Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Roger Federer is Crushed

Emotionally, mentally, spiritually, Roger Federer looks like Andy Roddick after the 2004 Wimbledon final.

Never thought I'd see it happen, but...

Serving was about the only thing the world No. 1 did well in his devastating 6-2, 5-7, 4-6 loss to Gilles Simon in the second round of the Rogers Cup.

I'm trying to remember the last time Raja lost two matches on the ATP tour in a row and I'm coming up blank.

Losing Wimbledon finals is crushing.

That's why Rafael Nadal's victory earns my utmost respect because my guy never recovered from his first Wimbledon final loss.


Tonight, Raja was pissy, cussing, annoyed, rattled, erratic. Insert another synonym here. And when the Frenchman, fresh off his surprise victory in Indianapolis, refused to submit in the third set after being broken twice, Raja became unglued.


For the first time in his career he has to deal with losing the final of the Slam that means the most.

It helps that he's won the thing five times, and like other Wimbledon champions who have lost subsequent finals, it's likely Raja will play on the final Sunday in London once more.

Or not.

I'm thinking of Bjorn Borg right now.

Whatever will be will be.

But Raja has some healing to do and while he's doing it, the quality of his tennis will be anybody's guess.


Helen W said...

According to the ATP site, if Rafa wins Toronto, he will be a mere 275 points behind Roger.

The US Open just became a lot more open.

If Roger's poor (disastrous?) year continues I just cannot see him sticking around. I do not see him being able to fight back a la Agassi. I believe he will retire and stay retired -- by the end of the year.

oddman said...

Part of me believes that, helen w. The part that has observed the Fed ego growing to a mighty and unwieldy mass from years of press adulation (Roger Federer as Religious Experience, anyone?). But another part says no, he wouldn't walk away after one bad year, if it does indeed continue to play out this way.

Obviously he's not over his Wimbledon loss, despite saying just that. And he's definitely very irked by the negative press he's gotten lately, the doomcryers and those 'end of an era' pronouncements. How he responds to all of that will be very interesting to watch this year. I'm all agog.

Helen W said...

I dunno oddman. I for one was surprised at the spirit Roger showed in fighting back from 2 sets down at Wimbledon. But I think that he has been relentlessly tempted by the adulation of the press and fans, and who could resist such temptation? Only someone who was not susceptible to those temptations, and I believe that Roger was/is susceptible -- as Peter Bodo remarked, he is "infatuated with his own abilities", and the press have relentlessly encouraged his weaknesses. The chinks in his armour, so long hidden behind his burnished aura of invincibility, are now glaringly obvious to the entire ATP tour. And I don't think he knows how to handle that situation.

rabbit said...

Roger lost back-to-back matches against Djokovic in AO and Murray in Dubai earlier this year, I believe.

I don't think Roger will go away. It seems it's a popular myth that he is low in mental strength. But Roger has had to overcome a lot of mental blocks in the past. At one point, he couldn't play against Nalbandian, Agassi and Hewitt. At one point, he was the prime example of a talented player who never showed up in big events. Even in 2004-06, Roger had to pull through lots of tight matches. He isn't a quitter.

His game has dramatically worsened in the space of 12-18 months. It might be he won't regain that brilliance, but he'll continue to fight.

tristann said...

Hi Craig, Helen w. and Oddman.

I may be wrong and I'm too lazy to look it up, but I think that Fed suffered back-to-back losses last fall. He lost to Nalby in Paris and then to Gonzalez in Shanghai. But this situation is much different.

oddman said...

Bodo certainly phrased that to perfection, didn't he. And with the aura of invincibility fading, more players are willing to step up and challenge Fed, and not get rattled if finding themselves on the winning end of a match, then blowing a lead.
Been sitting here trying to reason out why Fed would stick it out if he does have a 2008 Annus Horribilus, as I just said in my earlier post. But the more I think on it, the more I come up with 'unlikely'. First, he's stubborn, and wouldn't want to accept that he's been playing worse than he's done for years. But then, if poor results continue, he'd have to, yes? Could he admit that he's in a slump and accept coaching help for his game? Or strategizing? He's been Mr. I Don't Need No Stinkin' Coach for a while now. Whoops, I forgot I saw Higueros there today..... Second, he's still competitive, if not up in the clouds above everyone else these days (but, don't think he likes it much that he's fallen down to everyone else's level, not that he's fallen, but he'd see it that way).
Whatever transpires, today's result was just a bit jawdropping for me.

tristann said...

