How good is Federer's defense?

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Jeffrey573639, Jan 29, 2013.

  1. Jeffrey573639

    Jeffrey573639 Semi-Pro

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    Obviously it's a bit reduced now, but for the older members, just how good was Fed defensively during his younger years?
     
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  2. FedererDropShot

    FedererDropShot Hall of Fame

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    It's still up there against the biggest servers.

    Baseline:

    It's still gr8. Just not as good as like the rest of the Big 4 probs.
     
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  3. TheCheese

    TheCheese Professional

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    Watch Federer highlights from his prime. He was lightning fast and his running forehand was ridiculous.
     
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  4. The Meat

    The Meat Hall of Fame

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    Defense was so good it could turned into an offensive attack in a flash.

    The current Federer's defensive tactics are pretty much to get the ball in play until the opponent makes a mistake or he neutralizes the rally to try to get on the offensive side.
     
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  5. djokovic2008

    djokovic2008 Hall of Fame

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    Tennis has evolved his defence is not a patch on nadals murrays or djoker if you don't believe me watch the last point of the 2012 O2 finals where fed smashes djoker out wide and somehow djoker still hits a winner on championship point ridiculous.
     
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  6. axel89

    axel89 Banned

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    5th in the top ten not as good as ferrer djokovis murray or nadal BUT in his prime it was just under djokovic or murray's
     
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  7. forzamilan90

    forzamilan90 Legend

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    Prime Fed's defense is up there in the all time rankings. It's still great these days, he can still hang with the young guys in rallies.
     
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  8. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    He never had the pure speed of Nadal or Djokovic, but he had an incredible read on the game and could change direction better than anyone. I think, in his prime, his anticipation was some of the best in history and that allowed him to defend on a level a bit better than his pure running speed would appear to allow - not that he's anywhere close to slow, though. Add to that he could hit amazing shots on the dead run, especially his marvelous flick backhand passing shot. His explosiveness has declined with age and that has begun to hamper him, particularly when defending on the forehand wing. Now he can get blown off the court by a big hitter, as indicated by his losses in slams to Soderling, Tsonga, and Berdych. In his prime he could absorb whatever pace was thrown at him and still turn the point around.
     
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  9. heninfan99

    heninfan99 Legend

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    When he was 26 yrs old he was as good as anyone.
    I was always impressed when someone ripped a return low to his feet and he'd get down and rip a backhand like it wasn't a big deal. He still does that actually.
     
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  10. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    That's an aspect of Federer's defense I didn't mention: He didn't give up ground. He did his best to stay forward and take the ball on the rise. Obviously, one can't always do that, but it made things harder for the attacker when the ball came back as fast as you hit it and the other guy's still waiting on the baseline for your next shot.
     
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  11. tennis_pro

    tennis_pro G.O.A.T.

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    Very good.

    Onto the next thread.
     
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  12. Cesc Fabregas

    Cesc Fabregas Legend

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    He has good lawyers.
     
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  13. ark_28

    ark_28 Hall of Fame

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    It is excellent still he was defending superbly against Tsonga in the quarters it is still very difficult to hit through Federer's defense.

    That is why the display from Isner last year in the Davis Cup is all the more amazing having lost the 1st set to hit back and win so well in 4 sets with his brand of big time tennis was incredible.

    Huge serving and forehands bullying Federer around the court, great as Federer's defense still is there was nothing he could do about that!
     
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  14. El Diablo

    El Diablo Hall of Fame

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    It's admittedly early in the year, and defense is difficult to quantify, but if service break percentage is an indicator of turning a defensive posture into an offensive one, Roger's not doing so well. He ranks 64th on the ATP list of service break percentage this year.
     
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  15. ultradr

    ultradr Hall of Fame

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    +1
    Yep. He doesn't own pure speed of Nadal,Djokovic,Murray. But his ability to
    anticipate and read on the points is probably GOAT.
    And yep he definitely slowed down a bit with aging.
     
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  16. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    Good post, I think the only guy I've seen overpower the Federer of old and win was down under in 2005 when Safin came to play, other than that, most big hitters had hardly any success against Federer, if any.
     
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  17. Say Chi Sin Lo

    Say Chi Sin Lo Legend

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    That's because Marat Safin was another freak of nature with his skills set. He hit like some of the bigger guys but moved like some of the little guys.

    I thought Marat Safin was really the only guy that gave Roger Federer any problems.
     
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  18. axel89

    axel89 Banned

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    nalbandian not a big hitter but back then was a Massive hitter could hit anywere angles up the line
     
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  19. Defcon

    Defcon Hall of Fame

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    No one still has Fed's ability to handle balls right off the bounce for amazing pickups. In his prime he would routinely hit those for winners as well.

    And Fed's ability to turn defense into offense was also unmatched. Nowdays you see someone like Djoker/Murray slowly gain the advantage in a rally, but Fed could turn things around in an instant, even from the most defensive of positions.

