ATP Masters 1000Roger FedererShanghai Masters

Shanghai Turns Into Shanglow For Federer

Hey all, another Masters 1000 comes to a disappointing and premature end as Roger lost to Monfils 6-4 6-7(5) 6-3 to bow out in the last 16 for the second tournament in row.

It's meant his World Tour Finals qualification hopes have taken another hit but perhaps more worryingly this was another telling loss at the hands of an opponent he's previously dominated.

Yet again he played well in fits and spurts but couldn't quite pull it together on the bigger points when he needed to. Monfils handed him several life lines during the match but ultimately he was the better player on the day and clearly deserved to win based both on what I saw and the match statistics below.

Quick Match Analysis

Federer Loss in Shanghai 2013

The match started with an inexplicable service game from Roger has he made 3 stupidly wild errors to get broken. It looked like he was going hit straight back but Monfils saved 2 break points with big first serves and consolidated to lead 2-0.

A Federer hold was then followed up by a Monfils love hold and that pattern continued as the Frenchman was able to fire down big first serves when he needed them en route to closing out the first set 6-4.

From Roger's perspective the big pain point was dropping his serve immediately, if he hadn't lost it so easily the set would most likely have gone into a tie break which puts things in his favour.

In the first game of the second set Federer found himself in more trouble having to save a break point before holding. He then had a break point on the Monfils serve but couldn't take advantage due to more big serving from his opponent.

At 3-3 Federer threw in a terrible service game with three successive errors to slip to love forty before another forehand error gave Monfils the all important break of serve. Not sure why he played such a rotten game, maybe due to the fact he took Monfils to deuce in his previous service game from 40-0 up but couldn't find the breakthrough either way it was painful to watch.

Promisingly Roger managed to hit straight back, playing some great points to setup his break point and sealing it with a sweet forehand and it looked like momentum was going to switch in his favour as he held to lead 5-4.

Monfils leveled up at 5-5 with a love hold and after no more real inroads on serve the set went into the tie break which was hit and miss from both guys.

Leading 3-2 Federer made a weak error after a substantial rally and Monfils reeled off 3 points in a row to lead 5-3. It looked like he would streak away as he had 2 serves but a complete choke of a forehand at 5-4 let Roger back into the breaker which he took when Monfils drifted long mid rally.

To be honest it was very lucky on Federer's part that he was allowed back in but you take what you can get and a little luck never goes amiss on a tennis court. At the time I thought it was the turning point as Roger looked like he'd started getting his act together but obviously we now know it wasn't to be.

With the scores tied at 1 set a piece it was anyone's game and it looked like it could go the way of the Swiss as he had 0-30 in Monfils's opening service game but couldn't take advantage.

A mammoth service game at 1-2 saw Roger drop serve despite fending off two break points and wasting his own game point. Monfils followed it up with a love hold to move 4-1 in front and that eventually became 4-2 after a crucial multiple deuce hold from Federer. Roger got himself two more break point in Monfils's next service game but again played timidly to slip 5-2 behind.

Those were probably the two biggest games of the match, he digs out a huge hold at 4-1 fending off 2 break points, then creates 2 break point chances of his own but fails to capitalise and lets Monfils hold and gives him virtual match points. Story of the season or what huh.

5-2 became 5-3 and there was always a chance Monfils might choke but he played a lights out service game to close it out to love and with it end Roger's chances of a Quarter Final showdown against Djokovic.

Match Stats

Federer Monfils Match Stats Shanghai 2013

If a guy serves 5 double faults and you only break once then questions have to be asked….

Thoughts on the Match

Federer Press Conference Shanghai

Another tough loss at the hands of a player he would usually be defeating with little to no hassle. But how do you explain it? From my point of view it all boils down to confidence as his actual level of play isn't that bad. It's just when he really needs to play consistent he can't quite muster it.

As I alluded to in my last post, in situations like 15-40 on his own serve, or 0-30 on his opponents he can't string together 2 or 3 good points, you get 1 moment of inspiration but the very next point is wasteful or a bad bad error.

In previous years points like that game him confidence for the next one, now they seem to have zero or if anything a negative effect. Strange really. I thought winning vs. Seppi would have given him something too but it seems any momentum he has wears off quickly these days and heh starts each match at confidence level zero or worse no matter what happened in matches previous.

We can all pick out certain things, oh he didn't return great etc but overall I thought Roger played an ok match, he's certainly played worse and still won matches that's for sure. He did hustle extremely well off both wings I thought and the majority of errors came not when he was defending but either trying to force the issue or just in at a neutral point in the rally.

It was much like the Robredo game in a way as he had chances but just wasn't able to turn them into anything meaningful. All his genius type points came in the less important moments, you could make a highlight reel of them and it'd look like he played a great match but the scoreline sadly says otherwise.

As for Monfils well we know what he can do, he's a very talented player as he proved today blasting 37 winners to 26 unforced errors, beating Roger in all areas really and clearly the deserved winner. I was a little frustrated by his injury faking and time wasting tactics to slow down the game when Roger was finding some rhythm but ultimately that's up to the umpire to pick up on.

Roger has to be able to handle stuff like that and I'm not sure it really bothered him a whole lot anyway, it might have added to his already sky high levels of frustration at his own game but it certainly wasn't the reason he lost.

Hard to pick positives but he did move pretty well for most of the match, served at 71% and won 20 out of 31 points at the net so it wasn't like his game was falling to pieces, just he was choosing the wrong shot to play and making errors when it mattered most.

As to why the match played out the way it did I have no ideas really, he's become a bit of enigma these last 6-12 months, the model of consistency he set so high has almost flipped on it's head.

In terms of what he does next I'm not sure either, does he just ride out the remainder of the season as per his schedule, see what happens and then start planning for 2014? That's probably what he will do but I don't feel too confident for Basel, Paris or the o2 based on that.

Things rarely improve if you just wait and see so he might end up stuck in a rut until 2013 is finished with, it won't make pretty watching but there's not much we can do as fans other than cheer him on either live or sat in front of the TV.

I guess there's always the chance his game clicks suddenly and all is well again but it just feels unlikely now based on the last 10 months, I thought it was going to happen in Shanghai but unfortunately we got an action replay of the last however many tournaments.

Will Roger Qualify for London?

London World Tour Finals

Roger's London chances are pretty much in the balance now but it's still in his own hands as to whether he makes it or not. He's gotten lucky with Gasquet losing in the first round and Raonic losing today too but Wawrinka is now right there.

It will all depend on how he performs in Basel and Paris as to whether or not qualifies. Right now it doesn't look like he's adding any more tournaments to the schedule which is a little surprising but maybe he's just written this year off in his mind now and what will be will be. In fact I think that's pretty likely, he's going to be diplomatic about things in the press but many of his comments have alluded to 2013 been a transition year for him and it seems it's not a priority now for him in the slightest.

I don't buy into his line about how important he thinks the World Tour Finals are either as I know from watching that it's not the biggest priority for a player and they know it's not a slam so I guess he's just seeing what happens and will go from there.


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. Interesting: it was in Dan Maskell’s “vital seventh game” that things went wrong in 2 sets? I hadn’t realised.

      I have to say, I wasn’t joking when I picked Monfils to win in 3 on MTF, but I wish I’d been wrong. Still, sounds as though it should really have been in 2 πŸ™

      1. Agreed.

        “Shanghai turns to Shanglow” = Genius. Right up there with the “PONG” graphic for future Wimbledons.

