Too full.


I’m hardly a conspiracy theorist who speculates about players tanking, or strategically conserving themselves at a tournament for some future benefit. Nor do I think Federer would resort to such tactics unless presented with clear, irrefutable evidence to the contrary. And yet I found myself watching McFudd lose to Satan dismally in straight sets on Sunday morning, feeling relatively unconcerned, and in fact, a little glad.

After all, a few extra days of physical and emotional recuperation might just be what the doctor ordered … for me that is. Being a McFed freak is hard work, ya know?!

From the very start of the match, it was obvious that Djokovic came to win. His semifinal performance was by far the most focused I have ever seen him since the start of the clay season, no doubt seeking to reassert dominance and create momentum going into the French Open. After all, this clay season has so far been more about Rafa and Roger than him, much like the good ol’ days when Satan was No 3.

For the vast majority of the match, Satan played solid, almost untouchable tennis, picking off Federer’s serves like cherries and breaking Wodge twice to seal the first set 62. From there on, Djokovic continued to cruise on serve while Federer held on rather laboriously in the second set, until 5-4 match point, when Federer finally found a terminal forehand in a rally against a seemingly impenetrable opponent. Roger would go on to break and then hold at love, suddenly hitting shots with much more control and weight than before, much to the manic delight of the entire nation of Italy, judging by the cheers from the crowd accompanying this turn of events.

No worries, Roger. Glad you showed up … about 17 games too late.

This unexpected momentum swing had Operation US Open Revenge written all over it, except for the fact that since taking over the top spot a year ago, Satan has matured into a mental titan. One mini break in the tiebreak was all that he needed to fend off Federer’s resurgence, as he closed off the match 62 76.

But lest you should be misled by the drama of the last 15 minutes and the raucous, gladiatorial atmosphere at Foro Italico (I’m sorry, it’s Rome, it would be illegal for me to write a post without using the word “gladiatorial”), the match was by no means close, and it wasn’t all of Novak’s doing either. Federer committed 42 unforced errors in 2 sets, over twice as many as Satan. His service percentage also hovered shockingly between 30-50%. Stats like that weren’t going to cut it against a lesser opponent, let alone the World No 1 holding 3 of the 4 slams.

Yet my relative unconcern over this loss stems from several reasons:

  1. As much as I would love to see Federer win on “real” clay and at a tournament he has yet to add to his growingly more comprehensive collection, it seems rather like the tennistical equivalent of a first world problem to bitch about McFudd’s failure to win his 8th title in 11 tournaments. This level of consistency would’ve stretched thin even back in the glory days of 2004-2007, and I am too astounded at Federer’s 2012 results so far to have any emotional capacity left for fan rage.
  2. I half expected Federer to pull out at the start of the tournament, or suffer a shock defeat in the early rounds to the “Volandri” or “Stepanek” of 2012 (Seppi, anyone?). After playing 9 matches in the past 11 days, the fact that he even made it into the semifinals had already exceeded my expectations.
  3. Between the prospect of a quick loss and early arrival in Paris, and the ordeal of gutting out a marathon against Satan, and then facing Nadal on clay in the final, you tell me which one is the lesser of two evils. (The fact that the final was delayed by rain reassured me in my judgement on this in hindsight.)
  4. From the very start of the match – and indeed the tournament, Federer and Djokovic have exuded contrastingly different level of hunger and focus. And after winning 5 titles by May and 2 of the 4 Masters in 2012, I can hardly begrudge Federer for being mentally too full for a tournament of Rome’s caliber.

Roland Garros, however, is a whole other kettle of fish. Operation USO Revenge, bitches. It is on.

xx doots

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9 responses to “Too full.”

  1. Carol says :

    I’m not greedy – as long as Rog wins Wimbledon and the Olympics someone else can have Roland Garros.

  2. mattzemek says :

    If Fed can defend his finalist points at Roland Garros, it really would be a great tournament for him. I’d be satisfied with a semifinal appearance, which would be Fed’s 31st major semifinal, tying him with Jimmy Connors for first on the all-time list.

