Re: Theory: Fed lost the match because he really didn't want to lose to Nadal in fina
Franklin JOhnson of tennisnow.com explains it better than I did...
Opinion: Why Roger Federer Fell To Novak Djokovic
By Franklin L. Johnson
© Natasha Peterson/Corleve
(September 12, 2010) Stop for a moment, like Rafa going through some pre-point primping and priming before serving on set point, and please proceed through this piece with caution at your discretion. That's a fair warning: many of you aren't going to like my analysis of what we witnessed in that roller coaster ride of a spectacle that was Novak Djokovic snatching away a semifinal heist over Roger Federer in Saturday's US Open semifinals.
Let's be clear: many of you won't like what you're about to hear, but I gotta call it the way I see it when it comes to Federer's failure to convert two match points.
Federer blew this match because he knew, deep down in his psyche and competitive soul, he didn't have enough juice and legs left to deal with both Nole and Rafa back-to-back.
So, Roger, the man who has taken offensive baseline play to aggressive, artistic ascendancy seldom seen in New York City since the days of Martina and Mac (and Johnny Mac could never crush the forehand with the authority of Roger) tried to slide by The Djoker.
The moment demanded you make a stand and take the Djoker and the moment on the rise, but Roger tried to bob-and-weave, slip-and-duck and play the pressure game to prey on Djoker's tendency to tighten up slightly as he did in Roger's wins over Nole in their last three Flushing Meadows meetings.
The man whose shotmaking skills on this court are as precise as the Rolex brand he represents tried to win this match on the cheap rather than collecting on the one set, and two-set-to one leads he built before Djoker fought off match points with forcing forehands.
"Can't turn back time, but look, obviously (I) had to come up with a couple of good shots on match point, so I don't feel I have that many regrets in that regard," Federer said after the match. "Obviously you feel like you have left something out if you lose the match having had match point."
If you accept the fact that winning a match is not just managing the match you're present playing but playing your mind and body like a violin to tune up and perform in seven best-of-five set matches over a two-week span then you know winning a major is more than just match management.
One of these days you're going to get religion and agree how often Federer feels he needs to bank rest when playing these young lions. Federer has long played with aesthetically-pleasing efficiency, but now he's playing with mental and physical economy and trying not to expend too much energy before staring down the Bull from Mallorca.
Federer did just enough to sneak a one-set lead set by jumping on Novak at the end of the first set. Instead of putting on the afterburners, however, he took his foot off the gas, expecting Nole to go away.
This didn't happen.
Instead, he got dusted in the second set. Federer duplicated play in the third by jumping on The Djoker at the end of the set to establish a two-sets-to-one lead. Again, he tried to win without expending too mcuh effort. And again he allowed Novak to hang around when he should have stuck the shiv in this young bull.
Spare me the hype. Here's how Federer fell in this match: he waited for The Djoker to cave, but it didn't happen.
No disrespect to The Djoker because he came up large with those two mammoth forehands down match point and showed the heart he highlighted tapping his Head racquet against his chest.
But the reality is this match was always in Federer's hands, even up to the very end.
Federer had two match points. He tried to out-rally Novak but he couldn't do it because his legs started to give out. He continued running around his backhand, but his timing was off due to stiffening legs. He did not attack his forehand on those match points. Was it fatigue or something else?
"I don't blame it on my forehand," Federer said. "I played a good first match point. Second one I tried to be more safe on it because you never know if you're gonna get another one; I didn't. (I) played a good forehand under pressure. It's not easy to hit a winner. So that's the way it goes."
By this time, I'm sure Federer knew he was in trouble. Novak knew he was. If you think that's a reach The Djoker didn't. He knew Federer had played the nerve game like a vise in their past matches and this time he didn't let Federer use the moment to unnerve him.
"I just knew I have to be patient and not lose my emotions too much because that was the case in the past when I was losing the momentum with him," Djokovic said. "He uses that nervousness of the opponent. He feels it."
Federer simply couldn't put Novak away, in part, because he relied on Djokovic cracking enough to give it to him. He wanted to win on the cheap, and it proved to be costly.
Young legs won this match. If Federer was at his best and fully confident, this match would've been three and out for Fed. No question in my mind.
Here's the story behind the loss: I truly think Roger tried to look past The Djoker because he already knew Rafa was waiting for him.
If Federer was confident and really trying to get at the Raging Bull, he would've tried to bury Nole. He didn't do it because deep down inside he knew he couldn't beat Rafa, who cruised in straight sets, right after a five-set rumble with Nole.
In fact, I suspect he believed another serious beatdown was in the offing at the hands of Nadal. So, he wanted to hold on to as much of his court cred as he has left to give it one last go next season.
At present, the king is dead. Long live the king!
It is now the time of the young lions in today's final.
If the rain stops — and it's raining here now — I'm picking Rafa in three because Novak has a gimpy right quad and is outta juice after the five-set fight with Roger. However, if the match is postponed until tomorrow, give The Djoker his due and a shot at the upset.
Tennis Now contributing writer Franklin L. Johnson is a writer, poet and avid tennis player based in New York. He has covered professional tennis for three decades. His recent columns include Open Observations: Only The Strong Survive, Champs Can Sow Seeds of American Tennis Growth, The GOAT Game Changer, What Do Roger Federer and Andy Murray's Coaching Changes Mean? American Anthem Needs New Tune, Tomas Berdych Played Tame Final and A Case For Vera.