rogerfedererfan

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


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Roger Federer wins his 18th Grand Slam!!!

f_29012017_federer_299

“Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?”

Prologue –

Melbourne. Sunday. January 29th, 2017. 7:30pm local time/ 2:30pm my time/ 8:30am GMT/ 3:30am EST – 17th seed Roger Federer comes out on Rod Laver Arena followed by his biggest rival with the most lopsided H2H stat against him, 9th seed Rafa Nadal. This is the 9th time they are facing off in a Grand Slam final. The last time they met at a Major was right here in Melbourne 3 years ago in the SFs. Roger lost. The last time they met in the final of a Major was 5.5 years ago at the French Open. Roger lost that one too. Following that logic the pundits said… well you know what? F*** what they said. Here’s what actually happened.

Set 1
“So here I go it’s my shot.
Feet, fail me not
This may be the only opportunity that I got”

f_29012017_federer_262Between the two, Rafa is the one who starts stronger, holding comfortably. Roger takes the first few games to settle in but soon finds his groove. The set remains on serve till 3-all. Then in the 7th game Roger ups the aggression on Rafa’s serve. This game had a multitude of gems from Roger; forehands, backhands and volleys all leading to 2 breakpoints and before you could hold your breath, the Spaniard hit a backhand wide and was broken. A subsequent consolidation game to love made us feel more secure. Rafa held his next game but that was no problem for our champ who took the first set comfortably serving for it, sealing it with an ace. First set, Federer, 6-4. Here is a tiny highlights clip.

Set 2
“Back to the lab again, this whole rhapsody
He better go capture this moment and hope it don’t pass him”

Set 2 begins with a rejuvenated Rafa holding the first game. Then out of nowhere, Roger’s serves disappear. He starts his game with a double fault. Roger looks a bit lost. Where did all that momentum from Set 1 go? f_29012017_federer_265A forehand error gives Rafa a 0-30 score. Roger keeps fighting and comes back to 30-all but a Rafa winner earns him his first breakpoint. Roger saves it but then his backhand finds the net and Rafa has a second breakpoint. Rafa then goes back to the one technique that has always paid him dividends: attack the backhand. And like so many times before, it pays off. Roger goes down a break and even though he has two breakpoints on Rafa’s serve immediately, Roger cannot convert. The unraveling begins as Roger is broken a second time to go down 0-4 in the set. As Rafa is serving to go up 5-0*, Roger somehow finally finds his game again and manages to get a break back. He even consolidates that break with his first hold of the set to go up to 2-4* but Rafa is still flying high on confidence. It doesn’t matter that Roger holds again, he can’t touch Rafa’s service games any more this set. Rafa takes the set with a love hold, 6-3. Here are the highlights. One set all. My nausea sets in.

Set 3
“No more games, I’ma change what you call rage
Tear this mother***ing roof off like two dogs caged
I was playing in the beginning, the mood all changed”

Roger kicks off Set 3 by serving first and it appears to be a Herculean task. Despite going up to 40-0, he soon gets caught up in errors and has to save multiple breakpoints. Nonetheless, Roger somehow holds and all that effort seems to give him the boost he desperately needs. f_29012017_federer_264He pounces on Rafa in the very next game and draws out a breakpoint and actually converts it for once! A quick hold to love consolidates that break and Roger has that fierce glint in his eye again now that he is up 3-0*. Rafa holds next but only barely. Little does Rafa know that will be the only game he will win this set. A love hold gives Roger the lead at 4-1* and then a game full of stupendous Federer backhands gives our champ the double break. The backhand has just gotten better and better throughout this tournament and despite the pounding it is having to withstand from Rafa’s forehands, for the most part it is holding up beautifully! Roger just has to hold once more to take the set but somehow the errors have started to come back along with the nerves. He even has to save 2 breakpoints but ultimately he manages to take the set 6-1. Here is a small highlights clip. Federer is up two sets to one, just one set away from victory.

Set 4
“He’s choking how, everybody’s joking now
The clock’s run out, time’s up, over, blaow!
Snap back to reality. Oh, there goes gravity”

f_29012017_federer_266Set 4 starts off with both players holding but those errors that made cameos at the end of set 3 became promoted to regulars and Roger gets broken in his second service game to go down 1-2*. After that, Roger barely holds on, getting pushed in each service hold and only his serve actually helping him out. He can’t seem to push Rafa this set and the Spaniard ultimately serves out the set comfortably to 6-3. Here are the highlights for the set. Two sets all, we go into a 5th set and suddenly what seemed to be just a sprint away has turned into a marathon. To make matters more worrisome, Roger goes off court for a medical timeout. Meanwhile, I hold myself and gently rock back and forth trying to remind myself to breathe.

Set 5 – Part 1
“Too much for me to wanna stay in one spot,
Another day of monotony’s gotten me to the point, I’m like a snail
I’ve got to formulate a plot or I end up in jail or shot
Success is my only mother***ing option, failure’s not”

f_29012017_federer_268Back from the medical timeout Roger serves first to start set 5, but before I can regain my composure from the disaster of set 4, the Swiss is already broken. Perhaps anybody else would have given up next but Roger actually gets 3 breakpoints immediately on Rafa’s first service game of the set. Yet Rafa saves them all and goes up 2-0*. Roger holds the next game to get on the board but to make matters more complicated, Roger has the trainer out on court now during the changeover. Next game and Roger pushes Rafa to another breakpoint. But unbelievably Roger fails to convert that one too. Another massive hold for Rafa who goes up 3-1*. This is slipping through our fingers, or is it?

Set 5 – Part 2
“He’s so mad, but he won’t give up that easy, no
He won’t have it, he knows his whole back’s to these ropes
It don’t matter, he’s dope”

After the treatment to his right leg, Roger holds to 15 and looks more confident now. He is still down a break though, can he continue pushing for breakpoints? More importantly, can he actually convert one if he gets the chance? And thus starts the most important game in this entire match. It seems Roger has now decided to play with abandon and dictate the points himself rather than get pushed around by Rafa. f_29012017_federer_283That is the mental shift we were all waiting for Roger! If not now then when? You have nothing to lose at this point! Let him have it! Rafa serves but it is Roger who wins the opening point of an 18-shot rally with an insane backhand, 0-15. He wins the second point from a Rafa error, 0-30 and he yells out ‘Chum Jetze!’ But Rafa claws back to 30-all. Another Rafa error gives Roger a breakpoint. But Rafa saves it, of course; deuce. A delicious backhand winner from Roger and we have a breakpoint AGAIN! Will Rafa save this one too? Nope! A Rafa forehand error seals it this time! Finally we are at 3-all and back on serve!

If that isn’t momentum I don’t know what is. Roger bravely continues to remain aggressive and wastes no time; he holds to love with an ace. For the first time in this set he is up on the score; 4-3* with Rafa to serve. Roger gets 3 breakpoints immediately at 0-40. Any guesses what happens to them? Yep. Rafa saves them all to get to deuce. But Roger keeps pushing Rafa with laser focus, unperturbed, and earns a 4th breakpoint with a tantalizing forehand down the line at the end of a ridiculous 26-shot rally! Alas, Rafa saves that as well. But then a forehand error from Rafa gives Roger his 5th breakpoint. And this time Roger successfully forces an error out of Rafa and finally gets the break! Roger is up 5*-3 and about to serve for the Championship!

Set 5 – Part 3
“The soul’s escaping, through this hole that is gaping
This world is mine for the taking
Make me king, as we move toward a new world order”

Roger’s heart must be beating a zillion times a minute because I know mine is. I have been crying since Roger was broken in this set. The first tears were of despair, then when he broke Rafa to level the set they were tears of joy and now they are tears of fear + exhilaration. f_29012017_federer_284There must be a word for that combined feeling but if so I can’t remember it. All I know is that the world has come to a standstill. All around the globe, millions of us are defying time-zones to watch this drama. And none of us dare breathe while a 35 year-old father of 4 prepares to serve this out.

