ATP Masters 1000Indian WellsRoger Federer

Djokovic Reigns Supreme in Indian Wells; Defeats Federer to Win Fourth Title

So Indian Wells draws to a close and just like last year it wasn't the result we all wanted as World Number 1 Novak Djokovic won his 4th title in Palm Springs defeating Roger 6-3, 6-7(5), 6-2 in a high quality encounter that lasted 2 hours and 17 minutes.

It was another fantastic battle between the two players that had a number of ridiculous points and momentum swings that were worthy of any final and it's always a shame that there has to be a winner and loser in matches like this. This time around Djoker was the one who got the job done and it was very well deserved; Fed was close and even though he fought hard till the death things didn't quite happen for him.

The win sees Djokovic cement his position at the top of men's tennis and he now has 138 weeks at No. 1, just three weeks away from tying Nadal for the the sixth spot of weeks spent at the top of the rankings.

Quick Match Recap

Djokovic wins Indian Wells 2015

Djokovic won the toss and elected to serve, holding to love to state his intentions early. Federer soon levelled but then had to save a break point in game 4 which he came through for 2 games all.

Djokovic had clearly come out to play and his return on this surface is devastating; after recovering from 0-30 on his own serve he then broke Federer to take a 4-2 lead. That proved to be decisive as the Serb took the set 6 games to 3. A very high level from him and Fed wasn't able to assert his dominance, return well enough or get enough cheap points on his serve.

Into set 2 and after holding his opening service game Fed had an immediate chance to break, hitting a brilliant overhead to setup break point but Djokovic held firm for 1-1. The defending champion then broke Roger's serve to 15 and saved 2 more break points to consolidate with some clutch serving for a 3-1 lead.

At 3-4 Roger then slipped to 30-40 and was in grave danger of seeing the match slip away but he dug deep to hold and then broke serve to level at 4-4. A huge game from Fed that included the point of the match, a Djoker double fault and a fantastic chip charge play.

The Swiss then held to love in a stunning 1 minute game to lead 5-4 and again created 0-30 on the Djokovic serve only for Novak to deliver some line finding serves when he needed them. Back to back love holds followed and the set went into a tie break.

The break saw Djokovic carve out several mini breaks with his consistent hitting but he kept handing them back with double faults. Eventually he moved into a 5-4 lead and had two serves for the title but delivered two double faults to give Roger set point which he took first time of asking. A crazy tie break really and one Fed was pretty lucky to get out of. On a side note the point at 5-3 really sums up this match – Fed hit about 5 or 6 incredible shots but Djokovic tracked them all down, he did eventually win it but it just showed that the court does not really reward shotmaking of the highest order and you have to win the point 10 times over to get it done.

Just like we saw in the Wimbledon final after snatching momentum back Roger soon lost it, going down a break 2-0 in the decider. Breaking back immediately was imperative to stand any sort of chance winning and after a marathon game where Djokovic saved 3 out of 4 break points Fed finally got the breakthrough, drawing an error from Djokovic with a sliced backhand.

Both players then traded holds and Djokovic moved into a 3-2 lead. Roger looked to be the better player at that moment and at 40-15 he looked set to level at 3 games all. However he made a poor decision to hit a forehand cross court when down the line was open to get pegged back to deuce before hitting a double fault on break point to fall 4-2 behind. Annoying to serve a double on a key point but but Fed only won 15/41 (37%) behind his second serve so the need to deliver a high quality 2nd serve was likely the reason he overcooked it and didn't hit it with enough top spin to bring it in.

Djokovic then held to love, meaning he'd won 7 points in a row to lead 5-2 and he then broke Roger for the 5th time in the match to come out a worth 6-3 6-7(5) 6-2 winner.

Match Stats

  N. Djokovic R. Federer
Aces 8 6
Double Faults 5 3
1st Serve % 60% 58%
1st Serve Points Won 47/61 (77%) 41/57 (72%)
2nd Serve Points Won 21/40 (53%) 15/41 (37%)
Break Points Saved 8/10 (80%) 8/13 (62%)
Service Games Played 15 14
1st Return Points Won 16/57 (28%) 14/61 (23%)
2nd Return Points Won 26/41 (63%) 19/40 (48%)
Break Points Won 5/13 (38%) 2/10 (20%)
Return Games Played 14 15
Winners 26 27
Unforced Errors 35 43
Net Points Won 6/8 19/32
Total Service Points Won 68/101 (67%) 56/98 (57%)
Total Return Points Won 42/98 (43%) 33/101 (33%)
Total Points Won 110/199 (55%) 89/199 (45%)

Shot of the Match

Thoughts on the Match

Small Margins Federer
Small Margins

Novak did well to sustain the lead for most of the match; I think he found an extra gear in the end

Where to start with this one? Firstly it was another high quality match in the Federer Djokovic rivalry which is easily the most exciting matchup in men's tennis right now. And secondly it was yet again a successful tournament from Federer's point of view where he defended last years points total and defeated two top 10 players en route to the final.

Of course it was somewhat of a disappointing end with a 6-2 whimper final set but when you look at the stats and who played the more solid there could only really be one winner. Could Roger have won? Of course, if he levelled for 3-3 in the decider then anything could happen but Djokovic was consistently the one pressurising and won 21 more points than Roger in the match; a healthy margin and he broke the Swiss serve 5 times.

