Rome (the city and the verb ;). . .Breaking: Federer is Out at the French

I know how to spell “roam,” ladies and gentlemen. The primitive emoji, as you can see, clarifies this play-on-words, being playfull (only to balance all the F-bombs and vitriol I lob at my opponents – stay on the good side of me, folks! 🙂

Let’s check-in with our Rome correspondent (glancing at TennisChannel and reading scores) and “rome” through some of the tennis discourse at this point in the season, given the absolute fireworks of 2017 where you have Fedal going absolutely blitzkrieg on the ATP, the history books and your uncle Doug; to steal a line from my post-AO 2017 commentary:

“For a second (or several), you might even have forgotten about Murray and Djokovic, the early favorites to make this final, two players who have dominated the tennis world as of late. However, the weight of Fedal is a heavy intoxicant; they crashed and trashed this 2017 Aussie Open like two warlords from time elapsed who’d returned to relive their glorious past.”

Hyperbole, sure. That’s the intoxicant of #2017Fedal (of the sport of tennis, 30+ years of advanced spectatorship 😉 and genuine fondness for the use of language, as a musical and analytical instrument .

But I digress. 2017 has been utterly wild. Let’s “rome” about those sorts of topics, as well.

I saw the score of Querrey over Pouille today in two TBs. Thought to myself this I want to see. TennisChannel is bit behind so I just caught a bit of the match where Querrey is up 7-6 4-2, and the tennis is pretty bad, actually. The announcers were mentioning that the Frenchman is giving away a lot of points. It’s just bad tennis, including what I saw. Guys can’t string together 2 points – this is clay in general, as  you know. Breaks of serve, double faults – happens anywhere but that’s my beef with clay. Just slow and choppy tennis. Just stepped away and watched the second set TB. Pouille got it to 4-1, had a few SPs later, but like the first set TB, Querrey from way back refuses to go away and beats the Frenchman. Pouille got the SF here in Rome last year.

Pouille is having a B- season, off the top of my head (not staring at any stats or video, but I watch a lot of tennis). I suspect he’ll play better on the grass and HC.

They call that an upset, but Sam is having a nice little 2017 himself. He spanked Kyrgios and Nadal in Acapulco to take that title. But even he didn’t look very impressive today in Rome.

Almagro continues to hit the ball hard, beating the local fellow Seppi in straights 😉 But that was my point with the Djokovic v Almagro Madrid match – this was watchable tennis because Almagro was going to make the Serb win most of that match. That’s what makes this Pouille Querrey exchange so disappointing. Both played with themselves.

Nice that Goffin came-back to beat Bellucci in three sets. Looked troubling for awhile, as if the Belgian’s tank was running low, perhaps, given his recent nice run on the red clay.

When I’m done with this post, I have Dimitrov v Del Potro starting-up.

Let’s “rome” on a few thoughts of this season some more.

NOTE: I was in the middle of writing this post, to make these comments on the Federer/Roland Garros proposition, when Federer announced (2 minutes ago, literally) that he is skipping the French.


Let’s get this out of the way: Federer better play Roland Garros, or his 2017 is cut in half (in my eyes). Get your ass on the competitive court, Roger the dodger.

What’s probably happening is he’s practicing intelligently (would be really smart if he’s mixing-in some clay) under the guise of the new head of his Office of Strategic Services-like command: Ljubičić.Lubjicicafe7d5066b14fc3c4c373d1987245746c6f474cc-tc-img-previewThe last time Federer played RG he made it through to the QF where the eventual champ (Wawrinka) beat him. Federer is no slouch on clay (ha ha), so this tour desperately now needs him to show-up to Paris to play well in this thinly planted tennis landscape under siege of another Spanish Inquisition (note all of the war reference!).

Who has stepped-up on clay this season to really challenge Rafa at the French Open? Murray and Djokovic have this week to find any kind of momentum. Not looking good, but maybe history plays a role: since 2005, either Nadal or Djokovic have won this event (that’s twelve years) though Murray won this tournament last year. Can a title defense give the Scot a little inspiration? Didn’t help Djokovic last week. But we can hope.

