London Discussion

I can’t believe Federer turned the match around vs. Murray. Murray was in control early, up the break, hitting the ball with power and precision all over the court, making Fed looks slow and off balance. Then a friend called and we were talking boxing and I was watching the DVR of the match out of the corner of my eye and next thing I see Fed won the first set and was up 4-2 in the second.

What?! I thought for sure Murray had this match in the bag and Fed was dead in the water. Murray was on fire, had the momentum, had control of the match, the crowd support, yet Fed, the magician that he is, found a way to get out of the jam.

For those who say Fed won’t win another major, you just can never count this man out of any tennis match, never ever.

Djokovic was on the ropes and enduring a pounding also, down a set and a break to Del Potro in the other Master Series final semifinal. Djokovic badly missed an easy overhead and then double-faulted, and seemed ready to unhinge after a very, very long season of so many ups and a few downs, like the Djokovic of a three years ago surely would have. Del Potro was mutilating every ball all over the court in a display that reminded of his unforgettable U.S. Open triumph over Fed.

Gilbert said Djokovic needed to hit to Delpo’s forehand to open up the court to attack the backhand and that’s what he did, adding in some damaging backhand’s up the line. Djokovic re-galvanized and raised his level, while Delpo seemed to falter a tad.

In the first set Delpo showed flashes of being the best player in the world, but just flashes. While it’s not hard to see Del Potro attaining ATP world #1 status by the way he played in the first set yesterday, if he can find a way to play like that more consistently in the big matches, it does not seem to be a goal of the Argentine to be the #1 face of the sport, does it?

I have never heard Del Potro express a desire to be #1, He seems to be more of a player and personality who would rather be stationed in the top 5 rather than be the ruling general of tennis, the face and flagship of the sport.

Though Del Potro is an amazing talent for such a big man – 6-8 – and he is one of the classiest, most honorable champion sportsmen you will ever see in any sport around the world, selling Del Potro to the public as a superstar would be quite a difficult task for the tennis powers that be, compared to selling and promoting Federer the artist, Nadal the charismatic Spanish bull, and Djokovic the entertainer extraordinaire.

Del Potro seems destined to play the role of the challenger to the tennis champion, at least at this point in time. We never know how a player will evolve and develop as not only a player but also a person…of course, Andre Agassi proved this.

In any event, it should be a marvel of a final today, I like Djokovic in three tough sets.

(Djokovic art by Andres Bella,

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  • Steve · November 12, 2012 at 9:12 am

    Federer absolutely smothered Murray by coming to net. Not just serve and volleying but chipping & charing. Annacone must’ve been thrilled. Murray clearly felt rushed and was unnerved by this tactic. I don’t think this tactic will work against Djoker though. It will be a very interesting match.

    I picked Delpo to win this and he looked well on his way. Djokovic is just moving too well and he had the Delpo running side to side, tiring the big man out.

    This WTF confirms my belief that Delpo is a bigger threat than Murray in the slams.

    I’m still in awe of Fed’s chip & charge tactics. I wonder if Sampras was watching….

  • Harold · November 12, 2012 at 9:43 am

    Had Fed lost the match,the end of Fed would have been blogged 12 seconds after the match..Fed wins and the top story on this blog is a Nishikori biofile…Guess Fed shut all naysayers up..

    Much respect to a tennis player that can go to plan B in middle of a match and turn things around

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 12, 2012 at 10:06 am

    Fed clearly has plenty of greatness left in his tank, he’ll be in Rio in 2016.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 12, 2012 at 10:08 am

    Harold I was almost done with my Fed is Finished article in the first set then had to rewrite the whole thing, just kidding. This was a big win for Fed, it seemed Murray finally had him figured but clearly it’s back to the drawing board for Andy and Lendl once again.

  • Steve · November 12, 2012 at 12:57 pm

    The 02 Crowd was harsh on Murray. Yes Federer is tennis royalty but to have the 02 crowd not only cheer for Fed over Murray but to also hear them (at times) cheering Murray’s mistakes as well was a bit surprising. OUCH.
    Maybe the English only like Scots on days when they win something big.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 12, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    This is evidence that Federer is bigger than the sport itself Steve.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 12, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Might have to call Djokovic the player of the year after this performance. He won a major, the WTF, regained #1 ranking and defended his ATP throne. When Djokovic plays at this level today, I think it’s the best tennis any man has ever played. He has taken tennis to a new higher level. Federer was absolutely fantastic today also but when both are at their best, Djokovic is a fraction superior. The only complaint about today is too bad today’s match did not determine the final #1 ranking for 2012, otherwise it was a perfect display of the greatest sport on earth.