First point a Rafa winner, 0-15. Second point a Roger error, 0-30. BREATHE ROGER! An ace and it is 15-30. But a Rafa winner next and Nadal has two breakpoints. ARE YOU KIDDING ME UNIVERSE?! Roger’s 19th ace saves the first. An inside-out forehand save the second and it is deuce. Then lo and behold, an error from Rafa gives Roger his first Championship point. His first serve is called fault and then his second serve gets called out. But Roger then challenges successfully to get another first serve which is called out again. He challenges once more but this time to no avail. He does get his second serve in but a forehand error brings it back to deuce. By now I am grabbing my head with both my hands and making growling noises because I am too tense for actual words.

rogerfederer2017australianopenday14rip5ipnwkqhxRoger’s 20th ace gives him a second Championship point. This is it. Come on Roger! The Swiss gets his serve in but Rafa’s return is weak and Roger pounces on it to hit a forehand winner that clips the line. Or does it? It hasn’t been called out so Rafa challenges. It is ironic that Hawkeye will decide the outcome of this match given Roger’s feelings about that technology. Roger, his box, the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne and the whole planet all wait for the replay and stare at the screen with bated breath. And it’s INNNNNNNNN! Game, Set, Match Federer! 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 and Roger Federer is the 2017 Australian Open Champion and winner of 18 Slams! Here is a clip of that cliffhanger match point!

Epilogue –

Here is a clip of the match highlights, a mini movie of the final and Roger’s speech at the trophy ceremony. The Australian Open youtube channel has a ton more fun clips and here’s a sample few: Roger’s presser, Roger’s post match interview, Roger reflecting about the match point and lastly an amazing 18 minute clip about ‘Federer v Nadal‘.

As Roger said during the ESPN interview, this win stands on its own, for many reasons:
For being his 18th Grand Slam win.
For making him wait 4.5 years after the last one.
For being his first tournament in his comeback after a 6-month layoff.
For being his 5th Australian Open making him the first man to win 5 or more titles at 3 different Grand Slams.
For being his first Slam tournament win in which he played three 5-setters.
mirkaFor winning the match by playing on his own terms.
For winning the mental battle against Rafa.
For increasing the gap in Slams between him and Rafa.
For winning a Slam Final against Rafa in 10 years.
For winning a Slam match against Rafa on hardcourts.
For beating 4 top 10 players in 5 matches.
For taking his ranking from 17 to 10.
For shutting up the naysayers.
For confounding the pundits.
For defying the laws of age and time and stats.
For showing the world he will always be a champion.
For being his first Slam win since his boys were born.
For giving back to his team for their hard work.
For giving back to his wife, for without her support he wouldn’t be here.
For giving back to those fans who never gave up on him.
For proving to himself, he always had what it takes.
For keeping faith that an opportunity would come.
For knowing if the opportunity came, he would take it
For never giving up.
For having belief.

No one deserves this more than you Roger! I am so very proud of you and honoured to be your fan. You continue to make me believe in magic and fairy tales! Congratulations on winning your 18th Grand Slam!

“You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime”

-All lyrics scattered throughout this post are from “Lose Yourself” by Eminem

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***Photos are either from the Australian Open Tennis Australia photos or they are Getty Images from Zimbio.com***

 

 

 

 


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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:

Appearances:
  • 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.
Finals:
  • 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.
Semifinals:
  • 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.
Quarterfinals:
  • 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.
Rankings:
  • 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 Zimbio.com***


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My rant… in stats

As we know by now, Roger Federer lost in the third round of the Australian Open. I don’t like to write about losses so I figured I would come back to the blog when I finally had something else to talk about. But then came the deluge of stats all over the media: of streaks getting broken, measurements of his failure and indicators of his fall from grace. So I decided I had enough of this nonsense and compiled my own list of stats and records that ‘measure’ Roger Federer, as of his latest matches in Australia in 2015. Here we go!

  • 2f_federer_08222012_005-2Roger holds the record for most Grand Slam titles (17), most Grand Slams finals (25), SFs (36) and QFs (43) and NONE of these records will get crossed in 2015. The closest active players are Nadal for total Grand Slam titles (14) and finals (20), while Djokovic is the first active player behind him for most SFs (25) and QFs (31).
  • Roger holds the record for many consecutive Grand Slam streaks as well. He won 3 Grand Slam titles in a row and shares that with Sampras, Nadal and Djokovic. But guess what? He is the only player who did this twice, in 2006 and 2007 😀
  • Roger holds the record for most consecutive Grand Slam finals by reaching 10 finals in a row from Wimbledon 2005 to US Open 2007. But guess what? He holds the 2nd place too with 8 consecutive finals reached from Roland Garros 2008 to Australian Open 2010 🙂
  • Roger holds the record for most consecutive Grand Slam SFs with 23. It started in Wimbledon 2004 and continued till the Australian Open 2010. The closest player behind him is Djokovic with 14.
  • Roger holds the record for most consecutive Grand Slam QFs with 36. This started in Wimbledon 2004 and stretched on till Roland Garros 2013. Djokovic is in 2nd place with 23 and this is an active streak. But in order to cross Roger’s record, Djokovic needs to reach the QFs of every Grand Slam from now till Wimbledon 2018.tumblr_mbra6vJakk1qhlf7eo5_r1_500
  • Roger shares the record for the most consecutive Grand Slam matches won with Djokovic. They both won 27 matches in a row but guess what? Roger did it twice, meaning he has two streaks of winning 27 Grand Slam matches in a row 😉
  • By participating in the 2015 Australian Open Roger has now played in 61 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments extending his own all-time record. Ferreira trails him in 2nd place with 56.
  • Roger has played in a total of 63 Grand Slam tournaments. He is tied at 2nd place with Hewitt and they both trail Santoro in 1st place with 70.
  • Roger has won 281 Grand Slam matches which extended his own all-time record even more. Connors is a distant 2nd with 233 Grand Slam match wins.
  • Roger has won a record 75 matches at the Australian Open. Nobody else has even won 60 matches at this tournament and in fact, Edberg is in 2nd place, with 56 match wins.
  • Roger has won a record 147 hardcourt Grand Slam matches. Agassi is in 2nd place with 127.
  • Roger won his 1,000th career match in the Brisbane final and has a total of 1,002 wins now. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors. BKEphlhCYAEjUbb
  • Roger has now played 1,230 matches in his career. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors. Ferrer is the next active player to have played the most matches, 905. Thus, Roger has more match WINS (1,002) than the total number of matches PLAYED by any active player.
  • Roger won his 83rd career title in Brisbane. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger played his 125th career final in Brisbane. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger won his 23rd ATP 250 title in Brisbane. He is in 2nd place behind Muster with 26.
  • Roger played his 31st ATP 250 final in Brisbane. He is in 3rd place behind Muster and Roddick who reached 32 finals each.
  • Roger set a new record in Brisbane for winning at least one title for 15 consecutive years from 2001 to 2015. The previous record was by Lendl for 14 consecutive years.1104111155551300957972593
  • Roger now has 62 outdoor titles. He is tied at 1st place with Nadal.
  • Roger has 57 hardcourt titles extending his own all-time record. No other player has ever won even 50 hardcourt titles; Connors is in 2nd place with 49.
  • Roger has won a career total of 750 outdoor matches. He is in 3rd place behind Connors and Vilas.
  • Roger has won a career total of 623 hardcourt matches extending his own all-time record. No one else has ever won 600 hardcourt matches. Agassi is in 2nd place with 598 hardcourt match wins.
  • Roger continues to hold the record for most matches won against top 10 opponents with 183 wins. Nadal and Djokovic are behind him in 2nd and 3rd place.
  • We all know Roger holds the record for most weeks ranked as #1, both total and consecutive. However, Roger also holds the records for most weeks ranked in the top 2. Roger has spent a total of 433 weeks ranked in the top 2 as of January 19th, 2015. Lendl is in 2nd place with 409 weeks. Furthermore, Roger spent a record 346 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 2 ahead of Connors in 2nd place with 300 consecutive weeks.

222There it is. A quick snapshot at the records the Maestro holds and will continue to improve on once he comes back on tour in a month’s time in Dubai. The crazy thing is, this list is only the tip of the ice-berg. So the next time people try to bring you down by quoting a stat of his recent ‘failures’, just throw back a few of the above in their faces and tell them, with all that winning, and setting records and being insanely great over a ridiculously long period of time, even super heroes can have an off day. Therefore, they can shove their faces into the nearest pillows available because their favorites could never dream of the heights we have reached and they will never know how glorious the view is from that far up into the stratosphere. Game, set and match, Federer and his fans.

