Saturday, December 28, 2013

Fed and the adorable Aussie animals

You know, I really try not to be too much of an over-the-top fan girl for Roger Federer, but these pictures are just too awesome not to share:

Seriously, what more needs to be said? 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Welcome to 2014 tennis

There may still be several more days of 2013, but for tennis fans the new year has already begun.  You see, tennis is starting!!!!  Earlier today I had the first match of the Hopman Cup on a live stream on my computer.  Now I have a replay of one of the Abu Dhabi matches on my TV.  Even though these are just exhibitions, it is still a sign that the new season is beginning.

But much more important than either of these is that Roger Federer has now arrived in Brisbane Australia to get his first tournament of the season underway.  You could tell his arrival was met with much excitement when they set up a spot for a press conference right in the airport at 7:00 a.m.  Being the accommodating fellow that he is, he went along with it.

There really has been quite a lot of excitement going on in the Federer camp in the past week or so.  It started with the news that he was starting a management agency for athletes called Team8 with his manager Tony Godsick, having already signed Del Potro and Dimitrov.  The news got much more exciting, however, when he announced on Christmas Eve that his twins Myla and Charlene were going to be big sisters to a new little Fed baby, due sometime in 2014.  That certainly set the Twitter world on fire!  The latest news is that Stefan Edberg, who spent a week with him in Dubai in the off season, is going to be working with him as a coach starting at the Aussie Open for at least 10 weeks during the upcoming year.

That feels like a lot of momentum to start the year, coming off of a season in which he struggled with injury, leading to a lack of effective practice and a lack of confidence, managing to only win one title the whole year.  He is highly motivated coming into 2014, however, and if he can stay healthy I believe he is going to have a much better year, hopefully resulting in many titles, maybe even another grand slam to add to his incredible 17.  It would be a great way to start the year to win in Brisbane, being he is the top seed and he should be able to beat every person in the draw.  So Federer fans will be holding their collective breath waiting to see what the next month will bring from our hero.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A fresh start for Fed in 2014

It has been over a month since I have done a post.  With a new season getting ready to kick off in just a couple weeks I figured it was time.  Let me be honest - the reason I haven't posted anything for quite a while is because I have been in a bit of a tennis depression the last several months.  The combination of Roger Federer having his worst season in over a decade combined with Rafael Nadal winning so much was a huge downer for me.  In the past several weeks I couldn't bring myself to watch any of the few good matches I kept on my DVR from 2013 because it was just a reminder of what the season had been like.  

But last night suddenly I felt ready and so in the background while I was working I turned on the Federer-Del Potro quarterfinal from Bercy.  Watching this match, plus reading some of the recent quotes from Roger, all of a sudden have dragged me mostly out of my funk and have me feeling excited for 2014.  In that match against Delpo Roger played much like the guy he used to be, not like the one we were unfortunately getting used to in the last year.  He really only had one slight dip with some errors to lose the 2nd set, but other than that he was in control, playing aggressive and with confidence.  This is the man we all want to see in Australia to get his season started in the best possible way.

Some quotes from a recent article I thought were encouraging:  

"I always believe that I have improved over the last 10 years, you know, that I've not gone backwards, and I've been able to win (the Open) 10 years ago, so I always feel as I move forward I am a more complete player, a better player.

''That's why I will always believe that I can win, as long as my body is holding up and mentally I'm really hungry travelling the world and playing matches, and that is the case right now - I'm very healthy and training extremely hard."

''Some success has come back also at the end of last year, which is quite important for me, for my confidence, because I was really in a difficult spot from Wimbledon all the way till Basel, I'd say, with just fighting my confidence and then, particularly, also my back issue. I couldn't really train the way I wanted to for some time, and now it's really picked up again and I think I'm really moving in the right direction.''

And speaking about Australia, ''I really hope to be playing my absolute best (there), which I really think is possible, and then anything is possible for me, I personally believe that. It's just important for me that I play better against the top guys. It's not been bad this year, but I just didn't land enough wins, so that's something I want to improve for this year.''

Of course, we won't know for sure until we see him on the court again.  But hopefully the combination of being injury free and the hard training he has been putting in will bring back the form he had in January before the back issues.  

One more thought before I close.  One of the things that has made me so annoyed the last few months is when people write articles about his decline without even mentioning the fact that he was injured much of the season.  If it had been another unnamed player, that would have been all that would have been talked about.  Instead they choose to ignore that fact which has been the biggest contributing factor to his slide.  Ok, I got that frustration partially out of my system.

My hope is that we still have at least a couple more years of the strong Federer so many around the world have grown to love over these last many years.  He may not win many more majors, but I still think he has a lot left in him and hopefully we will see that at the start of the year to begin to prove his many critics wrong. 

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Comeback win shows incredible consistency for 11 out of 12 semifinal appearances

What an incredible comeback performance from the Great One today!  To be honest I had my doubts for quite a bit of the match, but Roger proved that he is still a force to be reckoned with and that he will fight to the end.  It seems like the whole match he was fighting from behind after going down early breaks with some unforced errors at inopportune times.  But just when it seemed that he was down and out, he would come up with some brilliant play that only the maestro can produce and get himself right back in there.  So in spite of getting himself into trouble time and time again, his belief and determination kept him in the match with a brilliant victory in the end.

Along with the beautiful play and eventual comeback, the part of the match I enjoyed the most and felt privileged to experience was commentary by former coach of Roger Federer, Paul Annacone.  For those living in the U.S. who subscribe to Tennis Channel, this was truly a treat that can't be matched.  To hear him give his evaluation of where Roger is at in his career, with definitely a lot left in him to give, his breakdown of particular shot choices during the match, recalling his year in 2012 with the Olympics, talking about Roger's character, and much more was incredibly enjoyable and I didn't have any thought of wanting to block negative evaluation of what the commentators were saying.  Paul has much belief in what Roger is still able to accomplish and those doubting him should take a lesson from someone who knows him both as a player and as a person so well.  