Hi Rabbit.

Tough times for Fed fans. Don't know what is going on with Fed but he played piss-poor tennis tonight. I am not a Fed fan so I am not saying it as an excuse. I do not know if it is mental or if his form has deteriorated that badly.

Now more than ever an established relationship with a good coach would have been of great help to him.

tristann said...

Gosh, just reread my post and wanted to clarify, I did not mean to be snarky at all.

I usually dislike it when a loss is explained away as the loser playing badly, but I think that tonight Roger really lost this match rather than Simon winning it.

oddman said...

I didn't find your post snarky at all, Tristann.

Dan Scarlett said...

As telling as Bodo's line is, here is an even more devastating one from The Gusrdian-- after Wimbledon:
"Federer's considerable mental strength is, essentially, manufactured---Nadal's comes naturally" !!

Mad Professah said...

Oh my! I haven't seen the match yet so I can't really sy much, but Roger has lost back-to-back matches lots of times in the last 18 months (Nalbandian-Gonzalez late 2007) and Australian Open and Dubai in 2008.

Mad Professah said...

Federer won't retire until he gets to 14 slams.

oddman said...

"Nadal's victory earns my utmost respect because my guy never recovered from his first Wimbledon final loss."

I wonder if that had anything to do with expectations placed on Andy which were never considered for Rafa - Andy had held the number one ranking, won his first slam, and was riding the wave in 2004. He was considered a co-favorite, imo. Contrast that with Rafa, guy only wins on clay, a Spaniard win Wimbledon?, he's lucky to be in the final, easy draw, blah, blah. What else did naysayers say - he shouldn't have even got to the final, he got lucky with the retirements of Djoker and Youhzny... it seemed to me many just didn't believe a clay court player could be a threat at Wimby. He of the Iron Will - he proved them wrong. I said last year if he got the chance again, he would not let it go by him this time, the memory of that 07 loss would motivate him to fight even harder. (yeah, I'm still riding the high, lol)
Anyway, I think expectations were a lot higher for Andy to win than they were for Rafa. And that rain delay in 05 - one wonders what might have been.... silly to do that, I know.
Tennis is so mental, as you've said many times, Craig.

tangerine said...

This is the first time Roger has lost in the first round since losing to Murray in Dubai earlier this year.

Sorry to quote the hated Djoker but Novak was right: Roger is definitely feeling the pressure. You can see it on his face and in his game; he's choking and playing more timid. There was actual fear on Roger's face in that last set, the kind that says "Oh my god, I'm about to lose in the first round I better do something quick!" and in his panic sprayed another forehand wide to lose the match.

These are tough times for Roger and his fans. Let the Roddick fans comfort you. We know exactly what you're going through. *group huggy*

As for Roger pulling a Justine and quitting: no way. He's not a quitter. One bad year won't be enough to send him into an early retirement. He very much wants to beat Sampras' record. And to win Roland Garros. There's always next year.

anonymous said...

I couldn't see this match but he is certainly not infatuated with his own abilities, since he happens to be a very humble and down-to-earth person. He is probably overwhelmed by the idea of maintaining that elite No.1 status. And I think he's only slightly playing worse, but others are playing much much better. Whatever maybe, the press should stop tearing him apart.

Karen said...