  1. I haven’t seen the match and honestly, I don’t have enough nerves left in me to watch the highlights right now…
    I really had hope for Shanghai and I can’t yet accept that Federer has to fight for his spot at WTF even after Murray’s withdrawal.
    I was at work following the live scores as well as stats and couldn’t quite understand what was going on as his stats weren’t that bad, except for the return…
    I think being broken in that first game pretty affected his play and as he said it himself, he was lucky to come back in the second.
    Now I am curious to see if he will play Viennes. After all they are saving a WC in case he needs extra race points… Well now he reaaally needs them…

    1. Do watch them! There are some fab moments to treasure and put in the Roger bank for the future when we are all in our bath chairs reflecting on times past!!!

      1. Couldn’t resist that much and followed your advice Susie. And as you said Jonathan, at moments you feel like he was playing like only Federer could play and then there are those not-so-unusual-anymore moments when I wanted to jump into my screen and shake him hard and force the magic out of him!

        Read his presser too, seems like he’s not playing Vienna. So let’s hope the best for Basel. No expectations, no disappointments. I will take it as it comes out and wait for 2014…

  2. I don’t think he was playing all that bad, but kept losing important games, even after being in the front. And he said it himself, too many ups and downs, his fh went missing in the third. Tremendous hit to the ego and confidence. This is sad

  3. I think the World Tour Finals are important because it might be the only chance he’s going to get this year to see how well or badly he does against the big names, and to be able to play a few matches without having to exit sooner than planned. It is very difficult to figure out just what’s going wrong, probably for him too. It must be sheer hell to go out there and play knowing the eyes of the world are on you and feeling so uncertain about your game, and each loss will be making that worse. I too think it’s all about confidence. I can’t help thinking back to the first set in Cincinatti which is absolute proof he still has the old magic and still has the game. I just said in another blog, but I’m wondering if the best thing he could do right now is get the help and advice of a sports psychologist. He says it’s just a matter of keep on working keep on trying and improving his confidence but I think he might need outside help with that. Only thing is he’s so independent, and has his own ideas, so if that thought has even crossed his mind he’s probably dismissed it as unnecessary.

    Nice words about Roger from Rod Laver today. A man who knows his tennis πŸ™‚

    1. Hey Rita,

      Yeah I guess in that aspect it’s important to see if he can beat someone in the top 4. Hadn’t thought so much of that.

      Not sure how he rebuilds confidence short term though, kinda gotta get on a big run again and take down a tournament, hard to see where that comes from now though.

      Sports psychologist – not sure, all a bit wishy washy I think, they can’t help him once he’s on court.


      1. Actually, beating someone in the top *10* would be a start at the moment :(. I agree with Rita, especially about the hell about this having to be so public.

        I still think Fed needs to make it to the WTF: a minimum of 3 matches, all against more or less top 10 players, and probably all ranked above him, the way things are going. Even if he loses them all, at least it’ll be better than losing to world no. 100+, although I admit it wouldn’t do great things for his confidence.

    2. He still has the magic now but as J has said, stringing those moments of magic together for long enough is what he cant seem to do right now. As he himself has said, the mind wanders… Although he fought hard today! Was plsed to see that!

  4. Great post Jonathan.

    Didn’t want to be a downer, but when I woke this morning I was fully prepared to see the final score going to Monfils. The expectation I’ve had for a long time that Roger will win these matches has been wiped away by 2013 and now – after Brands and Verdasco and Robredo (sp?) I brace myself for the worst.

    Its hard to know for sure how much he means of what he says, but he seems doesn’t see any big solutions or radical changes needed. To me his mentality seems to be: “Wait for ‘it’ to come back. Nothing I can do but keep fit, work hard, stay positive and wait for my bad luck to run out and my good fortune to return. Build confidence over some aggregation of successful matches.” I don’t mean to say he’s lazy AT ALL – obviously he’s focused on hard work, but there is not foundational problem or solution in his mindset that he sees – at least in interviews.

    And I get what Rita says – you watch that set against Nadal in Cincy – and his play against the 2nd and 3d round at the Open and you can’t blame him for thinking there is nothing fundamentally that he can do.

    I don’t know what else to think either as a fan beyond the good ideas Sid and – was it Susie? – had. 5 can;t fault Roger for his basic philosophy cause he does have those flashes and you just can’t figure out why he goes to some crazy places like the first game Jonathan mentioned today.

    Otherwise I guess it’s just wait and see with Roger as he “waits and sees” (and works hard).

    I will say one possible positive form this: RE: a needed racquet change – If Roger is ever going to change his racquet it seems far less likely he would do it unless things stay bad. Even a BREIF return to form with the PS 90 makes it highly unlikely to me he’d try anything else.

    1. My words hv come back to haunt me! It’s all about the serve! Time was his placement was unreadable, service game was in the bag and he could, without any thought of nerves, go all out and attack he oppos serve. That has gone and until his serve is the weapon it once was, then he ain’t gonna get his confidence back to go all out and play nerveless tennis! Monfils read his every serve today and too often he had to come from 0-30 down! Physically and mentally tiring! No cheap points! Apart from that he wasn’t that bad! He has always hated playing those pesky Frenchies like Monfils and Simon who just get it back and back and back! Thought Fed could hv come into net more in 3rd set when he had the chance as Monfils doesn’t hv a great passing shot, but it is what it is! And he did fight pretty hard! My view now? Play Vienna, even to get 100/250 points! They all count now! Go all out to win Basle! Stan will lose to Nadal and Raonic lost so still has a chance if he can accumulate another 500-600 points! It ain’t over til the fat lady sings!

    2. Not much we can do as fans, he just gotta try find the answers. I think there some ok signs in Shanghai, definitely moved better but how do you take positives from a loss?

  5. “And while Rafael Nadal has a 21-10 career advantage over Federer, Laver doesn’t think he has the complete body of work that Federer has accumulated.” – Rod Laver.

    That’s precisely what non-Roger fans fail to understand. Even with say 19 slams and 30+ Masters 1000’s, Nadal can’t even be considered for comparison with Roger Federer. The great Rod Laver understands that tennis is a game of match up’s and the H2H should be the last thing to be used for comparison.

    A vast majority of Roger’s achievements have come on the surface that is the most neutral, that rewards all types of skills a tennis player can develop, hard courts. You could win on hard courts with serve and volley. You could win by being a net rusher. You can win simply on the strength of a great serve and a big follow up forehand. Or, you can win by playing grinding base line tennis. But on clay, the only skill rewarded is endurance.

    So, while Nadal’s achievements are phenomenal, unfortunately, they don’t represent the “complete body of work that Roger has accumulated”.

      1. Alysha, ignore this idiot. He is a Spanish speaker so no surprise where his unconditional allegiance lies. Just so you know, the calendar is something that we made up. Roger held all titles (clay, grass, and hard court) together when he won AO 2010, which is within a span of 12 months (or a year). And as long as we are playing with numbers, Roger is the only player to hold three slams at the same time, on four different occasions.

        The great Rod Laver is the only player ever to win two “calendar” slams, that too more than five years apart, which is the ultimate testament to his greatness. He says Roger has a more complete resume than Nadal. Who would you believe, Rocket Rod, or the McEnroe’s and the Courier’s and the Castle’s and the two-bit journalists of the world?

        You’re right about surfaces. AO was slowed in 2008 by introducing Plexicushion, resulting immediately in a Roger loss that same year in the semi. The surface (not grass), at Wimbledon has been modified to last longer, resulting in higher bounce and a significant loss of skid, hence changing its characteristics so much that it is referred by many a “green clay”. Djokovic won Wimbledon in 2011 with just on S&V attempt on the penultimate point of the match vs Nadal. It shows you that you can play on grass these days as you can play on clay.

