Aus Open Day 11: the Age of Innocence

There is a path that leads from the back of Rod Laver Arena to the Yarra River called the Champions’ Walk. It starts with Roger, the defending champion of the Australian Open, goes all the way back to the last picture on the walk – somewhat appropriately, Ivan Lendl.

As I walked out of Rod Laver Arena a despondent fan today, I walked past each of the photos: Roger, Rafa, Novak, Agassi … and I was in tears before I could stop myself. And then somewhat ridiculously, I kept on crying about crying because it was so silly, so petty, so petulant of me to cry over a tennis match between two guys I don’t personally know. Come the fuck on, I told myself. It is just a game after all.

But as I said once on this blog: this thing called sport, it friggin hurts sometimes.

In truth, I wasn’t crying over Roger per se. He had been on a 12 match winning streak in front of me and at times, in those 12 matches, it felt like magic. It felt like believing in Santa Claus, and the toothfairy, and holding-your-breath-when-you-drive-past-a-graveyard. People believed in all those things, I didn’t. But I did believe Roger would not lose in front of me, and the magic was gone in a blink of an eye. There is no Santa Claus or Toothfairy, and holding your breath when you go past a graveyard won’t protect you from the dogged footsteps of mortality and the cruel, cruel passage of time. Attending a match of your favourite player won’t give him an extra ounce of inspiration if he didn’t have it in him to start with. More than anything, I cried over losing this last shred of naiveté I held dear.

The match:

I don’t want to relive it, except to say that for a straight sets defeat, Roger had his fair share of chances each set (first game, 4 all first set, tiebreak, 5-3 second set, 1-0 third set, 4-all third set … want me to go on?)

In the end, he served poorly and shanked too many backhands to take control over his chances. On top of that, he did not play smartly or aggressively enough. This is not to say that Novak Djokovic did not play an inspired match: he flowed when he was expected to choke today.

It is however my way of saying that Federer, tactically, was a dud today, and couldn’t execute his shots well enough to revert more pressure on Djokovic.

So where does that leave us?

At a place that is neither here nor there.

What I mean is that unlike much of the media and tennis fandom, I never gave Roger an ultimatum coming into the Aus Open. Winning it was never a matter of do or die. The trajectory of the last 6 months had been in his favour, but if past experiences were anything to go by, it takes him a couple of slams to really get results with new coaches (Roche, Higueras). Moreover, the kind of tennis we have been privy to in the last few months has been nothing short of sensational. I am not going to deprive him of credit just on the strength of one tournament. One day, he will have to find the glue that binds things together at the slam level, but the time didn’t have to be right now for me.

At the Australian Open semifinal in 2007, I became a Federer fan. Roger was “da man” that day, and precisely 4 years later today, he still is da man for me. And 15,000 people on Rod Laver Arena who – save for a few Serbian blocks – all got behind him to the bitter end, screaming through every second serve, hoping for every deuce to turn into an opportunity, I dare say they agree with me.

So here’s a bit of Zen and positivity from Doots for a change:

The sky isn’t going to fall in, as some members of the media will tell you, just because for the first time in a long time, he won’t be defending any slam. For the first time in a long time, he won’t even be defending a title until July. You can feed that into the media storyline of doom or you can listen to my alternative:

Roger Federer will be defending nothing for the next few months. Roger Federer will be a man with nothing to lose in the next few months.

He will be back, and we will rock on like the badass fangirls/boys that we are. And you can SUCK MY BIG TOE if you want to bet against it.

xx doots


Tags: ,

46 responses to “Aus Open Day 11: the Age of Innocence”

  1. Carol says :

    I share your tears, I share your reality check, I share your unending admiration of a wonderful athlete. And – as corny as it sounds – watching how Roger survives his losses is making me a stronger person.

  2. Deborah says :

    Ah, Doots. I knew I could count on you to help unleash the tears that have been threatening all morning. I knew when that ace count wasn’t mounting, it was going to be a tough day at the office for my darling boy. I never get over how much it hurts when Roger loses, especially in a Slam. I did take heart from his presser. I find the ultimatum idea simply ludicrous given all he has done for tennis but the narrative about Roger Federer seems to be etched in the stone minds of tennis writers. You’d think they were writing with quill pens for all the imagination they bring to understanding this chapter of Roger’s career. Thank goodness for the international community of Roger fans, especially ones as insightful and talented as you.

