Federer Stunned By Berdych

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – To paraphrase the late Howard Cosell: “Down goes Federer! Down Goes Federer!”

A shocker in the Men’s Quarterfinal saw Czech Tomas Berdych beat No. 1 seed Roger Federer in four sets  7-6, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

For the first time since 2003, the Maestro will not be in the US Open Semifinal and went home pretty unhappy to say the least.

“I’m sure it was a combination of many things,” Federer said.  “I mean, obviously I rarely go through matches where I have no chances, you know.

“So obviously I missed some tonight again, but that’s normal.  When you end up losing at the end, you know, you always hope that you made every chance you had.  It’s just not possible.

“He probably created more than I did, and that’s why he ended up winning tonight.”

It could have been the extra rest Federer received when Mardy Fish pulled out of the Open on Monday that ruined his sharpness. Like a pitcher, most tennis players tend to like the regular rhythm of a tournament, but the Swiss Master was forced to sit out Monday’s match when he received a walkover.

Federer though didn’t use that as an excuse.

“I have been there before,” he said.  “Once I had six‑and‑a‑half days off and I ended up winning Wimbledon.  I don’t think this was the issue tonight.”

Federer looked off from the outset, after electing to receive in the coin toss, was put on his heels by Berdych, who blew the Maestro away in the tiebreaker 6-1 and broke Federer early in the second set.

Only late in the second did Federer look like the Maestro, but down two breaks was just too much for the Swiss Master and Berdych eventually was able to come through.

But then the third set came and Federer was able to break Berdych and take the set rather easily.

“I still was down two sets to one, so I wasn’t celebrating too much,” he said. “It was good.  The momentum switch no doubt gave me a chance, put the score back to zero, put him further away from winning, and made the match go longer, make it more physical, more mental.

“Yeah, so obviously I was excited winning the third, but the problem was the first couple of sets ‑ particularly the first one.”

At that point it looked like Federer was going to paint another masterpiece, but Berdych was able to break him in the middle of the fourth to end it quickly for the Master.

“The fourth set all of a sudden ended quickly,” Federer said.  “He played good the last couple of points on my serve I think at 30‑All.  But that’s always a danger with Tomas if you’re down in the score and he can take some chances.  He’s obviously a shot‑maker, so, yeah, it’s dangerous.

“I should never lose the first set.  But anyway, it happens.  Move on.”

It will be a very different Open now that both the biggest story in Andy Roddick and its biggest draw in Roger Federer are no longer playing.

It also gives Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray excellent chances to win the whole thing.

 

The Dark Knight Returns

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With his one handed backhand and quick ability to attack the net, Roger Federer looked superior, almost like a super hero fighting a henchman early in the story.

And his dismantling of Santiago Giraldo, 6-4 6-3 6-2, may look like an easy win on paper, but it really added something to the Federer lore. He’s not just a super hero, he’s the Dark Knight of the Open.

Much like Christian Bale’s title character from the movies, Federer does his best work at night, under the lights when the pressure is on.

“[The crowd] can’t wander around to different courts and say, Okay, on Court 2 we have this going on; Louis Armstrong we have that happening,” said Federer, who with tonight’s win has tied Andre Aggasi tonight for most wins in majors at 224. “No avoiding that limelight.  You do feel that pressure as well.  When you miss a stupid volley, you go like, Yeah, everybody saw it.  I’m a bit of an idiot here right now.  Better don’t miss that next time because on TV everybody’s watching, in the stadium everybody saw it.

“So you do feel that pressure.  Yes, you do.  That’s why I think Giraldo did well tonight.  Also you’re thinking about me, but think of the other guy who is playing a top guy in that stadium.  It’s also not that easy.  Surely he can swing freely, there’s nothing to lose, but also he does feel that big stage.”

Being Federer, who has seen it all, craves the excitement of the night in Queens. The Maestro said he likes the rock and roll atmosphere of the Open as much as tones of other tournaments.