    Yes, making a big run at Wimbledon needs to be the centerpiece of the year. If nothing else, going from QF to finalist would give him 840 extra points. If Djokovic were to lose in the semifinals at Wimbledon and Fed merely makes the final, that’s a pickup of at least 2,000 points for Wogie. If Fed wins Wimby and Djokovic loses in the SFs, that’s about a 3,000-point gain.

    Oh, the next 7 weeks. Buckle up and ride that motorcycle with Fed.

    RIDE OR DIE, INDEED! ;-)

    • dootsiez says :

      I’d love to see him win a slam between now and the US Open, although just which one does not matter to me so much.

      But you’re right Matt in that even a string of finals appearances from now to the US Open will likely put Federer back on top of the rankings. He has points bonanza to pick up from Halle, Wimbledon, Olympics, and throughout the USOS too. Djokovic on the other hand has very little. Watch out Pete, that record of yours ain’t as safe as you thought it was a year ago.

      (That said, if he doesn’t do it by the US Open, it’s game over).

  3. steve says :

    Am I the only Federer fan who gives him a chance at RG? It would be foolish–and uncharacteristically craven–for him to simply write off a Grand Slam tournament. Last year he had a poor run in the clay Masters and he still stopped the then-unstoppable Djokovic and came within four points of beating Nadal in straight sets.

    This year he is playing as well as he ever has, maybe even better–the last time he’d won two Masters titles by this point in the season was 2006. So he has a great shot at winning any Grand Slam he enters, even RG.

    • Kyle Johansen (@KJOttawa) says :

      Rafa is definitely the favourite and for good reason, but yes, Fed does have a really great chance to do well at RG. You never know who might run into Nadal and Djokovic that could get really hot (Raonic, Delpo, Berdych)….

    • dootsiez says :

      Hey Steve,

      You are not the only person who hasn’t written off Roger for Roland Garros, which was partly why I wanted to get him to Paris sooner rather than later. I think he’s playing well enough and well overdue for a statement win.

      Although for him to win the tournament presumably means getting past both Nadal and Djokovic, and therein lies his (and anyone else’s) biggest hurdle.

      My other concern is his physical condition after those anti-inflammatories he has allegedly been taking. His serving woes in the Rome final also may suggest some signs of exhaustion.

      • roadrunnerz says :

        I ALWAYS have hopes for Fed at the French! I even believe he can beat Rafa at the French! (yeah, I admit that’s my ultimate Fed fan delusion. but, you know, hope dies last and all that jazz…)

        I mean, if the Sod can do it…and besides, crazier things have happened. Like injuries. And upsets.

        The stars just have to align properly and it will all fall into place.

        And count me in as someone who was (almost) glad he went out to Nole in the semis in Rome. I fully expected him to end his run there in the semis. And I really didn’t need him to play a marathon against Novak and then face Rafa in the finals just so he could lose yet another clay court final against the guy. Right before RG. And to have the Rafa fans bring up the LOOK-AT-THE-HEAD-TO-HEAD!-HE-CANNOT-POSSIBLY-EVER-BE-GOAT-IF-HE-CANNOT-REVERSE-THAT-HEAD-THEAD argument yet again. *yawns*

        besides, dude is old…he needs rest before the French! :)

      • steve says :

        Probably just rust. Coming in off such a long break and immediately playing nine matches in twelve days is really tough. He needs time to get back into the rhythm of constantly playing competitive matches.

        This week-long break should help him recuperate, but when he resumes he won’t be coming in totally cold, as he was in Madrid, and those niggling aches and pains should go away a lot faster.

        The real action starts now and he’ll have to play from RG through USO with only a few one or two week breaks.

        Halle starts right after RG, there’s the Olympics/Toronto/Cincinnati one after another, and then only a week between Cincinnati and USO, so it’s a really, really packed schedule.

        I’m guessing he will skip Halle if he does well at RG, that will give him two weeks off between RG and Wimbledon.

        It was a good thing he skipped Monte Carlo, if he hadn’t there’s a good chance he’d be running out of gas sometime during Wimbledon.

        Also, in the Grand Slams he has that extra day to recover between matches. That may make it possible for him to beat Djokovic and Nadal back to back.

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