Quit. Retire. Hang Up His Racquets. Who? Roger Federer. Hell No. Maybe some lesser lights, but certainly not Roger Federer. If anyone says that this guy has no talent, has no mental strength etc. I wonder what it took for him to be the standard bearer for the sport for the last 4 years. Clearly, it took some amount of skill for him to win those 12 grand slam titles. I think it is unfair to say that he did not have a great game to begin with and to say that he was manufactured by the media. I will go back again to talking about my game. 90% of what happens on a tennis court is mental and by extension confidence. If you are not mentally prepared for a match, then your confidence will diminish and you will make errors and you will lose. I had to get help with my serve so that I could start winning matches, because I would double fault all the time. I had to learn to step around my backhand and hit my forehand because my backhand is non-existent because of arthritis. The fact of the matter is that right now Roger is suffering a crisis of confidence. I have seen Gilles Simon play. I am not impresed with his game. He is not a slam contender, the same way that most of the players who have beaten Roger this year are not slam contenders or even MS title winners. They are journeymen who got lucky. Call me when they have won something significant. It is the same way that people used to put down Andy Roddick etc and say that he is finished. He is still out there battling because he thinks he can. He is still in the top 10. He is still a contender. At some point in time, TMF will be back and doing what he does best. As a fan, I will be very happy the day he is no longer No.1 as then the expectations will not be on his shoulders and then perhaps he can breathe and even more so EXHALE.

cate said...

Federer is not Borg. So why are people comparing Roger to him?

I'm all for it if he wants to take a break. He deserves it. He may lose number one this year but it's not the end of the world.

Karen said...

Thank you very much Cate. I actually used to ridicule those players who said that the pressure of being No. 1 contributed to their loss. I have had to take those words back. The pressure of being No. 1 is a monumental task. Can you imagine having to keep up with what this guy has been doing for the past 4 years. Day in and day out. Ask Craig how he gets the mental strength to have something to write about with tennis. Ask lawyers how hard it is to get up the mental strength to go and argue cases every single day. Surgeons performing skilled tasks on the human body day in and day out. At some point in time you get mentally fried and your talent etc leave with you. You are what is called mentally drained. That is why people take vacations. They leave the office, leave the cell phones behind, leave everything behind and they just relax and breathe. 2008 will be over soon. 2009 is just around the corner. Breathe Fed breathe

sarooq said...

i dont get it, the guy has one bad year after 4 unbelievable years (years that no other player has had) and he's just supposed to retire?....whaattt?..haha

Everyone's careers go up and down. He himself has created such a monster, that the fact he is having one bad year, everyone expects him to quit?...again...whaattt?

Boohooo...he's not been perfect this year...but he did get to the finals of two grandslams and a semi final of another....Thats not a stellar year in term of Roger Federer like standards, but in terms of a Top 10 ATP player, thats a pretty good year!

So why should he retire? He should think of taking a break if he falls out of the top 10 or 20 and doesn't make past the quarterfinals of any slam...thats when he should hang up his racquet. He's only 27 (well at least in 2 weeks), at his level of play and his fitness, he can squeez out another slam or two....

He just needs a coach, and i mean a full time COACH and some time off after the USO.

Craig Hickman said...

Roger Federer is not that mentally tough. I've always observed that about him.

Doesn't mean he can't fight in a match.

But all in all, I wouldn't put him on a very short list of players with mental toughness.

How he deals with this stage of his career will tell then tale of the tape more than anything else.

Craig Hickman said...

Federer won't retire until he gets to 14 slams.


What if he doesn't?

There are no guarantees in sport.

The line between reigning and slumping is thin. If one's ego doesn't handle the slumping after the reigning, it could prove difficult to get back to the winner's circle.

Where Raja is most like Sampras is that he is in love with his own greatness. Because of that, he can certainly win two more Slams, but it becomes so much more difficult to do when your ego is crushed.

I'm not a fan of Sampras, for the record, but he was most certainly a mentally tough and that is the reason he was able to come back from relative oblivion and win his final USO.

Raja is not as low as he can go, but if he's not careful...

Craig Hickman said...

As for Roger pulling a Justine and quitting


When are people going to read the explicit writing on the wall and realize Justine didn't "quit" tennis?

Justine will be back in 6 or 9 months.

Just watch.

Craig Hickman said...

Whatever maybe, the press should stop tearing him apart.


Welcome to my world. Why do you think I said that Roger is turning into Andy Roddick right before my eyes?

The press builds you up. The press tears you down.

