Federer Routines Cilic for Eighth Wimbledon Title

You probably watched the final, at least heard about what happened or didn’t happen.

We could blame the blister, I guess. Quite unfortunate for the aspiring ATP threat with one major and one Masters. Cilic looked solid through the first four games, had the BP, 42433FF000000578-4690146-image-a-45_1499880580015missed, was broken in the next game, lost the first set 3-6, went down 0-3 in the second set, called for a MTO, broke-down emotionally, actually cried, lost the second set 1-6, still couldn’t get anything going in the third set, Federer stayed true-to-form and that pretty much synopsizes this gentlemen’s final.

Cilic’s serve never showed-up, which could have been a huge factor on the grass (he came into the match with 130 aces), and then his vaunted groundstrokes took-off to see a play in Stratford-upon-Avon; hope they had fun. Just a “cruel” (as Federer reminded us in his post-match address on-court how these finals can treat a particular player) set of circumstances for the 28 year-old Croatian.

In the end, as we, our kids, their great-great-grand kids and anyone else interested look back at this match, Federer won. Sure, there are these kinds of circumstances that should be clarified, thus qualifying the win, perhaps; but we all know how tough this tour can be, how “unfair” it may seem at times. Whether we like it or not, these results tell a pretty  convincing story.

For this match, we should start with the numbers. In this case, the number 8. One of the interviews pointed-out that he was born on the eighth day of the eighth month and today he claimed his eighth Wimbledon, beating Marin Cilic 63 61 64 (3 + 1 + 4 = 8). I know, that’s corny, but the lighter, softer lob is used here as I move to another storyline that I neglected in my post yesterday about match themes for this gentlemen’s final: Revenge.

This topic came-up in our lead-up to the match, in even the comments from the “Storyline” post. I smell insight, another perspective on what we’ve been tracking as far as the 2017 Federer is concerned. I mentioned in the comments of my “Storyline” post that there was another obvious theme I neglected to mention. This was in reference to the idea that someone beyond the Big 4 could win a major, a discussion growing more and more surreal as these guys get into their late thirties (at least one of them).

But “revenge” is, indeed, a neglected storyline that I was hoping you all would help me find (in addition to several others). Hence, the richness and multilayered landscape of a deeper discourse that I endeavor daily to render here at Mcshow Tennis Blog.

Please be aware that if you watch a particular sport with keen interest, you might have a particular favorite player or players with whom you identify. What happens here is you develop a bias toward this player. When you venture, then, toward discussion and any level of analysis or insight, your point-of-view is potentially (likely) skewed. That’s fine; in fact, it is so common, you might think I’m being melodramatic to bring to light this so obvious flaw in our rationality.

This really comes into play when we hope to analyze a given event (let’s get back to tennis here). If one endeavors to analyze legitimately, bias can and will strangle one’s credibility (I have to admit, however, that sometimes a crazed, lunatic obsession can yield some pretty interesting insight, at times, given the gigantic energy of interest).

The latest Federer run, as you probably know, has pushed some “fans” to some typical kinds of “analysis” that lose any lasting resonance because of the bias stink that distracts and undermines. It’s reactive, unreasonable, too emotional, half-witted, has a short half-life.

For example, Wimbledon was rigged (see my Rant) and/or Federer is doping. I will take-up the latter point (the spirit of that hysteria) in a post this week.

That’s the “analysis” of some of these “fans.” If you are reading this and you have fallen into that kind of poop in your pants, I am glad you’re reading this. If you want to be taken seriously, I suggest challenging yourself to a deeper deconstruction of the tournament or the year/career of Federer (the conspiracy garbage is laughable, seriously). Perhaps move your writing toward story; try to make sense of your calamity by offering a new way to digest the match, the context, the patterns; feel free to include some inference where you identify patterns or context that people perhaps haven’t considered. Try to earn an A for effort, at least.

If you’re just Tweeting or texting or you have a silly fanblog, by all means, knock-yourself-out. Admittedly, such naiveté and foolishness can evolve; but until then, remember that you sound like a party to a playground quarrel. It’s cute, annoying but hopefully leads to a teachable moment (I can go on and on, and will, later).

