Wimbledon Final Recap: Keep colm and carry on.


It was 3:30AM on a Monday morning in Australia when I screamed “YES! YES! YES!” so loudly at my TV that dogs started howling into the night sky in celebration. My poor housemates woke up and found me in foetal position on the living room floor, laughing-crying-cheering-tweeting all at once.

Can you really blame me for being gripped by a moment of insanity and waking up every single living creature within a 10km radius?

Think back to New York last year, when Federer lost yet another frustrating lead and match points to Djokovic, and the atmosphere in tennis world was one of despondency and schadenfreude.

Think back to Wimbledon for the past 2 years, when the same fast-paced, unpredictable surface inspired Berdych and Tsonga to question what has generally been accepted as universal truth – Roger Federer in a Wimbledon final.

And need I recount the countless times in the past 3 years when commentators have suggested that the beginning of the end is near, that Federer has lost his competitive edge, that his game has become out-dated, passive and unsustainable against younger opponents in their primes?

Grand slams might not flow as they used to for Roger Federer, but every win has become sweeter because of the intermittent struggles and rollercoaster ride, and every title a more emphatic defiance of the passage of time.

Yet it was surrender and not defiance that seemed to be the overwhelming theme of the day from the outset from the match. Murray dominated early on, breaking Federer twice in the first set, and holding breakpoints at 2-3 in the second.

Federer was full of errors, and much of his idiotic decision making on court resurfaced for periods in the first two sets. But some of that at least can be credited towards the way Murray was controlling the rallies and dominating on serve, not allowing Federer to play the brand of quick strike tennis he wants to play. For us poor Federer fans, those were some truly nervous wracking, Federbear stabbing, hair balding moments.

Yet all of a sudden, despite Federer going under immense pressure in the second set, the tide turned. At 6-5 30-all, Federer got his reward for hanging tough with Murray: Federer would find two drop volleys on consecutive points to break Toothface for the set.

Rain came early in the third, as Wimbledon officials debated about – ohidunnowhether they should use a roof they spent millions on. I remember texting @LJology at this point that the rain delay may just halt Roger’s momentum from winning the second set.

I need not have worried, because when Federer and Murray came out of the rain delay, several things happened:

* Federer held serve at love, convincingly, and began to increase pressure on Murray’s serve.

* Federer started to hit over Murray’s second serves to his backhand rather than slicing those returns weakly back at Murray. At first, he missed. Then he stopped missing and started converting.

* Murray started to miss more first serves as the match went on and his early ‘colm’ and energy slowly sapped away.

* Look! Look! OhMyFuckingGodderer is here! Federer’s all court game was better than it had been for a long time. Typically a lazy volleyer, Wogie won a total of 53 out of 68 points at the net (78%), as Murray struggled to pass him.

The combination of all of above resulted in a spectacular 20 minute game on Murray’s serve in the third set, one that would lead to the crucial break for Federer. From then on, it was always going to be unlikely for Murray to come back.

Post match, Roger talked about learning from past experiences and trying to avoid being too passive in big matches. It certainly showed.

This year I guess I decided in the bigger matches to take it more to my opponent instead of waiting a bit more for the mistakes.  This is I guess how you want to win Wimbledon, is by going after your shots, believing you can do it, and that’s what I was able to do today.

HALLELUJAH. So he does read the wise fellas on my Twitter feed. ;)

Media coverage of Federer’s triumphs these days tend to read like basic accounting: 1, 7, 17, 286. All these numbers mean something individually, but together they all mean the same thing: consistency, resilience, a certain kind of timelessness unheard of in professional sport –  possibly the most time-sensitive career choice in the world.

As for Murray, as he said himself post-match: he’s getting closer. But ‘closer’ isn’t enough to win slams. Let’s stop with this “you’re too good of a player not to win a slam” business. Let’s not dish out consolation candies by telling Andy we’ll support him for the Olympics; and while we’re at it – how about we all stop calling Murray “Poor Andy” as a nickname. It’s patronising and it’s unnecessary.

Like Roddick’s career collision with Federer’s period of dominance, Murray’s career ran into the trifecta of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal. It will be up to him to work out how to break the Top 3’s grip on the grand slams. And as cruel as this may sound so soon after the final – you only have a finite number of chances to win a slam. While I don’t think for one minute that Murray has used up all his chances yet, I do think the scales of probabilities are now starting to tip the other way.

