Folks, sorry for the delay. Sure, I’m partly still stunned and practically speechless. But, as you know, I’m never really at a loss for words.
Nor am I trying to buy more time in order to craft, as we speak, an epic post analyzing what was an incredible match between Federer and Djokovic. Of course, much of my analysis, unwritten, will reach into the context, history and discussion surrounding the match. This seemed as much about nerves, tightness, ethos and kairos as it did about the FHs, BHs, serve and ROS.
I’ll publish something thoughtful and meaningful later today. Just other stuff to attend to in this life of mine, even though for me like many of you, this match has taken center-stage in my brain, my tennis imagination, as I often like to say.
Our hearts are involved, as well, naturally. I don’t think it’s only Fedfans who are mourning this brutal loss, some in the fetal position at this point. This had all kinds of dramatic twists and turns. That was a brilliant, stunning, nervy, edgy, catastrophic and triumphant major final.
Remember: as badly as Federer stumbled and seems to have fallen, Djokovic helped write this astonishing chapter of men’s tennis, as well. His rise continues to impress, surrounded by his own struggles and difficulty.
We had this to anticipate at the beginning of yesterday’s gentlemen’s final:
🇨🇭 Roger Federer’s 9th Wimbledon & 21st Grand Slam?
🇷🇸 Novak Djokovic’s 5th Wimbledon & 16th Grand Slam?
We’re left with such an insane and consequential result, magnified by the dramatic competitive (really timeless) play between these two tennis greats.
Later today, I will sit in the quiet of my study, sip something appropriate for the occasion and do my best to put this all into some perspective. Others have been abundant and non-stop in their commentary. Stay-tuned for my addition to the discourse of this historical match that, again, is both shockingly tragic and mesmerizingly ascendant.
Talk soon, thanks for reading (and your patience).
6 thoughts on “Delayed Reaction to WB Final”
Victory in Defeat
I don’t think I ever saw anyone play as well on grass.
For a 38-year-old man (ok, 37.93) to outplay his younger opponent (who may be the fittest ever) for most of a five-set match that – because the fifth was 12-12 – was actually more like six sets, to win more total points, to win long rallies, to hold serve magnificently, to break multiple times, and to back down not one inch during the entire match, playing against a younger player who is one of the elite in history (and that may actually not be giving Djokovic enough credit) who didn’t face a top 20 opponent until the final, after Federer played what was described as a physically and emotionally exhausting match against Nadal in the semis – well, it’s a big ask, but it’s one on which Federer more than delivered.
I was one who wouldn’t have been surprised by a straight sets victory by Djokovic, and I think everyone knew that the longer the match went, the better Djokovic’s chances would be. But I didn’t see one hint of that from Federer’s play.
It seems to me that this match was a microcosm of Federer’s entire career, that Roger was, to an extent, the victim of his own success.
He fared less well against his strongest rivals in his earlier years, in part because he went farther into most tournaments than they did, and had less in the tank when, for example, he had to play a well-rested Nadal.
And in this match, he was the superior player for most of the match, but there is always an ebb and flow in top-level contests, and Djokovic’s energy level just happened to wax at the very end of the match, when Federer’s energy level waned just a bit after he’d outplayed Djokovic for most of the match.
I even read one remark that likened Federer’s loss of match points to a choke, which I found remarkable. We might as well say that Djokovic choked away the second and fourth sets. People who say these things don’t understand the give and take at the top of sport, and to be consistent they probably need to think that dropping serve (which definitely ‘happened’ in this match) is a cardinal sin.
Nevertheless, I can’t recall ever seeing anything as impressive in any sport. In my uneducated opinion, Federer’s defeat in this match sealed his place as supreme in tennis history – I’m not saying he’s the GOAT, but mostly because I don’t believe in such a thing. If I did, I would be tempted to put him on that very Mount Rushmore. And after that incredible match, Roger he doesn’t have to bow to anyone.
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Great comment, Incondite.
I like this, in particular:
“It seems to me that this match was a microcosm of Federer’s entire career, that Roger was, to an extent, the victim of his own success.”
Not only does your clarification of tpoint make sense; we could add that some of that passivity, or lack of clutch (against Rafa and Novak, even DelPo a bit) has helped define is career, as well.
