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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 wins his 7th sailboat!

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E16C64291CBB41F1AD5968BF5307B5C4.ashxRoger Federer won his 7th Dubai title! Hurray for another sailboat! Yes I know I’m a week late, but sometimes life gets in the way. However, though I’m late, it doesn’t mean I forgot about the win. On the contrary, I have been savoring it over the past 7 days. And I realized that the reason I enjoyed this title so much is because this win was important on many levels. Where to start? The records, yes I know. I’ll get to those at the end I promise. That’s the obvious answer: the records and stats. But this win was so much more.

For starters, this was his first tournament back after the much talked about early exit at the Australian Open earlier this year. He was gone for a full month during which he had a long vacation and then a training block. While that meant he was fresh and ready, he hadn’t had any match practice. I’m sure he was a bit nervous about how he would fare being back on tour. So it was quite uplifting to see him get more and more comfortable with every match he played. He also faced a variety of opponents. Youzhny was good as a first match to get his confidence up; then came lefty Verdasco, a player he hadn’t played against in a while. After that was Gasquet who had the potential to be dangerous but wasn’t. Then in the SFs he faced Coric, an unknown entity. It certainly wasn’t the easiest of draws, especially on the quick courts of Dubai where there is less room for error. Roger had to adjust quickly and get in the groove right away, which he thankfully did 🙂

dubai-2015-atp-final-federer-celeb-1080He also defended his points and more importantly, defended his title. He came in as a defending champion and stayed unbeaten and we haven’t had that feeling for a while except at Halle last year. Considering he won 5 titles in 2014 I was wondering if he would be able to keep up with the pace and defend all of them again this year but at least now we know we already have one title defense in the bag. Plus, Dubai was the first title of 2014; this year we got our first one in Brisbane. So we know already that 2015 will be better than 2013 when he won just Halle.

In addition to the joy of Roger defending a title, Dubai will also be etched in my memory for the style of tennis he played. Even though Roger won in Brisbane and the conditions there are fast, I felt he didn’t deliver his optimal level of tennis there. He won the tournament with a combination of will, determination and good-enough tennis. He also looked tired by the end of Brisbane and that slight feeling of ennui continued during his matches in Melbourne. He didn’t look like he was enjoying playing as much as he usually does. All that changed in Dubai. Roger went from strength to strength in every match and produced scintillating points all throughout. He was super aggressive and hit some of the most beautiful volleys ever. His serves were accurate, his shots were clean and even his breakpoint conversion was impressive. He played with his vintage flair and lethal precision and didn’t drop a single set on his road to victory.

He exhibited a high level of tennis in all his matches but if I had to pick one, it would undoubtedly be the final which brings me to yet another important matter, his opponent in the final, Novak Djokovic. Even though Roger has defeated him a few times the last few years, they have always been in SF matches. The last time Roger defeated Novak in a final was at the 2012 Cincinnati Masters. Going into the Dubai final, the H2H was ever so slightly in Roger’s favor at 19-17 but Novak has been constantly threatening to get that to par. And on paper, it looked like Djokovic might get closer to that goal. He had just become the brand new Australian Open champion and further distanced himself from the pack as the World #1. Also, except for his loss in Doha, he had been undefeated since last year in Bercy. Funnily enough, a certain Mr. Federer was responsible for his last loss before that, in Shanghai 😉

dubai-2015-atp-final-federerdjok-1080Given that he was armed with the confidence that comes with being at the top of the world, many would have said Novak was the favorite. I myself thought it would come down to day-form and who got the quicker start, and I was right. Roger played his best match of the tournament in the final. He stepped it up a whole other level from his previous matches. The Swiss unleashed his entire arsenal against Novak and didn’t let him breathe as he bore down on him with offensive play from the first point to the last. Novak had an opportunity in the beginning but Roger held on and from then he didn’t look back and took the set with just one break of the Serbian’s serve. The second set was tougher with Novak creating more chances for himself, but every time, Roger dug himself out. He faced 7 break points in total and saved them all with fantastic serving, coming back from 15-40 multiple times. Despite getting passed a few times, Roger continued to move forward and his commitment to his net play paid off in the end.

