Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Oye Vey, Nole!
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Oye Vey, Nole! 09/09/2007 - 10:34 PM


Novak Djokovic had a date with destiny last night, and he acted pretty much like any normal kid on a first date. He got all dressed up, he rehearsed all of his lines and moves, he got through the early bits and then, when he went in for that kiss good-night he missed his date's face, planted his nose on the doorbell, and in just moments it was all over! The front light was on and dad stood towering in the door - not so fast, buddy!

Of course, Roger Federer had a lot to do with all of this; getting him in the U.S. Open final today was a little like having a first date with Jessica Alba. There are a million ways to blow it. And yesterday, the 20-year old Djoker tried them all, successfully. Ben Stiller couldn't have done a better job in the movie version. Want double-faults at critical times (like in the 6-5 game of Set 1, when Djokovic had triple-set point - and five in all - and ended up losing the game on a double, launching the tiebreaker)? How about tightening up and guiding your shots? You bet! The most egregious examples occurred in the second set, when Djokovic let The Mighty Fed back into the set after building a 4-1 lead.

Suicidal drop shots? Can do! the Djoker threw a few of those in there. . .  You want to screw up your Hawkeye challenges? Did you catch the way Novak wasted his second - and final - challenge of the third set simply because the crowd at his end of the baseline egged him on to officially question an ace Federer hit on a relatively meaningless game-point (TMF was serving at 2-2 in the third). Novak! Nole! Of course the crowd is going to encourage you to challenge, they like looking at the big screen and going "Ouuuuuuuuu" as the ball tracks toward the line, and the result doesn't really affect them, one way or the other.

Oye vey, Nole!

But let me repeat:  It isn't like Djokovic was playing, oh, Gaston Gaudio or Nikolay Davydenko in this final. His first date was with the incomparable Federer, and that certainly had a lot to do with how the evening went.

As the final began, the stadium was bathed in late afternoon sunlight; it's my favorite time of day in Ashe stadium, because the danged place looks like a bowl packed full of colored gumdrops. Just to make sure nobody missed him in the crowd, "Federer"  showed up in outfit he usually reserves for midnight executions, that black get-up that not only has everyone calling him Darth Vadar. In fact, as you probably noticed, they've been playing the theme song from The Empire Strikes Back after his victories - just in case the poor schmoe sitting on the other side of the umpire's chair isn't feeling badly enough already, after having been carved up by TMF's lights saber.

Me, I'm not into this Darth Vader thing, and not just because I couldn't care less about Star Trek or whatever the hail it was. My interpretation of this whole "Roger Federer's dark phase" is that he shows up in  black - day or night, now - because he's attending a funeral. Last week it was Andy Roddick's, today it was Novak Djokovic's.

There is another way funereal black plays into it, and that, too, has less to do with George Lucas (the creator of said Star Wars trilogy) than another, recently deceased Swedish filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman.  This whole dark phase thing would have a little more verisimilitude if you ripped those satin stripes off TMF's shorts (you know, the ones that give him the air of a Park Avenue swell, heading for a banquet at the Walrdorf-Astoria), yanked that Wilson lollipop out of his hands and provided him with a black hoody and a scythe. For this man truly is the Grim Reaper.

Tonight, TMF swung that scythe with brutal efficiency once again, although he nearly loped off his own leg just below the knee in the early going. What I found fascinating about this match was the way it was a service-driven match - with Novak holding his own and then some - right up to that disastrous 12th game in which Djokovic was broken from 40-0 to provide a turning point that was never overturned.

By service-driven, I mean the serve established the parameters of every point played in that long, pleasant, artfully played early stretch. Every shot that was  hit - or not hit - was dictated not by the strategy, proclivity, or relative strength or weakness of either man, but by the serve put into play. That's what happens on a medium-fast court, when two guys who can bring the serve have at each other. This eliminates a lot of shotmaking and strokework, so it wasn't necessarily pretty, and it certainly  lacked the variety you see when the players embark on a rally just to see where it will lead.

But to me this is elegant, syncopated, sensible tennis,  clearly etched on the big screen of the viewer's mind. It was like adjective free writing, or the equivalent of a three-piece rock band instead of Electric Light Orchestra. There's a grandeur about this kind of tennis, and I would have loved to see it continue that way - both men serving big, walking a tightrope of limited possibilities, doing not whatever they felt like doing, but having to choose between limited options and making - or failing to make - simple, clear, towering statement - a critical passing shot here, a ripping service return of a blazing serve at break point.

In those first 11 games, Djokovic created what I believe is the only realistic template for beating TMF: Rocking him with big serves, taking away his time, keeping him from turning the match into a test of skill, versatility and inventiveness. Mind you, I'm not saying you can beat Federer that way - I'm just saying you can't beat him any other way.

And I think even the most diehard Federer KAD had to be squirming a little when Djokovic broke him for a 6-5 lead in the first set; in that game, TMF appeared to succumb to pressure - not the pressure to win the match, or his 12th Grand Slam title, or his fourth U.S. Open, but the far more concentrated and immediate pressure of holding serve against a guy who was easily holding and dictating the pace of his own service games, and going for broke on his returns.

I had just one question I wanted to put to the Grim Reaper after the match, and I almost didn't get to pose it. If you read the interview transcript, you'll see it was the last question - and it produced a quip that made my fellow press pariahs do cartwheels. I asked, "Did he have you back on your heels in the first set at all, really coming on strong? " TMF replied:

Well, I thought he played better in Montréal, to be honest.  Conditions were a bit faster.  It was kind of more hard for me to control, you know, the rallies from the baseline, because it was really fast. But, yeah, I mean, I had one bad game.  That cost me obviously.  I don't know.  I mean, he had his chances today   many of them. You could sing a song about it.  It's a tough one for him to swallow, because especially him losing in the end straight sets, it's tough.

This was, in its own way, a startlingly frank confession, despite the fact that people are still trying to figure out just what Federer meant with that bit about the song. What song would it be? Well, the catalog of tunes mourning lost opportunity, wasted chances, screwing up is quite a thick one, so we'll never really know what TMF had in mind. It's a pity.

I urge you to read both pressers; I'll go back and mine some more material out of them over the coming days. It's funny, I've been trying to put my finger on something in the way Djokovic conducts his press conferences, and I've usually settled for suggesting that he adopts a statesman-like tone that seems simultaneously overly serious and vaguely like parody - like a role-playing high school student, trying to sound Presidential in a civics class. I never felt quite like I had the sensibility nailed until it occurred to me that Djokovic has a remarkable ability to objectify himself; that is, to talk about himself, his game, and events like a detached observer and commentator. I think this gets him in trouble sometimes, because he ends up saying the kinds of things it's better left to others to articulate.


I had this exchange with him in the presser:

Q.  Up until that seventh game you were playing a very high level.  He was as well.  What were you feeling out there?  First Grand Slam final, but you're pressuring him an awful lot and maybe even have the upper hand.  Were you feeling relaxed, like it was easier than you expected?

Djokovic: Well, no.  I expected a difficult match.  And, of course, I was concerned a little bit before the match if I'm going to be able physically to challenge him, and I did.  I did felt pretty good on the start of the match.I was just, you know, holding my serve and trying to wait for my chances, opportunities.  I got them, and in the end I didn't use them.

I couldn't expect, of course, easy match because I'm playing a No. 1 player of the world, you know, in a Grand Slam final.  We all know how good he plays in that Grand Slam finals. He's been there.  He has this experience.  He played already, I don't know, 15 Grand Slam finals, so he knows what it feels like to be in that kind of situation.  He knows how to cope with the pressure.

For me, this is something new, a new situation.  But, you know, again, I have to look positive.  Next time I hope I'm going to hold that trophy.

Taken out of context, some of Djokovic's remarks may sound arrogant. We've seen over the past week that it's a grave mistake to use the "L" word when describing how you were beaten. But, of course, "luck" has become a carrot that the press dangles from the stick of rationalization at every opportunity. Djokovic went there, a little bit, when he described wasting the last of his total of seven set points (this one was in the second set), when he said:

"So, you know, since we got to the court, you know, everybody was holding their serve pretty comfortably. And then, you know, on this important moments obviously I was doing something wrong, and then I missed that shot.  I was a bit unlucky, I can say.  Besides the knowledge, footwork, physical, mental strength, you need a little bit of luck, which today I didn't have."

