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Del Potro's Chapter 09/17/2009 - 2:03 PM

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by Pete Bodo

My wife Lisa and I had dinner the other night with long-time TennisWorld reader Steve Manning and his wife, Anne. We met them at a Mexican bistro suggested by Steve, who's from Los Angeles, but the six-piece mariachi band (one member of which was a pale-skinned woman who looked rather French) proved a bit much. While the prospect of two couples meeting for the first time having to shout over a mariachi band has great comic potential, we wisely decided to repair to a quiet sushi joint across the street, where we had wonderful, quiet time.

Steve had an interesting analysis of Monday's men's final: He thought it was not only unwise but bone-headed of Roger Federer to exchange cross-court rockets and down-the-line scorchers with Juan Martin del Potro. "Federer looked a little tired," Steve suggested. "It would have been much wiser for him to play down the middle, keep del Potro from taking advantage of all the angles he was opening up."

I think there's a lot to be said for this analysis, both at the visceral and conceptual level. My overwhelming image of that match is of Federer, making scrambling, heroic efforts to retrieve poisonous del Potro placements - and trying to outdo his young challenger. There was Roger, stretched to the limit, desperately trying to flick one of those magical backhand cross-courts out of Delpo's reach. There was Federer, lunging to gain that last step to a deep ball, his back to the net, trying to conjure up a cross-court forehand of his own in a familiar act of Federer-esque one-upmanship.

Up to this point in his career, Federer has almost always won such battles. His quickness, racket control, confidence and cool nerve routinely enable him to take any probing shot his opponent hits and return it with postage due. It often seems that you're most in danger from Federer after you've hit what might very well be your best, most penetrating, offensive shot. Federer's preternatural ability to transition from defense to offense has become one of his most talked-about qualities.

Only this time, Federer wasn't able to turn the tables often enough. I don't fault Federer for this, I give the credit to del Potro, who's now added a new chapter (albeit only the second one) to an extremely slim volume entitled: How to Beat Roger Federer. The chapter could be titled: Maximize Your Power to Contain his Versatility. And good luck to all of you who buy the book, because you're going to need it - unless you can strike the ball with the same lethal combination of pace and accuracy as Delpo.

Federer fans can point to many seeming inconsistencies in their hero's game and even demeanor on Monday. They can recite serve percentages and error-to-winner ratios applied to either the port or starboard wing. They can make a point about Roger's seeming fatigue, or that odd irritability that is manifested overtly when Federer gets into an argument with Hawkeye. None of the really matters, because it was the U.S. Open final, and del Potro won and Federer did not. And the interesting thing about that is that Delpo beat Federer in the most unlikely way - in a battle of big shots. It was Extreme Tennis at its testosterone-loaded best, and for once the "other guy" came out on top.

Manning suggested that Federer would have been better off pursuing a strategy of containment. If Delpo, Tower of Tandil, can blast 110 mph forehands cross-court, you've got to keep the ball away from that forehand. If he thrives on pace, do your best to loop, slice or massage rather than blast the ball. If he licks his chops and cocks his wrist the moment he sees an angle opening on the other side, deny him that open court. This game plan can be constructed the simple determination to keep the ball in the middle of the court, which in turn shortens the court.

I'm not sure that strategy would have beaten del Potro, but it would have handcuffed him to a much greater degree, and also saved precious energy. Instead, Federer seemed determined to rely on his tried-and-true formula of aggressive counter-punching. When Delpo belted a huge forehand to Federer's backhand side,  he tried using his quickness and that all-purpose wrist to counter with a sizzling backhand down the line. The formula generally works, because Federer is so quick, and such an artful ball-striker. But it broke down because his opponent pushed the known power threshold, and had the upper hand in enough of the rallies to get to Federer's best retrieves.

After a slow start, Delpo found his range and his money shot - the forehand - went from solid to spectacular. I think Federer instinctively wanted to, and felt he could, weather the storm of del Potro's game. Or perhaps he thought that at some point, Delpo's lack of experience (this was his first Grand Slam final) would cause him to tighten up. It's not an unreasonable expectation. That neither of those happened was somewhat surprising, and a ringing endorsement of Delpo's temperament. Federer took a calculated risk that didn't pay off. Worse, his Plan B was to win the shotmaking battle, and that proved impossible.

None of this is unusual, nor could Federer's miscalculation be called egregious. He, like the rest of us, probably was blind-sided by del Potro's tenacity as well as the furious level of play he was able to sustain. And having led by a set and a break, Federer had plenty of reason to feel that del Potro's streak of great play would inevitably ramp down and give the defending champion more room to operate. One thing we know about Federer is that he's not inclined to make many on-the-trot adjustments in his game. Champions who have achieved far, far less than he have frequently and volubly reiterated the familiar refrain: I'm just going to play my game, if I execute at a sufficiently high level, I'll be fine. . .  That, I imagine, was Federer's attitude.

You may also remember that a few days ago I quoted Jose Luis Clerc on a curious feature of del Potro's game: his tendency to stay away from the lines. He hits hard and deep, but he doesn't live for the paint. I don't think the final discredited that analysis, although one feature of it was a newfound interest in those lines on Delpo's part. He hit with unusually good length (depth), which is why he was able to contain and push around his opponent. And Delpo worked the angles on his cross-court shots well; allowing angle took precedence over proximity to the sideline. After all, the point-of-impact (the bounce) can be anywhere along the entire length of the imaginary line formed by the angle; closer to the line is always better, but it isn't nearly as critical as it is on shots aimed at the baseline. Delpo is very good at opening up the court with the cross-court shot. Once both men were far from the center service notches, he was able to employ his power and pace with great success.

This match might have developed very differently if Federer had found a way to push del Potro back, to make him hit rally shots from the center of the court. It isn't by any means a surefire formula to beating a player like del Potro, who has a robust appetite for taking matters into his own hands. Both finalists like playing the angles, but denying them might present more problems for a del Potro than a Federer, simply because Federer is a more resourceful, versatile player. You can't really handcuff Federer; he can beat you with finesse or power. But del Potro is a meat-and-potatoes power player, as he demonstrated throughout this tournament, most particularly in his quarterfinals with Marin Cilic and that semifinal with Rafael Nadal. 