Federer had some insights on this after the match yesterday, as he mused on his own struggles in the last 2 years.

I think it was a time where I just had to believe that things were going to turn around for me, and not just naturally, but work at something.

Belief and hard work. A formula we could all use, on and off court.

xx doots

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15 responses to “Wimbledon Final Recap: Keep colm and carry on.”

  1. PJ says :

    You are lovely and so is Wogie.

  2. LJ says :

    Fed mentioned that there was a tricky down wind coming from the royal box side near the umpires chair. So the fact that the roof closed helped him tremendously and gave him the confidence to hit out and especially attack Mandy’s 2nd serve which he did so deliciously in the 3rd/4th sets.

    But fuck yeah I’ll take it.

    • dootsiez says :

      Just speculation of course, but I have a feeling that even if the roof hadn’t closed, Roger would’ve pulled it out, albeit in slightly closer 4 sets. The momentum was on his side and mentally I think he had a huge advantage in winning the second set the way he did. Freed up his shotmaking a lot more.

  3. Louise says :

    So much to read, so little time. Thank you Dootsiez and thank you Roger!!! Roger, oh Roger, why are you so cool?

  4. Carol says :

    Fed is #1 again, all’s right with the tennis world!

  5. oracle86 says :

    A-frakking-MEN!!!!

  6. susan (@_justsusan) says :

    I think an aspect of Roger’s game that is vastly under appreciated, is his self-belief that he CAN win, and actually delivering the goods. Yes, Andy Murray was under tremendous pressure, but think about what was on the line for Roger–he was fighting to remain in the conversation! Ranked 3 in the world, 16 slam titles, and according to everyone and their mother, even his very legacy was questionable.

    It still floors me that someone who arguably transformed his very sport, and forced the field to get that much better, still has to face questions about his place in tennis. The media is apt to give plaudits to Ferrer for his consistency, and Novak’s gluten-free diet, but when Roger accomplishes something, the apologists come out–“soft era”, “closed roof”, “Nadal wasn’t there,” “Murray, weight of a nation” they decry, ad nauseam.

    No. You do not win 17 slams by chance, and favourable turns of kismet. What I have always admired in Roger, since I first saw him eliminate Pete Sampras, is that spark of belief. Yes, he is blessed with preternatural talent, but it’s the absence of neurotic self-doubt, that courage to realise his potential, and make things happen for himself, that sets Roger Federer apart from every other human being.

    Er, this would be Susan, who writes you about once a year, Wimbledon time, temporarily leaving my cave / library to partake of Federer-related revelries.

    • dootsiez says :

      Those revelries haven’t been very merry Susan. I seem to remember the first time you wrote to me was after the Berdych loss?

      Yes Roger’s self-belief is incredible, and even more so is his belief that he can solve the problems presented to him by Nadal and Djokovic and Murray. Just look at the way he has come back to equalise that H2H vs Murray. At some point, that was 6-2 in Murray’s favour.

      • susan (@_justsusan) says :

        I meant the revelries of right now :) I only ever emerge on tennis forums around this time of year, usually to defend Roger from his detractors. While the temptation is there to shout, “In YO FACE MOFOs”, I’m pretty content to just enjoy Roger’s victory. I eschew forums in general because I can only spar with so many Novak fans!

        The last two Wimby’s haven’t been merry, but as someone who cried, and I mean really cried after the 2008 Wimbledon final, I can commiserate with the particular agonies of being a fan of Roger Federer’s. I don’t know what it is about Roger, that while his wins are exhilarating, and put a spring in my step for days, his defeats just deflate me. Part of it is that I just hate seeing tactics + grace trumped by athleticism (he appeals to that part of my brain that longs nostalgically for the chess-like cleverness, and shot selection of a Hingis), but there’s undeniably an emotional component to it too, because I respect him as a person.

        Roger’s problem solving skills are largely unsung too. He would have noticed that Andy was attacking the forehand, and made the adjustments. If there’s a word I would use to characterise Roger’s game, it’s “replete”.

