Saturday, January 19, 2008

Say It Again!

"You have to believe that you're going to beat Roger Federer when you go on court, as stupid as it might sound.

"If you go out there thinking I'm going to play a good match, make him sweat for his money or something like that, it's not going to work. Because then when the chances are given to you, and even Roger Federer is giving chances, you're not going to use them because you're going to be too afraid for victory. So I went on court with the idea that I can win. I was close."

--Janko Tipsaveric, aka The Man

It doesn't sound stupid at all, Mr. Man. I've been saying it forever. It's nice to see a you believe it, show it, and almost make it happen. Thumbs up indeed.


Karen said...

Hey Craig, you know that Janko is just saying what Novak told him to say right. You might have been saying that all along that players do not have the belief that they can beat him. That is not Roger's fault. If these professionals dont have the belief then they should be doing something else. That being said apparently the Joker schooled Janko on what to do. Makes you think the Joker thinks he can take out Roger.

O/T - and the end of that match is the reason why I no longer cheer for David Nalbandian. Disappointing his fans every single freaking time. Reitre already and let us keep our sanity

Craig Hickman said...

Karen, from what I know about Janko, he's his own person with his own mind and opinions. Always has been. I sincerely doubt he was parroting Novak.

And I'm not faulting Roger for anything. Nor his Janko. Too many times people assume I'm criticizing Roger because I'm criticizing his opponents. Not so. When I criticize Roger, I'm blunt.

What Janko said is simply truth.

Doesn't mean Roger wouldn't win anyway in the face of more believers, but I'd sure like to see it.

Craig Hickman said...

David had a back injury, so I didn't expect much from him unless it was healed and he could prepare appropriately. He couldn't.

Alex said...

Craig, keep grasping at straws. An occasional 5-setter for Roger is not proof of his decline. It's proof that the tour is deeper then before, that's all. Also I agree with Karen, if these guys(at least top 50) don't go onto the court believing they can beat ANYONE(including Roger) they should retire already. Or would it be better if Roger just steamrolled everyone?

MMT said...

Alex - I don't see where Craig has said anything about Federer's decline here - just that players don't believe they can beat him. Personally, I think that's down to Roger beating the hell out of (almost) everyone for the last 4 years, but nevertheless...

BTW - what's with Tipsy's challenges? The rule states the player has to keep moving forward, but he's meandering slowly up to the service line, then doing a 360 to look at the mark, then challenging - all this in between serves. You'd never see Fed or Rafa do all that - if they think it's a mistake they challenge straight away. And who does Bud Collins think he is - he's court-side and he's too deaf to hear what Roger's saying to Tipsy, which is basically to challenge or not, and not this rain-dance he's doing checking the mark, his box, etc...ridiculous

MMT said...

Oh, and by the way - I think the key is Roger's tactical complacency (i.e how often he comes to net and shortens the points).

Last fall he lost 3 duking it out from the back against guys who were stronger than him from the back. After his Gonzalez loss he relentlessly attacked his opponents in the next 4 matches and blew the rest of competition away - including Rafa.

It almost happened again last night. Roger's total package is better than anyone in the men's game, but if he gets tactically complacent and tries to duke it out from the back he will NOT defend his title.

Karen said...

Craig, I knew you were not criticising Roger, I just felt that that comment needed to be said. I dont know if I would go so far as to say that Janko was not parrotting the Joker as he did mention that the Joker gave him pointers on how to play Fed. Does anyone know if this was the first meeting between Janko/Fed in atp tour play. Knew they had played in DC. As to Nalbandian, bad back or no, he needs to either stay in shape during the off-season (what off season you ask) or retire from the sport. Did you see him last night. He could not even move to balls. Then again JCF was moving like the mosquito that he is. Man that guy is fast

Craig Hickman said...

alex, I'm going to say this once:

Keep your sarcasm at bay and if you want to come after me personally, at least stick to the subject at hand. My post has nothing to do with Federer's decline.

Everyone here knows I don't care much for Federer, and we all know he's your fave. It's opposing viewpoints expressed respectfully that makes this place fun. Keep it real, but don't make it personal. There are a ton of other places for that.

Thank you.

Craig Hickman said...

mmt, your analysis of Fed's tactical complacency is revealing.

Fed has often said he doesn't like to take it to his opponents unless he has to. He's got the mentality of a counterpuncher and for all his all-court prowess, he's really a baseliner. He admitted that Tipsy was getting the better of him from the baseline, and still he was to make adjustments. But when he did (coming over his backhand return to break serve from 0-40 down at 8-8 in the fifth was key) he won the match.

No top player likes playing outside their comfort zone, even if they can.

Karen said...

