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Djokovic Defeats Federer to Win World Tour Finals

Djokovic Defeats Federer to Win World Tour Finals

Well we didn’t get the end to the season I knew everyone wanted as Roger succumbed to the relentlessness of Djokovic losing 7-6(6) 7-5 in the final of of the ATP World Tour Finals. The match was much closer than the scoreline suggested and had 1 or 2 points gone the other way the outcome may have been different.

I’ve been writing off Roger’s chances all week but after he beat Murray comfortably I thought he might just have enough left in the tank to beat Djokovic and claim his 7th Masters Cup; sadly I was wrong as Djokovic played the big points well and used all his defensive ability to keep himself in the match despite falling behind in both sets.

Federer Wins the First 9 Points

Unlike the match against Murray this time around Roger got off to the dream start breaking Djokovic immediately and moving into a 3-0 lead. Roger won the first 9 points of the match and I was feeling confident. As we’ve seen many times before Djokovic is never beaten until you’re shaking hands with him at the net and after a nervous start he started to find his range from the baseline.

Roger’s 3-0 lead soon evaporated and at 4-4 Djokovic moved into the lead for the first time in the match breaking Roger for the second time. It was a painful blow. Such was the high level and topsy turvy nature of the first set Roger broke straight back and we moved into a well justified tie break.

True to form the breaker was pretty crazy, Roger was the one going for his shots, many came off but the errors column was always breathing down his neck. At 5-6 Roger hit an immense full stretch volley and a whipped pass to save set point, see video below, that sent the crowd wild. After that point I thought Fed was going to snatch the breaker but strangely the very next point he hit a wild backhand and Djokovic took the first set. Disappointing.

Second Set – Another peRFect Start

After composing myself I decided that I wasn’t going to get too deflated as the match was still very much in the balance in my mind. Djokovic hadn’t exactly outplayed Roger, he’d just taken his chance when Federror turned up. I tweeted after the first set that if Roger could turn the 20 winners to 23 unforced error count to a positive ratio in the second he’d be able to turn the match around.

Like the first set Roger got off to another great starting breaking Djokovic again in his opening service game. This time around I thought he was making his advantage count for sure.

At 5-4 Roger moved to 40-15. A good return from Djokovic and then a forehand error meant it was deuce. Memories of the US Open came back a little and more Djokovic pressure saw Roger lose serve. This was even more disappointing than the first set. His forehand went AWOL at the wrong time and handed the initiative back to Novak. You can’t afford to waste 2 set points at the top level and Roger knows it.

At 5-6 Federer found himself down yet another break point, he played it pretty timidly I thought and didn’t quite go full blooded, he came in behind quite a good but not great forehand approach shot and Djokovic hit a backhand pass on the stretch to take the title. It was a good shot but it was always make-able. Rather annoying.

What Went Wrong for Roger?

Argh!

This match really boiled down to 2 things, Djokovic’s relentlessness in the rallies and Roger making forehand errors at key times. For large parts Roger was the one in the dominant position, he was aggressive and his backhand held up well. He put himself in the position to win it but just couldn’t quite get it done. Djokovic has such a great defense that he can stay in so many points, on courts that aren’t overly quick any rally that goes above 5 shots you have to make him the odds on favourite to win the point.

One of the biggest indicators in a Federer loss is the Winners to Unforced Errors count. The ratio was negative in the first set and by the end of the match it stood at 30 winners to 42 unforced errors. If Roger is break even, or positive he’s 9 times out of 10 the winner, in fact I’d love to see his winning % in matches where he has positive W:UE stats.

I believe that Roger has lost some confidence since the US Open loss to Berdych and then losing in Shanghai and then Basel can’t have helped. The win against Murray would have helped but it just wasn’t enough to take his game up that notch in the clutch. Losing a lead twice in the match mainly down to unforced errors is always down to confidence levels, we saw it in the US Open Semi’s in 2010/11 and we’ve seen it against Nadal many times.

I think there were too many [turning points] to really pinpoint one because any one of them, obviously, could have thrown the match into a different direction again in the first, and in the second, too, more so in the first maybe because there were more twists and turns. Maybe I have a bit of regret because I had the lead twice, first before him.

The Season Draws to a Close

I’ll be recapping the season in the not too distant future but despite a somewhat disappointing end there’s no doubt it’s been a great year for Roger. Winning a slam, returning to number 1 and winning a handful of other titles all at the age of 31 yet again defies the odds, silences the critics and entertains thousands, if if not millions across the globe.