I had a feeling Djokovic was going to prevail in this one and he came up with the sort of play I expected. The conditions in Indian Wells are so well suited to his game that defeating him is one of the toughest propositions imaginable. You can't hit through the court and cheap points on serve are a rarity. It's all about trying to play with controlled aggression and pick your spots to pull the trigger but when Djokovic returns so well and plays good offence himself its hard to ever be in a position to pull it off. Roger managed it plenty of times in the match but never really for a sustained period to get himself into the lead. All his best plays usually came when trying to recover a break or keep parity on the scoreboard. Djokovic always had a little bit of breathing room and his intensity was at a very high level over 3 sets; it was really only the double faults in the tie break that prevented him closing it out in straight sets.

Could Fed have done anything differently? Tough to say really, maybe he let Djokovic hold too many service games pressure free with some average returning but Djoker really was serving well. Obviously to get broken from 40-15 will hurt too, but that didn't cost him the match as such, it just prevented him ever getting in the position to win it. Even if he levelled at 3-3 with the way Djokovic was returning with depth and precision it wasn't going to be easy to hold serve for the 3 more games required to win the set or at least force a tie break. Just disappointing in the end for the match to slip away pretty quickly after recovering a break in set 2 and again in set 3. Very similar to the Wimbledon final last year, Fed fighting all the way to stay in it but just not quite having the answers in the final set.

Really though I think the match just boils down to who preferred the conditions and who was the more solid player. Interestingly Feliciano Lopez said Indian Wells has some of the slowest courts on tour this week, and a number of interesting stats were pulled up during the final; Robbie Koenig revealed that Hawkeye data shows that Indian Wells is 40% slower than Dubai and the bounce height is 0.78m in Dubai and 1.12m Indian Wells, a huge difference and when the margins are so small they can mean the difference between victory and defeat. Not excuses, just facts πŸ™‚

As for Djokovic there's not really much to add – he has a ridiculous return of serve and is like a human wall from the back of the court. Everything comes back and in many cases with more on it. The likes of Murray are at a similar sort of level at getting balls back but Djokovic invariably gets more on the ball which allows him to still be offensive even when he's doing the splits on a backhand. Quite incredible how he defends so well and I also thought he had a great serving day especially on the big points, countless times he landed big serves when he needed them.

Overall I thought it was another top quality tournament from Fed, schooling Berdshit, handling Raonic and just playing the brand of tennis that nobody else can even come close to. No trophy at the end of it but certainly not a loss that stings or lives long in the memory.

Next up is Miami a Ski holiday in Switzerland followed by a clay training block. Monte Carlo follows and it will be interesting to see how Fed fairs on the clay over the spring. I'm sure there'll be some outfit posts, fan stories and a whole lot more in the mean time so stay tuned πŸ˜‰


Huge fan of Roger Federer. I watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or writing about tennis I play regularly myself and have a keen interest in tactics, equipment and technicalties of the sport.

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    1. And I can’t agree more with the fact that this loss won’t stay long in memory. The kind of play he came up with is so exceptional that we can only enjoy it! Had he not take it to a decider, maybe. But he fought till the end and Novak was just the better player.
      If anything, I am excited about what is to come this season πŸ˜‰

  1. Victory was on my racquet, I had decided to rewatch Fed’s hotshot in the final and then this post popped up πŸ™

  2. It was unfortunate but thank God the hard court season is over. He does not care any more. He is moving over to clay. NEW CHAPTER. πŸ˜‰

  3. Skiing holiday? That’s a bit dangerous isn’t it? Thought it might be in some of his contracts that he is not allowed to ski to avoid getting injured. I guess he does what he wants now.

    1. Nah, he doesn’t do the hotdog skiing, just your regular family skiing I think. I’d be surprised if he even does mogul fields.

      I expect his contracts have lost that clause over the years, though you’re right, I think it’s fairly standard for many professional athletes.

      Skiing in Switzerland, hm?…. Let me check my passport …. πŸ˜‰

    2. he doesn’t ski, stopped yrs ago. one thing he said he wld enjoy post retirement. too damn risky at present…..

    3. Yeah he doesn’t ski – no way sponsors would allow it to happen, he’s still a top earner and that clause isn’t going to disappear until he retires.

      But he is taking the twins skiiing so will no doubt be on the slopes supervising.

      1. I’d like to thank Roger and his team for this decision, my eyes avoid Slowami for another year πŸ˜€

  4. Though a bit dejected that Roger lost but I am happy as he equaled his performance from last year. He did not get a W but overall he played well but sometimes court conditions does have some impact on how points being played. If Roger did not get broken in the 3rd set, things might have been a little different but he looked a little jaded after intense 2nd set TB. Roger’s energy level looked a little low and probably cost the momentum swing. Its almost a repeat of Wimbledon 2014, quite disappointing when Roger fought so hard. I am still happy he managed to school some top ten players out there. If he remains positive, he can win 18th GS – I am rooting hard for that to happen and I hope its soon.

    1. Yeah Fed went off the boil in the decider again. Like clockwork really when he’s won the previous set to level things up. AO 09, Wimbledon 2014, endless matches gone that way.

  5. Roger played a good match. Djokovic simply too much of a monster in these sorts of conditions. I thought the tiebreak was a bonus, with Roger being the mentally stronger of the two during that period. But overall great tourney, good final to watch.

    Unfortunately, the first serve percentage has to be much higher to stop djokovic breaking, and one thing I did think was that Roger lacked energy and conviction in going for his bh dtl after missing a couple of them in the 2nd set. So even though the cross court was working well, quite a lot of them ended up mid court and not deep enough when he changed direction. But that’s all idealistic, and expecting perfection every match is not the way to go for us fans. Take the loss and move on, I say. Fed was good, and the two again proved they are still streets ahead as the best two in the world right now.

    1. agree, first serve not high enough and Fh not deep enough today, mainly tho because Novak was metronomic on the Bh today with such depth so Fed on back foot a few times.

