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


The year that wasn’t… and more importantly, THE YEAR THAT WAS!

Roger+Federer+2015+Australian+Open+Previews+AVkLk9EAy6mxOnly 4 tournaments left to go till the year ends and we all know what has not happened this year. Roger Federer did not win Wimbledon, he did not win any Slam, nor did he get close to reaching the #1 ranking. But what those big “fails” hide from us is that plenty HAS happened nonetheless. So I thought I would take a moment to recount all those milestones our champ reached this year.

Please keep in mind this is not a list of ALL the records he holds. That post would be way too long. For example, I didn’t include his record for most Grand Slam titles won in this post. What I have listed below are ONLY those stats that he added to or improved upon in the past 9 months. Turns out, even in this 3/4ths of a year, he has achieved so much that I had to split them up into categories. Without further ado, I present Roger Federer’s 2015 in Stats and Records – thus far.

Grand Slams:

  • Roger has now appeared in 66 Grand Slams as of 2015 US Open. He trails Santoro who had 70 appearances.Roger+Federer+Day+Two+Championships+Wimbledon+1-A01ROix-xx
  • Roger has now appeared in 64 consecutive Grand Slams as of 2015 US Open. This is an all-time record for both men and women.
  • By reaching the US Open final this year, Roger has now appeared in an all-time men’s record of 27 Grand Slam finals. Nadal is in 2nd place with 20.
  • During the Open Era, only Roger has reached 10 finals of a single Grand Slam by reaching his 10th Wimbledon final this year. This is also obviously a record for most Wimbledon finals reached in the Open Era.
  • Roger reached his 7th US Open final this year and is now tied with Connors for 2nd place. Both are behind Sampras and Lendl with 8.
  • Roger extended his all-time record by reaching his 38th Grand Slam semifinal in New York which is 5 more than the previous record set by Connors.
  • Roger reached his 10th Wimbledon semifinal this year and is now 1 behind Connors with 11. However, unlike Connors, Roger has won every Wimbledon semifinal he reached.
  • Roger has now reached 10 US Open semifinals and is tied with Agassi for 2nd place. Both trail Connors with 14.
  • Roger reached an all-time record 46 quarterfinals in total at the US Open this year and has long since surpassed the previous record of 41 held by Connors.
  • Roger has also reached a record 11 quarterfinals overall in the French Open as of 2015; Nadal trails him with 10.
Individual Records:
  • Roger has reached the round of 16 a record 54 times (2000 French Open – 2015 US Open) holding a 45–8 record at this round.
  • As of 2015 US Open, Roger has a 32–1 record when playing night matches at Flushing Meadows surpassing Agassi’s record of 28.Roger+Federer+BNP+Paribas+Showdown+CJwscxeLtU-x
  • Roger continued to extend his all-time record of total match wins at all Grand Slams combined with 297 wins.
  • Roger continued to extend his all-time record of total matches played at all Grand Slams combined by playing 346 matches as of this year. Connors is next on the list with 282 matches played. This means no other player has ever even played 300 Grand Slam matches. In fact, Roger has won more Slam matches, i.e. 297, than any other player has even played.
  • Roger extended his all-time record of hardcourt matches won at the Grand Slam level with 153 wins. He is in 2nd place with 79 grass wins behind Connors’ 106.
  • Roger is the only male player in history to win over 60 matches at all four Grand Slams and the only player to win over 70 matches at 3 Grand Slams. After participating in all 4 Slams this year his total match wins at each Slam are as follows: His 65 match wins at the French Open is his lowest figure (he is in 2nd place behind Nadal’s 70). He has won 79 matches at Wimbledon (2nd behind Connors’ 84), 78 matches at the US Open (3rd behind Agassi’s 79 and Connors’ 97) and 75 matches at the Australian Open – which is a record for that Slam.

Are you already reeling from all the stats? Because that was only the Grand Slam records; there’s plenty more he did on the ATP Tour. So splash some water on your face, get a cup of coffee or tea and curl up for part 2!