        You cannot have an intelligent conversation with Nadal fans, most of them at least, and particularly those who are Spanish speakers. So I’d say don’t waste your energy πŸ™‚

      2. Ah Sid ^ thanks for the heads up on our new friend Pablo Picasso, painting a beautiful picture of a blind worshipper of Rafa himself. I mean THE Rod Laver, said that he thinks Roger is the greatest of this era (meaning better than Nadal) himself. What more can you ask for? I don’t believe there is a GOAT because it’s impossible to contrast generations with different technology, surfaces, players etc but if there ever was a GOAT for a gentleman, the title is yours Laver (tied with Roger though obviously haha). Also can we block Pablo from here orrr? He might even show himself the door if Djokovic gives him another lash after Beijing…

      3. Yes, he is the best of his era ( Hewitt, Roddick, Safin…). Nadal is 27 years old, we’ll see what the great Rod Laver says and what the world will say when Nadal finishes his career.

        Easy to know πŸ™‚

      4. Hey Alysha, so where exactly is Del Po in the London race? All those points he could’ve won at the US Open may come back to haunt him. I still can’t believe he lost to Hewitt there in the second round, which was actually his second loss in a row to the Aussie. These weak era players, I’m telling you, are a nuisance, aren’t they? How dare he beat our World No. 5 and 2009 US Open Champion? This is an outrage!


      5. Yes Hewitt, SUCH a weak player, we should protest or something right Sid? Haha. Pablo are you sure you’re not really Nadal…come out Rafa, we know it’s you speaking about weak eras…

      6. Alysha, I know, right? I think we need to have three different GOAT’s and I’ll explain why: –

        Pre-Open Era: Rod Laver
        Open Era: Roger Federer
        Dope Era: Rafael Nadal


      1. and by the way, this is totally wrong assumption πŸ˜‰

        “You cannot have an intelligent conversation with Nadal”

      2. and by the way, this is totally wrong assumption πŸ˜‰

        “You cannot have an intelligent conversation with Nadal fans “

      3. Shamtoot El Nadal Al Rafael, I said, “most Nadal fans”, not “all Nadal fans” πŸ™‚

  6. I love watching Roger play (win or lose ), He is a joy to watch and I will be devastated if he doesn’t play at the O2,I already have my ticket for the games and would be so disappointed if Roger isn’t there I wish him luck and am certain he will come back stronger than ever,all this year has been a minor hiccup for him,Allez Roger ,we all love you….

    1. Keep the faith, he will get there! After all as HumphreyBogart said, ” we still have Paris!”( sorry, couldn’t resist!

    2. I think there’ll be a lot of disappointed fans if Roger doesn’t make it to the O2. Imagine you’ve paid all that money to watch Raonic! Ticket sales will go down for next year! Already there will be people desperately disappointed tomorrow to be watching Djokovic/Monfils instead of Djokovic/Federer. Only one man can put all this right πŸ™‚

  7. Hi Jonathan, first I would like to thank you for your blog, its really the best for Fed fans. Second, After watching today’s match with Monfils, I came to realize a few things that may explain some of the things that happened lately and hopefully interest some of the followers (it’s a bit long..sorry):
    1. Coming to Shanghai, where the courts are faster and entering the indoor tournaments, there is no need for more power and therefore new racquet, so given he still has some commitments to 2013 results he preferred to stick with his trusted weapon of choice, which always performed well in this time of year.
    2. Monfils serve is similar to Roddick’s. It was Fed specialty to return those kind of serves in the past and with interest. recently (and a lot during today’s match) its like his reaction is a touch slower, which makes it harder for him to break. (Maybe it was the shining color of Monfils’ shirt :))
    3. Everyone is stating the lack of confidence, and rightfully so, however there are two causes for such problem: the first is that you have the capability and you just question if you can execute (in this case winning is the most common cure), the second is that you question if you have the capability (in this case changes should be made, such as new racquet etc.) I fear that we are facing mostly the latter.
    4.Since I trust Fed to be a super intelligent professional, with one of the best teams around him, I think they chose a simplified strategy that says – lets use the rest of the season as a reference to make sure what type of confidence problem we are facing. If Fed wins and get back to form great! if not we have until Australia to come up with something new.

    I just hope he wins! its harder to teach old dogs new tricks..

    1. Hey Yunchook,

      Thanks for the comment πŸ™‚

      4 is a good point and I think that is what he will do…

      I think Shanghai ended badly but he didn’t play a bad match on the whole, just not quite putting it all together right now, almost like his junior days when he was inconsistent. Just needs some wins I feel, whether they will come or not is a different story…


  8. On a more general note, I do sense that the tennis order is being shaken up. Ferrer clearly on the way down, Tsonga still not reached potential and clearly won’t! Berdych still brittle when it matters! Raonic on the way up, like him or not! Delpo beginning to believe, ( hope so personally). Fed is right. 2014 looks like being an interesting yr!

    1. Yep good observations! As for the murray, nadal and djokovic, they will still be far above the rest and the ones winning the slams. Federer though, is a complete wildcard to me…

  9. I think Federer does think the WTFs are important. He has the record of wins there and I believe he is very proud of his play there over the years. Of course this year if things keep going the way they are, he might just want to finish the season, put it behind it and prepare mentally for next year. I was worried when he was playing Monfils how well his play would stand up to Djokovic’s if Roger did play him in the quarterfinals. Saw Stan in the stands watching Rog. Also I don’t remember if anyone mentioned the 15 aces (I believe that is what the ATP had-don’t know why had some different numbers) but whatever, that got Gael how of some trouble when he needed it. I don’t know what happened either Jonathan. I thought that he didn’t let it slip away in the manner he had in the past (2010, 2011?) often. Roger seemed to fight hard. But he was letting it get under his skin. Other times he would just move on. The thing I really agree on his that his movement was good. He should just be scrambling for all the points he can, not just to get to London but to end up the top 10. Roger made the semis at Shanghai last year, he didn’t play Paris, but he got to the final of the WTFs.

  10. I thought I’d just repost this thought in the correct post. Just my thoughts. I know some disagree. But I’d like to understand why. This is the logic I’m trying to use-

    The way I see it is this- A lot of the pressure comes from his weak return of serve. His inability to make inroads in his opponent’s service games, as compared to the top 3, has started putting more pressure on him to hold serve. Earlier, when his game was on, he was confident of being able to win regardless of how one aspect of his game was performing. Now, because he can’t string together 4 decent returns, he’s unable to create too many break point chances. And when he does, he get’s aced!!

    Out of Nadal, Novak, Murray and himself, he’s undoubtedly the weakest returner. (no questions about that)
    That begs the question- what is it that those guys are doing that Federer isn’t?
    The answer- all of them stand a few feet further behind the baseline as compared to Federer when receiving serve. It gives them more time to get a crack at the ball.

    Now you can argue that his game is different from theres. Sure it is. But I’m not talking about playing the rest of the rally camped a mile behind the baseline. Merely the return of serve. Have the time to get a good crack at it. Put in more returns. Alt least allow the opponent to make a mistake. There isn’t any point in missing 2 returns, putting a reaction stab back in the centre of court, and missing a second serve chip return. It’s unacceptable.

    It’s a problem. He needs to figure it out. The solution can’t be moving a step ahead. It can’t be making his reactions quicker. It CAN BE taking three steps back to allow him some extra time to put in around 20% extra GOOD returns in play.

    Better return game equals less pressure on your own serve getting broken. I watch a Djokovic match, I see him getting broken, and there’s no worry. I know that he’s consistently going to put in 3 out of 4 returns. And that’s going to put pressure on the opponent. Federer get’s broken and we’re all shitting ourselves, praying for a double fault from his opponent.

    1. Good thoughts but I see it slightly differently as posted earlier. Better service games means less pressure when returning, ie he can relax more and go for it. Holding serve and holding easily has become the major issue for me, clearly on his mind too. He becomes jittery when not serving and then can over think the shot. Some of his instinctive shots today were just awesome, compared to others when he had too much time, too much choice, you cld see him thinking and then the ufe wld follow!

