What went wrong at 40-15 for Federer?

Fugazi

Professional
I think, a crucial pount was also the setpoint in the third set. Fed is a frontrunner, and he would have a substantial lead in the match for the very first time. So, depite his better overall stats, in reality, given the tennis scoring, he was always a bit behind, with the exception of this 8-7 lead in the fifth. Against Nadal he was always in front, despite losing 1-6 in the second. Now, tennis is game of patterns, and it is not new, that Federer has problems to close out a vital match. He lost 21 matches having had mps on his own. It happened against Djokovic before at USO, it happened against Delpo and Anderson last year, against Thiem this year.
On the other hand, Djokovic was far from his best, his serve and return well below par. Despite his mediocre performance he came through on guts and resilience. This should be frightening for his opponents. What will happen on his beloved hard courts, when his is really on form? As dangermen for him i only see hard hitters like Khashanov and Medvedev, or Thiem, who is more a grinder, but has a big forehand and could outlast him.
Wow, 21 is a lot... Where did you find that stat?
 

jklos

Professional
Interesting comparison. One difference is that the serve wasn't as good against Djokovic as it was against Murray/the return is a bit deeper from Djokovic than it was from Murray.

I personally think that regardless of where Federer served, he should have stuck around for one of the match points and made Djokovic work more. A serve and volley play might have been a good tactic (given how much success he had with that) as well.

I've seen some posters suggest that Federer should have gone for all "big serves" (first and second). The thought did cross my mind, but has he ever tried doing that in a match? 40-15, fifth set at Wimbledon does not seem like the right time to try a new tactic one has never used before. Federer is about rhythm and accuracy on his serve, not bombing the second. Sampras did sometimes hit his first serve as a second serve if I remember correctly (and served more doubles), but he was a different type of a player, comfortable with different tactics on faster surfaces.

Does anyone remember Federer hitting his first serve as a second a la Sampras?
Both his serve and his approach were not as well hit as they were against Murray. Andy has to lunge on both shots. Novak barely had to move. The difference of a foot or likely caused him the championship.
 

sbengte

G.O.A.T.
This could have been a great confidence boost for Federer, to really gain belief against Djokovic at slams and erase memories of the previous bad losses. But now it's hard to see him winning a slam when having to face Djokovic, so someone else such as Thiem or Nadal would have to take him down for Federer to have any chance.
That is what everyone said when Nadal took those 7 beatings in a row from Djokovic in 2011 and lost AO 2012 final by a whisker after being a break up in the fifth. What happened next ? Nadal still went on to beat Djokovic on the biggest of stages after that notwithstanding all the TTW obituaries and "Nadal will never beat Djoker again" threads.

If you look at how the Fedal rivalry turned around in the last 5 years , it is clear Fed was able to shake off his mental block developed from losing to Nadal in his prime regularly, a lot of close matches which he should really have won. If he could do that, there is no reason he cannot beat Djokovic again.
 

Sudacafan

Talk Tennis Guru
That is what everyone said when Nadal took those 7 beatings in a row from Djokovic in 2011 and lost AO 2012 final by a whisker after being a break up in the fifth. What happened next ? Nadal still went on to beat Djokovic on the biggest of stages after that notwithstanding all the TTW obituaries and "Nadal will never beat Djoker again" threads.

If you look at how the Fedal rivalry turned around in the last 5 years , it is clear Fed was able to shake off his mental block developed from losing to Nadal in his prime regularly, a lot of close matches which he should really have won. If he could do that, there is no reason he cannot beat Djokovic again.
Federer is too old to pull out that.
That’s why this loss is so crushing.
 

sportsfan1

Hall of Fame
That is what everyone said when Nadal took those 7 beatings in a row from Djokovic in 2011 and lost AO 2012 final by a whisker after being a break up in the fifth. What happened next ? Nadal still went on to beat Djokovic on the biggest of stages after that notwithstanding all the TTW obituaries and "Nadal will never beat Djoker again" threads.