This post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning another milestone he reached right in the midst of the wonderful final match. Roger hit his 9,000th ace. He is only the fourth player to ever cross the 9,000 aces barrier and he’s in the company of elite servers, Roddick, Karlovic and Ivanisevic which is what makes this record extra special. Those three names are known for their massive serves and those super-bullets have earned them a total of 60 titles with 2 Grand Slams amongst the 3 of them. That sounds impressive till you realize the Maestro has won 84 titles including 17 Grand Slams all by himself. Clearly one of these four is not like the other. While the three have been lauded for their serves, Roger’s serve is always mentioned as one of the many tools in his toolbox. He also has that powerful forehand, exquisite backhand, eerie anticipation and feline footwork that dominates the narrative of the Swiss.

dubai-2015-atp-final-federer-1920As such, Roger’s wonderful serve is possibly also one of the most underrated. But by reaching this milestone, he gives us the chance to put his serve under the spotlight for once. Roger’s serve is not the fastest nor does he hit a dozen of aces in every match. But his serve certainly has some magical qualities. For one, the toss is the same each time so the opponent has a hard time guessing where he is going to hit it. He is also unnervingly accurate with it. He seemingly picks and chooses his spots at will which makes returning his serves much more difficult and thus leading to more aces. Even more importantly, he often produces his aces right when he needs them the most. The final vs. Novak was a clear illustration of this. During crunch time, he can serve his way out. Check out this ATP tribute video where his opponents talk about Roger’s fantastic serve.

For me personally, I love his serves not for the stats or accuracy but for how beautiful the service motion is. I’ve always thought if there was ever a statue to be made of the Maestro it should be of his service stance. Two to three bounces of the ball is all he needs before the momentary positioning of the ball in the neck of the racquet. After that he starts his motion and it flows uninterrupted each time like a well-oiled machine. In one smooth movement he gently tosses the ball up, while his right arm gets the racquet ready and his knees bend in anticipation. Then at the right moment of the toss he uncoils his body, getting strength from his core and legs and smacks the ball making whatever adjustment he needs depending on what kind of serve he has decided to hit. Through it all, his arms are loose, his face is unconstrained, his eyes are relaxed and he finishes the motion by landing perfectly on his left leg with the balance of a ballerina. If you shoot photos of his service motion, it is pure perfection no matter when you snap the camera. It is the best example of art and athleticism coming together to produce beauty.

OK I’ll stop praising the Maestro’s serve now even though I could go on and on. I did promise at the beginning of the post that I would end by mentioning some of the stats and records he achieved with this win and so without further ado, here they are!

  • Federer has now won 84 titles in his career, at 3rd place in the all-time record. In the open era only Connors (109) and Lendl (94) have won more titles.
  • Federer has appeared in 126 finals during his career, 3rd in the Open Era, behind Connors and Lendl.
  • Federer has won an all-time record 58 hardcourt titles.
  • Federer is the only player to win 50 titles on a particular surface.
  • Federer is the only player to win tournaments 7 times each on two surfaces, grass (Halle and Wimbledon) and hardcourts (Dubai).
  • Federer is the only player to win 7 different tournaments at least 5 times each. As of 2015, he has won 5 titles at the US Open, 6 titles at Cincinnati, Basel and the ATP World Tour Finals and 7 at Dubai, Halle and Wimbledon.
  • Federer is the only player to record 600 match wins on hardcourts. He currently has 628 hardcourt match wins. Agassi sits at #2 with 598.
  • Federer is the 2nd player to record at least 600 wins per any court type –Vilas leads with 644 match wins on clay.
  • Federer has now won 63 outdoor titles and is tied at 1st place with Nadal.
  • Federer is 3rd on list of career outdoor match wins with his 755 wins as of the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
  • Federer is 3rd on list of career matches played with 1,235 as of the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
  • Federer is 3rd on list of most career match wins with his 1,007 wins as of the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.
  • Federer has reached a record 21 ATP 500 finals.
  • Federer has now won 15 ATP 500 titles. He is tied at 1st place with Nadal.
  • Federer hit his 9,000th ace in the final of the 2015 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. He is the 4th player to cross the 9,000th ace mark behind Roddick (9,074), Karlovic (9,375) and Ivanisevic (10,183).
  • On March 9th, 2015, Federer will have completed a record 440 weeks ranked in the top 2.

Dubai was a wonderful tournament for Roger and a very important win that will give him confidence not just for the upcoming Masters at Indian Wells but for the year too. As we know from his schedule, he will skip Miami so Indian Wells will be his last hard court tournament till after Wimbledon. He was a finalist there last year and will be looking to see if he can go one better. The tournament will kick off on March 12th but remember he’ll have a bye in the first round. Good luck in California Roger!dubai-2015-atp-final-federer-trophy-1080-2

 

***The first photo is a Getty Image from the ATP site. The rest are from the Dubai Duty Free Championship site.***

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6 thoughts on “Federer wins his 7th sailboat!