  3. astraldrops says :

    Today, I just sat there in front of my TV set in disbelief. I just couldn’t bear it.
    I didn’t know what to do or what to say! This is really what happens when you become emotionally invested into a sport. I am feeling blah right now, but the wound will have to take awhile to heal. Reading your blog doots really helped ease the pain!

    I really hope Federer can regroup and focus his efforts on getting to Number 1 first (to beat the Sampras record) and try to get Wimbledon! (I got tickets!).

    “What I mean is that unlike much of the media and tennis fandom, I never gave Roger an ultimatum coming into the Aus Open.”

    THIS SO FUCKING HARD! The media are always bastards for over hyping shit.

  4. Marcoiac says :

    Lovely. We’ll see if the love story keeps going. Even if it doesn’t, it’s been a great one. I do like your positive attitude though. And I must confess that I also believed in your magic powers. What a disappointment! 🙂
    Crying is a good thing though. Sometimes it feels really good, in a sort of weird way. And after all we watch the game because it gives us emotions, don’t we? If we are not emotionally involved, what’s the point of watching for hours two players hitting the ball at each other?
    This is the best tennis blog ever, it’ll always be in my heart. 🙂

  5. felini says :

    Roger didn’t play badly, Novak in this form was just too good for him today.

  6. Sue.W says :

    OMG Doots………… I’m crying………and I didnt think I was too upset by this loss!! Well actually I’m not, its the way you wrote this !!! It just wasnt his day and Djoke played well ( I say this begrudgingly as I cant stand his fist pumping/chest-beating/ball bouncing/smug face) so nothing more you can say about it !! I feel desperately sorry FOR Wogie but not IN him and never will. He gave his best and came up short…….end of !!
    Hope he goes and has a nice holiday with the his beautiful family and gets ready for the rest of the year..Main thing for me is he is healthy and he is ready to go again!! God Bless him !!
    Sorry he lost when you were there……. must have been very hard to bear but he will be back just like Arnie!! lol
    Love this place !!

  7. Jack says :

    I don’t get why I’m okay with this loss. I mean, obviously I’m not completely okay with it as I would have loved him to win but usually when Roger loses, it registers something with me, whether it be anger, sadness, dissapointment etc. But this loss isn’t really registering anything with me and in truth, I’m kinda zen about it all

    Maybe I’m just in denial about it all and in a few hours, I’ll just break down in tears! 🙂

    • flo says :

      Reasons for me as to why it doesn’t sting that much:

      1) The Rafa thing and best/worst case situation. This was not the worst outcome of AO from a legacy perspective.

      2) Loss to Djokovic is no longer an anomaly like in 08. Djokovic is no longer the cub but a fully mature tiger versus Roger who is a bit the lion in winter.

      3) He didn’t play as badly as 08 or even Berdych/Soderling losses.

      4) He also wasn’t that close to the finish line so no heartbreak.

      5) He lost his demigod status and everytime against the top of the ATP will be a fight.

      6) He sounds as feisty as ever after the match (see his response to the idea of this match being a passing of the torch).

      That’s about it for now. I actually read the presser and I never read the ones after AO ’09 or Wimbledon ’08.

      • ClayBuster says :

        You summed it all up pretty well, I feel more or less the same about this loss.
        From what I saw in his matches against Simon and Robredo (I mean, uhm, losing a set to… ROBREDO???) I already braced myself for Rog not being able to defend his title. He wasn’t playing badly, but just not good enough to have what it takes to bring down an on-fire Djokovic.

        There’s a lot of ‘good’ to take from here. He didn’t sound terribly sad and disappointed after his loss, but rather looking forward to what’s to come in the new season which is as positive as can be, imho.
        Roger will be back, and as long as he still manages to make semifinals in GS tournaments, we should realize that he’s still a candidate for the title as well.

    • Joanna says :

      I’ve been quite “zen” with Roger’s losses ever since he won the French then Wimbledon and, broke Sampras’ slam record. I’m too much of a firm believer in his abilities to get back on top to be overly sad about his losses. I definitely echo your positivity in this blog; Roger will be back, he’s Roger frickin Federer afterall 🙂

  8. Nancy says :

    To all the Fed Fans: Peace.

  9. pban says :

    😦 😦 😦 you said it all ldoots

  10. jb (chocolate FTW) says :

    that’s the thing I always tell m’self after a loss… The next year – there’s only points to gain!! So am thinking it’s going to a fine year coming up… Buckle up!