ATP World Tour records:

Aggregate records:
  • Roger has won 87 titles in his career. He’s at 3rd place in the all-time record. In the Open Era only Connors (109) and Lendl (94) have won more titles.
  • Roger has reached 133 finals during his career, 3rd in the Open Era, behind Connors (163) and Lendl (146).
  • Roger won his 1,000th match earlier in this year by winning the Brisbane final. He is now 3rd on the list of most career match wins with his 1,049 wins behind Connors (1,254) and Lendl (1,071). The next active player on the list is Nadal with 751 wins.
  • Roger is 3rd on the list of total career matches played with 1,284. The next active player on the list is Ferrer with 946 matches played. This means Roger has won more matches, i.e. 1,049 matches than any other active player has even played.Roger+Federer+Western+Southern+Open+Day+8+J8-d5_zvlBXx
  • Roger is the only player to win 7 different tournaments at least 5 times each and also to win 6 different tournaments at least 6 times each. As of 2015, he has won 5 titles at US Open, 6 titles at Basel and the ATP World Tour Finals, 7 at Dubai, Wimbledon and Cincinnati and 8 at Halle.
  • Roger has now won at least 50 matches in 7 tournaments: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, US Open, Indian Wells, Basel and Halle.
  • By winning his first title of the year in Brisbane, Roger continued his streak of 15 years of winning a title in every season from 2001 to 2015. This is an ongoing all-time record, with Lendl in 2nd place for winning at least one title for 14 consecutive years.
  • Roger has won singles tournaments in an Open Era record of 19 different countries: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Portugal, Qatar, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, the United States and added Turkey to the list this year.
Service records:
  • As of this year thus far, Roger has played the most tiebreaks since the introduction of the tiebreak. He has played 593 tiebreaks. Karlovic is close on his heels at 2nd place with 587 tiebreaks played.
  • Roger has won the most tiebreaks in history as well. He has won 386 tiebreaks. Sampras is in 2nd place with winning 328 of them.
  • Roger currently still has the highest career winning percentage in tiebreaks – 65.09% (386–207 as of the 2015 US Open). Ashe is in 2nd place and Isner is in 3rd.
  • Roger 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 and is in 3rd place with 9,386 aces hit so far, behind Karlovic and Ivanisevic.
  • From the 1st round of Halle 2015 to the Quarterfinals of Wimbledon 2015, Roger went on a streak of 116 consecutive service holds, 2nd only to Karlovic’s 129 holds in a row back in 2009.
Surface records:
  • Roger won his 200th match on clay with his R2 win at the 2015 Istanbul Open.
  • Roger won his first title on clay this year at Istanbul since 2012. This was his 11th clay title.Roger+Federer+2015+Open+Day+14+VvJLCRn19C6x
  • With titles at Istanbul and Halle, in addition to this 3 hardcourt titles, 2015 is now Roger’s 8th year of winning titles on clay, hardcourts and grass.
  • By winning in Halle this year, Roger extended his all-time record of winning the most grass titles (15) in the Open Era.
  • By winning his clay title in Istanbul this year, Roger is now the only player to win at least eleven titles each on clay, grass, outdoor hardcourt and indoor hardcourt in the Open Era.
  • By winning in Cincinnati this year, Roger has now won an all-time record 66 outdoor titles. Nadal is right behind him with 65.

Hang in there! We’re almost done except for a few more records that I thought I should break down according to each level of the Tour. Otherwise I was drowning trying to comprehend all of it!