Only those who are tough as nails can deal with it.

When opponents smell blood, they go in for the kill, they don't back down.

Gilles Simon played a great match. I disagree with the person who said taht Raja lost the match more than Simon won it.

The third set was priceless. Raja got a break, Simon took it back.

Speaking of Justine, this match reminded me of the Bartoli/Henin Wimbledon semifinal last year.

When a player doesn't "submit" to the higher-ranked player when they're "supposed" to (or when the higher-ranked player expects them to) the higher-ranked player can get desperate and start flailing away.

But Simon deserves credit for fighting back after being down two separate breaks in the third set. He didn't give up. And the way he hit the ball deep and hard and flat in match game caught Raja on his back foot and he couldn't control is shots.

Just like Bartoli beat Henin after being blown out in the first set, Simon beat Federer.

oddman said...

Absolultely, Craig. The press is tough, but this is nothing new. It's not like they've singled out Federer and attacked him any more than any other top player in the past. They've been absolutely brutal with Andy. How Roger deals with it is the question.
That's twice now where I've read comments from him pleading with the press...'why do they want to shoot me so soon?', 'please don't kill me with questions like this' - what's with that?
I just read both postmatch interviews (Rafa, Fed) - again, Rafael is talking about the immediate future, not going for the number one spot, not winning the tourney, just 'to play better than today, no?' I love how he tries to keep his focus in the moment. Fed talks about how it was a match he should have won (well, yes, it was...) but I get the sense he doesn't believe in Rafa's creedo very much - anyone can lose to anyone, no?

Helen W said...

... the press should stop tearing him apart

Federer has cultivated the adulation of the press for 4 years now. He has eaten it up. For those of us who are not ardent Fed fans, listening to the commentary of matches is often a painful proposition as even the commentators fawn all over him, without even an attempt at even-handed coverage.

So now they are on the attack? Break my heart. If you live by the sword you should be prepared to die by it.

tristann said...

Guilty as charged. I said that Fed lost this more than Simon won it. I did not mean to disrespect Gilles S. He did play great and the victory was well earned. I was just very shocked to see how Federer lost in the end, by getting broken in the last game. For the last year, his clutch serving has often saved him (Wimby 07?), but yesterday even that failed him miserably.

oddman said...

Tell it, helen. Spot on.

oddman said...

karen said: 'As fan, I will be very happy the day he is no longer no. 1 as then the expectations will not be on his shoulders and then perhaps he can breathe and even more so EXHALE.'

The press will still be after him, imo. After all the fawning praise we've heard for the last three or four years, it will be hard for them to let go. It's been all about Federer for so long, I think this year's FO was the first time I read something about another player that didn't include what Fed shoulda done, what he didn't do in order to win, blah, blah, all over again.

He's been the focus of attention for so long, and has also encouraged that, they won't suddenly drop Federer if he loses his no. 1 ranking. It'll be all about how do you get it back, what's wrong with you, etc.

Karen said...

Craig, I have to disagree with you on Gilles winning that match. I have seen Gilles Simon play. I am not impressed. Crucify me now but there was no issue of fear factor or Gilles believing in himself. When Gilles or any other player steps up and not only beats the living daylight out of Fed and then goes on to either win a major or own the tour, then we can talk about Fed declining. As of right now, we can all only speculate as to what is happening with him. I also dont get it when you say that he is not mentally tough. What has he been doing the last 4 years. Cruising. He has said on many occasions that he has had to dig deep to win matches. Is that not mental toughness. Perhaps the reason why it looks like he is not mentally tough is because he plays so differently than other players. Maybe the yoke is getting tight and he is feeling the pressure. Who knows. We can sit here and speculate until the cows come home. I am not sure why we are bringing Justine into the mix, a player who has proven that she is not mentally tough. You cannot teach mental toughness, sports psychologist be damned. You have to believe in your game and in the execution of your game. Clearly, Fed does not believe in his game right now. Which player (or person for that matter) does not go through times when they doubt their abilities especially when you have to listen to constant criticisms. It happens. Look at Andy - 3-4 coaches since 2003. Everybody telling him what is wrong. I say Fed should go back to the days of no coach. Hit your forehand like its nobody's business. Stop chasing rainbows. Stop fighting with yourself. Play tennis.

