So, let’s pick-up where we left off.
Let’s make make some observations about our main cast of characters:
Quick rehash of
We already touched on his elevated play. He certainly played a tighter, more offensive style of tennis, the DTL BH improved immensely. That shot from all of the one-handers proves to be a deadly weapon; Federer’s 2017 form as a recent example of his version — although granted his CC BH under Ivan has been just as fearsome if not more; Stanimal’s DTL. . . that shot for all of these blokes often breaks their opponent’s will. Great stuff here from Thiem and that 90+mph BH that bruised Roger’s fading belief.
Don’t forget the serve.
Granted, the court did play into Domi’s wheel-house, which gives us belief that he can and will continue to play well on the hard courts; this success adds to the confidence that he can evolve and even contend on the quicker, lower-bounce hard courts in the future, as well.
Beliem in Thiem.
So, what does one make of Federer’s loss at IW, another tough three-setter in the final, denying him a sixth, a 101st, etc., etc.?
On the one hand, this is a tough look for the guy. He seemed on the verge of winning the title, despite getting through that first set in somewhat tentative fashion. He’s been in winning form: just flew-in from Dubai following his celebration of joining the triple digit club, avenging some NextGen sting in squashing Coric and Tsitsipas in his middle eastern royal court, and finally getting back to work through the first week-and-a-half there in Indian Wells, feeling very little resistance.
But as I said, he looked shaky in the QF vs the young power of Pol Hubert Hurkacz. This is the look when Federer is a step slow, his opponent’s power a step or two ahead. The final vs Thiem gave us conclusive evidence of this dynamic.
Funny that Federer has been heard claiming that the biggest threat in today’s game is speed, not power or even skill. He says this in an allegedly legitimate tennis article on the world wide web:
For me it’s more about staying physically healthy, because I do feel that if I am not 100% fit it becomes really difficult, because the tennis game today has moved in a way where it becomes a game of movement. Almost the best mover achieves more success, it’s not how it used to be maybe the most talented, the most powerful player.
We’re probably into semantics here, but I would say to this fine Swiss gent that he’s hiding from his own tail. Speed seems definitely to be the culprit when you’ve lost your own speed! 😀
I was going to post some videos of Federer’s BH from, say, 2007 and more recently, comparatively. There was a surge from Federer in 2017 of his more offensive BH, but if you look at his earlier career’s physical argument around the ball, you see much more full-body execution and an absolutely monstrous offensive style of play. He is much more arm and upper-body today, which holds true of the FH, as well. Getting pushed around the court, especially side-to-side, really exposes this development of age.
I don’t want to hear about how his current results and rankings — along with winning majors or even stroke mph — indicate that he’s better with age. His youthful aggression and power, along with that celestial je ne sais quoi that people have interpreted or failed to interpret of his earlier form are distant echoes of his form today. He’s brilliant still at times, but Sunday was a serious reminder, as was Melbourne R16, or look at his losses to Coric in 2018, etc., that Federer is an older version of the Maestro, despite whatever fanboy or enemy of the Swiss wants to say. He ain’t what he used to be.
On the other hand, he made another Masters final at IW. He got through the field. He survived and made fans happy (and sad) along the way.
This was a stacked field. He was destined to play Nadal in the SF and Djoker in the F. Federer upheld his end of the bargain, even going on 38 years of age.
They didn’t comply.
Let’s touch on their situations next.