“When you have some success, you actually start enjoying different types of atmospheres:  loud, you know, crazy, to very proper and never applauding on a mistake like you have in Japan,” Federer said.  “Then you go to England where they know exactly what is a good shot and what is a bad shot.  Then you go to Switzerland where it’s also very proper again.

“So I like that, you know, difference we have.  Music played on the change of ends.  They’re showing all sorts of stuff on the big screens; whereas in other places it’s just complete silence.  So I like that change.

“Here, this is a huge tournament which I like a lot and have had such amazing success that obviously every year I will come back here to New York I’ll feel that it’s a place that’s very special to me and where I usually do actually play my very best tennis.”

Federer feels this year’s Open may be a little different. The court speed in Flushing has always been known as notorious fast surface, but he sees it as a little slower this year.

“It’s definitely slower,” he said.  “Obviously, night sessions always maybe play a touch slower than the day clearly.  I really have the feeling conditions are slower this year than last year here at the Open.

“So it takes I think some getting used to.  You’re not getting as many free points maybe with your serve.  Maybe that was part of the inconsistent play I had early on in the first couple of sets.

“As the match went on, I think I started to get more solid and better, and that’s a good feeling to have.  But the ball really gets used after a while, I have to say.  I was quite surprised.”

Yet, this is Roger Federer and the Dark Knight of tennis is used to all surfaces no matter what the changes are. He attacked the net more in his match tonight, especially against Giraldo, whose best surface is clay, while also taking changes, simply because, well he’s better.

And isn’t that why the super hero always wins?

“Why am I successful?,” he pondered.  “I guess because I’m a pretty good player and I’m usually the favorite when I go into these matches, so I expect myself to win.  I should win these matches, thank God, and I more often do than don’t.”

The Dark Knight rises in the second round against Israeli Dudi Sela.

Nadal’s Rise Comes As No Shock

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – As Rafael Nadal sat on the podium with his well-earned US Open Men’s Singles Trophy, a smile came over his face when he was asked the last English question of the night.

You see, Nadal is a huge soccer fan, and since he doesn’t play the sport, but rather watches it as a fan, the little kid in him came out when asked if Spain’s World Cup win was more special to him than any of his nine Grand Slam Titles.

“So when Spain won the World Cup was amazing,” said Nadal, who completed the career Grand Slam by beating Novak Djokovic, 6-4 5-7 6-4 6-2. “ I was crying like ‑‑ like today, maybe, no?  But is different feelings, but at the same time every feeling is unbelievable.  But is very difficult to compare.  Football is unbelievable.  You know how big is football in Spain, or maybe you don’t know, but we deserved that title.”

Frankly, Nadal deserved today’s title as much as his countrymen’s soccer crown. By becoming only the seventh player in history to achieve wins in all four majors, his rise to the top is complete.

Only a short time ago, the 24 year-old was considered a clay-court specialist, someone who could win Roland Garros every single year, but couldn’t do much in any of the other surfaces. Rather, that was Roger Federer’s turf. Sure he made the finals on the grass courts at Wimbledon in 2006 and 2007, but he couldn’t get over the edge with the Maestro.

Then something happened in 2008. Nadal started to catch up with the other surfaces. He reached the semis in Australia and a month after his fourth consecutive French Open win, he played a classic at Wimbledon, finally beating Federer in a five set classic 6-4 6-4 7-6 7-6 9-7 to break the barrier.

“In Wimbledon, is true I have to adjust a lot my game to play in Wimbledon,” he said. “But in my opinion, play in Wimbledon for me always wasn’t that bad, because one of the most important things on Wimbledon is the movements, and I think my movements are good to play well in that surface.”

Nadal always relied upon his speed. It allowed him to catch up to balls, but he lacked the big serve which he needed to dominate on the hard courts. Yet in 2009, he won Australia and many though that it would be the year of the Spanish bull.

Unfortunately though, it didn’t turn out that way.

“Last year I had a difficult year,” he said. “Well, I had a great year because when you win a Grand Slam and three Masters 1000 you have a great year, but is true the second half of the year was very difficult for me, have some personal problems, home, and after, I have a lot of injuries, here the abdominal, before, the knees.

