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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Since Novak's travails and Federer's resurgence in 2017, the two players have met four times:

2018 Cincinnatti: Dominant win by Djokovic
2018 Paris Masters: Very narrow win by Djokovic, Novak the better player
2019 Wimbledon: Very, very narrow win by Djokovic, Roger the better player
2019 WTF Finals: Dominant win by Federer

Certainly, individual factors influence any one encounter, such as the storms in Cincinnatti messing up the schedule, and Novak potentially injured to at least some extent at the WTF Finals (and perhaps even Wimbledon?).

But the trajectory is clear nonetheless. And it definitely feels different from years like 2014 and 2015, when Novak would turn in performances that would make him look invincible.

In 2020, could the unthinkable happen, with Roger turning the rivalry around?

Or were the last two Novak performances form-/injury-related blips and therefore insignificant in predicting the future?
 

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The Federest said:
In 2020, could the unthinkable happen, with Roger turning the rivalry around?
Absolutely. Moreover, It's pretty clear ATP PopCon champ will take all four majors next year.

352921
 

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Honestly I see where you’re coming from. I do agree that there is something in that matchup that is turning around. Djokovic’s ROS has clearly declined and he hasn’t had a good look at Federer’s serve after that horrific match in Cincinnati. Unfortunately Djokovic does have the mental edge easily and that as shown in Wimbledon makes a huge difference. But we’ll see in 2020 if Federer can turn it around or not.
 

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Does it matter? He's effectively ruined his entire career with that loss. Everyone screws up, but you cant screw up THAT bad. It's as simple as that.
 

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It's 4 matches only and in the span of 1,5 years. I wouldn't read too much into the dynamics of the rivalry.

What's obvious to me is that faker has showed clear signs of further decline.
This year in the slams he played great from start to finish only in Australian Open.
In Roland Garros he was beaten handily by Dominator (should be in 3 max 4 sets not 5 if not for Dominic's nerves and faker's hamleting about the weather - for which he should have been defaulted in the first place).
In Wimbledon he should have lost to Fed if Fed hadn't choked.
In USO he was destroyed by Stanimal.

Next year his odds to win more slams are not as good as they seem.
 

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This has nothing to do with Federer. Djokovic doesn't dominate the field like he used to, it's quite obvious.
Obviously. Can’t expect Federer to actually improve, even in this matchup at the age of 38. Federer has been in his 30s for pretty much 80% of this decade, kinda hard for him to improve his level from the form he showed in his 20s. But it’s definitely natural and what should rightfully happen to see Djokovic decline in his early 30s.

I do agree that 4 matches and with Djokovic winning 3 of them isn’t a convincing argument to show that Federer is turning this around. There are signs, but they are small and not really convincing enough
 

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The trajectory does indeed look significant. If Federer is gaining the edge in their match-ups due to Djok's decline, then the implication is that Djokovic is declining at a faster rate than Federer. Which means we could see Federer overtake Djokovic in the rankings- and that would be truly remarkable.
 

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Four matches are too few to prove anything by themselves. Looking for a trend rather than just random variations (due to the form at a given day), one should ask what possible mechanisms could work in Federer's favor. Both are getting older, but it seems strange that this would benefit the 38-year old over the 32-year old. Moreover, nothing much has happened in terms of tactic, and the couple has played a huge number of matches before the match in Paris 2018. I don't think that Federer finally has cracked the secret of how to play against the Serb. If the trend is not just an illusion, simply caused by random day-to-day variations in form, possibly Djokovic is on the decline for some reason. Perhaps there is a lack of focus and the Serb's motivation might not be 100 %. One stat suggesting that Djokovic indeed has some problems is the following:

Djokovic against top 10 during 2019, from AO up until (and including) Wimbledon:

Nine matches played: 7 wins, 2 losses.

Djokovic against top 10 during 2019, after Wimbledon until the end of the season:

Six matches played: 2 wins, 4 losses.

This stat doesn't have to mean much. Djokovic did not end his successful year 2011 very well, but nevertheless came back strong in AO 2012 after a less than stellar season-ending. Still, the declining results against top 10 over the course of the year could be a first sign that he struggles with motivation or with something else. I guess we will have to wait until AO 2020 to get some further evidence.
 

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This has nothing to do with Federer. Djokovic doesn't dominate the field like he used to, it's quite obvious.
I agree with this, King has less and less peak performances these days, best example is the Wimbledon final, mediocre level for most of the match. I don't mention the ATP Finals encounter as he seemed to be on vacation already.
 

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Four matches are too few to prove anything by themselves. Looking for a trend rather than just random variations (due to the form at a given day), one should ask what possible mechanisms could work in Federer's favor. Both are getting older, but it seems strange that this would benefit the 38-year old over the 32-year old. Moreover, nothing much has happened in terms of tactic, and the couple has played a huge number of matches before the match in Paris 2018. I don't think that Federer finally has cracked the secret of how to play against the Serb.
That's well put.
Comparing it to Fed - dull rivalry one could notice the factual change of trajectory in this matchup since AO 2017 and there was a clear tactical reason for it which was Fed's playing BH closer to the baseline/ on the rise more often than earlier.
 