So, avoiding a hitting contest with del Potro might have been a wiser way to go. I'm sure Federer had plenty of respect for del Potro going into this match. You could hardly blame him for deciding to stick with the game that has cloaked him in glory. Besides, we have yet to see if Delpo can hit the peak of his game, tournament after tournament, month after month.

The only thing we know for sure is that on Monday, del Potro found a way to impose himself on The Man himself. He was able to make the court big - so big that his significant advantage in height (he's 6-6; Federer is 6-1) and power had a greater bearing on the match than did Federer's skills and quickness. None of the other players who have beaten Federer have done it quite this way, which will give the No. 1 player something to think about, and give us some delicious fodder for discussion the next time they meet.


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Posted by Nancy Fieder 09/17/2009 at 11:49 PM

Del Potro realized in the second set that he could win. That was al it took for him to push and succeed. Federer does not have the drive or the ability to win right now.

Posted by Tigress_ 09/17/2009 at 11:49 PM


"Federer fans can point to many seeming inconsistencies in their hero's game and even demeanor on Monday. They can recite serve percentages and error-to-winner ratios applied to either the port or starboard wing. They can make a point about Roger's seeming fatigue, or that odd irritability that is manifested overtly when Federer gets into an argument with Hawkeye. None of the really matters, because it was the U.S. Open final, and del Potro won and Federer did not."
Actually I think it matters a lot as a direct reason for the match outcome. Del Potro felt that Roger struggled with his serve and used his chances. Roger with his normal game would make their H2H 7-0. He never had problems with beating tall guys. It was well earned victory by Del Potro by "hanging around" and his massive luck that Roger was tiered. All other analysis by Pete does not make sense for the above reason.
BTW they should penalise the umpire for not doing his duties properly - noise was horrible, allowed abnormally long time for DP to challenge and robed RF of one point when Hawkeye showed double fault of DelPotro in 4th set tiebreak

Posted by sulaiman 09/17/2009 at 11:50 PM

Pspace: "1) Why did del Potro take so much off his first serve in the last two sets? Was he tired, trying to avoid double faults and/or sure he could handle Federer from the baseline? I was very impressed with the way he came up with big shot after big shot down break point."

He did not want to have to be forced to hit a second serve, which he knew that federer will despatch ruthlessly, and also put in danger of a double fault. In retrospect, we can say it was a good thing he hit a double fault at the end of the third set. although at that juncture, even he must have thought he was cooked.

Posted by Carrie 09/18/2009 at 12:00 AM

Tigress-

That serve that Roger challenged was a first serve 0 not a second serve as has frequently been stated. It was discussed in another thread and someone posted a video that showed it was indeed a first serve. :) Because of the time that was taken to challenge with the confusion- the chair ump said that the next serve after the challenge would be a first serve because of allowing the challenge after Roger was initially asking for a let. Delpo served the next serve as a first serve. If it was deemed it would have been a second serve he would have likely have served it differently.

There is video shown on page 5 or so of the Steel Racket thread if you would like ot view it.

Posted by Vie 09/18/2009 at 12:16 AM

The Truth and Miguel Seabra: I love reading your comments. They are quite "fresh". Hope to read similar posts.

Posted by m-333 09/18/2009 at 12:21 AM

Well, I think Safin showed already that beating Federer with power can be done. The point is that we are talking about playing with insane and practically unexplored levels of power and accuracy for 5 sets, something that players managed to do only twice in the last 6 years (I don't count Nadal in there, he has beaten Federer simply because he happens to be the anti-Federer with his freaky and unique leftie shots).
The amazing thing to me is that Federer on a so so day still managed to get so close to winning the final against a Del Potro to whom probably no other player would have taken a set from on that day.

Posted by j6_strings 09/18/2009 at 12:28 AM

If I may offer a quick analysis of one failed aspect of Roger's gameplan. It seems at the beginning of the match, Delpo was trying to rally from a close position to the baseline, at least relatively speaking. As a result, Roger's deep shots down the middle of the court were forcing Delpo to hit uncomfortable shots as he tried to get out of the way of the ball and into his strike zone. His replies were often either short or low paced, allowing Roger to be more agressive in getting to the net.

As the match developed, and Delpo's legs were moving him around the court a little better, he began to rally from a little deeper in the court, thereby making it easier for himself to step away from balls hit in towards his body. In this way, we was able to swing a bit more freely, and with the pace of his shots, we was able to get Roger moving further behind the baseline, and generally making things a bit less comfortable for Roger.

I still think that Roger went too often after Delpo's forehand, but at the same time, it could be that he was in a better position to hit deeper to that side, and he was awaiting the not to come breakdown of the Delpo forehand.

Posted by JimF 09/18/2009 at 12:35 AM

If you listen to del Potro's interview with Charlie Rose, he confirms what I saw: Fed's legs faded. Del Potro found that he could win long rallies. Fed saw the same thing and tried the risky strategy of ending them faster.

Sometimes simple explanations are the best.

Posted by linex 09/18/2009 at 12:38 AM

I do not agree with CL in that Delpo´s high fives to fans when hitting a hell of a winner from a defensive posietion in the doubles alley was showing disrespect for Roger.

If you are going to analyze someone´s attitude analyse the full context. The shot was hit when he was down in the match, it was a natural reaction to the excitement of hitting that shot when everything seemed to go wrong in the match. Everyone took it right at that moment. It is a way to erase your nerves. I remember that Gaston Gaudio was losing 06 36 34 to Coria in the final at Roland Garros mainly due to nerves and turned the match around after interacting with the crowd when they did the Mexican wave.

Funny because after Roger had the heated exchange with the empire regarding Delpo´s delay in asking for challenges, I thought that as Delpo is so respectful to Roger he would get a little depressed by the situation. Which was exactly what happened since he double faulted twice in a row in a game and made some silly unforced errors to gift him the third set. At that point I wrote in the Crisis Center post for the final that maybe Delpo lacked a little malice and that all champions need a small dosis of it to beat opponents. If you are in awe of your opponent as Delpo still was in Roland Garros when he even felt afraid of denying the fans what they wanted, then it is difficult to win a match.