ATP Masters 1000:
  • Cincinnati has been Roger’s most successful Masters Tournament. He holds the Cincinnati record for most finals reached (7) and most titles won (7), meaning he has never lost a final at Cincinnati.
  • By winning in Cincinnati this year, Roger has extended his all-time record of winning the most hardcourt titles (59) in the Open Era. He is currently the only player who has won over 50 titles on one surface.Roger+Federer+Australian+Open+Day+3+D90htlG1aPAx
  • Roger extended his record of most matches won at the ATP Masters 1000 level with 326 matches won.
  • Roger is the only player to win a Masters 1000 title without dropping serve and therefore obviously he is also the only player to do this twice, both times at Cincinnati, in 2012 and now in 2015.
  • Roger has won a record 18 hardcourt Masters series titles by winning in Cincinnati this year.
  • With the Cincinnati 2015 title, Roger now has the 2nd highest number of Masters titles with 24 and is tied with Djokovic. Both are behind Nadal who has 27 titles. 
  • Roger has reached a record 42 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 finals by reaching the Cincinnati 2015 final and is tied with Nadal for the most SFs reached at this level; they have both reached 56 SFs.
ATP 500:
  • Roger won his 16th ATP 500 title when he won in Halle this year; he now shares the record of most ATP 500 titles with Nadal.
  • Halle has been a very successful event for Roger. With this year’s win he now holds the Halle records for most overall titles (8), most consecutive titles (4), as well as most finals (10).
  • Dubai has also been a great tournament for Roger. He holds the Dubai records for most titles (7), most finals (9), and shares the record for most consecutive titles (3) with Djokovic.
Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Ten+yswHqIhQEtGxATP 250:
  • By winning in Istanbul this year, Roger has won 24 ATP 250 titles which put him at 2nd place behind Muster with 26.
  • By reaching the Istanbul final this year, Roger has now reached 32 finals at the ATP 250 level tying with Muster and Roddick for the top spot.
ATP World Tour Finals:
  • This year Roger has qualified for the ATP World Tour Finals for his 14th consecutive year, from 2002-2015. This is an all-time record both for consecutive and total number of years.
  • Roger might not be able to end the year ranked #2 but regardless of whether that happens or not, Roger holds the all-time record for total number of weeks being ranked in the Top 2. As of October 5th, 2015 he has been in the Top 2 for 469 weeks. Lendl is behind him with 409 weeks.
  • He is also close to overtaking Connors for the total number of weeks of being ranked in the Top 3. Connors’ record is 595 weeks. As of October 5th, 2015, Roger is at 582 weeks. He needs 14 more weeks to take the top spot. If Roger can remain ranked in the Top 3 from now till January 11th 2016, he will overtake Connors with 596 weeks on that day.
Performances against Novak:

Lastly I want to quickly touch upon Roger’s performances against Novak. This was particularly helpful for me because Novak has shattered our dreams quite a few times the past 2 years. But, it’s important to remember that first of all, Novak has done that to all the players on the tour, he is the dominant #1 by a mile right now. And second, compared to the rest of the tour, Roger has challenged Novak the most.Roger+Federer+ATP+Masters+Series+Monte+Carlo+oa8ImRA8LqXl

Roger has won 5 titles in 2015, 2nd only to Novak’s 7. Roger has reached 9 finals this year (also 2nd to Novak’s 11) and lost 4 but all those losses were to Novak only. Important to note that of the 5 titles Roger won in 2015, 2 of those came by defeating Novak as well. In fact, from January 2014 till now, Novak has lost only 13 times in these 21 months. Of those 13 losses, Roger is responsible for 5 of them. Stan defeated him twice and 6 other players including Rafa and Andy have only defeated him once each in this time period. So clearly, despite having 1,284 matches in his body, 34 year old Federer is still pushing the current #1 more than any other player. I honestly don’t know whether to feel proud or saddened by that statement but there you have it.


Phew! I think I am done! It was exhausting listing the many new records that the Maestro has achieved in the past 9 months of 2015. And honestly, I am pretty sure I missed a few. But this took me 3 days to write up so I give up!