  7. Marco Iacoboni says :

    I think Fed played great from the get go. True, he made quite a few unforced errors in the early games of the first set, and basically broke himself late in the first set. But those mistakes seemed isolated episodes in a day in which he was hitting great and moving beautifully. He didn’t even attack more in the third and fourth set. Indeed, he went to the net 17 times in the first set, 25 in the second, and 13 each in the third and fourth. That makes it an average of about 2 times per game in the first two sets, and one/one and half in the last two sets. I think what made the difference in the third and fourth (a tiny difference, let’s not forget that all four sets were really close, decided by few points) was that his serve was stronger (he gained 5 mph on first serve speed under the roof), and he was finally aggressive on the return. Seriously: HALLELUJA! For how many years we’ve been saying that he was too passive on the return? It seems like forever.

    Clearly that 20 minutes game was a biggie. Had he not broken, we may be talking of a totally different match.

    Anyway, I don’t recall Fed playing so well against a top player in a long time. He was magnificent in spite of the fact that Muzz was really playing well and hitting hard and defending great.

    His mental focus was phenomenal. I don’t think he can keep that up. It’s too expensive. I think, moving forward, what he needs to take from this match is the aggressiveness. He needs to play very aggressive, at least against the top players.

    • dootsiez says :

      Aggression isn’t the only key though. If so, then James Blake and Fernando Gonzalez would be a lot better players that they were. The stats might say that Federer was more aggressive in the first two sets, but he was pulling the trigger at the wrong time. A lot of his shot making, particularly in the second set, was very rushed. I’d rather he play with a fraction more patience, as he did in the third and fourth set.

      • Marco Iacoboni says :

        I don’t know about that. He was definitely much more aggressive with his return to serve in the third and fourth set. Indeed, in ‘the game of the match’ (that 20 minute game on 3-2 in which he eventually broke Muzz) he was down 40-0 and came back with two blistering BH returns and a third one that was so aggressive that gave him the control of the rally and led him to deuce.
        And he tended to go around the serve to hit the return with his FH much more in the third and fourth set.
        I am not talking about gonzo or blake. I am talking about Fed. He has tended to be a little passive over the years. It was still OK when he kept winning, but at some point it wasn’t good enough, when Rafa and Nole started to win much more than he did. That’s why he hired Annaccone. The guy has always predicated aggressive tennis. Fed has every possible shot in the game. Being aggressive from the beginning of a rally makes him in a position to better use his arsenal. Also, even though he definitely seems the most fit dude of the bunch (never broke a sweat, not even after long and demanding rallies against Muzz) he ain’t getting any younger. Shorter points can only make his career longer.

  8. Chris Ross says :

    Good post. A few things went right for Federer to be able to win this but he also had to do his part. It surprised me that he was able to do that. And by doing that I pretty much mean that he was able to take down Djokovic on grass. Federer has really been a treat to watch throughout his career and it’s amazing what he’s been able to do at 30. He deserves this Wimbledon title. Is he the greatest ever? So tough to say that when he’s had so much trouble against Nadal in his career. Also, you think you could take a look at my blog post because I really would love to know what you have to say http://chrisross91.wordpress.com/2012/07/09/never-to-be-seen-again/

    • mattzemek says :

      Chris,

      Lots of good thoughts there in your blog post. I would point out two things:

      1) Federer did make a fair number of errors in the first two sets; forced errors, in my mind, but still errors. He got punched in the mouth in that first set, and was on the precipice in the second set, but he surmounted those obstacles. This reinforces the most underappreciated aspect of Federer: his fight. It rarely if ever looks like he’s fighting. He ooesn’t fit the stereotype, the mold, of what people would commonly refer to as a “fighter.” Yet, that’s what he regularly does.

      2) Preparation, preparation, preparation. The tennis looks effortless on the court because Federer has subjected himself to Pierre Paganini’s demanding fitness and training program off the court. Fed puts in the hard yards in the offseason so that his body is able to withstand the rigors of the tour. The resilience after the back scare against Malisse offers powerful testament to this.

    • dootsiez says :

      “Is he the greatest ever?”

      Other than the fact that I don’t believe in the concept of GOAT, I thought this question was settled 3 years ago. :P

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