doomed, Roger is not Tsonga...

I also think that if he cares (and I think he does more than he admits) he should play the indoor hardcourt tournament in Rotterdam in mid february because if Nadal happens to take it he will take the world's no.1 ranking from Federer, Dubai is not until the first week in march

Posted by carnap 01/28/2008 at 01:51 PM

I didn't realize that Fed was in hospital for that long. If it's true that he was still having gastrointestinal problems when he played Blake, then maybe it wasn't food poisoning which usually only lasts a couple of days at most. Fed did say that they'd told him he must have eaten some spoiled chicken, but he said he hadn't eaten any chicken. Isn't this the same thing that happened to Tommy Haas and Andy Roddick last year? What are the odds of three top players succumbing to the same illness within less than 12 months of each episode? So much skullduggery going on these days that it begins to play with your head.

Posted by Matt Renoue, DC 01/28/2008 at 02:15 PM

Folks, you are overanalyzing. Fed is a great player, who is yet to confirm his status as the all-time great… And it’s going to get only harder, there are guys waiting in line to take a shot at him.

I wanted to comment on few borderline xenophobic comments about Djokovic – kid is 20! Say it again, let it soak in… OK? Remember some of the greats at age 20? If not, then you are not much of a tennis fan I guess. Djoker is making huge strides, his game doesn’t have any major visible weaknesses and he works hard, prepares for his matches and goes all out. Pleasure to watch him play so confidently! Personally, I can’t wait for the next duel between Fed and him – finally some real tennis, with shades of real rivalry! And I think that is the reason a lot of you are quick to leave such unreasonable and delicate comments about Djoko… but you know what, that’s only your problem. True tennis fans are celebrating.

Posted by SwissMaestro 01/28/2008 at 02:50 PM

nope, certainly not me... I would much rather Federer loosing to someone else. Djokovic has talent and will (that is undeniable) but to me as for many more tennis fans he is way too cocky and arrogant. Why can't players just do what Federer and Nadal do? Be gracious in victory as you are in defeat. Djokovis has to mature as a person (Agassi did right? so why wouldn't he?) until then I only respect him as a player, not admire him a person too.

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