  11. TennisAce says :

    Aah Doots, I share your pain sweetie but for some reason I am very zen about this. It hurts for the first few minutes but guess what, at the end of the day he is still Roger Federer. He still has the sweetest game ever known to man. He is still Wogie McFederer and he is still yummy.

    He has 16 Slams. He has records that will never be surpassed. He has records that some who are claiming that this is the end will never ever achieve, much less surpass. To them I say, whatever.

    He will be back because that is what Roger Federer always does

  12. Ali says :

    doots… I concur, I share and I second this emotion… and how grateful I am that I am NOT alone. thanks for taking the time to get it said here.

    in the absence of anything more to say… I am just grateful that there might be a few more fan girls and boys out there who understand that “having nothing to lose” is exactly the adventure everyone needs at certain times in ones life (and perhaps Roger has needed for a very long time).

    So, into the gapping maw of the unknown and the media babbling, he (and we) will jump! to reach, once again where no one has or will go…ever again. it is for the poets to write about the gift that is Roger, yes, a mere sportsman, but, a sportsman that has given and will continue to give everything… heroic and angelic in his journey into the unknown.

    thanks again for keeping it real… and thanks to Roger for allowing us all to share in this journey!

    ALLEZ is all I gotta say!!

  13. Lady B Good. says :

    What a truly wonderful post this is from you Doots, i share your pain, we all do for Roger, i got up very
    early(for me) here in England to watch the match, i dont want to re-live it either, as Roger said to John
    McEnroe, after winning his first french open final in 2009, “You cant be in every grand slam final”
    it is so good to have you Doots, and these superb posts of yours, that we can all come together on one
    page, and share our feelings about Roger, i still love him, i always will!

  14. BS says :

    I’m right there with you. I didn’t see the match (luckily) and I was wary of Djokovic, but I didn’t expect straight sets. I’ve been a fan of Roger’s for the last 6 years. There’s been painful losses, there’s been joyous moments and there’s been difficult periods. One thing that’s for sure, is that he is an incredibly strong person. He’s not going to give up, and I’m certainly not going to give up on him. People have written him off so many times and I have and will continue to refuse to believe that he is “past it”. He’s definitely not. If anything, this loss will just make him hungrier and he’ll continue to feature as one of the best players in the world for the next few years. Because he ain’t going anywhere. In a few days we’ll all be dying to see him play again, no matter how much it hurts right now, because despite all of my waffling on, it does hurt. I’ll just be happy if Muzz doesn’t win. Thanks for helping us all through it doots 🙂

  15. jfK says :

    So heartbroken 😦 so many wasted opportunities. but I’m not going to give up on him. He said his dream is to win Wimbledon again and I hope he can make his dream come true this year. Come on Roger!

  16. dari says :

    Thanks doots!
    Roger is gonna be ok. Can’t wait till when he surprises everyone with another!

  17. A_Gallivant says :

    Great post Doots! Did I say I liked Fedole matches? Ugh. Given how well Djoko played, Fed definitely had his chances and didn’t capitalize on them. I was sad as well and could barely fall asleep after it was over. Then I got out and read Fed’s press release and felt better. I’m happy he’s healthy and seemingly enthusiastic for the tournaments ahead. Let’s hope it’s a good year.

  18. jandemom says :

    Lovely post, doots. Sums up the feelings of many Fed fans, I’m sure.

    Roger did indeed have his chances today (that 5-2 to 5-7 second set was pretty unpleasant) but Nole played better when it mattered. I read the transcript of Roger’s presser & liked his assessment of the match & how he feels about his game. The old hot Swiss guy will be fine & if he feels good about his prospects for a great year, then so should we.

    I suggest plugging our ears when people start harping yet again about Roger’s demise (that includes you, husband). Instead, let’s focus on how magical he is (because he really is) and let’s send him positive vibes for good health & great tennis!

  19. dialjupiter says :

    Loved this post! Very well said. 🙂 Roger will always be my favourite player and I hope this year is a good one for him.

  20. PJ says :

    Every single word, my sentiments exactly. It’s not silly/petty to hurt. It just means that we care. Human emotions, that’s all there is to it.

    I’m a Roger fan not because he’s a winner, a 16-Grand Slam champion with lots of records and great hair. I’m a Roger fan simply because he’s Roger Federer. And since he can never stop being Roger Federer, then a fan I will always be.

    Great piece of writing. You’re definitely made of the strongest stuff. Just like he is.