Of course, that led right down the path to this question, from Cindy Shmerler of The Boston Globe: "You're talking about you being unlucky.  Yesterday Davydenko said of Roger when asked, what's the one thing Roger does best, he said, Lucky.  There were a couple of set points of his that the ball literally landed on the line.  Were you feeling, Wow, this guy really is lucky?"

To which Djoker replied:

As I was saying before, next to all those elements, all the positive strengths you have in your game, in your mind, you need a bit of luck.  I cannot say that he is No. 1 player of the world because he's lucky (laughter).  You know, that's a bit strange to say.

You know, he's a big worker, very talented, a great player.  That's why he deserves to be there where he is.  But, of course, he is lucky and he gets these lines and lucky shots, I can say, because he's going for them.  He's not trying to play safe.  He's really being aggressive.

I waded into this rhetorical quagmire for a specific purpose: to emphasize the easily overlooked but utterly crucial - and perceptive - element in Djokovic's reply - that bit about Federer being aggressive instead of playing it safe. You're not going to clean lines with winners on big points unless you're bold and take the initiative. And very few players are as bold as TMF when it comes to that. It's just a more concrete and specific way of reiterating the notion that luck favors the bold, or, if you prefer, that winners make their own luck.

You wouldn't think the Grim Reaper needs luck, with all he's got going for him, but that's why he's Roger Federer, and everyone else is Nikolay Davydenko.

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Posted by jb 09/09/2007 at 10:52 PM

Great post Pete - I'm just back from reading both pressers. I'm lovin' the questions you posed today, as much as the ones yesterday from Rolo.

These, kolya's presser, 'others-who-will-remain-unnamed', they all have me pondering the question of luck. How much luck is a really a gift from your opponent? Fed was 'lucky' today because of Djoko's inability to capitalize, to seize the moment. How much of that is credit banked by TMF, match in, match out to be able to generate that 'luck'. And when it was Djokovic's turn for some 'luck', Fed didn't oblige... Intersting match, though I'm still mulling it over.

No doubt a nice result though!

Posted by max alvarado 09/09/2007 at 10:57 PM


Posted by Ed McGrogan 09/09/2007 at 11:01 PM

"Of course, Roger Federer had a lot to do with all of this; getting him in the U.S. Open final today was a little like having a first date with Jessica Alba. There are a million ways to blow it."

VERY well said.

Posted by jb 09/09/2007 at 11:03 PM

omg - i was first! er, can I still say 'first - but late'??

love the pic btw - nole holding his trophy all "i got a tray!" and Fed lookin' all "holy crap - i pulled this sucker out in 3"

Posted by Rich Grace 09/09/2007 at 11:12 PM

Great stuff. WHOA. Twelve out of 14 in four years? Sick. He was due for a less than sublime final, and that's exactly what happened (15-16 UFEs in the first set alone, as many as he had in earlier MATCHES). But he finds a way to win. He actually looked a lot like the Fed on winter hard courts this time. But he refused to go down, no matter what. Seven set points against!

It's a privilege to watch him.

Posted by Samina 09/09/2007 at 11:12 PM

Heyyyy Pete,
I think TMF may have meant to say that Djoker had so many chances that you could write a BOOK about it...??? The book could be called "Oh Such Great Expectations"!!! And the L-word, hmmmph, blasphemous to use for TMF's play. He does things that look lucky but he does them so regularly that we finally have to admit that it isn't luck at all. It is TMF's SKILL! Amazing, even after it looked like he wasn't doing well he still won! YOU GO ROGER and YOU GO PETE, keep writing your information loaded, witty, felicitous articles. Oh and good job on "nailing the toast". Your neice's wedding!!!! How old are you anyway???????

Posted by Hop 09/09/2007 at 11:15 PM


Great work over the last two weeks in Flushing!

I believe Roger showed today what truly makes him so great: he can win when he's not playing his very best. This is one of the least recognized aspects of TMF. The first five rounds he was absolute nails (see stats). Although he wasn't quite as sharp Saturday and Sunday, he still got it done as he often does. I don't believe fans understand how difficult this is. At the end of every year, the digit in the "L" column by Roger's name is very small. How many days did Pete, Boris or John come to work and phone it in cause the serve wasn't there? TMF never phones it in.

Moving forward, I think it's time the tennis community (writers included) make the final push for SI's 2007 Sportsman of the Year and get it done for TMF. He's won 3 of 4 majors the last two seasons and is 27-1 in majors each of the last two seasons. Give it up already, the guy has earned it. If he doesn't get it this year, then tennis truly does not command the respect it needs in the sports world.

Thanks again for the coverage and posts!


Posted by Lucy 09/09/2007 at 11:22 PM

Djoko's quite incisive in his pressers. The point about "lucky" shots was well-made: you can only JUST get the line if you hit for the line in the first place.

The forehand Djoko sailed like a millimetre long (and challenged unsuccessfully) when Fed was serving at 5-6, 30-40 in the second was incredibly unlucky though. That moment when Hawkeye upheld the call, to me, is when he knew for a fact that the stars were aligned against him.

From the pressers, these two are clearly lacking creative fulfilment. Fed with his songwriting, Djoko with his upcoming novel "Seven Set Points".

Posted by codepoke 09/09/2007 at 11:24 PM

> But to me this is elegant, syncopated, sensible tennis, clearly etched on the big screen of the viewer's mind.


Had Nole stood taller on two points of that match, it would have been vastly more dramatic, but Roger did stroke for the lines at those junctures and fortune favors the brave! I agree with your analysis and picking of quotes completely.

If I were a Djoko fan, I would have hated that match and I would expect the next GS final to make me much happier. Either way, watching these two placing mental landmines in front of each other for two sets, and then stride through them was awe-inspiring.

Seriously, I have kind of gotten used to watching Fed crumble in those intense moments. I'm still a FedKAD, but I watched him crumble in Montreal and it was not the first time. Seeing him down triple set point in the first was deja vu all over again. And knowing that his winner/error ratio at that moment was 1:2 to the ugly was, exactly as Pete says, like watching a scythe sweeping toward the wrong legs. At that moment, I really figured I was watching Fed give the match away.

Instead, he stood. He was more like a dandelion than an oak, but he stood. He took his cuts at the ball, applied his pressure, and accepted three double-faults as his due. He deserved them for making the pressure land on the other guy when the stakes were finally maxed out. He found the soft backhand and carefully, alternately exposed and avoided it.

BTW - I remember a long argument in Montreal about whose backhand would crumble under pressure.

Now we know. Neither and both. These guys have both passed the stage in their development when attacking their backhand can get into their heads. Their minds crumbled before either of their backhands did. Fed got the pieces of his mind put back in place just in time to capitalize as Djoko's mind fell apart. But when that happened, the little pieces of Djoko's head leaked out his backhand and peppered the net. You can't break through either of these guy's backhands to get to their heads, but if you can get to their heads their backhands will be the first things to go. Any thoughts that Djoko's backhand is too solid to expose are now erased.

I know some people found the match ugly - I think I read "B" level more than once. Not me. If Fed were, as Pete playfully suggests, an android then sure, this would be a disappointing match. That Fed feels and shows fear against a player as heavily armed as Djoko elevates this match to a place of pride, though. Djoko is the real deal, and he hits fearlessly, evenly, and victoriously against Fed's best. Even for TMF, A level under pressure is a rare thing.

For my $$$$$, give me a B level match against the fearsome Nole or Rafa, rather than an A+ against Roddick, Kolya, or any of the other Tier 2 players. That Nole blinked this time was a rookie thing. That Fed played through was a joy to watch.

Posted by Tim 09/09/2007 at 11:28 PM

Pete, thanks for this report, its great to get your inside scoop on another Slam finale ... Fed is just playing scratchy lately so he can show off under pressure, that's my take lol

and yes, to expect Novak to be nails on big points in his first Slam final might have been pushing it a bit; it was a question mark going in, and it proved to be the difference for sure... makes what Nadal did in his first French more remakrable, because he seemed to feel no pressure at all...