This match win meant a lot to Federer.  He put his hand to his heart at the end showing how much he wanted another semifinal appearance in this very successful tournament in his career.  Once more his consistency is proven, as he has now made the semifinal round in this very challenging event an incredible 11 out of 12 years.  Who can argue with that amazing stat, played against the top 8 in the world?  He will face a very tough opponent unfortunately in Nadal, who will have had an extra day of rest to even more help his cause.  But Roger should have confidence knowing he has a very successful record against him on indoor courts.  I know I will feel my share of nerves watching that one, but even if he loses Roger has shown his resilience the last few weeks of this season and that he is on the comeback trail.  Watch out in 2014 for what he can still accomplish!  


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

So many reasons to love him

This was a great day to be a Federer fan, and it had nothing to do with his tennis.  There are many things that make up the great man we "know" as Roger Federer - his beautiful and graceful all court play, his multitude of records that only just start with 17 grand slam trophies, 302 weeks at #1, over 900 match wins, and so many more.  But these are only a part of what makes him loved by so many millions around the world.  The other facets of this amazing man that so many refer to as the Greatest of all Time is the type of person he is off court.  And a few of these were recognized and rewarded in a special ceremony at the World tour Finals.

For me the most important award he continues to receive time and time again, nine years all together, is the Stephan Edberg Sportsmanship Award.  The reason is that this is voted by his peers, those who play on the court with him over and over, who see him in the locker room and around the grounds.  For someone who has experienced so much success to be known for years on end as the most sportsman-like guy on the tour says so much about the character of this man.  Where some guys are known for trying to win in whatever ways possible (sideline coaching, injury timeouts at inopportune times, etc.), this is not something Federer ever, ever does.  He wants his time spent on the tour to improve tennis in general, and that certainly has happened above and beyond.  I am so proud of him for continuing to be a man of such quality day in and day out, year in and year out.

And this doesn't only include his tennis life.  He is also very generous in trying help struggling children in many countries around the world through the Roger Federer Foundation, which is why he received the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for the second time.  There are many of the players who are generous with their finances, so he is certainly not the only one, but he takes great interest in his foundation in spite of his busy life and will continue to do so when his professional tennis life ends.

And finally, who could forget the Fan Favorite Award.  Not only has he won this 11 times in a row, but he had 56% of the total vote - wow!  He goes above and beyond with his fans, always taking extra time to sign autographs and talk with fans.  (Hopefully someday I will be able to get close enough to him to experience this myself!).  The combination of what he has accomplished on the court and all that we know him to be off the court among his peers, his charity work, who he is as a family man, and on and on, make him the obvious choice for who the fans love most.  And I, for one, am so proud to be his fan!  Of course we would love to see him with the great results again that have been missing this year in his tennis life, but we will continue to love and support him regardless because this is what fans do and this is what he deserves.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Federer twins in Bercy

I love seeing pictures of the 4-year-old Federer twins.  It's been a while since they've been to a match to watch their daddy play.  To be honest they didn't look the slightest bit interested in what was happening on the court, but the fans love to see them.  And some of their expressions are priceless.  Enjoy!


Saturday, November 2, 2013

Positive signs as Roger heads to London

Roger Federer will be saying goodbye to Paris and heading to London after a mostly successful and encouraging week.  The last couple weeks have shown great hope that his struggles over the last months have truly been as a result of injury, not due to fading form or age catching up to him.  His win against Del Potro in the quarter finals, especially in the first set,  was reminiscent of the Maestro of old who has been AWOL for a lot of this year.  And in his match against Djokovic in the semis we also saw what he is still capable of - the amazing variety, great movement around the court, killer forehands, supremely disguised drop shots.

Now that he is feeling so much better after the months of having to play in a fragile way to protect his injuries, his challenge against the top players is to be able to hang onto his top form for a full two sets.  That was the problem against Djokovic.  Though he was able to get up a quick break in the 2nd set, he quickly gave it up again, and as Novak was finally finding his form, Roger was suddenly losing some of his service rhythm and more errors were creeping in.  Letting the level drop even for a moment against a top player can be hazardous, as he found out today.  And that is what he will be facing all next week, as he will immediately play Djokovic again on Tuesday, followed by Del Potro and Gasquet (in no particular order).  Not an easy task.  A couple months ago this would have been a recipe for disaster, but as he is gaining confidence and finding his way again, he most certainly has a shot.

I didn't feel particularly disappointed by his loss in Paris.  Sure, being that he would have been playing Ferrer in the final - who, by the way, was very impressive in his straight sets win over Nadal - it would have been great to have a chance for a Masters 1000 title this year.  But knowing what he faces next week, and also sounding like he may have picked up a bit of a cold, I think it's important for him to have the extra day off after two physical three set matches in a row.  It would have been particularly difficult to only have one day off and then have to play at least three top 10 matches.  So we will take the positives we have seen and look forward to hopefully a great week of tennis in London with the best players in the world.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Oh Happy Day - Roger Federer qualifies for WTFs

We knew the likelihood was high he would be in London, but in a season that has been difficult one never wants to assume.  Therefore, it was with relief and great joy that Federer's fans watched him secure his spot with a straight set win against Kevin Anderson.  And as Roger said himself, he wanted to qualify with a win, not because of someone else losing.

This was the first meeting between the South African Anderson and Federer, and you could tell from the start Anderson was feeling the nerves.  There really was very little drama in the first set as Fed got the early break and held serve with relative ease to close out the set.  The second set seemed to be going along even easier with a two break lead.  However, there often seems to be a little bit of nerves from the GOAT these days, and knowing what was on the line, he failed to serve it out at 5-2, and then was down two break points when he tried it again at 5-4.  However, his serve came through for him multiple times in this match, and it surely helped him here to close out the match in straight sets 6-4 6-4.

Some Federer critics may talk about how this year, a "down year" by his high standards, he didn't manage to stake his spot at the acclaimed World Tour Finals until a few days before.  But it really doesn't matter because the fact is that he is there for the 12th (yes, I said 12TH!) year in a row.  Not only that, he has won the whole friggin thing over half the times he has been there - six to be exact - and that is against the top 8 players in the world (oh, and can I just mention Nadal has never won it?).  Sure he is ranked #6 and has only won one small title this year.  But that means nothing because Roger knows how to win this thing.  He plays incredibly well indoors and he could come around after a season of struggles and show that he is still a major factor in men's tennis.  