“So, yeah, wasn’t an easy year.  But is, at the same time, for sure, is not good have these moments but live these moments but at the same time, yes, because after that, when you come back, you are ready to (through translation) value how difficult is win titles and how difficult is be there all the time, no?”

Even coming into 2010, Nadal didn’t seem the same when he came back from his injuries with Quarterfinal loss in Australia.

But he remained positive and as he got healthy, something very interesting happened. As Rafa rose, Federer may have lost a bit of a step at age 28, allowing his Spanish rival to take his customary French Open title, and then Wimbledon.

But the US Open remained the one missing piece to the puzzle.

So coming in, Nadal made changes to his grip on his serve, giving him an extra 12 to 15 miles per hour on his shot and a true determination to make this his year at the Open.

“So always when you are playing well and when you are in the right moment with big confidence, seems like you improved a lot,” he said.  “But, you know, there are moments when you are not playing that good, when you lose your confidence, you lose matches, and seems like you are not playing that good and you forgot to play tennis.  It’s not like this, and it is not like this I improved a lot since 2009.  I think I improved my tennis a little bit but is not a radical change, no?

“Sure, to win in here in the US Open I think is the more difficult tournament for me to play, more difficult conditions to adapt, to adjust my game on this court, for the balls, for the court, for everything, no?”

Yes it was. And now that he achieved it, Nadal has the enviable task of being on top, something Federer did with grace for almost a decade. But, something says this talented young man will pass that test with flying colors as well. Because he specialty is still clay, and Paris is home to five of his nine Grand Slam title, he still will be able to dominate the competition there, especially now with his new found skills on other surfaces.

And even though, he still has a ways to go to catch Federer’s 16 major titles – and counting – with a little luck for his health, Nadal could become the greatest of all time before everything is said and done.

Right now, though, the Spaniard is just looking ahead to the rest of the season and one other goal he has for his career.

“But my goal remains for me that the Masters Cup is the big, yeah, probably the last big tournament that I didn’t win,” he said.  “That’s true is the most difficult title for me to win, because we play it in indoor, and when indoor, indoor very quick surface, so going to be always very difficult if we don’t change that.

“But at the same time is a challenge for me to keep improving to have the chance to play well there and to have the chance to win.  So that’s what I going to try this year.  For me right now the next goal is try to finish the season much better than what I did in other years.”

Spoken like a true champion.

Has Field Caught Up To Federer?

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – A US Open Final without Roger Federer?

That’s like the Yankees without the postseason or New York without the Statue of Liberty.

Or even Batman fighting crime in Gotham without his cape and utility belt.

Well it happened and you can thank the Djoker for having it come true.

In what is maybe the best match of the tournament, The Maestro goes down in a five set classic to Novak Djokovic, 5-7 6-2 5-7 6-2 7-5.

Djokovic wasn’t perfect in the match, but it does show how much ground was made up over the past few years. Before, Federer was clearly the best player in the tournament with every other player hoping for second place. Now, the playing field seems more level.

“It’s normal, because you can’t go through 10‑, 15‑year career thinking you’ll always be at the very top,” Federer said.  “I think I did incredible work staying so long in the top 2 in the world. I never would have guessed in ’04 when I got to No. 1 for the first time that it was going to carry me for so long and that I was always going to be part of quarters, semis, finals of slams, and get a shot over and over again.

“I struggled to get into my first Grand Slam final back in 2003; whereas everybody predicted I was gonna win many and get to No. 1.  It’s just not as easy as it seems.  You can see with other players who are trying it.  There’s many tough guys out there, and it’s gotten very physical, very mental. But I think I’m doing really well under the circumstances with as many challengers.  I got a few guys back who were able to beat me, and many times when I lose I feel like it’s on my racquet.  That’s a good thing, you know.

“I wouldn’t want to feel the way that I couldn’t compete with the new generation, but I can.  It’s not a problem for me.”

