More on the Ivan Ljubičić hiring.  Again, Roger is just coasting to the finish, so any tennis decision or event of any kind including another major is all gravy. Just staying relevant at this point is a kind of dominance.  As I have said earlier and often, if you are going to say he is as dominant now as he has ever been, you’re captain of his fan club. He’ll be 35 years old in the US Open draw.

This is all gravy.  Therefore, the hiring of Ljubičić is brilliant.

What about this guy adds a layer of tennis intrigue to this hire beyond the “it doesn’t even matter” schpeal I just reiterated above?

Big Ivan is the kind of coach Roger should have hired years ago (I am reiterating what I have said, again). Too much Roger is not ideal on this ATP. It’s become so athletic, big, fit, strong.  Add to that the preponderance of Nole and Rafa Ivan2(that grinding tennis) and one might argue that it behooves Roger to take PED 😀 (of course, I joke; and those who have actually made such a suggestion about Roger – I’ve heard it hahahah – don’t know a thing about sports. Roger is the antithesis of a drugged dbag. I guess that’s obvious).

Roger has needed a much heartier style, bit more of a grind, a little more sinister.  Don’t get me wrong: Roger is anything but a pushover (other than Rafa’s way with him).  He’s all kinds of cocky and can bully.  But you know what I mean.  You should.  Roger with a steadier, really bloody old-world approach – the kind where men killed each other and dragons and other monsters – would have been scarier, which would have garnered more success, if you can believe it.

Either way, you see the vulnerability now in spades (but I contradict a bit here because of the age).  Nonetheless, he’s vulnerable the way he always has been (just his tennis has camouflaged much of it), and Ivan will help.

Ljubičić is man amongst men.  There are nice accounts of this credibility in various print, plus if you watched him play tennis you know even more of how legitimate this guy’s tennis IQ is.  Is strong.

He was one of the first active players to pursue leadership voice on the tour.  He spoke-out.  He led.  He made it to #3 in the world, of course, so his tennis was always sharp, big, intimidating to most.

The fact that he was a hitting partner and pal of Roger means he knows Roger’s tennis beyond having competed against him.  He knows Roger’s tennis and Nole’s tennis.  Yes, the obvious suggestion that Roger hired Ljubičić to solely beat Novak makes sense to some degree.

Let me ask you: wouldn’t you hire Ljubičić?  Ha ha.  If you say no, you’re overthinking or under thinking. Ljubičić is the ideal coach at this point (forget about coaching for a minute: he’ll be a steadying influence in that box, on the practice court, around the dinner table after a SF win, strategizing the F).

Ivan’s character and familiarity with these current top players is simply significant. He’s a real factor in this ATP calculus.

Enjoy the show.


  1. The only reason Serena got SI Sports Person of the Year honors is it’s an American event and people are for some reason absolutely hypnotized by her.  As you know, I don’t get it.  Novak had a much better year than Serena. Make your Serena argument so we can feast on that cheese.  Other than SI is American (and therefore with that particular bias), there is no reason. Novak was amazing. The most obvious being he was closer to the CGS than she was and her tour is like a high school prom with a few mediocre veterans to boot.
  2. Roger and Hingis.  If you don’t think that’s smart, what are you thinking?
  3. Mauresmo is back and Bjorkman is out. I think a lot of people see Murray having a better 2016 than he did 2015. I don’t see it.  The coaching situation alone is troubling. Would not surprise me to hear people report on Andy’s post-DC-win hangover/let down. You think he can win a major?  Then again the ATP is pretty thin right now.
  4. Nadal does look poised for a big 2016.  However, he is going to have to beat people to make this noise.  The draw, for all of its weakness that I have talked about, does have plenty of sharks one has to look to avoid being eaten by.
  5. On that note: please, K Anderson, Del Potro, Kyrgios, Wawrinka, et al.: players need to continue to emerge and make noise. I think actually the 2016 narrative will have some surprises.  Just looking at Roger’s 2016 schedule, released last day or so, reminded me of the drama we have to look forward to.

Happy holidays!

Edit: Who hatched the bright idea of Roger playing only one clay tourney? It’s absolutely brilliant. Smells of Ivan if you ask me. Clay. . .


2 thoughts on “BTO

  1. Tennis fan

    Hi Matt, been following your blog after I stumbled upon it. Don’t have much time to comment especially with Christmas coming but I must say you are the most objective, most astute and most accurate blog tennis writer of them all! Your views on Federer and his game; the stage his career is in; is so spot on, so accurate; from his inability to be coached (in the typical sense) to the nonsense that he is in his prime to this last post where you say it is all gravy for him and to stay relevant at this point is “a kind of dominance”- so brilliantly put! Very acute tennis observations, conclusions, discernment. And so totally unbiased and objective which I can’t say for any tennis bloggers I have read. You really write it as it is. No pretence, no trying to be politically ( tennistically) correct, trying to please people, trying to be provocative or trying to placate readers. I wish I had more time to talk about your so very acutely accurate observations of Federer. Very interesting and the most accurate and I truly believe is the closest to the truth about Federer. At the same time you give Nole his dues, you acknowledged how well he is playing and what an absolutely phenomenal player he has become. And you write well about other players as well.