There is still a week-and-a-half left in the 2013 season.  Though I will happy to move on to 2014, wouldn't it be amazing if the great Federer could close out this season with an incredible comeback?  But for now I am just celebrating the fact that he is once again one of the elite 8 who has a chance to show what he is made of next week in London.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Encouraging signs in spite of loss, plus an interview with the Fed

Roger Federer lost the final in his hometown Basel tournament against Juan Martin Del Potro for the second year in a row in three sets.  Many of his fans may be disappointed and discouraged with the result, and I suppose media will continue to say he's in decline.  However, this isn't the way I am choosing to look at it.  I mean, of course I would have loved for him to win - that goes without saying.  But going into I really didn't know what to expect.  It had been a while since he had played a top 10 opponent, and being that he has lost to several low ranked players this year I just didn't have high expectations.  That being said, I was extremely pleased with his level of performance.

Some of the things I noted in his play were his incredible level of defensive skills.  After being injured quite a bit this year his retrieving skills had been pretty reduced.  To see him getting to balls that you would normally just expect guys like Nadal and Djokovic to get to was very encouraging to me.  The heart that he played with was so strong.  You could tell how badly he wanted it, which could have actually been what worked against him the first game of the third set when he was finally broken after a long drawn out game.  He seems to have really dialed in his skills again, though, and many of the crazy misses he has been making in the last months were gone.  In a lot of the match I felt he was playing better than I have seen him play in a very long time.  Much progress has been made this week and can't help but give him confidence moving forward.

Oh, and I have to mention the amazing standing ovation the crowd gave to Roger after the match.  It just went on and on and on.   That must have been so inspiring to him to have his home crowd honoring him so much in spite of his loss.

Earlier in the week I kept seeing that a long interview had been done in which I heard a few quotes, but when I tried to watch it they were speaking in Swiss German.  Thankfully, however, someone posted a version with English subtitles.  I really enjoyed hearing what he had to say on topics like how his injuries affected him this year, things with his girls, and looking ahead.  If you haven't seen it, definitely worth the time!


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Federer toughs out another one to make the final

It seemed like it was going to be just a straight forward win against young Canadian Vasek Pospisil.  With the first set in the bag thanks to some Pospisil errors, Federer seemed to have found his old game and confidence - that is, until he tried to serve for the match at 5-3.  I don't know if it was nerves, or if a little lack of confidence started flowing again, but it all went downhill from there when he got broken and then lost the second set in a tiebreak.  His whole demeanor seemed to change to one of defeat and lack of energy, even getting broken in the third set.  But he must have decided he really wanted it after all, because he found his energy, grit and determination to immediately break back.

Pospisil showed a lot of determination himself and it really could have gone either way.  But I kept thinking that if Federer were to lose the match when he totally had it in the palm of his hand, that I really didn't know what that would do to him going forward.  These matches that he can fight through, though, even when incredibly tough, are so important to his belief right now.  Each one builds upon the other to continue to boost the confidence for the future.  I really have no idea what to expect for the final against Del Potro, but win or lose just getting himself into the position again to be able to win his home tournament is huge for him.  So I will be setting my alarm early to cheer for the great win for my hero.

Friday, October 25, 2013

He's still got it - Federer comes through in anticipated match

Just a quick post because I can't let this much anticipated match with Grigor Dimitrov go by without a few comments.  It was another topsy turvy one, more so than I had hoped.  Roger started out quite nervous, which was to be expected, because I think there really was quite a lot riding on this one.  To see him save a bunch of break points and then find his god-like mode for the second half of the first set was awesome, and I was so much hoping that would continue through the second set.  Instead, he either lost concentration or got nervous again because he began making some of the ridiculous errors that have plagued him at different times through the year and he almost ended up having to play a third set.  But thanks to some choking by the young one, he managed to pull it off in two.

Regardless, though, of whether he played as well as he could have or not, I think in his own mind this win was a  big one.  With all the comparisons that have been made between Roger and "Baby Fed," if he would have lost this match much speculation would have been made.  There may have been comparisons of his win at a young age over Sampras, and that he is fading as the new generation is rising.  Instead, though, he showed that at least for a while longer he isn't ready yet to bow out to the younger guys, but he still has the upper hand in many ways, not the least of which is getting control of his nerves to come through in the end.  No matter the fact that Dimitrov has been known to choke in situations where he has the upper hand against other top players, the fact that Federer could still come through says a lot that he is still right in there.  And I think mentally for him this means a lot.

He has a challenge again in the semis against another young one who looked up to him as a child, but hopefully this win will carry him through to get to another final, likely a repeat from last year with hopefully a happier ending.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Roger Federer - he figured it out!

Roger Federer's match against Denis Istomin was a bit of a scary experience.  After seeing him bomb out in a lot of matches so far this year, it seemed like it might be history repeating itself when he started making wild errors to get broken and end up losing the first set.  The question was, would he fight back and have ultimate victory, or would he continue in the downward spiral?

Not only did he fight back, as he has in some matches in the second set only to still end up losing it in the third, but it seemed to me that he "figured out it."  That's what made me happiest in this three set victory was that after making the errors with way too many hit long or just meekly into the net, in the next two sets he found his range again, maybe pulling back a little to not be quite so risky, and playing some of the beautiful shots he is known for.  (Or, of course, it could be his very unusual shirt change after the first set, not to an identical shirt as usual but to a completely different one - which some people, like one of my favorite readers didn't like at all.  :)

The beauty of this match in my opinion was that he didn't just barely squeak by even while still not playing well, or on his opponent's errors (though there certainly were more by Istomin), but he came up with a solution for what wasn't working for him in the first set.  That's one thing that has been missing over these last months is his ability to figure out what is going wrong, which we as fans certainly aren't used to.  No matter his greatness over these past years, he still had sets where things weren't working for him.  But one of the signs of greatness is to find the answers in those circumstances, which he hasn't been able to do too many times this year.  So to see him come back and play for the most part beautifully for two sets was to me a great victory and hopefully signs of things to come.