As we know, Roger has reached that legendary status where each time he steps on the court he either breaks an old record or sets a new one. They’re not all big ones like winning a Grand Slam or even a Masters. As such, I think we have a tendency to take these “smaller” successes for granted. At least I sometimes do. Only a Federer fan would do this because Roger spoiled us all for over a decade with crazy, massive accomplishments like no other player before or since.

Roger+Federer+20th+Annual+Arthur+Ashe+Kids+OFqA36S1tHvxBut when you put all these achievements together as I just did above, 3 truths hit you at once. 1. Roger is still playing an extremely high level of tennis. 2. He is not just playing good tennis but also consistently testing the #1 ranked player. 3. He still plays with flourish, flair and finesse that are unmatched on the tour.

Roger’s vigour and enthusiasm leaves me flabbergasted when I realize he has been on tour for 17 years now. Looking at him smiling at practice and you would think he’s a newbie who is simply happy to be playing the sport he loves. I think it’s that joy that keeps him going. Why else would a father of 4 still constantly innovate, push and change his game? Why would he still find a way to invent a new shot while achieving all that I listed above?

Then you watch him play the SABR and listen to the crowd’s reaction and you know why he still keeps playing and why we still keep watching. Because for those few seconds, we all simultaneously experience a Federer Moment. The point, the match and the opponent almost don’t matter as you draw your breath in admiration to realize Roger Federer can still make time stop ticking. The world melts away and it’s just us and him and magic.

Thank you Roger for all that you do and congratulations on another great year on tour! We are blessed that you continue to give us excellence when you really have nothing left to prove. But then, this was never about proving anything was it?

“…Maybe you have to go back and think, “Why have I started playing tennis?” Because I just like it. It’s actually sort of a dream hobby that became somewhat of a job. Some people just don’t get that ever. So for us, the players, it’s logical that we love doing what we’re doing and you want to do it as long as you can.” – Shanghai 2012

I hope you enjoy your dream hobby for a long, long time Roger, because we never tire of watching you play! Good luck for the rest of the season! Allez Maestro!Roger+Federer+BNP+Paribas+Showdown+p-vWmeYyuP_x

***There may be errors/typos in some of the stats above. There was a LOT of information to sift through and I am only human, unlike Roger! If you spot something, I would appreciate it if you let me know but please don’t be mean about it. Thanks!***

***Photos are from***



Title #85!

Turkey Switzerland Federer-3Roger Federer won the Istanbul Open! The match had something for everyone. For a set and a half, the Maestro looked in cruise control. He took the first set 6-3 and was up a break in the second at 4*-3. Doesn’t that 6-3, 4*-3 score line look fun to you? Trust me, those of us who watched it live had a great time.

Then a thought hit Roger. While the millions of FedFans watching the match were waiting to countdown to the trophy winning moment, he suddenly felt deflated. He reflected back on the past few days; that boat ride on the Bosphorous was so much fun, the kids were so cute on Kids Day and he had been treated like a very special person from the moment he landed in this new country. Yet here he was, a mere 2 games away from his time in Turkey coming to a close. If he spent so little time on court, would it be fair to those wonderful fans who filled the stadium each day to see him? Perhaps it would be rude to leave so quickly? So the ever-considerate Swiss decided to provide the dedicated Turkish fans with a bit more Roger-time and promptly got broken back to get the set on serve again.

3f9d60e0cf067013750f6a706700c48eThe second set was at 4 all and Pablo had a new lease on life. Both players hung in there and forced a tie-break. The tie-break was almost cartoonish because Pablo and Roger each had multiple epic fail moments, missing chances on set points and match points. But then Roger realized that if he didn’t win the tie-break, that would mean having to play a whole new set and who knows what might happen if he took that risk? He was already due to play in Madrid in 3 days. Maybe it was time to wrap it up so he can recover from a 2 set match instead of 3? So, finally, Roger won the set and the match 6-3, 7-6(13-11). He did a little hop on his way to the net to shake hands and the rest of us melted into a puddle of exhaustion, exasperation and exhilaration.