Posted by Vu 09/09/2007 at 11:42 PM

well tmf is riding on heaps of confidence and this gives him the mental edge to be agrssive, he even "amazes himself" sometimes remember??? and he uses this amazement to build up even more confidence within himself, so much that he is almost untouchable!!!!!

Posted by Anjali 09/09/2007 at 11:48 PM


Brilliant and incisive post---not sure if the date analogy works for me, but point well-made! I did read both the interviews as well, and was curious about a couple of things. The "you can write a song" quotation has been cited by all, so let's leave that aside for a bit. I want to know what you think about Fed's feistiness during the interview. He seemed punchy and claiming his throne in more aggressive ways than I have ever heard him do before. Your colleague, Steve, on the other blog on your site, commented that Fed seemed bored with the Davydenko match---to me, he seemed more irritated and non-plussed by his own ability to not make shots. All this to say, do you think (as other appear to be saying on ESPN and such) that Fed has actually maxed out his learning curve, and now it's all about mental fortitude. That is, there's not much more he can do to improve his game, the young Turks are catching up, and all he can do now is work their minds into a weak, confused pulp!

Posted by lbk77 09/09/2007 at 11:49 PM

I was actually disappointed in the way Novak played today. Pete, there are actually two major components of a winning strategy against Federer (which you left out from your list) - play lights out defense and play effectively from the left side, that is the backhand side for a rightie. Novak did both these remarkably well in Montreal. But somehow he never got to employ his legs in this match - partly because as you rightly pointed out, this was a service-driven match with few rallies at all. I think another reason was the fatigue that Novak has had this week. Maybe his strategy was that he would be better off trying to take charge offensively rather than play defense. Secondly, he never employed his backhand effectively like he did in Montreal. Federer targeted his backhand with low slices and Novak could not handle these. He did not let Novak hit those lethal backhand down the line shots.

Contrary to what many people think, the turning point of the match was not merely Novak becoming tentative during those set points (and Federer becoming more aggressive). Federer was getting a very good read on Novak's serves. There was a sudden increase in the number of serves he put back in play, starting from the end of the first set. This is why I think the first component of your "beat Federer strategy" namely, rock him with big first serves is an ineffective proposition. Because, Federer almost always gets a read of a server and then you no longer enjoy the edge you did on your serve. He does this time and again. Roger was not even in Novak's service games for most of the first set. But towards the end of the first set, he figured out his serve. This happened to coincide with Novak serving for the first set. By returning his serves effectively, he put immense pressure on Djokovic. This in no simple measure contributed to his "nerves". As the match progressed, it became clear that Novak would never enjoy the luxury he had in the first set on his serve.

Federer, like he alway does, exposed the weaknesses in Novak's game. His inability (except on maybe two occasions during the entire match) to slow down the pace of a rally or change directions mid-rally meant that he was always at the mercy of Federer in the baseline battle. On top of this, he is incapable of venturing to the net.

Djokovic could have challenged Federer only by playing a Nadal/Canas like game, centered on defense and effective use of the backhand (or the leftie forehand in Nadal's case). This strategy is effective on days when Federer's serve and forehand are not on target. Today happened to be one such day. But the problem for Novak is that this defensive strategy almost knocked him out of the tournament. So he was forced to try to take charge of his matches (which is what he did in his matches against Del Potro, Monaco and Ferrer). But it was too much for him to change that basic strategy so soon to play Federer. So he ended up playing a high-risk game solely dependent on his serve and forehand. We all know what happens with that (just ask Roddick). Federer always proves to be slightly better when an opponent plays an offensive game, relying on the serve and forehand. And that is what happened today. Novak squeaking through in the first set would not have changed the outcome, it would have merely changed the course of the match a little bit.

Posted by Pierre Des Joachims 09/09/2007 at 11:55 PM

I really like this post, especially Federer's line " you could sing a song about it...",that's classic.

But I don't think Djokovic was being arrogant at all in the quotes you provided, I think he described his situation correctly: he was saying that *he* needed a little bit of luck at the right times in order to beat Federer, in addition to executing everything else properly. Which is exactly right.

Posted by Ruth 09/10/2007 at 12:01 AM

Most people, including athletes, recognize that luck definitely plays a role in success in most sports. But only certain athletes are able to have everyone understand and accept and even praise their references to the part that luck played in an event in which they participated. Other athletes are blasted for doing so. Isn't that strange and funny? Ah, well!

Posted by FoT 09/10/2007 at 12:08 AM

Great post Pete. I think we've seen Roger win grand slams in every imaginable way from playing his A+ game to playing his C game today. Either way... he finds a way to win except on clay in the grand slam finals.

The amazing part that I don't think is getting enough credit is what Rich said... Roger has won 11 of his 12 slams since 2004:

2004 (3 of 4 slams)
2005 (2 of 4 slams)
2006 (3 of 4 slams)
2007 (3 of 4 slams)

11 out of the last 16 grand slams played!

That has got to be 4 of the most dominant years of any one in sports - not just tennis.

Posted by Sher 09/10/2007 at 12:08 AM

...OR he looks effin' good in black. Not everything has deep psychological underpinnings.

Posted by Miguel Seabra 09/10/2007 at 12:08 AM

Really enjoyed this piece, Pete...

On the light side -- and about Novak Djokovic's remarkable ability to objectify himself like a detached observer and commentator -- here is a funny situation that catches the spirit of the kid:

When he played the Estoril Open in Portugal, we went to Benfica's stadium to watch the Lisbon soccer derby between Benfica and Sporting. Then we went to a party in the Casino Estoril. We passed on a corridor with a large mirror -- he saw himself on the mirror, turned to me and said:

«I look like Brad Pitt... after a car accident»

This Grand Slam final was that minor car accident that'll help him driver safer next time.

Posted by Sher 09/10/2007 at 12:11 AM

lbk77, agree completely.

Posted by Tim 09/10/2007 at 12:14 AM

True FoT, this was his 'worst' form since the AO 06, remember those easy shots he missed agasint baggie to go down a break in the second...somehow, he dug and clawed his way to the title... same here, but I think he played better here, and sure Novak had some errors in there, but Roger hit a forehand winner and a huge return to force an error and an ace to erase 3 of those set points, so it wasnt all a gag fest from Djoker....

the interesting thing here is that the other players clearly have Fed in THEIR heads, and I love it! they admit it, playing a living legend in a Slam final is gonna give anyone pause, i dont care who you are ... and its not like he hasnt worked hard to earn than aura, either...

But this Open will put a real question mark on men's tennis next year, because its clear its close and Fed is being pushed to the limit now...

Shanghai could be pretty wild too...cant wait!

Posted by 张奔斗 09/10/2007 at 12:16 AM

and everyone else is Nikolay Davydenko? Oh that's harsh. What has poor Nikolay done to deserve being singled out like this (maybe your point is he has never done anything)?

I feel that Roger did not really play well this whole tournament. This US Open was somewhat similar to the 2006 Australian Open, where he also struggled from time to time when he shouldn't have and in the end did just enough to win. Of course, Roger's ability to win slams when he is not in top form is testament to his superiority to the rest of the players. This is the third time he has won three slams in a year. This fact alone, I think, makes him the unquestionable GOAT. No one in the Open era was ever this dominant. For tennis fans, it's a privilege to be living in the times of Roger Federer.

Posted by FoT 09/10/2007 at 12:17 AM

Well Tim, I'm heading off to bed (have to go back to work tomorrow after taking the entire week off to watch tennis).... But at least I'm going to bed with a smile.

'night all! Congrats to my fellow Federer KADs!

Posted by Sher 09/10/2007 at 12:18 AM

To me it looked like Federer was half asleep until those crucial points. He walked around, hit some nice shots, dumped a few backhands/forehands you name it, had an average time of it. Then the crucial point came and he looked up and you could read it on his face, "hey, I think I should win this." Looking back on the match I remember that Federer had absolutely no trouble breaking Djokovic's serve when it was important to do so, even though most of the time he let it go at love. Was it nerves? We can't really know. As a big fan though this was for me the least worrying match of the year. I didn't squirm at 6-5 because I knew Federer would come to play. I think the rest of the time he's just disinterested in making the effort, until it's 15-40 on his serve.

