Thursday, January 26, 2012

Roger Federer- Responsible for his own Downfall?




He might be 0-6 against Djokovic but one thing is for sure, Rafael Nadal always had a big psychological advantage against Roger Federer. And today was no different.  Nadal won a tough 4 setter against Federer to extend his H2H 18-9. I have been a Federer fan for last 6 years. And to see him on the down roll after playing such vintage tennis throughout the tournament was heartbreaking. More than Nadal’s performance, he should be disappointed as he himself is to be blamed for the defeat today!

5 reasons leading to Federer’s downfall:

1)  Obstinate Federer: Time and again we saw Federer hit the short return towards Nadal's forehand.  Result - Either it was in the net or Nadal came out with a Forehand passing shot winner. Even though there were times when it was obvious that Federer needs to hit the shots on Nadal’s backhand, he still repeated the same mistake! It was clear by the fourth set that he will hit the approaching shot always on Nadal’s forehand and lose the point. Even the tennis analysts were puzzled by his stubborn approach.

2)   Unforced Errors:  I had said in my preview how crucial this can be and it turned out to be the match changer.63 Unforced Errors from Federer in the match vs. 34 of Nadal. The number in itself is a good enough explaination for his defeat.

3)   No answer for Nadal’s Forehand:  He simply didn’t have the answer to high loopy top spin forehands of Nadal. Nadal had one game plan and he executed it to perfection with constantly hitting his forehand to Federer’s backhand. Federer also supported him by hitting it back to his forehand. Although at the start of the set, it was a complete different scenario with Federer coming out and exposing Rafa’s backhand just like Djokovic did last year. But it was for a brief period of time only.

4)   Lack of Confidence: It’s a well known fact that Rafa is in Roger’s head and it was clear on crucial points. Whenever Federer was a break up, Rafa broke him back immediately. Inspite of being ahead in the second and third set, he couldn’t capitalize against Nadal. It was all a mental game between both of them.

5)   Lack of Variety: The drop shots which had worked so perfectly against Tomic and Del Potro were gone. He did try unsuccessfully in the first set once or twice but then they got extinct till the fourth set.

Although I must say that Nadal came out with a specific game plan (attack Federer’s backhand) and stuck to it no matter what. The tenacity that he showed in following his game plan was really commendable.  Roger had a blistering start to the match but as Nadal has always done, he wetted out the storm and hung on. Just like Djokovic showed us last year against Nadal, today Nadal showed it to us against Federer that if you can stick to your game plan, even if there are roadblocks at the start (he lost the first set), you will win. Hats off to Nadal.

Federer will have to do some real thinking if he is to defeat Nadal again in a Grand Slam. Till he sorts it out mentally and gets the belief back in himself that he can defeat Nadal, it will be difficult for him to improve his 2-8 GS record against Nadal. He needs to stick to the game plan and Nadal’s backhand: something which Djokovic has mastery upon.

Is this the end of Roger Federer’s era? Certainly not. He is the youngest 30 in the history of tennis and still in my heart, I believe that the great champion that he is, he will be able to motivate himself  and dig deep to make a strong comeback just like Agassi did in 1999.



If you have any questions- You can mail me at apekshaha@gmail.com, http://twitter.com/#!/ApekshaHA or http://on.fb.me/pouTOy

13 comments:

  1. BS. I think Roger is screwed up big time. Don't think of 17th Slam until Rafa doesn't play in Major.

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  2. Federer will NOT win another GS unless he plays the WTA. I wouldn't bet on that either though.

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  3. That was a good analysis of the game. Thanks

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  4. "Nadal had one game plan and he executed it to perfection with constantly hitting his forehand to Federer’s backhand".

    I disagree. Federer produced more errors on his forehand than usual, especially in the last two sets. Nadal noticed this and hit a lot of balls to Fed's forehand. I'd blame Fed's forehand errors for the loss. Even matchpoint was an unforced forehand error from Fed.

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    1. There were two aspects: one Nadal hitting his forehand to Roger's backhand continuously. Second was as I had said Time and again we saw Federer hit the short return towards Nadal's forehand. Result - Either it was in the net or Nadal came out with a Forehand passing shot winner.

      Those forehand errors were mainly when he tried to hit to Nadal's forehand side (during his approach shot) instead of hitting cross court!(And unforced errors like you said is one of the reasons above which no doubt was a major factor contributing to his loss )

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  5. Great write up. My thoughts exactly. I will add couple of more points:

    1. Lack of discipline. Fed is like an untamed horse. He can outrun most of the field but cannot win big races. His skills alone are not enough to beat top two guys.

    2. Ego. I think deep inside he still thinks he is the best and that gets in the way of changes he needs to make. He has to recognize that top two are as much skills as him but in addition they are very strong mentally

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    1. Thanks! You are absolutely right in the above two points which were proved true again after today's epic match. Djokovic's consistency in hitting the deep forehand to Nadal's backhand was something which Federer lacked in the SF. In mental toughness, there is no doubt that Nole/Rafa are the best. Infact Federer might be a bit lower on the scale.When it comes to pressure points, they fight it out till the last unlike Federer who succumbs to the situation more often than not against Nadal/Djokovic.