This was Roger’s best match of the tournament in all departments of his game. It was extra nice that he found his groove after 2 back to back grueling matches against Gimeno-Traver and Schwartzman. Going into Madrid, he will feel good about his performances and how his body held up thus far. Though it should be mentioned that Madrid’s conditions are very different to not just Istanbul, but every other clay tournament because of its altitude.

He is scheduled to face Nick Kyrgios in his opening match a few hours from now. Nick is a big hitter with a massive serve that will get extra pop in Madrid’s conditions. The two have never faced each other before so expect Roger to need a bit of time to work out how to play him. I hope our Maestro comes through unscathed.

Before I end this post, just a quick run-through of what the Istanbul title means for our champ. This was Roger’s:
• 85th career title in his 128th career final
• 1st title on clay since Madrid 2012
• 11th clay title in his career
• 3rd title of the year
• 1st title in Istanbul making Turkey the 19th country he has won a title in, which is a record
• 24th ATP 250 title. He is now second behind Muster who holds the record for most ATP 250s with 26
• 64th outdoor title. This is a new record though Nadal trails him by just 1. If Nadal wins in Madrid, he will tie with Roger again
• 765th outdoor match win, 1,017th career match win and 1,247th career match.

11188423_799607060136128_74607827647266318_nRoger had a fantastic time in Istanbul. He promoted the tournament very well and he was warmly appreciated for his efforts. You could see his enthusiasm of experiencing something new throughout the week and his unbridled joy when he won the final was there for all to see. It is that youthfulness that keeps his mind fresh on the tour which makes my next sentence even more amazing: Roger’s twin baby boys turned 1 year old today! Happy birthday Leo and Lenny! His excitement, motivation and positivity makes him seem so much younger than he is. Then it hits you that this dorky man is the father of four children! His dad mode was in full display at the Kids Clinic at Istanbul; he instinctively knows how to interact with children.

But Roger has many avatars. He is a dad one minute, a giggly school child another minute and then on court, during match time, he is a tennis god. It is this intoxicating and mesmerizing combination of attributes that make Roger who he is and brings fans from across the world to him like moths to a flame. And the best part is, no matter what happens in Madrid, or Halle or Basel or Roland Garros or even Wimbledon, we will continue to be moths and he will continue to burn bright. It’s not easy quitting Roger. If it were, then you wouldn’t be reading this but here you are! 😉 Good luck in Madrid Maestro!


***First 2 photos are AP Photos. Not sure about the third one.***


Federer reaches the Istanbul Final!

Uploads_2015_5_manset2Here we are, Roger Federer is into his 128th career final! And he was made to work for it till the last game of the final set. Yes, the match went to 3 sets again. Once more it was against a player who was not supposed to be as tough as he was today. But if you had seen the first set you would think Diego Schwartzman was the #1 seed and our champ the lost and frustrated newbie.

It was a tough match to sit through, especially in the beginning when Roger got broken twice in the first set and couldn’t find any rhythm or timing. The Maestro lost that set 2-6 in the blink of an eye. Some serious momentum shift was needed immediately but Diego was not in the mood to be swatted away. He may be only 5’7” tall but he had the speed of a DC comic hero in the match (yes, I’m a fan of the TV show, ‘The Flash’ obviously). But back to tennis, this young man basically got to every ball no matter how hard Roger hit them. Nonetheless, in set 2, Roger’s game went up a whole new level and he started to win his first serve points a lot more which made a big difference. He did not face any breakpoints and put Diego under pressure constantly. Roger had 8 breakpoint chances of his own in this set but Diego valiantly saved 6 of them. The 2 he didn’t were the ones that made the difference. Roger won that set 6-2.

