Interesting Article By Mac in The Times (English newspaper)

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Phil, Jul 4, 2004.

  1. Phil

    Phil Hall of Fame

    Feb 11, 2004
    In a tent, along the Silk Road
    Federer's serve is the key
    By John McEnroe (Filed: 04/07/2004)

    When I was a kid I used to watch a basketball player
    called Julius Irving - Dr J - who could do some quite
    amazing things with a ball and I remember thinking at
    the time, 'There's never going to be anyone like him
    again'. And then along came Michael Jordan.

    Roger Federer: King of the court

    I was reminded of how even the very special can be
    succeeded when Roger Federer finally arrived last
    summer to take over the mantle of Pete Sampras.

    Now, I'm not suggesting for one moment that I believe
    Federer can surpass Sampras's extraordinary record
    haul of 14 Grand Slam titles, but I do think he is a
    more gifted player than the American and he certainly
    has it within his capability to go past me with my
    seven Slam successes.

    Federer is more fluid and plays with greater style
    than his predecessor, but he doesn't possess quite the
    same power and, perhaps even more importantly, that
    same assassin's mentality that Pistol Pete had. Not
    yet anyway. If he eventually learns it . . . my God he
    could eventually dominate Wimbledon almost to the same
    extent that Sampras did.

    Federer's tennis this year, like last, has been quite
    sublime only even more relaxed. No sign of a
    repetition of the back spasm he suffered in his
    fourth-round match last year against Feliciano Lopez
    which was clearly due to nerves, and which may also
    have partly explained Amelie Mauresmo's back problems
    in her thrilling semi-final against the eventual
    runner-up, Serena Williams.

    There is no doubt that the Swiss already feels almost
    as much at ease at Wimbledon as Sampras did. The
    Championships suit his personality in the same way
    that they suited Sampras's. I think he appreciates the
    orderliness of it and for the same reason I think
    that's why he usually does well at a tournament such
    as the Hamburg Masters. The US Open is a little too
    crazy for someone of his persona, just as Paris and
    Rome are probably a little too emotive.

    Eventually, I'm sure, he'll figure out a way of
    winning at Flushing Meadows, just as Stefan Edberg
    did, and then there will be no holding him. He's not
    so comfortable on clay, though, so the French could be
    the last that he wins.

    But we're getting a little ahead of ourselves here.
    First he has to deal with the exceptional firepower of
    Andy Roddick and, as I have said before, nothing
    negates skill quite like power; it's the ultimate
    equaliser, as I discovered to my own cost towards the
    end of my career.

    Roddick has the utmost respect for Federer; indeed all
    the players do. It isn't just the fans and the media
    who enthuse about him. Players talk about him with
    great reverence in the locker room, too. In fact,
    Mirca, his girlfriend, told me the other day that I
    should stop saying so many nice things about him
    because he was starting to get a bit too cocky.

    Apparently, he enjoys watching himself on television,
    but you can hardly blame the guy! I think this final
    will be closer than their semi-final meeting last year
    when, don't forget, Roddick had a set point in the
    first. Had he won that it might have been a different
    story. It's going to take a heroic effort on his part
    this time and it's on occasions like this when someone
    such as Brad Gilbert, his coach, can have a big input
    by keeping him focused on his game plan.

    If the American is serving bombs it's just possible he
    could win, perhaps with the help of a couple of
    tie-breaks. Federer, though, handles power incredibly
    well. He makes a 130 mph serve look like 100 mph. His
    anticipation is excellent and he covers the court so
    well. He's a lot quicker than many people realise.

    But holding serve, of course, is only half the job
    against Federer. Roddick would probably have to break
    Federer's at some time and so far that has been
    managed only twice at this Wimbledon - once each by
    Lleyton Hewitt and Sebastien Grosjean - and Federer's
    immediate response on both occasions was to break his
    opponent straight back.

    If he goes without being broken again today he will
    have equalled one personal Sampras record at least:
    the best the seven-time Wimbledon champion could
    manage was also the loss of just two service games en
    route to his fourth title, in 1997. It would be quite
    an achievement by Federer, given that he doesn't serve
    and volley much.

    Needless to say, an American victory would be quite
    appropriate on the Fourth of July. I remember I won my
    first Wimbledon on Independence Day in 1981 against
    Bjorn Borg. A Roddick win might even do more to help
    build a similar kind of rivalry to that which Borg and
    I enjoyed and which the game so desperately needs
    today. This, after all, is the match-up we had all
    been hoping for. Well, all of us except you Brits.

    Hopefully, it will make the crushing disappointment of
    Tim Henman's elimination easier to bear. I'm starting
    to think it's not going to happen for the British No
    1. The window of opportunity is getting smaller with
    each passing year. He has to figure out a way of
    winning the 'easy' matches more easily. It must be
    mentally as well as physically draining for him to
    play the way he has done here. I feel exhausted just
    commentating on his matches.

    If only he could tap into the crowd's positive energy
    he would find it easier but, sadly, they take their
    lead from his own internalisation and remain as quiet
    as a library. I have to say I was surprised the way he
    played against Mario Ancic. Up until the quarter-final
    he had mixed it up when serving, coming to the net on
    some occasions, staying back on others. I have never
    advocated him staying back too much but, against the
    Croatian, for some reason, he decided to come in
    behind every serve and Ancic seemed to enjoy the

    Since there were very few rallies there was no way to
    get the crowd into the match, which was what he needed
    to do because his performance was so flat. Why, when
    he was two sets to love down, he didn't throw the guy
    a wrench, do something different, maybe even serve
    underarm, I do not know. It was a strange choice of
    tactics for someone of his experience.

    I was also surprised his match wasn't first on. He
    hadn't finished his fairly exhausting quarter-final
    against Mark Philippoussis last Monday until close to
    9pm and I was concerned about his recovery time. Ancic
    shouldn't have been underestimated despite his
    ranking. After all, he beat Federer here two years
    ago. Once Henman lost that first set, he just seemed
    to deflate.

    For a guy who has never won a major, and doesn't have
    the ability of some of the other players around, an
    awful lot is expected of him. In the circumstances,
    four semi-finals and four quarter-finals in the last
    nine years as well as legitimising his position as a
    top-10 player after a serious shoulder injury are
    pretty incredible achievements. But it's going to take
    a mighty big prayer for him to improve upon that now.
  2. VamosRafa

    VamosRafa Hall of Fame

    May 3, 2004
    Interesting article, Phil. Johnny Mac mentioned the Mirka incident on TV today, i.e., "In fact,
    Mirca, his girlfriend, told me the other day that I
    should stop saying so many nice things about Federer
    because he was starting to get a bit too peepee."

    Of course, peepee is supposed to be c-o-c-k-y. :lol:

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