Belated Miami Wrap.


Because this is much belated, I’ll keep it short.

1. Federer.

I was … angry? Frustrated? Disappointed?

All of those things, despite my best efforts not to be.

There he was, playing prime time tennis, semifinals against THE rival of his career, and the guy couldn’t keep the ball in court for more than 4 shots. Within two short sets and with most of the Miami crowd feverishly behind him, Federer managed to commit a total of 38 unforced errors, and looked – as he often does when he’s losing – infuriatingly placid.

Nadal played a clean match, served phenomenally well, but I think it’s a fair assessment that Federer barely put up a fight in this one.

Interestingly, even as the match was progressing, I started to brace myself for what would come after the match: a fresh round of “it’s over”, “dude you should just retire”, the clichéd “beginning of the end”, the same rehashed speculation that “the gap” is widening here and closing there. 

Not that all these propositions are groundless. The fact that they do resurface match after match suggests that they have some merit to them. But at the same time, I’m simply sick of having to view every loss, every win, every tournament as some kind of watershed moment to foretell all eternity.

In the glare of the media spotlight, with the burden of “legacy”, history, the cruel, semi-paranoid passage of time, nothing about Roger Federer is allowed to simply be a non-event of no lasting significance. And judging from the hysterical reactions from both media critics and a large section of Federer’s own fanbase, this kind of incessant “historicising” of every. frakking. match in Roger Federer’s career has put a strain on everyone. Including – I think – the man himself.

So there I was, in the immediate aftermath of the match, drawn again into some pointless Twitter discussion about whether Federer should retire with his dignity in tact, or continue to “rage against the dying of the light”. Eventually, my sickness took over and I headed to bed for some sleep.

Sleep was just what the tennis gods ordered it seemed, for when I woke up refreshed, relaxed, non-feverish, it was suddenly cleared to me that … well, Federer played an awful, disgustingly bad match. For once, after a match against Nadal, I wasn’t talking to someone about strategy, shot selection, crucial moments in the match simply because there was none. All these things were a non issue when your guy simply can’t find his game on the day. It was frickin shit, and that was just that. And I refuse to join those won’t allow this to be an inconsequential dud, whose reasoning starts with “Federer played a bad match” and ends at “Federer should just retire”.

Of course, in the grand scheme of things, things are starting to shift away from Federer after the amazing end to the year he had just 4 months ago. Djokovic (and to some extent Nadal) finished the North American circuit in good command, and if Wogie McFed  wants to rejoin this conversation, he’ll have to pull a wabbit out of his hat at some stage during the clay season. But who’s to say he can’t? As long as we’re talking about 13 consecutive semifinals, and an almost perfect record in the last 7 months against everyone but Nadal and Djokovic, YO TENNIS WORLD – why work yourself into despair or schadenfreude?

By the way, this was the best moment in the whole friggin match.


2. Nadal

It’s not often that Rafael Nadal loses three finals in a row, let alone three that went the full distance. Despite what he insist, Satan Djokovic is breathing down his neck. In fact, the way he’s playing and surviving through matches these days, Djokovic might as well be breathing fireballs into Nadal’s astronomically aligned water bottles.

But if there is one good thing for Rafa fans to take away from Indian Wells and Miami, it’s that it was in the United States when Rafa finally made a belated mark on 2011.

Up until then, it seemed like he had barely registered on the tennis consciousness this year. This was in parts due to injuries, lack of matches played and lack of quality draws to play memorable matches against. But in Miami, Nadal scored his first top 10 victories of 2011. The quality (length) of the final and the win over Roger in themselves should be enough to keep the vultures at bay, despite the fact that he is still without title in 2011.

But look on the bright side of this – the first clay court masters of the year is just a few days around the corner. Titlelessness will probably be history 2 weeks from now.

3. Djokovic

My Nana once said: “good tofu never attract flies”. Oh hang … wrong Nana saying … “If you ain’t got something nice to say about someone, don’t say it”.

So in spirit of my dead Nana, I shall keep this delightfully brief: once upon a time, the joke was on the Djoker. Now the bull’s eye is.

BRING IT ON ATP!

xx doots

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9 responses to “Belated Miami Wrap.”

  1. virgilou says :

    Wow, incredible post doots!! Right on again…

  2. Joan Moore says :

    You are spot on about the press coverage after a loss. I have to steel myself to read it but I do so and get it over with. Some are fairer than others of course, but it must be endured for now. I console myself with the thought of all that “crow” that will have to be eaten in the future. I know he will turn things around against Rafa and Novak, maybe even during the clay season and wouldn’t that be great? BTW why aren’t the journos calling for Murray and Soderling to retire as they’ve won fewer matches than Roger in 2011, not to mention Roddick?

  3. steve says :

    Waitaminit…there are women who find Toni Nadal attractive?

    My view of the world has just undergone a seismic shift.

  4. Corinne says :

    I agree, it gets too rowdy in the match threads of RF.com… : /

    Actually, I agree with every word you say, especially Roger’s placidness, and this ‘retirement’ business!

    Your posts really do entertain me, it’s lovely to see someone speaking sense about these kind of issues : )

  5. marcoiac says :

    I think the journos that speak about Fed’s retirement after each and every one of his losses should retire. Indeed, I propose that those journos should get overwhelmed with questions on their own blogs about their own retirement, given that they have clearly lost any creativity and keep repeating the same thing over and again. Don’t you guys think it’s a good idea? Roger should do the same if someone dares to ask him about retirement. His answer should be: “and when do you plan to retire?”