Comparing Connors with Del Potro is like comparing salt with sugar in my view. I have nothing against Connors but he is just a different character from Delpo.

Carrie I agree with you the interview with Charlie Rose was excellent. A great interviewer, in my view he was the only person to make Delpo reflect about the match. The calmness he created and the questions he posed made Delpo reflect. It is difficult to make it when plenty of journalists ask you question after question in the aftermatch of such aq kind of victory.

The reception in Tandil which I saw on Tv was very impressive. Delpo said that this kind of reception is even more meaninful that winning the Title. And that he hopes to be able to always enjoy and feel this kind of moments as he does today. He was riding a firemen car and crying while waving the crowd, and the firemen had to pad him on his back for him to stop crying. Really moving.

Posted by linex 09/18/2009 at 12:50 AM

Suze I do not know if it is because I am a lawyer. But I like logical reasoning. I do not know that the British commentators said but when someone brings a point as Roger did, i.e challenges should be asked in a short period of time, then you need to comply with the rule and live by your own standard.

Delpo is in full right to complain if Roger contradicts himself. Plus it was an important point in the tiebreak and no rule granted Roger the right to ask for challenge after returning the serve and continuing the point and due to the confusion created by a spectator call.

I should not even waste my time answering these kind of comments because it just shows that there are people who do not know how to lose. Which of course is not the case of Roger Federer who gave Delpo full credit for his win and said that he was happy for him. Both Roger and Delpo like and respect each other.

As Carrie said, when my player is in the losing side, which is often, I am not making secondary, accesory remarks, to diminish the winner and less of all his integrity as a human being.

Posted by Awais 09/18/2009 at 12:58 AM

Roger federal is ''BEST''

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 09/18/2009 at 12:58 AM

linex - Well said @ 12:38. Delpo's hi-fiving the crowd struck me at the time as endearing rather than showboat-y and I think your Gaudio parallel sums up why. Also a good point re: malice. :) Thx for Charlie Rose and Tandil reception recaps as well - I'll have to look up those clips.

Posted by linex 09/18/2009 at 01:07 AM

Sblily at fuebuena.com.ar you find a link to the Charlie Rose interview and I guess they have the Tandil reception too.

Posted by linex 09/18/2009 at 01:14 AM

Regarding the tactical analysis of the match for sure Roger had a chance in the second set to almost shut down the door to the match. But given that it did not occur, the match started to resemble the one they played in Roland Garros, where Delpo had the upper hand in the rallies during the first three first sets. In Roland Garros though, Delpo lost a second set tiebreak which probably costed him the match.

I guess any day Roger can beat Delpo and any day Delpo can beat Roger. It will depend upon the day´s form. Nowadays, Delpo is a complete and powerful player even if he is less versatile than Roger. So I guess anything can happen in their matches.

While Roger did not serve as good as he can and made many double faults, Delpo did not serve as well as he can too.

Posted by Carrie 09/18/2009 at 01:21 AM

*Delpo did not serve as well as he can too. *

Very true- double faulting twice to lose the 3rd was not exactly shining and his ace count was quite low for him vis-a-vis the rest of the tournament.

linex- as always, I appreciate your posts. :) I did not know you are an attorney, or perhaps I forgot. My husband is one as well.

Suze- I agree that sometimes there can be a lack of a middle ground. But sometimes it can be very nice to have one. Again, I think current tennis actually has a nice ratio of decent fellows compared to a number of other sports, and that is something I enjoy.

Posted by sblily (Wheeeeeeeee!!!) 09/18/2009 at 01:23 AM

linex - Thx for the link (I've bookmarked the site). Just finished watching the Charlie Rose interview -- good stuff. I grinned through the whole clip -- knowledgeable interviewer w/ interesting questions + Elf charm and thoughtful answers = happy me.


Posted by linex 09/18/2009 at 01:31 AM

Carrie yes I am an attorney, I think I must have mentioned it before, but who knows when, as I posted comments so many times in the last years.

I earned my lawyer´s degree in Uruguay, but I followed a Masters of Law LL.M program in the US at Northwestern U in 2000-2001 what allowed me to take the NY Bar exam which I took and passed in 2002. I even worked for nine months at a law firm in NYC with my studen visa that allowed me to work for nine months in the US after the end of my program. I am a corporate law attorney, and I do both litigation and arbitration and transactional work in that area.

Where does your husband practice?

Posted by Carol 09/18/2009 at 01:34 AM

Is it only me being annoyed enough by the constant drone of broadcasters filling in every second of airspace available during a match? I honestly don't think they are aware of how it sounds to the listeners who are more interested in the MATCH than in former and future statistics, family and career facts of the current and distant players, where they dined last night, etc. And when you have former champions at the mike - how THEY played back then and how they would play it NOW. Have they truly considered their audience when they give the same information again and again and again? Are they aware they are preaching to the choir? Are they aware that filling every moment with voices dampens our enjoyment of the game?


Posted by Carol 09/18/2009 at 01:34 AM

Is it only me being annoyed enough by the constant drone of broadcasters filling in every second of airspace available during a match? I honestly don't think they are aware of how it sounds to the listeners who are more interested in the MATCH than in former and future statistics, family and career facts of the current and distant players, where they dined last night, etc. And when you have former champions at the mike - how THEY played back then and how they would play it NOW. Have they truly considered their audience when they give the same information again and again and again? Are they aware they are preaching to the choir? Are they aware that filling every moment with voices dampens our enjoyment of the game?


Posted by Carrie 09/18/2009 at 01:42 AM

linex- We live in Austin and my husband's specialty is of the IP vein- trademark and copyright. He worked at a firm but is now working for a corporation.

We actually lived in Chicago the same time as you as husband got his law degree from the University of Chicago. We had some friends who were getting advanced degrees at Northwestern at the time- but none from the law school or I could toss out a name. :)

Carol- I agree regarding the commentators. I enjoy comments that relate to the match, etc. I understand that during a grand slam final or semi, etc. on a main network they will repeat a lot of facts that are well known to big tennis fans but I don't mind because it is for a truly larger audience. But sometimes an early round match on TC or something where they repeat the same thing gets on my nerves. I also agree that sometimes some of the commentators talk more about how great their day was than appreciating today's tennis and what is going on the match that they are supposed to be commenting on.