Of course, Rafael Nadal is still standing in the Serbian’s way to his second Grand Slam title and after the Spaniard’s easy win, 6-2 6-3 6-4 over Mikhail Youzhny, Djokovic may have his hands full.

Federer, though, isn’t even bothering to watch. After being immersed in tennis over the past few weeks, the five-time champion said he had no interest in watching a final where he’s not playing.

“I will be spending time with the kids and go shopping,” he said. “I don’t know if the shops are open on Sunday in New York, but something will be.”

You can’t blame him though. The Maestro played his heart out and had a double match point in Game 10 of the fifth set. Yet, Djokovic was able to fight back, win that point and break Federer in the next game.

“I lost a couple more with match points this year, so they all pretty much feel the same, you know,” said Federer, whose only Grand Slam this year came in Melbourne.  “They feel somewhat empty at the end because you have tried everything, and maybe it was luck.  Maybe it was he played well.  Maybe you didn’t pick the right shot; maybe he did, you know.

“Can’t turn back time, but, look, obviously had to come up come up with a couple of good shots on match point, so I don’t feel I have that many regrets in that regard.  Obviously you feel like you left something out if you lose the match having had match point.

“Yeah, it wasn’t the final, so I’m not as disappointed it would have been the final.  That’s the only positive news to enjoy anything out of it.”

What was surprising, though, was the relative easy Djokovic had in the second and fourth sets, where Federer only managed one and two games, respectively. It may have been there, where the former US Open Champion lost the match, because it gave the Serbian a belief he could win.

“Oh, it was close in the fifth,” he said.  Unfortunately the second and fourth just kind of snuck away from me, I guess.  The 1‑All 40‑15 game for me was a tough one to take in the second set, because I thought momentum was completely on my side. I tried to play aggressive, not to give him too much rhythm, and it all came back at me.  I let him back in the match like that.

“At the end, it’s not easy, you know.  3‑All, 4‑All, 5‑All in the fifth, anything can happen.  That’s the good part, not the bad part, because it’s not purely in your control.”

“Sure, now looking back I missed a few too many forehands at the very end, but the match won’t be decided on winners only.  You can also see mistakes, and he pushed me to make those.  Credit to him.”

And so on a day where New York wanted to finally see the ultimate matchup of Federer vs. Nadal, the Djoker spoiled the plans. And now Gotham’s Dark Knight will have a rare early September Sunday off, while the world’s eyes will turn to Federer-free final for the first time since 2003.

Audio: Roger Federer Press Conference

Bob Trainor of Trainor Communications was at the US Open last night and provide the sound of the Roger Federer press conference after the Maestro beat 13th seed Jurgen Meltzer, 6-3 7-6 6-3.

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For more information contact Bob at trainorcomm@gmail.com.

The Roger Federer Video: Real of Fake?

Is it real or fake? That was the buzz at the US Open today. Roger Federer’s trick shot video has taken the world by storm and even the Maestro took notice.

“I couldn’t believe the amount of hits I got,” Federer said during the Open’s media day. “I’m happy, then, that so many people have seen it, liked it, and debated about it. I was shocked.”

For those who haven’t seen it, the video posted on You Tube shows Federer hitting a bottle off the head of a person, not just once, but twice in a row.

According to Federer it took “one or two takes … five, 10 minutes, and that was it. It was at one of the shoots I did after Wimbledon in Zurich, and we had a fun time doing it.”

So is it real of fake?

According to defending women’s champion Kim Clijsters:  “Let me just say that I would not hold that thing on my head even if it was Roger Federer. There’s your answer.”

Andy Murray was even blunter. Saying, “There is no way it is real.”

So is it real of fake? We will let you decide.

Federer Still Shows Class In Defeat

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Not much bad can be said about Roger Federer. Even in defeat, he was as gracious as ever and that’s even after the tough five-set loss in the US Open Finals in the Juan Martin Del Potro, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.

“I thought it was a tough match from the start,” Federer said. I think even the first set was, you know, pretty close. I think both getting used to the conditions. It was kind of tough starting around the 4:00 time because the shadows moving in and stuff.

