French OpenGrand SlamsRoger Federer

How Should Federer Approach Clay in 2019?

The Swiss Maestro Is Making A Return To La Terre Battue But Can He Be Successful?

Apart from the surprise defeat in the 4th Round, the big news from the Australian Open for Fed fans was Roger saying that he plans to play the clay-court season after skipping it for two successive years.

He revealed to French Press after the Tsitsipas loss that he has “missed not doing it” and doesn't feel like he needs a long break this year like the past two seasons. That break worked peRFectly in 2017, but less so in 2018.

In an ideal world, Roger could surely have gone best of three and to see if the skipping clay method worked this season too. But at 37 and time not on his side, he's rolled the dice and decided to give the red stuff a whirl.

Is it a good idea? Assuming there are no problems physically I think it could be. The big caveat here is there's no guarantee he will play just yet, after Miami he'll head back to Switzerland for some training on the clay and if all goes well then a tournament before the French Open will surely get the green light.

The reason I say it's not guaranteed is I remember his fitness coach Pierre Paganini saying the clay surface is very different for the knee due to the looseness of the surface and sliding so I'd imagine any sort of doubts would put paid to the idea. However,  that injury is well in the past and his coach Severin Luthi told Swiss press this week the plan is to play at least one event before Roland Garros so Roger and his team must feel confident.

Is Clay An Opportunity for Federer to ‘Go For Broke'?

Federer Clay Return

One of the keys to success for Federer in 2017 was the so-called ‘neo backhand' which was essentially playing more aggressively on that wing especially on the return. The main reason he beat Nadal in that epic Australian Open final was he finally had the courage of his convictions to go after the return.

The 2018 season saw a drop off in that area and in some ways a return to normality with point starting chip returns and an all-around more passive approach.

This was further highlighted in the Tstisipas match where Roger had 12 break points but didn't convert a single one and conservative returning played a part in recording that career-worst statistic.

After Roger's Wimbledon loss last season, fellow Swiss Marc Rosset wrote a piece for Les Temps titled Roger Federer doit redevenir le chasseur which translates to Roger Federer must become the hunter again.

It was the best article I have read on Federer in a long time as it was practical and not just some sycophantic piece about how amazing Federer that tells you absolutely nothing ?. The key takeaway from the column is below:

 I think the more the years go by and the more he will have to put himself in the shoes of the challenger, not the champion who must absolutely win. So far, he has often been out because he was stronger physically, he was confident, he still had that little bit of genius, but I'm not sure it's enough now. Before, he could win a grand slam without taking too much risk; he no longer has this margin in relation to these rivals. He has to take more risks, and so what if sometimes it does not happen. He would relax a little bit the brain to demand less of it.

I think it was spot on then and maybe even more so now as a return to clay gives Roger the chance to play like the underdog again.

Roger hasn't played a clay tournament since the 2016 Italian Open, he hasn't won a Masters 1000 on red clay since 2009, and only has 3 wins against Top 10 opposition since 2013. So expectations have to be very low and this could be a good thing.

I wrote an article in 2012 asking if Federer could employ Henman like tactics to have success at the French Open which looked at how the Brit made the semi-finals in Paris in 2004 with zero pedigree on clay, showcasing that you can do things differently and have success.  Who would have thought six years on that blog post would become relevant again 😀 .

The reason it's relevant is that, like Henman, there is absolutely no way Federer can play classic clay court tennis and be successful. 

In 2012 Roger could just about get away with it, but in 2018 there are at least 10, 15  maybe even 20 players that will pick Roger off easily if they slug it out from the baseline. So he has to change it up and to steal a line from Rosset, become the hunter again.

Federer has to come in with a hyper-aggressive mindset and even if it doesn't pay off with brilliant results, that mindset might just trickle over to the grass and hard courts when he needs it most.

What do you guys think of Federer's clay court decision? Which events will he play? Mickey Carlo, Barcelona, Estoril, Madrid, Rome or Geneva? There's a lot to choose from. Let me know in the comments.

Jonathan

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 tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Federer and tennis in general.

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205 Comments

  1. Unless Fed is retiring this year I see no reason to play on clay again. What about his preparation for Wimbledon? There’s not a large rest before Stuttgart and Halle after RG. What’s his plan if somehow he goes deep in RG? And what realistic goals does he have really? Even making the quarters of RG will be an achievement IMO. I would like to see him try an ultra aggressive strategy (net-rushing? ; although that failed badly in 2008 RG final) and/or chuck in a load of dropshots like he did back in 2009, forcing his opponents towards the net where most of them are less comfortable.

  2. Yeah I would like to see the ultra aggressive Roger back again. 2017 he had something to prove and 2018 too much pressure defending. Now he has to get back to hunter mode in order to be successful. He can start with Monte Carlo then rest up for RG.

  3. I am not sure about Monte Carlo.Has Fed ever won that title?I don’t seem to remember him being very successful there.
    Perhaps Madrid with its high altitude might be better.

    1. He hasn’t had success on clay in a long time though. I don’t think past success should determine the choice. Just pick what is best timing, location and field wise.

    2. As far as I remember he has at least been in the final once in MC, where he lost to Stanimal. He has never won it, one of the very few. But maybe nearly? -Is MC a bit slow? Agree with Jon, reasonable plan.

  4. I’m with both of you, Dippy and Conal. I’d like his killer instinct and attacking tennis to be back. Fed plays beautiful tennis on clay, too. If it’s just 2 clay events, personally Mickey would be great but Rome & RG combi is my pick. Then Halle (no Stuttgart) and Wimby.
    Just trying not to think about even a tiny bit of possibility that this year could be his last. Noooooo!

  5. I don’t think Fed has much of a choice but to go aggressive. His results have not been too good for a while now and if he comes up short of the quarters for a third successive slam questions are going to be asked if he will ever be competing at the end of slams again. As of right now I think it’s hard to include Fed in the same bracket as Rafa or Novak because both of them, even on grass, look much better than Fed has done level wise. So at this stage anything less than an aggressive approach is a sure fire losing one imo. If he tries something new and flops, then at least you can take positives from it. I’m not sure ehat good can be taken from the last few slams honestly, so that’d be an improvement.

    In terms of what he should play, at a minimum Rome and RG. If he feels like he can do three, then Madrid. Though in any case, I’d be surprised if he does anything of note in any of them. Like you say, I don’t think Fed is even a top 20 player on clay right now. Thanks for the post Jon.

    1. “if he comes up short of the quarters for a third successive slam questions are going to be asked”

      I don’t think so, expectations are going to be way lower at the French. He was two time defending champion in Aus. Plus those questions have been asked since forever, 2014 loss to Seppi, loss to Stakhovsky etc. nothing new.