Next up for him are the Exhibitions in South America and then a well deserved rest. I’ve heard that he maybe skipping Doha which I feel is a very wise decision. It means he won’t have any matches before the Australian Open but I think the practise courts are more important right now. He’s stated himself he hasn’t had chance to practise with such a busy year due to the Olympics putting a spanner in the works.

Like I said I think that Roger has lacked a little confidence since the US Open and he can start to rebuild that on the practise courts in Dubai. Working with Annacone after Christmas he can ensure he irons out any areas in his game that he thinks aren’t currently working as well as they could do.

Oh and just so you know; he wasn’t too down beat after the loss:

And for those of you like me that would love to see faster courts in the game then check this. There’s some solid points from Fed when he was asked about it in his post match press conference: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/tennis/news/20121113/federer-wants-faster-courts/

About Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

52 comments

  1. The faster courts comment is interesting especially when you add Djokovic’s words that one of his main tactics was to just stay in the rallies long enough for Roger to make a mistake. And this is meant to be one of the faster courts. Tennis has gotten too slow but we’ve been saying this for years and I can’t see things changing. As for the match I always felt that Roger was trying to find his level but just wasn’t able to maintain it for long enough. The Murray match was the only time he found it since the US Open. It’s unfortunate but a great season nonetheless. Us Fedfans would have taken a Wimbledon title and a 16/17 week run at No. 1 so here’s to the break and to 2013 and to Roger!

  2. Nice analysis. Interesting thoughts to think about. Thanks. I thought it was a great match, despite the loss. Djokovic just took his chances when Fed gave him a mm space and credit where credit is due in that case… However, I do think Fed played a very good match. It wasn’t like with Murray, but it was real fight and I did think he was even better mentally (apart from maybe the last few shots) than when he played Andy… I find it encouraging that you can see the determination to win (and I’ve missed that for a while; it might have been there but I couldn’t see it) and even more importantly, the love for the game. Cause it does come down to what he says so often: the love for the game. He said something along the lines of “I enjoyed myself, even though Novak won”, which says a lot imo (and the backstage video does proof that ;)…)

    • Yeah who else does that after a loss? Signing balls and posing for pictures. Best ambassador for the sport by a mile.

      • Absolutely. I know a lot of musicians and the whole backstage thing has a lot of similiarities I think. What he is doing, is quite unique. And he seemed genuinely happy to do so.

        It’s not the most important thing, cause in the end it is really all about the game, but it’s a nice ‘side-track’ to witness every now and then and a big bonus/plus that he does what he does off court…

  3. Well it really was a pity because djokovic didnt deserve to win in straights but thats the way the game goes, if you dont take your chances youre going to rue those missed oppurtunities.
    I was really quite depressed last night, but found solace in the fact that roger is still at the top of the game and still fighting for the big tourneys at 31.
    Well, lets have a 4-5 week rest and then begin 2013.
    Well, let the battle commence!

  4. There need to be faster courts on tour, as it just adds more variety to the season. And it isn’t like Federer is asking for faster courts because he would benefit. Yes, he would, but speeding up the courts would also help Raonis, Isner, Tsonga, Berdych, and Delpo. And let’s not forget, Djokovic won Dubai three straight years and Murray made the final this year, so yes, they can have success on fast surfaces. I know some are using the Fed wants more fast courts argument as “he wants to quick courts so he can beat Rafa, Nole, and Andy easier,” but no. That is not what this is about at all.

    • Faster courts produce better tennis anyway. I don’t get why some tournament organisers think that long drawn out rallies that end in an error are what the fans want. It’s all about money, keep fans in the stadia for longer so they spend more. The Moonball Gravy Train.

  5. Finally, a conclusion to an amazing season! The ending could have been better and if the wind blew a little towards the other direction, things WOULD’VE been. Close calls, sheer JesusFed dominance, tough losses, unbelievable victories, hell, this season had it all!Now it’s time to chill, and then kick-off 2013 with a blast if the world doesn’t end :P . Let’s see if a ’06 season is on the horizon! Allez Roger-peRFect-Federer!
    And speaking of faster courts, can we have the ’04/’05 AO courts instead of the recent bull-crap!

    • Why did Roger attempt that horrendous backhand down the line winner in the breaker? He knew what Djoker was going through after the previous “miracle” point. A cross court slice would’ve put pressure on him. Any sore of decent slice. But no…our man had to go for a fancy low percentage winner at 6-6. Wow! Remember Roddick at Wimby’09 with that miss at 6-5 in the breaker? You’ve got to make the other guy play the balls after that…Oh, Rog! What were you thinking?