  21. Red4Fed says :

    Ahhhh Doots, you’ve done it again. Thank you for your eloquent words which have helped soothe my saddened soul. I woke up at 3:30am to watch the match and it sure was difficult to watch our Woger go down, but I felt like he played decently and Djokovic just happened to play the match of his life. I’m feeling more zen about this loss for whatever reason; he really has been playing incredible tennis for the past six months and he’s feeling healthy, so I know there’s more TMF in store for all of us Fed fanatics. Thank you for bringing us all together on Picket Fence (my favorite tennis blog ever); it’s so touching to see how many people Fed inspires all over the world, and nobody captures his essence as you do!

  22. xta says :

    oh, doots…what can i say but hugs and more hugs…the true consolation in these situations is that no matter what roger is roger — still and forever…win or lose, a champion…but such consolation does its magic in the span of time — in the near term there is just aching…
    so, hugs and more hugs…

  23. Jodi says :

    Officially ROCKING ON. Because Federbitches are badass. We can deal with the good times, we can deal with not so good times. And even if he never ever wins another title (though I’d say that would be pretty highly unlikely!) he will still be AWESOME.

    And we will still be badass.

  24. elisha says :

    Doots, this was beautiful, as your posts are always beautiful. I was strangely zen about it all this whole day. I read his presser, and was even more calmed by his optimism for the rest of the season. There’re many more tourneys left. This is just the beginning of 2011. I’m sitting tight in this Feddy wagon(or rather… train? lol) – not movin’ until he says we’re at the end! Thank you so much for this post, Doots!

  25. Caro says :

    Always reading your amazing blog, usally I don´t post because my english is so poor, but I love this blog,
    you are so intelligent and thanks because you makes me feel better.
    Roger will always be my CHAMPION.

  26. steve says :

    I’m sorry you had to see this happen live, Dootsiez. Even at home this was grueling for me to watch, just because it was so close. Federer was always on the verge of making some magic happen, but Djokovic was always just a little too consistent for him.

    I had a feeling he wouldn’t be able to defend this title, and be left a crownless king for the first time since 2003.

    Even though defeat hurts, the situation is refreshing in some ways because it’s a clean start. He’s a free man. Psychologically he’s in the position of a young up-and-coming novice again, trying to figure it out in the Grand Slams, like he was in 2002-03. You can enjoy following him just as you would some plucky player of nineteen or twenty, rooting him on to his first great victories.

    The guy’s won some smaller titles, made a couple major semifinals, and shows promise. When will Roger Federer, 29 years young, finally make his big breakthrough on the Grand Slam stage?

    The master becomes a student again. It’s not just a Zen conceit; for Roger Federer is perpetually youthful in spirit, always eagerly looking forward to the next great challenge, to explore new vistas of tennis.

    “A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.”

  27. PSP says :

    I didn’t see the match as it was office hour in my country. (Guess that was a good thing.) But your post just summed up my feeling after I saw the score. -_- However, from what I read, Novak played better this time. It was simply not Roger good day. ;-(

    Based on his plays this past few months, I also believe that we will see many Roger good day in the future!! 🙂

  28. roadrunnerz says :

    Awesome post, Doots. Bites that your perfect live viewing record was broken. *hugs*

    I set my alarm for 4am to watch it and went back to sleep afterwards, and then woke up wondering if I’d dreamt the straight set defeat to Nole. lol

    The big losses are always hard and will always be. If you care, it hurts. That’s life, isn’t it?

    Since finding your blog, it’s the first place I come after a big loss. Or a big win.

    You’re my Fedfan comfort food. Thank you. :

    ps: Another Wimby was my one wish/hope for him this year, and it’s so still on the agenda….

  29. caillean says :

    when I found out the match was in the evening session I thought: “omigosh I won’t be seated in the lucky couch! ” and then remembered “Dootsiez will be there attending the match, so no panic”.
    when I read the score while working I said aloud “where the hell was Doots?” and then went into the office kitchen and cried my makeup out.I’m sorry to have blamed you, but I really shared that magic starting from when we first met last year on twitter.I forced myself to watch the match before reading any comment on it, because I wanted to be able to judge the match by myself. I totally agree with you in that. And here I post my only comment on it, except for one I sent to Mr.Bodo that said “please make sure you’ll asterisk whoever wins this slam because of rafa’s defeat, as I’m sure you would have made if Roger kept the title”
    mean of me, maybe, But I’m not able to be so gracious in defeat as our Champ is.
    this all said, I’d like Freckles to win this title.he’s the real hero in this year adventure, together with Dolgopolov.
    the other two just made their job in getting there, It’s time to stop thinking Nole and Andy are youngsters, because they have been at the top for years now, If they can’t overcome Roger and Rafa it’s not because they are young, it’s just because they are not good enough.Waiting for R&R retirement won’t make them stronger, and the risk is youngsters will arrive and overcome them.Nobody can make history in this sport just with a slam or two, not anymore.
    pepole, we’ll have to wait for june. I have this feeling I will see Roger crying of joy on clay again.

