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This blog covers all things RF. It is dedicated to my dearest friend and avid FedFan @EfieZac. May she RIP 💙

Federer inaugurates the Centre Court at Wimbledon in 69 minutes

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Day 1 at Wimbledon has come and gone. Roger Federer took to Centre Court for the first match on the virgin grass – an honour reserved for the defending champion. This was Federer’s 6th appearance as the returning champion and he did not disappoint.

His opponent was Victor Hănescu who, let’s be honest, did not play badly. In fact, he got 85% of his first serves in which is a brilliant statistic on its own. But Hănescu won only 50% of those points and showed why serving well is not enough, you’ve got to back it up with some play. Roger bossed him around all over the court and other than that first serve in statistic, he pretty much dominated the entire match. The Maestro served very well with both his first and second serves clicking. He hit 7 aces, had no double faults and faced no break points. He broke Victor early in both the first and second sets taking only 24 and 27 minutes to win them in 6-3, 6-2. The third set was even worse for the Romanian with Federer ultimately taking a bagel set in only 18 minutes.

In 1 hour and 9 minutes the Swiss approached the net 25 times winning 21 of them and had only 6 unforced errors with 32 winners. He was clinical with his forehand, his backhand, and perfect lobs. His footwork was spectacular especially considering the fresh slippery grass. The balls were fast and low just the way he likes them and he created beautiful angles while varying the tempo of the match constantly to suit himself while never letting Victor find any rhythm. He will next face Stakhovsky in Round 2. With this match Roger moved to 2nd place in the record of most consecutive Grand Slams appearances. He has now participated in his 55th consecutive Grand Slam and is one shy of the record of 56 by Wayne Ferreira. This is also his 57th total Grand Slam appearance and he’s tied at 4th place with Hewitt, Ferreira, Lendl, Chang, Connors and Björkman. With this win, he won his 257th Grand Slam match. Here are the stats.WR1The biggest story besides his win was that of his new blazer/jacket (blazket?) and shoes which was kept hidden till the match. It seems the general consensus on both items was positive. I personally liked the lining of the blazket with little Swiss crosses and the RF logo pattern. I thought the shoe was awesome especially since I kept thinking that the platinum/black shoe we thought he would use earlier, didn’t match the outfit which had orange accents. The shoes have completely orange soles which gave way to the rumour of Federer getting fined for not complying with the ‘predominantly white’ clothing rules at Wimbledon. As far as I know, the rule doesn’t cover the bottom of the shoes so I think the Maestro’s fine 😉

I would normally end the post here since I write mostly about Federer but it doesn’t feel right closing before discussing the shocking upset of Day 1. Rafa Nadal lost in Round 1 to 135th ranked Steve Darcis. Steve Darcis played the match of his life and Rafa was sub-par, with some definite issues in his movement, especially towards the end as well as a surprising lack of the usual energy and intensity we’ve come to expect from him. There were several take-a ways for me in this match and so in no particular order, here they are:

  • It baffles me how despite Wimbledon being the most prestigious Grand Slam event, the tour does nothing for its players in terms of preparing them for the surface. Just 4 quick back to back ATP 250s in the 2 weeks between Roland Garros and Wimbledon is all you get. The clay season starts as early as February (with Roland Garros at the end of May). Meanwhile hard courts are there for almost the full year from the end of July till March.  An extra week of rest will be added before Wimbledon in the future but in my opinion, there needs to be more tourneys on grass at the ATP 500 level and yes at least one Masters out of the 9.
  • Grass courts change drastically over 2 weeks and while they are slick and fast in the beginning, the grass wears out from use towards the end resulting in the courts getting slower and letting the balls bounce higher. Which is why, in this age of baseliners, we see upsets in the first few days of Wimbledon.
  • Which then leads to why Rafa is always more vulnerable at the beginning of Wimbledon. This time he skipped Halle too so his first match on grass was yesterday. Once he survives the first few days he becomes much stronger and by the time the QFs come around he’s all set. But for the past 2 Wimbledons now, he’s been caught before he’s had a chance to find his groove.
  • With Rafa going out in the first round it renders those tedious seedings debate almost moot. With the 5th seed gone, each quarter has a top 4 left and the window is wide open as to who might face Roger in the QFs should he get there. I wonder what McEnroe has to say now about this issue he so vociferously spoke out about.
  • Rafa’s movement was impaired and his energy levels were low which lead me to think perhaps he had overdone it the past 5 months. He packed in 9 tournaments from February to May. In contrast Wimbledon is Federer’s 9th tourney this year which started with the Australian Open in January. But I think either consciously or inadvertently Rafa and his team are taking his scheduling style back to a few decades ago. Back when their used to be specialists and they picked which tournaments to enter according to their preference and that included Grand Slams. The Australian Open was neglected for many years by a whole generation. Nikolay Davydenko pulled out of Wimbledon this year because he wanted to continue focusing on clay and a month of grass was just going to get in the way. It seemed strange to hear that but this continuity of the top players playing every tourney is a recent phenomenon. It was possible by the slowing down the courts so most players can play all surfaces. But Rafa’s decision to focus on his beloved clay entirely, leaving no energy or time for grass, shows there’s still an opportunity for players to specialize.
  • If you look at Rafa’s results, you cannot fault him for his decision. He played 8 clay and 1 hard court tournament, reached the finals of all and won 7 of them including a Grand Slam. He’s already accrued enough points this year to be the first one to qualify for the World Tour Finals at the end. He could sit on a beach in Mallorca from now till the end of the year and still be able to show up in London in November. The question is whether this packed clay season was an aberration because of the injury lay off last year or whether this pattern will continue for Rafa’s career from now on. Time will tell but it’s an interesting idea especially when contrasting it with Roger’s scheduling style as well.