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  6. You are right. Rafa/Djoker definitely have better mentality than Fed. I forgot to mention one point above. Fed is often compared to Sampras due to similarity in their playing styles. But in tense situations Pete would always produce his best serves. Rafa does the same with his backhand passes and Djoker has his returns. On the other hand Fed's forehand fails him in tense situations. Once Fed's forehands becomes tentative you can tell that match is over for him.

    I am a big Fed fan and want him to get more GS titles. But its looking like Rafa and Djoker have to be in the hospital for Fed to win another slam. I wish Fed could dominate these guys for some time before he hangs up his racket. He has the skills but he has to put his head up to it.

    I admire Rafa and Djoker but I don't like how they slow down the game. I did some number crunching and it turns out almost 60% of the time in the finals was spent between the points. Could you share your thoughts on it someday? If the Chair had done his job and given code violations for time delay the match would have been over in 3 hours. Here is my quick calculation:

    Total points played:369
    Average delay between points: 30 seconds
    Total delay between points = 30s * 369 = 185 mins.

    Total Games Played: 55
    Total Changeovers: 27
    Changeover delay: 90 seconds
    Adjusted delay: 60 seconds (30 seconds already counted)
    Changeover delay = 60s * 27 = 27 minutes

    Total delay = 185 + 27 = 213 mins

    % time = 213/351 = 60%

    Hope you enjoy reading this long comment.

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    1. First of all thanks for the comment. I really enjoyed reading it. You are abs right:More often than not in crunch situations,Fed's forehand fails him in tense situations!Federer has the game but he needs to be more disciplined in following his game plan. Djokovic showed to us how hitting deep forehand towards Rafa's backhand consistently can expose Nadal in a match! When he plays Djokovic, I think he has the game as he is the only one who defeated him ( and came close in the second) in a GS match last year!

      Your calculations are really admirable! Couple of points though:
      25 seconds is the official limit so 154 minutes was the normal delay.
      32 (i think average delay for Nadal was around 34 and Djokovic was 32 so let's take the conservative approach) so 197 minutes.

      Extra= 197-154=43 minutes

      Just have a doubt on adjusted delay: If you can explain that in detail- was it really 60 seconds?

      But overall, i do think you have a very valid point here. Certainly calls for a time clock to be used during the matches and raises a more important question- Are the top players getting away easily with the rules because of their stature?

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  7. Here is the number 6 reason, and most important: Tío Tony couching Nadal during the match. If you have notice, when Tío Tony is not in the match, Roger beat easily Nadal...Rafa cant beat Roger by himself, he isn't enough intelligent to do it without Tio Tony beside him.

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  8. Great "analysis"! Now some food of thought for you:

    "Time and again we saw Federer hit the short return towards Nadal's forehand." -- yeah, as if Federer likes to hit short returns! It was due to Nadal's spin and heaviness in shots, which is not the case when he plays against others. He cannot, just cannot, attack Rafa's backhand from his backhand on a consistent basis. Do you realize how difficult it is to hit a down the line backhand when the ball is spinning so much?

    2) "63 Unforced Errors from Federer in the match vs. 34 of Nadal" -- again, as if Federer loves to hit unforced errors and gifting Rafa free points. It is not the case. It is because of (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sL6ePvScz4A) that Fed has to go for more on his shots, and commit errors. Comfortable winners against Del Potro or Berdych are returned with interest by Nadal. The same problem Nadal faces against Djokovic (he commits more UFEs against Djoker than anybody else -- remember than flubbed BH at 4-2 30-15 set five of AO? or that botched overhead in set1 at break point down of USO '11?

    3) No answer for Nadal’s Forehand: He simply didn’t have the answer to high loopy top spin forehands of Nadal. -- this sentence itself proves that Fed does not lose because of "himself", but because of Nadal's superiority. Meh.

    5) The drop shots which had worked so perfectly against Tomic and Del Potro were gone. -- LOL! Of course, drop shots won't work against Nadal! He is the fastest player on tour along with Djokovic and Federer. Rafa would chase them down and flick them past Federer unless the drop shot is perfect. Close to perfect will not do. And thats why Fed doesn't attempt them against Nadal (or Djokovic). Even if he does, it is rarely when Nadal is at full stretch, or really far behind the baseline out of position.


    Other points that come up usually. Fed's serving percentage dropping off. That is because of fatigue. Fatigue of hitting one BH after other.

    Hope this helps. And hope this makes you believe that Federer does not lose against Nadal because of himself, or his strategies, or his stubbornness. He loses because of the man standing opposite the net.

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  9. Oh, and by the way, Federer has a definitive reason for not 'approaching' on Rafa's backhand, and doing it towards the FH. Firstly, Rafa's backhand passing shots are THE best in the world (plus, he was actually broken in the second set when he hit a GREAT approach to Rafa's BH, and somehow Rafa hit a clinical BH passing shot for a winner -- and a break). Secondly, coaching-101 says that you usually hit an approach shot down the line, never cross court -- reason being shots hit cross court take more to reach the opponent than DTL and hence easier to chase. Also due to the swing, DTL is more easier to follow forward than cross court -- because the follow through for cross court is more than DTL. That applies on both wings, FH or BH. So .... there!

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