Roger Federer: Tilting Windmills

Federer On A Very Windy Evening on Ashe
Thierry Henry was in the house last evening.

Last night's quarterfinal between Soderling and Federer, highlighted among many things - the sheer versatility of the Swiss.

Within the first ten minutes of the match, here is something perhaps a not so surprising tale.

An extremely close call was referred to hawk-eye (after the linesman called it out), Federer's ball was literally millimeters within the line, and Soderling had a play on it but he hit out out. Hawk-eye ruled the ball in, and instead of replaying the point, Pascal Maria automatically awarded the point to Federer. In Pascal's opinion the call did not affect Soderling's shot. Disgruntled Robin, walked to the chair umpire and on his walk back, he turned to Federer for a fleeting moment, and quipped, "Do you want it?' (as in, do you want the point this way). Federer was impasse.

How many players of today you think would do that ?  Not because of some outer world respect or anything for Federer, but simply because "why would one do that?'. Soderling does do that - just to get a bit personal .... get the competitive juices going.

Windy conditions exacerbate the situation, more so inside the cauldron of Ashe when compared to other courts (I dont know why this is actually, ?)

The trade wind bowl of Ashe was anything but conducive to playing tennis last night. It completely prevented both of them from playing with freedom, Soderling was affected more because he is more one dimensional out of the two.

If you can sense the nuances - you can see why Federer is quite simply, a stud. He quite simply accepted the fact that he is going to shank and make mistakes, and did not get ruffled. He continued on, sometimes its hard to not get frustrated even when you know that the ambient conditions prevent you from playing at the level you know you can. His body language seemed extraordinarily relaxed.

The crucial thing under such gusts is to not allow your racket head speed to decrease, and Federer was very conscious of the same throughout the three sets - even when he shanked regulation forehands. Federer hit more shots towards the vertical T, than in any other match - gave himself more margin for error than on regular days. Soderling for his part, also gave himself more margin for error.

At around 3-3 in the third, Federer had an opportunity to drill one through straight into Soderling at the net (Lendl - to J'Mac remember), but it was classy that he took the down the line curver (which he missed eventually) instead.

Make no mistake, Robin did not lose this match, Federer won it fair and square simply because of his impeccable adaptation to ambient conditions.

Most interestingly ... look at the mechanics of his shots last night.

On regular days when you see Federer hit a forehand, the most striking thing is the "snap" at the point of connection after which the ball comes off his racket with laser like precision and with maximum velocity.

Yesterday, time and again - it looks like that very "point of contact" - the "S-N-A-P" was slowed down by times hundred. He did not hit it as much he he guided it last night, giving himself more time and more margin, the ball still came off his strings beautifully, but with less velocity and more directional consistency.

The match was never under control, but Federer managed a quite intractable situation, until he went down 3-5 in the third.

Soderling should have held to take the third set, but the conditions played havoc again. Federer would eventually survive 4, 4 and 5.

We thought (and quite correctly) that Soderling's serve holds the key for him to push Federer. Yeah, one of the biggest servers in the world clocked two aces, to Federer's 16 - thats also a true testament to how effective Federer was in getting back those almost impossible flat hard curvers (and) Robin simply served poor.

And Federer had 5/6 converion rate on break points. Make no mistake, this was Quentin Tarantino's - Pulp Fiction. In other words, A Masterpiece.

Federer won today, simply because of his sense of adaptation to anything that a tennis match and opponent can throw at him, from both inside and outside the court. Today, he literally tilted windmills successfully.

Cant wait for his Second Saturday date with the Jokester.

--- Keep Rockin, Long John Silver


  1. Cool post.

    Astute observation about not letting the racquet head-speed off and at the same time bringing down the velocity of the wrist snap. Federer uses a windshield-wiper Eastern Grip forehand - the snap through the ball gives the pace and the wiper action where the racquet bends a bit lower in it's trajectory from the Eastern so as to pull it upwards at time of contact lends it the bigger racquet head-speed and spin. So same head-speed and less "snap" would mean more margin for error. Point out if I am wrong.

    Do you see "revenge" written in that match? I think Roger was serving in the late 60s for his first serve percentage.

    The better athlete wins in bad conditions - you have to not only control your stroke mechanics but also your footwork.

    In the end as you point out Federer was at his best not only in what he himself does best, but also in what LeSod is supposed to do best.


  2. yeah - thanks for that, I still want a 'simple' explanation from you on the difference between west, ext-west and east grips on FH .... and their pros and cons if you dont mind

    no - i really believe he plays for playing, am pretty sure revenge was not in the vicinity

    winning was ...

    PS: I feel let down there are not POTD's or else i wud ve gotten one for this, NO ?

  3. So same head-speed and less "snap" would mean more margin for error -

    True That

  4. Ah POTDs - that is the dark side of the force. A jedi shouldn't let himself be tempted.

    Yeah, you def. would have gotten a bucket load of "Like"s but I think they don't have POTDs anymore there - everything is based on the number of reads.

    I have sent a mail to you on what I think is right about the grips.