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Jonas Knows He Lost to the Best
Bjorkman Congratulates Federer
©IPS / I. Kington
Friday, 7 July, 2006
The round of applause that greeted Jonas Bjorkman when he held serve in the third set, and the rueful smile he threw in the direction of the players’ box as he walked back to the chair, said it all. The Swede had just stopped one of the best players in the world from inflicting a completely embarrassing drubbing on him. “It was tough,” he said after his 6-2, 6-0, 6-2 loss. “What can you say after that?”
Plenty, it turns out, for Bjorkman still relished his semi-final outing. “I felt pretty good, very relaxed. I was out to enjoy it and I did, in a way. It was nice to be around and see how someone can play the nearest to perfection you can play in tennis. He just made it look so easy.”
Talking to Federer after the match, Bjorkman said he had told him he was seeing the ball as if it were a bowling or a basketball ball. “He also said he felt good,” the 34 year-old added, and then with a wry smile, continued: “I just wanted to check he hadn’t had a bad day because that would have scared me a little bit!”
Having been on the wrong side of one of the quickest semi-finals in Wimbledon history, Bjorkman went on to outline what it felt like to be on the same court with a man clearly destined for greatness.
“It’s hard to describe and I had the best seat in the house. He doesn’t get enough credit for his serve – everyone talks about everything else that he’s got, but his serve is very effective. He has the same toss on every serve, more or less, which is why it is so hard to read. And he hits his spots really well with good spin, and mixes it up plenty.”
Comparing the Swiss champion with Pete Sampras, Bjorkman continued: “Pete had that pure power, hitting it perfect into the corners. But Roger mixes it up with the same toss which makes it so hard, especially on grass as he hits his spots so well which makes it much harder to return.”
As a player, Federer has everything, Bjorkman said. “I always felt Stefan Edberg was one of the greatest movers out there – he looked like a cat, just so smooth. But Roger is almost above that. He never looks as if he’s moving at all but he’s always there with a lot of time to hit the ball. And with his strong wrists on both his forehand and backhand, he can create so much power. That’s probably what amazed me most, the power he can generate.
“Roger didn’t give me any freebies – I didn’t have a couple of shots where I felt he was being lazy or a little flat. He was always looking to win every point which is what makes him so much harder to play than against Pete.”
Bjorkman struggled to offer advice to Federer’s prospective challenger in Sunday’s final. “The only player who has any idea is probably Nadal. He has managed to get into Roger’s head a little with his head-to-head record.
That is going to help him in the final. And with a leftie spin he can work him out of position a little bit more often than other guys can. And he can also generate a lot of power with his forehand.”
If there is a glimmer of hope for Federer’s opponents, it is that the defending champion can make the odd error at the net, Bjorkman said. “Technically he is good all round, though he can miss the odd volley and that could be construed as a weakness.”
Not today though.
Written by Henry Wancke
Bryans || Djokovic || Paire || Chiudinelli || Nalbandian || Hanley || Rojer || Nadal
Söderling || Verdasco || Wawrinka || Simon || O. Rochus || Leo Mayer
Björkman || Arthurs || Edberg || Rafter || T.Johansson || M.Norman || Aspelin