I’ll end right here since Day 2 is already starting. I wonder if we’ll see some more upsets today….hmmmm.

EDIT as of 26the June: Wimbledon has banned Roger’s orange soled shoes. Here is an article about this in detail. He will probably wear the original platinum ones we thought he would. I hope the shoes have the ‘RF’ logo and the ‘7’ on them 😦 . Although I think the orange shoes will soar in popularity now as “The Forbidden Shoes of Wimbledon”. So the Maestro wins anyway 😉

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4 thoughts on “Federer inaugurates the Centre Court at Wimbledon in 69 minutes

  1. Loved your summary notes in this point…. Very Good point about the 4 back to back ATP 250. The good news is that Stuttgart will be played on Grass from 2015 & will be an ATP-500 tourney.

    Regarding the seedings discussion, I really laughed at people – they were criticizing WImbledon seedings system without even seeing that Ferru leads by 300+ points :).

    U r absolutely right, had Rafa won his first 3 Rounds, he would have been unbeatable even on grass, though, I am sadenned by his loss.

    All the best. Keep posting…

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    • Thank you for reading and for the vote of confidence! I had heard about Stuttgart but sure if it was official. Also isn’t it an ATP250 now? So it will get upgraded with the grass then? Would be nice if Roger were to play in the first edition! Although I do think the tourney should be before Wimbledon. But you can’t get everything and an ATP 500 on grass is a start certainly!

      I knew you’d like the seedings bit. I wish someone had asked JMac about it although he would probably still say the same thing, crazy man. The funny thing is, before Wimby had the formula, it was criticized for being too subjective. You can’t please everyone 😉

      I felt bad for Rafa too, he looked sad as he left the court but even when he was playing, his energy levels were low. Not the Rafa we know 😦 I really do wonder whether this is how it will be from now on with regards to his schedule.

      Thanks again for reading and for commenting! 😀

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  2. Thought I’d chime in here instead of on twitter, just for the sake of variety 😉 Roger played wonderfully, it was a treat to watch him & I am hoping he’ll be able to keep playing that way for the next two weeks. And wow, did he look fantastic! I love every bit of his kit – and that jacket is so sharp (the lining!) it just makes me say “oooh”.

    I also would be so happy to see more grass-court events. Way too many clay-court events for this US fan, though I realize there are probably way too many hardcourt events, too. Let’s lop off a couple of each, convert them to grass & make a real grass-court season with a Masters level tourney & everything!

    Great match for Darcis, but I think Rafa created his own problem by playing so many tourneys already this year. I understand that he wanted to rebuild his confidence but surely he suspected he would win most of the clay events he entered. Even though he loves the clay, those interminable rallies and all the running back & forth can’t have been great for him. If his knees are to be a chronic problem, causing trouble occasionally/regularly/whatever, he needs to manage his schedule better. After all, isn’t he the guy usually whining about the too-long season? If it’s too long, rest – you’ve earned it!

    Really enjoy your blog, cff! I’m glad I met you on twitter 🙂

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    • Hello! I’m glad I met you too! And it IS a nice change to chat here instead of twitter – mixes things up and we’re not bound by 140 characters! I JUST saw the annoying news that Roger’s shoes (and maybe Serena’s?) have been banned from Round 2! I’m surprised because there are no rules indicating that the soles be white. But I guess that’s why they have been ‘requested’ and not ‘fined’? hmmm, well he does have those platinum ones we originally thought he would use and maybe he’ll still wear the orange shoes in practice.

      As for the grass season bit, there have been quite a few people who’ve said they agree with me once I posted this piece – I think it’s been on people’s minds. If you look at the 9 Masters you get an idea of how the season is broken up – 1/3 are clay and 2/3 are hard courts (with 1 indoors) and no grass. I think there should be at least get a masters grass tourney a week before Wimby – like Rome before RG and Cincy before USO. Grass is given no respect these days and the ATP tour shows it.

      As for Rafa I agree with you completely. I think the grass is hard for him for different reasons than hard courts. Hard courts are an unforgiving surface to run on, whereas grass keeps the balls really low making one bend at the knees constantly. Either way, I too think he was done physically and mentally by the time Wimby came around. But a part of me thinks this is how it’s going to be from now on. He really is done with the year if you think about it. If you look back in time, there was Guga who did miserably at Wimby and won the French. He ultimately skipped it 4 times in 5 years from 2001 to 2005. So maybe this will be Rafa’s schedule from now on. Take a break from RG till maybe the Roger’s Cup or just the USO. I’m quite curious as to how this will pan out.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting! I’m glad I’m not the only one with these thoughts swirling in my head :). Would be great if you drop by again to visit the blog. I’ll see you on twitter! Hope Roger has a nice quick win today!

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