      1. Ummn. Look at it this way. There’s MUCH more pressure when you have to hold serve, cause you’re expected to. If you drop serve, there’s a good chance the set’s gone. Not so with the return. You have to break once in a set and that’s all that might be required. So it’s not the poor service games that are putting pressure on the return, it’s the inability to get the return that’s adding to the pressure of holding serve.

        If I’m confident about my return game (which is in any case much less pressure), then I’m not too worried about ensuring that I hold each service game. Cause I know that even if I drop serve, I can retrieve the break. With that pressure off my mind, I’m not thinking too much every service game, leaving me free to play with a loose arm.

      2. I’ve said before, I think he needs to think less and just react instinctively. That’s why I think so much of his current problem is mental.

      3. This is the mentality of this era though. A chunk of them are better returners (other than the upcoming generation, all poor returners) because the courts have forced them to be that way. This might be the case for a lot of players that their quality of return dictates their serve but when it comes to Roger, it’s evident that’s not the case.

        If you look at Roger’s matches from the US Open last year against Berdych, Roger has been getting into a lot of trouble in his service games. Once Roger gets tight on his service games, he can’t execute properly on the other elements of his game, including the return. To be quite honest, Roger has been returning a bit more aggressively on the second serve this year. Fed needs the serve, it’s one of the most important, if not the important part of his game. Without it, everything else falls apart.

        To me this year, the return has been the problem, it always has been. But the bigger issue lies in break point chances when he gets into the rally and has no confidence to take the opportunity. Fed is no Djokovic/Nadal/Murray, he’s not going to return like those guys, he’s gotten so used to getting the ball back in play that it’s hard to change that up and when you have no confidence, it’s extremely difficult to create chances.

        Right now, Roger needs to maintain focusing on getting smoother service games. A burden of losses and lack of matches means low confidence. He is rushing, doesn’t know what shot to play, he looks confused out on the court. The only way he plays freely on the return is if he gets out of service games quick otherwise he won’t be concentrating on the return. He will be mentally/physically drained from trying to keep all the parts of his game together.

      4. I agree with Susie, Roger’s game is not based on return of serve and standing 3 feet behind the baseline. It’d be suicide.

        Standing back on the serve will gain him nothing other than put him him wildly out of position and leave him defending from that point on. No way that works in his favour.

        He has to hug the baseline and take swipes at the ball. I think he returned well vs. Monfils actually, Monfils was serving very well but Roger did look to hit over the backhand when he had chance. There were some weak returns but they are part and parcel and more to do with his frustration.

        I also disagree that if you are confident about your return game you don’t mind dropping serve, if you go in with that mindset you won’t win many matches. Serve is probably the most important shot in mens tennis.

        One of the biggest reasons Djokovic started winning slams was his improvement on serve. If Ferrer had a serve he’d win more tournaments. And they are both great returners.

        [So it’s not the poor service games that are putting pressure on the return, it’s the inability to get the return that’s adding to the pressure of holding serve.]

        Nope, don’t work like that, when you are struggling to hold serve it puts more pressure on your return as you can’t relax. Watch Roger vs. Big servers like Karlovic, Isner, Roddick etc, in all those matches he is able to hold his own serve easily and play free and lose on his return game/

      5. Jonathan, you summed it up well. You win tennis matches by achieving something on your opponents serve. There is no way around. It’s either through service breaks, or mini breaks, but you have to break the opponent, their soul, their nose, leg, whatever, the point is, you’ve got to break. Which makes holding your serve that much important. Your prime objective is to not get broken, not break your opponent. Whether it’s Roger Federer or rank amateurs like me, as goes our serve, so goes our game.

        Gaurav, every service game you hold gives you house money you can play with to break your opponent. Improving your return game to compensate for your weak service game is a fundamentally flawed strategy. Having said that, Roger’s return of serve is without a doubt going from bad to worse, but staying further behind the baseline will add to his problems. It’s an issue I addressed in another post a few months ago but we can do it again here.

    2. I agree Guarav with the return of serve being a huge issue for Roger but I think you need to actually look at his own serve being the problem. Not so much the problem but he isn’t getting free points anywhere near as to what he previously used to. When Roger is being put under pressure on his own serve, you could see yesterday Monfils was returning really well and reading it pretty good that he made Fed impatient and got him to deuce quite a few times. Roger was pulling the trigger way too early on shots, making errors because he wasn’t getting away on his serve like he normally does. If he isn’t at ease on the serve, his return game just isn’t going to be there. Susie hit the nail on the head that holding serve easy means you can play freely on the return. Also, Monfils was serving pretty big/clutch so there is only so much you can do. Roger couldn’t break because he had no confidence in a big point to pick the right shot.

      Fed rushed big time on points on his serve and made the error. Can’t do things like that. If he did that against one of the top 4 guys, you can only imagine what would happen. Roger’s game and rhythm are dependent on the serve.

      1. Right with you there! Feel I am repeating myself ad nauseum but yes it’s all about the serve. Just look what a difference improving their serves has made to Djokovic, from late 2010 onwards, and for Nadal, since he has been back! Total freedom on the return game! Fed has never had the return but always had the unbreakable serve to back up gabbing the odd break point! Now, as he struggles to hold serve, panic then sets in on the return game!

      2. Hey Alysha,

        Have a look at my response to Susie’s comment just above and let me know your thoughts. Damn, I’m so frustrated right now. I’d been counting down the days to Shanghai. Now I guess it’s on to hoping that he’ll take a wild card to Vienna next week.

        I pity Roger for having to come out and play doubles after that defeat. I’m sure he wouldn’t have been in the best of moods, specially after what the press would have subjected him to.

      3. Yes, but can he improve his serve now? What can he do? He isn’t getting any stronger physically, not going to get a new technique or grip etc. I think how he serves is really dependent on his confidence of the day. He was serving great against Seppi yesterday, but served poorly today. I don’t think there’s much he can do to improve his serve’s base level. And as for the return, I agree with Gaurav, his aggressive positioning on the return has helped him a lot over the years, but his reaction time’s only going to get worse with age. What he can do to mitigate this is to stand further back for the return, and make sure the damn ball lands in, and lands in deep, like Gaurav said.

      4. I understand that, the back has been a huge problem this year. Roger underplayed it in media but don’t let him fool you, there is no doubt that his injury flared up and cost him a lot this season. In that sense yes, the serve always not controllable, one day it’s here the next its not. But from what I’ve seen this year, could be due to age etc, Roger’s first serve has been slower than what it usually is, to be quite honest, his second has been better than his first. It’s all about placement though for Fed with the serve, he’s facing better returners these days so obviously he’s not gonna get away as easy but it’s the key to the rest of his game flowing. Maybe loss of confidence throughout the year has impacted the serve, I really don’t know. We’ll see what happens in the indoor.

        Definitely don’t agree about Roger standing behind the baseline for returning. Big no no. Giving an advantage to the opponent there. Roger doesn’t like the high balls, he just needs to take a hit at it, not chip it back and play it cool, needs to have a crack at the ball.

    3. Ok, so I’m watching the Novak- Monfils match.

      Djokovic served first. Monfils put in a great return game. Broke to 15.

      The very next game Djokovic returned 5/7 first serves (one just missed the line) and 1/1 second serves. Needless to say, he broke. In a game where Monfils served at around 95% first serves. He made the same serve that made Roger suffer all night yesterday, look ordinary today. It was the same serve. Not like Djokovic saw many second serves. But the serve just looked absolutely ordinary because Nole returned almost everything. Nice and deep. And when he didn’t at least he made Monfils have to hit an extra shot.

      That takes SO much pressure off his service games.