If you look at how the Fedal rivalry turned around in the last 5 years , it is clear Fed was able to shake off his mental block developed from losing to Nadal in his prime regularly, a lot of close matches which he should really have won. If he could do that, there is no reason he cannot beat Djokovic again.
That's a good point. He's more challenged for time, and he hasn't closed against Djokovic at a slam in a while, but maybe this loss triggers a solution.
He gets passive on MP and plays too safe against Djokovic and that hasn't worked. Feds win at rg '11 was closed with a down the t ace. He needs to play with balanced agression, Djokovic himself played down the line deep approach shot in the 5th set tiebreak penultimate point.
 

urban

Legend
One should look a bit more on the game at 11-11. After Djoker went into a 40-0 lead, Fed suddenly gained momentum and played really well, to me his best in the whole 5th set. His groundies got good length and he opened the court with long penetrating cross shots for decisive forehands. Djoker looked stunned, but at the beak points, he played courageously. At the second break point, he played a good low backhand approach. His volley was a bit fat, but just fell down before the baseline, and set up an easy smash. At 11-12, Fed played a fine service game with good volleys, but then lost his momentum and fell apart in the tiebreak.
 

S'in-net

Semi-Pro
One should look a bit more on the game at 11-11. After Djoker went into a 40-0 lead, Fed suddenly gained momentum and played really well, to me his best in the whole 5th set. His groundies got good length and he opened the court with long penetrating cross shots for decisive forehands. Djoker looked stunned, but at the beak points, he played courageously. At the second break point, he played a good low backhand approach. His volley was a bit fat, but just fell down before the baseline, and set up an easy smash. At 11-12, Fed played a fine service game with good volleys, but then lost his momentum and fell apart in the tiebreak.
I agree with all this
. Federer was really strong in the 11-11 game
And the 40-15 point has been over inflated in my view

I don't think the guy calling out "go on Roger" on the 40-15 cost Federer the championship, because although the serve did hit the top of the tape it wasn't going in, anyway. It was going on a trajectory out and wide of the centre line to the right
 

racquetreligion

Hall of Fame
97 square-inch is oversized for Federer?! He had to change because of the shanks, and judging by the last point on Sunday, it hasn't eliminated those issues..
Which 38 yo player with an eastern grip using a modern FH swing (more suited to a semi western grip) that grew up
with 85sq inches would not shank more balls with such a setup approaching 5 hours of pure intensity?
Seriously try to understand the circumstances, technicalities and compromises made.

If you were less of a tunnel visioned fanboy you would likely understand a little more about other players.
Fed has always had Nadal as his main nemesis, so naturally he was the target focus.
Fed could added a few more strings in that 97 like single BH sticks of 18 x 19 Gasquet 16 x 20 Wawrinka
or prob do better with a stick as Noles 95 18 x 19 at under 360gsm.

Problem is he settled on a compromise which also involved Lubey as his added technical SBH coach who had a much
better compact backhand suitable for larger sticks. Yet many understand playing with 85 and 90 for most of your life
you have to change your technique for a powerful 97 which forces him to halve volley and not able to hit full strokes
with confidence unless he is in the zone which is not possible for anyone at his age after 4+ hours.

He could have learnt from his opponents as he always used to by studying them in this case Nole
who went lighter frame and has maintained a level that can still defend and counter successfully.
When you swing something so heavy and unbalanced as you age your accuracy simply diminishes
the longer matches are prolonged by baseline pushery/counterpunching etc.
 
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racquetreligion

Hall of Fame
One should look a bit more on the game at 11-11. After Djoker went into a 40-0 lead, Fed suddenly gained momentum and played really well, to me his best in the whole 5th set. His groundies got good length and he opened the court with long penetrating cross shots for decisive forehands. Djoker looked stunned, but at the beak points, he played courageously. At the second break point, he played a good low backhand approach. His volley was a bit fat, but just fell down before the baseline, and set up an easy smash. At 11-12, Fed played a fine service game with good volleys, but then lost his momentum and fell apart in the tiebreak.
= Modern Yo Yo tennis thanks to the ATP and LTAs homogenized tennis conditions.

if conditions were faster either player could have won faster hitting more winners
than having so many concentration lapses and prolonging such sporadic tennis.
 

duaneeo

Legend
But now it's hard to see him winning a slam when having to face Djokovic, so someone else such as Thiem or Nadal would have to take him down for Federer to have any chance.
Since winning 2018 Australian Open, Federer blew a 2-0 set lead and lost to Anderson at Wimbledon, lost to Millman at the US Open in 4 sets after winning the first set (losing two of the sets in tiebreaks and the third 5-7), lost to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open in the same manner, and blew 2 CPs and lost to Djokovic at Wimbledon (losing all three sets in tiebreaks). Federer's issue isn't "having to face Djokovic".
 