      • If he’d made it we’d have been going crazy though…

        I think he just a bit low on confidence, perhaps not taking the right shots. I thought the approach was weak at break point in the deciding game, shouldn’t have come in behind that I don’t think. It wasn’t atrocious but it was very makeable.

      • Jonathan, you and I are tennis players. We both know that’s not a shot you play at 6-6 in the tiebreak, especially on your serve, especially right after a return of serve when your split step is almost always a little late, especially after how you won the previous point, especially considering the fact that your opponent was stunned and was without a doubt thinking about the missed set point. It was a horrendous choice. I am still in shock and I never want to see that point ever on YouTube or anywhere else.

      • I would like to disagree. Maybe the serve was not that good but so was the return. And after, djok was travelling right towards the left side, a cross-court shot from Fed would have faced an impressive if not equally penetrating cross-courter from djokovic. Not the easiest of shots at that moment, everyone knows that, but Fed had pulled off shots like this million times over and if anyone can do it, it’s Fed. I think Fed knew exactly what was going through djoker’s mind after the miracle point, and so chose a shot like that because he knew it will throw djok completely off. Had he made the shot, it would’ve been either a winner or an error-maker; and i know there are no “had”s or “if”s in tennis. Too bad, he took his eye off the ball just before it made contact.

      • Haha it was a little wreckless and let him off the hook but these things happen…

    • Couldn’t have put it better myself man!

      Although 06 season is a big ask :P

    • You can disagree all you want, Alvi, but that doesn’t change the fact that Roger made a huge error in judgement. You may have seen him pull off that shot a million type but not on a return of that texture. Did he at least put the ball in play?…..I didn’t think so.

      • I just watched the highlights again and to be fair man, the approach shot on the point before was shocking, only a GOAT volley and then quick reactions/racket speed won that point. If Djoker made the pass we’d all be saying why did you come in behind such a poor approach? But since he won the point it’s an epic shot. Same goes the backhand I think, it went out, was low % but had it come off then could have been different…

      • Couldn’t agree more. had he made the shot, we would not be having this discussion in the first place. Another match, another outcome i guess…

  6. Even the commentators were saying the same thing- the courts need to be speeded up a bit more! Or else men’s tennis is only going to be a game of tug of war!!

  7. I’m getting tired of Roger not making these key points man, I’m getting real tired now. I don’t give a damn how he does it but he needs to win these. I know there is no “should’ve”, “could’ve”, “would’ve” in tennis but this match was Roger’s and he blew it, big time. That horrendous backhand in the breaker? What was he thinking?!?

    • Ah relax man, he ground out so many matches this year in the clutch. Rotterdam, Dubai, Madrid, Halle, Wimbledon, Cincy all required clutch play and he delivered. Law of averages says he’s going to miss some. Berdych was a confidence blow and Olympics was an energy drain. Bad mix.

      • Law of averages say that after two US Open meltdowns, it was time for Roger to win at least one clutch point.

      • You’re in a downbeat mood man, he played clutch all year. Wimbledon final – 2 immense volleys at key points in the game. I’m happy with the season. As a fan you always want more but winning a slam for the first time in 2 years is pretty good I think!

  8. Jonathan, I followed that link you posted to see Roger’s comments. I found a pathetic troll out there who said Roger was a sore loser and is complaining. What an idiot! Roger has won 3 masters this year, a slam, a silver medal, titles on all surfaces, hard, grass and slow, and returned to number one and got the record and had a strong finish at the WTF. Is he really the loser? All he is saying is that courts should reward all court play. What about Nadal who hasn’t won a non-Clay title since Sep’10 and complains about hard courts, wants more clay courts, wants less tournaments and a 2 year ranking system? This is what happens when trolls with no knowledge of tennis suddenly show up and start blathering. I bet they don’t even understand how different courts inside the same tennis club play out. I don’t like getting involved in fights with rabid dogs or I would’ve replied to him.

    • I haven’t seen but I can imagine, I know a lot of Novak fans are making a sing and dance about it and also the fact he sat in Djoker’s chair in the final.

      Like Roger says, the courts aren’t rewarding aggressive play as they should do. Most sports reward attacking play, boxing judges always favour the guy who has pressured more all other things being equal, aggressive chess players who play attacking lines more often than not beat defensive ones; it’s an endless list.