      1. The next return game- Novak returns 5/6 first serves. Breaks again.

        It should be noted that he himself got broken in his first two service games. Just think of the amount of pressure it takes off his service game. He knows that he has a great chance of breaking back if he drops serve.

      2. The next return game. He return 5/6 first serves (faced no seconds). Broke again.

        Remember that he himself dropped serve in his first two games. But just knowing in the back of his mind that he has a decent chance of breaking Monfils takes SO much pressure off his own service games.

      3. Djokovic is probably one of the if not the best returners in the sport, his game and mentality relies on the return for him because he gets every single ball back. Fed isn’t like him, it’s really hard to compare them when their game styles are different. Novak is more of a defender.

      4. I guess if there’s anyone to learn from, it’s from the best right?

        And how long can we use the argument, he’s a different style. Of course he’s a different style. If everyone was the same, it wouldn’t be a competition, would it?

        And I don’t think defense or offense has anything to do with returning a serve.

      5. And we talk about Federer’s game being offensive but the honest truth looks to be-

        1) Novak’s average groundstroke speed is higher than Fed’s
        2) His back hand is more aggressive than Fed’s
        3) His return of serve is lightyears ahead of Fed’s.

        1) His unforced errors column generally looks better than Fed’s
        2) His percentages are great

        High risk has to be compensated with high reward. Otherwise it’s just a foolish strategy.

      6. You can’t compare Djoker to Fed and suggest how Fed should try copy that strategy to be more successful they are very different players.

        1.) Djoker uses an 18×20 string pattern and is an extremely flat hitter so his average ground stroke speed is going to be bigger. Who has a bigger FH overall? Roger easily.

        2.) Yeah he’s a 2 hander, to be expected. Roger has the slice and variety off that wing as trade off.

        3.) Yup he’s the best returner.

      7. Gaurav, offensive doesn’t necessarily mean hitting through your opponent. You may have a weaker forehand, but can have more variety to open up the court consistently, after which it is open season for you. I’m sorry but as good as Djokovic is, he has or never had close to the variety Roger has. Djokovic’s game is facilitated because of current court conditions. The guy uses a clumsy, unwieldy, 100 sq in racquet which is never going to be stable in the front court. No wonder he has virtually no volleying and overhead skills and as pointed out by many, it’s a pity that’s what is the World No. 1 in our game (former, at this time).

      8. So the djoker hits flatter, he hits bigger and his unforced errors are still lower than federers? That sounds like a win win win, rather than a trade off to me.

        But you’re right, let’s not compare them at all. because they’re completely different players.

      9. Not really, his racquet is setup for the counter puncher style and also to help him lean in on his backhand and lever on the ball when he steps into the court. The 18 x 20 lets him get more depth on the ball at full stretch whilst still keeping two hands on the racquet.

        He doesn’t hit flatter than Roger by much and he can’t generate as much spin or versatility on the groundstrokes so it is pretty much a trade off.

      10. nole hits flatter AND has less unforced errors?

        i dont think youll argue when i say that the more the topspin, the less the errors?

        so noles hitting flatter, (less spin) AND he has less errors. Where’s the tradeoff? It has him beating everyone else in the world.

        fed’s variety doesn’t give him a great chance against the big guys. He has a losing record against Rafa, Murray and is starting to lose to nole as well. of the big guys, he has the poorest record against the big hitters- berdych, tsonga etc. (pls tell me that im wrong)

        so his variety’s not helping him. so what’s the point of that variety?

        he CAN change to a new racket. the 18*20 racket tomorrow if he wants. but he isn’t. your arguments make no sense. if he wants to win, and being a counter puncher is the only way, he has to do that. otherwise we can keep coming up with nonsensical excuses like- they aren’t similar players, there style are different, his game is not based on return, his racket is different etc. so we can’t compare them??? rubbish.

        you guys say that he needs to change to win. but u arent willing to admit that he needs to change his tactics and style of play- no, those things we cant compare, right???. keep saying he needs to improve serve. how will he do that?? improve his shot selection? how will he do that??

  11. Jonathan et al –to echo some comments and to add a little bit more. I watched the match and I was baffled by Fed’s indecisiveness. He just appears to not know which shot to hit at the right time. The good news is that he looks fitter and quick; but the bad news is that it has not translated into his game as yet. He looks perplexed —do you think he needs to toss Annacone to the side and find a new coach who will have him return better, and have a better break point conversion rate? Frankly, the dude is an enigma right now, as Jonathan says, and then we hear all that positive stuff after his matches, and I feel hopeful again. Please Fed, just a little more magic for a little bit longer.

    1. “He just appears to not know which shot to hit at the right time.” This is what I’m struggling with so much: how can you just *lose* that? Physical impairment, yes, that I can understand, but to lose the ability to select the right shot after all those years? Doesn’t make sense to me. That’s why I wish he’d think less and just react (sorry, realise I’m repeating myself here).

      And all those positive comments? I’ve learned over the last year or 3 to mark them as “Federer BS” and take them with an ample pinch of salt. He’s not going to come out and say “Yes, my game is lousy, it feels as though I’ve had a brain transplant, and my legs feel as though I’m wading through treacle”.

      1. Last part is SO true. I’m 99% sure Fed is worried at this point. But there’s no way he would say what he really felt to the media, that would be suicidal to reveal to your opponents of your fragile mentality. Your spot on about shot selection too. Can’t believe some of the decision making in the Monfils match, especially that garbage slice in the tiebreak, ok he won it but where did that come from? He’s so impatient at this point, I don’t blame him. People and Roger himself keep on saying that he’s been through this before. Actually no he hasn’t, this is the first season where Fed has hit rock bottom for quite a while. I’m not sure he knows how to react to something he’s never experienced before. Can’t wait for 2013 to be done.

    2. Cheers Sakhi. Chicken and egg I guess, he’s been lumbered all year with a bad back, now low on confidence. Which does he get back first? Fitness and movement or confidence?

      Perhaps he can’t have the latter without the former so once he wins one the match wins rack up and the confidence rises.

  12. Oh dear. Tough year just keeps getting tougher unfortunately. Is Fed’s presser available yet, I bet he is still saying all the BS like “I’m heading in the right direction” or something like that. I would like to actually sit down with him and ask him what the hell is going on. Honestly, I think the back was an issue for the entirety of the year starting from Rotterdam. After that, he never really got into a tournament where he was consistent for the full stretch.

    It’s quite a harsh reality when you see Fed fans saying that they can’t predict what happens when Roger steps out on court anymore. And that’s just it. He’s so inconsistent in matches/hasn’t got any matches you don’t know what to expect. We say it all comes down to confidence which yes it does but how was winning that tiebreak not enough confidence? Roger should’ve broken Monfils in that opening service game as well as when he got 2 break points at 4-2. Shocking mental display there. We all know there’s elements of genius left in his game. There were some incredible volley/overheads on display that he produced that could only come from trusting himself. So we know there is confidence. It’s all about execution. His forehand and footwork over the last few months have been quite poor. Back to the practice courts I’d say. There was no way he was beating Djokovic Jonathan, he’s having a good ol time in the Asian swing, there’s a good chance he sweeps the indoor season as well. Found new motivation after that US Open final. He is on a mission.

    I think 2013 should be done with. Fed is mentally drained from the transition year. He just can’t forget about what has happened this year so there is always going to be doubt in his mind whenever he gets into a winning position. Just look at that Nadal match in Cincinnati, sucks that his best match is a loss. I don’t have expectations for the indoor season. I say just play the rest of the season out, try to defend points in Basel, have a solid run in Paris and if he qualifies for WTF well then good luck because he will be facing Rafa and Novak in the round robins.