  1. I think you hit upon why I keep watching his matches in Dubai: his high quality of play was just so wonderful to watch. Roger’s serving was so clutch in the final and that was so thrilling especially against a player like Novak who was playing well and confident. For me, when Roger points his toe as he is about to serve is a moment to behold! I love what you said about every point in the motion being perfect. Each point is aesthetically perfect and technically sound. Just lovely. The records are so incredible, in the true meaning of the word.
    I’ll be off to NYC on Tuesday for his exho and even though it’s all for show, the beauty of that show makes it all worth it!
    Thanks for your great write-up. So nice to experience it all over again!

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    • Oh wow! NYC! Now I am jealous of you for two reasons! You get to see Roger AND you will be in my favorite city! and I would love to see his exos because he plays with complete abandon in them and produces ultra jaw-dropping shots in the process! I still hopes he wins, even though it’s all for show. 😉
      Thanks for reading the post even though it was so late. I agree with you, his level of tennis was spectacular in Dubai, especially in the final. It rivals my love for his Shanghai match against Novak last year except that was an SF so perhaps this final wins at the end!
      I hope this gives him confidence going into IW. After that we have to brace ourselves for a LONG clay season and frankly I don’t know what to expect out of that. Would be nice to have a Masters in our bag before the dirt! Have fun in NYC!

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  2. Yay…. I thought you were not going to do a post, but this is absolutely brilliant. Bravo Ishti… For many reasons I never thought Roger was going to be successful in this tournament, his long break, and then the draw, uff… But he did surprise us like the only way he can. With each match he kept on going, the SF match he played conservative tennis against Coric, saving his best for what was to come in the final. I absolutely loved the final, in hindsight that is.. Watching Roger live on TV is as you know it an emotional roller coaster. I agree with you on his serve, what a perfect way to describe it in this post, so poetic. Hehehe. It’s the best and it bailed him out in that final. That victory was such a sweet one, beating Novak, winning his 7th, amazing.
    Thanks once again for this write up. Looking forward to more lovely posts during the IW and hope the maestro have a yet again successful tourney…
    Allezz…..

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    • Thanks for the lovely comments Glory! I have a cousin from the US visiting for the past week so my life has been busier than usual hence the delay 🙂 But I kept writing bits everyday. The win was so special it stayed in my mind as clear as day. While the tournament was a good display from Roger, the final in particular just blew me away. Loved it just like you… and yes, of course in hindsight! 😉 The last time I loved his tennis as much was in the Shanghai SFs last year but this probably tops it because it was a final. Finally he won a final against Novak! So happy he did that. In straight sets too!

      As for his serve, I love it so much and I never seem to find the right post to talk about it so I took the liberty in this one and went a bit overboard I admit 😛 It is really beautiful though, smooth and lethal.

      I hope he has a good IW. After that we’re in for a long clay season and I’m curious as to what that will exactly bring. But for now we have one more hardcourt tournament left and it would be great if he good have a good one.

      Thanks again for reading and commenting. IW here we come!

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  3. Ishti! Sorry for delay in reading, but I wanted to read this just before IW so I’m all pumped up and positive for Roger this week 🙂 Thanks for those ginormous and amazing stats 😀 I was very nervous before the Dubai final looking at Novak’s form but knowing that this is a faster court and Roger was also in red(orange)hot form and reached finals without dropping a set gave me hopes he could do it! And voila 7th sailboat 😀 😀 😀 He did everything right in that match, and saving 7 BPs must be a super confidence booster 🙂 And converting all (just 2) BPs that too from Novak’s serve was what I call a match played and won with peRFection 🙂 Also the Tournament Director calling Roger world no. 1 just totally made my day (he was talking abt near future ok!) 😛

    Your description of Roger’s serve couldn’t be more accurate and beautiful!! I love his service motion so much! Its really the most beautiful sight in the world ❤ I have his ball toss pic as my twitter wallpaper 🙂 I could really take your description and quote it on one of Roger's pic where he is serving! 🙂

    As for IW, Roger's draw is tough with potential semis against Rafa, but I want that terrible H2H to be slightly not terrible 😉 Rog can do it and he WILL!

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    • Thank you for the lovely comments! I am glad you enjoyed the post! and yes hoping for a good IW although his draw is just *sigh*. We’ll take it one match at a time 🙂 Meanwhile, back to the post, when the guy called Roger #1, Novak’s face was hilarious, he looked like he was about to kill someone. Roger was meanwhile just smiling away 😉 I’m also happy you liked my ode to his serve 🙂 It’s so beautiful but I never find the right post to talk about it. With the 9000 aces milestone, I figured I would take a chance 🙂 Thanks again for reading and commenting! 🙂

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