“I got off to a pretty good start, and had things under control as well in the second set. I think that one cost me the match eventually. But I had many chances before that to make the difference. So it was tough luck today, but I you thought Juan Martin played great. I thought he hung in there and gave himself chances, and in the end was the better man.”

Federer just had a bad day. His serve was off and he had an uncharacteristic 62 unforced errors in the match as well as 11 double faults. Del Potro admitted his first set was nothing but nerves, and he caught himself in the second, which means the Maestro was having even a harder day than the score indicated.

“I thought I had him under control for the first two sets,” Federer said. “I should never have lost so many chances. It was just a pity. I think if I win the second set, I’m in a great position to come through. Unfortunately, I didn’t win that and that was it.”

Although he composed himself after the match was over, you have to believe Federer was frustrated. In the third after holding to make the score 5-4, he was caught by the television cameras cursing at the chair umpire about the allowance of Del Potro’s challenge. The five-time champion makes no bones about his disdain for the “Hawk-Eye” system used in replays. And this time was no different.

“You know, what I think about Hawk-Eye,” he said. “Shouldn’t be there in the first place. So then second question shouldn’t happen. It is what it is.”

As is Federer who is the same classy player win or lose. And this loss will mean nothing for his legacy. Federer is still the best ever, even with the 2009 record of 2-2 in Grand Slam finals.

“Unbelievable,” he said. “Unbelievable run. Being in all major finals and winning two of those, I’m losing the other two in five sets. Sure, I would have loved to win those two as well. Being so close, I think was two points from the match today. That’s the way it goes sometimes.

“But year has been amazing already and it’s not over yet. Got married and had kids, don’t know how much more I want.”

Federer Makes Another Open Final

Is there anything Roger Federer can’t do with a racket? They don’t call the men’s grand slam record holder The Maestro for nothing.

In advancing to another U.S. Open final where he’ll meet sixth seeded Juan Martin Del Potro for a chance to match Bill Tilden’s six consecutive titles, the world’s top player pulled out all the stops in an ultra competitive straight sets 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-5 win over a game fourth seeded Serb Novak Djokovic at Ashe this evening.

Sure. Djokovic pushed him by playing a very good match. Unfortunately, his best wasn’t enough to even get a set as Federer eliminated him a third consecutive year.

If all the talk centered around Serena Williams’ meltdown last night, at least it should be much more positive following Federer’s latest bag of tricks helping him get through in three against the former 2007 runner-up who he defeated.

Not much separated the two but Federer was just better on the bigger points coming back from a break to take a first set tiebreaker, clinching it with an easy putaway at the net.

In the opening set, the two players exchanged breaks in the sixth and seventh games with Djokovic unable to cement it playing a poor game in which his forehand let down frustrating the 22 year-old Serbian. He also would miss a routine backhand to go mini-break down at 2-4 which allowed a shaky Federer off the hook.

“Um, well I thought conditions were tough. It was sunny in the beginning from the one end. Hopefully the same thing tomorrow, you know, sunny,” the 15-time slam winner indicated.

“Then it got really gusty, and I think we both struggled early on with our rhythm. I think towards the end of the sets, you know, I got in some good returns, and that allowed me then to actually go after my shots a bit more.”

The second set was better with each combatant going stroke for stroke as they protected their serves. Djokovic did well from the baseline drawing some errors. But Federer hung in there with his serve finally up to speed. At the outset, the 28 year-old from Switzerland couldn’t make a first serve but that changes as the match went on with him near 60 percent while winning 78 percent (49 of 63). Djokovic also did well serving and winning at 68 percent on firsts.

Serving first, Federer kept the pressure on Nole by holding turning it into a similar match as his quarter win over Robin Soderling. The five-time reigning champ fared well at net winning 17 of 20 points in the middle frame. For the match, he converted 81 percent (29 of 36) to Djokovic’s 45 (9 of 20).