 

 

***I used older photos from my collection to depict the many faces of Roger rather than the sad images that were being used in the media recently. Unfortunately I don’t know the sources of these photos, they have been collected by me over many years. If you know of the sources, do let me know and I will include them here.***


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Opponents, rivals, and adversaries of Roger Federer

Rafael+Nadal+Roger+Federer+ATP+WTA+Masters+mb6EUAWk7nVlThose of you who read my blog know by now that I love stats and records. A few months back I was casually wondering how many players has Roger Federer faced in his career. To my surprise, I didn’t find that information readily available. Maybe I didn’t look hard enough because I quickly decided to abandon my search and instead take it upon myself to figure this out the hard way. It’s been a long and tedious exercise which I loved! 🙂 And now the list is complete.

Please note that the list of opponents is based on the number of matches Roger has played on the main tour, i.e. his career total of 1,186 matches played. This means I didn’t include any challenger matches nor did I include any walkovers in this tally. This research is built on the total number of matches he has played from the time he turned pro in 1998 till Wimbledon 2014.

Before I go any deeper, here is the big stat that started this project for me. The answer to my question of how many opponents Roger Federer has faced throughout his career of 1,186 matches is….. 287.

In the year 2014, from Brisbane till Wimbledon, he has already faced 9 opponents he had never played before. They are Marinko Matosevic, Jeremy Chardy, James Duckworth, Blaz Kavcic, Lukas Rosol, Andrey Golubev, Diego Sebastian Schwartzman, Joao Sousa and Paolo Lorenzi.

We can break down this data of his opponents further to unveil interesting findings. I have outlined some of these below:

  • Breaking the stats down by countries:
    • Roger Federer has played against opponents from 54 different countries including Switzerland.2010+Australian+Open+Day+14+CnlC6RMoU2ol
    • Federer has played the most matches against players from Spain, having played 132 matches against Spanish opponents. Next is France with 128 matches followed by USA with 96, Argentina with 84 and Germany with 81. Matches against players from these 5 countries account for 43.9% of his total 1,186 matches.
    • However, if we look at the number of opponents faced from each country rather than matches played, then the stats are a bit different. He has faced 27 different opponents from France, followed by 25 German opponents, 24 Spaniards, 24 Americans and 18 from Argentina.
    • Out of the 54 countries, he has played only once against players from these 8 countries: Bulgaria (Grigor Dimitrov), El Salvador (Rafael Arevalo), Georgia (Irakli Labadze), Hungary (Attila Savolt), Kuwait (Mohammad Ghareeb), Poland (Jerzy Janowicz), Tunisia (Malek Jaziri), Zimbabwe (Byron Black)
  • Breaking the stats down by rankings:
    • The highest ranked player he has ever faced has of course been a #1 player. He has played 18 matches against the World #1 and won only 5 of those. The first time he played a #1 player was in 2002 against then #1 Lleyton Hewitt. The most recent was against Rafa Nadal in 2014.
    • He has played 38 matches against players ranked #2. He won 21 of them. The first #2 opponent he faced was Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1999. The most recent was Novak Djokovic in 2014.Rivalryeiieiieiie
    • Out of all the ranks, he has played against the #2 player the most, having played 38 matches as mentioned above. That makes sense when you take into account how long he himself was ranked as world #1 😀
    • From 2006 to 2008 he played 15 matches against the world #2. In all 15 matches the opponent was Rafa Nadal. This illustrates how long Roger and Rafa ruled the tennis world as #1 and #2 respectively.
    • He has played 115 matches against players ranked 1-4 which is 9.7% of his total 1,186 matches.
    • He has played 268 matches against players ranked 1-10 which is 22.6% of the total.
    • He has played 412 matches against players ranked 1-20 which is 34.74% of the total.
    • He has played 541 matches against players ranked 1-30 which is 45.62% of the total.
    • He has played over 50% of his matches against players ranked within 1-34.
    • The lowest ranked player he ever faced was Devin Britton (USA) in 2009. Britton was ranked 1,370 at the time.
    • Roger has played against opponents ranked in every rank from 1-100 with two exceptions; he has never played against an opponent ranked #80 or #91. However, I should mention that Federer has played 4 matches against 4 opponents who were ranked “N/A” at the time of those matches. Not sure if this was a glitch or whether the players actually had no ranking at that time.
  • H2H information:
    • 15 players have an equal H2H with Federer. Of these 15, 6 are active players and thus this parity will change when he faces them again. The 6 active players are Filippo Volandri, Ernests Gulbis, Kei Nishikori, Sergiy Stakhovsky, Daniel Brands and Jeremy Chardy.4176638-3x2-700x467
    • 21 players have a negative H2H against Federer. Of these, only 3 are active players. They are Rafa Nadal, Andy Murray and Federico Delbonis.
    • However, it should be noted that Roger also has a negative 0-1 H2H against Lucas Arnold Ker. Lucas is primarily a doubles player and still listed as active on the ATP site which is why I mentioned him especially. But he hasn’t played doubles since 2013 and has played no singles matches since 2009. Roger played him only once back in 1998 and lost in straight sets.
    • Incidentally, this match against Lucas Arnold Ker was Roger’s first ever match on the pro tour. It was in Gstaad and Roger was ranked 702 at the time.
    • The first match Roger won on the pro tour was against Guillaume Raoux in Toulouse also in 1998. Roger was ranked 878 for that tournament and won the match in straight sets.
  • One-time opponents:
    • Out of the 287 players Roger has faced, he has played 105 of them only once.
    • Of those 105 one-time opponents, he won his matches against 94 of them.
    • Out of the 11 he lost to, only 1 player is currently active, Federico Delbonis.
  • Two-time opponents:
    • Roger has faced 105 opponents only once which means he has faced 287-105 = 182 players more than once. Of those 182 players, Roger faced 64 opponents just twice.federer_682x400_514907a
    • Of these 64 two-time opponents, he won both his matches against 52 of them, i.e. his H2H is 2-0 with all of them.
    • Of these 64 two-time opponents, he has an even 1-1 H2H with 11 of the players. 4 of these players are active and included in the list of the players who have equal H2H with Roger as explained in the “H2H information” section above.
    • The only player he faced twice and lost both matches to was Franco Squillari who is no longer active. Roger faced him 2001 and 2003 and lost both times in straight sets.
  • A note about walkovers which were NOT included in the stats above:
    • The only opponents who ever received a walkover from Roger were James Blake in 2008 and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 2012.
    • Federer has been given 10 walkovers in his career by 9 players. The first was by Thomas Enqvist in 2002 and the most recent was by Yen-Hsun Lu in 2014. Tommy Haas is the only player who has given 2 walkovers to Roger, in 2007 and 2008.
  • Lastly, a bit of useless information, because why not 😉_42228562_tennis_416
    • Of all the letters in the alphabet, he has played the most against players whose first names start with the letter ‘M’; he has played 36 opponents whose names start with ‘M’.
    • Right after ‘M’ come the letters ‘J’ and ‘A’. Roger has faced 34 opponents whose names start with ‘J’ and 33 opponents whose names start with ‘A’.
    • He has not played against any opponent whose first name starts with the letters ‘Q’ or ‘U’.
    • He has played only one opponent whose first name starts with the letters ‘O’, ‘X’ or ‘Z’; Oliver Rochus and Xavier Malisse from Belgium and Zeljko Krajan from Croatia.

Hope you enjoyed my random, data-heavy post. I’m a geek when it comes to Roger’s stats so I’m sure I’ve gone overboard with these analyses. Nonetheless, I figured before we kick off the next tourney we could take a moment to appreciate Roger’s illustrious career in a slightly different manner. These are the towering stats his opponents are up against every time he steps on the court to face them.

For a career spanning 16 years it is frankly ridiculous how many matches he has played and how much he has won over players that have come from many different generations. Normally, a soon-to-be 33 year old father of 4 would have many more negative H2Hs and a ton more losses at this point in his career. But as we know, Roger Federer is no ordinary player and certainly no ordinary human being 🙂 Hope the Maestro continues his illustrious journey in the tournaments to come! Wishing him the best of luck in Toronto!