  6. Fedfans been saying for ages that Fed just needs to play free & loose and stop putting pressure of expectations on himself. To play for the fun & joy of it with self belief that he can still win without the attachment to having to win. That way his tennis, still so glorious, will flow-and he will win anyway. Trouble is, this is The Fed we’re talking about. Proud 20 time GS winner and record holder across the board of all kinds of firsts. He’s out to win Titles and while better at dealing with losing now, still sees himself as a winner and while he still believes he can win, he’s going to be under pressure – self-inflicted or otherwise.
    I like the way Rosset put it. Exactly – as a Challenger of these young guns as much as Rafa & Novak. I totally agreee he needs to flick a switch and instead of questioning himself if he still has what it takes,
    ask these guys the question – Are you feeling lucky, punk?
    I want him to get into THAT mood. But Roger isRoger. Thankfully he neither plays nor behaves like Djoker – or Rafa for that matter who is playing more and more classical tennis and following Roger’s lead in every which way in managing the latter stages of his career. So I dont know how well a pioneering Champion can turn into a Challenger. But ge isa Lion so hunting for the victory is perhaps an image that will be easier for him to deal with. I dont think he likes being considered the underdog, regardless of how true that may be. He wouldnt be Roger if he didnt think of himself as having as good a shot as anybody.

  7. Awesome post. One of my recent favourites actually. Totally agree that playing the clay can act as a way to just free up his game and play a lot more relaxed which we all know has been missing since probably Indian Wells last year. Hoping he goes for Madrid and then the French, plenty of time to practice on the clay before Madrid and then plenty of time afterwards to prepare for the French. Maybe a 250/500 event aswell if that’s a sensible move fitness wise

  8. I suppose it depends on his results at IW whether he plays Miami. And how successful he is there before he decides clay.
    It makes sense to play Rome and RG. I would like to see Estoril. Only grass would be Halle and Wimby.
    Thanks for the post and I always Love the photos.

  9. Thanks for the post Jonathan. I guess that if Fed just plays one tournament ahead of Roland it could be Rome (May 13 to 20) allowing 6 weeks between the end of Miami (rest + specific training block on clay + his 10th wedding anniversary celebration) and the beginning of Roland Garros. Rome is a masters 1000 (he never won it) allowing him to get some points compensating the ones  he lost in Melbourne and the ones he’ll give up as/if he does not defend his title in Rotterdam. I think that (if) he wants to qualify for the WTF in London, he’ll chase those points.

    In case he shouldn’t play Miami (depending on Indian Wells result) or if he is ready/eager to add one more, he could add a second clay event (ahead of Rome) : why not Barcelona (April 22-28) – more or so same altitude as Paris (Madrid is too high) ?

    Monte Carlo is just two weeks after the end of Miami – a bit short to recover from jet lag + rest + train on clay ahead of MC.

    Geneva (dates) is an issue :  too close to RG (Geneva final is on May 25) and Geneva will see him for the Laver Cup.

    PS : Dear Jonathan, with the same sweet smile as Naomi winning her second Grand Slam in a few months and with the same attention to details as Roger,  I dare to ask you to add a second “t” to “battue” in your post subtitle… Roger will need all his strength to hit on it, so two t’s will fit !

  10. I used to love to watch Roger playing on clay, I always marvelled at his socks
    they always managed to stay clean. I don’t think he will play Madrid, maybe
    Estoril,/Rome and RG. I have the feeling he has to get the clay court off
    his back as it were, then Halle and Wim. At this stage in his tennis life
    I just want to see him play.

  11. I think it’s an exiting experiment, and agree with those that it might renew his tennis for more sharp and entertaining aggression. He didn’t play the other years, because of practical physique reasons. They are maybe not that actual this year, and Roger bravely likes to give some neglected challenge a go. Fun! Nice!

  12. The only reason why he can’t be successful on clay is Rafa and Nole. It will be a joy watching him play on the most beautiful surface.

    1. The Nadal part was certainly true from 2005 to about 2012. But not anymore, there are more names in the hat.

      There a lot of players who have a much better chance at beating Fed on clay than any other surface and he’s more vulnerable. Thiem, Zverev, Cilic, Khachnov, PCB . Stan etc.

    2. The only reason why he cannot be successful on any surface right now and in the future is the age.

      It’s a natural decline and tennis is not a figure skating, where you have referees giving you notes for different aspects including visual expression.

      Fed still plays beautiful tennis but with obvious physical limitations.

      I think, Federer should play clay the most tournaments he can. Simply to let his fans at least in France, and Spain see him again, no matter how deep he comes.

      I would not expect him to win titles (maybe the 100. in Basel?). Does he need to make new records? I want to see him having fun when seeing how big is still the fun, people have, when watching him.

      Whatever he does this year and maybe next to call it a day in Tokyo, again – ni matter the results. We should behave his court presence with all the world having fun, no more stress or frustration.

  13. Absolutely agree with Rosset! Here’s what I commented after Federer’s O2 loss to Zverev last year.

    “I think what Roger really needs next year is to add some risk, actually, quite a bit of risk to his game, particularly on return games. Of course, he needs to hold consistently for that. The days or throwing varieties at opponents are coming to an end. The short balls drawing in opponents do work but will reap even lesser returns next season.”

    If we are thinking that Roger can roll himself to the title at Paris by rallying with his opponents, then dream on. He will likely lose in round 4. Agreed with Jon that his is a, “go for broke” opportunity for him and might serve him well at Wimbledon too (which I fear is likely his last great opportunity).

    Fed has one more slam in him. He will finish on 21. No guarantee now Nadal won’t cross that given that somehow his Spanish doctors are making him stronger [regenerate] by the day.

    1. Sid, Tio Toni’s magic potions and Moya’s expert coaching led Nadal to a straight-sets loss against Djokovic–the first time he’s lost a major final in straight sets in his entire career! If that’s “stronger”, I’d hate for him to be weaker.

      The Moya thing was largely PR, but I think he was indeed brought on board to help try to retool Nadal’s game, to the extent that that’s possible, to compensate for Nadal’s aging body. Seems to be a waste of money; Tio Toni should demand a refund. But I think the fault lies less with the coach than in his pupil. Nadal is just too one-dimensional a player, especially in his old age, to learn new tricks.

      Sure, against one of the weakest draws he’s ever faced (Nadal gets a lot of those! USO 2010, 2013, 2017, and now this), against opponents who hardly forced him to move out of second gear, he looked great. Put him up against a player who moves as well as he does, and who hits the ball a little better, he has no answers.

      The Serb made Nadal look like a club player–at a very bad club. Nadal tried to be aggressive, but the UE count, not the winner count, piled up. Unlike our favorite Swiss, Nadal has neither the ball-striking ability, nor–more importantly–the courage and never-say-die mentality to take intelligent, creative risks. He just wants to play his safe, familiar, mechanical, dull, shooting-fish-in-a-barrel baseline game, and collect the trophy and prize money afterward. Not this time.

      Federer knows what it takes to keep winning majors in one’s old age. It gets harder, you have to push out of your comfort zone and do unfamiliar things, try new tactics. You have to manage your energy. You have to work far harder for diminishing returns. Nadal, IMO, is less prepared to deal with the harsh realities of age than Federer is. “Men must bear their going hence, even as their coming hither.”

      Nadal was well-rested coming in to this tournament, blitzed his first six opponents…and was destroyed in the final as he has never before been in a major tournament. Whatever the Nadal camp is doing to compensate for Nadal’s advancing age–and I’m sure Tio Toni has world experts in CRISPR slaving away in the Nadal family compound in Mallorca, trying to figure out how to take ten years off Nadal’s biological age–it is not enough. You can’t cheat Nature.