Posted by Kara L. 09/10/2007 at 12:24 AM

Federer had been ailing with flu the past couple of matches (Davydenko said as much) and it's true, he is supremely lucky to have gotten through. I felt like this slam was truly a battle of the invalids though, everybody was ailing or injured.

Posted by VE 09/10/2007 at 12:28 AM

After watching that final, I've taken to calling him Nowin Dchokovic. I was nearly on my feet win he broke for 6-5, but once he dropped that game, I knew it wouldn't end well for Serbia's favorite son.

I think the most telling moment of the afternoon happened before a single ball was struck. Mary Joe Fernanadez asked Djoko if this was his dream, and he replied it was his dream to play in a Grand Slam final. The man never said that his dream was to win it or to hold the trophy, but to play it. As if he never even dared to dream about the result.

At the end of the day, this match, as your and every other post-mortem points out, came down to Djoko not believing. Roger Federer is Roger Federer, there's no taking that away from him and there's no unengraving of the Court of Champions wall that will list Federer's name for the fourth successive time, but the match was won and lost in Djokovic's head. Five set points in the first, two in the second, a gamepoint to move to 5-all in the third, almost every time Djokovic replied with an unforced error. Djokovic didn't play like he was in awe of the moment, so much as he played as if he were a participant in a coronation.

If you play with that mindset against Federer, that's exactly what you wind up.

Posted by OTF 09/10/2007 at 12:33 AM

I originally thought TMF was playing passively, but he know Djoko doesnt like off pace balls, so that was purposeful looks like.

TMF sliced so much today. very passive I felt. He won a US open on this surface, playing defense! Only TMF can do such crazy things...

Also, the way Nole lost the first, 7/6, with all those blown chances, was more deadly for him, for the rest of the match, than losing the first set say 6-4 to Fed. The later, you could explain to yourself as, well I played one poor game or he played better, so the set is lost, and then move on. This type of 7-6 loss, he couldnt explain it to himself. Whether Fed planned to make it that close, by playing not too aggressive, even passive at times, is a speculation, but if he did, then this is very dangerous, he is the grim reaper indeed. It is amazing how he can play ho-hum most of the time but "bring it on" at a very short notice suddenly.

And then, the same thing (an ugly 7-6 loss with blown oppurtunities) happens again in the second set, while I was just thinking that Nole did a good job of not letting the devastating loss of first set affect him, to pull away to 4-1. That ones got to seal his hopes and break the will!

One thing I find unbelievable is, I understand Nole is 20yrs, first grand slam, nerves etc. But, all said and done, he has also beaten Fed in a Masters series tournament, that too just now. So, it cant be the big match nerves, I feel. He did play pretty good off the block.

It is the lack of beleif that he can win crucial points and the fear of the "Darth vader" that made him blow it I feel, although he doesnt seem to be admitting it.

For the sake of big match pressure, I can understand 1 setpoint, 2 set point, 3 set points blown, 7 set points? This is something else.

This one is going to stick with him for a while and I am sure Fed will use this in his next match as well...

Posted by Tim 09/10/2007 at 12:38 AM

Isnt this a little bit like Federer having say 12 break points in the French final, and never converting? wins the big points or accept the runner up trophy, end of story, whether youre federer or djokovic or koyla...

Posted by Mo 09/10/2007 at 12:42 AM

This is the first time I read your post Pete. What a treat !! Thank you so much. I enjoyed every word you write. I shall be reading it every day from now on. I thank the person who introduced me here. Good writing, good information, good humour , good day!!

Posted by Beckham 09/10/2007 at 12:43 AM

errr just saw this little gem...

*Djokovic's mother, Dijana, later said that her son is "better" than Federer and chalked up the defeat to a long season and inexperience.*

Posted by Fed Fan 09/10/2007 at 12:47 AM

It was more like 17 wasn't it?

Posted by btennis 09/10/2007 at 12:54 AM

Grim Reaper Federer's scythe could have been sharper and swifter. Both Lopez and Roddick offered better tennis than Djokovic.

Posted by Sam 09/10/2007 at 01:01 AM

"He got all dressed up, he rehearsed all of his lines and moves, he got through the early bits and then, when he went in for that kiss good-night he missed his date's face, planted his nose on the doorbell, and in just moments it was all over! "

What a great opener, Pete! I enjoyed this post.

Regarding the luck segment of your post, I think the great ones "make" their own luck:
"Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. "
Seneca (Roman philosopher, mid-1st century AD)

Posted by Pete 09/10/2007 at 01:06 AM

Thanks, Mo, and welcome! Have a seat and Heidi will get you a GE!

Posted by btennis 09/10/2007 at 01:09 AM

"Djokovic's mother, Dijana, later said that her son is "better" than Federer and chalked up the defeat to a long season and inexperience."

Oh, please.

Posted by Sher 09/10/2007 at 01:16 AM

Definetly it's the same, Federer blowing those points at FO and Djokovic blowing them just now. The thing that Federer has going for him has been pointed out recently by Steve I believe: those 5 or 10 or 17 breakpoints are just a measly number among all the other ones that he WON. Whereas for Djokovic there are only so many set points he's won in a grand slam final to remember.

But I think he's been remarkably good at recovering from loses this year. Whether it's the same to recover from Miami to Indian Wells as it is in a Grand Slam final I don't know, but I don't see him taking a big setback. It's still a big success for him, eitherway, to be in the final.

Posted by Tim 09/10/2007 at 01:21 AM

this is a HUGE success for Djoker, no question...he pushed the legend in his first Slam final, this keeps huge pressure off him a little longer but came out a true star, and so its probably a perfect result for a 20 year old...

Posted by Tim 09/10/2007 at 01:25 AM

one thing on Enberg... yeah he messed up a few times, blah blah, but who else do we thinkg would be better in the achor role? Tim Ryan? Pam Shriver? Ted Robinson? Do we want Chris Fowler in that role? I think he slips up but still does a good job overall, mostl because i cant think of anyone who would make it a better telecast...

im open to suggestions, of course :)

Posted by Or 09/10/2007 at 01:38 AM

Well, I loved Roger's presser.

First - in depth words about the outfits. "I won't wear yellow" and "I see a lot of shirts out there I don't like" - he's being a smart and sensible man :) and I guess he figures out all black is better than that ugly stripes Nole was sporting.

Then, he got fiercly protective of his number 1 spot, more than ever, I think - for a while I was amazed it didn't look like he was afraid of losing it, when Rafa kept adding tournaments, looked so strong after Wimby, and threatened to go deep in the HC series, I was amazing Roger wasn't doing the same. Whether he knew Rafa's health would self destruct, or just knew that no matter what Rada does, his own health come first and it's defending the points he does have that counts... the idea of tri-rivlary both excite him and worries him, hence the cold fingers and the sleepless nights.

I am not sure what Roger thinks of Djoko at this point. More respect, for sure - and I don't know if it's a good or a bad thing for Roger's game at crunch time - but it's just so interesting how they obviously DON'T click personally, amazing.

I know Roger was a bit of a goof-ball, he is known to be able to joke in the lockeroom - what is rubbing him off wrong about Nole? Because obviously something is. The arrogance? I don't think that's just it, he admitted it himself that's how young guys suppose to be. Maybe it's just the instinctive reaction of a guy trying to steal your crown and talking about it so much (Rafa 'he's favorite, no?' and Djoko 'I want to be the number 1 player in the world', compare and contrast). Maybe it is simply because he didn't see it coming? He thought Murray or Gasquet would get them first?

They make a way more interesting rivlary than Rafa and Roger, who quite clearly simply flove one another.

Posted by shintaro 09/10/2007 at 01:47 AM

Djokovic's mother is dreaming and can not accept the fact that her son still has a lot of rice to eat. If they don't know how to accept defeat and can not accept the fact that her son is way below the level of tmf, then i don't expect djokovic winning any grand slam because they think djokovic's game is enough to win him a slam. The fact is he needs more... of everything and the parents needs some class. They are like barbarians.