I know that doing it in one match doesn't mean it's all fixed.  I keep thinking of what Rod Laver said recently about getting older, that a person can play brilliantly in one match and then the next match it's simply not there.  However, I'm hopeful that something clicked for Roger in this match and that he will be able to put a run together, not just this week, but in the next few weeks for a great end of the year, to show all those doubters that Roger Federer still has a lot of greatness to show to the world!


Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Early success for Roger in Basel

Every Federer fan is watching with much interest this week in Basel.  Of course we are all well aware that he hasn't yet booked his place in the coveted World Tour Finals and this week is key in taking some of the pressure off.  And we are also watching, as in the last several months, to see when he is going to find the "it factor" in his game once again.

Watching his first match against Mannarino it seemed like many of his matches the second half of this year where he had moments of brilliance, but also moments where he made crazy errors and didn't capitalize on break point opportunities.  Overall I thought he played pretty well (once I was able to re-watch the match on You Tube, since the original stream I was watching on was terrible!), but this opponent wasn't a player who had much to threaten him with.  We will be able to tell where he's at much more as he moves into the draw playing guys with bigger weapons, such as Denis Istomin, his next opponent.  One thing I do know, though, is he is motivated and wants to do well here.  Hopefully his hometown crowd will inspire him to find the game he has been lacking for several months now.

I found it very interesting to read some of what he has said in the last couple days regarding regretting that he played injured a few times this year.  I was at his match in Indian Wells when he injured himself, sitting about 12 rows back from the court, so I was able to clearly see what was happening.  It was obvious immediately that he was hurt, but he continued through that match and went on to play a couple more.  This also happened in the clay court tournaments he picked up in the summer where his back was hurting but he played anyway.  I know a lot of this is due to the amazing guy that he is, not wanting to disappoint his loyal fans who came to see him.  Of course we as his fans appreciate this so much about him, but unfortunately as his body continues to age he is going to really have to rethink this in the future, as we have seen the ill effects it has had on him long term.  As he said, the injuries caused him to not be able to practice the way he wanted to, which sent him into a negative spiral.

Hopefully this will be the week where he can find the right combination of confidence and all that he has been working so hard on in practice and be able to claim his spot at the World Tour Finals and be able to go in with belief that he can compete against the top 8 in the world.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

In spite of a setback, we still believe Roger!

Roger Federer lost in the third round to Gael Monfils in a roller coaster match filled with tension (for Fed fans anyway), where I personally went from despair to hope and back to despair again.  I'm not going to go through a break-down of the match - you can read that on multiple sites.  I have actually been quite discouraged by this result all day, but as I have read some other posts and thought about it I realized that it actually wasn't as bad as I originally thought.  Yes he lost when he maybe should have won, but it was a loss that I think showed some positive signs.

For one thing, you could tell how badly he wanted it.  The obvious frustration, hitting the net with his racquet after missing a volley, muttering to himself, etc., showed that he is fully invested in trying to figure this out.  Yes he made some bad errors (including a lot of misses at the net, which is rather puzzling), but he also displayed some brilliant play to show that it is still right there.  And it certainly wasn't just him - Monfils actually played very, very well with some incredible clutch play when it mattered.  There have been some matches this year where he just hasn't been there, not taking advantage of opportunities and kind of handing it to his opponent.  In this case, though, other than the first game of the match, I felt he really was right there.  It feels like in this match the wheels were spinning in his mind in a positive manner.  I don't know when it will actually come together for him - it may be that Federer fans will still have to suffer through some disheartening losses where he just can't pull it off - but I just feel it in my gut that he still has some great days ahead of him where all of a sudden the sun will come out, everything will click, and we will be in seventh heaven after the discouragement.  

After feeling depressed for a lot of the day, I was helped first by listening to his press conference in which he didn't sound in the depths of despair himself, and then especially by seeing his last tweet with this picture:

On another note I realized that it's kind of ridiculous for my blog to be called Crazy Tennis Addicts at this point when all I write about (at least during the time Roger is struggling) is Federer.  So for now I am changing the name to Crazy Federer Addicts (though not the web address).  At some point I will probably change it back, but for now Roger is my main focus. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Roger's back with a win in hand

It's been quite a while since I have done a post.  I admit to having been in a bit of a funk since the end of the U.S. Open and the way it turned out on the men's side.  Without getting into it, let's just say the results in 2013 as to who has been winning almost everything has been a tennis nightmare for me.  

However, the fall season has begun and I am hoping for some results to get me excited again.  Let's start with the fact that Roger Federer is back on court!

After playing a very successful and fun doubles match on Monday with Chinese player Zhang in which he was able to get his feet wet again in competitive play, he also notched a straight set win in his first singles match since his surprising defeat in New York.  

My impression of the match was that he initially was struggling with rust, nerves, and just a lack of actual competition in the last several weeks.  He made way too many unforced errors in the first set and just seemed rather unsure of himself at times.  Thankfully, however, though he was down a break at one point, Seppi choked a bit himself and handed the break back.  Once Roger was able to break again to take the first set he showed much more confidence in the second, going for his shots more, his forehand looking much more reliable, and just seeming to find his comfort level.  

Of course, he will be looking to get as many points as possible to make sure he qualifies for the World Tour Finals in London.  He is currently in 7th place, but with Murray having officially withdrawn now due to his back surgery that makes it much more likely that he will be able to secure his place.  So he will be looking to find the confidence in his game to be able to close out this disappointing year on a high note.

I will leave this short and sweet as I try to get my feet wet in the blogging world again, but I hope to be reporting some continued good news as the week progresses.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Though another diappointing loss, Roger Federer far from finished!

After having high hopes for a great U.S. Open result from 5 time champion Roger Federer, especially after a disappointing summer in so many ways, we are once again having to sort through another unanswerable loss, this time in the Round of 16 to Tommy Robredo, someone who had never beaten him in 10 prior tries.  