 

***Initial data and stats were taken from the ATP site. So hopefully they have accurate information! ***

***Apologies for not being able to link the sources of the photos. I have had them in my collection for so long I can’t remember where I got each of them. 😦 Most of them must be from Getty Images though not all.***

***If you find any errors in the data above, I would greatly appreciate it if you could let me know. I did go over them many times but I’m only human so please don’t be mean about it!***


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Federer kicks off the French Open with a routine win

2Roger+Federer+2014+French+Open+Day+One+IZ-zSYgV0R7xRoger Federer is through to Round 2 at RollyG! Our champ wrapped up his opening match in 84 minutes with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 score line vs. the Slovak player Lukas Lacko.

Lacko started well enough. He had solid service holds for his first two games similar to the Maestro. Then, in his 3rd service game the errors started to creep in while Roger demonstrated great defense to get a break point which he converted right away. By then, Roger began to look very confident indeed and despite being pushed to 30, Roger held his own serve to consolidate the break and go up 4-2*. In Lacko’s next service game Roger mixed it up with  a dropshot, a backhand volley and a cross-court forehand. Add an error from Lukas and boom, our champ got the double break. Serving for the set at 5*-2, Roger gave away only one point before sealing the set in 24 minutes. Here are the Set 1 stats.s1Credit to Lacko, he held his nerve and started Set 2 very well with a love hold. Roger countered with a love hold of his own. But poor Lacko got into trouble again right away in his next service game. An error gave Roger a break point but a counter error from the Maestro, brought it back to deuce. Lacko hit a backhand into the net to give Federer a second chance and after an intense rally the Swiss got the break. In a flash Roger quickly consolidated with a service game that included three service winners. Down 1*-3, Lacko had yet another tough service game where Roger had another break point opportunity. But subsequent errors from Roger ensured a hold for Lukas.

Serving at 3*-2, Roger thundered down 3 service winners in a row followed by a volley winner to hold to love. The same format repeated again in Lacko’s next game as Roger had yet another break point only to miss it and letting Lacko hang on at 3-4*. Roger then held with ease to push the score to 5-3*. Serving to stay in the set, Lacko got pushed again and Roger had a set point but an error from the Maestro wiped that away and Lacko ultimately held. Roger might have missed 4 out of 5 break points in this set with some uncharacteristic errors but his own serving had been impeccable and that continued when he served for the set, taking it in 34 minutes. Here are the Set 2 stats.s2Those errors must have annoyed the Maestro because he started Set 3 strongly putting pressure on the Lacko serve. A double fault from Lacko gave Roger a break point only to let it go with a forehand error. Back to deuce. But Roger kept up the onslaught, extracting another error out of Lacko for another break point. The nerves got to Lukas as he double faulted right then to hand the Swiss the break. Serving to consolidate, Roger hit his only double fault of the match but consolidated the break nonetheless. Serving to get on the board, Lacko held to love in large part due to sloppy play from the Maestro. Still, the Swiss was up a break at 2*-1. And he served to perfection in his next game to quickly hold to love and push the score to 3-1*.

The pressure was firmly back on Lacko’s serve as Roger fought for every point: 0-15, 15 all, 30-15, 30 all and then 30-40 and break point. This time the Swiss took it to go up a double break: 4*-1. Another super quick love hold meant Lacko had to serve to stay in the match at 1*-5 down. Federer had a break point again but lost it with his own error. Despite being pushed to deuce 2 more times, Lacko held and Roger had to serve for the match. A beautiful love hold finished off with a gorgeous inside-out forehand won Roger the match. Here are the stats for the match.mThis was a good match for Roger. He was never in trouble and didn’t face any break points. He served very well and while his return game was a bit sloppy, mostly in Set 2, he made sure he was in complete control at all times. I got the feeling he tried out a few different shots to get some practice in. He came to the net very well too; though to be honest, Lacko didn’t really make him play difficult volleys. For a first Grand Slam match, this was a good performance.

What made it more special was Mirka was court-side! This is the first time we’ve seen her since the twin boys were born and she looked lovely! The twin girls were there too, looking chic in their black and white polka dot dress, matching pink headbands and sunglasses 😀 Roger was very sweet in giving a shout-out to Mirka in his on-court interview and we learned from the presser later that the whole family, including the boys, is there with him in Paris. Here is a link to a tiny presser clip.twinsUp next is a new opponent for Roger, the 21 year old Argentine qualifier Diego Sebastian Schwartzman, ranked 109 in the world. Neither Roger nor we know much about him so I expect it will take Roger a bit of time in the beginning to figure out his game. Hopefully, it won’t take too long! In the meantime, I leave you with these crazy stats our Maestro achieved with this win.

  • Roland Garros 2014 is now the 60th Grand Slam Roger has participated in. He shares this with Lleyton Hewitt who is also playing his 60th Grand Slam this week. They are both behind Andre Agassi at 61 and the record holder Fabrice Santoro with 70.
  • This French Open is also Roger’s 58th consecutive Grand Slam which is a record.
  • This match win was his 59th French Open win. He currently shares this with Rafa but of course Rafa hasn’t played his first match yet.
  • Roger is the only player to have over 50 match wins at all Grand Slams.
  • This was also his 266th Grand Slam match win which is wayyyyy ahead of Jimmy Connors who is at second place with 232 match wins. The next active player behind him is Rafa with 177 match wins.
  • Roger is 4th on the list of career matches played with 1,173 matches (behind Vilas, Lendl and Connors). The closest active player is Tommy Haas with 875 matches.
  • Roger is 3rd on the list of most career match wins with 952 wins (behind Lendl and Connors). The closest active player is Rafa with 692 match wins.

Well that’s it from me. The Maestro isn’t playing today and might not play till Wednesday so in the meantime, chillax! 😉 and enjoy the rest of the tournament!

 

***Roger’s photo is from http://www.zimbio.com/ and the twins’ photos are from http://www.blick.ch/***


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The Breakdown

So, let go, let go, jump in
Oh well, what you waiting for?
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown
So, let go, let go, just get in
Oh, it’s so amazing here
It’s all right
‘Cause there’s beauty in the breakdown

-by Frou Frou

Despite having a ton to say I have been having trouble finding words. This is an unusual situation for me. Either I get writer’s block and can’t write or I write with glee. Very rarely does it happen that I am excited about writing, yet unable to express it. Then I understood. For me personally as a Roger Federer fan, the simple heading “Roger Federer wins his 6th Dubai title” did not have enough weight to describe the journey we were all on till that point. It somehow felt inadequate and lacked gravitas. Here is a sampling of what all the headlines were:

•    Federer wins a record 6th Dubai title
•    Federer wins his 78th title and moves to the 3rd spot in winning the most singles titles of all time
•    Federer defeats two top 10 players back to back
•    Federer is now 4-1 against matches against the top 10 while last year it was 4-10
•    Federer has never defeated four top 10 players by March in any previous year
•    Federer is now tied with Lendl with 14 consecutive years of winning a title

http://www.bbc.com/sport/0/tennis/26402050All of them were accurate and rightly alluded to the amazing records that the Maestro broke and set with this win. But for me, this tourney meant so much more. As I watched him raise his arms in victory at his box, tears ran down my face. I went to bed that night ridiculously happy. Then came next morning and the morning after a win is always wonderful with articles and posts singing the Maestro’s praises. As I read them I thought it’s been a while since I’ve had such a morning. Then it hit me. Out of the blue I felt a wave of emotions and of all the things I could have felt, what I felt most was strangely, exhaustion.

I felt mentally and emotionally drained. It took me by surprise and I needed two days to figure out why. As I pondered my state I realized that I had been holding my breath. In fact, I had been holding it since at least Wimbledon last year. 2013 was tough for fans in many ways. Some jumped ship entirely, others lamented at his rapid slide, and some remained his die-hard fans, defending him to the world that seemed insistent on tearing him down. I belonged in that final category. I kept cheering him on no matter what round he was losing at or to which player.