Posted by sally 09/10/2007 at 01:52 AM

djoker's mother is another classless person, she should get together with serena.

Posted by james 09/10/2007 at 01:54 AM

When I saw the parents of Djokivich in the stand, I knew then where djokovich inherited his arrogance and classless act. You would see the difference when they are showing federe's camp.
You could see how classy federer's camp while djokovic's capmis the contrast. I can not imagine how big will be the heads of Djokovic's family will be if Djoko wins a slam.

Posted by randomtester 09/10/2007 at 02:16 AM

well this was way better than the women's final no? I was hoping for straight sets and I did get it, but Djokovic did make me sweat while watching him play Roger (you can imagine that Fed would have been feeling tons more of that pressure, but then he's Darth Vader: "good, are not a Jedi yet!") we can always leave it to the Big Boss to deliver the W.

Posted by Rich Grace 09/10/2007 at 02:22 AM

Djoko's mom just gave a nice juicy quote for Fed to hang on his locker next year.

Posted by OTF 09/10/2007 at 02:23 AM

regarding Nole being better than Fed (his mother's comment):

we have to remember Fed didnt play his best, and still won in straight sets. In fact, he was downright awful for his standards, yet won in straight sets.

Nole knows this...

Fed doesnt show his A or even A- game unneccessarily. He plays the B game or less, if he knows it will get the job done, and just plays A game in flashes. It is an unbeleivable ability.

It is possible that eventually Fed will fade due to age and these upstarts will come up and improve some time. And Nole does have the basic game and talent.

But not any time soon, unless Fed relaxes the grip...

And Nole might win a slam or two even, but he is certainly not going to be discussed in the GOAT debate for sure, I am fairly certain about that (unless he completely goes off the handle miraculously).

So, I dont know what his mom is trying to say.

Sounds quite a "sour grape" thing, they seem to have a history for it. It must be in the water in Serbia.

Posted by FedFan_2007 09/10/2007 at 02:31 AM

This one is going to stick with him for a while and I am sure Fed will use this in his next match as well...
Posted by Tim 09/10/2007 @ 12:38 AM

Isnt this a little bit like Federer having say 12 break points in the French final, and never converting? wins the big points or accept the runner up trophy, end of story, whether youre federer or djokovic or koyla...


Not to mention Nadal at Wimby, having Fed 15-40 in 2 straight service games. Nadal chokes just as much as anyone else...

Posted by jj 09/10/2007 at 02:58 AM

ASTONISHING statement from his Mother...

Louis Pasteur on Luck which is particularly appropos for Fed: "Luck favors the Prepared Mind."

Posted by jj 09/10/2007 at 03:02 AM

Correction - Pasteur said "Chance Favors the Prepared Mind", but Viva La Diff..

Posted by hoy 09/10/2007 at 03:22 AM

Djokovic is the male version of Henin. Hungry, ambitious, willing to do anything just to snatch a win, including little tricks on court to disrupt opponents' rhythm, injury timeouts, blatant lies (e.g. Henin vs Serena at 2003 FO) etc. People like this are not worthy of their sport, no matter how many titles they win.

Posted by FedFan_2007 09/10/2007 at 03:42 AM

I thought being ambitious to win was admirable trait in sports.

Posted by Katja 09/10/2007 at 04:02 AM

Comm'on guys. Like you do not know what mothers are like. She just think her son is the best, as all mothers in the world are thinking (at least the normal ones)

Nole played very well and paid for his inexperience. In one moment he shouted at him self in Serbian: Release you hand, the f***. He was tied up a bit, and scared of possible victory. It was his first grand slam final, and the next will be better, for sure. I mean, he is just 20.
All of us in Serbia ware on the edge of hart attack at the end of the first set, and again in the second. Did you noticed the situation in the first set, it was 6-5, 40:0 for him, he was serving and judges yelled “Out” for his serve. He wanted to challenge it and then gave up of it. Probably he thought that there is not need to challenge it when you have 40:0, or 40:15. and he paid for it.

But nobody is saying anything about Sharapova. Just friends? Let’s see. For now it looks like we well have 3 Serbian girls: Jelena, Ana and Maria

Posted by 09/10/2007 at 04:21 AM

VE, Excellent post at 12:28. Djokovic, now Chokovic, deservedly, has the game but still lacks the champion mentality. He just utterly fell apart with unforced errors whenever it counted. The match was on his racket. Federer really didn't any say in the matter. He could only hang in there and hope the inexperienced first timer would choke and that's exactly what happened. Still it was surprising to see that Novak did not learn from the first choke and steady himself a little bit when the next crucial moments came.

Djokovic's mother has a point. Her son performed like a much better player than Federer for most of the match. He was actually mentally stronger than Federer for most of the match. His mental weakness emerged only whenever he needed to close sets out. It's unlikely he could have won even if he made it to match point. Wilander won his first final at 17. Djoko is 20 yrs but far less developed mentally. It's a shame to see someone play so well and throw it all away. It was all on his racket but the belief was just not there. Possibly if it had been a semifinal he would have beaten Federer in straight sets but he certainly showed that skill-wise he was capable of shutting out Roger completely.

I suspected he was more like Nadal and the only other player on the tour who truly believes he can beat Federer but he really fell hard and flat when it counted.

Posted by Or 09/10/2007 at 04:31 AM

I totally disagree Nole outplayed Roger.

Most of his BP changes came out of Roger making mistakes (like the BP in the first set, where Roger miscalculated on the wind, that volley that went on - Roger had the point in his firm grasp).

I think their level was more or less consistent and equal, they were both tense out there, both playing with the weight of the world on their shoulder, and Roger's oak solid mentality helped him when Nole's failed him.

This was a 3 setter, we can't know what would have happened had Nole taken the first set, it is possible he would have won, it is more possible, IMHO - that it would have caused Roger to up his level considerably, take more risks and we would have seen a better match - four setter, but less tight.

Posted by burger 09/10/2007 at 04:58 AM

hoy said:
"Djokovic is the male version of Henin. Hungry, ambitious, willing to do anything just to snatch a win, including little tricks on court to disrupt opponents' rhythm, injury timeouts, blatant lies (e.g. Henin vs Serena at 2003 FO) etc. People like this are not worthy of their sport, no matter how many titles they win."

The amount of idiotic posts i see here...

Did he take injury timeouts now? Did he bounce the ball for too long? And being ambitious is ofcourse wrong, because everyone should be pleased with their current rank.
Yea i guess he'll stop playing now cuz he's not worthy.

And I agree with Katja, what does it matter what his parrents say?

Posted by kad1 09/10/2007 at 05:04 AM

Hingis is not the only one who brings bad times to her "just friends"/boyfriends/... We all know what happened to Roddick, who was linked with Maria. Nole better watch out!!!

Posted by Or 09/10/2007 at 05:21 AM

Loved that part from Garber's article on ESPN:

"Federer, clearly, is growing more comfortable in his role of tennis' leading man.

An hour before the match, seven-time Grand Slam titlist John McEnroe walked through the locker room and was stunned to see Federer wearing his all-black evening outfit.

"Are you serious?" asked McEnroe, aware that black tends to make the warm sun feel even hotter.

Federer smiled and nodded.

"Very gutsy," McEnroe said.

Bring the heat, Darth Federer seemed to be saying, I am not afraid to be the villain."

I love that :) I can just picture Jmac expression.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 05:39 AM

"If I were a Djoko fan, I would have hated that match ".... Well, no. It was certainly hard to watch that first set go away, but Novak didn't just lie down and die, he stayed in there with TMF, although yes, he had all those heartbreaking missed chances. But even when he had a cathartic moment and threw his racket down, we learned that his vibration dampener thingymebob hasn't a logo from his racket or strings company, but rather, a smiley face. Oh, Novak, you missed the Rave Party at the fortress a couple of weeks ago back home!

Miguel, my dear, thanks for that funny story from Estoril.

The smiley face and the "Brad Pitt... after a car accident" quip are two examples of just how completely different Djoko is from JuJu, La Trollette.

For whoever thinks he is not worthy of the sport, would you have preferred a final against Roddick? YAWN.... Anyway, the point is moot, because Roddick didn't make it to the final. Djokovic did. How can one not be worthy when you must win matches to keep going in a given tournament?