Federer was in the Rome final two years ago. Federer, if healthy, should bring some very purposeful tennis to RG.

One of the little whispers this season has been the shock of Federer playing so well, coming-off such a long injury break; you know the rumors. There are conspiracy theorists that talk of the Fedal corruption (some kind of tennis capitalist corporatization). I guess anything is possible these days.

Problem with Roger’s case is this is the first big break he’s had.


So much for that (that means I better end this post):

This is very disappointing about Federer. I have to wonder, based on his comments at the end of the AO, when he tells the crowd, if he isn’t back next year, to take care, or something like that. He got his 18th, so now he’s going to just roll the dice on grass and HC, see if he can pick-up another major here in 2017 before he really does hang-up the career?

That has to be his plan. Skipping the French (along with all of the clay) seems a bit of a tell because it’s a bit obnoxious. You’ve heard me say that Ljubičić has said publicly that roger-federer-announces-he-will-miss-the-french-openFederer should limit his clay schedule, was talking about this in early 2016. I supported the reasoning only in that the clay weighs so heavy to Nadal, that this affected that rivalry. I stand by that thinking, that rationalization.

But to skip the clay entirely? Including the French? I’m a fan of your thinking, Fed, but this is unfortunate. For the draw, for the audience, the history.

In Federer’s first 17 years on tour, he missed only two majors, that was last year. We were going to talk about how this come-back of his is unprecedented because it has never happened to him.

In Nadal’s 14 years on tour, he has missed 10 majors.

Novak, though he hasn’t missed any majors in his 13 years on tour, he has a bit of a pattern of highs and lows, like Nadal.

Djokovic won his first AO in 2008 and not another major until 2011. Wins a major and gets blanked the following two years. He wins three majors in 2011 and then three majors over the next three years! Three in one and then three in three. That’s dramatic. Then he won five majors in two years and here we are in slump city once again.

Indeed, Federer has been pretty consistent over the years, just had a big drought in his 30s. But he kept representing: WB final ’14-’15 and the SF in ’16; USO SF in ’14, F in ’15, AO SF in ’16, FO QF in ’15, etc.

Federer’s break and resurrection is unprecedented in his career. Up until last year, due to injury, following the AO SF loss to Djokovic, he never missed. The wheels are coming off now.

The point of this section of the post was that one can’t be that surprised that Federer’s is playing so well. He always does. Could Djokovic maintain his top form? That was the question. As the tennis went, if Djokovic wasn’t there, Fed would probably grab one of these majors here. Nadal and Murray have not been factors up until pretty recently.

Now, Federer is just getting greedy, ironically. He’s avoiding the French to do what I think is two final majors before he calls it quits. This pull from the 2017 French is a tell that says he’s folding. In a way, it’s weak and perhaps a bit depressing for fans. But the announcement and it’s meaning might be insightful to a competitive fire burning inside that he wants another WB and USO for his quiver: the two most prestigious majors of the grand slam.

Wow. Sorry about the oddity of this post. Began writing about Rome and wanted to throw some Djokerfan rumor-mill into the garbage. Then Federer pulls the plug on Paris. Wow.

Again: this reads true farewell tour. This is it, folks. London and NYC, WTF and that’s all she wrote. The only explanation.

I’ll be back.

12 thoughts on “Rome (the city and the verb ;). . .Breaking: Federer is Out at the French

  1. wilfried

    Who is ‘she’ in “This is it, folks. London and NYC, WTF and that’s all ‘she’ wrote” ?
    Federer’s commitment to play the ATP event in Basel three more times, doesn’t fit into calling it quitts at the end of this season.


    1. That’s a saying we have in the states, when something is done: “that’s all she wrote,” as in it’s over.

      Yeah, hearing him talk about this, he kinda prefaces the announcement with “in order to compete on tour for several more years . . . ” so one would think this is just “managing the schedule.”

      And like I said in my post, Rafa has pulled out of majors his whole career. So why can’t Roger just say no?

      I hear all of that, and lastly given his form this year, of course he can play, seemingly, beyond 2017.

      But this pull-out of the FO, along with every other clay tournament, just seems drastic. People seem to forget how old he is.