    2014 will be better. But Roger normally does well in the first half of a new season when he finishes strongly at the end of the last one. If there is any chance he can string something together in Basel, he will be ready for 2014 from the get go otherwise it will be tough. Also what the hell was with Monfils and his gamesmanship last night? Lost some respect for him there. He was worse than Nadal during points where Roger had momentum but had no problem finishing it off in the end of the third set. Djokovic is going to eat him up lol. Anyway, I will still believe but it’s getting harder every time. Roger was very very vocal last night, yelling after points, taking it out on the racquet. He’s frustrated and so he should be. Maybe that fires him up. Who knows.

    1. Yeah, I liked his frustration! Needs to get angry if he still cares. If he makes London, Rafa and Novak will be separated so cld get lucky. We shall see. Agree, go all out for Basel, grab 500 points if poss and who knows!

      1. I think he’s just waiting for a light to switch like the rest of us but so far it’s not going his way. He’s not winning the tight matches like he was last year. I hope for a final run in Basel but if Nadal plays, there’s a chance they might be put in the same half so it’s up in the air right now. We keep saying Roger is on the verge of turning it around but he’s not. IMO he will only have turned it around once he wins matches, and carries it on in the next tournament. Tricky times. Disappointed also because with Ferrer and Berdych losing, it was an opportunity to start his climb back into the rankings. Normally I would say a guy like Ferrer is no mans land in the top 4, or top 3 now should I say but he’s done better than Roger so…

      1. No I don’t think so. Some of the shots Fed played last night showed he has some confidence, some trust that his game is there. All about execution and thinking too hard about what to do next. Like Jonathan said, everytime he hits a great shot, he follows it with an error.

      2. Yeah it’s hard to take positives from a loss but he did play well in patches. Just question marks over whether he can do it for a whole match or at least when it counts.

    2. Yes I also look forward to the indoor swing, Federer has always played well indoors. But this year I’m very worried… Nadal is going to be at Basel. Normally I would think it’s a no-brainer that Roger is going to kill Nadal on indoor. He’s never lost to Nadal indoor and absolutely destroyed him in London 2011 (what a beatdown that was!). But this year, playing like this, he might end up losing to Nadal indoor. That’s going to do damage to his confidence surely. This year has been a year that tarnished his legacy, the QF streak ends, only 1 title, lost in 2nd round wimbledon… I’d hate to see him lose to Nadal indoor too….. T.T

      1. No one can guess what Roger will do next. Him knowing that the indoor swing is his best chance might help him relax a little bit or even add more pressure because it’s all he has left to make something of this season. Hmm, yes Nadal could very well beat Roger indoors this year but I don’t know if he will play Basel yet. He’s plated a lot of tennis already and I’m sure he has his sights set on winning year end championships finally and ending the year as number 1. Will he play 3 weeks in a row? doubt it. I don’t think Roger can lose any more confidence at this point because there really isn’t that much there, we saw what he can do against Nadal if he has a good game plan/mentality, this being indoors always puts things in his favour, won’t count him out against Nadal.

        Can’t believe you think Roger’s legacy is tainted. What’s done is done. Roger has cemented his name as one of the greatest of this sport and not being as consistent as he once was will never take away from that. Maybe he’s lost that aura of invincibility when he steps onto the court in a way but not his legacy. That is never getting tainted. He still has time to even improve on it.

  13. I’m not expecting him to win the WTF or to beat Rafa and Novak – not at this moment – I just think the experience of playing them and having matches guaranteed, win or lose, would be good for him.

    On a positive note, I don’t know what others think but I thought Roger looked fitter, healthier – and younger – in Shanghai than he did in his US tournaments. Maybe there has been something physically wrong, other than the back, that he hasn’t talked about, knowing how reticent he is to talk about his health or to make excuses. Or maybe it’s the effect of not having the twins to keep him awake in Shanghai ! πŸ™‚

    1. Let me tell you, they will be wanting to if the likes of Raonic and Gasquet get in! Empty seats or what! A few players need nobbling before Paris….

  14. I don’t know about you guys but I think Roger’s chances of qualifying for London are over. The video below proves that it’s not going to happen. He gets plenty of chances to finish the point but just doesn’t have the confidence to pull the trigger. His movement is horrendous. There is no split step. He is reacting as his opponents keeps getting the ball into play. He doesn’t know whether to come in or stay back. And the choice of shot at the end is pathetic. This to me proves that Roger’s best years are behind him.

    So, all you cheerleaders, is there anything left for me to say? Wake the **** up and smell some coffee! You all look like cry babies holding on to your childish beliefs that Roger is going to turn it around. You self promoted experts need to just shut up!

    And as for your wannabe sports journalist that you love so much, what’s his name? Jonathan? He is eating his own words now, huh? The guy knows nothing about tennis. I doubt he has even picked up a tennis racquet in his life. It’s about time he retired from this blog and sold hold dogs on the streets of London. He has a better chance of success.

    So long! Here, check this out, you Roger cheerleaders and cry yourselves to sleep…


      1. It is real serious, man. The real reason in that his opponent in this particular instance is 24 years younger and fitter. It’s a question of confidence actually. Once he can beat one of these kids, it will be back.

    1. No man, he’s going to be there. Remember Murray is not playing in london, so he can still be no 9 and qualify. He’s still 315 points ahead of tsonga the no 10.

    2. Brilliant Sid, laugh of the day, I was ecspecting a serious video where I could analyze on the things you mentioned all spized up with some Arif words.

    3. Hahahaha, I read this last night before I went to sleep, knew some people would take it seriously but thankfully didn’t wake up to a crazy backlash to it πŸ˜›

    4. Sid, I’m new to this blog and when I read this I thought you were serious for a moment! Don’t do this to me !

  15. Ooooook.
    I`m really far from home with a bad internet connection (team building trainer in the mountains).
    As I was on the road I saw the news on ATP. I cant say I did not expect this, but it just ruined my newborn enthusiasm.
    At some point Jonathan said something really, really interesting: Federer plays better when he doesn’t think. You know… Just do it! Its the same for me when I do improv theater. The training is there to back me up, so I have some reflexes, but its like I`m in some sort of trance.
    Just look at Fed videos from the past. He is totally there, present in the moment. Now it just looks like he is trapped in his own head. I just wish i could give him a motivational speech in the looker room before the match. πŸ˜‰

    AND OH HOW I HATE dull fans or untrue Fed fans that invite him to retire.

    He just needs to find his mojo, but too do that he needs to change his approach.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

    PS: i got really scared thinking: what if next year he just continues to play like this? :O

    1. Tilas, you have the right idea. Roger is over thinking it. He rushed so many points in the last two matches. His patience and frustration combined is continuing to make him battle himself rather than the opponent. That’s why I think 2014 will be better. Too much negative shit has happened this season for Roger not to think about when he’s on court in the crucial moment. He’s trying too hard out there, overdoing it. He needs to take his own advice and “chillax.” We all thought he would find his mojo after Cincy but that proved wrong, and now we were wrong again with Shanghai. It’s a waiting game but hopefully it will be worth it when he does regain the confidence needed to revive Federer 3.0. He’s in there somewhere, just needs the belief to come out and play.

  16. Is anyone baffled at the amount of points Federer has to gain next season vs. The amount of points Nadal will have to defend. Will be fun to see that play out. If Murray plays a solid clay season, I rekon he has a good chance to end the year as number one next year seeing as he will nothing to defend in the indoor. Also random question, anyone going to the Australian Open next year?