      After the heaviest Grand Slam final defeat of his career, can anyone say that RG is a sure thing for Nadal this year?

      1. I think it’s hard to pick against Nadal on clay. In terms of mastery of a surface no one else has even come close – Djokovic on a hard court (whatever kind they use in Australia) and Fed on grass both pale in comparison to Nadal on clay historically. That said I am not convinced Nadal has another 3 RG’s in him, simply because by then he’d be 35. I’m still not convinced Nadal can win a slam not on clay either, but we shall see.

        I think Djokovic probably the favourite for RG along with Nadal. But winning 4 slams in a row is hard too, so maybe this is the year we see a new player step up.

    2. Haha a cutting analysis of the final.

      I hadn’t seen much of Nadal this AO but he looked off the pace in the final. Not moving as well as he used to for sure. But Djoker was on another planet, he is virtually unbeatable at the AO. Only someone with the firepower of Wawrinka could do it.

      It’s a shame Fed lost early. A much more interesting matchup vs Djoker as at least he can push him by taking it early. He too may have lost in straights but I’d give him more than 7 games. But he wasn’t even good enough to beat Tsitsi so can’t complain.

  14. Yes Nadal does seem rather Benjamin Button like.But he too is adopting a more aggressive game,but will it adapt to
    the slow clay courts.Will Fed being aggressive have success on these slower surfaces.I don’t really know.

  15. So… here is the situation for me:
    1) Hey all.
    2) The loss hurted, really badly. Stef deserved to win, wish Roger had. He would have beaten Rafa. I know that. Maybe not Djoko, but he would have beaten Rafa.
    3) Which devil should I root for? Rafa, who I dislike, who will also win RG and win GS 18 & 19 and will win all slams twice?
    Djoko, who I really dislike, who will win and will be totally unbeatable and unstoppable and will go for his 2nd grand slam (4 in a row) and also all slams twice??
    Can’t believe that the day has come that I am rooting for Satan….
    4) This was a setback, but I still believe Roger will get to 25 GS. Even if I am the only one in the whole universe who believes that. I was mocked and laughed at all the way from 2012/2013 when I said that, but here we are… 20 GS. 5 more is doable. Won’t be easy, Roger will need some help and he needs to play attacking tennis, and for Godsake… go all out on BP. Everybody, even God, knows he can’t convert BP, so why not take a (stupid) risk on them… I know it is so easy to tell Roger how to play from behind my laptop 🙂
    5) I won’t be watching the final, no interest. Rooting and waiting for Roger to come back soon, healthy and hungry !!!

    #willneverbeaRafafan
    #willneverbeaDjokofan
    #sorrynotsorry
    #onlyhereforRoger 🙂

    1. I strongly disagree that Fed would have beaten Rafa. Tsitsipas style wise should be easier for Fed than Nadal would be, and Fed couldn’t get it done so I really don’t see anything to suggest that Fed would be playing in this final instead of him. Level wise Nadal looked better than Fed all tournament long, and while Nadal looked below par today there is a huge difference between Djokovic in AO and… Tsitsipas. That said, I think Fed would have put up more of a fight against Rafa than Tsitsipas managed, but I’m hard pressed to give Fed a set vs Nadal right now, anywhere (I remember in Wimbledon last year, I also thought Nadal would have beaten Fed had they met).

      I think 25 at this point will be nothing short of miraculous honestly. Fed would have to be winning slams at 40 for it to happen, unless he goes and wins two this year somehow.

  16. Congrats to Osaka. Just a little different vibe than the USO! I was hoping for Kvitiva but there you go, she was not aggressive enough when she had breakpoints. Where have I seen that before. And only played her best when she was behind. But Naomi is a talented and respectful winner.
    Well, Satan gets the vote.

  17. First of all, thanks for that lovely balletic pic of the Fed backhand on clay! Clay will give some free points, and nobody’s expecting him to win the FO anyway. As you pointed out, Fed needs to play without putting pressure on himself, like he did in 2017 (which is a big reason why he was so successful till the Wimbledon, after which all the pressure of being a champion came back). Though it is really difficult to shake of expectations, being a 20-slam champion, clay will hopefully help in that.

    1. I don’t think it the pressure came back after Wimbledon that year. He got injured in Canada then struggled at USO. Then when he was fit he blitzed Nadal in Shanghai.

  18. And… how wonderful change of subject and beautiful photos, Jon, and a nice new stimulus to us about the clay question, thanks! – Can’t wait for the brave experiment

  19. Interesting article Jonathan. Here are my thoughts
    1) He need to be ultra aggressive not just on clay but any tournament going forward. Only Djokovic can stop him from winning when he is on a roll playing aggressive not even Nadal.
    2) By playing clay, if his goal is to gain momentum for grass courts, playing one 250 followed by Rome before RG should be enough not much not more. If his goal is for some titles on it(I doubt it though), he can start with MC by skipping Miami. He can use that period for clay training. Most of the other players won’t be that much ready for clay grind by the time of MC as it is start of European clay season. After suitable rest he can play Madrid along with RG.
    3) As you rightly said, problems back then was dealing with Rafa of Djokovic. Now a days it is more of beating of younger players to get a chance to play them. He need to play with complete free mind and has nothing to lose. Because of his drop of ranking he may play Djokovic or Rafa in early rounds itself which is good for him.
    4) Last but not the least, whatever others say, he is as hungry as motivated as ever?

  20. Let’s not forgot that for all that is said about Federer not being that great a clay courter – he “only” has 11 clay court titles with just “one” French Open where, of course, he didn’t have to play Nadal – the entire tour, bar Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, would take his results in a flash.
    He’s a great clay court player. 4 Hamburg masters titles (which, by the way, was where he won is first ever masters way back in 2002), 2 Madrid titles, 4 Monte Carlo finals, 4 Rome finals, 5 French Open finals. Pretty darn good and the only reason that’s viewed negatively or even overlooked altogether is because he’s Roger Federer, the Greatest of all time, and to him finals are just as good as not even turning up, which if you ask Roger, is not true.
    Sure, he’s 37 now, and his best clay court years are passed, but with the right conditioning, mindset (I agree Jonathan that he can afford to play with something resembling total freedom) and tactics, I see no reason why he can’t have successful, if briefer than in years gone by, clay season. I’ll pick Rome and then Paris, where we can speculate about glory once he’s into the semis on the new Chatrier court, relatively fresh! Hey, I got nothin’ to lose ^^
    By the way, the new Court Simonne Mathieu looks pretty stunning, elegant and beautifully Parisian.

    1. Ah yeah just had a look at that new court. Looks cool.

      Will the French Open even take place? The Gilet Jaune are unstoppable. I love it. The Insurrection against globalist banker occupation. Allez!

      1. Yes, it will take place. The new stadium already cost too much money to the Parisians !   Otherwise, Guy Forget will commit hara-kiri … And if necessary, the players will exchange rackets with “baïonnettes” and will wear a yellow phosphorescent outfit (like Rafa at the AO). 🙂

    1. That’s why I said, pre-USO, I think it was, that I thought people might end up regretting supporting Djokovic in the hopes that Nadal wouldn’t end up catching Roger up.