But I do have a confession. In the deep recesses of my mind, at times I questioned his judgment, something I had never ever done before. I had always trusted his decisions because I always understood them. But last year I wasn’t on board with some of his actions. Adding Gstaad and Hamburg gave me a nagging feeling. The timing of the initial racquet change was another. His decision not to play anything before Shanghai confused me too considering how much we knew he would want to make it to London. I never lost my faith in him but for the first time I had ‘only’ my faith because the logical part of my brain didn’t always agree with some of his choices.

http://www.scmp.com/sport/tennis/article/1438588/roger-federer-rallies-beat-tomas-berdych-dubai-championships-finalSo I held on, fighting the world while trying to suppress the questions in my mind. The lowest point for me was Shanghai when he lost to Monfils. Thankfully as we now know, we didn’t have to wait too long for the rot to stop because in the very next tourney he started to climb back up. His rejuvenation started where it usually does, his hometown of Basel. We have seen this before; through Basel he emerges fresher, stronger and more confident.  From then on, each tourney was a step in the right direction. After Basel came Paris, then London. An intense off-season was followed by even better results in 2014 with Brisbane and a fantastic Australian Open. Then came the ultimate test in Dubai.

Based on the draw I knew I would be happy if he reached the SFs. He would face Novak and while I knew he had started this year much better than he had ended the last, I was unsure about whether he was ready to battle Novak. Even the Maestro himself had suggested he wouldn’t be fully back before April. So when he overcame the Serb he had already exceeded my expectations. Two finals and a SF in the first three tourneys of the year? Not bad at all. Or so I thought. He clearly thought otherwise and went on to win the shiny sailing boat 😀

His Dubai route was not smooth. He struggled in 3 of his 5 matches, got broken at the beginning of each of them and was pushed to 3 sets. He had been in similar matches in 2013 which ended in heartbreak. But that’s what was different in Dubai. The matches were tough and tumultuous but finished with wins not losses. One could cite many factors for this; his back injury was healed, he had a good off-season, his new racquet gave him more power or his dashing new coach had added more dimensions to his already-dazzling game.

http://fansided.com/2014/02/28/roger-federer-beats-novak-djokovic-dubai-semi-finals/#!yuhJWWhatever the reason, a mentality shift had happened. In 2013, when he would inexplicably lose his form mid-match, he would panic. This year, we’ve seen him take his time, keep hanging in there, being patient and weathering the storm. We didn’t see this fully manifested in Brisbane where he lost the final. We did see it at the Australian Open though, in the Tsonga and Murray matches but then there was Rafa who, let’s face it, is by far his biggest mental block. He wasn’t ready for Rafa… yet. By Dubai however, he had gotten enough match practice to feel confident about his progress. So when he faced Novak, he believed when many didn’t; and that same belief finally enabled him to hoist the trophy. Yes, he achieved all those records but more important than that, the back to back wins against top 10 players and the trophy finally gave him that mental breakthrough he was looking for.

Before 2013, winning was the norm. I used to watch his matches with nervous excitement till he would produce his special brand of magic and ultimately despite the drama, all would be right with the world. Federer matches meant living on the brink of ecstasy. They could keep you on the edge of your seat till the final winner at which point you fell off the cliff in happy, liberated bliss. 2013 however, had a bigger impact on me than I had anticipated because it seemed I had temporarily forgotten those feelings of joy. In order to insulate myself from the hurt, I got used to living on the brink of agony instead. I was ready to accept a loss when it came because otherwise, the alternative was to never move forward beyond the Wimbledon loss. Digesting tough losses was the order of the day and especially those where he came agonizingly close but fizzled out at the end. It was a draining experience yet I kept holding on waiting for the day the storm would break – and it finally did, in Dubai.

When he won in Dubai only then did I realize how exhausted I was from maintaining vigilance against the losses from hurting me. Dubai made me recognize that it was finally time to let it go. Time to let go of the shield I had built to protect myself, time to let go of the perpetual fear I had with every match, time to get used to Federer winning. Not winning in his previous lethal, god-like manner but rather winning like everyone else – having up and down performances and still finding a way. That Saturday evening, Vintage Federer did not show up to the Finals. Unlike 2013 however, he didn’t let it bother him. He allowed 2014s Gritty Federer to come and play instead. Apparently this Federer can make a ton of errors and sometimes wins ugly. But a win is a win, ugly or not and this Gritty Federer can win.

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/01/sport/tennis/tennis-federer-dubai-win/Maybe as he gains more confidence we will see Vintage Federer more consistently. But for now I think Gritty Federer will do just fine. It has been an emotional journey seeing his evolution. He was a god who fell from the heavens but even when he lost his super powers he had the one thing age or injury could never take away, the mind of a champion. It took a while but he found his way and I don’t think I could be any prouder of him if I tried. He embraced his fallen state and now works with it rather than against it. He let go of his mythical persona and has begun fighting back as a mortal which makes his warrior’s spirit all the more remarkable. While I am sure the trek will be uneven, watching him overcoming his demons is a thrilling new chapter in his glittering career. It is a different path but I have no doubts that at the end of the road, his arms will still be raised in victory.

So it appears that I had been living in that no man’s land between agony and ecstasy. But in the past few months, culminating with this win, Roger taught me that it’s ok to let go of all of that. Letting go gives you a clean slate, it strips off all expectations, and allows you the freedom to build yourself back anew in whatever avatar you choose. So I am done with my exhausted sighs. I have had enough of holding my breath waiting for the other shoe to drop. Bring on the new season filled with hope for I am done with the old. I too am letting go.

***Photos from:  http://www.bbc.com/sport/; http://edition.cnn.com/; http://fansided.com/; http://www.scmp.com/sport/***


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Federer is in the SFs at the Australian Open!

f2_federer_day10_94Guess who’s in his 11th consecutive Australian Open SF! Yes it is he, the slayer of tennis balls, the one with a full head of gorgeous locks and the beacon of angelic light on court (because “he’s so shiny” – thank you forever for that statement Jo) – Roger Federer!!!! This will also be his record-setting 34th Grand Slam SF. Meanwhile, he has now won his 73rd Australian Open match, his 265th Grand Slam match, and his 931st career match out of 1,147 matches played.

Federer won his QF clash with Andy Murray in 4 sets (yes I know it should’ve been in 3, we’ll get to that!). It took him exactly 200 minutes to post the 6-3, 6-4, 6-7(8-6), 6-3 score line. Set 1 started with a comprehensive hold to 15 as the Maestro began to push Andy immediately. He had the Scot 0-30 down in his first service game but Andy managed to extract errors out of Roger and hold. Another hold to 15 and Roger was back to putting the pressure on Andy. With the power of his almighty forehand he hit 3 straight winners, a forehand down the line, a forehand volley and a forehand cross court. 15-40 down Andy sent his own forehand long giving the Swiss the quick break to go up 3*-1. After that both players stayed on serve, Federer with ease and Murray having to fight. It all came down to Roger having to serve for it which he did, to love, in 31 minutes.

f2_federer_d10_28Set 2 and Andy started to get pumped up. His groundstrokes started to get back some of the depth that had been missing in the first set and his level began to pick up but Roger was simply too good. In Andy’s third service game, Roger pushed the score to 30 all with a backhand winner and then Andy netted a forehand to give the Swiss a break point. After a quick rally, Andy’s forehand went wide and Roger was up a break 3*-2. While Roger was serving to consolidate, Andy produced some brilliant play of his own including a gorgeous lob to push Roger to two deuces. But the Maestro’s fantastic serving helped him out and he held at 4-2*. After that, it was tennis at a very high standard as both players played tactically, with extreme angles, powerful groundstrokes and some delicious net play especially from Roger. Both pushed each other but neither faced break points and that is how it remained till Federer served out the second set in 48 minutes.

Set 3 and Roger immediately had 3 break points on Andy’s serve but failed to convert. He had another one on Andy’s second service game but failed to convert that too. However, what he kept doing well throughout was holding his own serve. He had one love hold, 2 holds to 15 and only one hold to 30 by the time they were at 4 all. Then, on Andy’s 5th service game Roger took it up a notch and put the pressure on Andy which resulted in the Swiss having 2 break points. He only needed one and Andy was broken. The score was 5*-4 with Federer to serve for the match. And that’s when it happened. Maybe he got nervous about closing it out, or maybe he made the mistake of looking beyond the QFs before actually winning it. Whatever the reason, Roger inexplicably got tight. He offered 2 break points, saved one, but couldn’t save the other and for the first (and only) time in the match, Roger was broken.