    1. I planned to go!!! But I’m not sure I want to now, I wouldnt want to see him come up with another performance like this and see him lose… It would be so painful… If I were to go, it will be to watch a Nadal vs Djokovic final…

      Anw, Nadal still can gain points in australia. If he wins and pick up another 2000 points, that will put quite some distance between him and Novak. Federer though will have to defend AO SF points, which I’m not sure he will be able to…

      1. Well I’m going in the first week so I’m guaranteed to see Roger whatever happens. Australian Open his best slam/consistent left. I’d still recommend you to go, the AO is probably the best tennis tournament I’ve ever been too, a lot of fun, very fan friendly. Seeing as Roger will end the year outside the top 4, he’s gonna be slated another tough draw unfortunately with Novak/Nadal in his quarter. Tough but it is what it is. He’s also playing Brisbane for the first time and cancelled his exhos so it looks like he is pretty motivated for Australia. Nadal picking up points in Australia is a fall back when he doesn’t defend everything next year. Roger winning the Australian Open has been slimmed to the same chance as the French but he could make semi finals, never know with the guy. If he finishes like he did in 2011 I wouldn’t put him out of reach.

      2. yep I’ve heard that AO is a very good tournament for the fans, unlike wimbledon (absurd ticket cost) and USO (awful organisation). I pray for you and roger that he doesnt lose in the first week. Me and my friends are still thinking whether to go in the first week to see roger or second week sunday to watch the final. Can’t be there for the full two weeks, can’t take so many days of leave from work lol. Playing a warmup tournament will be great for him!

  17. Its difficult as he played an OK match. After so many losses this year, I am not sure what to say anymore. Lowered expectation yes but its tough really. I guess perhaps he should start doing things in small doses now. Change ritual, change playbook.

  18. okay, peeps, here’s my two paisa, as we say chez moi. i think all the old chestnuts of fed does well indoors, or he does better in the early part of the season are out the door. i think we should brace ourselves for a roller coaster ride and as long as fed wants to keep doing this, we have to, as fans, support his choices. at this rate, he might win the french, instead of wimby (nadal will decide clay hurts his knees now!!!) and he might decide he wants to play only the slams. who knows? i wish we had a mole who could give us the scoop on what the hell is going on. i don’t want to wait to read fed’s version of *Open*!! i’m too old. hell, at least, he scored a major win on twitter. even i didn’t think he had in him to be that witty!! bam

  19. Excellent post, Jonathan. Everyone has important comments. A lot of educated fans here. I think the beginning of this poor form started with his back. He didn’t have the chance to practice when he needed to. Also, he played in tournaments with a bad back and should have withdrawn. Then someone ranked lower beats him and the field gains the believe that they can beat him as well. The Fed aura is fading. A few tough losses like that and the confidence begins to wane.
    Godsick, his agent said his back is better but not 100 %.
    It must be incredibly frustrating for Roger. I noticed many players were watching his matches. I suppose they want to see where he’s at with his game.

  20. To cheer myself last night I watched his 2011 Paris semi v Berdych and Final v Tsonga! Just no comparison with what we are seeing. Much looser, faster, instinctive. Right up inside the court knowing he is going to play the right shot. Left me thinking like alysha that the deteriorating back has been the main cause of lack of power, foot speed and therefore has had a negative impact on his thinking. I am trying to be optimistic about London but with Tsonga winning again today ( not that he really deserves it with his horrendous choke display in the FO) it is vv tight! Will he swallow his pride( because if he wants it, he has to chase it) and play an extra tourney? We shall see

    1. *From Roger’s latest presser*

      [Regarding the break after Indian Wells] “Honestly, now looking back, I know I took the decision to take the seven‑week break but I couldn’t utilize it the way I wanted to. I was going to have to rest anyway how I felt after Indian Wells, which was really bad. I couldn’t train for two, three weeks after that. It took me some time to get over the issues I had. So that break wasn’t necessarily as helpful as it actually was.”

      “I lost some other matches this year because I couldn’t really perform at 100%. Probably shouldn’t have played. But I don’t really care having to explain some losses from time to time. I have nothing to say.”

      Thankyou Roger for confirming what we speculated. Back has been something of an issue this year. It’s effected his movement and his confidence. When you have a flared injury that hasn’t recovered to 100% you’re always going to feel doubt no matter what confidence you gain along the way. I don’t think Roger’s back has been 100% since Australia. You can see it in the footwork and explains motivation/desire even. He couldn’t train and practice properly and that’s what he said he was missing at the end of the season last year. This might sound bad Susie but I don’t think it’s the end of the world if Roger doesn’t qualify for London now that I think about it. He’s risking further confidence loss and would get more time for racquet testing. I would feel really bad for the fans but I think the season needs to be done with and getting beaten by top 8 players wouldn’t be the best thing for Roger right now.

      1. Wld still love to see him there! Watch him at Basel, home fans, home ground! Methinks he might just do something gd there, and not sure Dull will play.

      2. No doubt about it. He’s always loved Basel, as have I, one of the best tournaments/courts in the schedule. Nadal is a toss up, there’s a good chance he skips Basel and Paris and gets to London fresh to win YEC finally but I think he might’ve signed some contract with the tournament director. The Basel tournament has gotten screwed by Murray the past two years and if Nadal pulled out it wouldn’t look too good. Nadal has two weeks to recover though and there’s always a chance that Fed brings his a game against Rafa indoors to get the win. Now that would make up a lot for this season lol.

  21. Very disappointed that Roger, with all his stature, experience and success, completely ignored his adoring fans in Shanghai, who supported him so well. Perhaps it’s time leave the stage with his legacy intact?

  22. Hi Jonathan,

    I just want congratulate you on forming such a great Fedfan community here. The comments are thoughtful, intelligent, understanding, passionate, honest and respectful as your own posts, I am impressed. Learned from you guys a lot about Roger and tennis in general since becoming a fan of the blog nearly two years a go. So thanks for that.

    Agreed with some of you, I love Fed when he is on his intuitive day, ‘Jesusfed’ you call it? When he plays without thinking, that is the time he plays his best. We miss his instinct now, don’t we? In order to play freely intuitively, he needs confident back, all tough losses were due to mental etc..I understand. But why he lost his confidence in the first place? As I’m typing, I read Alysia’s comment above, yes, I had a thought he lost his confidence because of a series of loss due to his back injury and playing with less able body and more loss less confident, bad cycle isn’t?

    So I hope he will sort out the health issue, get through this bad patch and come back strong next year as Jonathan says he played pretty well, I also saw some positive signs from him yesterday. By the way, the live chat was fun despite the loss. Join it next time if you can, people πŸ˜‰

    1. Thanks Wanda πŸ˜€

      Yeah the back was the catalyst in all this, coupled with the burn out at end of last year. Hope things can click..

      And yeah I’m enjoying live chat, good addition to the site I think. Hopefully be even more fun if he starts winning.

  23. Lord Waderinka all in black ready to fight down Nadal with his Yonex light sword! Come on Waderinka the force is strong in you!

    1. No! At this stage u don’t want Stan getting further ahead! Nice if they both qualify and not Gasquet or Tsonga! Not that I am against the French…

    2. Didn’t watch but looked like Stan choked again vs his master. Still yet to get a set. Had set points on Nadal’s serve, then lost breaker 12-10 and second set 6-1 lol.

  24. Another tough loss. I really don’t know what to say, except that I don’t expect anything from what’s left of this season.
    In the meantime, here’s a few pictures of Roger’s 2014 racket (if he stays with 90 sq), if you didn’t see it already πŸ™‚

  25. Hey Jonathan!
    Shanghai turns Shanglow? LOL! Clever! πŸ˜€
    On one hand, I’m relieved that the game is there, meaning Roger is physically okay, the problem is mental which means he can resolve it. I mean if he had back trouble, he could have done nothing about it. On the other hand, though, it’s weird that he hasn’t yet been able to sort his mental issues out. It’s been long enough IMO. I think he needs a big motivation, a clear-cut goal like he had in the end of 2011 and most of 2012.
    Whatever he does, I hope he doesn’t accept these defeats as norms.
    As for qualifying for the WTF, I have my fingers crossed and I’m keeping the faith. Actually, I’ll be fine even if he doesn’t qualify. This hellish season will end a little sooner that way!