Posted by rg.nadal 09/18/2009 at 02:11 AM

Hello all

Carol: I agree. The commentators spoke too much. This happens at the USO mostly. I like the commentary at the other slams. They save the analysis for the breaks between games and points.

Posted by susan 09/18/2009 at 02:21 AM

ladyjulia

I think the Guardian piece was mostly tongue-in-cheek.

I have an irrational antipathy toward Anorexic Anna, although I'm a Fed fan. (and I'm not fat, so there's nothing personal here)

She was quoted this year as saying that the people she saw in Minnesota during a visit looked like 'little houses'. Minneapolis was named by Men's Health as the third fittest city in the country. (ok no jokes about obesity in the US, please).

She demanded that Oprah lose around 20 pounds before she allowed her to appear on the cover of Vogue. She has asked some of her staff to lose weight, etc, etc.

I read on a blog of a magazine (the name is Bi-ch; better than you think but definitely not for weak souls or misogynists) a comment from someone who saw her walking in Manhattan, looking very gaunt (she's very thin), weighed down by her designer garb. She also proudly wears fur (hey, I'm not a PETA wacko, either).

She does play tennis regularly and is a fan of the sport, by the way.

Posted by Jet Eye 09/18/2009 at 02:26 AM

Why did Federer have to pay a $1,500 fine for cursing (s) 1-time to the empire. I thought you get a warning first. Serena got a warning first and then after using the (f) word and breaking her racket prior, she was then fined. I don't know why Federer wasn't just given a warning?? Can anyone answer that. Also, Federer was sitting down between games when the mike was on him without him knowing it. He was just making a statement. ???

Posted by Jet Eye 09/18/2009 at 02:28 AM

Mis-spelt word "umpire" sorry

Posted by Jet Eye 09/18/2009 at 02:29 AM

Mis-spelt word. Should be umpire. Sorry

Posted by Jet Eye 09/18/2009 at 02:30 AM

Mis-spelt word. Should be umpire not empire. Sorry. Typing quickly to get my point across!!!

Posted by Jet Eye 09/18/2009 at 02:33 AM

Why did Federer have to pay a $1,500 fine for cursing (s) 1-time to the empire. I thought you get a warning first. Serena got a warning first and then after using the (f) word and breaking her racket prior, she was then fined. I don't know why Federer wasn't just given a warning?? Can anyone answer that. Also, Federer was sitting down between games when the mike was on him without him knowing it. He was just making a statement. ???
Sorry for the mis-spelt words "Umpire"

Posted by Suze 09/18/2009 at 02:34 AM

Linex, I am not a lawyer but I too like logical reasoning. In the case of the challenges, I should probably blame it all on the umpire as he should not have started granting late challenges in the first place. And that both players should have had respected the rules too. Which makes them both cheeky, I guess. BTW, when the BBC people used that word, to me, the connotation was not really negative as being cheeky means that a person maybe irreverent or impudent but typically in an amusing or endearing way. The fact that del Potro is so young seems to fit the description. I remember watching a video of his heated exchange with Andy Murray regarding Murray's mother and I thought at that time that they look like two youthful and cheeky boys (yes, boys) arguing. Which made me grin. Again, cheeky is meant in a positive way. So this was not an attempt to diminish the winner or question his integrity as a human being.

Posted by susan 09/18/2009 at 03:07 AM

btw, i ran across the b---h magazine doing a search on the internet last week (not on wintour). despite the name, it seems to be a very professional publication with good articles.

Posted by OBdizzy 09/18/2009 at 03:25 AM

Two little things,
One, this was a great match and I was rooting for Fed but couldn't help but be charmed by Delpo.
Two, it's not like Fed got blown out of the water, quite the opposite. He faded as Delpo surged, but he was dominating the first set and a half and he was within two point of the match at least once, maybe more, not exactly the sort of loss to induce hand wringing and hair pulling. I'll leave the technical analysis to people who know what they're talking about. 2010 should be great!

Posted by rgrace 09/18/2009 at 03:48 AM

Almost exactly what my tennis teacher said the other day - keep the ball in the middle of the court and SERVE INTO HIS BODY!

Time and again Rog went DTL and Delpo burned him badly. And he never changed his tactic. Shoulda been over in three. Oh well, can't win em all.

This day was fated to come. It's good for the game to have more strong players.

Posted by vsmenen 09/18/2009 at 05:58 AM

Pete:

It is easy to say that Fed should have done this and that.
I don't think Plan A to Z would have against Delpotro on this day.

Posted by vsmenen 09/18/2009 at 05:58 AM

Pete:

It is easy to say that Fed should have done this and that.
I don't think Plan A to Z would have worked against Delpotro on this day.

Posted by luckyfed 09/18/2009 at 06:18 AM

well, great analysis was that peter! any how the mens tennis competition is more healthy. its no more a fed or rafa. enuf for fed, he already enjoyed no competition up to 2006/07 and then struggled when rafa entered . now its rafas turn to win more .enough slams for fed.

Posted by first 09/18/2009 at 06:46 AM

We need to look at set-by-set 1st serve stats rather than Fed's 50% for the match. To me, this tells the whole story: delP got much better as the match progressed (he did start off slowly); Fed was terrible in the first two sets, half-way decent in the third and then his serving level dropped in the 4th and 6th sets.

Set 1
Fed: 41%
delP: 54%

Set 2
Fed: 44%
delP: 60%

Set 3
Fed: 61%
delP: 60%

Set 4
Fed: 53%
delP: 74%

Set 5
Fed: 54%
delP: 78%

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 06:47 AM

'morning folks! I need a stream for spain v. israel.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 07:12 AM

I was so excited that i signed up for davis cup tv with the itf, paid for it and everything. then find out it's not shown in the u.s.- they better give me my money back!

anybody know a stream? i'm looking with no luck so far.