  • Steve · November 12, 2012 at 9:15 pm

    A 26 yr old Federer would have played a totally diff. match and would have won.

  • loreley · November 13, 2012 at 8:17 am


    Djokovic doesn’t play the best tennis a man ever played. Are you crazy? ;)

    Only because he won yesterday against Federer doesn’t mean, that he was the greatest all year. Nadal was stronger on clay. Federer won Wimbledon. Murray won Gold & the USO.

    Novak is pretty good on slow courts. He is a retriever. When it’s a bit faster it’s different. Remember Madrid? He & Rafa were lost. In Basel he had no clue what to do against Querrey, because it was a little bit faster then the usual surfaces.

    For me Djokovic’s tennis is monotonic & tiring to watch. Same with Nadal & Murray. They benefit from the slow conditions. That a grinder like Ferrer could win Paris says everything.

    Speed up some of the courts a tiny bit & you get other results. Maybe Querrey or Isner would be on the top of the game then. ;)

    OK. I was kidding. But Delpo would have a good chance & Berdych too. But of course that would spoil the idea of the so-called Big Four.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 8:26 am

    Loreley, I believe Djokovic plays superior tennis to Fed and Nadal at their best, Djok surpassed them both last year and took tennis to a new higher level, his backhand and movement IMO is better than Roger’s and that’s the difference. Fed is more artful and has more flair but Djokovic gets the job done. To call Djokovic’s brand of tennis monotonous is unfair, it’s an incredible display of genius to conjure up such a game that conquered arguably the two greatest players of all time in their prime Nadal and Federer. You’ve got to be able to appreciate the genius and master of Novak Djokovic, though I understand it’s very hard for Federer devotees to embrace Djokovic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 8:30 am

    Not sure about that Steve, the 26-year-old Federer never had to play such a formidable opponent as the prime major title winning Djokovic, he might have faltered at 26 just as he did yesterday. I see Djokovic as the superior player overall. The fact that Djokovic has a 13-16 head to head vs. Federer, considered the greatest of all time, is amazing. Expect that head to head to tip in Djokovic’s favor next year.

  • Steve · November 13, 2012 at 8:49 am

    What excuse do you have that Djok has a losing record against Fed? For heaven’s sakes Djok is just 25 and barely winning these matches against an older player from a diff. generation.

    Federer used the wrong tactics yesterday, IMHO. Djok requires diff. strategy than Murray.
    Also, you seem to forget the 26 yr old Federer was the best mover ever.

    Djoker’s splits into backhands are cool but nothing I haven’t seen Monfils do –I’m not sure it’s even necessary.

    If Murray is Djoker’s great rival –well that’s not impressive.

  • loreley · November 13, 2012 at 8:51 am

    But tennis should be more than to get the job done.

    I agree that Djokovic is the master of defence, but he isn’t a genius.

    But you didn’t say anything about the conditions who help certain players. Would Djokovic be on the top with more different courts? Faster grass, faster indoor courts?

    I like Federer a lot, but I don’t picture myself as devote. I’m aware that he can’t win & play forever. Sometimes I feel a bit tired of Federer as well. Not because of his tennis, more because of the wish for a change in general.

    Did you notice how happy everyone was when Janowicz made the final in Paris? There is stagnation in tennis & it became pretty old too. So many guys in top-100 are 30 years or older.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 9:11 am

    It’s close but I think Djokovic has the best movement ever in tennis. Most of Djokovic’s losses to Federer came when he was still undeveloped, pre prime. I really don’t see any decline in Federer from now to five years ago, to me he’s as good as ever, it’s just that Djokovic has taken it to a higher level. I mean Federer beat Djokovic the last two times they played before yesterday, he can still get it done. It was an incredible match yesterday and for me the Federer-Djokovic rivalry is better and more balanced than Fed-Nadal. I enjoy seeing Fed vs. Djok more than Fed-Nadal even back in 08 and 09.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 9:17 am

    Djokovic does more than get the job done, he is a wonderful champion on and off the court and a pleasure to watch perform. I love the way he plays, the fire he brings at certain moments, the way he conducts himself, the way he fights his way out of “lulls”, as Patrick McEnroe called them, when Djokovic is operating on all cylinders he just looks unbeatable. Fed played incredible yesterday, some of those shots he hit were unforgettable, and that reaction by Djokovic when Fed saved the second set point in the tiebreak, just WOW. Yesterday was a “match of the year” candidate. It was great to see Janowicz break onto the scene, it’s always exciting and thrilling when a young newcomer makes a big breakthrough like JJ did in Paris. Tennis has been lacking this aspect lately, everybody loves to see the new talents coming up so we can watch them develop and blossom. It’s a beautiful process.