SlvrDragon50

Semi-Pro
Since winning 2018 Australian Open, Federer blew a 2-0 set lead and lost to Anderson at Wimbledon, lost to Millman at the US Open in 4 sets after winning the first set (losing two of the sets in tiebreaks and the third 5-7), lost to Tsitsipas at the Australian Open in the same manner, and blew 2 CPs and lost to Djokovic at Wimbledon (losing all three sets in tiebreaks). Federer's issue isn't "having to face Djokovic".
His shot decision making was much worse during the 40-15 as well as the tiebreaks. He took way riskier shots compared to regular match play. During the tie breaks, he usually didn't tone down his aggression until he was down 3-4 points.
 
One thing that several posters have mentioned I'd like to take issue with; the idea that at 40:15 the 'logical' thing to do is to try and hit 4 aces, given that one is likely to work given the law of averages. Now, if this was actually a rational strategy why wouldn't every tennis player with a half decent serve (almost every pro tennis player) follow that strategy at 40:15 in any game? In tennis history maybe Ivanisevic, Sampras and Kyrgios have sometimes done this but I can't think of any others who do.

My hypothesis would be that it doesn't work because of the psychology of the situation: say Fed had tried this - he misses in the net the first time (crowd oohs and aahhs), he misses long the second of the four (gasps and horror from crowd - he's 'choking')....... you get the point - by the 'fourth' attempt Fed is psychologically in a horrible place, looking like he's choking the game away with double faults and that will affect the probability of the strategy working. Do people think that explanation makes sense?
 

sbengte

G.O.A.T.
One thing that several posters have mentioned I'd like to take issue with; the idea that at 40:15 the 'logical' thing to do is to try and hit 4 aces, given that one is likely to work given the law of averages. Now, if this was actually a rational strategy why wouldn't every tennis player with a half decent serve (almost every pro tennis player) follow that strategy at 40:15 in any game? In tennis history maybe Ivanisevic, Sampras and Kyrgios have sometimes done this but I can't think of any others who do.

My hypothesis would be that it doesn't work because of the psychology of the situation: say Fed had tried this - he misses in the net the first time (crowd oohs and aahhs), he misses long the second of the four (gasps and horror from crowd - he's 'choking')....... you get the point - by the 'fourth' attempt Fed is psychologically in a horrible place, looking like he's choking the game away with double faults and that will affect the probability of the strategy working. Do people think that explanation makes sense?
The whole point is that it was not "any game"....it was CP in a Wimbledon final.. it would be the last shot if he got it right with nothing else at stake.
 
The whole point is that it was not "any game"....it was CP in a Wimbledon final.. it would be the last shot if he got it right with nothing else at stake.
Surely it being such a tense situation makes my point more not less relevant. I can imagine adopting the 'four chances for an ace' logic at one all in the first round of a minor tournament, but when the crowd is so involved, each missed serve will look like craziness and the crowd response will affect the server's mentality.
 

JasonZ

Semi-Pro
One thing that several posters have mentioned I'd like to take issue with; the idea that at 40:15 the 'logical' thing to do is to try and hit 4 aces, given that one is likely to work given the law of averages. Now, if this was actually a rational strategy why wouldn't every tennis player with a half decent serve (almost every pro tennis player) follow that strategy at 40:15 in any game? In tennis history maybe Ivanisevic, Sampras and Kyrgios have sometimes done this but I can't think of any others who do.

