Monday, July 7, 2014

Roger Federer successful in spite of loss

It always takes me a little time to process a big loss before I can write a post.  Everything ruminates around in my mind as I deal with the disappointment and finally come around to my final conclusions.  Even though I haven't fully gotten there yet, given the amount of hits on my blog, I figured it was time to give it a shot.  This isn't going to be much of a run-down of the match, more just my random feelings as they come to me, so it probably won't be my best journalistic display.

The above picture gives a great clue as to how so many Fed fans were feeling not only in the minutes following, but likely for hours and probably for days.  The fact is, he was so close!  To be honest, in the 4th set I got the resigned feeling I often get when it seems the result is inevitable.  Even after an amazing save of championship point at 2-5 in the 4th set, I really just felt like Djokovic was going to be able to serve it out.  The euphoria when Roger not only broke at 3-5 but again at 5-all was amazing.  At that point it was anyone's match.  That's why it was so disappointing first of all when Federer was unable to capitalize on his break point opportunity at 3-4, but also that he played such a mediocre game at  4-5 with a meek shot into the net to end it on championship point.

But the thing is Djokovic was going for broke, giving everything he had in every point.  After his failure to serve it out in the 4th set I thought that might mentally affect him, but after losing his last three grand slam finals, the determination that Novak had not to let that happen again was clear.  And when the opponent continues to get every shot back into play, that can be mentally exhausting after a while.

Even though the result was disappointing, especially after being so very close, I think this shows great hope for the future.  If anything Federer looked like the younger, fresher player.  There is absolutely no sign of the guy so many were writing off last year.  I was very pleased to hear commentator Darren Cahill say that in spite of thinking before the tournament that this may be Roger's last best chance to win a major, that after seeing the way he played this fortnight, that he thinks now he could definitely win another one.  Do you realize how amazing that is, at almost 33 years old, that he is still highly in contention for the majors?  Oh how much I would love it if he could somehow prove those who are still doubting him wrong by winning the U.S. Open after so many years.  While I'm not going to count on it, I can still hope!

Roger certainly had his moments of sadness, including right after he went off court and met up with Prince William and Kate, when he apparently was in a sad state and they tried to comfort him (how sweet is that!).  But overall he seems pleased that he was able to put up such a fight, especially that he was able to push it to five sets, and that he was able to play so well and be healthy for the entire two weeks.  He has a lovely family to escape with on vacation now before he starts putting in the hard yards in preparation for the U.S. hard court season.  Seeing his girls come out for the award ceremony in spite of the loss was beautiful, and they looked so happy to see their Daddy.  With baby boys Leo and Lenny waiting for him too, who turned two months old, he indeed has a blessed life.

One final note.  This tweet showed up from Mardy Fish, former tennis great who knew Roger well:  "Federer, most respected athlete of all time in any sport."  What more do we need to say?

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Roger Federer takes his rightful place in the semis of Wimbledon

Roger Federer is back where he belongs - in the semifinals of Wimbledon.  Gone is all but a bad memory of last year's early round loss.  His good friend and co-patriot Stan Wawrinka gave him a strong test for the first two sets of the quarterfinal match, hitting emphatic winners to keep Roger off balance, and breaking Federer's serve for the first time in the tournament to take the first set.  The second set tiebreak was crucial; down two sets would have been awfully hard to come back from.  But Roger held strong, taking the tiebreak to even things up at a set a piece.  

From there Stan seemed to suffer from a bit of an upset stomach, plus the effects of playing his third match in three days, and Roger was able to secure a break in each of the next two sets.  He did have a bit of a hiccup trying to close out the match, having several deuces and even a break point, but he did eventually seal up match point.  I think it's actually good that he had a test in this match.  His last four matches have been stressless matches for him and his fans; but we all know a person can't win a grand slam title coasting through all seven matches, so might as well get him toughened up for it at this stage.

Now he will have a day to rest, after having to play two days in a row, before he faces his next opponent, Milos Raonic, who is into his first major semifinal.  Roger leads the head-to-head 4-0, but Milos has managed to take a set off of him three of those times.  Federer has only been broken one time in the tournament, Raonic twice.  Hopefully Roger will be able to get a read on his serve to give him the edge.

We now know that one of these four guys will be holding the trophy on Sunday - Federer, Djokovic, Raonic or Dimitrov.  The dream of an 8th Wimbledon title is within sight.