      As a fan I don’t want to see the same old defensive 45 shot rallies every week. The Murray Djoker rivalry is already going down that route and it could get pretty dull.

      • Tennis has become the game of, “one more ball”. Let’s face it. It’s the new normal. By the way someone pointed out that both chairs had “Djokovic” towels on them. I didn’t watch the start of the match. What happened exactly? Was there an argument between the two or just a cordial, “Oooops!” moment? Given the nature of Djoker fans, I’m not surprised they were making a big deal out of it.

      • It wasn’t brought up at all until the USA Today article, claiming that Federer stole the #1’s seat, which was completely a lie. Both chairs may have had Djokovic towels on them for all we know.

  9. Sometime I feel maybe it’s a good thing the courts are slower. Given the sheer “brute” effort required to win a slam these days, nobody will ever be able to cross 17 leave alone the 300 weeks at number one :)

  10. Now that I am on a posting spree :) here’s something very important all you tennis fans must know: –
    1- AO surface: Starting 2008, changed from the faster Rebound Ace to the slower Plexicushion. Guess who won in 2008?
    2 – Clay: Don’t even talk about it
    3 – Wimbledon: The surface has lost the “skid factor” that made it so unique and conducive to the front court game. Instead, they are much bouncier to extend court life.
    4 – US Open: Courts are being laid much later in the season and are not played on enough to make it smoother to give it its “super fast” characteristics. They behave very similar to AO.

    • Yeah the slams are all getting closer in terms of speed.

      Another factor with US Open is the amount of sand they put in the top surface, the rougher it is, the slower it is. Annoying.

      Dubai was probably my fave tournament in terms of court speed.

  11. Great match to see live. Was privileged to see live, and first set was of best I hv seen. Djoker deserved the win, although I was desperate for Fed to get to a third set! Watching live, the court does play medium fast, telly doesn’t do it justice but the ball still bites into the court rather than shooting thru which Fed prefers. That said, Djoker does anticipate Rogers play patterns well, and consistently hits his returns deeper. Fed shld use the slice more and the drop shot as Djoker is far less comfortable in service box, and at net. Coming to net v Djoker always 50/50 as his passing shots are far more accurate than Murrays so Feds net options are more limited. Also, I noticed that every time Fed had a break point on a second serve he played the same chip back. No variety. At least one chip and charge might hv put Novak off balance. Anyway, easy to say as a spectator, he was still great, ends amazing yr as no 2, and will rise to the top or thereabouts in 2013.

    • You reckon Djoker is a better passer than Murray? I’m not so sure…

      I think it would have been good to chip and charge a little more.

      Glad you got to see Fed live though, was another good atmosphere and some awesome shotmaking too, just a shame he didn’t finish on the winning side of the net.

  12. Jonathan,

    The whole chair situation is completely fabricated. There is no tradition or rule that states that the higher-ranked player sit to the left of the umpire. There are many matches where the lower-ranked player sits to the left. Some are saying it is just a thing at the World Tour Finals, but that cannot be true because Fed took the left seat vs Rafa in 2010 (who was #1), and Ferrer took the left against Fed at the Masters Cup in 2007. There are many, many other instances too.

    I cannot believe that so many people are believing this story about the chairs. There are people who have watched tennis since the 60s who have never heard such a thing. I really do respect Djokovic, but his fans are unbearable.

    • Kyle, I can’t believe I’m going to say this but the vast majority of Djokovic fans are a Djoke. Specifically Serbians, from what I know, have seen, and heard, are extremely cocky and condescending characters. If there is any such thing as “sore winners”, they are a personification. What, five slams so far? And a year that has only been slightly better than Roger’s? That’s cause for major celebration? One freaking point and it could all have changed. I hate Roger man.

      • Haha relax man. Can’t tarnish everyone with the same brush. Even some Fed fans can be pretty blind in their approach to things.

        It’s sad that people make a big deal about anything that quite frankly isn’t worth making a big deal about. So we’ll leave it at that.

      • I couldn’t believe so many people actually thought it was a custom just because they read it in one article. The smart tennis fans where the ones who called BS by actually doing research first.

        And I do hate when people paint a fanbase with one brush. I am mature enough to know that not all Djokovic fans are bad, but unfortunately it’s the bad ones that paint the rest of them as bad. Same with all fanbases in every sport for every player and team.