My hypothesis would be that it doesn't work because of the psychology of the situation: say Fed had tried this - he misses in the net the first time (crowd oohs and aahhs), he misses long the second of the four (gasps and horror from crowd - he's 'choking')....... you get the point - by the 'fourth' attempt Fed is psychologically in a horrible place, looking like he's choking the game away with double faults and that will affect the probability of the strategy working. Do people think that explanation makes sense?
Yes, that makes sense and is 100% correct.
 

sbengte

G.O.A.T.
Surely it being such a tense situation makes my point more not less relevant. I can imagine adopting the 'four chances for an ace' logic at one all in the first round of a minor tournament, but when the crowd is so involved, each missed serve will look like craziness and the crowd response will affect the server's mentality.
I don't know...wouldn't it relax your mind if you realize you really have 4 chances at a first serve and not 2 as the scoreline would suggest ? You are less likely to make a mistake in the comfort that you have 4 chances.
 

Devilito

Hall of Fame
Fed choked. You could see him tighten up real bad which forces you to hit the ball more conservatively or you'll make an error, as going for your shots requires you to be lose/relaxed. This resulted in a weak 2nd serve and a horrible sitter approach shot that a 13 year old junior could have passed him on.
 

TennisaGoGo

Semi-Pro
Fed choked. You could see him tighten up real bad which forces you to hit the ball more conservatively or you'll make an error, as going for your shots requires you to be lose/relaxed. This resulted in a weak 2nd serve and a horrible sitter approach shot that a 13 year old junior could have passed him on.
It was the kind of approach shot you see in youtube instructional videos that the coach hits when he just taught his opponent/pupil a new forehand. Then the coach gets passed and says "Wow!"
 

toby55555

Hall of Fame
First MP a forehand back to Novak’s forehand would have been a more comfortable shot, the attempt to step around and hit to the backhand was too cramped, good return though.
Second MP, hopeless approach shot, passing shot sounded like a mishit.
 

Benben245

Professional
I would have pounded my serves into the body of Novak to see if you could force him to lose his recovery position timing on a block. Considering how poorly Federer was serving at times, its surprising the match went as long as it did.
 
Federers slice was great all match. Problem was it did not bite on Djokovic at all. Whereas it won him the match point against Nadal. I think the slice was part of what Federer meant afterwards, when he said he thought he had "a good mix". Trading baseline shots without variation against Djokovic is not a good idea. Problem was Federer seemed a little tight or hesitant sometimes on/with the agressive shots. Where he was more confident against Nadal. But then again, Djokovic is the ultimate retriever/counterpuncher. Small margins.
 

SaintPetros

Hall of Fame
Both his serve and his approach were not as well hit as they were against Murray. Andy has to lunge on both shots. Novak barely had to move. The difference of a foot or likely caused him the championship.
Novak's forehand has more curve too, making it better imo for passes than Murray's.
 
D

Deleted member 744633

Guest
I read though this entire thread. The most compelling of all the points I read is this- the approach shot Federer made at 40-30. It was a very poor shot considering the opponent. And I agree with the posters who said he made that approach hoping Djokovic would miss.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
fear, self-doubt
Sadly, even as a Fed fan, I agree. He played fearlessly in the fifth set of the 2017 AO, but was bottled up the entire Wimbledon final. He showed no emotion, almost no fist pumping and was almost absurdly self-contained (so was Novak, probably because of the pro-Roger crowd). Contrast this with Rafa's balls on MP in the 2018 Wimbledon semi, at 6:50:

 

jklos

Professional
Novak's forehand has more curve too, making it better imo for passes than Murray's.
Agreed. Novak can read shots better too. But nevertheless Fed's approach in that situation was not nearly good enough. He probably knew it but it was too late to retreat. Likely hoping for an error or a bad placed passing shot.
 

mwym

Rookie
... but was bottled up the entire Wimbledon final. He showed no emotion, almost no fist pumping and was almost absurdly self-contained (so was Novak, probably because of the pro-Roger crowd). Contrast this with Rafa's balls on MP in the 2018 Wimbledon semi, at 6:50:
Incorrect for Djokovic being bottled because of the crowd. He usually use the crowd to get pissed off, wins and then thanks the crowd (for helping him win). This time it was different, actually quite the opposite - Djokovic completely ignored the crowd (hence not thanking to crowd after the match). And that's the cause of Federer losing this one.