      1. Yes but Alison,Nadal is so much closer to Feds slam count.Djoker has to get 6 more to
        Surpass him,a lot can happen in that time.

  21. I think it’s very important for Federer to play clay.

    One thing about his recent losses in majors: he’s served well, using fast-court tactics, volleys, etc. to back his already formidable serve. He wins nearly all his service games and most of them quickly. But he can’t consistently generate offense on return games–he is hesitant, a little passive, when he creates break points, and misses his opportunities to take control of the match. And eventually time runs out–he gets broken at the crucial moment, or it goes to a tiebreak and he can’t pick up the pace to match his opponent, who starts going for broke.

    To me this indicates a lack of confidence in his baseline game, compared to his serve and net game (which are sharper than they’ve ever been). It’s a physical, not a mental problem–he moves fine and he’s not injured. He just doesn’t back himself in the rallies, so retreats to safe mode where he’s not taking risks from the back court.

    Clay’s the perfect antidote: it will force him to rely more on his groundstrokes. If he plays on clay the way he’s been playing on grass/HC recently, he’ll get eaten alive because he can’t rely on his serve and net game to bail him out of trouble, he’ll get broken repeatedly. The only way for him to win matches on clay is to patiently construct points from the baseline, with precise timing and intent, then pull the trigger at just the right moment. This is precisely what he’s been lacking in the last few majors.

    In his old age he can’t hope to rally without a plan and win. He has to do what he did in 2017: use his superior hand-eye coordination and anticipation to consistently step into the court, take the ball early, and take away his opponents’ time. It’s a high-risk strategy, but he’s done it so knows he can do it again. Question is whether he can find the mentality that will allow him to take those kinds of risks.

    It’s not just as easy as telling himself “play like you did in 2017”–putting that kind of pressure on himself is just going to backfire. 2017 was a magical bonus season that we were all lucky to have after the horrors of 2013, the near-misses of 2014/2015, and the career-threatening injury of 2016. No point trying to bottle lightning. Just enjoy it for what it was and look to the next stage of his journey.

    At this point in his career, the only reason for him to step on court is if he enjoys it. Whatever he can do to find fresh pleasure in tennis–whether it be playing clay again, facing young hotshots, entering tournaments in new countries–he should do.

    One more thing: I know many people here do not believe Federer can defeat Nadal at RG. I do. It’s one of the biggest remaining challenges, and that’s what Federer does–climb new mountains, seeking ever-higher peaks and new vistas. He doesn’t run from adversity, or seek safety in the familiar–he does the opposite, forging ahead into the unknown. When he runs away, when he tries to avoid the problem, his game and mentality suffer, and he doesn’t enjoy himself.

    If he doesn’t play clay again, he won’t have the chance to confront this challenge; one more reason he should do it.

    There are still a few chapters left in the Roger Federer story–perhaps the greatest story in the history of tennis. I’m looking forward to them.

    1. Interesting comment, think I agree with most but “The only way for him to win matches on clay is to patiently construct points from the baseline” I dunno how that will work for him at all. That is the Nadal playbook not Federer. For me he has to go all out attack. Rallies are naturally going to be extended but I don’t think Fed can afford to patiently play points from the back of the court.

      1. RF should rehire Stefan Edberg – on top of Ljubi & Séverin –  for a few weeks to help him prepare Roland Garros ! Volleys + volleys + volleys !

  22. Oh my I loved it! DJO definitely in Nadal’s head. Congrats to Novak he made
    Nadal look ordinary. So much hype for this match, be interesting to her all
    the pundits, the easiest final I can remember at AO.

  23. I don’t think I have ever seen Nadal destroyed as he was tonight by Djokovic. There was nothing the Spaniard could do. Djokovic played the most ruthlessly consistent and accurate baseline game I have ever seen. It was uncanny how he seemed to have so much time. He could put the ball anywhere he wanted. Though winning few points outright off the serve, it set him up to win almost all of the ensuing rallies. Nadal looked – and no doubt felt – helpless. It was not a war of attrition as their 2012 final was; this time Djokovic was so much better than Nadal that it almost resembled an exhibition. But it also
    showed what the modern game is now built around at the very top; unrelenting groundstroke accuracy and consistency off both wings, implacable defence that turns into attack in a single stroke; and mental focus and ability to choose and play the right shot under pressure. There were no lapses. At all of this Djokovic is clearly better now than Nadal, let alone anyone else. He absolutely has his number. We can see why Djokovic has been such a formidable opponent over the years for Roger. Even Roger’s best is unlikely now to be enough to bring down the Serbian fortress. The difference in their respective ages will make it unlikely that they will meet again as equals.

    1. Well Nadal certainly got his clock cleaned there alright.I wonder if Pablo is finding it all so laughable now?
      I thought that the match Djoker played against Pouille was perfection,but this was as good.Ironic that it was Medvedev who gave Novak the biggest challenge.The “new”Nadal serve not only got returned with
      interest but also seemed more error prone.
      The incredibly easy draw actually did Nadal no favours,he wasn’t battle hardened and it showed.Novak
      seemed so serene on court,just amazing.
      Yes I don’t see Fed beating Novak in best of five but in best of three,his versatility and serve will help.
      Once Nadal started returning from so far back you knew the game was up.

      1. Djoker was simply on another planet an Rafa showed that he is still not in perfect shape. His deffensive game was not there compared to his standards. I think the fact that nobody challenged him during the tournament did not help.

        Having said that I believe that Nole playing like this is unbeatable on the AO. You simply can’t play better than that. I had never seen tennis playing that good.

        IMO he is the GOAT unless Rafa finds ways to challenge him during the next couple of years which seems unlikely.

    2. If you are wondering why Djokovic was able to so easily dispatch Nadal a stat from the comentators offers insight. Earlier in the tournament Novak’s average groundstroke speed was 123kph. In the final he was averaging 142kph. Where do increases of that magnitude come from?

      1. I don’t have the numbers, but I’ve always felt that Djoker cranks up the power in his shots significantly in crucial matches. I don’t know where the power comes from, but I do know that those shots still go in, those returns still drop right near the feet of the server, and those high pressure moments inevitably find him at his best. It feels like Djoker has solved the problem of modern baseline tennis; there is no way to defeat him on slowish hard courts.

  24. Well tennis is over for me to watch. I hope Fed can at least win number 100 this year. All the best to everyone and to Roger you will always be the GOAT and not just in tennis as an all around athlete. Thank Jonathan for this great what I think is the best tribute anyone can give to an athlete. Bye everyone!

  25. I’m not sure why Roger is talking of playing on clay again. Apart from the risk of increased wear and tear on his body, all the problems posed for Roger by slower court surfaces become magnified on clay. It isn’t a surface that favours the attacking game. Players like the great Sampras, Becker and Edberg didn’t do well in clay. And they weren’t up against opponents hitting with the groundstroke power and consistency that players have today. Roger doesn’t have that game. I don’t think we can expect much if he makes a return to the dirt.