  • Steve · November 13, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Fed on his best day is going to beat Djoker on his best day. Fed stuggled with his first serve yesterday Scoop.

    This talk of Djoker’s pre-#1 career not counting is a bit lame. I remember vividly Fed destroying Djoker in a US Open final but Djoker gets a pass because he was too young?

  • loreley · November 13, 2012 at 9:48 am

    You are blinded by love, Scoop ;)

    Federer is 31 years old. He isn’t in his prime anymore. He didn’t serve as well as against Murray & lost too many of the longer rallies. He was leading with a break in both sets. He failed to serve out the 2nd set with 2 setpoints on his own serve. Federer lost the match more than Djokovic won it.

  • Tom Michael · November 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

    If Djokovic played the best tennis ever, then he would have the quantity of Federer and the quality of Nadal. He has neither. And the 2011 season of Djokovic is not the greatest tennis ever. The 2010 season of Nadal is because he won slams on 3 different surfaces and it has never been done before, and most likely never. And Djokovic’s failure to finish the Djoker slam at this year’s French Open certainly diminishes the statement of his playing level being the greatest ever.

    And he barely won this week. Down a break in each set of yesterday’s final. Down a set and break against DelPo in the semis. Down three set points against a choking TBerd in the round robin. Down a set against Murray in the round robin. And this is supposedly the greatest playing level ever. Where is the shut-out set?

    I am done!

  • Spirit · November 13, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Scoop, well said I need to say.
    One thing I find it funny is when people, not just ordinary people, but tennis magazines editor, are saying Djokovic is defensive player. One need to just look at his W/UE ratio of all his matches this year.
    The fact he’s playing great defense doesn’t make him just all defense player.Yes,sometimes, when he is not sharp or confident he is relying primary on defense. If you exclude volleys, there is not player in top10 except Fed from forehand side who can attack better from baseline. I think in his best, he is playing equally well defense and offense, and mix those two pretty good.
    And to call Novak monotonic player is also funny. The guy is producing all kind of shots on the court, all those variations with much spin,less spin, flat shots, power shots etc,all those sliding, to me, that can not be monotonic or I have a different look at stuff.
    Even though this year was less successful for him, I think he is playing more aggressive tennis than last year.
    Primary because of his first serve improvement.
    And about Fed-Novak yesterday match, I don’t think they have produced best tennis. I do think they’ve got it all they had and they produced great match and drama but not the best match. They were tired after long season.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 10:26 am

    Steve how does Fed struggle with his serve indoors on probably his favorite court outside of center court? Steve, do you remember Fed’s early days before he won his first major, losing to Horna, bageled by Spadea in Monte Carlo, losing to Kuerten in Paris, Fed was incomplete then as a player, just as Djokovic was incomplete until IMO he won his second major, he had that major slump after he won the first in Australia. He’s learned and become a complete beast.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 10:27 am

    Lorely I love them all really, Federer will always be a favorite (heck I’m writing a book about him), I just think Djokovic at his best is a little bit better. Fed’s serve was off yesterday, maybe Djokovic’s returning had something to do with that. Fed usually serves well indoors at the 02.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 10:31 am

    Tom, Djok swept through the WTF went undefeated and left no prisoners! I think he had an up and down year compared to last year, he was a target, everyone wanted a piece of him, big revenge factor from Fed and Rafa, and he had some disappointing losses but still he was good enough to finish #1 and that’s nothing to sneeze at. I just believe when Djok is on top of his game he plays the best tennis ever, to overthrow and conquer prime Fed and Rafa was considered to be impossible at one time but Djokovic has done it.

  • loreley · November 13, 2012 at 10:42 am


    This endless crosscourt-rallies are monotonic & tiring. He wears out his opponents much more than producing winners. Federer had more winners yesterday.

