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.