Revenge

Juxtaposing the all-white adorned and adored Swiss tennis star and the royal box and general class of the Championships is a darkness that fuels this 2017 Federer.

When Federer made his rounds today with his trophy, connecting personally with his fans, though still from a distance, but more intimately with the celebrity contingent inside the club facility where all had gathered to pay their respects to this real gentleman of the game, he had an extended visit with Edberg. They spoke, Stefan whispered something to Roger, and Federer even let the Swede great hold the Cup.

This only reminded me of an insight that you know I attribute much in my understanding of 2017 Federer (2016 was half-baked, so to speak, with injury and an extended leave).

Federer, I have no doubt, is benefitting tremendously from the influence of Ivan Ljubičić. I honestly wasn’t quite aware of Roger’s and Ivan’s friendship, that such a trusting and serious relationship could develop from their acquaintance. Ljubičić, I knew from the moment I read the news, could (possibly) give Federer what he so desperately needed: a winning nadal-federer-mailbag-leadugly mentality, a kind of nastiness. I knew that’s what he needed, what he lacked. What Connors and Johnny Mac, Pete and even Andre and Jim had – a bit of that “F U” mentality, some more than others. Those, of course, are my American forefathers that I grew up watching. Lendl and Becker were schooled in the nasty. We know Lleyton Hewitt had “attitude,” and, though Roger had a temper as a youngster, he grew into a more refined on-court demeanor though he could definitely show emotion. Of course, Nadal and Djokovic brought that very tough, relentless grind that contrasted the gentlemanliness of Federer. We probably attribute most of their success against Federer to this darker side that they’ve used to almost bully the beauty and brilliance of the Fed Express.

Obviously, Roger has done just fine in his career (the results speak for themselves), but the point here is that his hire of Ljubičić was a kind of recognition, perhaps, of this dearth of necessary darkness.

Am I overriding this a bit? Probably.

But underneath this lovable (hatable) refinement of Roger Federer, there’s a kind of tour de revenge that’s happening, that speaks to this dominance of 2017. Five players come to mind upon which Roger has enacted a spell of revenge.

Nadal has seen his fair share. What happened in Melbourne and on the Sunshine Double speaks to nothing but a stroke of revenge (Federer has seen more than his own fair share of cruelty and death at the hands of the Spaniard) though you might want to include that he was simply playing brilliant offensive/defensive tennis. That was career/legacy altering stuff on those early hard courts. What’s happened at Wimbledon is almost additional salt on the Melbourne/Cali/Florida wounds. Federer took a pass from possibly getting anymore trouble from the clay rampant Spaniard (notably upon advice from his tall Croatian mastermind coach); the revenge tour resumed on European grass.

In Miami, Kyrgios got his taste of Federenge or Revederer 😀
The Aussie had beaten Federer in Madrid back in 2015, of course is your basic malcontent into which any one of us elders might want to slap some sense.

That Miami SF was a brilliant match, heated, chippy. Federer served it up on the surging Kyrgios: Revenge.

Next was another one of our tour’s future: Sascha Zverev. The 2017 Halle final was a blow-out: 1 and 3. Zverev beat Roger in last year’s Halle SF in three sets, as a 19 year-old. This year’s Halle meeting was a beating with meaning. Pre-Wimbledon. Future is tomorrow; 2017 Federer is now.

Raonic got his dose in this year’s WB SF, as a result of his win over Federer in last year’s WB SF. Raonic did not play poorly in this year’s SF, mind you. None the less, that was straights, a definitive pressure cooker from the 35 year-old.

Lastly, Cilic got his today; GRANTED, the blister, you might say, undermines this pattern of revenge on this example. On the contrary, there’s too much evidence to ignore. Even sans blister, Marin, unfortunately, wasn’t quite in that 2014 USO form. The struggle he had with Muller (as we said) wasn’t the best look, nor was the relative struggle he had with Sam Querrey, who, let’s be fair, should have been ripe for a more convincing victory.

Federer is on a mission, folks.