    We don’t have to agree. Tennis is always about to be attracted by personality and style.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

    Agree with you exactly Spirit. Djokovic is far more than a predominant defensive player, he is an all around player who can do everything, very intelligent and crafty gladiator of the court. Yes he plays excellent defense and there is nothing wrong with that, with the way top pros hit the ball, you have to play a lot of defense in this era of power and spin. Consider that Muhammad Ali used to play a lot of defense as a boxing champ, boxing and moving, dancing, floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee, then later he used the rope a dope defense. Djokovic, like Muhammad Ali, knows when the time is right to play defense and also when to strike with the knockout punch or combinations of punches! To disagree with you I did not see any evident signs of fatigue or tiredness from either player yesterday, both player seemed very very motivated and inspired to play their best tennis which they did. No matter who won, I think all fans appreciated the great battle we saw yesteday. Thanks for your comment Spirit and welcome to the site.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 11:00 am

    Loreley I don’t think the rallies are monotony, do you play? Do you realize how hard it is to play that kind of tennis? Technique, concentration and tactics have to be so strong and efficient to win in tennis today. Each point between Djokovic and Federer was a mini war, so much speed and action, it requires a lifetime of training and sacrifice to be able to play points like we saw yesterday. You win one point then you have to do it again over and over. It’s not easy. I did not find anything about yesterday’s match boring or tiring to watch, it was a Herculean effort by both players and one of the best matches of 2012 IMO.

  • Steve · November 13, 2012 at 11:28 am

    Scoop, there were several games yesterday where Fed couldn’t get his first serve in. Fed actually wins this match on a normal serving day.

    As far as Fed’s early career he didn’t merely hang his hat on beating a single legend, an aging Agassi. He domatited Hewitt, Safin, destroyed Rios, beat Samrpas, Roddick and everyone else.

    From age 22-24 he racked up six slams and in 2007 he dispatched DJoker in straights at the US Open.

    Djokovic is playing amazing tennis but it’s not dominate or the best ever. Look at the scores.

  • loreley · November 13, 2012 at 11:37 am

    I play & I know how hard it is to make a progress.

    That’s why kids give up too early or do other sports. I did more atletics & skiing when I was a kid. Now I play play tennis with my family as recreation on weekends & holidays. My newphew is a kid and so fast ;) But I can annoy him with my serve.

    I’m aware what these pros are capable of, what they can do with the ball. All of them work hard. It’s their job, they are elite athletes. Many of them have been pushed as kids by their parents. That’s pretty sad. It comes sometimes on my mind when I watch these players. It’s also a bit disturbing when they tell in your biofiles that they don’t read books.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    NOW WAIT A MINUTE STEVE, Federer did not “destroy” Rios, both matches were kind of close judging by the scoreline though Fed won both. I think Djok’s quality of play is amazing and dominant, he is the world #1 two years in a row and he has defied Federer (17 majors) and Nadal (11?) and several other players who are deserving of winning majors but they are just around in the most competitive and deep era in tennis history. Aging Agassi? The aging Agassi was still good enough to hang around the top 5 and threaten in major, he even won a few at the end when he was supposedly past his prime. I think Fed is still in his prime, I really do.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

    Your nephew is fast? Try hitting deep and high balls down the middle of the court to take away his best weapon footspeed ) A lot of players are book readers, Courier, Zvonareva, Nalbandian, etc., but understandably some are not, which does not mean they are not intelligent, time just does not permit reading. Tennis is a busy life.

  • loreley · November 13, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    It’s not that tennis doesn’t permit reading. They just never got used to read. And of course one can be intelligent without reading. But for a proper education one has to read, at least fact books. History, politics.

    Everyone is busy. Not only tennis players.

    Nadal is a reader as well.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 12:54 pm

    So is Gulbis, not sure if Federer is. McEnroe is, he liked my boxing book about the Lewis-Tyson fight but not sure if he liked my Rios book which I gave him, lol, he said later just, “I’m impressed that you had the time to do a book about Rios…” Isn’t Nadal more of a video game player? Hard to see him, as fidgety and feisty as he is, sitting down and reading.

  • loreley · November 13, 2012 at 4:08 pm

    I’m surprised about Nadal too. But he has always an answer about the last book he read. Verdasco as well. Nadal can even cook.

    Federer doesn’t read. He was motivated to improve his tennis, because he wanted to quit school. Parents allowed him when they saw he can have a career as tennis pro.