Posted by Tigress_ 09/18/2009 at 07:16 AM

Carrie,

Hi Carrie,

I've watched the link about the 4th set TB and it confirms what I said: there was 1 st serve net, then 2 nd serve out (confirmed on Hawkeye) - Ump gives DP let, then "second" serve out again DF. But, Then is going 3rd serve! and set point to DP.
The explanation in that post that ump justified 1st serve because of late call is out of bounds as it is not an auction. Roger challenged the call at once it was umpire who took long in talking.

Posted by mina hearts Rafa... ecstatic for Elf 09/18/2009 at 07:17 AM

Ferru/Levy:
http://www.fromsport.com/video-75995.html

Posted by Tigress_ 09/18/2009 at 07:20 AM

To the above, Pardon me, I've said "set point" should "the point"

Posted by mina hearts Rafa... ecstatic for Elf 09/18/2009 at 07:20 AM

i want that cap!

close this out Ferru. in straight sets. Vamos!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 07:23 AM

Annie hearts mina...

Posted by mina hearts Rafa... ecstatic for Elf 09/18/2009 at 07:24 AM

mina hearts Annie too.

are we gonna get a DC CC or is this it?

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 07:26 AM

love seeing the red stuff again.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 07:29 AM

mina, any buttercup sightings?

Posted by Weather Report 09/18/2009 at 07:30 AM

I don't think that hitting the ball to the center of the court, with or without pace, would have made much difference. Del Potro can create his own pace, his own angles, and he is more consistent than Federer. Del Potro can also play from the net.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 07:39 AM

don't know about the DC cc. this might be it. is rafa there? havent seen him. hott sauce is though.

Posted by mina hearts Rafa... ecstatic for Elf 09/18/2009 at 07:52 AM

Annie: saw Rafa, wearing a white cap that i'm currently coveting. got the bull logo on it, natch.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 07:54 AM

probably from his foundation. a new foundation hat? maybe you can get one online.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 07:55 AM

this is currently not the most exciting match, but hey it's spain on clay so i shouldn't complain. who's up next? robredo?

Posted by mina hearts Rafa... ecstatic for Elf 09/18/2009 at 08:03 AM

i think it's a Nike cap. i just wish they'd market it the same way they do the RF gear. just so it'll be more accessible to us sta-- er, fans. :)

well,at least David is on the verge of winning this utterly breathtaking match

..and it just went to deuce. not the best time to go all headcasey, no?

scratch that, MPs!

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 08:15 AM

i hope they get to the second match fairly soon. the crowd is off to take a break. so the hat is not available from rafa's website? i never go there but i know they have an online shop of some kind.
oh JCF is up next. good.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 08:18 AM

Ferrero/Sela will be a better match, mina. it starts at 12:30 but i don't know if that's in 15 minutes or an hour and fifteen.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 08:20 AM

are we the only twibers watching this? surprised more people aren't around. hey, wake up peeps! tennis is on!

Posted by geikou 09/18/2009 at 08:25 AM

"there was 1 st serve net, then 2 nd serve out (confirmed on Hawkeye)"

Tigress, I have watched the footage several times just to make sure. And just to make sure I started from the beginning of that point, I started watching when they were switching sides. It was *definitely* a first serve. Get over it.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 08:33 AM

players coming out to the court now. Vamos Espana.

Posted by Anwar 09/18/2009 at 09:24 AM

Why did Federer not try to serve-and-volley or at least rush the net more often?

Granted that in the early stages of the first set Del Potro was still finding his bearings, but Federer had some success with his net-play during those games.

In the third and fourth sets he should have tried more of that, even if Del Potro was in a groove by then. Few strategies take a player out of rhythm than having to suddenly hit passing shots and with less preparation-time on hand.

Posted by Mike 09/18/2009 at 09:34 AM

When your first serve is not going in, you can't generally rely on the weak returns that allow more Net play ... I'm saying consistently. Delpo was pounding Fed's 2nd serve ... not much of a chance to set up net points.

Posted by Easton 09/18/2009 at 09:43 AM

Fed's my boy, but he's not invincible. Guys will play out of their skins on a particular day, and Fed's game won't be sublime on all occasions.

His game is still the best, there's no need for panic, and he will most likely beat Del P the next time. Fed is still the Alpha male.

Posted by Easton 09/18/2009 at 09:47 AM

What's the ranking of the top-ranked Israeli male?

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/18/2009 at 09:56 AM

Speaking of the commentating during the men's final, did anyone else hear Navratilova go on and on near the end of the second set (just prior to the let-up/turn around) that the match was finished, that Del Potro could not possibly come back to win. Jimmy Connors even prodded Martina a little, asking a few follow-up questiuons, but she wouldn't waver from her firm conviction that Del Potro had zero chance that day to win.

Sometimes I wish they would just let the play speak for itself, and leave the prognostications to others.

Posted by Tokyo Tom (tt) 09/18/2009 at 09:57 AM

For me Fed's very poor serving day set up Delpo's win. Juan did his part by taking advantage wonderfully. For many players the serve is an indicator of general rhythm and brings some easy points and less pressure. Fed serving a more normal 60% or higher is a different match. It happens and is no knock on Delpo who played a great match and deserved to win. Just an opinion.

Posted by Andrew NYC 09/18/2009 at 10:05 AM

Pete, I generally love your analysis but, in this case, I think you over-stretched in an attempt to find an interesting narrative. The analyses that you mention, but dismiss, were clearly decisive in this match: namely matters of "execution" (not strategy). Federer's serve wasn't working. If Federer had had even an average serving day, he would have won the match. And while Del Potro's forehand was devestating, if Federer had had even an average day with his ground strokes (avoiding bad unforced errors), he would have won the match (as he did against Djokovic).

Posted by chany 09/18/2009 at 10:31 AM

the link is saying blocked by admin :(

Posted by Alice 09/18/2009 at 10:50 AM

It sounds like you are advocating the old strategy used to beat Jimmy Connors. In 1974 nobody could handle Connors power, until Arthur Ashe wrote the book on how to beat him in the 1975 Wimbledon, using a lot of slices and soft-balls. After that players like Vilas, Orantes and Borg fed Connors a steady diet of short slices, especially to the forehand.

Since both Fed and Rafa have excellent slice backhand, you might be right that this could be worth a try next time either of them plays Delpo.