Craig Hickman said...

Craig, I have to disagree with you on Gilles winning that match.


Of course you do. I wouldn't expect anything else.


I saw what I saw and I stand by it.

It's nice to see you back defending your guy again, though.

You had me worried for a minute.

Craig Hickman said...

I was just very shocked to see how Federer lost in the end, by getting broken in the last game. ...[H]is clutch serving has often saved him, but yesterday even that failed him miserably.


Replace the name Federer with Roddick in the above.

And then add him complaining to the press about the press and there you have it.

Craig Hickman said...

I am not sure why we are bringing Justine into the mix, a player who has proven that she is not mentally tough.


I make connections. It's what I do.

Karen said...

Craig, I have been around. Just cursing at dodgy internet connections. Busy at work. Making plans to go home to visit my dad who is not well, as well I have been in a funk post Wimby. It is hard to not feel the pain of your fave when he seems to be struggling and it does not help when I have to read negative posts from the trolls who come out to feed. I can take criticism of Fed, and there are times when I too have beaten him over the head with a big stick. I do however draw the line at unfair criticism of him. Like I said, I saw Gilles play (Indy) and I am not impressed. Perhaps he is having a breakthrough season. Who knows. A lot of guys who have beaten Fed this year have gone on to either sink back into obliviion. I bet a lot of us expected great things from Canas. Never happened. Look at Wozniak. Played without fear against Serena, got 2 games in her next tournament. To me the sign of a great player is the ability to do the same things over and over again, year in and year out. The only player who has been able to do that consistently in recent memory is Roger Federer, and perhaps to a lesser extent Nadal, especially during clay court season. I think if any other player had quite reached the heights that Fed reached this year he would be hailed as the next big thing, because it is Fed, he is being drawn and quartered and such. It just gets a bit too much for even me to defend sometimes so I just stay away.

rabbit said...

I don't really understand. Was there ever a point in the match when you could say Simon was dominating Roger? Roger was the more offensive player throughout, and he lost the match because of the unforced errors. It might be considered impolite to say so, but here I thought there wasn't a question...If Roger was on his game, Simon's play wouldn't matter.

Roger Federer is not that mentally tough. I've always observed that about him.

Can you please give some evidence for this claim? What constitutes mental toughness? He has only consistently lost to Nadal with whom he has a bad matchup problem. He was persecuted by the media earlier on in his career because he couldn't live up to hype. He has a very good record in the 3rd set for 3 set matches. So, why is it claimed that Roger is not mentally strong?

brooklyn1006 said...

Helen, your post at 10:44 rocked. Great post.

Michael said...

Federer is certainly low in spirit right now, suffering some disappointing results in 3 of the last 4 tournaments. But... almost every player would take his results in 3 of those 4 (Roland Garros, Halle, Wimbledon). His reign at #1 is amazing, but it can't last forever.

I find the comparison between Tiger Woods and Roger fascinating. Tiger had four years of being nearly unbeatable (8 wins in majors out of 12), from 1999-2002. Roger has had a similar 4 years, the most striking difference being how much more dominant he was than Tiger (10 wins of 15, almost all losses SF or F, plus 4 out of 5 Master's Cups).

Then Tiger had a 2-ish years of "slump", which would be stellar by most player's standards (#2 and #4 on money list). Then he returned to winning most everything (6 wins, 5 more top 5 finishes out of 14 majors).

Roger is entering a similar "slump" (which most players would love to experience as he's still doing extremely well), but I see no reason why he won't come back from it and reign again. It may not be as dominant in his next go around, but he'll return. Losing the #1 mantle may really help, because then he just goes out to win, not defend and win. We'll see.

I don't think Rafa will dominate as Federer has done, partly because the style of his game is too wearing on him- I don't think he can keep it up for years and years (though I wish he could), particularly on the hard courts. Djoke feeds off negative energy (him vs. the crowd) and this is also not sustainable (compare to Hewitt, who plays best when angry). Dominating as Federer has done is unlikely for anyone is the other reason I doubt either will pull it off.

rabbit said...