    Last year Youzhny graduated from the University of Moscow with a PhD in Philosophy. He is not even bad in tennis.;)

    Gulbis is a reader. But nothing works for him in tennis anymore. He had to retire with knee injury at Orleans Challenger, just when he began to make some points. Last week he had to withdraw from Bratislava & later Helsinki, because he became ill with tonsillitis.

    Agassi regret that he didn’t care about education, when he was younger.

  • Steve · November 13, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Nadal’s English has improved greatly. I wonder if he reads books in English.

  • Steve · November 13, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    No dominant player this year. 4 slams, 4 diff winners.

  • Dan Markowitz · November 13, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    Fascinating discussion. I have to side with Lorely here, Djoko’s game is more metronomic than exciting and creative. He has his patterns he sticks to and though he’s not a solely defensive player, he’s certainly not as much of a shotmaker as Fed or Delpo. Look, even players like Tsonga are becoming more conservative in play. Murray used to be more daring, but now he plays mostly from the backcourt.

    Is Djoko the greatest ever? Yes, he might just be, but unlike a Jordan, he’s not the most exquisite to watch. There’s certainly a beauty and majesty to his game, but after watching many many of his matches this year, I can’t say I was entertained the way a JMac or a Becker or even a Sampras entertained.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    Even if Federer does not read books, it does not mean in the least that he is not short on intelligene. He speaks four or five languages and talks in English, French and German for the media after almost every match. There is no doubt he is one very very smart person no matter how few books he reads. Youzhny is very smart too. All the Russians are, Zvonareva studies to be a diplomat in the future. In about 15 years of interviewing tennis players I’ve yet to find one who is not very smart very bright. Not one.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 7:47 pm

    First Biofiled Rafa when he was 17 and we actually did it with no translation or help. Team Rafa was on the way to the car and CCosta Uncle Toni just left him with me in the outdoor part of the player lounge area and we did it and it came out good enough. This was before he became a big star. His English has always been good/okay, it’s excellent now. Rafa is obviously very smart to be able to outthink and outsmart Federer on the court )

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    The World #1 for two years in a row could be called “dominant” Steve )

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Dan; Djokovic is certainly an entertainer, he is a court contortionist, twisting and flying like an acrobat, and he shows the passion and fury like Hewitt or Rafa. I for one marvel at what he does and how he does it. More explosive than Mac or Boom Boom and similar to the panther like Sampras minus the serve and volley but with a better backhand.

  • Steve · November 13, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    True dominance, Scoop? No. He barely held on to his #1 ranking after losing it. He got one slam this year. He’s going to have to achieve a lot more to be in the discussion of greatest. Right now it’s a bit silly. I certainly didn’t see any of his supposed dominance at the French or Wimby this year.

  • Steve · November 13, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    …and I know what you’ll say. Djoker didn’t win the French or Wimbledon because his pet doggie wasn’t in his box cheering him on, giving him support. hehehehe :-)

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Steve it’s too hard to dominate with prime Fed and Rafa around, but Djok held the fort and nailed down the #1 ranking again. Fed certainly would not have dominated the way he did if Djokovic was his same age. It’s harder to dominate today but Djokovic has established himself as the best of the best, two years running, and I think he’ll do it again next year. And the next.

  • Steve · November 14, 2012 at 7:56 am

    Well, we have to give credit to Nadal. He did it while all the current top guys active.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 14, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Absolutely Steve, Nadal and Federer helped push Djokovic to raise his level, Djokovic will forever be indebted to Rafa and Fed for making him great. Kind of like how Sugar Ray Leonard losing to Roberto Duran in Montreal in June 1980 ended up making Leonard the all time great fighter he became, Duran’s genius and greatness rubbed off on Leonard that night of defeat but he learned so much. Djokovic has learned so much from Nadal and Fed. As McEnroe learned so much about greatness from Borg and Connors. Etc.

  • Steve · November 14, 2012 at 10:11 am

    Yeah but he’s still learning. Nadal & Fed got him at the French & Wimby. 4 slams, 4 diff winners. It’s all there for the taking now.

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm

    Who is gonna steal #1 from the firm grasp of Djokovic, Steve?

  • Steve · November 14, 2012 at 1:43 pm

    See Wimbledon 2012 for the answer.

    Will Nadal come back and defend his French Open title?

  • Scoop Malinowski · November 14, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Tell you in Feb after the dust settles in Melbourne. Rafa is a total ? right now.



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