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How much does Cincy win advance Federer’s cause of being back?

Posted by tennisplanet on August 25, 2010

This was Federer’s second title in 16 tournaments dating back to last season. To suddenly declare Federer’s return to the top of his game / tour is rather premature given just the above stat taking the macro view. Delving deeper into the recesses of the fabric reveals a far different scenario.

While there’s no doubting that Federer is playing considerably better than the last 12 months (Yeah, last title before the AO title was at ………. Cincy last year), you cannot ignore ONE glaring stat refusing to go away in the face of even this mini resurgence: Unforced error count. Federer accumulated what 48 unforced errors in the final at Cincy? And that stat has stayed with him throughout this upward swing from Toronto to now.

Federer’s game has returned considerably to mask that deficiency long enough to post wins against players of lesser stature and experience. But against the top dogs or dogs who have been performing well consistently this season like Berdych or Soderling that hole is blown apart and exploited outrageously.

What this has resulted in is this: Federer is coasting against tomato cans in early rounds. Remember the anxiety his opening rounds produced lately? So sure that’s an improvement but that’s like fixing the first step of the ladder in this setting and declaring the staircase safe.

If Federer overly feeds his ego with this false sense of security having won Cincy title pregnant with all sorts of extenuating circumstances, the road moving forward can only get worse than it has already been. He has to factor in some obvious conditions which scream for cautious optimism instead of full-on jubilation on ‘barely’ winning just the second title in 16 attempts:

-This was a back to back set up historically incapable of producing winners at both ends. Federer had a head start of almost four hours on all his top peers in terms of ‘time on court’ by the time the third match of the tournament rolled around leaving him lot fresher. Despite that, Fish and Turtle was able to extend him to a crap shoot in the second set in a match he himself admitted could have gone either way.

Besides, Berdych took him to a third set tie break at Toronto losing at 5. While a win is a win and in this case reversed the previous two losses to Berdych this season, it was awfully close to confidently predict anything for the future. Then there was that straight set loss to Murray in a final for the first time at Toronto. Even though it was a close match, Federer’s inability to break through a real contender failed to raise the flag of ‘return’ to the top.

Bottom line: There are way too many variables to definitively announce or predict what lies ahead for Federer as he turns 29 solely based on the last two tournaments. While Fish was playing out of his mind, he lacked consistent effort this season to warrant being capable of extending an ‘improved’ Federer to such a close match.

Unless the final brick called UE is laid perfectly in that open slot making the building to tilt dangerously, previous showing this year will speak louder to make any projection resting on this recent showing untimely and false if not outright dangerous.


18 Responses to “How much does Cincy win advance Federer’s cause of being back?”

  1. O said

    This Cincy win and his 09 Winby win were both decided on a single break, so it shows that these matches were incredibly close. Fed looked slow in his loss in Toronto, but his movement looked impeccable in his win over Murray at AO. It will be interesting that others like Murray, Nadal, Djokovic and perhaps even more might have chances.

  2. Vr said

    Agree that UE count is of concern It was at last USO final too. However, this Cincy win is not doubt a boost to confidence. Berdych stuff- yeah, B is dangerous on a given day but not on all days. re-USO-Go Fed

  3. Bettyjane said

    My joy is tempered by the reality that everyone seems to be beating Fed in extended rallies.

    • M said

      He’s warming up, Bettyjane. 😛

      No, seriously — I think Roger’s mind is so creative that when a rally goes on for what he feels is too long, he gets bored, thereby short-circuiting his focus and bringing on the dreaded FH shank (or overhit BH).

      So what I’m hoping will happen is that he and PA continue to work on extending his focus through the longer rallies, constructing the points, as opposed to suddenly getting impatient and trying to cut them off with some attempted spectacular shot that then goes awry.

      If they can get over that hurdle, I think we might then find Roger racking up his points much more quickly.

      • Bettyjane said

        Yes I like this analysis M! We all know Paul has been getting Fed to play shorter points, so this second element(Focusing through the rallies) has probably taken a back seat. Fed suffers the curse of having too many options at his disposal. As for those bloody shanks—-larger racket Fed? Touch vs. consistency. I guess I’ll go with the former since that’s why I love his game so much.

      • M said

        “Fed suffers the curse of having too many options at his disposal.”

        This exactly, I think.

        It makes his game magnificently exciting, but it is a “creative people” curse.

      • chieko said

        So well explained M san ,, thanks!! 😀

      • M said

        My pleasure, Chieko san.
        Pretty much just my rambling thoughts, from having hyper-observed our Roger all this time, you know?

      • chieko said

        Keep rambling your thoughts M san !! I love it !! 😀

    • Jenny said

      Imho, Roger likes quick points, he’s never really been a grinder and it is physically gruelling. Whether he can change at this stage, I honestly don’t know.

      • M said

        “Whether he can change at this stage, I honestly don’t know.”

        Roger can do anything!!

        *struggles to fight blindness to faults of her favorites*

    • Rick said

      yes yes yes to Bettyjane’s original post and M’s first repsonse….

  4. Rick said

    I have to say the UE count has been bothering me for exactly three years now, since the 2007 U.S. Open.
    I remember watching the Davydenko match that year and wondering WTF.
    (Davy matched him in that one, it was the proverbial Battle of the Unforced Errors)
    I.e. this didn’t just start overnight.
    And yeah, I think M’s right, he gets impatient and tries to end the point with an aggressive shot that no longer cooperates reliably on either side.

    • Jenny said

      And yeah, I think M’s right, he gets impatient and tries to end the point with an aggressive shot that no longer cooperates reliably on either side.

      I agree, impatience – it was certainly looked the case at the French when facing Rafa who has the patience of a saint, particularly on clay..

    • BANTI said

      Rick lets see what the maestro can come up with for the Open. Just this year at the Aussie Open he shocked us all with the level of his play. How many UE did he have in those matches? 10, 15 max? What really matters is where his heart is at, this alone wins matches for him. This was lacking in the last two slams I felt, but from his recent success it seems to be back! So lets stay hopeful:)

  5. Bento said

    He will not return to the top of his game. That’s five years past.

    • Jill said

      Quite and it happens to everyone. I don’t know why TP expects so much of him. He’s 29 and has a wife and 2 children now. Most players would love the results he still posts. If he wins a few more slams/titles great but if he doesn’t nothing changes in my eyes – he has nothing left to prove.

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