      Just seems somehow foreshadowing.


  2. wilfried

    I’m glad Goffin came back. He suffered…
    But needing three sets to defeat Bellucci, doesn’t bode well for his match against Fernando Verdasco.
    According to the betting sites, Goffin would be the favorite against Fernando He is not in my eyes, and if I would have to bet, I’d probably bet for Verdasco, because I think Goffin is targeting a deep run at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, In that perspective the Rome Masters must be less important to him, at least not important enough to risk injury.
    It’s true that David Goffin is the first player ever in Belgium to be ranked within the top 10, but he has never reached yet a SF in a slam, which has been done before him already by two flemish players (Philip Dewulf at Roland Garros, and Xavier Malisse at Wimbledon). That must sting him somehow I assume.
    Other item. I feel sorrow for Grigor Dimitrov.
    After that painful loss to Thiem, one shouldn’t be surprised he lost also to Del Potro.


  3. Caligula

    An interesting turn of events! As you write this might be very indicative of Federer’s retirement, if he is saving all his energy for the last two majors then that might be it. Whatever the case may be the GrandMaster won’t go down without a final bang.

    Also love how del Po dispatched of hotshot Dimitrov, you cannot deny the mastery of the Argentinian giant, if only his wrists were completely free of risk of injury he would be up there dominating.


  4. Caligula

    Nada got simply outclassed today, he should have listened to his emperor, and take a week off during Rome. Thiem is now my favourite to win the tournament.

    Love reading some of the brain-dead Nadal fanboys spout “Nadal adapts to his opponents very quickly” on ATP’s official site, when in fact he is one of the slowest to adapt to an opponent who has his number (Djokovic 2011-).


    1. Easy on the Thiem hype for RG. He is a monster, which we’ve been watching and writing about quite closely. He sees Nadal third straight week, making progress each week. This is more predictable, actually. And Nadal should rest anyways. Can you imagine he wins this in 3 today, probably 3-4 hours, then gets a surging DPo or Djok, then the final? Go take a nap, Rafa. He will be fine. His draws have been brutal. I love the DJokerfan crying about draws. STFUP.


      1. Caligula

        I am not particularly hyped for a Thiem triumph at RG, but I think he has more than enough to take the title in my bellowed hometown, anyone notice the busts of me spread around the grounds at the tournament. Yeah I know great idea I just couldn’t resist! Del Po needs to prove himself against Novak, and the Serb isn’t near what he used to be. If it comes to down to a Del Po vs Thiem semi-final I won’t have a favourite.


    2. Yeah, this next match could be interesting. Del Potro, from the little I saw vs. Edmund, looked okay, but that’s partially clay. Some of the points are almost throw-away. Tough to read the win over Nishiouchi. But we’ll say it means DPo is on the move.

      Not sure if Djoker has the time to find that major-winning peak form, but he may be moving in that direction. Thiem and Nadal have played A LOT of grinding tennis. Are they going in the opposite direction?

      Thiem is young, so he should be fine and his ground strokes right now are a thing of war.
      If I’m in the Nadal crowd, I’m glad he lost today. Learn from this loss and rest.


  5. wilfried

    Novak has been playing well and smart sofar against Del Potro, targeting Del Potro’s BH constantly with sharp angled or deep shots, to which Del Potro only seems to be able to reply with slice BH’s to Novak’s BH. If Del Potro doens’t find an answer to this play, he’ll lose in straights.
    Novak’s level has gone up. He doens’t make wild, erratic errors anymore like he did in previous tournements.
    Federer might have called it right by saying that Novak is a favorite for the Roland Garros title together with Nadal.


    1. Caligula

      Indeed, last night I found it quite painful to watch, this isn’t the same when Nadal was hammering Federer backhand back in the day, because Fed’s SHB was working as “intended”. del Po’s on the other hand is his biggest liability (pun intended), and one can’t help but feel for him as he is unable to use it anywhere near as effectively as he did before his numerous wrist injuries.


  6. New post coming in a few hours.

    Del Porto is a one-trick pony at this point. How he beat Grigor and Kei is all about heart.

    Thiem will be the true test. Agut and Del Porto were gifts.


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