At 5 all Andy found a new gear. He quickly held and then made Roger serve to try and take it to a tie-break. Roger regrouped (alas temporarily) and held to love. 6-all and we were in a tie-break. Roger got a mini-break to go up 3*-2 and then consolidated to go up 5-2*. Andy held his next two serves, and the tie-break was 4-5* with Federer to serve. A high-kick serve took it to 6*-4 and Roger had match point. Then, yet again, the demons returned, Roger got nervous and sailed a forehand long, and the mini-break was gone at 6-5*. A rejuvenated Murray held his next two serves and was at set point on Roger’s serve. A listless Roger hit a backhand long and unbelievably the set was Andy’s, 7-6(8-6) in 63 minutes. #facepalm + #headdesk

Onto Set 4, and it looked like Roger had regrouped for the most part when he held to 30. Then came Andy’s first service game and now looking back, it might actually be the longest game of the tournament – it lasted for almost 20 minutes. f2_federer_d10_31In it, Roger had 3 break points right away. He converted none. He ultimately had 3 more but in vain. Meanwhile Andy had Advantage 7 times but Roger kept pulling him back until finally on the 7th game point, Andy held and it was 1-all. The take-away from that game for me what that at least Roger was really pushing Andy while Andy was playing to survive. I hoped that attacking mentality would remain with Roger and sure enough he made an emphatic statement right away after losing that game with a minute love hold of his own to go up 2-1*.  As if to make a rebuttal, Andy then held to love as well. But by now I sensed Roger had calmed down and he was out of that mental funk he had gone to while he was serving for the match in Set 3. He seemed focused, intense and in no mood to prolong this misery.

Serving to go up to 3-all Murray was pushed to deuce 3 times and even offered Roger a break point before he eventually held. Meanwhile, Roger continued to hold with much more ease again while never easing up on pressuring Andy. This showed in Andy’s 4th service game when 3 forehand errors from the Scot gave Roger 3 break points. He saved the first 2 with fantastic serves but finally, FINALLY, Roger broke him on the third and now had to serve for the match, AGAIN. Reminiscent of the last time, Roger was quickly down 0-30. But thankfully he refocused and smashed a forehand winner and two great serves to gift himself a match point once more. This time there was no more drama as he ended the story with an ace. Game, Set, Match, Federer. With this win, Federer narrowed the H2H gap with Murray to negative 1 only; they are at 10-11 now in favor of Andy. Here are the match stats.QFAORoger did better than Andy in almost every department. His service games were miles better with higher percentages in 1st serves in, and points won off both the 1st and 2nd serves. He was obviously better in his net game too. Not only did he come to the net more, 66 times to Andy’s 27, he won 74% of those points too. His break point conversion is obviously ridiculous, he missed 4 in Set 3 and 9 in Set 4 but it is what it is and I now look at it to mean that he’s at least creating chances and keeping the pressure on. One stat that stood out to me was his return stats. We expect those stats from Andy who is one of the best returners of the game today but Roger did very well indeed. I think it’s a combination of his improved movement plus the new racquet that’s giving his returns extra zip. At least based on this tournament we can say the racquet has helped his backhands quite a bit and added some power into his forehand too.

screencapAs for that brief and untimely mental collapse in Set 3, I think it’s still down to Roger not being fully there yet in terms of his confidence, though obviously he is at a much better place than last year. I also felt that in a pressure situation he backed off the aggression. He was a bit too passive and simply chipped back some shots instead of trying to hit winners. Interestingly I think for that period in the match, Roger became more passive and Andy more aggressive. Neither is a natural state for either player and while Roger was able to get out of his mental cloud and go back to his game plan, Andy stuck with his newly found aggression and went for too many shots in the end in Set 4.

Here is the link to the presser which I highly recommend; there is a ton of information in there. Here is a small clip of the presser. Here are the highlights and here is match point. Lastly here is the hilarious on-court interview with Jim Courier where he addressed the break point issue too! 😉

So that was the QF and now onto the SF and it is with none other than old friend and rival, Rafa Nadal. This will be their 33rd meeting and it will have the feel of a final till you’ll realize half way through the match that it’s not 😦 Blame the evil draw for that one. With Rafa, it’s got more to do with Roger’s mental block than anything else. But I believe there are some encouraging signs that can give us hope. First, no one (well almost no one) is expecting him to win this, he’s the underdog and that suits him just fine to go for broke. Second, he has a renewed sense of confidence in his game post the Tsonga and now the Murray match. He survived two tough matches and played only 7 sets whereas last year he had played 10 with these two. He is feeling strong both physically and mentally. Third, his new racquet is definitely giving him some power, especially on the backhand which has always been Rafa’s target area. Fourth, apparently he had already spoken about playing Rafa with Edberg when they initially met up in Dubai. Here are his comments from the presser.

“I’m looking forward to speaking to Stefan, because when we spoke together, you know, when he came to Dubai and we spoke about the game, we clearly spoke about playing Rafa, as well. He thought he had some good ideas, so I’m looking forward to what he has to say. Clearly with Severin, he knows him inside out. I’m looking forward to hear what the boys have to say. We’ll prepare. I hope I can get a win. We’ll see.”

Basically what I think is this: the stats (and bookies) are saying Rafa will win but, I think tennis players know much more than any of us how little that matters on match day. Barring injuries, it all comes down to the mental state; how the players are feeling building-up to the match and where their head-space is when they wake up and when they step on court. All I will hope for is that Roger will give it his all and maybe even pull out a few new tricks. Perhaps he can turn back the years to remind us yet again how their rivalry gained such a mythical status in the first place. Back when an unstoppable force met an immovable object and together they created history.  

*Photos from ausopen.com except for the screencap of Stefan and Mirka*


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A Week In The Life of Roger Federer

It’s been a week since Brisbane. Roger Federer is now in Melbourne. You’d think we’d have to wait till his first round match to catch a glimpse of the man but no, he has been BUSY! Let me give you a rundown of his schedule in “A Week In The Life of Roger Federer”.

January 6th: Travel from Brisbane to Melbourne, get a quick hit in and pick up accreditation, while redefining the term ‘Swag’ – I mean look at him strut!

January 7th: Practice in the scorching sun and make it so graceful that the Australian Open people are inspired to make this clip and this too. Meanwhile, here is a collage of photos we saw from different practice sessions throughout the week.RFFpracticeAOJanuary 8th: Make sure everything is on track as preparation goes underway for ‘RF and Friends” night. It was an event held to raise funds for the Roger Federer Foundation. Here is a look behind the scenes.

At promptly 8pm local time, the event got underway. The highlights included Roger and Rod Laver warming up together, Rod Laver dressed in traditional tennis whites too! Then there was the match itself with Tsonga which was filled with fun moments from Roger, a few from Jo who took it quite seriously unfortunately. Roger ultimately won in 3 sets.

There was a wonderful Q&A with the audience and then a surprise video message from his mother (recorded by his dad!). Another great moment was when the ballkids presented their check for donations they had collected and it was presented by none other than the ball boy who had caught that wonderful catch in 2012! I should also mention that Lleyton Hewitt filled in as co-MC and a commentator and he did a fabulous job. A natural step for a future career for sure.  The event lasted over 3 hours and according to the fans that were there, he stayed on court for over an hour afterwards signing autographs. Over 1 million dollars was raised through the event and you can continue to donate via this link. Here is the link to the full event.RFFNightJanuary 9th: Get a practice hit in with Lleyton, (these two are attached at the hip these days!) Next, do the sponsor events.

  • Get suited up for Moët & Chandon. Play tennis with a golden ball. Umpire a match with a glass of Moët in hand. Also give two amazing interviews in the process. Here’s the first one, which is quite lighthearted and here’s the second which is relatively a bit more serious but equally enjoyable.
  • Get out of the suit and into the latest Nike kit for a Nike event with kids.

January 10th: Get a practice hit in and smile like a 19 year old playing his first Grand Slam.

January 11th: Get a practice hit in. Then join Rafa, Lleyton, Pat, Vika, Sam and Genie for the Australia Open Kids Day festivities. This includes

  • Playing doubles while holding hands with Vika, (here’s a clip).
  • Playing with a really over-sized racquet.
  • Laughing it up with Sponge Bob and Patrick.
  • Here’s a tiny summary clip. The Federer twins were courtside too and Cruz Hewitt seems fearless like his father and had no problems facing off against Rafa.