    Sampras had to deal with the same stuff for the last two years of his career, in which he won zero titles, except that wonderful performance at US Open 2002, probably his best tennis ever. And then he retired without announcing it. For about a year he kept postponing his return to competitive tennis (when he didn’t play Wimbledon I pretty much knew what was going on) and only some 12 months later he said “You know what guys, I am not playing anymore”.

    They lack imagination, those journos that keep saying the same thing over and again.

    Fed is not bothered (as Sampras was not bothered). These guys have a pretty busy and fulfilling life, no time to pay attention to those silly comments about retirement.

    The thing is, with Fed (and also with Sampras), his game calls for things getting done easily. He won’t scramble to win. He had the most amazing streak in the history of the game, pure dominance for 3+ years in which he won more than 250 matches and lost 15 (!!!!!) and he didn’t seem to make an effort. When Rafa and Nole win, it’s all about effort and resilience and dogged retrieving. Fed can’t play like that. He needs to glide on the court. I used to get mad when he seemingly did not fight (semi at IW against Mardy, I was there, I was so irritated), now I realize that that’s the way he plays. I wasn’t mad when he lost with Rafa in Miami. Clearly, wasn’t his day.

    In London, WTF, it was a whole different story. But I think the surface helped him there. I think he needs to find his effortless groove but must combine it with a more aggressive style. No 15+ hits rally can be effortless!

    Short points, maestro, and keep gliding. 🙂

    • Deborah says :

      If I were a journalist and my livelihood depended on tennis, I wouldn’t be trying to push Roger out of tennis. I would be using all my creativity to figure out how to turn Bert and Ernie into a good enough story to keep all those folks who discovered tennis because of that gliding maestro. Hit the ball hard and then harder and then chase them all down just ain’t gonna do it for me.

  6. Matt Zemek says :

    Federer’s such a bum. 13 straight semis or better. No early flameouts like Murray or Soderling or anyone else not in the top two. Made a doubles final at Indian Wells, just for kicks. What utter rubbish this Federer clown is. Such lousy tennis. He’s so washed up.

    Now, in all seriousness, let’s see how Djoker’s psychology does (or does not) change on the terre battue. This seems pointless and desperate on one level, but hey, what if – indeed – Djokovic loses in the quarters to a Soderling or an Almagro? That could be all Fed needs to make a final and gain back some psychological real estate.

    And then Wimbledon. If Fed can enter Wimbledon healthy this year – unlike 2010 – he’ll wage a spirited battle to take back that crown.

    April and early May serve as prelude. This French Open-Wimby stretch is the most fascinating since 2008.

  7. flo says :

    I think that Djokovic is ready to take 1 or 2 titles from Nadal on clay. If he can win a war of attrition like in Miami then Nadal is the one who will have doubts as the match goes along. Nadal has been so dominant because players never thought they could outlast him in those conditions (also most of them lack the tools).

    My thoughts on Federer: obviously, his team and he knows tennis way better than most of the critics out there and that they know what he can and can’t do at this point. Even as far back as 2007 he no longer had a great edge in baseline rallies. And in Wimby 09 Roddick and FO 09 USO 09 Del Potro as examples, he was clearly the inferior from the baseline and Roddick in particular is not a guy who should be winning that battle against Federer.

    I think in the modern game if you really want to shorten the points, and I have no idea how really feasible it is, he could structure his game around dropshots and short balls that lead the opponent to net. Drop shots are not really made to be the backbone of one’s game because do it a few times and the opponent can already sniff out the next one. As far as finishing with both guys at the net or playing passing shots, I think Federer is still quite steady. It’s kinda lunacy and he’d have to devote time to shape his game when his game is still good enough to handle 99.9% of the players. I mean it’ll be like a trick play but he’d have to practise it like it’s not. Forehand pass, no probs. Backhand passes are actually where his backhand shines. He’s got excellent touch on his shots. But on a day like Saturday in Miami, when nothing is working, he might as well try to play ping pong (like what McEnroe always says when he’s covered his usual topics). He clearly have trouble hitting through those two without playing very low percentage or if the court plays fast. Basically make the game about instinct and touch instead of physicality and consistency. That reads ridiculous because he’s clearly the third best in the world at what he does for a living and no one is going to know Federer’s game better than his team of people. But that’s from a fan (since 06) before that Marat.

    I don’t mind watching him drop a bit and keep playing but everyone into tennis knows he wants to be on top again. Rankings, slams, etc. He should stay as long as he wants. Why should a Santoro get to hang around and enjoy his tennis but not a tennis titan like Federer because of some concerns about his legacy? Finally, after my non-tennis playing ass suggestions for how a master should play, I agree with the people on the Federer of now will have his shots at Wimbledon (20-30%), USO (slightly less) but not so much for AO (needs a draw, that surface is all kinds of slow I remember Henin running down everything from SHarapova and wondering if she was a The Flash), anything on clay except something like Madrid (just not enough baseline game, it’s like bringing cavalry to a tank battle or undermanned army to fight a land war in Russia).

  8. Joan Moore says :

    Djokovic and Soderling have both withdrawn from Monte Carlo with knee injuries! Roger will now be the #2 seed. Will Novak lose ranking points..he was in the semis last year?

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