    But I think the biggest difference is he just didn't miss, no matter how long the rally or hopeless the position. Now its common to see Fed lose the point with an error, or hit a weak passing shot attempt straight back to the guy at net. This never used to happen.
     
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  20. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    On occasion I agree, but I do think if Safin wasn't dead, he would have won the final in AO 2004, he was great against Roddick and Agassi. I used to be harsh on those guys for not beating Federer as often, but then I see Federer at 30 pushing these current champions, sometimes laying beatdowns to them and I think these guys did really well against Federer when he was literally the boss.
     
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  21. Le Master

    Le Master Semi-Pro

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    You and I used to watch different Federers then. I used to see him shank and make unforced errors all the time. Are there any statistics available out there? I'd love to compare his unforced errors over the years. I doubt he averages much more now than he did 6-10 years ago.
     
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  22. The-Champ

    The-Champ Legend

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    Federer's defense was just as good as Nadal's and Djoker's at his peak. Murray is no slouch either.
     
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  23. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    We could group these players into two defensive categories; Federer and Murray make use of their anticipation and reflexes on the baseline and serve respectively whilst Nadal and Djokovic use their speed to get to near impossible shots.

    Personally, I think the anticipation/reaction defensive style helps the returner out; I do think Murray and Federer are a lot better than Nadal & Djokovic at returning. I see Nadal sometimes run backwards to hit returns and can get overpowered by the big servers.
     
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  24. doobiedoodoo

    doobiedoodoo Rookie

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    Even at his peak, I would only give Federer's defense a 7/10. Nadal and Djokovic will be 10/10 for sure.
     
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  25. Federer20042006

    Federer20042006 Banned

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    2-5 years ago.

    6-10 years ago, hell no to him shanking/making unforced errors all the time. He had one really bad match against Nadal at the 06 French Open where he was hitting home runs off his backhand all match long. That's about it.
     
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  26. mental midget

    mental midget Professional

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    i don't see a huge speed gap between federer in his early to mid 20's, to novak, murray, or nadal, honestly. he played a style that didn't necessarily showcase defense as often, but anybody is free to find old youtube clips where he is moving around the court like lightning.

    i think he neutralized big servers better than anyone i've ever seen, there's an old clip of him playing goran indoors when fed was maybe 20 or so, it's worth watching, he just gets his damn racket on the ball every time somehow.
     
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  27. cc0509

    cc0509 G.O.A.T.

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    No comparison between prime Fed and the Fed now in terms of defense. He was awesome in his prime and quick as lightning. Today, he has trouble getting to those wide forehands on the run, in his prime he could get to them and hit winners back with his eyes closed.
     
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  28. cc0509

    cc0509 G.O.A.T.

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    No way. Federer at his peak was a 9.5/10. Today he would be a 7/10.
     
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  29. TMF

    TMF Talk Tennis Guru

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    That's how i see it too. And he does it without sliding. :)
     
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  30. cc0509

    cc0509 G.O.A.T.

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    It is such an obvious difference when you watch prime Federer and the Federer now, it is depressing! :cry:
     
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  31. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    I never thought Federers defense was ever on par with Djokovic and Nadal. Every now and then he made a tremendous defensive play, but it was never the cornerstone of his game and Fed playing a lot of defense was a sign that he was in trouble. Murray, Djokovic, and Nadal have taken defense to the next level, Federer sometimes has such an incredulous look on his face when Djokovic or Murray sprint down some of his shots.
     
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  32. cc0509

    cc0509 G.O.A.T.

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    That is because Federer is old in tennis years now.
     
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  33. tudwell

    tudwell Hall of Fame

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    Yeah, someone linked to the Safin-Federer match at the 2005 Australian Open recently and it was night and day. He used to be so much quicker. That's by far the biggest drop in his game. He's continued to improve his serve and backhand over time, but there's only so much he can do when his explosiveness has declined so much.
     
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  34. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    No, this is not a new thing. Federer was really moody and angry when playing Nadal in the 2005 Miami championships. Federer was pushed to his limit, Nadal was running down overheads, hitting clean winners off of Federers famous I/O forehands, and just doing everything he could to make Federer play the extra ball and it drove Federer nuts. Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray have defensive capabilities that Federer will never have , which is no big deal since Federer has always implied that all court tennis was the finest way to play tennis and I tend to agree with him.
     
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  35. ultradr

    ultradr Hall of Fame

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    Yep, but that's after 2003-3004 when everything slowed down.
    Big hitters at the time kinda neutralized due to slower surface and heavier balls,
    well, except Safin, basically.

    I think that helped this generation of top players, Federer, Nadal,
    Djokovic and Murray, players with unreal defenses.
     
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  36. cc0509

    cc0509 G.O.A.T.

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    So what would you give prime Federer out of 10 if Nadal and Djokovic are 10/10 on defense?
     