  26. Just before AO 2017 Roger, Rafa and Novak had 17,14,12 slams.
    Nine Slams later it’s 20,17,15. Gaps are the same. The question is – how long can Novak keep playing like this? After RG 2016 when the slam count was just like the current situation -3 slams each, everyone were sure Novak is going to roll past Rafa and Roger quite quickly. They both added 3 slams and now, almost 3 years later he had caught up. Another Djoker-slam coming? Who knows? One thing is almost certain – if Rafa and Novak meet on the Terre Battue it will be at the championship match. Probably coming 1,2 seeds to that one. Will Novak break Rafa’s unbeaten record in RG finals? What do you think?
    BTW, they had lost only 9 slams since Wimbledon 2004 (Safin, Delpo, Cilic, StanX3, MurrayX3).

    As for Roger, I will be excited to watch him on the red clay, but I hope he prepares himself well, because if he can’t get it done in long rallies or play hyper-aggressive, he’ll might be defeated by mediocre players.
    So I’m excited but also a bit anxious.
    Does anyone why the neo backhand is gone? It was like the GOAT had found the formula that will make him unbeatable but then dumped it for no visible reason.
    IMO he must revive this weapon in order to win big tournaments. With the bigger racquest head, slower conditions, younger opposition and few other elements working against his offensive style of play, his forehand is just not enough of a weapon to get him through tough situations. He has to hit big on both wings.

      1. Bad phrasing.
        Meant to say that as I understand, the bigger racquet head improved his backhand but on the expense of his forehand.
        Other elements, e.g the courts getting slower, working against his style.

      2. That was just Federer talking anecdotally. All in the head. Like the Tuxedo racquet now in the dustbin as it wasn’t as good as the all black ?

  27. Hugely impressive final from Djoker. He has the complete game for the modern era. Probably playing at the highest level ever and back to his unbeatable best on this surface.

    1. Yes,when all those speakers were saying what a marvellous tournament it was you had to laugh.Terrible
      line calls,poor umpiring,letdown semis and final.The only match that was even vaguely exciting was the
      Roger/Stephanos match,but even that was annoying considering the Greeks rubbish play against Nadal.
      The women matches were more competitive and interesting.
      Agree about the Djoker.Glad to see that awful triumphalism has gone.

  28. Nowak was impressive today.

    Since 2017, total Grand Slams played : 9
    Federer won 3
    Nadal won 3
    Djokovic won 3.

    How lucky we are that they all play at the same time !

  29. I think that Fed has a nice chance on clay if and only if he comes up with something totally unexpected, be it a revised shot or some funky tactics. Otherwise he might go as deep as 3 rounds only to be beaten by some grinder.
    Clay may not cause as much shock on the joints but will cause more fatigue in the long term. It’s more suited to marathon than to sprint athletes.

  30. The final was a little surprising to me. The Women’s final was pretty good, and I kind of expected it to be eclipsed but it was a one-sided demolition job. One thing that I really took away from it is how futile comparing slam numbers seems – like it’s the only way to measure who is better than who. Djokovic has had these years where is flat out invincible, and this feels like it might be another. And then of course Rafa and Fed have had similar years and I think the GOAT argument has ran its course honestly. Not what any fan of the three wants to admit but personally I think it’s time for me to kick back and just enjoy watching arguably the three best to have ever played all play at the same time. Going be a long time until we see tennis played at this level again I feel.

    1. Barcelona is Nadal’s second bathroom, why on earth would he go there? If he’s to play a smaller clay tourny he should pick some easier one for warm up. I know Estoril straight up invited him.

  31. Well, my take on this is that the clay season is too long for Roger to take all of it off without suffering an overall lapse in his game – I think missing it hurt his play last year. That said, I’m not at all sure he needs to be playing RG – Bo5 on clay at his age? (although I’m no fan of players skipping slams needlessly). I think he ought to play it by ear and see how things go. I’m not 100% sure of the calendar, but if Dubai and IW are pretty close together, perhaps he *should* give Miami a miss? That would give him an opportunity to play Monte Carlo, and then see how things go after that. Perhaps a couple of clay masters, maybe sit out RG (which would then give him time to play Stuttgart if he wanted). Alternatively, we’re not realistically expecting him to get to the latter stages of RG, so possibly he could even play Stuttgart, or just abandon that idea and play Halle as usual. So what if it means some pretty last-minute entries? Or of course if he thinks he wants more clay-court practice he could go for one of the smaller tournaments. Just wait and see how he feels from week to week would be my suggestion.

  32. Sorry guys but I cannot see why Dopovic gets so much credit for today’s final.
    I think Djoko got into Nadal’s head (just like Nadal used to be in Rogers head for so many years)
    => It felt to me that Nadal was never convinced during today’s match to win it.
    His gameplan loooked like being made for a clay court match instead of a hard court event – it was ridiculous, who the hell told him so ?
    * He was way too passive, awaiting the 1st and even the 2nd serves 4m behind the baseline.
    * He was grunting a lot but could not produce any power on his shots which were not even dropping behind the t-line for most of the time (did his stuff forget to give him “uppers” in the looker room before the match ?)

    My conclusion:
    Djokovic was not that strong to produce that clear win, Rafa was that weak. Nole was not forced to do anything special,he just kept the ball in play and waited for the errors to come (the blueprint of both players normally).
    Today’s match very much reminded me of the Roland Garros 1/4F between these two players in 2015 (straight set win from Dopovic).
    The politically correct media and all the pundits are completely ignoring this and make an artificial hype about today’s match instead as the are in need to produce some “GOAT and GS-count talk” all the time.

    1. ? I dunno what you were watching. Nadal didn’t play his best tennis but he simply wasn’t allowed to. Djoker took the ball so early and hit it as clean as a whistle off both wings. It was a near perfect performance that deserves a lot of credit. He is producing the highest level of tennis around right now on a consistent basis.

      Nadal definitely doesn’t move as well these days from what I saw but it was a pretty good tournament for him too. Simply off clay Djoker is a league above him and a bad matchup for him.

      Based on your comment, it doesn’t look great for Fed as matchups aside weak Rafa made Tsitipas look like a school boy. Whereas it was Fed looking like the junior against the Greek.

      Had Fed been in the final today, I think he’d have got more games courtesy of his serve but hard to see anything else but straight sets for Nole.

      1. I guess I saw the same match you did.
        During the ATP Finals you wrote somethin like “Djoker is out of this world and getting better and better, his shots from both wings are out of this world and so on” according to the matches you observed him. Still Zverev kicked his ass in the final just like Khachanov two week earlier.

        Djoker had a cakewalk to the AO19 Final (Kruger/Tsonga/Shapovalov/only Medvedev that hasn’t shown anything remarkable since Tokyo took a set from him and made it a bit close/then Inchikory and then Pouille) spending no energy which was different in Paris-Bercy (after facing RF in the semifinal for example).
        My view: As always in tennis you just look as good as the opponent allows it.
        Nadal played a horrible crab game and Djokovic said thank you. The young guns are still not ready at the slams. Hopefully they will be more sharp at the Best of three tournaments…

      2. I don’t think Djoker is even bothered about the World Tour Finals, he is going after the big fish. The WTF is not a big tournament in the grand scheme of things. It’s behind Slams and 1000’s.