Well said , Incondite. If there is such a match as a benchmark for “should have won” or “unfair”, this was the match. EVERY stat in Federer’s favour, and some, not even close! And he lost it! Don’t know Federer or his fans will ever get over it. What a match. Only one player. And his name is Federer. RESPECT. Victory in defeat👏👏No matter the results Roger Federer is the GOAT. Watching Federer is like watching no other. And the emotional roller coaster he himself goes through and bringing his fans along with him in his latter years are insane! What a player. What a man. Not many can survive so many heartbroken defeats and so many write offs as Federer. If there is a compilation of best/most memorable tennis matches, I am sure Federer’s name appears the most. Not only in victories but in his defeats as well, his matches are equally great/memorable. That’s why I think Federer goes through the most “pain” of all players as he is often reminded how great his lost matches are, ha! Which other player can lay claim to best matches ever played; won OR lost as Federer?!! Another tick for Goathood!
Recent years I felt always that Federer couldnt beat Djoker anymore; that Djoker is just too good and has an answer for everything Federer throw at him and only the occasional God mode 100 percent fit Federer on a quick court, has any chance. However, this final Federere proved that he actually CAN beat Djoker …..and on a slow” court! This resemblance of 2017 Federer on Sunday certainly is the only one that stands a chance against Djoker, on all surface. So it’s kinda sad that they never met in 2017 (Djoker slump) because at that time Federer was mentally very fresh after being away from tennis for half year. The mental scars would not have played such a prominent (still) role in Sunday’s final. It is clear he tightened; the history of matchpoint saved in big matches that Djoker won against him, must have surfaced (and Djoker rubbing it in on matchpoint saved in his speech!) Hard to explain otherwise coz Federer was brilliant everywhere on Sunday, except for the 3 tiebreaks!
I won’t call it a choke. But tense, anxious, bit of doubt perhaps and that is enough. Djoker thrives on “abusing” others’ doubts and love inflicting pain on the one guy who has time and again denied him fame and popularity……
. Djoker is intelligent, open and gracious; and he has a ” sinister” side to him that serves him well in competitive sport. Federer is “pure” compared to how shrewd Djoker is. Djoker is more “resourceful” and open to all kinds of aides – it was the egg, then gluten free, vegan, yoga, visualisation techniques, star coaches, and now, latest, Craig’s strategy stats. He is pulling out all the stops to topple and crush Federer. Always has been his desire. He can’t stand Federer, haha. And vice versa. Federer is too “pure” for a spartan like Djokovic. He is just plain old Seve and Lubicic’ (which in Djoker’s world would be too lame), no gamesmanship, trash talk, whining, no sports psychology, not really into making full use of technical data to help with strategies. He just puts his head down and plays his pure beautiful game; thinking, perhaps too naively that it is all it takes, that his game doesn’t need all the “outside” help. He is stubborn, proud and will live and die by his game.
Djoker, with this kind of vendetta and his personality, Federer doesn’t stand a chance against him. As shown by Sunday’s final. When Djoker plays with Federer, I feel like he is “toying” with Federer’s “fragile” mentality, pushing those buttons there. Loves inflicting pain there (deepest pains) as he himself must have been inflicted upon by Fedal in earlier years and lack of love from fans and journalists. Unless Federer can keep healthy next 2 years and pull out all his stops as well – like dealing with the mental side of his game, how to deal with Djoker scars, (this is the most important thing he needs to do) he won’t be able to revert the rivalry. He could revert with Nadal coz he is actually a better player than Nadal and Nadal has weaknesses. Djoker has none. Its not only about his fhs and Bhs anymore, we have seen it on Sunday, he could stand toe to toe with Djoker, even winning the longest rally, 45 strokes, at 37 and on a clay grass court! It’s all about cleaning up those Djoker scars and staying healthy. His physical game maybe the least he should be worried about now as opposed to the mental “damage”.
But I would also put it down to age. You do get more nervy as you age and the constant realisation at the back of your mind that this maybe your only chance. Just look at Serena. Plain nerves. I don’t think Halep played exceptional. She was just calm and got back every ball. Pisses me off that two grinders/defenders (!), for God’s sake, won Wimbledon this year! These defenders would have no place in Wimbledon if it was still a true grass tournament. Serena is 37 too, haha! These past few finals that Serena have all lost since she became a mother, was all due to nerves, imho. She is such a wreck on court when she gets a nervous attack.
But what I really wanna say is, Matt, this match just further prove, although it’s already proven beyond a doubt, (anyone who has tennis intellect and objective mindset) that your brainchild HRFRT is spot on and should be CEMENTED in tennis history! Get the book out and sell it, man! Federer is a victim of his own success. Because he played so long, the monsters he created in Nadal and Djoker continues to be fed by him, the mother monster. These 2 monsters almost died so many times in the past, due to injury, personal problems, etc, and many thought they wouldnt be able to play long after they reached their 30’s due to their punishing styles. But Lo and behold, mother monster kept playing and kept feeding them fodder!! Djoker has been fed so well! He is now a full grown monster, albeit a mutated one (hybrid of Fedal) that is impossible to beat ……. until the next monster …….which can be created by Djoker…. if he continues to play as long as Federer!