Djokovic explained he knew after training on Saturday with a junior player as hitting partner and having bad serve and even bad return that at final on next day - that Sunday will be his bad form day 'because these things do not change by themselves overnight just because you want them to'. So he 'gave promise to his own self' that he will remain absolutely calm during final no matter what happens on court and around it while believing he can prevail even on his bad day.

Djokovic never behaved like that before - he was really borderline authistic for 4.5 hours. Federer was confused about Djokovic being so strangely calm like it was not Djokovic on the other side, and like the match did not have 21/15 vs 20/16 importance, which was enough to make Federer just a tiny bit ... out of focus when it mattered the most. (Mirka was worried sick seing Federer's face). We know Federer played TBs like not being sure what to do and how to do it while Djokovic steped up a tiny bit and served somewhat better in TBs and avoided making UEs (made also a winner or two) while waiting on Federer to make his 'silly', 'confused' UEs. And FFS, do your reality checked right here and now - Federer did it reliably like a proper swiss clock - 3 times for the course of a single match. Or should we say - he did it exactly like a ROBOT? Programmed by Djokovic?

It really is that simple, for those whose ego does not go rampant hearing facts and who can let their intellect do the works, like Djokovic did to win. Anyone claiming Federer outplayed Djokovic by playing better tennis should restrain from such a childish denial. It was Djokovic who mentally outplayed Federer, again.
 
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RF-18

Talk Tennis Guru
I read though this entire thread. The most compelling of all the points I read is this- the approach shot Federer made at 40-30. It was a very poor shot considering the opponent. And I agree with the posters who said he made that approach hoping Djokovic would miss.
The way I understood the situation was - Federer panicked a bit. Two CPs to secure another major title against an opponent like Djokovic against big odds. I got the impression that he just wanted to get it over with and rushed himself. He wasn't calm at all in his decision making. He had already made his decision to approach the net no matter what ball he hit to Djokovic, and he got punished big time for this mindset.
 
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D

Deleted member 744633

Guest
The way I understood the situation was - Federer panicked a bit. Two CPs to secure another major title against an opponent like Djokovic against big odds. I got the impression that he just wanted to get it over with and rushed himself. He wasn't calm at all in his decision making. He had already made his decision to approach the net no matter what ball he hit to Djokovic, and he got punished big time for this mindset.
Perfectly summarized! :)
 
Ofcourse he and we would also have hated if he lost the point due to playing it too passive and hesitant. Controlled agression is the key to Federers best tennis. A hard balance to get right at all moments.
 

Pantera

Banned
Federer's biggest issue is he over thinks at times ; he has this lousy habit of playing the man on opposite side of the net as against hitting the ball on merit ; firstly he should have SV'd when at 40-15 he was passive and then tried to be aggressive not out of choice but out of desperation . When Djokovic was facing break points each and every time he continued to go for his shots , I saw Federer hitting a nice deep ball and then take a step into the court to follow it up at the net only to retreat back to base line and restart the rallies as he hesitated far too many times . He failed to heed his own advice to Halep i.e. to play with a winner's mentality , the match was on Federer's racket as Djokovic was also under pressure difference is Djokovic plays well running side to side as it comes natural to him , Federer starts becoming tight in long exchanges . Federer also made another tactical error he never rushed at the net when returning had he done that quite a few times he would have had much better confidence trying to serve and volley , at 40-15 it . would have helped him great deal as Novak was chip returning for most of the later half of 5th set .
Federer lost to the better player simple as that. 3-0 sums it up for me.
 

BeatlesFan

Bionic Poster
Incorrect for Djokovic being bottled because of the crowd.
Please quote me correctly. I said Djoker was very "self contained, probably because of the pro-Roger crowd." And what I said was demonstrably true. He wasn't gesturing to the crowd, yelling or pulling any histrionics. I never said he was bottled up, I said that about Roger.
 