End the day with a sassy press conference. Here’s the full transcript.RFFAOKidsDayJanuary 12th: Get a practice hit in with Benoit Paire and make him laugh and smile enough to forget his BFF Stan (well at least for those few hours).

In the meantime, the draw was released. He plays Aussie player James Duckworth in Round 1, someone he’s never faced before. You can check out the draw here and analyze it for yourself. For me, I’m focused on Round 1 and that’s it. The OOP (Order Of Play) is out as well. Roger’s match will be the 2nd match on Rod Laver Arena on Tuesday, January 14th, around approximately 12:30pm local time.

Well that’s the quick recap of the week! Wishing Maestro the best of luck! Allez!

**Click on the photos to see them in their actual sizes**


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My London Trip – Nike, Wimbledon and the ATP World Tour Finals!

It’s been a while since my last post and understandably so. It’s the off-season and no tennis tends to mean no posts. But I was going through my London pictures and realized there are a lot of tennis-y things I did beyond seeing the Maestro live. So I thought I’d write a post on the rest of my trip. Apologies in advance for the formatting of some of the photos within the post; sometimes they don’t load properly. Please click on them for larger versions.

First, I went to the Nike store and almost squealed out loud. We don’t even have a Nike store in my country so I was pleased just to be able to shop for some RF gear finally. What I didn’t expect was to see the massive statue of Roger as soon as I came up the stairs! 😀 I finally bought my first RF hat and shirts and for that half an hour I felt I was in tennis heaven surrounded by all things RF!

RF_Nike

FedHeaven!

Next, I did the Wimbledon Tour. I know I’ll never be able to get tickets partly due to their archaic, cumbersome ticketing process so I thought this was my one chance to visit the most hallowed grounds in the history of the sport. If you are a die-hard tennis fan I would definitely recommend it.

Before the Tour started I saw the list of the Boys’ Singles Championship Roll and let out my first of many squeals of the day. The Tour starts with Court 1 where you get to sit in the seats as the tour guide gives you a rundown of the history of the tournament and the court itself. I got goosebumps sitting there looking out onto the green grass. The court isn’t laid out however so it looks like a beautifully manicured lawn. For some reason it seemed cozier than how I had imagined it after seeing it on TV. Next we came out to an open area directly in front of the famous Henman Hill. I will always call it Henman Hill, Murray got the trophy, the least Tim should get is the hill so Henman Hill it is as far as I’m concerned. We walked up and around Henman Hill and the view from the top was spectacular. It was a beautiful clear (though crazy chilly!) day so we could see the London skyline in the distance.

Wimby1

Row 1: The Wimbledon Entrance; The Junior Championships Roll;
Row 2: Court 1; Henman Hill

Then we walked past Court 18, the court that is entwined in Wimbledon lore forever. This was where Isner and Mahut played their marathon 3 day match. Apparently there are no reserved seats on this court; first come first serve. So some people stayed in their seats without going out for food or bathroom breaks till each day ended! Next we were led back indoors where we passed the different media rooms till we came upon quite unexpectedly into the main press room. We were allowed to take turns sitting in the hot-seat for photos. It felt surreal, sitting at the desk, knowing that’s where Roger sat too.

Court 18; The area outside the players cafeteria; The main press room

Court 18; The area outside the players cafeteria; The main press room

I should mention here that Roger’s presence was all over the grounds. Every few seconds there was a poster or photograph of him much to my glee!

RFWimby

Roger everywhere!

Then we came to the final stop of the Tour, Centre Court. I immediately did a sharp intake as some of my best tennis memories came flooding back. When I became a tennis fan, it was by watching Wimbledon matches on TV as a child. It was hard to focus on the present with all that nostalgia but I made myself look around nonetheless. The fabulous roof was open of course. We could see the Royal Box at the other end and the final score of the last match still displayed. It will remain there till the following year. I felt a surge of jealously for all the people who had gotten a chance to see Roger play in the court he values above all others. But then I realized, I never would have imagined being able to stand in front of the AELTC gates so while I’m not as lucky as those people, I’m still luckier than many others and immediately felt grateful and blessed instead.

Centre Court!!!

Centre Court!!!

As the Tour came to an end we were led out through a corridor which was lined with a list of past champions. I snapped photos as quickly as I could for the Maestro’s wins.

Roger's Wimbledon Moments!

Roger’s Wimbledon Moments!

And then the Tour was done. After that we went down to the underground Wimbledon museum which I really liked because I am a geek at heart and love all museums so for me it was the best of both worlds, museum + tennis! It starts with the history of the sport over a hundred years ago and then moves chronologically forward. My favorite parts of the museum included the 10 minute short 3D film they had of the 2012 final. I had no idea what to expect when I went in and then suddenly there was Roger in 3D! I am convinced this film will not be there for long since it will surely be replaced by the 2013 final so if you want to see a 3D version of Roger’s 7th Wimbledon win, go immediately before it’s too late! There is a section where a McEnroe hologram talks about the opponents he faced which was pretty cool. There were clips of championship points you could watch over and over; a little boy who was clearly a Federer fan kept watching only Roger’s 7 wins on repeat 🙂 There is a display case for the kits of the most recent champions and obviously I got all excited with Roger’s 2012 outfit, it really is my most favorite Wimbledon outfit ever.

Row 1: Tennis History; Row 2: Tennis fashion including Roger's 2012 kit; Row 3: Interactive displays

Row 1: Tennis History, including The President’s Cup 1907; Row 2: Tennis fashion including Roger’s 2012 kit; Row 3: Interactive displays

Lastly, you can see the two trophies of the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Championships in a display case in the museum. I also added the only photo I could take of the list of Gentlemen’s Singles Champions earlier. That building was not a part of the Tour so I took it through a window from the opposite building. Feels good to see all those ‘Federers’ in the winners list right?

The "If" poem and the trophies in the Wimbledon Museum; The Gentlemen's Singles Champions List

The “If” poem and the trophies in the Wimbledon Museum; The Gentlemen’s Singles Champions List

What every Champion needs ;)

What every Champion needs 😉

Oh before I forget, there is a Wimbledon shop where you can buy souvenirs. I bought a key chain and a fantastic coffee-table book (I’m a nerd remember?). I was sorely tempted to buy the coffee machine because I just couldn’t believe someone had made a Wimbledon coffee machine. But I settled for a photo instead 🙂

Well that’s my Wimbledon Tour report. I’ve outlined the highlights but it was quite a detailed and informative tour which I thoroughly enjoyed. It is well worth it for every tennis fan and also for every Federer fan as well. Though it was the off-season, I immediately felt a sense of history as I stepped onto the grounds and I am really, really, happy I was able to visit this most magnificent place.

Other than the Nike store and Wimbledon, the obvious high-point of my London trip was the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena. I have already written about the Roger match earlier but I still want to mention a few words about this fantastic tournament because to me it was perfect. I had only one major complaint which I will mention below. But other than that, I highly recommend you going if you ever get the chance. Here’s my quick list of reasons why:

  • Best 8 singles AND doubles players in the world. Meaning every match is awesome.
  • The fans were great. They were from all over the world and quite well-behaved.
  • It’s indoors, so you are guaranteed 1 singles and 1 doubles match per session. No rain delay!
  • The O2 arena is very easy to get to via tube. The stop is a 20 second walk to the main door of the Arena.
  • The O2 has plenty of food options. Overpriced perhaps and not of the highest Michelin Star quality but still a good variety of restaurants and again, all indoors, no need to go out in the rain or cold.
  • Even if you have no tickets, you can get a free pass to the event at the door which lets you enter the ‘Fanzone’. This Fanzone is still indoors – inside the building but outside the court arena.
    • You can use that pass to watch the practice sessions in the Fanzone for free! There are 3 practice courts accessible with the Fanzone pass where you can watch the players practice close up. At 2 of these you can actually sit and watch provided you get there early enough to grab seats.
    • You can watch Holding Court Live right in front of you in the middle of the Fanzone area – I believe this was a new addition this year and hopefully they will continue it in the future.
    • You can buy ATP items in the ATP stalls at the Fanzone as well, like the ATP World No. 1 book I bought, plus flags of the players’ nations – I bought a Swiss flag of course. But please note, you cannot buy any player gear like RF hats, etc.
  • For someone like me who knows no other European languages except for English, the fact that this tourney is in London made things extra easy.
  • The whole tourney has a very rock star feel starting from the lights, the music, the dry ice and the player’s introductions. Actually it’s the opposite of the most traditional tournament of all, Wimbledon. Kudos to London for pulling off both with equal aplomb.
Row 1: The O2 Arena; we could see the booth with the trophy and Novak's new coach, aka Boris Becker next to the sponsor seats; Row 2: Fanzone - Practice Courts 1 with Rafa and 2 with Stan, Magnus and Pierre, and also Holding Court Live with Ross Hutchins

Row 1: The O2 Arena; the media booth next to the sponsor section with the trophy and Novak’s new coach, aka Boris Becker;
Row 2: Fanzone – Practice Courts 1 with Rafa and 2 with Stan, Magnus and Pierre; Holding Court Live with Ross Hutchins

My one major complaint is the ATP Awards presentations. No one knows when they will take place (we asked around and got blank looks) and if they present an award after a match they sometimes don’t announce it immediately after the match is over so half the crowd leaves, not realizing that an award ceremony is about to happen.