    2. Yeah have to disagree here, that was as close to unplayable as I’ve seen Djokovic. Effectively like the first two sets vs Federer in 2016 or that Doha final where he dismantled Nadal. Rafa probably could have been more aggressive, but when the guy is making you pick up shots off the baseline how can you possibly manage that? Yes, tennis is a game of match ups, but I simply can’t figure a way to play Djokovic in this form. His so called weaker wing was ridiculous and his serve too.

      1. First able I have to say I don’t think the best Rafa would have beaten Nole on Sunday at the Rod Laver but it is alto true that he was not at this best. This was not highlighted during the tournament because Nadal was not challenged in any round and we did not get to see his defensive game.

        After several months without playing he was not ready to take on ultimate challenge at the AO, to me he was not moving as he normally does and that did not allow him to recover from difficult positions. He needs to be able to do that consistently against Djoker otherwise he will play freely and destroy him. In the past there were matches where Nole looked on another level (USO 2013) but when Rafa was able to make him play several extra balls eventually got into his mind and that’s not posible if he does not move at this absolut best.

      2. Frankly, the record Djokovic has built up vs Rafa in recent years is more lopsided but similar to the one vs Federer, which is to say astonishing. He’s just about the only guy on tour there isn’t an obvious way to play.

  33. Don’t loose the faith !
    Do you remember 2011?
    A 41–0 start to the 2011 season ? and in the end
    RF vs. (…) 7–6(7–5), 6–3, 3–6, 7–6(7–5)

  34. It won’t surprise anyone here but I remain as sceptical of Djokovic’s feat in The AO final as of any other “hard-to-explain” sporting performance. Some of you think that Nadal was sub-par but I don’t know if you fully realise what Djokovic was doing out there. The Serb was hitting average groundstrokes at over 140kph. To put that in perspective, that was over 10kph faster than when he beat Roger in their 2011 semifinal- and Roger was another 10kph slower than that. That’s the tennis equivalent of being in the ring against Holyfield or Tyson – heavy blows. Even more incredibly, Djokovic wasn’t hitting with full power; he was playing within himself. Unlike anyone else against Nadal, he didn’t have to red-line his game. It was an almost effortless performance. He was then placing his shots with pin-point accuracy, and in the part of the court that made it the most difficult for Nadal. To seal it, he could absorb the best that Nadal could throw at him and turn it into attack; he was everywhere on the court. Nadal didn’t face anyone in the tournament playing like that, and I dare say he never has. I’ve never seen anything like it.

    Yet, both of these players have come off protracted recent slumps, due to injury or some other cause, and their careers looked as good as over. Now, they are moving and hitting better in their thirties than ever. All of this is in the realm of science fiction rather than sports. But it’s what modern sports has become. From what I can see, Roger’s game, at 37 and counting, could never match a game now played at that level; aside from his serve he doesn’t have the weapons that could overcome them; above all, he lacks the groundstroke power, accuracy, and defensive skills to live with them. His game increasingly has been surpassed by something superhuman. And here’s the rub. By aging and often seriously injured athletes. Buy that if you choose.

    1. Well you know what I think.What I found astounding was that against Pouille and Nadal ,Djoker wasn’t
      Really out of first gear.On the one occasion when Nadal had a break point,the hammer came down
      ruthlessly to snuff that out.
      Against Medvedev the younger man stayed with him by rallying until he gave up in the fourth set,
      scarlet faced and exhausted.
      So quite extrodinary,is this the same player that was beaten comprehensively in the World Tour finals by Zrerev.
      It is all rather odd.

      1. That was the judgment of expert commentators like Roger Raashid, as well. He said he has never seen Nadal move or play better than what he was doing earlier in the tournament and against Tsitsipas in particular. If he didn’t look the same against Djokovic that’s because of what Djokovic was doing to him. Nadal had nothing to hurt Djokovic with – and he knew it. The Serb was playing at a level I have never seen before in a slam final.

      2. Well, that’s true. You do have poor judgment. I’ll take Roger Raashid’s assessment over yours any day.

      3. @Annie – Pablo was replying to Armstrong.

        I don’t think Nadal was moving his best at all. His movement has diminished somewhat as he’s got older. Hence why he is trying to play more aggressive.

  35. No disrespect to Djokovic fans but this result is an outlier. Nadal was nowhere near whatever could or should’ve been the best form at this stage. As someone pointed, he wasn’t tested. Hopped over three wannabe kangaroos, fed his bunny Berdych some carrots, Tiafo was never a threat (simply has no staying power), and Tsitsipas, who was the only potential challenge before the final was schooled by him twice. He made the final without having to do anything, literally. What did you expect?

    Now, I only just looked at Nadal’s opponents and the highlights of the final was the only tennis I have watched htis season. This was an undercooked, untested Nadal, who had to deal with just one player ranked 39 or better. I just don’t know why the final was so hyped up.

    I didn’t see too much of scary tennis from Djokovic, Still, a slam is a slam and glad he won. It’s simple, there isn’t much competition left.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, the entire match had just 3 volley winners? 3?!?! I couldn’t find the net points won stats though.

    1. Sid, if you didn’t see how Nadal was playing earlier in the tournament you won’t gauge just what it was that Djokovic did to him in the final. Nadal had previously been crushing the ball. And his opponents. As Roger Raashid said during his demolition of Tsitsipas, Nadal was playing as well as he had ever seen him. Ever. And that was coming off injury and with no match-play. Tsitsipas after his loss said he had never faced a player like Nadal who could make you play so bad. And then comes along a rejuvenated Djokovic. So what is reality now?

      1. I didn’t see Djokovic do anything extraordinary in the final. Nadal had too many unforced errors (28 to be precise) considering 26 games were played. I am no talking forced errors, only unforced. He simply wasn’t doing anything even when he had the opportunity.

        Look at Nadal’s progression of opponents until the final: –

        WC, 48, 27, 57, 39. and 14. No top 10. One top 20. And only two better than 40. Also, it’s not like Tsitsipas was playing great. Change Roger’s 0/12 break point statistic against him and we would’ve seen a Nadal-Roger semi final. Besides, how many times has Tsitsipas reached a grand slam semi final? We are giving too much credit to Nadal.

        Will Djokovic win many more slams? Maybe 5? 6? 7? Likely. Was he in God mode in the final? No more than he was in the last 7 months before the AO.

      2. Nadal made a lot of errors because he was constantly under pressure. Djokovic dictated most of the rallies or turned them around. Nadal knew he could do nothing against this Djokovic. He was mentally beaten well before the final point. Djokovic was Neo in “The Matrix”. He could see what was happening before it happened, and he had all the time in the world. Nadal, unfortunately, played the role of Agent Smith.

      3. Nadal was displaying an incredible high offensive game but against Nole he had to play most of the time from deffensive positions and it was clear that he is still not in perfect shape on that side of his game (which is his biggest strenght).

      4. Nadal’s fabled defence wasn’t going to cut it against Djokovic on this day. The Serb wasn’t going to make the first error and, unlike any other of Nadal’s oppponents over the years, he knew how to break his defences by surprising him and keeping him off balance. He gave almost no opportunities for Nadal to attack him. He thus brutally exposed the limitations in Nadal’s game, which depends above all on being physically superior to his opponents – which he cannot do with Djokovic – and the clearly widening gulf of skill between them.