    2. Yeah Djoker hit with great length all match, always tough to face and half volleys in Indian Wells get eaten up if they’re not coming back with pace on.

      How sweet was that half volley to hold though after breaking back? Too good.

  6. Good summary Jon. Federer doing almost everything well barring the return of service, again just like the Wimby final. Djokovic found another gear that Federer simply didn’t have, thanks mainly to that ridiculous return of serve that allowed Federer to win only 17% of his second serve points in the third set. An overall clinic from Djokovic. Federer lucky to get it to the third set winning just 45% of the points.

  7. Thanks for the writeup, Jonathan, you’ve said several of the things I was thinking.

    “It’s all about trying to play with controlled aggression and pick your spots …. Roger managed it plenty of times in the match but never really for a sustained period to get himself into the lead.”

    Yes, this, exactly. Djokovic was virtually unplayable for the first set & a half or so. Even after that, it seemed to me that while Roger brought a good level, possibly a great level, what he really needed was a phenomenal level, and he really didn’t do that except for scattered flashes. UFE count back up – I almost expected it to come back up some, given how Djokovic will make him play harder shots, but it seemed like they came back too far. And as you say, his serve wasn’t blistering as we saw v. Berdych. And what was with the botched overheads?

    “the point at 5-3 really sums up this match – Fed hit about 5 or 6 incredible shots but Djokovic tracked them all down, he did eventually win it but it just showed that the court does not really reward shotmaking of the highest order and you have to win the point 10 times over to get it done”

    This was true for both guys I think, and they both talked before the match about how their opponent was going to make them hit 1, 3, 5 more extra shots. Djokovic just seemed to implement this knowledge better.

    “However he made a poor decision to hit a forehand cross court when down the line was open…”

    This is something that frustrated me last year over & over again with Roger’s play, the many times he almost seemed to think he was in practice, hitting it straight back to his opponent, hitting it where his opponent was instead of where his opponent wasn’t. I wasn’t pleased to see this come back yesterday, though at least it wasn’t constant. More than once I was yelling at my stream, Don’t get pulled into these long rallies with him Roger!! (Of course, Roger being Roger, he sometimes won those points anyway, ahem!)

    “Really though I think the match just boils down to who preferred the conditions…”

    …. Ahhh. This was NOT something I had thought of, but I appreciate the insight. As we’ve all pointed out over & over again, this court could have been designed for Novak. Puts it in some perspective.

    Disappointed not to get the win or to stay closer in set 3. Apparently in press he made a “splat” sound when asked about what happened in set 3. I particularly dislike matches that end on a Roger error. Still, we can’t win them all & we all knew conditions favored Novak – we just hoped his not having been tested yet would work in our favor, and it didn’t, really.

    Should be a heck of a highlight reel, though! πŸ™‚

    1. yes, he was disappointed as he had made the effort to break back, was 40-15 up and then missed two shots he shldnt and suddenly its over as he said. Things happen v fast. Novak does retrieve so well out wide to the BH, and these courts give him more time than Dubai. Also, as Fed himself said, he had 0-30 a few times but Novak came up with the serve time and time again. Clutch from Novak, can’t take that away from him. Fed was up and down, but Novak solid thruout (Rogers own words)

    2. Djoker’s serve was really good on the big points, mixed it up and hit the spots. If he has a less good serving day then it would have been a leveller as he served way above his usual standard. If Fed suddenly started returning better he gets a bit of breathing room on his own serve.

      1. Fed said in his presser he was annoyed about his lack of serve return. Kept asking himself where was it?? Was happier when it came back mid 2nd set. He was pretty sarcastic when asked how you stop a player like Novak. Said it wasn’t like he had lost the last 10 times in a row, and had actually beaten him last 2 times…..Because there are no draws, one guy is always tremendous and the other mediocre in the Press the next day, whereas it is more complex than that. He laughed but he meant it!

  8. Great summary Jonathan. Eased a little of the pain. I am disgusted whenever he loses to the smug Serbian. However it is what is is. Happy it was not a straight set loss. Lots to be happy about this tournament and he equaled his performance of last year.

  9. I was sad after this loss as it’s hard to see Fed come close in another brilliant final but to no avail.
    I see now how good that comeback was, Novak dominated the match until Fed broke back in the second set! He could have easily gone down 3 and 4 and that would’ve HURT. So nice one Roger, it’s been a great start to the season! Maybe next year he’ll win his 5th title in the desert, he definitely deserves it.
    I wasn’t impressed with Nole’s antics though, sarcastically applauding the crowd like he did against Kei in London.
    If he wants to be loved he should just relax and be himself, instead of being so stiff in interviews. He’s a guy with his meticulous routines and I think he takes himself and life in general too seriously. He’s a legend of the sport and a double Wimbledon champion, with a beautiful wife and child! Oh I can only wish for all those things haha he needs to chill. He’ll regret it when it’s all over if he doesn’t.

  10. So what happened last year in Wimbledon? Were those conditions much speedier than this current indian well’s tourney conditions or approximately the same? Just curious. Just trying to understand which tourney Roger might be able to come out on top, specifically a Major.

    1. They are hard to compare in terms of surface as they are completely different. Wimbledon is quicker (maybe not through the air) but off the surface and lower bouncing. Completely different dynamic.

      I was really only comparing the outcome that was similar – Fed fightback, final set letdown.

      Fed can do well at Wimbledon without doubt this year.

      1. Yeah, and Novak playing significantly better, by the sound of it. I still maintain that if he and Roger had been playing at the same level that day Roger would have won no trouble because he’s the far better grasscourt player, but Novak raised his game and Roger didn’t. That’s how I saw it.