Posted by Alexis 09/18/2009 at 11:14 AM

"And that he hopes to be able to always enjoy and feel this kind of moments as he does today. He was riding a firemen car and crying while waving the crowd, and the firemen had to pad him on his back for him to stop crying. Really moving. "

I like Delpo's emotions too - I hope he never loses that (remember him wiping away tears as he left the court after losing in 5 sets to Fed at the FO?). Let's hope as his career continues, his being emotional is not held against him like it sometimes is for Federer.

Posted by Mike 09/18/2009 at 11:21 AM

Well ... 4 days after his loss, a jet lagged Fed managed to take Bolelli 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 ... that's the way to get back on the horse. ;)

Posted by julie 09/18/2009 at 11:24 AM

While I'm not very keen on Del Potro's playing style, I think he showed great composure in his first GS final and thoroughly deserved to win. When was the last time someone beat Nadal and Federer in a GS anyway? Well done, Juan Martin. I agree with Carrie that there's a world of difference between a 20 year old guy playing in his first GS final and a guy who's won 15 GS titles. A little exuberance is to be expected, right? While I agree that Jake Garner isn't going to win any umpiring awards, Roger's outburst merited a fine, and he got one. End of story.
I agree that Marat Safin's victory over Federer in the 2005 AO SF showed that tall guys with big serves CAN beat Roger, if they execute the right game plan. Where natural talent's concerned, Marat is second only to Roger imo, so his 2005 victory over RF was less surprising to me than Del Potro's win on Monday. Of course, Juan Martin is a lot calmer than Marat on court, but who isn't? Sigh. I'll miss that big, crazy Russian next year, racquet smashing antics and all.

Posted by linex 09/18/2009 at 11:25 AM

Tigress I watched the video of the 4th set tiebreak and at 4-2 on Delpo´s serve Delpo served a first serve that was a let, afterwards serve another first serve that the linespeople and the umpire called in, but a spectator called out, in spite of that Roger continued the point that was finished by a fh winner of Delpo. After all that the umpire allowed Roger a late challenge that confirmed that the first serve of Delpo was out by a little margin.

As it was a late challenge caused by a confusion, instead of telling Delpo to serve a second serve as it should have been in a normal challenge, the umpire told Delpo "first serve". When serving Delpo missed the first serve what brought Frana Espn in Spanish commentator to say how unlucky for Delpo ... In the end though Delpo won the point anyway with the second serve making it again 5-2 (2 mini breaks up for Delpo). And for your information Tigress most American and LAtinamerican commentators criticized Garner to grant this late challenge to Roger after such a huge time lapse and after the fact that he returned the serve and continued the point.

Suzie sorry then that I misunderstood the word cheeky as if it was a negative connotation.

Posted by Walter 09/18/2009 at 11:33 AM

Dear Sally

Roger is the GOAT

15 GS
He can play on clay. Pete? He couldn't. Pete is no Roger.

Simply the BEST, no matter what you (arrogant americans) say.

Even Pete agrees with me. Roger Federer is the greatest player ever.

Del Potro played a good US Open. Let's see what else he can do.

Sorry... Roger is still number one.

Walter

Posted by Alexis 09/18/2009 at 11:35 AM

"When was the last time someone beat Nadal and Federer in a GS anyway?"

I do not believe it has ever happened.

Posted by Alexis 09/18/2009 at 11:37 AM

"Well ... 4 days after his loss, a jet lagged Fed managed to take Bolelli 6-3, 6-4, 6-1 ... that's the way to get back on the horse. ;)"

Absolutely. And not only that... the match was on clay!! Glad Stan won the opening match and lessened the pressure on Fed. Hopefully they can take the doubles and end this tie quick.

Posted by linex 09/18/2009 at 11:39 AM

All credit to Roger for his quick recovery from jet lag and fatigue after the final to win on clay against a good clay court player like Bolleli.

Posted by Alexis 09/18/2009 at 11:41 AM

Well, let's not turn this thread into a GOAT debate. Roger is still #1 and JMDP played well and got his first GS. It's all good.

What I find so cool is that here is Fed... 28 years old; the rest of the Top Five is 5-7 years younger than him, yet HE'S the one who made all four GS finals, winning two, and losing the other two in 5-sets. Truly wonderful.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/18/2009 at 11:49 AM

Susan,

Good to know she is a fan of tennis...

Posted by andrea 09/18/2009 at 11:50 AM

i totally agree that the match should have been over in 3 or 4 sets. had roger won the second set, delpo would not have come back.

that's why, after such an atrocious 4th set tiebreaker, you could see the energy (and his subsequent chances to win the match) leave roger. the listless play and bad serving...i mean some of his second serves were 2 feet out of doubles alley!...he knew once he was in the fifth set that his chances were slim.

i'm a roger fan and i knew after the tie break that his chance of winning was slim. he seemed strangely calm during the ceremony....a hundred thoughts no doubt going thru his head. but this loss will have to aggravate him. he could have won it.

Posted by søren, Denmark 09/18/2009 at 11:59 AM

Hey, All Playerhaterz out there.

It´s time to move on young americans.

Your ignorance makes me Ill!

"Records are meant too be broken"

Weak era... It´s never been better.


PS. I Loved Pete, but when I think of his heydays in the mid-90´s, i think of Brooke Shields.

Posted by ladyjulia 09/18/2009 at 12:01 PM

Well, it dosen't matter whether Roger served 70% or not or whether Rafa had an abdominal tear.

But what does matter is that JMDP now knows that he is the only person ever to defeat Rafa and Roger in a GS on consecutive days. That is going to bring him confidence...and confidence can only help you play better. The rest of the tour...watch out.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 09/18/2009 at 12:09 PM

Thanks for the analysis Pete. Nice post.

I was specifically complaining about Fed trying to win the FH CC battle on this board, so I whole-heartedly agreee that a different plan needed to be executed. This was a difficult task, feeding into an obvious JMDP strength. To Delpo's credit, he executed that weapon beautifully and wore Fed out with it.

I was actually surprised Fed didn't use the Delpo FH pace and block a FH DTL to Delpo's BH and perhaps come in behind it a bit more often. If Fed were more successful on his FS, the match would have looked a little different.