      5. Nadal has the game to beat Djokovic as he did 25 times already. Yesterday the Djoker was simply better, they were playing on his backyard and Rafa did not play for a few months. The difference we saw it is not the real difference,

        Then I don’t see what weaknesses you see on Rafa’s game but he has none. He was outplayed yesterday by maybe the GOAT on fire.

      6. You are such a Nadal fanboy you can’t see the obvious, that Djokovic owns Nadal now and has done so for some years. Djokovic was under no pressure, he disposed of Nadal as coolly as an execution; he is clearly better in every department of the game. The much-vaunted “Spanish Bull” lost more than his horns out there.

      7. Their H2H in GS is 9-6 for Nadal. If you look at it in detail you will see that they normally beat each other in streaks depending on how in form they are. Nadal got bad losses in the past against him and managed to come back (Nole got some too). You are just caught up in the moment.

      8. Djokovic leads 21-9 in the h2h since 2011. That also includes his weak years of 2016/18. The last time Nadal beat Djokovic in a slam was 5 years ago, at the 2014 FO. He has beaten Nadal 7 times straight. In the second half of his career Djokovic is by far the better player of the two. And if you saw their respective demeanours in the last AO final you would see that both players know it. Djokovic played without anxiety or pressure; Nadal with fear, knowing he has no answers now for a superior player. Their early history, which favoured Nadal and skews their h2h, is truly in the past.

      9. Including 2015 and until now, Nadal is a combined 2-14 H2H against both Djokovic and Federer. Unsurprisingly, those two Nadal wins against Djokovic were on…you guessed it….Clay!

        Nadal has not taken a single set off Djokovic on a hard court since his 2013 US Open title. Just for kicks, Nadal’s last three hard court losses to Federer were straight sets.

        Going further back, if you were to, for the sake of argument, have Federer rest for all of 2013 and early 2014 (his worst career stretch, at age 31, right around the same age Djokovic went climbing a mountain), his overall H2H vs Nadal improves to 15-18.

      10. “The last time Nadal beat Djokovic in a slam was 5 years ago”. They played each other 3 times since then, it is not like you based you argument on a big simple size. And that’s including the terrible 2015 Nadal had (he lost in straight sets in the FO) and last years’ W where the match could go either way.
        Then there is no doubt that Nole is a better hard court player (in fact he is the best ever on that surface) but the great streak he had against Nadal was all built on 2015 and 2016 when Rafa was playing pretty bad (wrist injury included) and was loosing against many players of the tour.

        Since 2010 when they played their first GS final they are 6-5 in favour of Nole with 4-4 in finals (2 on hard courts). I would say that’s pretty even and that’s removing their first 4 meetings (all won by Nadal) that you think should be erased from history.

      11. @TheCookieThief you are simply picking the subsets that better suit your argument. Let’s use the full sample size of matches we have: Nadal is 48-43 against both Nole and Roger with a dominant 18-9 in GS
        Roger: 37-48 (9-18 in GS)
        Nole: 53-47 (15-15 in GS)

        That’s the full picture then you can slice it the way you want to in favour of any of them.

      12. Pablo, in arguing Nadal still has parity with Djokovic you sound like Donald Trump defending himself against plummeting polls. The reality is that Nadal’s stocks are going down against Djokovic – as they did against Federer in 2017. You are the one who has argued that it’s the slams that count and yet you are searching for any statistic now that puts a different gloss on Nadal becoming Djokovic’s pigeon. Djokovic had two poor years from 2016/18 and it wasn’t just Nadal who benefited from that but a bunch of no-names. Take that blip out of the picture and Nole dominates Nadal where it counts – according to you, when the argument suits – in the slams. With Djokovic’s continued improvement Nadal’s homeland of clay is now under serious threat. I’m picking there won’t be a 12th French crown this year. Nole has Nadal where it matters most; in Nadal’s head. The Spaniard fears the Serb like no other player. And for good reason.

      13. The idiot here has failed to understand that the point of my comment indeed is to gauge the most recent performance of Nadal, and to do that,, it’s pretty standard to highlight the worst possible recent stretch.

      14. In statistics, you do that and attempt to find the worst stretch, effectively pointing out where the turnaround may have possibly started. I chose 2015 because that’s when Djokovic really started to string together the wins, which was later followed by Federer. No need to get so worked up.

      1. On clay he may well be better now, too. The last time they met at the FO, in 2015, it was a straight-sets win to the Djoker. Unless he has another peculiar slump, as in 2016-18, I am picking he will repeat the dose if they are to meet there again this year.

  36. Hi Jonathan.

    For 2018, I thought he could play Monte-Carlo and Rome only. Then, if he did well he could consider to play RG.
    For this year, I don’t think it’s a good idea to play Roland Garros at all… He can’t endure consecutive best of 5 set matches anymore, unless he wins on straights to the final (which is highly unlikely on clay).
    He should stick to play best of 3 tournaments on clay, maybe 2 or 3, just to get match play and wins, forget the points.

    Nevertheless, he choosed to play RG (I think it will be the last) so playing Rome should do it, nothing more.

  37. Reading all these comments ….and now I’m confused. Everyone makes sense. Djokovic looks like a cartoon villain, doesn’t he? Those beady eyes, the elongated face. The scowl. Is this why he is so hated?
    Maybe the final was rigged. In ten years time, the tennis police will be knocking on their doors, handcuffing them and charging them with match fixing. All their trophies and titles will be confiscated and given to our beloved Roger.

    1. If you take all their trophies and give it to the runner up, Roger will have a ridiculous amount of titles and unachievable records.
      Like 30 GS, 40 Masters and 600 weeks as number 1.
      Tempting. Let’s recruit for tennis police!

  38. After hearing and reading the many comments regarding DJO zen like,
    out of body experience,somebody watching over me oh and the best
    from DJO who will go and have a word with his tree! Do you think
    he’s been sniffing the gluten free? Now he won hands down but
    with all this rubbish we won’t have to watch a tennis match just join
    hands and hum!!

    1. Well he did seem eerily calm.I don’t know about all this diets,meditation stuff.My son runs marathons in his spare time.
      He has recently become a Vegan and now claims that he can run faster!He has not got to the zen stage
      yet,thank goodness but it wouldn’t surprise me if he did.So who knows?

      1. Not I.These people with strong convictions defend them up to the hilt.I like a bit of peace and
        quiet so let them get on with it.Roast lamb with mint sauce and lots of vegetables.Why deny
        yourself that?I don’t intend to,nor be made to feel guilty about it.?

      2. Nothing wrong with being vegan. I’s all about taste, and creative experimenting. But the fanatics – being meat-eaters or vegetable devourers – are all a bit laughable of course.

  39. It’s strange how it is for Nadal. He’s reached the same amount of AO finals as Roger has for Roland Garros, and only won one of them. Same as Roger…
    They both got their one Grand Slam title in which they own no more, in 2009.
    I kinda don’t want Djokovic to get another French Open title. Not that I want Nadal to either!