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  37. cc0509

    cc0509 G.O.A.T.

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    Sadly, I agree.
     
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  38. ledwix

    ledwix Hall of Fame

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    True. Now, you not only have to get to almost everything, but also hit it back with some authority. Djokovic's ability to avoid using the slice on the backhand and instead drive it with pace on the full stretch is an example of that kind of freakish defense. Or Nadal's ability to slap forehands at maximum pace while sprinting to his left, like the one to give him championship point at Wimbledon 08 in the fourth set. Although Federer sort of did one of those too in AO12 SF first set.

    7 or 8 years ago, you kind of had the feeling that Federer could fly. He seemed to float around the court and always be in control of court positioning. Now his power has declined, so he has forfeited that luxury, and his defense has also suffered. It is still extremely good though compared to the average tour player, since speed is often second in line to anticipation.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
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  39. Sid_Vicious

    Sid_Vicious G.O.A.T.

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    I would personally give Federer a 7-8 on defense. Don't get me wrong, he was very good in that department, but not the very best. Defense is not what comes to mind when you think of prime Federer. He was an attacking player who used to finish matches with 50-70 winners frequently. With Nadal, people always acknowledged his footspeed and girt...especially early on. Agassi wrote about his match with Nadal at Toronto in 2005 and gave Nadal credit for being the finest defender he has ever played.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2013
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  40. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

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    Jeez Fastdunn, you're like a broken record, aren't you?
     
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  41. zagor

    zagor Talk Tennis Guru

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    Hitting more winners than his opponents doesn't mean didn't play a lot of defense in his peak/prime, especially in return games he was grinding big hitters down more than people remember waiting for that one ball he could attack.

    Fed was overall an aggressive baseliner (with some all-court flair) but not aggressive as say Sampras was aggressive, he was much more of a high % player.

    Of course Nadal, Novak and Murray took it to the next level but I'd still give peak Fed a solid 8, nowadays he barely passes the exam :)
     
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  42. MTF07

    MTF07 Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, but even then, it's not like Safin blew him away. You could argue Fed outplayed Safin in that 05 semi. He hit more winners, made less errors and won more points. It's kind of an anomaly that he lost the match.
     
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  43. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    No, Federer did not outplay Safin that match, it was pretty much dead evevn; A couple of points extra to Federer's side does not equate to a one person being outplayed. Safin could have easily won that last set 6-2 if he hadn't made some poor decisions. I could give you a long list in slam matches where Federer has been 'outplayed' down to your logic; Wimbledon 09, FO 2009 against JMDP, Djokovic in 2007 US Open. it's about winning the important points too. That match could have gone either way.


    Like I've already stated, I believe if he were fully fit for the final, AO 2004 would have been his. I actually think Safin was better that tournament than in 2005.
     
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  44. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    eh, what ? safin in AO 2005 was quite a bit better than he was in AO 2004 ....AO 2004 he was coming off from a long injury layoff and while he played some very good tennis, he was clearly better in AO 2005 ( he had a strong finish to the 2004 season winning Paris/Madrid and making the semi of the TMC losing to fed in that famous TB match )

    and yes, while the AO 2005 semi was very close, fed did outplay safin by a bit in the AO 2005 semi ....
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
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  45. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    eh, come on zag, if nadal/djok are 10/10 on defense, peak fed is atleast a 9 ... he wasn't that far behind ..... he just didn't keep on retrieving again and again like them ... took the first chance he got to force the issue ...right now, he's maybe a 7, 7.5 ....
     
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2013
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  46. Wilander Fan

    Wilander Fan Hall of Fame

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    In his prime, Fed would hit those as baseline drive volleys. He would do this in early rounds against guys who were no threat and you could see the look of disbelief in their eyes when their well struck deep baseline shot came flying back at them without bouncing.
     
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  47. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    Not in my opinion, Safin played good all court tennis in 2005, but except for the semi final, he was only good at best and at times weas horrific in the final against Hewitt. 2005 was about Marat's will to win coupled with unreal fitness not necessarily his ball striking ability.



    2004 he was bossing from the baseline, had to deal with Roddick at #1 and Agassi who was still playing great and unfortunately spent so much time on court with Blake and others he was literally a zombie in the final.




    I'm starting to think people do not understand the concept of being outplayed. Being outplayed is winning in straights with none of them being close. Safin came up with the goods that day. Period. Did anyone see that fifth set? That 5th set scoreline flatters Federer. So somehow a match can end 5-7 6-4 5-7 7-6 8-6 with one guy clearly outplaying the other? Only on TW eh?
     
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  48. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    Nice contradiction.
     
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  49. abmk

    abmk G.O.A.T.

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    no, I didn't say totally outplayed, just said outplayed by a bit ...that's not a contradiction ...
     
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  50. Anaconda

    Anaconda Hall of Fame

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    Agree to disagree, I got banned remember for enforcing my opinions on people? I remember you though. How's it going?
     
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