After a day full of rain delays Federer's match ended up being moved to Louis Armstrong stadium at the last minute.  He seemed out of sorts from the start, getting broken immediately in his first service game.  Though he was eventually able to get the break back - both then and one other time during the set, he still ended up losing it in a tiebreak.  Over the next two sets in this straight set loss he was able to create break point opportunities but, as so often happens when he is struggling, he couldn't convert.  Though Tommy certainly was able to come up with some great play when needed, particularly passing shots, Roger's performance was nothing less than disappointing.

He certainly wasn't happy with his performance either, looking very disappointed and saying things like he self destructed, his rhythm was off, he beat himself, missed too many opportunities.

Yes it is disappointing to see him losing early in so many tournaments this year.  But great champions don't just go away.  He has said over and over again that he plans to play for many year to come.  This means he is going to do everything in his power to figure it out.  And I truly believe he will.  There is no way to know if he will win another major, but I'm confident he will at least win many more titles.  He loves the feeling of winning too much.  In many of these losses he is just a few converted break points away from winning.  He needs to figure out again, just like he has in the past in low times, what little shift in mentality needs to change.  A little time off, a little time to think it through, and he will certainly come back hungry to find a way to win these matches that are currently eluding him.  So buck up Fed fans - good days still to come.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Interviews and Clinics with Roger

Anyone who has read my blog with any regularity knows that Roger Federer is by far my favorite tennis player.  I love everything about his game (well almost anyway - maybe not his break point conversion rate :) and am so impressed with his personal life in so many ways.  So here are a couple interviews that were outside the press room that I thought would be fun to post.

And here is a tennis clinic he did recently.  Oh how I would love to be part of something like this!  But I guess since almost all these people were Mercedes Benz owners that certainly wouldn't be able to happen!

Looking forward to watching Roger under the lights in his Round 3 match with hopefully a great report to follow.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Two days at the Open

We are two days into the U.S. Open and even though the men's first round isn't quite complete, of course there have still been many stories to tell.  How about 17-year-old Victoria Duvall's surprising upset over former champion Sam Stosur.  Who would have ever predicted that one?  Or Nishikori, Almagro, Janowicz, Dimitrov, Monaco, Gulbis all out in the first round?  Would you have found anyone willing to bet even a dollar not only on Donald Young beating Klizan, but 6-1 6-0 6-1?  Where in the world did that come from?

There is always a lot of fun drama at slams, and some not so fun.  Thankfully there was no drama in Roger Federer's almost completely routine win against Zemlja.  Other than one shaky game Roger looked focused and determined.  It wasn't like he had a lot of competition, but with the summer that Roger has had it was so important to have a strong win in his first round.  Though I probably say this before every slam, I just feel this could be a really good couple weeks for him to go far.  I'm not saying he's going to win it (though I'm certainly not ruling it out) but I think he is feeling back to himself again after his injury and ready to prove to himself and the rest of the world that he is still "in it to win it."

I recorded and watched the interview Andy Roddick did with Federer before the ATP 40 year anniversary honoring the #1 players.  I wish it was on You Tube to post for those who don't have the ability to see it.  Andy did a great job, of course making it funny as Andy would, talking about Roger taking #1 away from him, etc.  But I loved that he brought up the 2009 Wimbledon final, telling about himself breaking down afterward in the locker room because of the tremendous disappointment, and how when Roger and his team came in there was no loud celebration for the win but instead subdued in deference to the sadness that Andy would be feeling.  Andy was touched by that and four years later is still feeling the appreciation.  He also talked afterward about how he feels Federer is definitely the greatest of all time at this point and defended his negative head-to-head against Nadal.  Though very different in personality, these two are both very classy guys and it was great to see them interacting again.

Two weeks from now, barring torrential rains in NYC, the Open will be behind us.  In the meantime many more stories yet to be written, with the biggest of all being who will be holding the trophies at the end.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Heating up for the U.S. Open

Why is it that draws always seem to turn out the same way - like with Federer and Nadal once again ending up in the same quarter?  It has happened for Indian Wells, Wimbledon, Cincinnati and now the U.S. Open.  Isn't it supposed to be a random draw?  And why is it that poor Ryan Harrison always ends up with the worst possible early rounds in majors?  At least he got someone different than Djokovic this time, though I don't think he would be any happier getting Nadal for a change (come on, Ryan - cause a huge upset!).  Sure would have loved to see Federer end up in Ferrer's quarter but no such luck.  The fact of the matter is, though, that when Roger is healthy and playing well, it really doesn't matter what his draw is.  The question is, will his back hold out and has he finally found the form he has been looking for this year.  His early rounds hopefully shouldn't be a problem and it would be quite surprising for him not to reach the quarterfinal.  We will see if anyone like Verdasco or Isner can cause Nadal any problems.

Though with Nadal's recent form he may seem like the heavy favorite,  I could see many of the top guys having a good chance.  For the ones who have previously won majors they know what it takes to get it done, so whether they have recently been winning a lot of matches or not doesn't necessarily make a difference.  Of course that would include Djokovic, Murray, Federer, Nadal, and even Del Potro.  The curiosity really starts to get to me as we come to the cusp of a grand slam starting and it's no different here.  Hopefully Fed will come in with good form that he can maintain to have an easy run to the second week.

It's too bad that Maria Sharapova won't be able to participate, with her shoulder once again causing her problems.  Certainly Serena is the favorite going in.  It seems like in the women's game there always tend to be upsets all across the board, though, so I don't even bother to try to decide what I think is going to happen.  I would enjoy seeing a a new women's champion this time around, though.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Positive progress for Roger Federer

I don't think anyone knew quite what to expect in the quarterfinal match between Federer and Nadal.  If you look back over the last couple years there have been two hard courts wins by Fed at the World Tour Finals (complete with a bagel) and Indian Wells, but the most recent matches have been pretty much blow-outs by Nadal (one of those thanks to a back injury that Roger was struggling with).  Obviously Roger's form hasn't been great in the last few months, so what should people expect when playing someone who has been in scintillating form?  Personally I was getting annoyed before the match, however, reading that almost no one was giving Federer any chance at all to win.  