      1. Of course it would be nice with clay wins for Roger, but I don’t think he zeals for that as a main intent. I think he will come for fun, to air this a bit neglected dimension in order to strengthen his game, take part. And maybe to have some fun meetings with the clay-people…But of course he thinks he has some chance, otherwise he wouldn’t come.

  40. While the men argue away…here is some gossip. Nadal is finally getting married in the fall. Will he be injured on his wedding day? Hmmm….wonder if they live together anyway? I wonder if he lives with his parents still? Or did his dad move into another house?
    Or did his mom move into another house? Where does the sister live? Too many questions, forget about the tennis stuff, geez.

  41. ‘He needs his space when he is competing, and just the idea of me hanging around waiting on his needs all day wears me out. It would asphyxiate me.
    Quote from Nadal’s fiance , lol.

    1. Least he hasn’t rushed into it but why bother? Marriage is a horrific deal for the man, especially in the western world. I’d ask him – what changes between you the day after you get married? Nobody can ever come up with an answer 😀

      1. Well marriage doesn’t seem to be losing popularity as far as I can see?
        Nothing changes the day after you are married except that you are..married with all the financial and legal obligations that are implied.
        But I think we are wandering into deep and difficult waters here.

  42. Jonathan , I have a two questions for you. One , If Novak surpasses Federer’s slam count will he be the GOAT in your opinion and Two , do you think Federer and / or Nadal will ever beat Novak again. According to many media outlets, Novak at his best is unbeatable. I beg to differ. I believe Federer at his best has a 50 / 50 shot of defeating Novak. Let me know what your opinion is.

    1. I know your question is for Jonathan who no doubt will give an informed response.
      However a couple of things occurred to me.
      Firstly Fed is six years older than Djoker so that counts against him.
      However fed can break up Djokers rhythm with his net play,taking the ball early etc.
      I just don’t see him outlasting Djokovic in best of five.
      I also think that if Fed had played in the final he would have given a better fight than Nadals pathetic effort?

      1. 1) As Jonathan has not yet replied, he might not be interested in this option?
        2) To predict about this “ever”, one might be a supreme clairvoyant. I’m not sure such is around here. (At the moment though, Djoko seems very solid.)
        But this questioning might create a suspicion about some Djokofans writing here following up on his huge success just now, possibly making us to admit Djoko’s current and probable future GOAT-ness.
        David, nothing is for ever, sometimes even very short, before change happens.
        But Roger Federer is IMO a very rare tennis-artist and sports-person, – this his brilliancy makes him outstanding of any other, regardless of slams-winning counting.

    2. The GOAT debate is completely opinion based. You can use stats and make an argument for all three of them so I lost interest in it ages ago.

      As for getting a win, depends how many times they play each other again tbh. You can go in swings of not playing each other for long periods of time. I mean Fedal met zero times in 2018. I would think both guys are likely to get a W at some point though.

  43. His current game is only suited for fast courts. The problem is there is no fast courts. Serves good with a decent FH and BH. What’s missing is point construction. 2017 was the last time he did that. Clay season provided the perfect prep if he is patient enough to work on longer rallies. His super aggressive gameplay does not guarantee a Wimbledon titles anymore since there are many others with a strong serve and aggressive game that can win close matches. The only part where RF has no control is the movement. Gotta be a good mover to get the shots rolling.

    I just hope he prepares well enough for a 2019 second half run.

    1. Fed is not going for winning something on clay. It’s rather about to feel once more if it’s funny to play on clay and of course to give Spanish/French crowds the opportunity to follow him life. Always worth the time and money spend. No need to do any special preps for any surface. This will be a kind of exho. He needs to play free and happily. Nothing more. Still good enough to win some matches from scratch.

      1. Not sure what you are going on about. But RF is having a training block just before Clay. His team agrees that there needs to be some preparation unlike some absurd thoughts here.

      2. @Claud
        Fed would have a training block before any tournament or tournaments “family”. Of course he needs some training block on clay after such a long pause on this surface. Which does not mean, he plans to make a big preparation to go for the Paris crown.

        I’m sure, Fed knows, what are his chances on clay. He simply wants (whatever the reason) to play some clay this year (maybe last on this surface).

        Moreover – he does not really need a big prep between surfaces. Both Nadal and Djokovic almost never make special prep before grass and were still able to get some crowns.

        On this high level of tennis and this experience you don’t need to do much.

        Kind of paradox – Nadal or Thiem make for sure big preps on clay, because they are going for titles.

        Federer can play any surface from scratch. If he plays Halle or even Stuttgart and Halle before Wimbledon, it’s not because he forgot how to play grass 😉 He simply likes to play grass more than any other surface and there are not so many opportunities.

        If Roger makes a special prep for clay, it’s rather to try out some new concepts, able to make his life on clay easier. Not a prep for deep runs or titles.

    1. Obviously he will have a better relationship with this particular director over the other 2 masters. But the admirable David Ferrer deserves at least this one thing.

  44. How Should Federer Approach Clay in 2019? …. no harm trying to win Monte Carlo but not Rome as it is too close to RG but don’t overdo BOTH to miss Wimby through injury ….

  45. Just curious what you think about metal hips (Andy, Zimonjic just coming back with both metal hips). Is this kot a kind of doping? Like something “Spanish doctors” make every year to Rafa, so his knees can still work over the clay season at least.

    The implant technique has a terrific progress, not only for celebrity athletes, also for regular people. Reminds me on Pistorius story.

    If you can run faster being impaired, something is not OK, isn’t it?

    If such a Metal Andy needs an MTO during a match, not a physio comes, but service guys from the hip manufacturer with screwdrivers. If well made, his new hip will have unlimited lifetime, never get tired or injured. Is this doping?

    I have recently seen a kind of external skeleton used by Toyota to make workers able to lift weights and hold them high without getting tired or similar. Which means, they will perform better. OK, cars manufacturing is not a sport, but would such thing (like famous Raonic’ compression sleeves, not used as a treatment) mean a doping in sport?

  46. I got Laver Cup tickets!!! 😀

    Will be sharing with a friend though, as the cost was ridiculous… -.-
    But exited to be going there in my home town 😀

  47. Not me. Too expensive with the trip and hotel.
    I will try to get seats for Roland Garros though with a friend. We will try 2 consecutive days on Central Court (maybe round 2 ?) – each of us stuck in front of our PC on the first day of ticket sales to have a chance to see Roger play.  Pray for us ! If seats are sold as quickly as the Laver Cup… no guarantee at all.
    If we manage to do it, I’ll write a fan story.

  48. FBF, Make sure you go for 2 days of round 2 (or round 1 if you are paranoid.) Then you will see our man. Otherwise, one day round 2 and one day of round 3 and you could be out of luck.
    I’ll be in tennis paradise in one months time. My brain is exploding! lol

  49. One reason Federer is playing a lot this year is to keep his rankings up. He is playing Stuttgart before Wimbledon, I believe. That’s a lot of tennis for his age.

  50. I am just so happy to see Federer play and if he wants to try, why not? He is in a position to decide and that is wonderful in itself. I wish him only the best.

  51. 142 average groundstroke speed is impossible. I have never seen anyone averaging over 140 on the forehand in a match, let alone both wings included.

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