As for Maria being in his box, while I love the idea of Novak "getting the cute girl", I suspect she was just there giving a little bit of Eastern European support and maybe trying to get back the sexy accent she's lost.

Posted by J 09/10/2007 at 05:45 AM
Posted by JVC 09/10/2007 at 05:52 AM

With the emergence of Novak and some young but talented players, we can look forward to a more competitive and interesting tennis next year. However, I 'd like to see Federer accomplish the following next year and I do believe, he can:
1. Complete his career GS calendar by winning FO 2008.
2. Tying if not surpassing Sampras' record of 14 GS titles
3. Tying or even surpassing Agassi's Masters title (if my memory serves me right, Agassi has 17 while Fed has 15).
4. Reach that 60-tile mark (he has 51 so far includin this 07 USO).

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 06:04 AM

"When I saw the parents of Djokivich in the stand, I knew then where djokovich inherited his arrogance and classless act. You would see the difference when they are showing federe's camp.
You could see how classy federer's camp while djokovic's capmis the contrast. I can not imagine how big will be the heads of Djokovic's family will be if Djoko wins a slam."

Hello, I saw Federer's "beard", Mirka, chewing gum with her mouth open and texting to her girlfriends, probably asking how late the Cubby Hole stays open on a Sunday. I saw some guy jumping up and down like a 6-year-old girl in Fed's box. Federer's "Camp" - you hit the nail on the head.

I think it's classy to be who you are and not hide; I think Roger's hiding. I've thought a lot about this before, but looked at it again with fresh eyes last night. And my Gaydar is known to be perfect, folks.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 06:19 AM

Tying if not surpassing Sampras' record of 14 GS titles - Oh, yes, JVC! I've been looking forward to that day for years now.

p.s. 3 little Swiss flags on his tennis shoes? The tuxedo shorts? Come on, that goes beyond "metrosexuality". And Mirka, I hear Sandra's in town - or maybe you bumped into her last night.... Come on out, people. BJK had to, Original Martina had to. Don't be so shy, be yourselves. It's New York City!

Posted by Pierre Des Joachims 09/10/2007 at 07:22 AM

Tina: Reeeowwwww!
Pull those claws in.

Posted by Tari 09/10/2007 at 07:27 AM

Pete: I loved this piece. You captured it perfectly, and I think it's really cool that you asked the question that brought out the "song" quote. I read that presser last night, and that quote really stuck with me. I was so intrigued by that!

Posted by Tari 09/10/2007 at 07:28 AM

And welcome back, codepoke! Enjoyed your post here. :)

Posted by Hoho 09/10/2007 at 07:56 AM

This joker named "tina" sounds like Djokovic's mother posting under a pseudonym here. Speaking of sour grapes, mama Djokovic, attacking people's sexuality because you can't beat them on the tennis court? Is this the best you could come up with? Unfortunately for you, you'll have to feed on sour grapes for a long time, because Djokovic will be beaten soundly over and over again by The Mighty Fed. Your kid is a classless little [edited] who thinks he can win slams with fake injury timeouts. Too bad for him, he is simply not good enough. Try as he may, he will never come close to Federer's heights. Federer will go down in history as the GOAT, while Djokovic will go down as the joker.

Posted by Andrew 09/10/2007 at 08:03 AM

tina: very classy! Not...

Pete: enjoyed the post. Great analogy - and we all know that blowing your first date doesn't mean a lifetime in a monastery. Ray/Asad and I saw Djokovic blow his first Masters against Nadal from nerves at IW. Hasn't seemed to damage the lad's confidence too much.

For long stretches of the match, Djokovic looked more comfortable than Federer. So if I were Mrs Djokovic, I'd be saying something similar. The only problem is, tennis is a sport where you can't win matches if you can't win sets, and you can't win sets if you don't win set points. I couldn't care less about the number of break points a player doesn't convert. I care passionately about set points. After last night, Djokovic may feel the same way.

I was startled by how often Djokovic passed Federer on the baseline, sometimes with shots that Federer didn't attempt to track down. I did have a strong sense that Federer was hoarding his energy throughout the match: he didn't seem to step up a gear in the second or the third sets, which seemed odd. No one really followed up on this line afterwards, and in the end it doesn't matter. Only the score stands.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 09/10/2007 at 08:12 AM

you can't "chocke" and be "mentally stronger" at the same time: it's nonsensical.The Djoker's tennis was outclassed at crunch times, simple.

I was surprised by the quickness of it all and expected a much more aggressive act from Djoko. What happened out there? It was the Fed who "attacked" like a predator while Djoko was just too awed by the moment to regroup. Still, it was great to watch. The hierarchy of the jungle was duly respected.

I think Djoko's mom should be cut some slack: (a) he really IS a great player and (b) A MOTHER IS A MOTHER: what should we expect her to say after such a moment??? "no, actually I like federer better than my son who didn't deserve to win...". Come on....

I missed Rafa though.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 08:17 AM

Look, I never said I was the Queen of the Classy Club - but I call a spade a spade. I really adore TMF, I don't write from a place of sour grapes at all. And I completely agree, Andrew, that only the score stands. I was certainly disappointed that Djoko missed his opporunities in this match, but for him to say in his presser that his next book will be called "7 Set Points" showed how he was handling this loss.

HoHo, if you only knew my cred when it comes to supporting people's sexuality - I was an early member of ACT-UP, I marched on Washington, I got arrested for the cause, I could go on. It's certainly not anyone's sexuality that would bother me, and I would hardly call what I said "attacking" in any event - I was only saying that it's New York City. Nobody would bat an eyelash. This is the land of Will & Grace. But it's also the land of the "Tom Cruise, Come out of the Closet" episode of South Park. But you and me are free to be you and me.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 09/10/2007 at 08:21 AM

also, I think Nikolay is a better player than most like to acknowledge and it's a bit unfair to limit his contribution in NY to punchlines.

He did reach the semis for a second year in a row after completely discombobulating Haas. He pushed the fed in more ways than not and LOST to him while his integrity is being questioned. o,yes he should be ridiculed for that.

very unfair I must repeat.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 09/10/2007 at 08:23 AM

tina: do you also believe that tom & katie's baby looks like an alien? and that katie was abducted by the scientologists?

This is New York AND Hollywood after all.

Posted by codepoke 09/10/2007 at 08:26 AM

> Fed doesnt show his A or even A- game unneccessarily. He plays the B game or less, if he knows it will get the job done

I'm curious how many people think this statement applies to yesterday. Count me in the NOT column. I don't think Fed would say he brought his B game yesterday, and I don't think he had any wonderful shots hidden in his racket purse in case Nole played well. Nole PLAYED BRILLIANTLY until the moment grabbed him at the throat. Federer said it perfectly in his presser. He had surrendered the first set - and I will add - to the better player.

Fed did not win with this B game last night. He won with a severely pressed A+ game. Even Fed's A+ game suffers under A+ pressure, and Fed faced that for almost a full set. He then faced A- pressure for another portion of a set.

Dude gave us his best out there, and insulting it flatters neither him nor his opponents.

[Thanks, Tari. :-) I was under the impression you were there for Blake/Santoro. Or was it another night?]

Posted by ACS 09/10/2007 at 08:34 AM

Frankly, the way things unfolded over the weekend just made me appreciate the way Nadal takes it to Federer and refuses to give into the pressure of playing the number one player in the world. If either the number 4 or 3 players had Nadal's fortitude over the weekend, we could have been treated to come great matches. Instead, both the semis and finals felt uneventful and left me pining the Mallorcan, a feeling I have never had before. It's funny how a few poorly played games (mentally and physically) can change the way you feel about an otherwise well played match.

Posted by Andrew 09/10/2007 at 08:45 AM

codepoke: well, I guess your mileage and mine vary. I was under the impression that Federer was making unforced errors (not under pressure from opponent's shot), not putting his foot on the accelerator, and generally playing well within himself. For me, an A+ Federer rolls anyone except Nadal at an A level on clay. Djokovic was playing solid tennis for much of the match, but he wasn't having to fight to stay alive.