  13. I could never hate the Fed. I could hate Rafa, Djoker, and Berdych. I feel Fed did well just did not win. Fed had to play 3 tough players oh straight days. Djoker had Sat. off. Can you all give the Fed a break – Djoker is 24 and Fed 31. Fed was not showing being tired like Djoker. But, you know he had to be. I saw the entire match and I thought he looked calm and debonair. I did not see the chair mix up. I do not understand the big to do about nothing regarding a mix up. Did they think his mind is going just because he is 31. Those are jealous and mean fans for Djoker Roger is a bigger and better person and should just ignore those crazy people.

  14. Hello everyone, I need time to recover from such a show. For me this was torture of the nerves, I’m very sorry that Federer missed so many opportunities, but I’m proud of his game. We have seen remarkable moves and I believe that everyone enjoyed. I ask only one question: Is it Djokovic was so much better to be magnified across all web portals? I do not think so! He just used the real opportunities but not dominating in the match! Roger is a player for whom we have enjoyed, and Djokovic just had more luck, that’s all! THANKS ROGER FOR WHOLE WONDERFUL YEAR!

    • I felt the same exactly for almost every line you said here, Ana. Djokovic’s only motive was that to stand two meters behind the base line and return every shot of Federer back to his court, no magic, no talent, just persistence; very similar to many of Nadal’s matches against Federer. Sad to see a wonderfully talented person like Federer on the losing side even after such a fantastic display of Tennis. But, what you said was perfect, Roger’s Tennis in 2012 was great, and let’s hope that he will continue to do wonders on the court.

    • Yeah Djoker played the low risk tactic of camping out behind the baseline and retrieving. Fair play to him it worked. But if Roger had been able to zone in, he’d have won. Definitely a positive heading into future match ups knowing the match is still somewhat on his own racket.

      • With Roger, he is so aggressive that the match will always be on his racket in my opinion. Even the best defenders can’t succeed when Roger is in full flow.

      • Hello All,

        I concur with the disappointment felt by all at Roger’s loss, however there is no point in dwelling on the negative. The BIG positive is that on another day, with better shot-making by Roger, he would have won. And this, notwithstanding the slower surfaces Roger has to play on ( which is to the advantage of the other BIG 4 ) and the fact he had three tough matches in consecutive days and Djokovic had a day-off on the Saturday! Indeed, Roger won SIX titles in 2012 – his best haul since 2006 – and was very close to winning NINE : Halle, Basle and London Year-End. Had he done so, words like phenomenal and out-of-this-world would have come into play. And he had NO CHANCE in the Olympic final against Murray as he was clearly exhausted following his titanic semi final win against Delpo, 19-17 in third set ( a match on hindsight he could have just as easily won in straight sets!)
        So what for 2013?
        I think Roger should just focus on the slams and I know he can win the Australian and Wimbledon. He needs to put EVERYTHING into these. And to keep the Masters tournaments to probably five out of nine, as he did in 2012.
        I see 2013 and 2014 as the last serious years in which he can win more slams – two next year and one in 2014 is a real possibility but only if Roger even further reduces his schedule as he will need ALL his energies on these riduculously slow courts…

      • The AO, Wimbledon, and USO should be his main targets to peak for next year for sure. The AO because winning it could help him get back to #1. Wimbledon we know he can win and at the USO, he has been unlucky the past 4 years, but he can take that again if the cards fall right.

        He could very well win Rotterdam and Dubai again given the conditions, and he could take Cincinnati and Basel. And the WTF, of course. He shouldn’t push too hard to the clay court season, and he should only put a lot of energy into winning the French Open if Rafa ends up exiting early (highly doubtful). Because as we saw this year, going out to Nole in Paris kept him fresh for Wimbledon because he didn’t have to grind out wars against Nole and Rafa like he did last year at the French.

      • Hey Paul,

        Yeah I’m not too down about the loss. The match was close, and could have easily been Masters Cup 7 for Roger. He had it on his racket.

        I think 2013 could be good, it’s always going to be harder year on year for Roger to keep producing but he showed in London that he’s still right up there.

  15. Roger’s 2013 schedule is below. Very wise to trim few tournaments:
    Australian Open, Melbourne
    ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournamen, Rotterdam
    Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai
    BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells
    Mutua Madrid Open, Madrid
    Internazionali BNL d’Italia, Rome
    Roland Garros, Paris
    Gerry Weber Open, Halle
    Wimbledon
    Rogers Cup, Montreal
    Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati
    US Open, New York
    Shanghai Rolex Masters, Shanghai
    BNP Masters , Paris

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