  11. Hi Jonanthan Watched the match as though it were live as I had to record it – honestly thought he was going to go down in two sets – but he fought his way back – just sad that he could not do the same in the 3rd set – but all that said there were some fantastic points from both of them and Djokovic was just too strong on the day. It really gets under his skin that the crowd cheer for Fed and not for him – but then he does not particularly come across as a likeable chap, saw him play at Wimbledon a few of years ago – I actually left the court as the match was so boring!!! – down more to his opponent whose name I cannot even remember. Here’s looking forward to the clay and hopefully Fed will have a few more surprises in store for us and hopefully a tournament win or 2

      1. Maybe I missed reading this in one of your post Jonathan but I am lost here. What is the Seppi curse?

      2. Anewor, there was some chatter on Twitter about it, & I think it was mentioned in some of the comments on the early rounds posts – apparently Fed has never won a tournament in which he has played Seppi. (!!)

      3. I’m now waiting for someone to go trawling through statistics and find all the other players over the last 15 years who he’s beaten yet never won the tournament. There are probably a few, so just don’t tell us!

      4. Ah okay. thanks for the heads-up! So now I have to look for Seppi as well in the draw! πŸ™‚

  12. Thanks for the summary Jonathan – like Maxi said, eased the disappointment somewhat, and puts things in perspective. And you were right again…obviously this court does favour Joker much more, but Feds had played so well in the last two matches, I really thought he could do it. Shame the 1st serve percentage dropped; that gave Djoko many more looks at 2nd serves and of course his returning is superb.

    I thought for one horrible minute that it was going to be a bit of a beat down, but the champ came up with some absolutely superb shots and that, together with a bit of help from the crowd πŸ˜‰ at least took him to the 3rd set. Djoko was really angry when he sat down after 2nd set – his hand was actually shaking as he was taking a drink!

    Ah well, a rest for him, and for you (fully deserved, and thanks for your excellent summaries/thoughts).

    1. Yep, Jonathan just needs to do us one more post in the coming days so that we don’t chatter all over this one for the next month and end up bumping it to the top of the “Favourite thread” charts πŸ˜€

      Thanks very much, as ever, Jonathan!

  13. He will never receive the love from the crowd as Roger does ever Tom. He is just too cocky and tries too hard to exude warmth which is not natural. He was so scared that Roger won the second set he could not control his reaction hence the shaking of his hands and maybe other limbs the camera did not catch. I wish I could be like Roger and forget the loss quickly. Oh well. On to the clay.

  14. I don’t quite get the positive summary of Rogers game. I stopped watching after he dropped serve in the second set (had to sleep). Obviously, Roger got his act together in 2nd but first set and beginning of 2nd, it seemed we wasn’t in the game at all. Perhaps Novak was just to solid and the court too slow, or both.
    Isn’t it a bit of what we expect from Roger nowadays, he is not that strong after Dubai and builds form between Wimbledon and WTF. Perhaps I’m wrong and the stats show otherwise. Haven’t checked.
    Something that has surprised me, and perhaps it is just bad observation, is that Roger seems to take a sip of fluid when changing sides while the other top guys are drinking from 2 or 3 bottles, probably balancing carbs or whatever. Roger seems to me overly relaxed regarding this. I’m sure he knows best but I cannot help noticing it.

    1. I thought he drank quite a lot, def put in huge effort, was eating fairly early on, and we are hearing a tiny grunt on serve at times. certainly needed that bathroom break at end of set 2!

    2. But you are a critical Fedfan Jarlub so I am not surprised ;).

      I can critique his game too but I can’t find much to critique here, I like the way he played tbh, it wasn’t like he got a huge beatdown, it was a fair and square Djoker victory.

      And of course Fed is looking to build form ahead of tournaments where he has good chances to win, it is a common sense approach. Which is why he is missing Miami. He has said many times he could chase cash and play every tournament under the sun but at 33 it wouldn’t be smart. Look at Nadal who played everything going when he was a bit younger…

      I think the bottles thing is just overthinking things. It’s almost like saying, I have seen other players get 3 balls from the ball boys when they are about to serve, but Roger only gets 2. I feel he is not selecting the best possible ball to serve with and this is costing him matches πŸ˜€

      Fed is still competing at the highest level and winning so his energy drink routine isn’t something I’d worry about.

    3. To be fair, Jarlub, I don’t think fed has been poor at wells often in recent years, I think he’s played well this year, last year, 2012, 2011. Was injured in 2013. It’s true that his results don’t read brilliantly between Dubai and Wimbledon, but I suspect that’s less down to a lack of performance as conditions. It’s the slowest period on the tennis calendar, so someone who is no doubt unwilling to go in and compete physically every game is going to suffer occasionally. He’s going to have more off days on slower courts.

      But Miami and Rome aside, he tends to see reasonable success with his tournaments.

  15. Such a cool analysis put it together so quickly. Great job throughout the tournament, well done Jonathan.
    You must be high on the Tiger challenge rank! Me? At the rock bottom, I think πŸ™

    Yesterday Fed showed us tremendous heart and amazing fighting spirit, addition to some exquisite tennis. So it was enough for me to move on from this loss very quickly. He earned my respect even more if not already maximum. And what a thrilling match, it was!

    No doubt Novak is a great solid player and certainly eventually becomes a legend too. But sorry to say his game is watchable only against Roger. Nothing excites me really.

