I mentioned that in another thread, but it was a little bit "off-topic" then created this thread.
I've had this impression several times for one year especially, that some players now played against Federer as if they were playing against an "old legend" and give more importance to winning this match than to far in this tournament.
When I speak about playing against "an old legend", there are two dimensions :
-"legend" which means that their match or victory against him would be one achievement which would be marked in their whole carreer and memories. Something even more important than going far in the tournament.
- "old" which means that they know that now they have a chance, it's the good moment to beat him.
In his peak years it was quite different : some players had superior motivation but yet started the match thinking they would lose.
I also want to say that because I don't quite agree with the idea that Federer doesn't give a shit about MS1000 tournaments : I think that comparing to slams, he's often not perfectly prepared (but it can be said of several other top-players, I guess, although in a lesser extent), I think, in a lesser extent for me, that he's not as motivated as for slams - I say "in a lesser extent" because for instance I could read an interview in the beginning of the year, saying that he wanted to win more tournaments this year, including other than grand slams, both to do better than previous year and because he clearly aims at staying number 1.
Several matches which have made me think that :
- Murray Masters Cup 2008
: he said that beating Federer in that Masters Cup was a huge achievement, and he let people think that it was as important as wining the tournament ... and actually he lost next round looking exhausted. Also interesting about Murray is that he said later that "Fed's number 1 is up for grabs", meaning that now Federer is not the one he's used to be and you can beat him.
- Benneteau Bercy 2009
: frankly speaking I was amazed by him that day, he played fantastic imo, and he looked incredible, like doped or something, anyway incredibly motivated, I've hardly seen anything like that. In the end of the match he celebrated incredibly saying it was the "greatest win of his carreer" and cried like a baby ... and lost next round (well it was Monfils who reached the final
- Baghdatis Indian Wells 2010
: I had not been impressed by him for long and clearly underrated him, but in that match he was fantastic, the best match of the tournament imo, Fed played quite well imo, but Marcos was great. In the end of the match he said it was the biggest win of his carreer ... for a player who has been finalist in the Australian Open and semifinalist in Wimbledon
- Tsonga Montreal 2009
: well Fed gave him the match in the end, no doubt it was a crap, but in the first set, Tsonga played at a level I don't remember him playing in other matches in 2009 ... and please note that Tsonga is a player I often watch. All of his words ... he was hugely motivated (actually Fed was the only top-4-player he had not beaten yet), also said something like "my biggest win" (or nearly with his win over Nadal in Melbourne)
- more complicated case but in connection with that : Davydenko Masters Cup 2009, Doha and Melbourne 2010
. From his interviews, also from his wife's words, beating Federer was a total obsession for him and if he did that, there was supposed to be no more obstacle to win big tournaments (wgich actually is not completely irrational if you consider his recent level of play and record against other players). Little bit too much obsession maybe if you consider the quarterfinal in Melbourne, but yet an obsession. And in London he gave everything he had to win.
Well, of course it's not totally anormal against a number 1 or even a top-player : for some players beating Nadal is also a real extraordinary achievement, and you could even see Tipsarevic's fighting and celebration after beating Murray in Dubai ...
But it seems to me that there has been something more in some recent matches against Federer.