Did you hear Federer’s loser speech? Such irony! He said he hoped he has inspired other 37 year olds by his longevity! Djoker was like, “Thank you very much , Roger! I definitely AM inspired to play AS LONG AS YOU”. Haha! Djoker actually said he is about longevity now AND playing for history! Which means we are all in now for the long haul, folks! And he won’t hang up his racket until all Federer’s records are destroyed. I wonder Federer when he made that statement, did he forget that he is actually inspiring Djoker more directly than any other 37 year olds?! Ha! As if Djoker needed any more inspiration/motivation! This is what I meant when I say Federer can be naive. He may be smug, arrogant, proud, but he is honest, “pure” , straightforward and does not have a “sneaky” streak that Djoker and some other players have. Federer is not a sports person, not made for real combat. He is an artist, a showman, a thoroughly decent, mild human being. For an artist, he has done exceptionally well for so long in the sporting world. But I’m afraid it’s become too cruel now for “beautiful” players like him…..
Longevity had never been in Djoker’s plan. He had struggled with lack of motivation, personal problems, his punishing play style (which he addressed already, trying to end points sooner) but the monster has turned full circle. It is entirely Federer’s fault, haha, for being too good too long. Too much fodder as I said. The next gen don’t stand a chance if Djoker becomes another Fed playing till late 30’s! We don’t know the future but it’s looking bleak for next few years at least for the bigger titles. Is it good/heathy for the sport with players playing too long? Where younger, maybe equally talented/hard working youngsters, just cant break through because the experience and advantages of these celebrated elders are just too overwhelming? Tennis has become an older men’s game now. I think Federer outlived 3 generations. Nadal may outlive 1 more. And Djoker, the big 1, that he is destined to be, once Fedal retires, could live eternally! Physically he is in even better shape than Fed when Fed was his age. He is not interested in Micky mouse tounamements anymore. He is just gearing his whole body, mind and soul for the majors. Which means less wear and tear on body and mind. He can go on forever! Scary! Your next book, Matt, could be HNDRTEF – How Novak Djokovic ruined tennis forever!!! Love your blog Matt. Always look forward to your posts. Can’t wait for your thoughts on Sunday’s final.
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Fantastic stuff, “Veronica.”
Love these points:
“This resemblance of 2017 Federer on Sunday certainly is the only one that stands a chance against Djoker, on all surface. So it’s kinda sad that they never met in 2017 (Djoker slump) because at that time Federer was mentally very fresh after being away from tennis for half year.”
“Djoker is more ‘resourceful’ and open to all kinds of aides – it was the egg, then gluten free, vegan, yoga, visualisation techniques, star coaches, and now, latest, Craig’s strategy stats. He is pulling out all the stops to topple and crush Federer. Always has been his desire. He can’t stand Federer, haha. And vice versa. Federer is too ‘pure’ for a spartan like Djokovic.”
Thanks for the nod on HRFRT. Well said with regards to the monsters (I’ve only scratched that discussion) and the continued “feeding” of said monsters in Fed’s longevity.
I agree that Novak is set to destroy the record books though he might want to avoid another massive dip in form (he’s done this through out his career).
Thanks for reading and for the comment.
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Some Great insights here…..
One point I wanted to add is how still he seems to live and die by his own swords…. Clearly this is not one of matches like 2016 AO SF where Roger has no chance at all and Novak is in blazing form to play and win match on his terms…This match very much played on terms on Roger’s but still ended up losing it when it mattered…I almost call that at on Novak’s presence on other side net causing it but more we think about it this is not first time he blown away close matches in last few years (esp after Match points)…Delpo, Coric, Thiem and few other matches flashes in mind….So I don’t know its Novak factor alone…has to be something else here he may look into and address with his team….I would be interested to know your guys thoughts on also this….
I also like to point out that all the hypes on that 40-30 BP saved by pass , which is almost same shot Roger got break before that game too…(i see in twitter there is comparison on Nadal’s match too). 40-15 chance though Rog could have made that to finish the match……Such a bummer… Also very surprised match went 12-12 after that mess I was almost expecting he gets broken again next…This also shows the importance he get closed in SF in similar situation against Rafa, that match very much have turned if he hadn’t there, I recall Matt also tweetting the same..
In the end what a disappointing result for roger and what a great one for Novak… but if anything Roger is very good at coming back after these heartbreaks, and as a fan he can do that once again…. Cheers…
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Thanks, as always, Nambi.