View Full Version : The Federer Gap

03-18-2004, 08:04 PM
Patrick McEnroe made a comment during the Federer-Chela match that echoed something I've thought for a while. McEnroe said Federer makes good players look average.

Currently, there seems to be a gap between Federer and every one else who plays the game. For example, I'm thinking of the Australian Open semis where Federer made ranked Juan Carlos Ferrero, the world #2, look very average. On the subject, McEnroe mentioned Federer's convincing wins over Gonzalez, Fish, and Chela - none of whom are slouches.

Here's my question: Why is Federer so much better than everyone else right now? Is it that when his timing is on and he's feeling confident, he's the best player on earth by far? Or, have few players have figured out how to beat Federer yet? Could it be that Federer has such a well rounded game, that he can always pick the strategy that makes his opponent play poorly?

Talk among yourselves...

03-18-2004, 08:24 PM
I am STILL trying to figure out the answer to that question, and it has been in my head for at least a year.

not that his prowess is anything new... but

He seems like Borg, in that he LOOKS like he is at the neighborhood park whoopin' on highly ranked competition. It almost makes matches uninteresting.
I think it takes a 2nd, 3rd viewing (with Slo-Mo) to appreciate the things he does on the court. His defensive slice backhand is what lately has caught my attention. First of all, he doesn't use it as much as others might, because somehow he covers more court than almost anybody, without even trying. Coria is fast, but with Federer, it is mental ... like he has thought out the entire point beforehand, so his opponents shot is easy to rundown even if they hit a good shot. But if he does misjudge the shot, his slice backhand is effortless and completely difuses the momentum of the opponent. Very demoralizing. Then he smacks a flat winner when the opponent thinks he has tired him out in a long rally.
I still don't see why his serve is considered "great" by P-mac and others, but it is effective enough.

1. mental acquity (tennis IQ, like he is replaying the match he watched on TV already and know wher ball will be hit, knows when to draw opponent in with short slice....etc.)
2. supreme conditioning/footwork (defense when needed) ((wonder what his resting HR is ??)
3. topnotch reflexes/coordination (backhand, crazy forehand spins/angles)

are his strengths. I am still waiting for the match that puts him at his best VS a Power player like Roddick/Safin at their best. But when Fed is at his best, he makes others look less than their best. So I am still waiting....
Maybe in the finals at Indian Wells???????????????????????????????????

03-18-2004, 08:55 PM
Well, you'll get to see him smoke Agassi on Sat., and I would project, easily. He's going to make Agassi look slow and underpowered.

chad shaver
03-18-2004, 09:01 PM
I know that the comparisons to Sampras have been made ad nauseum, but I think it fits. He dedicated himself to developing a more complete game, even after turning pro (his volley, for example). There just doesn't seem to be anything he can't do.

He seems to have complete confidence in his choice of shot at the time....like he has no doubt that his choice of shot is THE right choice at that particular moment.

IMO it isn't that he hits the serve extremely hard, but that he hits it hard enough, and with great precision. Seems he can hit any target at any given time with his serve. His match today against Chela was a prime example. Some of the serves he hit into Chela's backhand on the ad court were just cruel.

03-18-2004, 09:50 PM
You took the words right out of my mouth, Chad. Confidence is the KEY to Federer success right now. When someone is extremely confident, everything he does fall nicely together. His movement, his strokes, even the balls from his opponents seemed to come at him in slow-motion. As a result, he's able to hit his shots with so much authority and purpose. In addition, I think his return of serve is greatly under-rated by many. The way he neutralizes all those big servers, many a times even out ace them, is amazing. All these contribute to all his seemingly effortless wins thus far. I'm really looking forward to his semis against AA. This match will be a true test for Federer, IMO.

03-18-2004, 10:04 PM
To be honest, I don't know the real answer but I will take a crack at it. 1) His odd forehand, it is a western like follow through with an eastern/semi western grip, gets lots of topspin and control 2)He keeps his eye on the ball always, he often stares at his racquet for liek 1/4 of a second even after the bal lleaves 3)One handed bakchand, very powerful and also veyr accurate 4)Speedy, god damnit a dropshot is like hitting a lob to him 5) Backhand slice, so much underspin on it that it neutralizes all speed, although it is defensive it cuases errors and it prevents players from being able to hit winners 6) His serve, great mechanics, heavy ball, pretty damn fast and excellent placement 7)Agressiveness/confidence, down 0-40, ace ace, s@v and then back to deuce, mentally unstoppable 8)He acts like he is playing his dog, he knows he can win and he acts like if he loses it doesn't matter, even though he works really hard to win, a famous quote goes "winners are not people who expect to win, they are people who know they are capable of winning". Yeah, he has basically everything, only thing which can beat him is a really good S and ver (henman) or a player who can stand toe to toe with Federer when it comes to the ground game (Nalbandian). Only thing which beats me is how did he do it all of the sudden, i mean he became the man to beat in like under a year, and now ALTHOUGH he lost in the 1st ROUND of the French Open, I think that he has a good chance of winning it, qutie frankly, he defies logic, he's the FedEx.