Though he didn't win the match in the end, the great Roger Federer proved to everyone that he is far from done.  The tennis he showed, especially in the first set, was the Roger of old.  He came out looking confident, aggressive, showing every shot in the book, and with that steely glint in his eye that showed that he wanted this one.  And he really was so close to the win. It's amazing how a couple points at the wrong time can completely change a match, which is what happened at 4-5 in the second set when Roger had a bit of a hiccup.  He really needed to win it in straight sets, as I think he got a bit discouraged after losing that set and let down a bit.

I am disappointed he couldn't pull it off, but I think he really did find a way to "Get his swoosh on" once again.  He is now looking ahead to the US Open with excitement, knowing he has a good chance to go far if he can continue to play as he did in this match.  As for Rafa, he is once again into another final, likely another title, unless big John Isner can continue his great form he has been in and win his first Masters 1000 title. 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

What in the world was that?

Today Roger Federer came back from the brink to beat Tommy Haas 1-6 7-5 6-3.  After playing an awful first set (at least in my opinion, not his so much since he said he didn't think he was playing terrible) and then going down a quick break in the second I found myself feeling first of all very confused as to what the heck was going on, but also resigned to another early loss.  The errors coming off his racquet were, simply speaking, just weird.  He didn't seem fully "there" and as Darren Cahill said, he was making strange shot selection.  To be honest if Tommy hadn't basically gifted the break back to him in the 2nd set I think the match would have been over before Roger could have even figured out what he needed to change.  But everyone has the ability to get nervous and all of a sudden with a few errors by Haas he was back in the match.  I think that gave him some confidence and he suddenly started playing like the real Roger Federer.

I purposely didn't choose a victory picture to put on this post, but more a "figuring it out" one because that's really what he had to do in this match.  He was interviewed by ESPN after the match and I was both puzzled and slightly amused that he said that he had a blast out there.  Wow, was he playing a different match than what I was watching?  It certainly didn't feel that way to me sitting on my couch watching, wondering and shaking my head.  But the thing with tennis is that until the very last point you can always come back in a match, and maybe the enjoyment of being able to do that will propel him forward.

As I am writing this the Nadal-Dimitrov match is getting ready to start.  From what I have seen so far from Rafael Nadal lately it's hard to believe that Federer would be able to beat him at the level he is at right now.  However, I would certainly not say it's impossible and my hope is that he will be able to take confidence from this comeback and somehow get a win in what will likely prove to be a very difficult quarterfinal.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Roger back to winning ways

Roger Federer had a good start to his Cincinnati title defense with a 6-3 7-6 win over Kohlschreiber.  Considering his recent struggles I thought it was a good first match.  Though he had difficulty once again with taking break points, as so often happens, he wasn't making all the puzzling errors that have been happening in so many matches this year (in the last couple tournaments due to an ailing back).

He was using his old 90" racquet again after using the larger 98" prototype for several weeks.  Though some are disappointed with that decision, I think it's a wise one at this point.  Due to the back injury he wasn't able to fully get comfortable with the new one.  To go first into a tournament where he is defending champion with 1,000 points to defend and then into the all-important U.S. Open if he isn't feeling confident in it could prove to be disastrous.  He already needs to gain confidence after not having as much success as he is used to, so he needs to go with what is comfortable and wait until a better time to hone in on the bigger sized racquet head post-U.S. Open.

His next match on Thursday will be either against good buddy Tommy Haas, who Roger has said he would like to play again, or against Marcel Granollers.  This will be a good test for him to see where his game is at given that he may have a huge challenge coming up the next round if he and Rafa Nadal both get there.  A win against Rafa would be a tremendous confidence builder, while another loss, especially on a hard court, would be difficult to take.  I'm hoping for some big wins this week to bring him back to the level we know he is still capable of.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Wondering what the week in Cincy holds

After missing most of last week's tournaments in Montreal and Toronto because of vacation, I am back home and eager to watch Cincinnati this week.  I did catch the tail end of the last week's tournaments and was disappointed that the finals for each were so one-sided.  Of course, not being a Rafael Nadal fan myself I was disappointed by the result, but I won't get into that since I know there are many Rafa fans out there, so time to quickly move on.

This tournament in Cincinnati is a big one for Roger Federer and his fans.  It's difficult to know what to expect, though I have high hopes that his back will cooperate and that this will be the time he finds his form again on one of his favorite hard courts.  Interestingly enough, Mirka has been joining him on court in his practices the last two days.  Also of note is that yesterday he was using the new racquet, today his old one. 

These two pictures were from yesterday with the new racquet and they seemed to be having a serious discussion.  

This one is from today and look at the racquet - obviously his old one again.  They also look quite a bit happier in this picture.  It will be quite interesting to see what he comes on court with for his first match.  It would also have been interesting to have been able to watch both practices and see if there was a difference in the way he played with each.  

He will be playing Phillipp Kohlschreiber in his 2nd round match, a tricky customer.  This is such an important match for him to establish himself with a solid win and show that he is ready to compete solidly without the confusing losses to low ranked players.  I really feel like he can have a great week here in Cincy, maybe quelling the media's negativity and putting himself in the running for the U.S. Open.  It's been four whole years since he was in the final there, five since he's won it.  How about showing he is still at the top by winning it this year?! 

I am also curious to see how Andy Murray plays this week after losing early in Montreal.  He must be feeling a bit of pressure being the defending champion at the U.S. Open for the first time.  I'm sure he would love to have a good run to give himself confidence after a disappointing week last week.  Novak Djokovic was rather up and down in Montreal, and he has the chance to make history if he were to win this week in Cincy, becoming the first man to have won each of the Masters 1000 tournaments.  A lot on the line for many as things heat up heading into the last grand slam of the year.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Roger Federer out of Montreal - what does it mean?

After days of speculation Roger Federer has finally confirmed the fact that he will not be playing in Montreal for the Roger's Cup Masters 1000 event.  Given the issues he has had with his back the last few weeks, and his resulting level of play, this seems to be a good decision for him.

Of course, it brings up a multitude of questions, such as how bad is the back injury?  Even if it is healed, how prepared will he be to defend his championship points the following week in Cincinnati?  Do we need to be prepared for an even bigger drop in ranking in the next few months as he tries to find his form again?  What will he decide to do about the new racquet?