Very possibly, that was the best Federer was able to do. It is absolutely not a slap aimed at a player (or team) to say that they don't bring their A game every match. It's like saying you can decide to hit an ace - no-one can do this. If you could, you'd do it every time.

Whether from an undisclosed ailment, spin of Fate's wheel, the occasion, or some other source, Federer didn't play throughout the match as well as he's able to. It really doesn't matter, because he was able to win - in straight sets, yet. I think one honors, not insults, a man by saying that he found a way to win without having his best stuff.

It's one way you go 301/21 since 2004 without having your A+ game (except in the losses). Peace.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 08:52 AM

Since I've been asked, I wouldn't say that Katie Holmes was "abducted" by Scientologists, but I might say she was seduced by the Fame and Power enough to drop her Roman Catholic upbringing mighty quickly. I don't know what the spawn looks like. But, Original Frenchie, do you actually know what Scientologists believe? Do oyu know what their "bible" tells them? What they pay to have their "Audits" done?

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 08:59 AM

p.s. I missed Davydenko's match on Super Saturday, but I'll agree that he doesn't yet get the respect he deserves.

Posted by skip1515 09/10/2007 at 09:00 AM

Tina, no one's questioning your cred. This isn't about you.

BJK and Martina were both outed by ex-lovers. Let's not give them credit where it's not due. They each have plenty coming their way on their own merits.

If Federer is gay, and I *mean* if, it's his right to be out or not. Would I be interested, in a People Magazine way, to know if he was? Okay, yeah, sure. But this is tennisworld, not People Magazine, and he's not making any homophobic statements that would be hypocritical if the "truth" were known.

And besides, isn't his sexuality is beside the point, or isn't that what sexual freedom, consensual sex between adults, etc., is about?

In the end your evidence, such as it is, has no more validity that Pete's "claim" that Federer's an android. At least Pete's column had a significant point.

Posted by jb 09/10/2007 at 09:04 AM

Geez - lighten up on Novak's mom. She's entitled to think her son is the best at anything she wants.

It seemed to me Fed was hitting off pace balls all nite. He was slicing the backhand, and just hitting 'easy' forhands; driving through very few of his shots.

Jmac (? i think?) said Fed couldn't handle Djokovic's pace. I'm not thinking that's true, Fed typically absorbs pace and sends it back with interest. Seemed more that Fed was deliberately slowing every down and NOT giving Djokovic anything to feed off of. Any pace in those rallies was generated by the Djoker which has got to get tiring. Fed drove through very few of his shots - and seemingly, only when necessary.

The match seemed more even in retrospect, except in the tie breaks, which is where it counted. It may because the match wasn't played as we all 'expected' that its being labeled by some as 'not great tennis.'

I may be totally wrong of course... but thas ok, Fed apparently knew what he was doing.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 09:16 AM

skip1515: you're completely right. I know it's not about me. And yes, I remember well how things went down with BJK and Navratilova.

I am a Federer fan and am truly enjoying his success and supremacy on the tour, in addition to his wonderful sportsmanship. I was only responding to ridiculous statements about the parents of Djokovic, who can't really be blamed for supporting their son and believing in him, can they? Or for blurting out some things in the aftermath of this defeat. It seems normal to me, not "classless." I do think that Federer is an extremely classy guy, but that doesn't mean I think the folks supporting Djokovich are without class themselves.

I should hope Pete's column had a significant point - it's his blog, after all. I'm just another member of the Tribe.

p.s. I gotta plead jet leg, too.

Posted by The Original French(ie) 09/10/2007 at 09:18 AM

tina: actually in the country of mine we do have a very good understanding of what ron hubbard has been proselytizing and the way people are recruited. I am not interested.

Posted by Pierre Des Joachims 09/10/2007 at 09:20 AM

Wow, aliens, Tom Cruise, scientologists, Gaydar, androids...was anything missed?

I think it all is great, but one point, the tuxedo stripes, there was absolutely nothing wrong with those, they looked fine, OK????

But when you really come down to it, sometimes in tennis, one player is just somewhat better than the other. It doesn't mean he will win every time, but it shapes how the match will turn out more often than not. That is how you get those 7-6 sets that Federer has won so often this summer.

But nonetheless, hasn't Djokovic had a great summer? He beat Federer this summer, he made it to the U.S. open finals, everything is going according to schedule. He has backed up all his earlier confidence and even all the comments his family have made.

By the way, Federer overtook Nadal in the points race.

Posted by Tari 09/10/2007 at 09:24 AM

Very interesting, jb! I love that analysis. Man, you are a smart cookie, girl! ;-)

And, commenting on other posts here...I really could not care less about Roger's sexuality. Really. I see two people that seem very happy together, and the rest is none of my business...but then I'm not into peeping into people's private lives. *shrugs*

Codepoke: Alas, was not at that match. :( I did not have Ashe tickets. But I must say I was thrilled with the grounds passes!
I highly recommend this tournament. (See you in Cincy next year!)

Posted by Sam 09/10/2007 at 09:48 AM

skip: Wait, so Fed's not an android?

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 09:56 AM

Tari: congrats on the grounds passes! There's nothing quite like having grounds passes in Queens, is there? (You didn't miss a thing by not being inside Ashe - indeed, I actually prefer the grounds pass at this tournament.)

For the record, I also couldn't care less about Federer's (or anyone's) sexuality. He's a tennis Champion beyond compare. That's all that really matters.

Posted by Sam 09/10/2007 at 10:03 AM

Grounds passes are much better. Ashe is a horrible venue for watching tennis if you're in the higher levels.

Posted by zola 09/10/2007 at 10:05 AM

Congratulations to all Fed Kadz.
Federer did not play his best but he came up with the better shots at the times that mattered. It was not a matter of how, but when and how many sets...and fed did it in straight sets.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 10:40 AM

"Ashe is a horrible venue for watching tennis if you're in the higher levels."

I suppose it's not still possible to throw that guy in the corner a fiver and sit in that unused USTA box. That was in the pre-Ashe days, I guess. But I have seen a couple of matches in Ashe, and I agree with Sam. A tennis fan is better off watching the Jumbotron outside the court than sitting in the Ashe nosebleed seats. I'm sorry I wasn't around for the first week action - but happy I returned for at least the TV coverage just the nick of time.

Pete: your blog is really, really fun, and it keeps getting better. Thanks to you and to all the guest posters (Asad, Andrew, Steve - hope I haven't missed anyone?)

Posted by Tari 09/10/2007 at 10:41 AM

Grounds passes were the way to go for me, Tina. :) Thanks. Yeah, I think I'd do the same next year as well. Money well spent!

Posted by CM 09/10/2007 at 10:43 AM

A good morning to everyone. And an even better morning for us Fed KADs! Whew...that final had me in knots for most of it. I even phoned Tari after Roger got broken in the first set because I just needed to vent. I hate it when Roger gifts a game (and most likely the set, I was thinking). Tari was much calmer than me. Luckily Roger broke back while we were still on the phone. At that point, memories of Montreal were coming to me. Hadn't Roger served for the first set at Montreal 6-5 and 40-0? All of a sudden, I was thinking that maybe that was a good sign for the tiebreak. Shockingly it was.

There's no doubt that Djokovic showed some massive nerves in this match, but Roger showed massive mental strength to endure going down breaks in both the 1st and 2nd sets, to endure all those set points against, and then to endure a 0-40 game in the third set! WOW! That is something.

So big congrats to my boy Roger on his 12th GS title! And to win the Wimbledon-US Open back-to-back 4 years in a row! Surely that is right up there with Borg's FO-Wimbledon back-to-back three straight years. Congrats to Djokovic as well for making his first GS final - surely more will follow.

As for his mother's comments, well, she is obviously cut from the same cloth as her husband. 'Nuff said.

And another thing...not sure about the whole Novak camp wearing matching shirts. A little cheesy if you ask me. Can you imagine Roger or Rafa's camps doing that? Not.

Posted by svelterogue 09/10/2007 at 10:45 AM

thank you thank you pete for that last bit on djoko (and davydenko's) use of the "L" word.