03-18-2004, 11:01 PM
Federer said one of his goals for this is to improve his serve percentage. Now with 50 to 60% first serve, he out aced many top guys, such as Roddick, Phil. If he get to 60 to 70% or higher, man, he will be unstopable. I wish he will get all four grand slams in same year soon. Has anyone done that before?

03-19-2004, 02:28 AM
Federer said one of his goals for this is to improve his serve percentage. Now with 50 to 60% first serve, he out aced many top guys, such as Roddick, Phil. If he get to 60 to 70% or higher, man, he will be unstopable. I wish he will get all four grand slams in same year soon. Has anyone done that before?

Yes, by Don Budge once, and Rod Laver twice.

03-19-2004, 03:04 AM
Graf did it as well.. And some other females too I think.


03-19-2004, 04:43 AM
He has also developed that other essential ingredient for a champion-killer instinct-Federer seems to relish crushing his opposition,letting the other guy know that he has no chance.This is why I think he'll be at the top for quite a while,Sampras had it but I dont see quite the same single minded ruthlessness in his peers.

03-19-2004, 05:03 AM
it must be the Tour90 :) he is the only one who use it :)

03-19-2004, 05:20 AM
Alot of pros don't have the talent to wield that stick.....can you imagine Agassi mishitting and underpowered with the Tour 90?

Ash Doyle
03-19-2004, 06:32 AM
Alot of pros don't have the talent to wield that stick.


Brent Pederson
03-19-2004, 06:55 AM
I agree with pretty much everything above, but a couple of other things I noticed when watching him against Safin and Ferrero.

1. Incredibly early preparation- he was so early he was just waiting to crush balls that would have been a challenge for others to keep rallying on at all. This was one area where he made Ferrero look like a club player, in slow motion.

2. Great court sense and strategy- he reminds me of Hingis in her prime, where she could almost always predict where her opponents next shot would be, and was there waiting for it. Of course, Hingis with about 4x as much power... Also, even when he is wrong and gets burned, which is infrequent, he can shake it off and move on, knowing that the percentages are far in his favor.

03-19-2004, 07:54 AM
We've had a lot of great players who had great all around games, but most of these people were better at one or two things and they built their game around these things, so when one part of their game breaks down, the rest of their game followed, but Federer is excellent in every aspect of the game, It allows him so many options during a match,I think this fact alone is overwhelming for his rivals. It's so difficult to find words to explain Federer, I feel that His talent is at a level that I don't even understand!! I can't recall ever giving anyone that much credit, but he deserves a lot more.

03-19-2004, 09:35 AM
Why Fed is the best in the world by far:

1. Probably the best forehand on tour.

2. Best one hander on tour, plus THE best slice on tour.

3. One of the best serves on tour (probably in the top 3)

4. Best shotmaking ability on tour (makes incredible shots off of incredible shots by opponents, and also able to take a ball in the middle of the court and create an angle better than anyone.)

5. Best true all court game/ability to mix s&v with baseline.

6. Best short ball putaway on tour--puts away even very low balls at mid court--example: set point (2nd set) vs Roddick at Wimbledon 03.

7. Combine all that stuff with the best movement on tour, plus a long wingspan and one handed backhand which makes him able to make gets on many shots that should be winners.

8. Perfect mental focus/disposition. He wants to win badly but doesnt get overly up or down after any point. Very Sampras-like.

03-19-2004, 09:43 AM
i'll give you analogy, i play ice hockey and i had this friend who didn't have great skills but great hockey SENSE, this kid couldn't skate, do a slap shot, or shoot hard. skating is the most essential thing to ice hockey. i have all the skills down skating, shooting, passing, checking power, speed. yet how come my friend who was slow as molasses was as good and even better than me at times, great hockey knowledge, anticiaption, and SENSE.

Fed is the same except he has the tennis SENSE and also the strokes to go with it, it takes me a while after a fed play to see what he really did to his opponent

03-19-2004, 10:08 AM
Someone asked why Fed is soooo good now all of a sudden. IMO it's because his game took a little longer to put together, and it sounds cheesy, but the guy reminds me of Neo from the Matrix. He discovered he's "the one". If he can keep his confidence up, alot of guys are going to win less trophies than they deserve over the next decade or so.