Look at this clip and tell me Roger didn't hand Gilles the match...

tangerine said...

What a surprise, Andy lost to Cilic. Another golden opportunity lost.

I'm so tired of being a Roddick fan. I wish I could just stop being his fan and move on to other players. I have Rafa as my backup but even he can't fill Andy's shoes completely for me. :(

rabbit said...

Condolences to craig, tangerine, and all other Roddick fans! 2008 sucks :)

Helen W said...

Not for us Rafa fans, rabbit! :)

Karen said...

helenw, you will be on the dark side at some point in time. Unfortunately for those of us who cheer for players in their mid-20s we will be suffering like this for quite some time. Can you imagine those who are cheering for players in their 30s. Man, they must be going through an even harder time. The young guns are hungry. They are sensing vulnerability in the older players and like young lions they want their share of the lionesses in the pride. What can I say? It goes with the territory.

Helen W said...

karen I think it is a matter of expectations. I can cheer for Fabrice Santoro without expecting him to win a slam, but still be hoping for him to do well with every play in every match.

In my case I do not really choose who to cheer for -- they choose me, in the sense that there is something about them that touches something in me. Age does not come into it. I loved Andre Agassi, and I was pulling for him -- hard -- in that last US Open final against Sampras (and like Craig, I never could warm up to Sampras, although I could admire aspects of his game).

I was merely trying to point out (gently) that whether or not 2008 sucks depends on your point of view :)

Karen said...

helen, I actually did get your point. I was only stating that while your favourite may be experiencing a surge, at some point in time he will peter out as most of the players are petering out. I wish that players would be like Serena and to a greater extent Venus. Just do what pleases you. Jon Wertheim posted in his column yesterday that he can actually see Venus playing at Wimbledon up to 7 years from now. Does anyone think that Nadal will be playing 7 years from now. I dont. I have watched how he plays and this fellow brutalises his body. He goes after every ball. There is nothing in his psyche that says, oh that one is a winner I will not get it back. At some point it is to be admired but at what cost.
Craig, big hugs to you. Welcome to the Losers Lounge

Karen said...

anyone else think we may have a surprise finalist at this year's USO on the women's side. There are some girls who are playing really good ball these days. Only wish that I could see them to see if there is anything outstanding in their games. On the men's side for me it is wide open right now.

Savannah said...

Karen you don't know about the wonderful world of live feeds?

oddman said...

karen, what you said about Rafa chasing balls down used to be more the case, but I have noticed lately he IS letting those unreachable ones go now. I think this 'going after every ball' is a habit from early days, and he's working on dropping it. And doing a fine job of it too.
As to Rafa 'petering out', well, he's not been on much of a surge at any time prior to these last couple of months, imo. How many times have I read how he's 'crap' on hardcourts, how everyone will destroy him, yada yada. Yes, he has struggled, every year, and probably this year too. Maybe that is 'petering out' each year after Wimby, no? If so, well, then I'm totally used to it, expect it, and can still cheer for him anyway. Won't be sad if he doesn't win multiple slams. But I don't think he's at any more risk than anyone else his age for another 7 years of play.

oddman said...

Oh, wait a minute, Rafa HAS won multiple slams, now hasn't he - tee hee.

Craig Hickman said...

I was too buoyed up by political events to be put down by the expected poor play of Andy Roddick.

Why do you think I started this very post as I did?

When I saw that Andy and Raja were in the same quarter of the draw, I immediately thought, "How wide open. Someone will have a marvelous opportunity to make the semis of a Masters event."


rabbit, opinions don't need evidence. I'm not being flip, either. I simply do not see Raja as you do, and I doubt I ever will.