  16. Fascinating match. Brilliant write up. You say it all. that 40% speed difference and bounce height is a huge factor when playing Novak.
    Seeing how Novak was shaking at end of 2nd set summed up his nerves. He badly felt he had to win this to reassert his no 1 status. Credit to him, clutch serving and just solid from the back, especially on the Bh side which Fed went into a little too often I thought. Fed played well enough but lacked depth on his FH til mid way thru 2nd set which allowed Novak to be pretty offensive throughout, and he hit very deep.
    There is no doubt Feds serve is not as favoured on these courts, doesn’t shoot thru, and Novak gets a read on it and has time. The fact they both had higher UfE’s than winners tells you a lot about the ball not going thru at lower height; quite a few rallies ended with an error whereas many in Dubai ended with a winner. Fed sounded pretty frustrated in his presser, not with Novak winning, gave him credit for being so tough, but for those 2 poor shots at 40-15 2-3, which was where the match was lost, and suddenly all over. but he had a solid week. These 2 are way ahead of everyone at the moment, and he had a will of iron to dig out that 2nd set, something Andy might care to look at…..

    See you all in MC

    1. Yeah been waiting for the presser to come out, must just have gone up now on the ASAP website. They must have an embargo on them for a set amount of time so the news outlets get to pick the best bits rather than let them be open for anyone to read.

      1. Best pressers from any athlete I’ve ever read, constantly gives a thorough answer even if he’s been asked it 1000 times. Class.

    1. Saw Tilas there, but missed Jaysen, well done!

      Miami draw is up, but qualifiers need to be slotted in later. Remember to play even though Roger isn’t there, to keep up your overall ranking! πŸ˜€

  17. Hi all!

    A good tournament from Roger and whit the help of Jon and some luck I got into 5th posistion on the Tiger Challange and won a Color 13 T-shirt.

    I need help, cause I can’t decide.
    I defenetly want a Federer T-shirt… but wich one???
    iPassing or “its spelled Federer, but pronounced perfection” or Roger Betterer?

    All the best!
    See you in Monte Carlo!

    1. Haha just commented about that. You and Jaysen both got one.

      It’s tough to choose. I like the 4 slam cups one personally, wore it to play in the other day and looks cool.

      The “spelled Federer” one has broken English on it, I will email Laurent to change it actually.

      1. Thanks!

        Down to iPassing and Betterer… Decisions, decisions…
        Tough to predict Miami without your help.

        Ohh … Halep won the womens singles… yay!
        Romanian tennis is getting back on track!

      2. Ah yeah no draw post from me πŸ˜€

        Betterer is my favourite of the two remaining…

        Halep is cool, but you know breast reduction is against God’s wishes πŸ˜† he might not let her win a slam for that…

      3. I allso liked the dr. Fuentes one and I hate moonballers, but maybe another time.

        Did you allso sugest t-shirt ideeas to C13? :))

  18. I said to my family before the match and still say now: I am not dissapointed really regardless of the outcome. It just wasn’t meant to be as the courts favored Novak and Roger wasn’t playing 100% all the time. From 3-2 in the 1st set, I knew Novak was unplayable and it was his day. Roger played clutch and even I was surprised he snatched the breaker. Still hanging with the superstars of this era, still clutch in tight moments πŸ™‚

    A great tournament as you said beating 2 Top-10 players and making another final. Back-2-Back Indian Wells Finals on stupidly slow hard courts is quite impressive. And he still has the record for most titles (albeit he shares it with Novak).

    Novak looks REALLY good now! You still want him in Miami AND French Open if he plays Rafa? He is all but certain the M1000 record. Although I’m just blessed that Roger is healthy and playing exceptionally well on tour. What’s your take on it Jonathan?

    1. I don’t really worry about the records or who has them; they are all likely to be broken at some time or another, be it in my lifetime or not.

      If Djoker wins the French it will most likely be deserved. I actually think the French might have a winner out of left field this year though. But we shall see πŸ˜‰

      1. I wonder if the only way Djoker wins FO at this stage is if he was to bypass Nadal like Roger. Too many scars for Novak against Rafa at Roland Garros and if Rafa can build on his form from Miami in time for Paris, he’ll be ready to win his 10th.

  19. This was not a typical fed djoko match where it’s decided by a few points here and there, this was a blowout. Even before novak broke him in 1st set it was clear roger wasn’t going to win, the stats don’t lie. Nole was too on song. I wondered, rog being such a great problem solver, what he could do to solve the problem, but it proved insoluble. Like Cilic at the us open, when opponent is serving like that, there’s really nothing you can do. It’s no shame to lose to an opponent who’s playing perfect. Nevertheless I felt like my guy just tossed it away at the end there.

    Going into slower clay, I sure hope he doesn’t forget, as he claimed he would, this final. He needs to incorporate it to problem solve, do something creatively different to turn the surface into a weapon rather than disadvantage. He has simply GOT to come up w a way to disrupt opponents comfortable on high bouncing slow courts. Perhaps instead of volleying or half volleying his bh, which is so lethal on faster lower courts, lining up a whole other and unexpected response. Seriously, he has got to surprise them.

    1. I definitely don’t agree about it being clear Roger was going to lose from the beginning. If you already have a set in stone match outcome there would be no reason to actually watch then. Djoker was definitely the better player up until Roger broke back in the second set and had the crowd with him. That annoyed Djokovic or should I say Chokovic who couldn’t hold it together in the tie break. In the third set, Novak was the favourite of course but the fact that Fed put in such an effort to get to that point is a testament to his continuing legacy. Fed could’ve been more pressing on the return but he was struggling on his own service games due to the immense returning of Djoker. It all just came together for Novak on the day, Fed was clearly mentally drained by the time he was broken for the second time in the third set.

      Novak may have won the match but everyone is talking about Federer. Pretty incredible how that happens.

      1. “Novak may have won the match but everyone is talking about Federer. Pretty incredible how that happens.”