One of my readers/commenters caught the prediction I made on Twitter a day or two before the match. Sure, Cilic seemed primed for a big move here (I made this case, I think, pretty well); but the magic and revenge are strong with the Swiss giant in this time and place.

Don’t let the silky smile and fashion icon handsomeness fool you, folks. Federer is blood-thirsty. He seeks revenge and has no one more to thank than the man, the myth (in his own right), Ivan Ljubičić.

I have a lot more to say, as I’m sure you do, as well.
Sorry – a bit punchy at the moment. Stay-tuned, be well, and get ready for hard courts!

😀

20 comments

  1. Love it Matt.
    FYI, Ivan Ljubičić is Croatian, but I assume ‘Czech’ was a typo and you meant ‘Croat’.

  2. Great insight as ever Matt. Love your analysis of the ljubicic factor. Was actually travelling the last few days and have yet to properly watch at full length (with a nice beer) the semi final and final! But couldn’t wait to share my happiness with fed fans (high five tennisisthebest) and tennis fans who aren’t too distraught about Federer having ruined tennis ;).
    Yes the final was a bit of an anti-climax, but Matt correctly emphasises the historical stance. Even though Wimbledon is the most prestigious slam and #8 is a very big deal for roger, I feel that the aussie open was the defining event of 2017. The rest of the season has felt like a corollary of what was proved in Melbourne. The return of rafa… obviously that played out as expected in the French Open. And roger’s performance and what he showed in Melbourne: the attitude that Matt speaks of, the mental approach that allowed him to come back from 3-1 down in the final set (against rafa of all people!) and the backhand…. That package: it was clear that if he could bring that to SW19 then #8 was his for the taking. Obviously at 35/36 there’s the danger of running out of steam, of getting injured. It was hard to believe he wouldn’t have a fatal dip at some point. But in retrospect the decision to skip the French was absolutely spot on. Ruthless for sure. That’s the new 2017 roger/Ivan.
    Federer is obviously not the athlete he was 10 years ago; but in 2017 he is a superior competitor (incredibly clutch) to the 2014/15 version, and has made some improvements (the backhand stands out) that help mitigate the effects of age that are now wreaking their toll on novak and andy (who fought like a true scotsman btw). They have an example to follow now if they are able to. Their fans may have a hard road to walk for the next few months or longer but the bright side for them (not for tennis) is the continuing failure of the ‘lost boys’ generation. What roger has done this year is extraordinary but really he has exposed what all the ‘big 4’ hype (that continued well beyond its sell by date) masked. Tennis needs zverev to become stronger – to turn into the monster that delpo promised to be. For kyrgios to get his act to together. For thiem to master the faster surfaces. And for some more new faces to join them.
    But for the moment it’s roger’s world. Can’t wait for the US open now!

    1. Yep, very fair point about guys outside big4…Roger and Rafa winning more (with the combination of fact that their Opp in final is not at all from new gen) highlights how bad next gen is currently….

      Also we have to remember that Roger/Stan seems getting in SF/finals more regularly from 2014 (not the new gen players), so its not really surprising that he is winning when Novak falls off….Amazing that Roger does this more consistent…for me personally that’s more telling story that any other points when it comes for GOAT discussion……Regardless of failures its that courage to put them again and again in situation where they keep trying is what matters really….

      Genuine surprise of 2017 if anything that’s Rafa…Its still mind boggling he comes out of nowhere and get into first two finals of GS in 2017…In a way I am glad Muller stopped that….

    2. Good stuff. Skipping the French was an interesting move. He reiterated recently that he was worried, during his hiatus, after practicing for 6 straight weeks: I need match play! This is exactly what I was concerned about for his sake. He said the same thing I did. Only his words carry a bit more weight! Ha ha.

      1. Yeah skipping the french was a gamble. Risk of lack of match play v risk of burnout. I speak with the benefit of hindsight. But looking ahead, I think he needs to be equally ruthless. I feel the risk of burnout/exhaustion/injury for a 36 year old is the greater risk. I don’t want to see roger in the cincy and toronto finals.