The one thing we don't need to be questioning, but that keeps being brought up every time there is a blip on the radar with another loss or something not going according to plan, is whether he is going to keep playing long term.  I just don't get it why the media and others keep wanting to put him out to pasture just because he's having a few hard times when he has said repeatedly, pretty much every time he does a press conference, that he plans to play for years to come.  This is a man who holds so many records in tennis it's hard to even keep track of them.  If he wants to continue to play for the love of the game and to continue to try to win tournaments even when it doesn't come quite so easy anymore, then he darn well has the right to do that!  And if he loses to some guys outside the top 100 while he's experimenting with new equipment and while his body isn't 100%, that doesn't mean he's finished and will never be able to play top level tennis again.

Ok, my blood pressure is rising as I write all this.  It just ticks me off that people jump to conclusions just because of a bad spell.  Roger Federer is a true champion and true champions eventually find a way.  So we give him time, we give him some space to figure it out, and we wait for some of those great moments that will surely come again, even if it's not happening as quickly as we would like.

Speaking of being a true champion, I'm sure most have read this delightful story of the teenager who, after facing difficult times fighting cancer, was treated to some special times meeting Roger, who treated her like a princess.  If you haven't read it, though, you need to, so here is the link:  Beatriz meets Roger Federer

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Desiree the cow, and Myla & Charlene celebrate their birthday

The tournament organizers did good when they planned an opening ceremony in Gstaad to honor the star of Switzerland, Roger Federer.  He hasn't played in this particular home tournament since 2004, when they gave him a cow named Juliet.  Today they continued the tradition by gifting him with another cow by the name of Desiree.

No player can probably be fully appreciated during their career, instead receiving criticism for every loss, or suggestions of retirement with any slight slump.  But the fact of the matter is that the little country of Switzerland has the greatest player of all time in their midst, and any honor and appreciation they can give is so deserved.

I imagine Myla and Charlene, Federer's little twins who turned 4 on the same day, will be the ones in the family to get real excited about Desiree, the newest addition to the family.  It's amazing they are already 4 years old, as cute as can be and following their Daddy around from place to place all over the world.

Hopefully the Federer family got to spend some special time together on their special day. enjoying the beauty around them.  And hopefully Daddy will play well this week.  But if not, the hard court season is just around the corner waiting for an exciting comeback by the tennis GOAT.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Intense quarterfinal action in Hamburg

What an intense day of tennis in Hamburg, Germany.  It was quarterfinal day and there was certainly no lack of drama.  I didn't get a chance to catch all the action, but three of the four matches went to three sets, complete with back-and-forth breaks of serve, inability to capitalize on break points, and see-saw tiebreaks.  Almagro came out on top over defending champion Monaco, Delbonis got the best of Verdasco, and Fognini surprisingly beat Haas in straight sets

The match I was most intent on, though, was the Roger Federer-Florian Mayer match, which got a much later start than expected.  It would have been a good time for one of Fed's short but sweet matches with the whole thing happening in an hour.  That's wasn't to be, however.  The first set was a tight affair with each of them playing well and holding serve.  After that one was done I was already thinking about how I was planning to write that Roger seemed to be playing well, getting the feel of his new racquet, hitting great shots, etc.  However, then the match got, shall we say, puzzling, and continued that way until the end.  

He came out in the second set sporting a new addition to his match attire - a sweater vest to keep warm in the cool Hamburg evening temperatures.  But whether he couldn't play quite right with it on, or just a basic dip in form, soon he was down one, and then two breaks of serve.  Some of it was due to good solid playing by Mayer, but a lot of it was balls just going astray.  Though he did manage to get one break back, to where I was wondering if he might be able to break again to save the set, all of a sudden he was broken again to lose the set instead.  What in the world!

The third set was no less crazy.  In spite of an early break, he ended up losing that too.  At that point it seemed it certainly could go either way.  I admit I was starting to wonder if he was going to have another one of those losses in an oh-so-close match that at this point could prove majorly detrimental to his confidence.  Suddenly, however, he seemed to find a new gear and came up with some brilliant play to break serve and go on to serve it out at 7-5 in the third.  I think at this point these types of tough wins are very important for going forward.  He needs to remember that feeling of coming through those very tight ones, fighting through and coming up with the winners instead of the errors in the tight moments.  Who knows, maybe this will be a big help for him in turning around his season.

He definitely has the disadvantage going into the semis.  His opponent, Delbonis, finished his match quite a bit earlier, and is also quite a bit younger.  However, considering that he is ranked #114 in the world, hopefully Federer can come through that one in spite of much fewer than 24 hours in between.  

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Racquet success early on

A quick update in the midst of a busy week, in which I at least had a chance to watch Roger Federer's first match in Hamburg with his new racquet he is experimenting with.  Everything  looked good initially in the first set.  What I often find so surprising in tennis, however, is how quickly things can change with dramatic results.  In what seemed to be no time at all, Federer was suddenly down a break and Daniel Brands (who gave Rafael Nadal some problems at the French Open this year) was serving for the first set.  Maybe Roger just wanted to make him feel good on his birthday, which is today, because in the second and third sets he was back in control again without too much worry, other than taking a little longer than I would like to close out the match at 3-6 6-3 6-2.

Sometimes tricky matches can be helpful in the beginning of a tournament and I'm hoping this will be the case in this situation.  He needs time to get used to this new 98 inch (compared to the 90 he has been using for years) Wilson racquet.  I personally am very glad he is giving this a try.  He has been called stubborn at times by some, which great champions often can be, wanting to continue to use the techniques that have worked so well in the past.  After his surprising early round loss at Wimbledon this year, though, it became obvious something needed to change if he wanted to continue at the top of his game, having already dropped to #5 in the rankings.  Hopefully this move will give him some new power and a larger sweet spot to work with for his ultra-sweet shots.  Confidence is also key as he goes into the second half of the season and some wins, especially a tournament win, would certainly help him in this regard. 