Set 3 started with the momentum on Roger’s side but Diego decided to up the ante as well. This final set had the best quality of tennis in my opinion since both players were playing at their best. I constantly felt that Roger was playing just a little bit better and would break Diego any minute, but just like Gimeno-Traver in the last match, Diego played well when it counted the most. He hung in there and even saved one match point when he was serving at 4*-5. But eventually, Diego finally blinked at 5*-6, and Roger broke him to take the match, 2-6, 6-2, 7-5. Here is the link to part 1 which was strange, part 2 and the on-court interview. Here are the match stats.matI will remember two things from this match. First, Diego played a very good match from the beginning till the end and deserved the applause he received at the end. I would prefer that Roger never plays him again but the Maestro hugged him so warmly at the net, I am afraid the crazy man actually enjoyed this tormenting match; he called it “fun” of course. Second, Roger was in a very bad mood. Bad enough to hit a ball out of the stadium in frustration and get a code violation in the process. Roger Federer getting a code violation! You don’t see that every day… or month, or year, or decade. Roger has not had a good time on the court the past few days and both matches were annoyingly and excruciatingly tedious. I can totally understand why he was so frustrated.

Uploads_2015_5_img7562So far, his opponents have been lower ranked, relatively unknown, players who came at him with all they had, trying to score their one big upset. Unfortunately, the final will be no different. He will face Uruguayan player Pablo Cuevas, ranked 23 in the world. Pablo is 29 years old and he’s been on tour for a long time so it’s interesting that he has never faced Roger before. Cuevas is having the best year of his career as far as rankings go and to top it all off, he’s a clay court specialist. He has dropped only one set in the tournament and defeated Grigor Dimitrov in his SF match in relatively easy straight sets. He would have been a tough opponent on clay even in the best of days. But with Roger’s recent erratic performances, Pablo will definitely think he has a chance.

However Roger of course, has experience; specifically experience in playing finals and fighting for trophies. The Maestro knows how to win and if he is not too tired and can get his first serves firing, Roger will be tough to beat. I have no idea at all who will get that winners trophy, but I do feel that it will be determined on which Roger shows up. That match will begin at 5:00pm local time. Here’s hoping Roger the Champion comes to play!

***Photos from the tournament site. Stats from the ATP site.***


Federer reaches the Istanbul Open SFs

Uploads_2015_5_mans3Roger Federer has reached the SFs in Istanbul. How he got there I don’t exactly remember. I know it took 3 sets with 2 of them going to tie-breaks. I know it took close to 2.5 hours. I know he won more points than his opponent in every set. I know he converted only 3 out of 13 breakpoints. I know these stats. But even though I watched the entire match, I think for my own sake my brain is blocking out most of it.

It started off well enough with Roger getting a break right away. But then he couldn’t consolidate it and that should have told us we had a long way to go. His opponent was Daniel Gimeno-Traver and even though this was their first meeting, Daniel has been on tour for a while. He is a seasoned campaigner and showed no nerves even after losing that first game. The first set ultimately went to a tie-break. Despite losing a mini-break in the beginning, Roger played well enough to get another one and take the set.

Uploads_2015_5_ae0i9425The second set started disastrously for our champ as Daniel broke Roger and then consolidated to go up 4-1*. Roger held his own game after that but so did Daniel, and soon Roger had to serve to stay in the set at 2*-5. Roger held that game to bring the deficit down to 3-5* and it was up to Daniel to serve for the set. Finally Daniel’s nerves got to him and he got broken at love and we were back on serve. Roger held next to level the score at 5 all. But then Daniel, despite being down breakpoints, held on as well to go up 6-5* and made Roger serve for a chance at a second tie-break. In the tie-break, Roger got an immediate mini-break, again and lost it, again. Then he got a second one and lost it too. Can you guess what happened next? Daniel got a mini-break of his own. But unlike Roger, he figured these mini-breaks must be important so he held onto his and won the set. It was 1 all and by then I had torn off clumps of my hair from my head.