When there was any slight opening, each stepped up to hold with Federer holding for 6-5. Facing the prospect of another breaker, the opportunistic champion finally applied enough pressure on Djokovic’s serve to break for the second set. After he valiantly saved two break points, Nole couldn’t avoid the third thanks to some clutch shots from Federer.

First, a forehand winner got it back to Deuce. Then, with Djokovic looking to have the key point won at net, somehow he ran down a volley stabbing a low slice backhand which a stunned Djokovic netted. With the crowd urging on the underdog, there was little they could do when during a rally, Federer found the angle cracking his signature forehand down the line for a two set lead letting out an emphatic scream.

In grand slam history, Federer had never blown a two set lead. To his credit, Djokovic didn’t give up fighting hard in an entertaining third set that saw some splendid rallies including a 23 stroke one that the taller Serb ended with a forehand smack on the line which he successfully won on a challenge. If he didn’t win on the scoreboard, he certainly had much better success going six for seven on challenges with the end result of that rally resulting in grins on both players.

There also was an amazing point where Djokovic played great defense at the net continuing to get back half a dozen volleys before Federer closed with a forehand pass which the charismatic Serb bowed in the opposite direction to get out of the way.

“I’m kind of player who likes the emotions and very temperamental on the court. You didn’t see a lot of racquet throwing, but it could have been a lot    a lot    today, especially because I knew that I was so close of winning all three sets, and then just a couple of points decided, you know,” Djokovic remarked.

“But if you ask me if I had fun today and enjoy it, yes, I did, absolutely.”

Indeed, a player who lost the fans last year following mistimed remarks after a quarter win over Andy Roddick won them back with how he conducted himself. Though he probably wished ‘tennis partner’ John McEnroe was back out on the court instead of Federer.

“I had the feeling that I was close all three sets, and it’s just that when I get close, when I am able to get to the breakpoints or I’m up a break, I just start making some unforced errors,” lamented Djokovic.

“And I don’t want to mention the word luck, but I didn’t have it today. That’s why I’m a little bit disappointed.”

Each player fought hard in another tight set with both saving break points including a pair Djokovic saved that would’ve given Federer 5-3 and a chance to serve for it.

Unfortunately, he couldn’t push it to a tiebreak with the Sampras-like Federer finally getting him again in the 12th game breaking him at love.

It was how he got to match point that was most impressive. Already up Love-30, Federer hustled down a Djokovic lob volley and pulled off the shot of the tournament going to a between the legs winner which sailed by a shocked Djokovic who could only smile for triple match point to a thunderous ovation.

The shot even amazed the winner who when asked about it by CBS’ Mary Joe Fernandez, referred to it as “the greatest shot I’ve ever hit,” to chuckles.

“He just gets on the court and he wants to play his best and win more. That’s what makes him even more dangerous. That’s why he plays even better,” Djokovic said while alluding to the record and Federer’s recent marriage to Mirka and the twins as settling him down.

“Look, I mean, I think I’ve always been pretty relaxed on the court, just because, you know, I don’t get too crazy anymore about great shots, bad shots, because I know I have so many more points and games and matches to play in my life,” Federer replied while also acknowledging that Mirka’s pregnancy and the twins healthy made it easier.

Fittingly, he won with another nice shot punctuating it with a return forehand winner and a raise of the arms before Djokovic congratulated him as they shared a laugh about what had occurred.

“I mean, that shot that he hit, you saw the reaction of the crowd. I mean, what can I explain,” Djokovic added.

But it was funny, on these shots, you know, you just say, Well done; too good. What can you do?”

“You know, that’s not the goal here. You have to play smart,” Federer said.

“That’s why I still feel the pressure, but it just doesn’t show. I definitely enjoy tennis so much that I think that’s what gives me that sense of calm really, I think.”

With a career grand slam and the record in his hip pocket, Federer now can take aim at matching Tilden when he takes on his sixth different opponent in Del Potro tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM on CBS.

“It will be absolutely amazing. It’s something I wasn’t able to do in Wimbledon, even though I was so close. So I hope things go well for me. I’m feeling great. I really hope I can do it.”