    1. Cheers FedFan,

      Yeah that’s true at least it’s not so much physical. But very tricky to see light at the end of the tunnel right now. But Fed gotta stay positive and try get the winning feeling back.

    “Another tough loss at the hands of a player he would usually be defeating with little to no hassle. But how do you explain it? From my point of view it all boils down to confidence…”

    Let me suggest an alternative explanation – age, leading to the following:
    — a step slower in movement
    — which throws timing off just a little bit (crucial for an aggressive shot-making game)
    — weaker return of serve
    — opponents able to put more pressure
    — frequent shanks and errors (both forced and unforced)
    — inability to put 2/3 good points/games together
    — no sting any more in first serve; far fewer aces; second serve has become ordinary
    — in short, all the classic symptoms of decline in the level of play.

    You add to that: (a) his major opponents are all 4-5 years younger; and (b) an inevitable loss in drive and motivation (GOAT, nothing left to prove, family, etc. – saying that you still love to play is not a substitute) explains everything about Fed’s game today – at least for those who are willing to open their eyes and look reality in the face.

    By the way, confidence – or the lack of it – is not the reason for losing, it is the result of losing – not the cause but the effect. It can only be regained by winning.

    1. I terribly dislike you Arif, almost as much as I dislike Rafael Nadal, but it looks like you’ve changed. Welcome to the civilized world! πŸ™‚

    2. I would agree with all of that. However against Monfils he did look that bit sharper. Shanks weren’t a problem, nor was his overall positioning I thought he looked fast. I think the bad back done a lot of damage this year and had many repercussions.

      The serve is of course a worry as he dropping it too easily, maybe it is age afterall who knows. They say keeping a handle on the nerves gets harder when you are older too.

  27. It’s too bad he couldn’t take the third, would have given him much needed confidence…nevermind. I still believe he’ll make London, particularly now that Murray’s had to pull out.

  28. Basel is just down the road from me. Wish I could go. I’ve just voted for Roger in the ATP awards. Have a feeling someone might edge him out this year πŸ™

    1. Ah cool, me too although it’ a little further a journey for me πŸ™‚

      I think so too, his lack of matches and early exits will count against him. But you never know.

  29. WOW Delpo!

    *keep saying this to myself ‘don’t jinx it, don’t jinx it’

    Would it be wonderful if Delpo winning this Shanglow?

    1. I’m watching on Tennis Channel on my iPad for which I took out a 1-month subscription. Commentators are annoying me intensely. Everything Rafa does is spectacular and amazing and everything Delpo does is politely acknowledged, which considering the current scoreline of 4-1 for Delpo does not reflect the way they are playing. It’s amazing how commentators will give credit to a reputation rather than what they are seeing in front of them!

      1. Delpo keep aiming to Rafa backhand (it worked), forcing Rafa to take that forehand, then he finished it to Rafa’s forehand, smart..

        Is Federer watching this?

      2. Amar, unfortunately, Roger is preoccupied with dealing with the loopy Nadal forehand cross court to his own backhand. Del Po has a two handed backhand and also has a much higher strike zone compared to Roger which helps negate Nadal’s moonballs. It’s not the same thing man πŸ™‚

  30. Hi Jonathan

    It was a hard match to watch – you just so want him to do well – as you know he should against the people he is losing to, I cannot recall a match where he showed how annoyed he was with himself and his game, yes there were some lovely flashes of Federer of old – but unfortunately when it really mattered he could not produce it – that said once a fed fan always a fed fan – and we have all definitely learned this year to take the rough with the smooth. On a more positive note thank god Nadal is out – I like Delpo

    1. Go to the ATP site and where they have the news stories, flip through with the arrows until the awards item comes up. Or if you just wait it will come up by itself. I’ve discovered that you have to tick the box where you accept email offers from ATP or it won’t register your vote (but you can always cancel the emails once they start coming).

  31. Del Po is the ultimate bounty hunter. He just loves beating World No.1’s. Beats Nadal at USO’08, beats Roger out of nowhere at USO’09, beats Djokovic earlier this year and now beats Nadal at Shanghai. He just loves rising to the occasion, all of 6 feet 6 inches πŸ™‚ Wait…he has another chance tomorrow.

  32. Annacone wasn’t in Shanghai was he. I guess Roger realizes something needed changing. Hope he get a really good, motivating replacement. How long has Annacone been with Roger?

    1. 3 and a half years I think. Annacone and Roger made a good fit despite what fans say because of his 2013 season. Roger achieved a lot with him. That FO run in 2011, the 2011-2012 run in which he got back to #1 and won Wimby. I’d say they achieved everything they wanted to.

    1. If McEnroe is given the job, I will not be a fan of Roger any more. No chance that’s happening though.

    2. Jimmy Connors? He has experience at playing long beyond retirement age, and playing well with energy and determination. I know he didn’t do well with Sharapova but there could be many reasons for that. I must say I’ve thought for a long time when watching matches that Annacone seemed very relaxed when Roger was losing, as though he was quite happy to just be picking up his salary whatever the result. Could be completely wrong of course, its just the impression I got.

    3. I don’t think Connors is the right fit.

      I disagree about Annacone being happy to just be there, he looked very invested in some of Roger’s matches. And he’s not got that sort out outward come on personality but on the inside I’m sure he was annoyed when he lost and happy when he won.

  33. Not sure if Roger will take another coach. Don’t think this is a good thing either, he needs a fresh voice in his corner.

    1. Actually, some fans on his website are suggesting the “no coach approach” from now on πŸ˜€

      Most of the top guys in the tour have someone on their side to look on their mistakes and what could be done if the matches are not going your way.

    2. Agree. He definitely needs an external monitor of what he is up to. We all do, like it or not. Not sure if he will see it that way though. I’m a little afraid he might think he can go it alone. It’s easy to think that when you’ve been doing it so successfully for so many years.

  34. Damn, might I say you are the JUAN, delpo! That was one of the best matches I think I’ve ever seen Delpo play against Nadal/ever. If he could play like this on a consistent basis he would be unstoppable. Wow. Hope he can do it against Djokovic again and win his first masters 1000! So happy for him.

    And now to the other news. Annacone. Yeah, can’t say I’m surprised. I had a feeling this was going to happen but thought he would announce it after WTF or something? I think Sev is gonna be with him always and Roger is just confused about what’s happening this year with his game. I doubt he hires a coach before the end of the season though so it is what it is. Who do we all think will be his new coach? I vote Jonathan and Sid to tag team it.

      1. Haha good one! It indeed was, Delpo is such a talent but his inconsistency prevents him from greatness. I think that was the first time he beat Rafa in 4 years so something changed. Vamos!

    1. Amen to that haha.

      Del Potro played immense. Looked a bit flat today vs Djoker in the final like it was a big win vs Dull emotionally for him. He let it all out after he’d won. Priority for him is staying healthy and working on his fitness.


      1. Yeah Delpo was drained by the end of the third set because him and Djokovic kept on switching momentum. It’s incredible how big his shots are though, he could be such a force in men’s tennis, I wonder what would’ve happened if he never got the wrist injury after 2009.

        In a way I wanted Nadal to come through to the final just so Novak could have the last word again, I never get tired of that πŸ˜€ Nadal was missing his routine shots against Delpo, he was probably happy he avoided Novak.

      2. ^this guy

        doesn’t he has something else to do? Or he just doesn’t have a good Nadal blog to put his comments? Yeah, Nadal fans don’t even bother to make a good blog for him (or maybe don’t know how to make one), so they constantly write comments on other players blog.

        Just face the reality, Nadal is losing to Delpo, period.

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