        Isn’t that always the case?? πŸ™‚

      2. He really has a “hero” persona attached to him. People always want to say well done fed when he loses because he has no right at this age to be so clearly the 2nd best in the world.

        Djokovic does make things less about him maybe because his game is so solid. People don’t look at him and immediately spot a weakness, and I think it’s a combination of the fact he is solid but unspectacular and also there’s no tragic weakness that all heroes tend to have. With fed even with his much improved backhand, his forehand is just so good that it’s a clear imbalance.

    2. I think Fed has always adapted his game well to clay, so not something I am worried about or thinking he needs a whole new gameplan. Roland Garros can play pretty fast tbh.

      Who knows what strategy he will execute on the surface. It’s very easy to coach from the blog comments or your armchair and say what he must do, and also fun as everyone has an opinion on it, I do it all the time πŸ˜† I think I even wrote a post on what he has to do to win a slam but looking in my cabinet I can’t see La Coupe des Mousquetaires sitting there.

      Without actually training with the guy or flying a drone over his practice area in Switzerland then we don’t really know what he’s working on or trying to improve on. Like he said himself, he loses and he played terribly and needs to retool his game; Djokovic wins and is unstoppable. Then Fed wins and is immense; Djokovic loses and is finished.

  20. Thanks again Jonathan. This site is such good therapy including the live chat. So much easier to get over a loss.
    The brain game analysis is out.

  21. Well done J, excellent recap, you covered it all. In the moment it definitely felt annoying that Fed’s hard work to get to the tie break and getting back to 3-2 in the final set couldn’t ammount to lifting the trophy but when such high quality is being displayed, it almost doesn’t matter. After Brisbane and Dubai it did feel like Fed was working his way upto this title so it must be disappointing for him to not go one better after 2014 but as you said only positives to take away. It does the beg the question though about Fed’s mental toughness again. Wimbledon 2015 and the final set here were oddly similar so is it something Roger can control at this stage of his career? Maybe not. Djoker on the slow hard courts does everything to perfection more or less and it all came down to the serve. Fed’s had an impresive HC season the past half year and I am so proud of his resilience and love for the game that has led him to this moment, he’s playing some of the best tennis of his career and pushing his younger contemporaries to no ends. Congrats Roger, looking forward to the next one!

    1. Hi Alysha. I think re mental toughness, the issue isn’t so bad. In both cases, Roger showed incredible fight to hang on and force more sets. It’s only natural to have a slight come down after having to scrap so hard for a set, especially since Roger will have to deal with a combination of emotional and physical wearing too. If anything, what I’d say it illustrates is just how mentally tough djokovic is now. After the racquet smash and anger, he gathered himself, and to be fair, despite Roger getting stuck into one game, looked the better player for all bar 5 games of the match.

      1. Roger in final sets in big matches against Nadal/Djoko and sometimes Murray been following a similar storyline in that in the last set he becomes mentally drained to finish what he starts. I mean it’s not a huge thing in comparison to everything he’s ever achieved in his career but Nadal and Djoker have that upper hand against him when it comes to the mental department. If Rafa does manage to overtake Roger in slam count, his mental fortitude and head to head against Roger automatically becomes more relevant even if we don’t want to admit it.

        I agree though John, Novak deserves the credit after choking in the second set and coming up with the goods in the third. The guy struggles with being the enemy when he plays Fed and I can understand his frustration that no matter how many wins he accumulates and success he achieves in this era, he just won’t ever get the same admiration and credit as Fedal.

      2. It’s unfortunate as I suspect in the case of most of us, we prefer djoker to nadal by far. But whether that’s down to nadal being a threat to fed or as a person is debatable.

        You’re right, though, Alysha. The mental fortitude will become a bigger thing IF it gets closer, but in fairness, fed likely isn’t quite as mentally strong as those two. He rarely got tested so much when he was younger, so in many ways, he has forced them into building up the mental side of the game so much. Credit to both in that department, as Roger is clearly the superior player.

        And re final sets, yes, he doesn’t have the greatest final set record, but I think that’s due in part to age now, competing against the best when he “knows” deep down he needs to not compete physically, which is almost a distraction. And also in part to the fact that the style those guys play is designed to wear people down. It’s no surprise that tired opponents miss more, and so the better defenders will by design draw more of a collapse from their opponents. Whereas Roger goes rhythm to rhythm, and has to feel the effect of physical exhaustion, or at least the threat of it.

  22. Hey sweet Utch, if I remembered it correctly…today is your birthday?? If it is…. Happy birthday sweet Utch πŸ™‚ Haven’t heard a while of you?? Hope you are oke….

  23. Hey Jonathan, just saw your twitter comment re naming a street after Nadal: ‘Medical Time Out Avenue’ – hahahaha. very funny, very true. πŸ™‚

  24. Thanks so much Jonathan for your excellent post. Pretty much agree with all the views mentioned here.My only point is to question the slowness or otherwise of hard courts in tournaments he competes in: what do people here think of Roger abandoning playing in certain tournaments such as Indian Wells from next year and replacing with new but suitable court-speed 250 tournaments? He could then extend his career longer, probably rack up more tournament wins, play on surfaces that suit HIM, experience different tourneys and fans, avoid beat-downs on slow courts against Djokovic ( whether the latter is ‘ juiced-up’ or not ), safeguard better H2G against Djoker etc. Just a thought people? And hope he puts kitchen sink into winning Monte Carlo now. And Roger, please skip Madrid and go all-out for Rome a week later! And if you play from 2017 and beyond Roger, can you please consider the advice given here? Not that you will probably ever read this ha ha.