SaintPetros

Hall of Fame
I think the mental dynamics of the match-up took their toll on him tbh. He may have consciously believed he could do it, but somewhere in his mind he hasn't resolved the issues that Djoker's Wimbledon + Open triumphs have given him.
 

jklos

Professional
I don't think it was a choke. It was almost 5 hours into the match and Fed had a chance to put it away at 40-30 on the approach. 7 out of 10 times he likely puts it in the right spot to win the match but in this instance he didn't. Credit to Novak for taking advantage of the poor approach. He could of missed his spot as well and missed the pass or hit it right back to Fed. The margins are small in tennis and execution doesn't come easy in the 5th set of a match. Credit to both players for giving it their all.
 

TennisaGoGo

Semi-Pro
The 40-15 point is sure getting a pass on this thread. Novak's return wasn't DTL in the corner or anything. It was just a return to get the point started and Fed sprayed it wide. It's upsetting because that was obviously a lower pressure point and I think Fed could have handled a rally if necessary. I don't even remember what happened at deuce. But it's getting farther in the rear view so no point in talking about it anymore He's winning USO anyway.
 

SaintPetros

Hall of Fame
The 40-15 point is sure getting a pass on this thread. Novak's return wasn't DTL in the corner or anything. It was just a return to get the point started and Fed sprayed it wide. It's upsetting because that was obviously a lower pressure point and I think Fed could have handled a rally if necessary. I don't even remember what happened at deuce. But it's getting farther in the rear view so no point in talking about it anymore He's winning USO anyway.
It was a good return by Novak at Fed's feet that caused that error. I'd be more disappointed in the lousy serve he hit to Nole's forehand to set that tragedy up rather than the forehand itself.
 

S'in-net

Semi-Pro
Incorrect for Djokovic being bottled because of the crowd. He usually use the crowd to get pissed off, wins and then thanks the crowd (for helping him win). This time it was different, actually quite the opposite - Djokovic completely ignored the crowd (hence not thanking to crowd after the match). And that's the cause of Federer losing this one.

Djokovic explained he knew after training on Saturday with a junior player as hitting partner and having bad serve and even bad return that at final on next day - that Sunday will be his bad form day 'because these things do not change by themselves overnight just because you want them to'. So he 'gave promise to his own self' that he will remain absolutely calm during final no matter what happens on court and around it while believing he can prevail even on his bad day.

Djokovic never behaved like that before - he was really borderline authistic for 4.5 hours. Federer was confused about Djokovic being so strangely calm like it was not Djokovic on the other side, and like the match did not have 21/15 vs 20/16 importance, which was enough to make Federer just a tiny bit ... out of focus when it mattered the most. (Mirka was worried sick seing Federer's face). We know Federer played TBs like not being sure what to do and how to do it while Djokovic steped up a tiny bit and served somewhat better in TBs and avoided making UEs (made also a winner or two) while waiting on Federer to make his 'silly', 'confused' UEs. And FFS, do your reality checked right here and now - Federer did it reliably like a proper swiss clock - 3 times for the course of a single match. Or should we say - he did it exactly like a ROBOT? Programmed by Djokovic?

It really is that simple, for those whose ego does not go rampant hearing facts and who can let their intellect do the works, like Djokovic did to win. Anyone claiming Federer outplayed Djokovic by playing better tennis should restrain from such a childish denial. It was Djokovic who mentally outplayed Federer, again.
Great analysis

Connors was always relatively subdued when playing Borg (because Borg never 'gave him anything' to latch onto)
You are exposing what Djokovic is doing here. I don't think this can be overestimated
I think Djokovic exerted a big mental pull on Federer, by not giving him anything to latch onto
There were no typical 'Chum Jetze' from Federer
You could even say that Djokovic did a good job of keeping the crowd out of it, relatively speaking

Even in a game like Chess, where the mental aspect is paramount, people think that players threw matches with Bobby Fisher (to help his career)
But what's never mentioned, is how Fisher had a very unusual mental energy, that exerted a huge pull on his opponents, leading to uncharacteristic errors in key moments against him. Fisher is never given the credit, here, and neither is Djokovic...
 
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