  3. Federer’s 2017 has been a revelation of numerology at work
    AO 2017: 17th seed, 17 slams (before the win), the year of 2017 (I’m sure I’m missing something else here)
    Wimbledon 2017: 8 games allowed for opponent, 8th Wimbledon crown, 35 years (3+5=8), 1111th match won. Cilic’s 11th try at Wimby, Federer’s 29th final (2+9=11) 10000th ace served at 1st match.

    I wonder if there will be some interesting numerology at work again resulting in USO 2017 win.
    An easy one: before this year the number of slams won = 17, after USO=20 (if he wins)…hence 20-17, or 2017.
    If he wins there, will it be a record for the interval between the last slam won there to the present (9 years)? He will be aged 36 (3+6=9).
    Also this… he will likely play only 1 MS before the event, that’s 5 matches if he gets to the final. A GS win requires 7 matches. If he wins the MS & USO, it will be an additional of 12 matches won. So, 1111+12 = 1123. Guess what that is? The 1st four numbers of a Fibonacci sequence!

    Numbers, as they say, is the language of nature. I just hope I don’t jinx this for decoding nature’s design. Lol.

  4. Good one Matt as usual…..Except that weird final, good tournament for Roger and no doubt he deserves it…Dimitrov is bit of let down but quality QF and SF where opp. tried their best but still comes up short in the end to lose in straights…I believe that’s where his new mindset (likely influenced by Ivan) really comes into play……Its very easy that he could have let things go bit waver in QF and SF and make those matches potential 4 or 5 sets but he was sharp enough to step it up when matters….

    If we look back, SF against Nick in Miami, match against Tomas in Miami, AP final all these matches fall into same category…Just those crucial points when needed….

    Since you brought up the revenge topic, I really wish Novak and Andy played at-least once this year…..Astonishing to think that they never even played him once considering the fact both of them in draw most of the tournaments… Hopefully in later half of season, but I wont be surprised if it never happens this year….

    Cheers…

  5. Roger’s and Nadal’ comeback have big consequences for Murray in terms of ranking points.
    Murray is leading the field at the moment with only 7750 points.
    That’s a record low, by far.
    As a matter of fact since the new ranking system was put into effect at the start of the 2009 season, only 8 times (weeks) have the ranking points of the N° 1 player been beneath the 10000 points level (out of 443 weeks).
    Week points player at N°1 spot
    2010.06.06 8 700 R.Nadal
    2010.06.13 8 745 R.Nadal
    2010.06.20 8 745 R.Nadal
    2010.06.27 8 745 R.Nadal
    12/06/2017 9 890 A.Murray
    19/06/2017 9 390 A.Murray
    29/06/2017 9 390 A.Murray
    03/07/2017 9 390 A.Murray

    The level of ranking points at which the N°1 spot has been taken over by the player, next in the rankings, was logically only once below 10000 points, as shown here below :

    2009.07.05 11 000 Federer
    2010.06.06 8 700 Nadal
    2011.07.03 13 285 Djokovic
    2012.07.08 11 075 Federer
    2012.11.04 11 420 Djokovic
    2013.10.06 11 160 R.Nadal
    2014.07.06 13 130 Djokovic
    06/11/2016 11 185 Murray

    1. Murray’s no. 1 tenure is as much about Djokovic as it is about Nadal and Federer. Djokovic defaulted on No.1, so the tour defaulted to Murray as the only other candidate (of course, his run at the end of ’16 was very solid).

      But the Djokollapse is truly legacy-defining, I’m afraid. Worst nightmare, he gives-up No. 1 to his buddy (who he can beat easily once back on form), but while this is going-on, Fedal rise again. I know I’ve been clarifying this situation for months now, but it seems still very topical and even more significant as the Djoker struggles and the Djokofans go hysterical.

  6. Measured by (the sum of) their ranking points, the top 10 is in the 2017 season even weaker than in the 2010 season.

      1. Obviously not. It’s the Fedal era.
        EIther Nadal or Federer will in the coming weeks overtake Murray give, the latter is injured, unless they get injured as well.

What say you?