Posted by ptenisnet 09/10/2007 at 10:48 AM

I thought Federer was quite content to keep the ball in play and give nole a long enough rope to hang himself and nole just obliged. Just on the points that mattered.
You can probably count on one hand the number of times that Federer actually went after Nole on returns as well as duing rallies.
I am not entirely sure this was all driven by nole though. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that he wasn't playing his A game.

Posted by codepoke 09/10/2007 at 10:54 AM


> I was under the impression that Federer was making unforced errors (not under pressure from opponent's shot), not putting his foot on the accelerator, and generally playing well within himself.

I can see why you'd say that. My impression was that Federer was being cleanly outplayed until the choke. We agree that Fed was playing less than A+. The discussion is why he was less than A+. I assume it was because Djoko was keeping him tight, that Fed came with his A+ mind and A+ prep but Djoko's power, placement and timing kept Fed from relaxing enough to show his brilliance. You seem to assume that Fed was having a B day, and muscled through it. I can accept either of those analyses (even if I prefer my own. :-)

What I was taking issue with, really, was the thought that Fed had his A+ game in his hip pocket and he never brought it out because he didn't feel pressured enough to resort to it. That seems insulting to both players and disregarding of the facts. Fed admitted he had mentally conceded the first set! I mean, Come on?!

Sampras won his last two slams during his decline in interest and performance. The game no longer held enough of his heart to command his whole life, and he started losing matches. He overcame that twice for GS wins. Fed's trajectory seems like it will be a lot more interesting - a LOT more interesting. It looks like Fed is going to hang tough even as people rise up who can beat him. This is the way it should be, but FedKADs are going to have to brace themselves for the fact that younger, stronger, braver players ARE going to start coming along and beating the GOAT. It's gonna happen folks. It's just when.

Posted by codepoke 09/10/2007 at 10:58 AM

Sounds like a good call, Tari. I'll look forward to Cincy.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 11:02 AM

CM: the Djokovic camp wearing matching shirts was completely cheesy, absolutely - which was exactly why I loved it so. You're right, it's impossible to imagine Rafa's or Roger's camps doing that. Which is what made it so lovable, for me, at least. Serbs are a very proud people, lacking in love from the rest of the world. Today I shall bake a sheetcake with my Serbian rice-paper cake-topper. I'm proud for them, too.

Posted by Matt Zemek 09/10/2007 at 11:03 AM

I don't think there's much of a debate about Fed conserving energy.

The groundies exchanged for much of the first two sets were not clocked. It felt like a Roddick match, frankly. The pace off the ground was medium, with only a few high-voltage exchanges throughout the match.

Fed clearly respects Djokovic's court coverage, and just 23 hours after having finished a physically demanding semifinal, Fed's body wasn't as fresh as it normally would be. Last year, by comparison, Fed played his semifinal early, and he beat Kolya in less than two hours with much more economical tennis. Ergo, he was much more energetic in the 2006 final.

Fed--as we know--loves the sport and follows it when he's not playing (he stayed up late to watch the Ferrer-Nadal match on TV, for example). Surely, he knew that the prospect of hour-long sets was very realistic against Novak, so with this in mind, he placed a lot of importance on having enough in the tank for a four-hour, five-set match. Fed always counts on having enough energy for the long haul--this tennis virtue works against him vs. Nadal because Fed needs to be aggressive and attack the Mallorcan on red clay, instead of trading backhands and playing long points on Rafa's terms.

But against Djokovic, this was smart, especially since the Serb was in his first slam final and was burning off a lot of emotional energy throughout the match.

It should not be surprising that Fed wasn't able to physically perform the way he might have wanted to, but from a mental standpoint, Fed purposefully--and smartly--didn't want to overextend his body or give his opponent any idea that Fed had little left in the tank. Fed played this match with an eye on five sets, but he happened to win in straights. If Fed had lost the first set, there's no question in my mind that you'd have seen Fed ramp up the energy level dramatically. But when he won the first set, there became little reason for Fed to increase his energy level or start crushing groundies the way he did against Djokovic in Melbourne, when Roger was truly breathtaking.

Pete's right--Roger played sensible tennis. It wasn't beautiful to watch, but Fed surely played this match perfectly in terms of marshalling his energy and stamina, and not showing overt signs of weakness to Djokovic. Fed mentally cracked at times by dumping easy shots, but in terms of the larger mental battle, Fed made all the right moves. It was fascinating to see that jujitsu play out on the Ashe Stadium court.

Posted by Snoo Foo 09/10/2007 at 11:05 AM

"he adopts a statesman-like tone that seems simultaneously overly serious and vaguely like parody - like a role-playing high school student, trying to sound Presidential in a civics class."

aw, great line pedro.

what happened in here? overnight mirka is a lesbian and mrs. djokovic is the wicked witch of the east for saying what every (good) mother of every runner-up in the history of contests has said.

Posted by CM 09/10/2007 at 11:07 AM

Codepoke...of course eventually Fed will start to lose more often as the younger guys come up and as he gets older. That's just the natural lifecycle of professional athletes. There's nothing we Fed KADs need to prepare for. We know that. And honestly, I've been watching sports passionately for many years and I'm used to the drill.

I know how blessed I am as a Fed KAD. I know that it is not normal for a tennis player to make 10 straight GS finals. I know it is not normal to win 3 GS a year in three different years (so far). I know I'm watching a legend. I don't take it for granted and I know it will slow down and stop one day. But not yet. So, I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

Posted by Bob 09/10/2007 at 11:12 AM

I thought Novak played really good tennis, and after Federer had that fairly lousy tennis in the first set, he didn't play badly. He was certainly lucky not to have lost the first set. When a top server like Novak squanders five set points on his serve, that's good luck, since he has the ability to hit an ace at any time, no matter how good you return. Federer did dial in his returns better as the match went on, and was clearly the better player, but Djokovic has in my mind established he's #2 on the hard courts. He's great off both sides, which gives him weapons Roddick and some others don't have.

Slam final pressure affected both of them, particularly Novak when he was in very huge situations, and cost him that first set, but he played well enough that it should have been a four set win.

Federer showed again that he's the best player ever to pick up a racquet. All of these players keep throwing everything they have at him, and whether he's at his best or not, he takes them all out. I thought his play improved as the match went on, despite that onslaught from Djokovic.

Fortune is always a factor in sports. It may even out over the course of a career (or season), but in any match it won't. Even when Federer was struggling, I always felt (and always do) that he can notch it up a bit if he needs to. He never needed to today, since things went his way. He is just amazing.

Posted by tina 09/10/2007 at 11:15 AM

Snoo Foo - this is what happens when you get a bunch of passionate and smart tennis fans together in the internet. It's just fun to sit here over my coffee in the morning and blather on with wireless internet access after nearly 3 months off the grid. Don't miss the discussion of Douglas Sirk films on the other thread, LOL.

Posted by codepoke 09/10/2007 at 11:15 AM

> So, I'm going to enjoy it while I can.

Hear, hear!

Again, my comment is directed at people who believe Fed doesn't so much struggle as decide not to pull out his A game. Dude struggles!

Posted by evie 09/10/2007 at 11:16 AM

Congrats to Fed! Well done! Though he says otherwise, the stress of a new challenger must have been great during this Slam. I am glad he got his 12th Slam title. His overtaking Sampras’ record is a certainty.

Posted by jem 09/10/2007 at 11:21 AM

I think Federer clearly and honestly stated why he played less well than he normally does. As well as playing a formidable opponent, he was freakin' nervous. Who wouldn't be - his 12th Slam title with that elusive number fourteen clearly in view. I think you can expect this kind of performance inhibitor with every grand slam step he takes toward besting Pete's record. So much for him being an android.

It seems some of the male tennis commentators -not mentioning any names- have a puzzling nervous reaction to Federer's choice of togs. It would be interesting to delve into what it is that makes them so uncomfortable. Do they really prefer Nadal's butt hugging capri pants and sleeveless shirts that flaunt all that armpit hair? It's called, FASHION and it's unique and elegant.

Before I forget, Pete, I really do enjoy the intelligent, original and witty columns you write, especially compared to the offerings of most of the other scribes out there. In a way, your columns make the same unique, elegant "fashion" statement that Federer's clothes do.

Embrace it!!!

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