03-19-2004, 10:53 AM
Alot of pros don't have the talent to wield that stick.....can you imagine Agassi @#$% and underpowered with the Tour 90?

Whoah man, i agree with Ash,
the amount of talent these guys (all top 100) have is amazing, the fact that Federer is using a tour 90 is because of preference,

by the way i use a tour 90

03-19-2004, 02:22 PM
I am waiting for a player to get in good enough form to push him. Safin has lost his edge, and has become slightly less intimidating since the early days of his career. Roddick seems to have to much emotional baggage, and having an average backhand doesn't help. Agassi seems to have lost his motivation to dedicate himself any further, which is very understandable at this point in his career. Hewitt is like Rocky at the beginning of Rocky III, and needs to find the eye of the tiger again. Then we have Nalbandian who is like a big Karol Kucera. Nalbandian needs to add some more pop to his game to compete with Fed now. The only hope for equality is if we get the old Hewitt and Safin back, along with Roddick getting solid volleys and a backhand that Fed can't beat into submission. One kid I have big hopes for is Amer Delic. The kid has a serve that is cross between Federer, Ivanisevic, and Krajicek along with solid volleys to boot. The best part is that he seems very loose on the court and enjoys himself. I am starting to feel the current contenders are becoming a lost cause, and Federer's future competitors may still be in high school.

pound cat
03-19-2004, 04:25 PM
2 years ago he had a great game, but was unpredictable and known to crumble during a match. Now, he is constantly in the zone. His skills have always been there, his talent is innate. But he's got confience he could sell for a million US dollars an ounce. Where that came from, only he knows and he's not about to divulge. I attribute it to that cow they gave him. Go Juliette.

03-19-2004, 04:48 PM
haha...pound cat, great insight ;)

I hope then the new calf is gonna bring him to another greater height.

chad shaver
03-19-2004, 05:12 PM
You're right, PC. It MUST be the cow. Think he'd be willing to sell it?

03-19-2004, 08:37 PM
p-smack is going to sneak into Basel one night and steal it for his boy roddie, then he'll surely find his way toward replacing mandy

03-19-2004, 10:24 PM
He starts aout a match and for a few games he look almost uninterested, then he turns the screws down so hard its embarassing.

He got zero TV coverage until the Semi's of Wimbledon 03....

03-19-2004, 11:34 PM
Am I the only one that Federer is a super hero?

03-25-2004, 02:06 AM
I was re-reading "Think to Win" last night and in the first chapter, Alan Fox goes through the development of the game from the 1930's to the 1990's in terms of the shots which allowed certain styles of play to take over and dominate. I think what we're seeing in Federer is the next evolution of the pro game. He has an extremely effective answer to the heavy top spin baseline play which has been the dominate style (with obvious exceptions ala Sampras). Federer uses a drive forehand to negate the pinning back effect of the heavy ball and it allows him to open the court, hit a strong approach and come to the net. I think he's going to get competition when more players start to leave the topspin game and use the forehand drive.

Max G.
03-26-2004, 06:43 PM
The best part of Federer's game is how he can hit his shots from every position of the court, and consistently, when he needs them.

There's lots of players out there with serves as good as Federer's; there's plenty with topspin groundstrokes as good as his.

What sets him apart -

1) Slice backhands. Very few, if any, of the current players can use a neutralizing slice as well as Federer.

2) Movement - being able to set up for his shots on the dead run.

3) Court sense, anticipation - being in the right spot at the right time. There is NOBODY in the game right now with anywhere near Federer's talent in this area. THIS is what, IMO sets him apart and allows him to dominate as he does. This makes his groundstrokes absolutely devastating. This is what allows him to get his racquet on so many more balls than you expect him to, and more often than not hit very high-quality shots.

07-27-2009, 11:10 AM

Some very good analysis for Federe's game 5 years ago.
Post #18 proved to be right.

07-27-2009, 11:17 AM

Some very good analysis for Federe's game 5 years ago.
Post #18 proved to be right.

wow-the matrix was out back then????

how time flies!

07-27-2009, 11:34 AM
Why? Federer is just that good.

07-27-2009, 12:20 PM
I don't know if people have studied/believe in the concept of flow or "being in the zone" but in conjunction with Federer's training, experience, conditioning and confidence, he may well be entering "in the zone" and staying in it for long periods of time....

I welcome any criticisms or extensions on this!

07-27-2009, 12:23 PM
The man is pure genius. His game has definitely fallen off the last couple of years (crazy unforced errors and less sting), but he still finds a way to win.

07-27-2009, 03:28 PM
Wow, way to revive a dead thread, but it's still interesting to read what people were saying about him all that time ago.