Boy oh boy, there’s just so much to say about the Roger-Djoker match. Good tennis, diva drama, shameful behavior, new clay court season story lines and (best of all!) anticipation of tomorrow’s juicy Rafa-Rog final! Whoo hoo!
Let’s get the nice stuff out of the way, first:
Roger is back! His fine play today and yesterday (against Nalbandian), confirmed that the No. 1 player in the world still is Roger Federer. Wasn’t it nice to see him playing his game again? As Alista mentioned in her comments on THE LONG VIEW post, the return of Fed’s fluid footwork is key to this turn around. He’s anticipating well and getting behind his strokes . We’ve seen very little of the jarring lunges and out-of-position stretching that started at the Australian Open. Roger acknowledged his improvement in his post match press conference today (click here to see the entire transcript – Novak’s too!):
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I’m consistent from the baseline. You know, my backhand’s working well. My forehand, I’m using it the right way. You know, I think that was my best match maybe moving wise. . .it was a good performance today and I’m happy the way I’m playing.
I think most of us are thrilled to see Rafa and Roger playing each other on a Sunday again – they haven’t met in a final since last year’s Wimbledon. It’s going to be a lot of fun, and I’m hoping it gives Rog some confidence going into Roland Garros. Once thing’s for certain – both players are going to give it 100% out there.
Which is more than we can say for Novak. Yes, I realize it is all too easy to heap on the judgment here – the guy retired with a sore throat! Any thoughts of giving the dude the benefit of the doubt were blown away by his bizarre post-match comments. Here are some of the most damning excerpts:
Q. What’s the problem, Novak?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I didn’t feel good for last three days. I’ve been waking up with some sore throat. But I thought it’s not going to be nothing special. But obviously when you’re playing against the No. 1 player of the world, you obviously get a lot of balls back and longer points, and I just couldn’t get enough energy back after each point. I needed a lot of time. And I just decided not to risk anything.
Q. Any fever at all?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Not for now, hopefully. I don’t know.
Q. You were already sick in the first set of the previous match.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it’s always like this. Last three days, as I said. But the previous opponents were not, you know, not that tough and I didn’t have long rallies against the previous opponents like I had today. Obviously I needed that step further and to do something more and special to win the points today. Of course, it’s normal, you’re playing against the best player in the world. And, unfortunately, I couldn’t do that. But, you know, I have to look on the bright side.
Q. So when today did you start to feel it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, from the start I didn’t feel so great. But, obviously, on the start of the match you feel, you know, fresh still somehow. But then after a while, after five, six games, after long points, started to feel more and more worse. I was thinking about, you know, stopping even after the first set. But, you know, I just wanted to try and see how it goes. But it’s not worth it, you know. I’m just 20 years old. Still a lot of time, a lot of tournaments to come.
I realize that it’s impossible to know exactly what was going on out there with Novak. But if we take him at his word, his retirement was a pretty lame move. His excuse seems to boil down to this: It wasn’t worth it to me to stay out there for three more games and give Roger the fair win because I didn’t feel like I had the chance to win it.
Huh? Talk about circular logic. It just makes no sense. He’s feeling like crap, down a set and a break, and playing Roger Federer in the semis of a Masters event. So f*cking stay out there for three more pathetic games and LOSE THE MATCH like any normal player. Just because you’re ranked No. 3 in the world, and are almost favored to win the match, doesn’t mean you can retire when things aren’t going your way. This is a sign of a MASSIVE ego – he literally couldn’t stand to lose the match., preferring to scrurry off to the the locker room than stay on the court.
Djokovic is a good player, and I think he had a shot out there today. Even at the end, he was playing fairly well, and Roger’s state of mind was still precarious. I think that Novak and his parents (especially) have been so quick to declare “the king is dead, long live the king!” (mom) and “This (the U.S. Open) is the last time (Roger) wins against Novak” (dad) that Nole now has a full fledged complex when he meets Roger on the court. Can you magine Roger (or his family) ever saying aloud that someone could never beat him again? Even with his 15-1 head-to-head against Andy Roddick (who just made it 15-2), Rog always gave the American his due. It’s just stupid from a mental standpoint to say stuff like that about your (or your son’s) opponents. Click here for an article about Novak’s parents.
Some people might say it’s not fair to bring Nole’s parents into this – after all, he can’t be held responsible for their actions. Maybe not, but they certainly aren’t shy about putting themselves in the mix. Remember the fit they threw at the Aussie Open final, when some French fans were seated in the box behind them? They made such a fuss that Novak got involved – while he was on court. And then there was today’s priceless moment, when Roger turned to the Djokovic box and bellowed “Be quiet, okay?” (Check it out on youtube if you haven’t already.) Evidently, they went ape shit over a bad line call on Roger’s baseline. Rog was willing to give Djokovic the point, sweeping the mark away with his foot, but he wasn’t up for listening to Dijana and Co. yapping away on the sidelines about it. He must be well aware of their trash-talking, and if today’s match is any indication of its effect on Novak’s state of mind, Rog might end up thanking them for it.