I’ll leave you with some tips that might be helpful especially if you have tickets to more than one session.

  • Prioritization is key. For instance, you might be watching a match that is going deep into the 3rd set. But at the same time, Federer is due on a practice court in 5 minutes. Decide in advance what you will do in this situation because once you get out of the arena you can’t get back in. Plus if you want to watch practices, you will need to get there in advance to get seats. At the same time, be prepared to wait. Just because a practice session is supposed to be at 3pm doesn’t mean it’ll happen then. Worse, be prepared for it to get cancelled altogether.
  • Make sure you schedule your food intake according to your priorities. If you get out at the end of a match along with everybody else, you’re in for a long wait standing in queues. The end of the day session is particularly crazy because people are starving for lunch.
  • The seats are not very spacious so try to travel as light as possible because there isn’t a lot of leg space to keep your things.
  • If you watching the night session and are traveling by tube, be aware of the time in case the match runs long. Keep in mind when last Jubilee train leaves the station, but also, if you have connections, know what time you can catch the last connecting train as well.
  • The lighting inside, while creating a great atmosphere, is not the easiest for photographers. If you are really keen on taking good photos, suck it up and take your bigger fancier camera rather than relying on your old point-and-shoot or your phone.
  • If you are going for multiple days, buy the program the first day and then use the coupons inside to get daily programs for the each subsequent day for free.
The ATP Top 8 of 2013: Row 1: Federer; Nadal; Ferrer; Gasquet Row 2: Del Potro; Wawrinka; Berdych; Djokovic

The ATP Top 8 of 2013: Row 1: Federer; Nadal; Ferrer; Gasquet
Row 2: Del Potro; Wawrinka; Berdych; Djokovic

Well that’s it! My London trip was more amazing that I could’ve possibly dreamed. I got to see Roger up-close, I got to see the top 8 in action, I did the Wimbledon Tour and bought RF gear from the Nike store. The trip not only made 2013 a standout year for me but is also clearly the highlight of my life as a tennis fan. The year hasn’t been great for me many reasons, personal and tennis-wise but London made me feel optimistic about both. Now I can’t wait for 2014 to start so bring it on!


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The Boys Are Back In Town! – Federer is through to R3 in Shanghai

And we’re back on tour! It feels good saying that! So after a month long hiatus, Roger Federer is back. He’s been in Shanghai for a while actually. He’s done a ton of promotional events followed by frenzied fans every step of the way. He has also entered the doubles at Shanghai with Chinese player Ze Zhang and they won their first match to the surprise of everyone including Roger! 😉 We’ll see how they do and in the midst of my singles coverage I might try and sneak in some doubles action into my next posts. Roger also did a hilarious twitter Q&A session with his fans using the hashtag #AskRF. But for now, for the sake of time, I’m only covering the first singles match Roger played vs. Italian Andreas Seppi in R2 of the Shanghai Masters.

As it usually has been for the past few years, Mirka and the twins don’t travel with him on the Asian swing. Neither does his coach Paul Annacone. The Swiss isn’t completely alone however; Severin Luthi, Tony Godsick and Stephane Vivier are with him. Nonetheless, without the Queen herself, his player’s box was going to be a bit empty. Or was it? Within two games into the first set the camera panned across the following seats:group1Yes, that’s Rafa Nadal, Marc Lopez, Fabio Fognini and Tommy Haas. Never fear, the bros are here! To be fair, Marc was probably there to keep Rafa company and Fabio was most likely supporting fellow Italian and doubles partner Seppi but the Maestro’s friendship with Tommy Haas is well known and Rafa, well that’s been going on for ages. Rivals on court and friends off-court, Rafa has been known to watch Roger play at other tournaments in the past. Before the Shanghai Rolex Masters started Rafa had some warm words for the Swiss and his chances of qualifying for London. Today he backed up that confidence by supporting his friend on court.

From Weibo

Yep that’s what I was doing too

This was just as well because initially Roger needed a bit of support. He looked somewhat rusty while Seppi looked sharp. Roger faced a break point in just his second service game but somehow held.  In his third service game he hit two double faults, the second one at break point and gifted Andreas the lead. Yes Rafa, you and I had the same expression just then :(.

The break however, galvanized Roger and soon he had 2 break point opportunities of his own. After a long rally he ended the point with a gorgeous smash and Rafa and I clapped in delight. I told you, we were in sync, Rafa and I ;). The match was back on serve at 3 all. I think that was the turning point of the match even though he faced 2 break points in his very next service game. But he saved them both to go up 4-3*. At this point Rafa took off, partly because he was mobbed by fans by then, partly because he had his own match coming up next but I’m sure also partly because he sensed the momentum had shifted in Roger’s favor, just like I did. The set continued on serve with Roger beginning to find his rhythm.

Rafa (and I) were clapping away at that brilliant smash!

Rafa (and I) were clapping away at that brilliant smash!

Serving to stay in the set, Seppi panicked and Roger stepped it up. Seppi got broken with an error of his own and it was 6-4 for the Maestro in 37 minutes. This wasn’t a clean set for Roger; he had quite a few unforced errors. But he remained cool, focused when needed and snatched the set away.

On to set 2 and Roger carried over his confidence from the first set for an emphatic love hold. He kept pushing Seppi who was still trying to regain some footing in the match. After the 3rd deuce Roger had a break point and an error from Andreas gave Roger the break. The Swiss smoothly consolidated the break to go up 3-0 and looking back, the match was already decided by then. The Maestro had well and truly settled in while Seppi got more frustrated. Both men held steady and didn’t offer any more break points and while that was wonderful for Roger (and us) it meant Andreas never got even a chance at leveling the set. Andreas made sure Roger had to serve for the match and knowing the kind of year Roger has had, in particular having trouble closing matches, I was justifiably nervous. Roger quickly went down love-30 while I covered my face, unwilling to see what might happen next. However, the Maestro thankfully had no time for nonsense and won the next 6 points in a row that included two aces. Game, set, match, Federer. Here are the match stats. R2Thought he had a rather shaky start, as the match went on, Roger got better and better and was in complete control by set 2. The winners to unforced errors ratio of 19 to 29 is a tad worrying but most of those errors came in the first set. He said going a set up and then an early break up in the second set was key for him. “Even though it remained tough, Seppi did a good job of hanging around. That’s the kind of match you want in this particular situation I’m in right now.” Here is a link to the highlights.

For those interested, Rafa was asked about his presence at Roger’s match and this is what he had to say. “It’s special, I had an opportunity today to watch a few games like a spectator in life. I enjoyed it. I watched [Federer] because I arrived early and I already practiced. I didn’t know what else to do. I went on court to watch a player like Roger, which I always enjoy doing.”

Up next for Roger is the highly talented, athletic, mercurial Frenchman, Gael Monfils. Their H2H is 6-1 with Roger winning their last encounter. Actually they haven’t played since 2011 so I’m not quite sure how this match-up will be given their current forms. But it’s bound to be entertaining for sure. I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that Roger comes out on the winning side at the end. Only about 11 hours to go! Allez!http://pakistan.worldnewsviews.com/2013/10/09/novak-djokovic-romps-to-shanghai-win-despite-injury-scare/