  30. let says :

    Great writing as usual. Am I disappointed – Yes. Am I bereft of interest in the Mens Final now – possibly depending on how David goes tonight. Am I thinking of going and playing in the traffic – No. Roger just wasn’t quite good enough on the night, it happens. At least he is not despairing over it – an attitude which feels different from certain moments last year. He was serene in his press conference and enthusiastic for the rest of the season. He’s a class act, as is Rafa and they will both be back soon smokin’ up the courts.
    Good luck to Nole, I don’t really mind him although it’s a pity his “people” (read parents here) are so “low-rent”. Really hoping David can pull it off tonight as despite Murray being from all reports an okay guy, I just can’t warm to him. If he is the future, I may have to find something else to watch. 🙂
    For the next month I will be following Dolgopolov through some smaller tournaments and catching up with Roger via this great site. Best to everyone.

  31. Freudo says :

    Thanks, Doots, reading you always satisfies. I watched the match backwards, and doing so turned out to be helpful. Woke at 2:30 am and joined the action at 5-5 in the second set. Watched to the end. Picked up the second set on replay, and then watched the first set which I had on tape. Actually, I’m at 4-4 in the fourth, full of hope, as is Roger! So I moped around for a day. His interview cheered me a bit. Watching “Jack Goes Boating” cheered me a bit more. And my GI track finally releasing (I hold on during the second week of Slams, to Roger and hope, finally emptied.) I could have waited through a couple more matches, honest 🙂 It’s fun to be fan on such a deep level. We all are. I am so grateful to you Doots, for your writing about Roger and tennis, and I like you many followers, too. Like Roger, I’m looking forward to Dubai, IW, Miami and the claycourt season, with Wimbledon, whites, with the lime trim might be nice, and the win, a big cherry on top!

  32. Freudo says :

    whhops, said 4-4 in the fourth, meaning first, guess I am still wishing for it to go five. I liked that TRoger said he was, too, wishing to push Djokovic to have to go five!!!

  33. Pratha says :

    Thank you Doots,for this post.
    Yesterday,I couldn’t watch the whole match,and when I heard about the result,I felt so sick,I wanted to cry.Because,I’d expected him to lose the first set in that tie-break,but I watched half of the second set,and when he broke Novak and took a 3-2 lead,I knew he was gonna take the match and the title.Or so I thought.I was so hurt when I heard the result!I wasn’t angry,or frustrated.Just hurt.I couldn’t get my head around what possibly could have gone wrong in that second set.
    Then,I read his presser.I don’t how that guy does it,but his pressers always give me the right and positive perspective.I felt a lot better.I talked to a few friends,and they all made me feel even better.But this morning again,I was constantly thinking about the match and that bloody second set,from morning to evening.And i was waiting for your post.Waiting to be able to scream and shout my heart out here,so I could finally get over the match and move on.But then I came here and saw this.And you wouldn’t believe how I feel right now.The whole thing doesn’t seem to be so bad anymore.I can get myself to come to terms with it.
    And I’ve decided,I’m not letting out any negativity from me towards Roger for the rest of the year.I’m going to be VERY positive,and just say HOPP ALLEZ FORZA DAI and support him!That’s what fans are for,right?And when I heard a few people say that Roger Federer is getting old and not coming back now,instead of getting nervous,I realized just what people see him as – a demi-God.His not making a GS final is like the sky falling down!Shows just how great he’s become.
    So I’m going to stick to my HOPP ALLEZ FORZA DAI ROGER motto all year,AND NEVER STOP CHEERING! 😀

  34. lapinroyal says :

    Dooootsie… 😥
    This is what I’m gonna do to the Djoker the next time he beat Roger again: LINK 😆

    I will root for for Muzzz… not sure why though…

  35. Alex says :

    For the first time ever, I was remarkable FINE after a Fed slam loss. I was like “Djoker was too good, congrats”. Onto Roland Garros, no tears!