    1. Hi Paul. It’s an interesting point you bring up. I won’t speculate on whether Roger can find longer term success doing this, but I doubt he will. To skip slower tournaments in favour of faster ones without the same prestige would likely, to Roger, feel like conceding he can’t win on the slower ones. And everyone has their ego, the greatest ever even more so, so I doubt fed would consider playing lower tier tourneys just for the match wins or because they suit him better. I don’t doubt he will play 6 or 7 of the masters 1000 every year until he ends his career. Smaller tournaments simply don’t offer the same esteem, and if Roger were to do what you suggest, I think he would effectively feel like he’s playing as a second tier player.

      1. Thanks John for your reply, informative as I would expect. I completely agree with you: ego is probably the key determinant in Roger doing and continuing to do what he does. As someone a lot older than Roger I have learnt more fully the value of wisdom; and ego and wisdom don’t mix. I just hope for Roger’s sake that if he extends his tennis career for say another 4+ years that he does not do so with regrets in later life that could have been avoided if ego had been put to one side…

      2. I don’t think it’s the prestige of the tournaments themselves that he’s after – though certainly if he had a choice between IW & Wimbledon he’d pick the latter – it’s that at the higher level tournaments, he gets to pit himself against the very best, and that’s who he wants to play. Those are the opponents who bring out the best in him, who allow him to test his highest level. He wouldn’t get to play that kind of tennis if he were playing lower-level tourneys. As long as he’s ranked #2, I don’t see any reason why he should. More titles, but less fun on the court? Doesn’t sound like a good trade based on his usual press conference replies.

        I’m not really sure there’s a future ranking where it becomes a good idea, either. I think that may depend on how he feels THEN, whenever it comes – does the joy of playing overcome the realization he can (probably) no longer contend for the biggest titles, or vice versa? But it’s too early to ask that question, really.

      3. Hi paul, yeah, I get where you’re coming from. But honestly, if fed looks back 20 years from now, I doubt he will mind having won fewer tournaments as opposed to having fought for the bigger ones more. For the top guys, it isn’t about small game any more. The day will come that federer is no longer one of the top guys. I suspect that day is a few years down the road, and I suspect he will retire soon after it becomes clear. So because of that, I expect him to be at the top or thereabouts until the end. The top 10 wins stat showcases it clearly, how Connors, an exponent of longevity through your method, won more small titles but only had 85 top 10 wins. And from the history point of view, what we respect Connors for is that longevity, not more.

        Fair point, thinker, although as you said, prestige will come into it just because he wants to win at the top level more. But there’s no doubt he enjoys tennis. All players do. It’s when he doesn’t enjoy competing that it becomes an issue, and in that sense, competing with the best is the only way to continually validate yourself.

    2. I think it’s pretty strange how Fed is playing the full clay season this time around, could be motivated to get as close as he can to Djoker so if he fails in MC he can make it up in Istanbul. Clay the past 2 years though just hasn’t been there for him but as John says, Roger’s not so good slam was hopefully only the AO so could be interesting what happens at RG. Also Fed said he’s unsure about playing Rome so should he do well in MC, Madrid and Istanbul, will want to rest to ensure he can have a good run at the French in lead up to Wimbledon.

    3. The reason is obvious – you’re not going to rank well if you don’t play Masters 1000’s and they’re also mandatory. Yes he can skip the odd one due to his service over the years but he basically has to play them to remain in good standing.

      This isn’t his fairwell tour where he can play mickey mouse 250’s just to crowd please and pick up titles; he’s obviously planning on playing in 2016 too and if hes going to compete he needs to be well ranked.

  25. Novak is ahead 4000 points from Fed. But Fed is 4,000 points from Nadal…….. Looks like #1 and #2 are set through Wimbledon! I agree all records are meant to be broken, so just enjoing Roger comptete at the highest level is good for me. We already have 3 finals, 3 Top-10 wins, 2 titles already, and lota of points to pick up on clay! Any expectations or predictions for the clay Jonathan or anyone else?

    1. I personally think Roger is playing MC because he has points to defend there rather than anything else. So with that in mind, a solid showing like semis. Istanbul he might just win, it being inaugural and everything. I think Rogers decided to have a go at clay this year, so I can see a good showing in Madrid, maybe winning it or reaching the final. And then Rome is always a lottery, but I doubt we are seeing a victory at the end of that week. More likely an earlier exit.

      The French open is the biggie, of course. From recent years, we know fed can come unstuck on that court. Players seem to either break him down or find him in poor form just as latter stages begin. That said, I don’t see a poor showing two slams in a row, so after the AO I’ll say he will make the semis. Depending on the draw (and yes, I don’t think he can beat nadal there), potentially the final.

      1. Fed was talking about possibly skipping Rome this year, do agree about the points but I find it pretty surprising that he would go back to Monte Carlo when he added Istanbul. Could Fed’s interest in the tournament be reinvigorated after a good run last year. Maybe Rome is the new Monte Carlo in his perspective.

        Draw at the French really depends on Nadal again and whether he will be seeded 4th.

      2. He said something in a recent interview about Rome & Monte Carlo (I think) both being tourneys that were more difficult to make work with the family – though he didn’t say why – so he now came to those on his own. I haven’t backed this up with any hard data, but my sense is Roger doesn’t do as well when the family’s not with him.

      3. If I were him, I would consider skipping Rome. At the end of the day, his push for number one is unlikely to come through as long as djokovic is as he is now. And even should fed win a lot more on clay, he would still have to rely on a top class French open showing.

