At the outset, this is my third consecutive post about tennis this week so if you are not a tennis fan or you find tennis excruciating, please go somewhere else. It’s the semi-finals in the Sony-Ericsson Open in Miami and my boy’s out there playing and I gotta give him support! *lol*
I am just a fan-girl, what can I do? I simply enjoy watching tennis matches, and those of you reading this blog know where my loyalty and affection go – to Rafael Nadal, of course! Every single match of Rafa is worthy of a blog post and I do write about him and his what-abouts when my blogging mojo strikes me. But this time, I’m making an exception and write about – gasp – Roger Federer. I did this because a tennis observer pointed out that Rafa is a different player when he plays Roger… Rafa’s more focused and if Roger’s losing his tennis mojo ,then, we might be losing something here.
But I digress. Going back…
This morning, I witnessed (albeit half of the semis match only) how Rafa mercilessly crushed Roger Federer in two straight sets. From that match alone, one didn’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure out where the game was going.
I am not sorry that Roger lost. Yes, while I don’t deny the fact that he is one of the greatest tennis players the world has seen but, like any other champions, his time is almost over. Whispers about the end of the Roger Federer era became louder this year when he lost to Novak Djokovic (Nole) in the semi finals of the Australian Open. For the first time in 2003, Roger has not won any of the four major titles. That match sent shockwaves to the whole entire tennis community. However, during the post-match interview, Roger was quick to dismiss the rumour about the impending twilight of his career and declared “it’s not the end in anyway".
Then came the BNP Paribas tournament in Indian Wells, CA…
Roger lost to Nole (again) in the semi-finals. So tennis fans ask – is the Federer era done already? Currently, he is now ranked number 3 in the world, with Nole in number 2 (the eventual winner of BNP Paribas Indian Wells), and Rafael Nadal (Rafa) is still strong on top despite losing to Nole in the finals. Personally, I do not think his career is over yet but Roger is now way below Rafa and Nole in terms of points, and if he continues to perform poorly, his ranking will go down even more.
It was harrowing to see this former world number one looking resigned and dejected after that AO semi final match. And it’s the same resigned and dejected, “he’s killing me” look that I saw after he lost to Rafa in their SEO semi finals today. But, according to this online news, despite his semi-final beating from Rafa, Roger, again, insists he still has some good tennis left.
While I understand that it is too early to write him off… I cannot help but notice the evidences (of his decline) are piling up. So what is wrong with Roger?
Since I am no tennis expert – and perhaps my tennis expertise is limited to Rafa alone – I turn on to the one who is… Patrick Mouratogluo, a Frenchman who owns a tennis academy considered to be one of the top in the world. He has worked with Marcos Baghdatis and other notable tennis players. In one of the posts of Busted Racquet, a blog hosted at YahooSports.com, Mr. Mouratogluo identified what he thinks are Federer’s four problem areas:
1. His serve – it is slower and doesn’t hurt like it used to.
2. His defensive backhand – overused and often leads him to make unforced errors. I personally saw this in today’s semis match against Rafa (via livestreaming).
3. Slowing stamina – he tires easily on long ball chases/runs. Roger was definitely off his game in the semis, outclassed and had no answer to Rafa’s gameplay.
4. Distracted focus. Loses his concentration and confidence, thus, the dejected body language and the “he’s killing me” look on his face. He also gets frustrated easily that affected his performance.
Of course, this article generated a lot of criticism and hatred for Mt. Mouratogluo from, understandably, Federer fans and vented against what the Frenchman said. I just wonder why fans would flare up just like that and say something nasty. I mean, come on, the guy is someone from the tennis world and for sure he knows what he is talking about. Read more about it here at Busted Racket: What’s wrong with Roger Federer?
Anyways, I hope I don’t jinx Rafa’s game tomorrow but I have a good feeling about his finals match against Nole. If he plays the same, if not more than, the level he played against Roger, I think there is no doubt he would break Nole’s streak and bag his first Miami title. I missed his trademark trophy-biting for the longest time now. I think Rafa won’t allow Nole to beat him in a final two times in a row so I think he will come to Sunday’s finals more focused, motivated, and merciless – and we will see him own that Miami trophy and bite it in front of an adoring crowd, virtual or otherwise!