I was also surprised Rog didn't do more with the 3/4 speed Delpo serve. That was a little surprising to me as well.

All in all...it was a high quality match and pretty interesting all things considered. You definitely felt like Delpo won by bothering Federer and while Fed had an off day, he wasn't horrible. After all, he took 2 sets and looked like he was going to card his next championinship.

That was the second time Fed lost in a GS after winning the First set, right?

Posted by MD 09/18/2009 at 12:34 PM

a few points most of which have been well made by others

1. Federer started brilliantly off the ground.
2. At no point did Federer serve all that well, it was atrocious at times, which leads me to believe he has back problems again, probably due to the lack of rest between the semis and the final.
3. The down the middle tactic worked v well but was abandoned. Why? My guess is that Federer's back was not holding up well and he was trying to shorten the points, we have seen him lose that way earlier in the year.
4. Del Potro played a gutsy match and his ground strokes were sensational in the fourth and fifth sets. I don't think I have ever seen harder forehands.
5. Del Potro plays slice very well or has certainly learned to.
6. Del Potro also is intelligent and took power off his serve to get it in, Federer played a stupid match on his serve. It reminded me of Borg serving appallingly in the 1980 final. Both kept missing first serves instead of getting a high first serve percentage.
7. Federer's footwork after three sets was ponderous. Back trouble again? Or was it Del Potro playing brilliantly. Probably a bit of both.
8. Federer did not have an off day - he played brilliantly at first, only his opponent did not cave in as they usually do.
9. This was probably the first real sign of a generational shift. Federer may well win a few more GS but I doubt if he will be dominant again.
10. Federer was not particularly upset after the match which indicates to me he could justify the defeat to himself - again was there an injury of some sort? Or have his priorities shifted. It took Jimmy Connors a few years to sort himself out after his first child and while never truly dominant again he won three more GS. I think Federer would settle for another 3 GS though he probably has 20 as his target.
that is it

it was a great match and what a year three of the four GS went to five sets

Posted by MD 09/18/2009 at 12:36 PM

as we get to know Del Potro I think we will learn to love what appears to be a genuinely nice guy

I just hope he shaves more in future - he looks good clean cut (something Fed learned fairly quickly) - the hairy bear look makes him look a bit mean, which is obviously isn't

Posted by Game Lover 09/18/2009 at 12:36 PM

The two worst things in my opinion were:

a) Federer collapsing in the 5th set, especially his 1H BH (similar to the AO final against Rafa)...And his movement.

b) Letting DelPotro get into his head when the later starting to serve slow, being content just to put the ball in play (a la Rafa again).

Good show from Juan Martin though!

Posted by Slice-n-Dice 09/18/2009 at 12:42 PM

Personal story time again (it's related to the notion that Federer might have tried to feed more "junk" to the big hitting Del Potro)....

About five or six years ago I was playing a tounrament locally, and had reached the quarterfinals, where I was to play the then-curent #1 ranked player in the state in our age group. He'd held the title for two or three years, and had beaten me on two previous occasions, and although the matches were finished in straight sets they were fairly close.

He is a lefty with never-miss ground strokes and great stamina. He's got decent wheels, but it's his tenacity and stamina that really wear down his opponents. The deeper into the corners you hit the ball, the worse off you are, especially if you follow your shot in to the net, because he roams the baseline so well and can pass cross-court or down the line with ease from the corners.

Playing him can be quite aggravating, as your "best" shots end up setting him up.

Anyway, on this one occasion five or six years ago, I decided early on that I would employ a lot of short, wide slices, followed by deep shots to the middle or corners and then a drop shot. This strategy worked brilliantly, once I found the range on my drop shot. The only trouble is, as many of you can probably attest, once you've found that extreme touch required to make a winning drop shot, it is very difficult to maintain the feel for the long ball that is needed to set up the dropper. In other words, rely on the drop shot too often and you might just remove all your other options, as your ability to go deep is compromised.

But on that day, I found oth ranges and won in three sets. I must have hit 20 or 30 drop shots in the final set alone. He was not a happy camper. He beat me the next time we faced off, in three sets. My drop shot was not working well on that later occasion.

Live by the dropper, die by the dropper.

Posted by FMG 09/18/2009 at 12:45 PM

i can´t believe that some of you here think that jmdp had some disrespectful attitudes on monday and compare him with...¿connors?
what he did with the crowd was because of juan´s charisma.the crowd was supporting him... yeah, i know some of you think he has no personality or that he seems depressed but i think he is charismatic.

on monday i was hoping juan martin not to "respect" roger like he did on the other matches and to forget he was playing against the best.

by the way, yesterday on tandil he said for the first time in a press conference that "he has someone on heaven that protects him...". nice.

Posted by paints 09/18/2009 at 01:05 PM

i said it to a friend as we watched and i'll say it again. federer all of a sudden decided his topspin backhand was the way to go, even after almost two sets of slice slice and more slice. now, even on the run, he's decided that he can come over it. right into the missile launcher that is delpo's forehand.

so, this shot, this undercutting can opener, this let's see how he does when he's on his knees beauty, is stored away. i've never seen him hit so many topspin backhands in a match (not counting the early days).

Posted by HAT 09/18/2009 at 01:06 PM

I do not think the same. Federer was hitting down the middle, about 60% or more of the time.
He did not do his flair flick backhand crosscourt nor his inside out forehand too often, and that is the problem.
Everyone knows when you play Goliath (no offense intended for the great Del Potro who deserved this win 100%), you need to make the big man run left to right and then right to left and keep him guessing.
RF did not do that. Instead he stuck in his middle court all the time.
Lets see if he learns if and when they both meet again, I predict RF will win. I just don't see Del Potro in the top 4...

Posted by Peg 09/18/2009 at 01:37 PM

"Sometimes I wish they would just let the play speak for itself, and leave the prognostications to others."

Word.

"What I find so cool is that here is Fed... 28 years old; the rest of the Top Five is 5-7 years younger than him, yet HE'S the one who made all four GS finals, winning two, and losing the other two in 5-sets."