Caig, true words that on Fed. The mark of his game however is that at any given time he has the tools to make the switch to another style of play. It would seem as if he plays the game that he thinks is best suited to his opponent. Attacking style for those who are defensive players (wish he would do that against Nadal) and defensive to those players who are attacking players. That being said I have seen Fed on numerous occassions change tactics when things are not working in one area of his game, and that to me is the mark of a true champion. Switch to Plan B, C, D and use all letters of the alphabet if needs be. We have seen many great champions on the men's and women's side who have been able to change tactics mid-match and go to something else when a part of their game is not working. That being said I am not sure that you can say in one breath that he has all-court prowess but is really a baseliner. From interviews that he has given, it would seem as if he would prefer to play an attacking style of game, i.e. serve and volley, come to the net more during rallies etc. The problem with that as he sees it is that so many of the men on tour are excellent returners, hence him being pinned to the baseline many times during matches. However, if he is playing someone who does not have an effective serve and is not a great returner, as in Roddick, then he will take advantage of that and do the change up. Think this is one of the reasons that most players cannot beat him. He has so many weapons in his arsenal that it is very difficult to get the better of him because he has the tools to make changes during a match.

Craig Hickman said...

Roger is a baseliner with the ability to play allcourt tennis. Mentality is key. Roger couldn't server and volley for long stretches of a match because that's simply not his game.

When a player is being pushed they get nervous. When a player is nervous, they resort to their comfort zone. If and when they conquer their nerves, they snap out of it and do whatever they ahve to do to win the match. Federer has a lot in his arsenal, to be sure, but he only uses it when he has to. But he's not comfortable in the forecourt, no matter how well one thinks he plays there.

But what Tipsy said is most important from a mental perspective. Raja struggles most (makes the most "uncharacteristic" unforced errors, for example) when he's face with a player who exudes belief. That's when the shanks increase.

Federer, as well as he plays, isn't always in control of his own destiny on the tennis court. And he can be as mentally fragile as anybody else. He's always going to be hard to beat, especially in Slams. But Tipsy, who is far less talented, got closer than anyone has to beating him in a Slam outside of clay since Safin in 2005. And Tipsy doesn't have half the talent Safin had. But he sure had belief. And that is what was so refreshing. Talent usually trumps belief, but not always.

And good for Tipsy to seek advice from someone who's beaten Fed at least once. To seek advice means he was serious about trying to win. Compare that to Santoro who admitted he had absolutely no game plan before the match and he was just going to go out there and have fun because he knew he had no chance. Pitiful. And that's why that match was a glorified exhibition and Raja could do anything he wanted.

Alex said...


I don't know why you thought I was getting personal? I'm just pointing out that Fed has beaten the stuffing out of everyone(including Nadal on occasions) the last 4 years. He's allowed a blip now and then. He's not a tennis god, only near being so. Remmeber that stat, he has 12 slams, the rest of the field of 127 has 11. Mind-blowing stuff.

Karen said...

Craig, I am not sure that I am understanding what you are saying about Fed. I think that all players when they are under pressure tend to start making mistakes. The mark of great players is their ability to come up with something else that will work in those situations. Fed noticed that Tipsy was outplaying him on the baseline but was struggling to hold serve. Fed, knowing that he has a basically unbreakeable serve, chose to concentrate on his serve and find chinks in the armour that is Tipsy. Taking notes from other players is something that all players do as Roger has confessed in the past that if he has never played someone before then he does his scouting by asking other players who may have played that person. Serena always says she consults with Venus because Venus has basically played everyone on tour. In relation to the match with Fabrice, I just sat down and really enjoyed the match. Even if Fabrice had a game plan I doubt that the results would have been different.

Craig Hickman said...


Telling someone they are grasping at straws makes your comment personal.

I don't see Federer the way you do. Never will. Accept that and move on.

oddman said...

Craig, your 1:26 post above there should be copied and sent to every ATP coach on the tour right now.

tangerine said...

I echo oddman's sentiments, Craig. Next Tuesday's Rants/Comments Please should be your own 1:26 post.

btw, somebody needs to wrap duct tape around Mary Carillo's mouth. I can't believe she actually said that the Tipsy match was the worst match she ever saw Roger play. Just because Roger lost a set or two doesn't mean he was playing that badly.

I used to really enjoy listening to Mary. Then she went from making insightful comments about tennis to becoming Roger's fulltime fangirl mouthpiece.

I wouldn't mind her fangirling for Roger so much if she didn't also dismiss his opponents as no-talent cretins unworthy of breathing the same air as Sir Roger.

MMT said...

To be fair to Mary, that comment could be interpreted as a compliment to Tipsarevic because pressure can cause unforced errors, and Federer is nor normally under that kind of pressure.

I think her comment about Venus Williams "taking a stand for women's tennis" was outright laughable. If Federer had been on the court they wanted to move her to, or if it were a women's match, BUT she still insisted to stay on Rod Laver Arena, then you could make that argument.

I may be cynical, but my guess is that, she (like everybody else) though Fed would roll once he won the 2nd set, and thought she'd be on court a lot sooner on Rod Laver arena, so she refused to wait on another court with a men's match that could have gone hours longer.