  36. marcoiac says :

    now that few days have passed, and i watched some parts of fed-djoko match again, and looked at the stats, i must say that, yes, djoko is probably playing the best tennis of his life, but no matter what level of tennis djoko plays, fed’s gameplan was the same one he had before he hired annacone. his feet glued to the baseline. why did he even hire annacone if he’s not trying to change? the last months of 2010 had shown a different kind of fed, more aggressive, more daring. the AO showed the old fed. went to the net same number of times djoko did. wtf? he won’t beat djoko in a best of five with that gameplan, unless djoko beats himself. i know what doots is going to say now, it takes time to change. i agree. it takes time. but change won’t happen unless you try to change. i haven’t seen that willingness to change in fed during the AO11. he needs to try, if he wants to change something in his game

    • Alex says :

      Wasn’t he playing all out aggressive from Canada to Doha? I think what happened was he ran into Giles Simon. That 5-setter caused him to go back into his passive shell for the rest of the event. Anacone is gonna have to convince him all over again.

      • marcoiac says :

        I posted something with my phone, but it doesn’t show here. I’ll post it again (modified, of course). Not sure what you mean ‘from Canada’, I don’t think he was aggressive enough at the USO, but definitely after the USO he played more aggressive tennis. The Simon thing is puzzling. Dootsiez tweeted a statement from Fed that said that the match with Simon shook his confidence. I don’t get it. Fed played a guy who defeated him twice in the past, both times coming from behind. This time Fed’s up 2 sets to 0, Simon comes back, in the early games of the 5th set Simon plays better than Fed, but Fed manages to win the match. His confidence should have gone much higher. He should have felt invincible. Instead, he said Simon took his confidence away. ???? Come again? I just don’t see how his mind works. But it doesn’t really matter. He must have realized, when he hired Annacone, that he needs to change the way he plays if he wants to get back on top. Confidence or not, stick to the damn plan. Chip and charge, put your nose on top of the net. What is the point of losing with Djoko playing from the baseline? If you ask me, it looks dumb. Better charging every point. At least, even if you lose, you show you are willing to try something different. It’s clear that playing Djoko best of five, Fed won’t beat him from the baseline, unless Djoko beats himself. Does Fed want to rely on Djoko defeating himself? I don’t think so. Take charge, Maestro, win on your terms. You owe it to your legacy, to the beautiful story of tennis you have created.

        • Alex says :

          You might ask why was Roger mentally disrupted by the Simon match? After all he’s in bonus territory of his career and these kind of tussles shouldn’t bother him. But “bonus” stuff means nothing as to actually being able to win a GS. To win a GS you have to want it. To want it means fear of losing. Fear of losing means you can be mentally disrupted by a close shave. Roger obviously does not view these GS events as “nice to have” but MUST-have. Otherwise why would he have reacted to badly to the Simon match? I think it’s fantastic that he still has FULL desire to win these. Otherwise, why not just retire.

        • dootsiez says :

          Okay. Let’s see:

          – agree with you in principle. And no, I’m not going to say “it takes time to change” 😛

          – It’s easy to sit back and say Djoko played the match/tournament of his life, which he did, but there were chinks (mental chinks) in his armor that Fed, Murray or even Berdy didn’t capitalise on.

          – also agree that Fed did not play aggressive enough. In short, tactically, he just wasn’t smart enough. The problem, I think, is that the Fed/Djoko H2H is a story of two players one-upping each other. Djoko got Fed at Montreal 07, Fed returned the favour at USO 07, then we have AO 08. But since then, Djoko has never really threatened Fed in any real way, Fed’s had occasional losses to him, but in general, he’s been on top of the H2H, without any real need to change his game plan against Djoko. Most of his losses to Djok came down to execution rather than strategy. Obviously that needs to be revisited now.

          – Re aggression and coming to the net: Fed fed Djoko too much pace and rhythm. Interestingly Djoko had more trouble in the first set against Murray because Murray didn’t give him as much pace. If Fed thinks he’s going to out-rally the guy from half a meter behind the baseline, he’s delusional.

          – The serve. It’s easy to be aggressive, to take charge of a match when Fed knows he has a serve to back himself up. The Federer serve, I’ve always felt, has been the most clutch on the men’s tour. Funnily enough, it *wasn’t* clutch against Djoko. There were numerous instances I remember the entire crowd groaning with dread when he missed a first serve on bp, or at 15-30 etc.

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