+1


Posted by Charlie Mueller 09/18/2009 at 02:39 PM

Federer choked away slams Sally? Really? I can name a few slam finals Sampras lost too. Very strange posts. That Federer has been in some 22 semifinals and, what 20 finals is absolutely amazing- he can lose a few. No one will ever come close to this record- even if Federer stops tomorrow. Sampras was not within a mile of it- as he has pointed out.

Pete got it right. Federer is stubborn. But he adjusts, not always right away. You'll see. Del Po played great and Federer did not respond as he should have. If you are a player you will understand this completely. One does not think of everything all the time. My guess was that his mental game was off. Roger does not argue with officials very often. He was not thinking. And he is stubborn- it is the one real chink in his approach to the game. Then again that subborn pride is one the reasons he keeps on going.

Posted by TennisRone 1000 09/18/2009 at 02:40 PM

It's amazing how close this match was, at the end of the day. I think we all can agree that Fed did feed a few too many balls to Delpo on the FH side when he wasn't exactly in a position of control and suddenly put himself on the serious defense in more points in the 4th and 5th set.

Boy...how mentally grueling it must be for these guys once you get to the QF's. Those 3 matches are just intense for everybody.

Posted by Fangorina 09/18/2009 at 03:04 PM

I disagree with this part of your analysis: "It was Extreme Tennis at its testosterone-loaded best, and for once the "other guy" came out on top."

Roger wins by almost another every other measure of his game: versatility, defense to offense, shot selection, movement, tactics, genius, etc. On the other other hand, the guy that usually beats him in your description of Extreme Tennis (plus testosterone) is Nadal, and now Del Potro.

Posted by Tennis This 09/18/2009 at 03:09 PM

I'm glad to have seen Fed lose at the Open. It's good to get a new face to hold up the trophy, but all this talk about Fed being arrogant....c'mon! He's always been cool and collected, so it shouldn't be anything new to anybody. Fed got out played and that's the bottom line.

Posted by Ciarrai 09/18/2009 at 03:56 PM

Roger Federer is fortunate that Del Potro didn't play as well as he did against Nadal. I think 2-2-2 could have been very possible if Delpo had been as sharp for Roger. That would have been ugly. How about throwing Delpo in against the kid from Latvia, Ernests Gulbis. That would be a smoker. And, yes, I'd pay to see it.

Posted by Annie (Vamos Heavenly Creature) 09/18/2009 at 04:09 PM

slicendice: nice droppah story. enjoyed it!

and Peg, fed really amazes that he's still going strong against all these younger players. roddick is still in there hustling away and i hope he has at least as good a 2010 as he did this year.

Posted by sally 09/18/2009 at 04:56 PM

walter-what do you care what pete sampras says
he is just an arrogant american, eh??

Posted by chany 09/18/2009 at 05:07 PM

you know if Roger is GOAT then how come he loses to Rafa all the time?

Posted by Rose 09/18/2009 at 05:23 PM

Well, i can read and hear Roger's finished and why this, why that.

He lost mostly because of his serve and a bit of stubborness for sure. He still went through the end and to five set..i think we saw that before , didn't we. Why couldn't he do something with the match in his poket, Well Roger is the one to live with that.... again!

I think Del Potro took advantage of that for sure and that it's the only major that he will have in his career. And Roger will get 2,3 or even more until he retired.

Keep going Roger, no matter what happen now your the best ever.

Rose

Posted by Rafael Rolingson 09/18/2009 at 06:00 PM

I have a theory to explain Fed's loss, and that is the % of first serves. Had Federer served more effectively in sets 2 or 4 he'd had ended the winner. His serve let him down, and throughout all the five sets you could see he was feeling uncomfortable (to the point of letting expletives slip away. After over 20 Grand Slams performances it is easy for us to read the signs. The point is, he is such a great player that even in those days when he is not serving over the 60-65% of first serves in he is capable of mix it up to find his winning ways, but that day, Delpo was lambasting the poor ball to ther point of leaving his opponent and fans envy of that glorious shot-making. Eventually, Delpo got hot, burned the whole thing he touched (specially 2nd deliveries) and found no restrictions to unleashed his power game.

Posted by Rafael Rolingson 09/18/2009 at 06:00 PM

I have a theory to explain Fed's loss, and that is the % of first serves. Had Federer served more effectively in sets 2 or 4 he'd had ended the winner. His serve let him down, and throughout all the five sets you could see he was feeling uncomfortable (to the point of letting expletives slip away. After over 20 Grand Slams performances it is easy for us to read the signs. The point is, he is such a great player that even in those days when he is not serving over the 60-65% of first serves in he is capable of mix it up to find his winning ways, but that day, Delpo was lambasting the poor ball to ther point of leaving his opponent and fans envy of that glorious shot-making. Eventually, Delpo got hot, burned the whole thing he touched (specially 2nd deliveries) and found no restrictions to unleashed his power game.

Posted by Rafael Rolingson 09/18/2009 at 06:01 PM

I have a theory to explain Fed's loss, and that is the % of first serves. Had Federer served more effectively in sets 2 or 4 he'd had ended the winner. His serve let him down, and throughout all the five sets you could see he was feeling uncomfortable (to the point of letting expletives slip away. After over 20 Grand Slams performances it is easy for us to read the signs. The point is, he is such a great player that even in those days when he is not serving over the 60-65% of first serves in he is capable of mix it up to find his winning ways, but that day, Delpo was lambasting the poor ball to ther point of leaving his opponent and fans envy of that glorious shot-making. Eventually, Delpo got hot, burned the whole thing he touched (specially 2nd deliveries) and found no restrictions to unleashed his power game.

Posted by remain anonymous 09/18/2009 at 06:23 PM

2009 US Open F

Federer: 56 winners, 62 unforced errors
Del Potro: 57 winners, 60 unforced errors

Keep in mind Fed had 36 winners, 33 unforced in the 2008 fina vs. Murray.

Federer 1st serve % - 50%, but what was Del Potro's 1st serve % the 1st set and a half when Roger had a set and a break lead?

Federer: 13 aces, 11 double faults
Del Potro: 8 aces, 6 double faults

Take from this what you will.

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