As for the match (and this is also for Karen)

1) It doesn't matter who the player is, or how talented (or not) they are, or what they might (or might not) accomplish after they upset a player. Simon's win had as much to do with his own play as with Federer's. Simon may be a "scrub" but he's got talent. And he wasn't just the beneficiary of Roger's poor play. He has precisely the kind of game that makes Roger play poor. He's a fast counterpuncher who can hit the ball hard out of nowhere. One does not have to "dominate" a player in order to win a match. One only has to use the hand they're dealt to outplay the hand they're opponent is dealt, even if it's a losing hand on its face. With a little bit of luck, they might actually succeed.

That's what Simon did. He smelled blood. He didn't fold when he was behind for most of the match. He hung around until Roger cracked. If all no talent scrubs could do that....

Roger is a fine tennis player. I've never suggested otherwise.

But he ain't all that and a carton of Pringles and while is clear that he's despairing right now, it's not as though his 4 years of dominance have been characterized by pure, flawless tennis.

Roger's serve has always been the most consistent part of his game. But his forehand has always been inconsistent. And when it's off, it's WAY off. His backhand became a more reliable weapon, but when that shot breaks down, as it did trough much of the Wimbledon final, it puts more pressure on his serve, the last shot to suffer in a tight match. But it's rare his serve deserts him, no matter what else is going on.

During his reign, players have demonstrated how to beat him, but few had the wherewithal and the speed and the shots, and did I mention the speed?, to hang around long enough for him to crack.

Even though he can't bring himself to close the deal, Nikolay Davydenko has always given Roger a run for his money. Always. And what does he do better than Gilles Simon?


Which is precisely why Kolya hasn't beaten Raja but Simon now has.

Craig Hickman said...

Thanks for the condolences.

As I wrote elsewhere, Raja and Andy can take an extended vacation together, moan about the press and shotspot, and forge a real friendship.

Karen said...

Savannah, I know of the live feeds - for some reason they refuse to co-operate on my computer at home - internet problems - too intermittent.
Craig, we will so agree to disagree on this one. Unfortunately 90% of the players on the ATP will never amount to much. 5% will have a storied career and the other 5% will be dominating the tour for years to come. Every player has weaknesses in their arsenal, that is why they hire coaches to work out the kinks etc. As I said previously, I have no idea what is going on with Roger or why thinks are not working for him right now. It could be lack of confidence in his groundies, it could be lack of match play etc. What I do know is that from seeing Simon play, I am not impressed. Just as how I am yet to be overcome with emotion at Raf's game. I had started to like Gulbis, but after that performance in Toronto he is far down the list again. Lest anyone think that I am discriminatory etc. there are a few players who are counterpunchers who I really like - Ferrer for one. I also love Gasquet. Beautiful game and beautiful to look at as well. Tsonga and Monfils as well. I just do not particularly care for the counterpunching style of tennis at all, which is why I cannot stand Jankovic. I just want players to come out and hit the ball, be agressive, volley nicely - show me what tennis is supposed to be about, not running down every freaking ball and sending it back with topspin and wait for your opponent to make an error. I hate that and I actually hate people who play against me like that as well.

oddman said...

Hey, karen. I like Ferru too, an amazing little speedbug counterpuncher, who tends to run down every freaking ball, send it back with topspin, and wait for his opponent to make an error. Go figure.

Hee hee - well, I'm just funning with you, he doesn't always wait, and can unload for a winner too.

We like who we like, no?

oddman said...

Vamos, Rafa - good match with Andreev last night too. Especially the second set.
He's not doing too badly on the hc so far. Will Reeshie finish him tonight?

Craig Hickman said...

Karen, I don't particularly care for counterpunching tennis either, so despite our differences about Raja, we're not that far apart.

But like it or not, counterpunchers with speed and the ability to unload on a groundstroke here or there have always given Raja the most trouble and will continue to do so.

Karen said...

Craig, I hear you. I just think that counterpunching tennis is a lazy way fo playing tennis. When I am at my club and I watch some people playing I just get so upset, especially when they are playing against me because I so want to unload and I get impatient and then I make errors.
Oddman, I know you are playing with me, but I have always loved David (something about the Davids that really gets me) and while I may not particularly care for his style of tennis - there are other uhm ... how do I put it delicately ... other areas of his person that I find rather charming - LOL

Michael said...