Sunday, July 7, 2013

77 year British Wimbledon drought ended on 7/7

A new national holiday should be declared in the U.K. on this 7th day of the 7th month, the day the 77 year drought of having a British Wimbledon champ ended.  The tension was palpable as Andy Murray served for the championship at 5-4 in the third set.  Having three championship points at 40-love it seemed like it was a done deal.  However, #1 ranked Novak Djokovic is never one to back down, no matter how unlikely a comeback looked down two sets to none.  But it seemed in a heartbeat it was suddenly break point instead, three times to be exact, which Murray fought off with everything he had.  When his 4th championship point came along he took it, raising his arms toward the press in exhilaration.  After the tears and disappointment last year when he had been so close in his loss to Roger Federer he had finally done it, bringing fans all across the United Kingdom to their feet in joy and relief.  For all of history he will be remembered as the man who brought them another Wimbledon crown after what seemed like (per Roger Federer a few years ago) 150,000 years.

I had the privilege of watching the final with a friend who grew up in Scotland, who even brought some strawberries and cream for us to enjoy to commemorate the event, so I got to be even more involved in the joy the country was experiencing after such an extended time.  Now that it's over I think they would say it was worth the wait.

Though the match had its moments of stress for Murray fans in the long rallies, breaks back and forth, and especially the last service game, overall it could have been a lot more stressful.  Surprisingly Andy was able to win this in straight sets, which I never would have guessed from the start.  Djokovic just seemed a bit weary out there, probably worn down from his epic match with Del Potro, and simply didn't have the same ability to fight it out this time.  Andy played some very strong and smart tennis and fully deserved his straight set win to etch his name forever with the champions of Wimbledon.

Marion Bartoli was also a first time Wimbledon champion this weekend, as well as being her first major title.  I'm sure there was hardly a person in the world who would have had her name in the winners box in their draw before the tournament started.  It doesn't matter that she didn't have to beat a top ten opponent - no one will remember that in the history books - and that her opponent took out both last year's champion and finalist.  It's the last match that counts and Bartoli played determined tennis, while her opponent, Sabine Lisicki, emotionally exhausted from all that the fortnight had required of her, simply didn't have what it took to hardly even make it a contest.  You couldn't help but feel for her as she struggled with tears at different times during the match.  But in the end, no matter who you were cheering for, how could anyone not be happy for Marion Bartoli, the joy evident in everything she did, including her climb up to the player's box to collect hugs from her team.  She is also the first person who plays with both hands on each side to win Wimbledon.  Since I also play the same way, that novelty couldn't escape my attention.

And finally, history was made again by the amazing Bryan Brothers, who now hold all four grand slam titles simultaneously, as well as the Olympic gold medal.  What an incredible achievement by these highly talented and very likeable guys.  And now in a couple months they will have the opportunity to go for a calendar year grand slam at the U.S. Open.

So Wimbledon is over for another year and soon we will be fully into the build-up to the final hard court slam of the year.  More stories to be written, more curiosity as to who will  hold the next trophy, but in the meantime history has been made in several ways and we will long remember many of the stories created in this wacky and wild fortnight.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Epic semis set up Wimbledon final

After all the crazy upsets the first week of Wimbledon, here we still end up with the predicted (by many) final, for the men anyway.  The fans of Roger Federer still were adjusting to him not being at least in the quarterfinal, and couldn't help but wonder what the outcome would have been if he had been in the semi, but that's irrelevant at this point.  The fact is that it is again Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray facing off on Sunday.

For those who didn't get a chance to watch the match between Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro you missed an epic!  Everyone was wondering how Delpo would fare with his knee injury against the greatest mover in the game.  How about if we just say "no issue."  The level of tennis in this match was one rarely seen.  The amount of power, the jaw dropping gets with awe inspiring returns, the sheer determination on both sides was no less than incredible.  I kept thinking I had seen the best and then they would come up with something more.  It was really a shame someone had to lose that one, as they both gave it their all and both deserved to win it.  And I never realized Delpo could be so funny.  From his instruction to the ball of how to go over the net after a barely missed shoelace volley, to jumping up on the edge of the player stands and giving a guy a high five, along with a few others really gave the crowd a new appreciation for the gentle giant, along with his amazing tennis.  I would have loved to see him make it through to another final, but if nothing else this showed himself as well as the fans what he is capable of.  Hopefully he will be able to put a run together again soon.  It would be fun to see him with another grand slam trophy - well, as long as it's not Roger Federer he's beating, that is.  :)

The second men's semifinal wasn't the same high level of tennis as the first one, but it still had its drama.  For some reason I was expecting this to be a fairly easy win for Andy Murray.  Jerzy Janowicz had other ideas, however.  After splitting the first two sets I was pretty surprised when Andy gave up a break in the third, thinking once he had found his game he would cruise.  But all of a sudden things turned around again.  I think Janowicz's drop shots were starting to really irritate Murray, and when Jerzy acted rather unsportsman-like by hitting the net with his racquet after a missed shot, with boos from the crowd, I think it triggered something in Andy, causing an amazing round of aggressive play getting the break back and also another break, finally closing out the third set.  There was no coming back after that, in spite of the delay for the roof to be closed (much to Andy's frustration) and he closed out a quick final set at 6-3 to seal the deal.

I really don't know who is the favorite between Murray and Djokovic.  Personally I would like to see Andy get his win at home after last year's heartbreak.

As for the women, the first semifinal ended up being a blow out match for Bartoli to reach the final, followed by a see-saw match in the next one which Lisicki finally took.  Either way we will have a first time grand slam champion.  In spite of the fact that Marion Bartoli can about drive you crazy with her quirkiness on the court, when you actually listen to her in interviews she can be rather endearing.  And of course who can't love Sabine Lisicki's contagious smile, plus the fact that one of the giant killers finally came good and actually followed up their big win.  What a Cinderella story that would be for her to end up holding the trophy in the end.

So even though Wimbledon was full of surprises and disappointments the first week, we still have ended up with some compelling tennis and some good stories.  I am looking forward to a weekend with some very good matches that really could go either way.  And even the men's doubles final has some excitement to see if the amazing Bryan Brothers can hold all four grand slam titles simultaneously.  Should be an exciting next couple days.