        By contrast, we really want him to peak for Wimbledon, where he has a good chance. Whereas if he peaks for the FO, even at his best, history shows us it may not be enough, in fact is likely not to be enough. We can talk about ranking permutations, but djokovic by his standards had an average clay season last year, and should not struggle too much to defend that this year, which means Roger needs to gain something like 2000 points on clay to overturn djoker at Wimbledon (assuming he wins wimby and djoker exits at semis or something).

        Now, having skipped effectively madrid and Rome last year, fed can do that if he wins one, defends his MC points, and then adds a FO final to that. Which is a tall order even if he is playing well. Post wimby, the fact that fed did so well in cincy, Shanghai, Toronto, and that djoker only got to the semis at the USO probably means he has no chance in that period.

  26. Awww, thanks so much Sweet Katyani, you really deserve an award. Yes, today is my bday, I wish Federer won yet again, it woulda been the perfect bday gift. Oh well…
    I think the way Fed adjusted to the racquet, Stefan and Severin had better find a way fast to help him adjust to the slower courts or bounce and stuff, almost there but not there doesn’t cut it anymore.
    I hope he gets Djokovic where it hurts most, and I really hope it will come soon and hopefully @ the French Open final πŸ˜‰
    Tell me I’m crazy guys…but the stars aligned once for one French Open, it can align again πŸ™‚

  27. Malisse: boring Djokovic, Federer always surprises

    Comes from Xavier Malisse the ultimate compliment to Roger Federer. Former Belgian player, now coach Ruben Bemelmans, enhances the quality of the # 2 in the world: ” I really like to see him play. When I got to play against, it was great but at the same time very difficult. Sometimes I watch Tsonga and Monfils. I’m not a big fan of Djokovic, always plays the same way, while Federer never know what to expect. I do not watch much tennis, I focus mainly on the Grand Slam tournaments. I played good matches against him. Once in Australia, I had the feeling of playing very well and have a chance to win. The match began and Roger did not play very well but despite this was ahead 4-0 in 12 minutes. I stood there thinking … there were so many people in the stands, and I felt like a ball boy. The things that makes Federer are impossible to imitate, no one does. “

    1. Nice one Malisse… good to see how he appreciates the champ despite the lopsided 10-1 h2h. Pretty much the same thing as Ljubicic said the other day: you never know what’s coming from Federer, what to expect…Nadal/Djokovic are much more predictable. πŸ™‚

  28. Roger fought well but Djokovic played better. Nole choked at vital moments because it was Fed across the net. Fed couldn’t take advantage because he was always in search of his A-game. Roger’s game is more about rhythm and I think overcast and humid conditions made it difficult for him to get the timing of his shots plus those “ridiculous” balls, slow courts and Nole… very tough to adjust. Backhands were not as good as in the other matches…

    Match with intense dramma and ups and downs, but not of very high quality IMO. Lots of UFO.

      1. Don’t be scared Alysha! High quality matches are not so rare. Dubai final, IW2014 final, Shanghai SF, wimby final between these two were of really high quality. This one was pretty one-sided. Roger played some brilliant points but not at all consistent. Chances he got were gifted by Nole and those came only because of Fed’s presence on the other side. The flow of Fed’s game was completely missing, it was an off-day. It’s he and his constant fight that created the tense moments.

    1. “Lots of UFO”. I love it, love it, love it. I think you might have meant “UFE”, though:

      UFE = unforced errors
      UFO = unidentified flying object


  29. Anyone interested in seeing Djoko blow everybody away in Miami and winning the title, where he will say in his humble perfect winners speech “tough luck dude” (which actually means “how dare you play like this and almost beat me and how dare you think you actually have a chance to beat me and how dare you think I am going to allow that) πŸ™‚

    Well… there is an upside on Miami…. Jo Willy and Delpo are back !!! Go Delpo πŸ™‚

    Ps: Before you all think I am saying that Djoko robbed Roger of the win… that is not true at all. Novak played incredible. He totally deserved the win and ….. oh yes…. played honest and fair.
    Note to Djoko and Boris and his team….. you see…. you CAN beat the Goat without playing gamesmenship πŸ™‚

  30. With a lot of luck and not much else I was able to finish second in the Tiger Tennis Challenge and win a dark grey shirt with the four slams on it. I’m actually less happy about coming second than I am about not coming first – if only Kyrgios had beaten Dimitrov and made it past Robredo like I’d predicted πŸ™ I think my heyday’s long gone by now though; I’ve already gotten 2 of my first 3 miami matches wrong and I’m not really hoping for my fortunes to improve.

    I don’t think Fed’s physical or mental strength was really the main reason he lost. It’s true that had he leveled it up at 3-3 things could have been different, but you have to give credit to Djokovic for his sublime returning, especially on his backhand side which was as solid as I’ve ever seen it. He deserved to win and it would be unfair to take anything away from his overall performance, even though I was surprised to see him so rattled by the crowd being against him. I’m gonna be shot down for this, but I’d actually predicted him to come through against Roger, not that that negated the sadness I felt when our idol lost of course!

    1. Froudy, you and Tilas both peRFect Tennis players in the top 5 in the Tiger Mobiles Tennis Challenge. 3 out of the top 5. I recognise JeeceHo too but that might be just Twitter.

    2. Well done for IW Jaysen! I’m pretty pleased with myself to have called Chung over Granollers (!!), but the rest of my first round is a shambles so far…

  31. Aaaaaaaaaaaaanddddd Steve Darcis (the guy who beat Nadal at Wimbledon) is back in a main draw after months and months of being under the radar! I’ve never seen him play a single other match, but I loved what I saw of him at Wimbledon. Came across as a very intelligent player on that day.

  32. First time here

    Great piece I just want to see a fully fit Nadal so that Novak can have competition, it obvious Roger is on the wrong side of his career even though he puts out great fights

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