I just have to dive into the discussion. I recently have been thinking two forms of defense in tennis. Counter-punchers achieve both.

First, and most obvious is tracking down every ball possible and getting it back. I love to see someone track down impossible shots and get back in the point. Second, and less obviously, is to hit the ball in such a way that makes it difficult for your opponent to be aggressive (keeping the ball low with slice, keeping the ball deep, varying pace and spin, moonballs). Federer is really good at #2.

I like counter-punchers because I think the style honors the centre of the spirit of tennis: being competitive, getting into someone's head and forcing them off their game (that seems to happen to you), taking away someone's strengths, wearing someone down, the surprise factor.

I wouldn't call counterpunching lazy (it's hard work), but perhaps I would call it "playing it too safe." But if that's the case, then it will fail you and you'll lose. If you win counterpunching, then it isn't really playing it too safe, because it worked!

Perhaps our likes and dislikes have more to do with our own play, and particularly what we don't have or can't beat? (I don't like is over-reliance on the serve, and my serve sucks.) For my part, I love playing against a counter-puncher because I love the challenge of setting up the points, each one like a chess match, waiting until the easy winner develops. Why do you get impatient? Don't you love being out there playing? Why do you want the points over more quickly?

Karen said...

Hi Michael,

Good post. My response: I do not have an effective serve. That is the worst part of my game. One of the reasons why my serve sucks is because I have osteo-arthritis and after the first set of a match, my shoulder start hurting and I am unable to even get the ball over the net. As such, my game starts deteriorating somewhat and not only do I struggle to hold serve, but I will have problems even getting into my opponent’s service games. Compound that problem with playing someone who is moon-balling you and tracking down your every shot. That is a recipe for disaster of epic proportions and I really have had to learn some coping mechanisms to deal with this sort of play. I love being out there playing, win, lose or draw, I just love the game. I just get pretty frustrated when I am playing a match and you have hit a ball that is a sure winner and someone tracks it down and sends it back to you with so much spin etc. that you basically can do nothing with it. You get tired and then wham shots that were hitting the lines early in the match are now ending up in the bottom of the net or going wide. Maybe that is not the counter-punchers fault and maybe that has a lot to do with the fact that my forehand/backhand are erratic at best, but for me it just takes away something from the game when someone starts playing really bad tennis in order to get a win. I recall some years ago when Venus Williams said (think it was USO 2005) that Kim Clijsters was playing so bad that the level of her Venus’ play went down as well. At the time I thought that was a weird comment to make, but you do have some players who play so badly that at some level the level of your play goes down as well and you just lose focus and just start playing really bad shots etc.

Michael said...


Thanks for your response. Injuries are nasty and I don't guess there's a lot of good solutions, especially for mere mortal tennis players who don't have gobs of cash to get some surgeries to fix things. Sorry to hear about your osteo-arthritis. I can really see how the counter-punchers are irritating to you.

And I understand because my serve sucks, too, so as the arm gets sore, the serves no longer go in so much, which means more 2nd serves and more pain...

Approaching the net should make points end more quickly. But it's tough with modern racquets that can generate plenty of spin for lobs and plenty of pace for passing shots.

I think it's interesting how being a fan of pro tennis and playing amateur can parallel each other. Probably other sports don't have that as strong as tennis, as teams are harder to relate to than individuals.

oddman said...

What about golf, michael? I do that, on occasion, and marvel at the shots the pros can hit, the variety, and most of all, the mental fortitude they have to display.

Michael said...


Good point. I compared golf and tennis earlier with the Tiger/Federer comparison. I don't play golf, so I have less insight into that parallel, but I imagine it's there. Perhaps I don't appreciate the nuances of golf, but it seems less complex than tennis, with each player having less of a style, perhaps just differing abilities. There's more aggressive and more conservative, but strategy (to my mind that doesn't appreciate golf) is less complex than tennis, thus I think its easier to feel that you play a similar style to someone in tennis than golf. I'm sure golfers disagree.

oddman said...

Well, you're surely not having to make split-second decisions in golf. But while you're walking down that fairway, you can bet your mind is going on and on, sometimes to your detriment.