Set 3 started with Roger saving breakpoints in his very first game. It must be said that throughout this set, Roger kept pushing Daniel and often got to 30 all and deuce on the Spaniards games. But somehow, Daniel kept holding and that’s how it went on till 3 all. Serving at 3*-4 Daniel wavered and even though he was up 40-15, an error from him and two subsequent winners from Roger provided the Swiss his first breakpoint chance of the set. This time, when it counted the most, Roger finally took it with a gorgeous net point and suddenly he was serving for the match. Roger didn’t make any mistakes and sealed the deal with his first match point. Game, set, match, Federer 7-6(3), 6-7(5), 6-3. Here are the match stats.matchAs I mentioned above, Roger won more points than Daniel but the Spaniard did a great job of winning the big points. He saved 10 of the 13 breakpoints he faced and held onto the one mini-break he got in the second set tie-break. As for Roger, his performance was up and down. The stats won’t tell you what a tough time he had on court. He was frustrated, he hit a few shanks, his shot selections were questionable at times and I think he didn’t slide and move as well as he can/should. He said in the post-match interview that these types of wins were good for his confidence, reiterating yet again how his understanding of the words “good”, “fun” and “exciting” is so different from the rest of us.

Uploads_2015_5_ae0i9482Up next is the young Argentinean player Diego Schwartzman. Diego had a mighty impressive win of his own right before Roger today. He has already faced Roger twice in his career, at Indian Wells this year and Roland Garros last year. Even though Roger won both times, Diego will come into the match confident and not awestruck at playing a legend for the first time.

On the other hand, I have no clue how Roger will perform. This looks easy on paper. But this is clay and Roger has been erratic so who knows what will happen. Even if Roger wins, don’t be surprised if it’s a tough one. It depends on whether Roger’s game comes together just in time for the match. The SF is scheduled at 3:30pm local time. Till then, enjoy set 1, set 2 (only if you want to torture yourself), set 3 and the on-court interview from today. See you at match time!


***Photos are from the tournament site. Stats are from the ATP site.***


Federer kicks off the clay season with a win – Redux

Uploads_2015_4_2015april29federernieminennRoger Federer is back on the tour on red clay. Yes I know my last post also had a ‘back-on-tour-on-clay’ theme but as we know, that campaign ended very quickly with just one win and one head-scratching loss to Monfils that I tried to understand but couldn’t. Given all that prep Roger had put in prior to that tournament and how well he played against Chardy in his first Monte Carlo match, I had no clue a straight set loss was on the cards next. Gael always causes Roger trouble but if you had watched that match you would know in that instance, he certainly helped Gael as well. By the time Monfils was done re-tying his shoelaces, Roger was gone from the tour again.

Probably that’s why it feels like it’s been some time since I’ve seen him play. I remember the tough Indian Wells final on March 22nd. After that, big tournaments like Miami and Monte Carlo came and went with a cameo from Roger while Novak Djokovic stomped his dominance over the tennis universe. Tennis hasn’t been giving me much joy lately and I finally figured out over the past week that it’s not only due to Roger’s sudden exits in Melbourne and Monte Carlo. I saw a tweet on my timeline that said: ‘This is Novak’s world and we’re all just living in it’ and that’s when it hit me. I find no joy living in Novak’s world.

I respect Novak as a player but I am not a fan and to me it’s boring to see no one mount a challenge against him, especially since both Novak and I know, he’s not even playing at his absolute best. Quite a few of his wins have been ugly, but a win is a win and Novak and his fans rightly deserve their moment in the sun. Hey, I know how wonderful that feels; I have been blessed with Roger giving us many such years in the past. So I don’t grudge them one bit. But just like many of them tuned out when Roger was winning everything, I realized I too am tuning out while Novak is winning everything. If it’s Novak’s world, then so be it. Doesn’t mean I have to hang around and watch.

So as it turns out, I haven’t been following tennis in 2015 as much as I did the past few years. You can point out that Novak’s been dominating for a while now so why am I suddenly feeling his impact? Well, that’s where it IS linked to Roger. Roger has played a lot until recently. Even during the difficult year of 2013 when he was struggling and trying out different strategies, he was there, for me to obsess over and thus ‘balance out’ the rest of the tour. This year, his schedule is understandably more stripped down. Plus, in the tournaments Roger has entered so far, he has either been very good or bounced out early. He’s been erratic which has led to even more gaps between tournaments.

