Well, that was a fun way to spend a weekend, wasn’t it Fedfans? I honestly wasn’t expecting a record sixth title from Roger in Dubai this go ’round. Not that I was expecting him to lose, understand. I just wasn’t thinking “Rog’s got this one in the bag!” Djokovic’s won the tournament four times in the past six years, after all, and Berdych, seeded ahead of Roger, saved match points to beat him in the semis last year. Not a slam dunk, in other words. So it was with cautious optimism (big racquet! good vibes from Mirka and Davis Cup!) that I tuned in to Roger’s semifinal versus Nole on Friday.
Wow. No doubt Nole wasn’t at his tip top best, but I thought Roger played supremely well. Even dropping the first set was a positive to me – we Fed fans need to see Roger scrap a bit, hold firm, gain regain confidence through adversity. He displayed this renewed sense of self (“I’m Roger Federer damn it!” in other words) in the semifinal and even more so in the final, when he fought past a set and a break deficit and some ugly forehand errors to subdue Tomas Berdych in three. I admit to getting a bit weak kneed at key moments, having the typical flashbacks to the heartbreakers and headscratchers, perhaps doubting Roger’s ability to stay the course (hey, we’ve had enough recent disasters, haven’t we?), especially when Berdych saved those championship points near the end. The important thing, of course, is that Roger didn’t seem to doubt, or waver, or even question too much what he was doing out there. He played not as an aging legend, trying to maintain his dignity, but as a man in the very prime of his career.
The Roger stat I’ve been watching this season is his record against top ten players. Last season’s record over top ten players was an abysmal 4-10. This season, he’s already at a very respectable 4-1 (with wins over Berdych, Djokovic, Tsonga and Murray and a loss to Nadal.) With every addition to the win column, Roger will not only add to his confidence but burnish his Federer-badassness in the locker room.
I also like that he played in the desert before heading to Indian Wells. Another smart move, another sign he’s got his fingernails dug deep into this season.
Not that he has it in the bag, or anything. . .
What do you think of this win? A sign of more winning ways to come, or simply a happy blip?
We’d be remiss if we didn’t congratulate this weekend winners in Acapulco, Grigor Dimitrov (over Kevin Anderson) and Dominika Cibulkova (over first time American finalist Christina McHale). Grigor now not only has Maria Sharapova but one of the coolest trophies on tour (my personal fave, anyway.) Klara Zakapalova and first timer Federico Delbonis won titles in Brazil.
Oh, and how could I forget? HAPPY WORLD TENNIS DAY, EVERYONE! Your cards are in the mail.
As part of the WTD festivities, Novak beat Andy Murray on Monday night in a Madison Square Garden exhibition: 6-3, 7-6 (2).
The confirmed aging legends celebrated in London, where Pat Cash defeated Ivan Lendl 8-6 and Andre Agassi beat Pete Sampras 6-3, 7-6(1). More interesting than the senior tennis matches (at least to me) were the quotes from the two Americans regarding their coaching prospects. Agassi, who his own coach Darren Cahill doubted would want to coach, seems coaching-curious, especially where John Isner is concerned.
“I would love to focus on someone who is not maximizing their game really,” Agassi said. (via Yahoo!)
“I think of interesting players, like a John Isner, a player who plays at that level and has that much to bring to the table and really help them cover some distance that’s he’s yet to do.
“You have to get inside someone’s head, figure out getting them from point A to point B but that’s time and that’s a big commitment and at this stage of my life I don’t have that luxury,”
Maybe Andre’s words will motivate John to stay on tour a bit longer – just until the Agassi kids have flown the coop!
Even the tour shy pistol-Pete Sampras is playing armchair coach these days, especially when it comes to “real deal” Grigor Dimitrov. “Maybe help, not coach,” Sampras said of the possible pairing. “Coaching is a big commitment but maybe shed a little light on the game.”
I wonder who will coach first – Roger or one of these guys?