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That's well put.
Comparing it to Fed - dull rivalry one could notice the factual change of trajectory in this matchup since AO 2017 and there was a clear tactical reason for it which was Fed's playing BH closer to the baseline/ on the rise more often than earlier.
The truth is that there isn’t something really tactical for this matchup. Whoever executed their game better on the day wins, this matchup was never complicated and things happened naturally. Federer’s variety bothers Djokovic and Djokovic return of serve and deep botting also bothers Federer.

Federer dominated initially when he was at his peak, he gets older and declines and then loses the edge to a younger player reaching his peak. There is a 6 years gap after all, they are both from different generations and peaked at different times. One thing that I can say for sure is that they have played more times in periods of Djokovic’s best than vice versa.

So there is really no secret, it’s not like Federer didn’t know how to beat Djokovic, this is not like the Nadal matchup where Federer really struggled back in the day because of a particular reason with the BH and even during his best period.
 

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Obviously. Can’t expect Federer to actually improve, even in this matchup at the age of 38. Federer has been in his 30s for pretty much 80% of this decade, kinda hard for him to improve his level from the form he showed in his 20s. But it’s definitely natural and what should rightfully happen to see Djokovic decline in his early 30s.
Yeah, this business is filled with MTFs who think their asses will age like wine. But they won't.
 

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Four matches are too few to prove anything by themselves. Looking for a trend rather than just random variations (due to the form at a given day), one should ask what possible mechanisms could work in Federer's favor. Both are getting older, but it seems strange that this would benefit the 38-year old over the 32-year old. Moreover, nothing much has happened in terms of tactic, and the couple has played a huge number of matches before the match in Paris 2018.
Actually I don’t think it would be that strange when you think about the mechanics of this matchup. What was making the difference for Djokovic previously was his return of the serve and the fact that he could read Federer’s serve so well. But naturally as a player ages, his reaction time and speed decline a bit, and that affects the return of serve. It happened to Federer and Nadal as well. They clearly were much better returners when they were younger and so was Djokovic. On the other hand, as Karlovic has shown, it is possible for the serve to still be lethal and as good as ever even at your 40s. The older you get doesn’t necessarily weaken your serve. But the older you get likely weakens your return of serve.

Federer’s serve is still as good as ever. That shot hasn’t declined and if WTF 2019 is to go by, if Djokovic will still struggle with Federer’s non-declined serve facing it with his declined return, it could be a crucial difference.

But for all we know it could have just been a bad patch for Djokovic after Wimbledon and he could be back in full flow for next year as well. As mentioned earlier, 3 matches is too little of a sample.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
The consensus seems to be that the narrowing of the gap between the two players is attributable solely to a Novak decline, but would that not imply that Rafa (who's had a very consistent 2019) could now beat Novak on grass and hard-courts, at least on a good day?

Or is the decline (if it exists) only in parts of Novak's game that Federer, but not Rafa, is able to exploit?

FWIW: I'm not at all sure about Novak's physical decline in general. I think that he's really struggling with Fed's serve, but Fed has a super-elite serve anyway. One thing I noticed this year is that Novak has been having second-set slumps, which suggests mental fatigue. On many occasions this year, he completely took apart an opponent's game in the first set, only to go mentally AWOL in the second.
 

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The consensus seems to be that the narrowing of the gap between the two players is attributable solely to a Novak decline, but would that not imply that Rafa (who's had a very consistent 2019) could now beat Novak on grass and hard-courts, at least on a good day?

Or is the decline (if it exists) only in parts of Novak's game that Federer, but not Rafa, is able to exploit
?

FWIW: I'm not at all sure about Novak's physical decline in general. I think that he's really struggling with Fed's serve, but Fed has a super-elite serve anyway. One thing I noticed this year is that Novak has been having second-set slumps, which suggests mental fatigue. On many occasions this year, he completely took apart an opponent's game in the first set, only to go mentally AWOL in the second.
Maybe on grass (their 2018 WM SF was extremely close) but on hard - I doubt it.
Djokodal matchup on hard has been much more one-sided than Fedovic matchup on hard. In fact Fed was almost on every occasion able to take a set off or play really close matches even vs peak faker while dull can't even win a set vs faker on hard since 2013. So I think even a subpar faker would beat dull any day on hard. That would require a dramatic decline from faker. For me that is equally likely like Fed beating dull on clay.
 

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Decline is in ROS of Djokovic against Federer. At Paris, he won both TBs. At W, he won by winning three TBs. At WTF, couldn't break Federer.
 
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