Uploads_2015_4_2015april29federervsnieminen-1Now before you jump all over me with accusations, please note that I am not blaming him or anyone for that matter. All I am saying is, in my own selfish world as a Federer fan, I need a big dose of Roger, his pretty tennis and his general dorkiness to enable me to enjoy the tour that’s dominated by a player I am not a fan of. Considering Roger has played for about 4 weeks this year it makes sense that I’ve kind of been out of tennis for the other 12 weeks of 2015, give or take.

This brings me to the present, the inaugural 2015 Istanbul Open. As a Roger fan, it’s been fun the past few days. The Maestro’s excitement and enthusiasm is always infectious and he hit the ground running with interviews, having a hit on the Bosphorus, attending the player’s party, donating his racquet, and a fun filled Kids Day event all before his first match. Roger has been warmly welcomed by the Turkish people and he is sure to have plenty of support throughout the tournament. With all the good vibes heading his way, perhaps Istanbul is the start of two solid weeks for our champ?

He certainly seemed ready and focused for his first match against an old friend Jarkko Nieminen. Their H2H going into the match was a staggering 14-0 in favour of the Swiss and Roger was in no mood to let Nieminen have a peak a reversing that order. The first set was over in 20 minutes and that’s with Jarkko winning 2 games. That’s how fast Roger can play. At one point Umpire Mohamed Lahyani had gotten down to check one of his first serves and had to scramble back into this seat because Roger was already in his service motion for his second serve. Roger was super sharp in that set, losing just 2 points on his first serve and 1 on his second. He got 79% of his first serves in which included 4 aces.

But Jarkko is a seasoned veteran and he started the second set well, cutting down on his errors and keeping Roger mired in longer baseline rallies. Roger’s serve came under pressure this set; his first serves in dropped to just 53%, he hit two double faults and his second serves got punished. He also hit a few random errors when he hit his forehand long and there was even a requisite shank let’s-look-at-that-ball-fly moment too. But the Swiss never got into too much trouble. He didn’t face a breakpoint at all and despite Jarkko’s push at the beginning of the second set, you could sense Roger was right there about to get the all-important break. He finally broke Jarkko to go up 6*-5 and made no mistake serving for the match, winning match point with a wonderful final flourish. Roger finished the match 6-2, 7-5 in exactly 60 minutes. Here are the match stats.CThe Maestro played well in his first match on Istanbul soil. When Nieminen stepped up his game, he posed a few difficulties for our champ, but Roger came through it unscathed. It was a good match to shake off any rust. Meanwhile, for anyone interested in Roger’s records, you can now proudly say he has won his 200th match on clay. In fact, other than Jimmy Connors, he is the only player to have won at least 100 matches on grass, 200 matches on clay and 300 matches on hardcourts. Incidentally, Roger holds the record for most hardcourt match wins with 633 wins; Novak is the closest active player with 415.

Roger has the day off today and he plans to go on a sightseeing boat tour on the Bosphorous to enjoy his first time in Istanbul. On Friday he will face off against a Spaniard he has never played before, Daniel Gimeno-Traver who had two good wins of his own. Daniel has nothing to lose and everything to win. He will look to capitalize on being an unknown entity to Roger plus having an advantage of being more used to the conditions by already playing two matches in the tournament.

But all that is a worry for tomorrow. For today, while Roger takes a leisurely boat ride, enjoy reliving the match with these links to set 1 and set 2 and a tiny clip of his on-court interview.

Roger in full flight,
Is a beautiful sight,
For any time of the day or night!

A match post AND a poem! You are all truly blessed! 😉

***Photos are from the tournament site. Stats are from the ATP site.***