    But you are so damn spot on about the Maestro. I am his fan by the way. If only he had been less arrogant and didn’t think he could get away with his talent forever, he would easily have won 20 slams by now, would have overcome Nadal or got much closer to him at least. In 2009 I already thought he should be realising the other big 3 is a matter of time will catch up with him and he better keep making progress instead of resting on his laurels and still think he can beat the best with his talent. I worried for him even then. His arrogance annoyed me and i knew beyond a doubt it will come back to bite him. It was so obvious. I couldn’t understand how he could have stayed in his “bubble” for so long. As you say so absolutely brilliantly and so spot on, it is always Christmas for Roger! Haha! I felt he became stagnant, didn’t grow much as a player whereas the other guys were improving progressively in their game. Many ppl don’t call him out coz they always justify it with his 17 slams. For me, the supreme confidence and “always Christmas for Federer” served him well when he was tennis years ahead of the pack. But it proved to be his downfall in the latter part of his career when the big 3 (and others) got closer. What Djokovic, and Serena, for that matter , are doing, are exactly what smart champions should do; what I fervently hoped Federer would do back in 2009/2010 : Never ever be contented and never stop improving/progressing, even if you are well ahead. That’s how you maintain the gap. It’s simple and very obvious actually. In every area of life; in school, career, etc, it works that way. Always stay ahead/maintain the gap. How come nobody taught Federer this simple lesson?!! Perhaps he was unteachable; as you mentioned along those lines in your previous posts. Federer failed in that big time. That’s why I truly can see a calendar slam year for Nole in next couple of years, catching Federer’s slam count and a long and very successful career for Nole (barring injuries) because he has got all things right : teachability, health and fitness fanatic, very happy marriage and family life, very loyal and close team (he really works as a team with his team, sharing his joys and drawbacks with them, always acknowledging and including and praising them. Because of that his pressure and heartaches are “shared” which really helps. Federer is more individualistic and less of a team dynamic going on, doesn’t quite share his heartaches, except with Mirka maybe!) there is a lot of cumulative pressure inside that calm exterior demeanor of Federer, I suspect. Too much in denial. Always say he is happy with his game even if he played like shit. What does it even mean?! That you don’t need improvement?! The matches he lost to Nole, it is all mental. But he is not doing anything about it. I’m thinking that if Ivan mentions it to him, he maybe in shock or Ivan may get fired! Ha! The nearest he admitted to a mental block is “maybe lacking in confidence”. He should know very well that no matter how good your game is, if you don’t have the mental to back it up, you won’t win the big matches. Margins are so small, it’s the mental that brings you to the finish line. And why so much mental garbage for Federer? Too much losing to the top players with his stagnant game. Now, since Edberg, his game has improved quite a bit (broken into new racket as well) he has the game to beat them but a mental block has been born with all those losses. Nole has got Federer figured : it actually started from USO 2010 and the nail in the coffin was Wimby this year. Nole has him all figured. I don’t think Federer can ever win a big match against him. If Federer would work on his mental part, then there is a glimmer of hope. Meanwhile, there is so much he could still improve upon. Some fans say he is already perfect player and there is not much he could improve on. I disagree. For one thing. That forehand. Im sure he can improve it! What is stopping him from making it more accurate, reliable, more powerful maybe, more lethal (as it used to be). Nole’s fh was his weak link before. His serve was atrocious too. Look at him today. Powerful and super solid fh, very effective serve (that even Federer has problems with!). So,why can’t Federe get his fh up to the mark. My tennis knowledge is limited. Matt, why is that? And can he not hit more powerfully? Why is Djokovic’s shots so consistently deep. Every shot! All that power. Is it technique? Federer is too fixated about his serve and always talks about his serve as the shot that won or lost a match. Yes, true but he forgets that he has a forehand! I think losing to Nole so many finals this year has finally made Federer realise and force him to look at what he needs to improve; that improvement is possible (remember how he used to say for years that he doesn’t care about his weakness but rather concentrate on his strengths?! Dangerous and unbalanced thinking) He doesn’t have the legs to rally from back of court but he really needs to solidify his back court game, and sometimes needs to grind it out a bit. I am hard on Federer because he is still playing and he himself wants to win the big matches. If he just wants to play for fun and winning doesn’t really matter that much to him, I wouldn’t give a damn. The man wants to hold trophies, wants to beat the top guys, wants to play in centre court, wants to hear applause ringing in his ears…. When I don’t wear rose tinted glasses for him, I am accused as a glory hunter and not appreciative of Federer. Appreciativeness, even “reverence” for Federer the man and the player, is already set in stone and enshrined in gold. Nobody can take it away from him, nobody comes close to him (yet). Its not about that. That is already secure. It is about being honest and not being afraid of difficult truths. And that has been the problem with Federer as much as it has been for his fans. Always defensive when it comes to a hard look sometimes. If you declare yourself relevant and competitive, there will be expectations and judgements, and you need to back your declarations with your actions. Don’t declare you are fully prepared and ready for the test and then clown around like a nervous first timer on your big day! Ha!

    Anyway, Matt, you are so unbiased and objective that I can’t even tell whose fan you are of the present players! That’s why I love your blog. Really pure unbiased fair knowledgeable and astute. The blogs I’ve frequented are either too blind to Federer’s faults or wrongly/inaccurately critical of him. You got Federer just about right! I,love that. I must say I haven’t seen this in any blog that I’ve frequented. Your commentators too, are very balanced, unbiased and knowledgeable, respectful and matured and not shy to talk about sensitive/controversial matters. I followed the ultimate tennis blog for awhile. Wow! So defensive and self righteous that one. Don’t mind the Djokovic worshipping coz I think Djokovic is that good and deserves every praise and acknowledgment. But did Federer take his wife or something!?? The guy has a vendetta/jihad against Federer and his poor fans.! If words could kill, Federer could very well be dead by now with all the trash that guy has been spewing on Federer! Ha! Pls keep on writing, Matt. We need this kind of mature writing more. I do not see myself as a regular commentator but be assured I am a very regular reader. Just because you don’t receive many comments doesn’t mean at all that your readership is small. I check your blog everyday for updates! And I’m always thrilled to read what you have to say. Pls keep this blog going!!!


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