Roger Federer Concludes Another Magical Run With Wimbledon Title #8 Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Roger Federer hasn’t dropped a set since he began his run to the title in Halle, and he just finished up the grass court season with Wimbledon title #8, and Grand Slam title #19 (his second of the season), thumping Marin Cilic in another magical performance 6-3 6-1 6-4 in less than two hours. Cilic, playing in a second slam final, was never really in the match, he was broken twice in the first set, twice in the second set, and once in the third set. By contrast, he only generated one break point chance the entire match, and that came early in the first set, as the Croatian seemed nervous facing the 35 year old legend, while Federer eased his way into the match and finished smooth as silk, with 23 winners. Federer won three quarters of his points on serve, while Cilic’s own serve was much weaker in the match, despite serving him well all tournament.
Federer moved to 31-2 on the season, as his tournament run saw straight set wins against Alexandr Dolgopolov, Dusan Lajovic, Mischa Zverev, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, and Tomas Berdych, who was playing well defeating Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem in previous rounds. Cilic beat Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer, Steve Johnson, and Roberto Bautista Agut, Gilles Muller required five sets, and Sam Querrey required four for him to reach the final.
Muller had upset Rafael Nadal in the previous round, clearing a possible hurdle for Federer, while Querrey knocked out defending champion Andy Murray, who didn’t appear fit, and succumbed to Querrey’s powerful groundstrokes.
Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo won a classic doubles final, 13-11 in the fifth set over Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, as the veterans celebrated with the joy of first time pros after their victory.
It was a three-peat in Paris for world #1 Novak Djokovic who captured his sixth Masters 1000 title, and tenth overall title of the season, with a routine 6-2 6-4 victory over Andy Murray, the current world #3. It’s been the year of Novak as he moves to 78-5 on the season with one tournament left to play (the World Tour Finals in London), and reached the final of every tournament he entered, save the ATP Doha tournament at the start of the season. Djokovic also reached eight Masters 1000 finals (6-2 record in those finals), and is the first player to accomplish that momentous feat.
Djokovic faced a pair of tough matches before the final, winning his quarterfinal over Tomas Berdych in a pair of tiebreaks, and defeating his rival Stan Wawrinka with a third set bagel after a pair of hard fought sets. The win over Berdych was the first time Djokovic had won an ATP match without breaking his opponents serve. He also notched routine wins over Thomaz Bellucci and Gilles Simon in his first two matches.
Murray posted his best ever result in the Paris Masters with a pair of crushing wins over Borna Coric and David Goffin, followed by a nip and tuck three set win over home Frenchman Richard Gasquet and a straight set victory over an outmatched David Ferrer. Murray is now 9-0 after the US Open against opponents other than Novak Djokovic. The Brit will be leading his country in the Davis Cup final against Goffin and Belgium in just a couple of weeks.
Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo stopped the World Tour Finals qualification bid of Jack Sock and Vasek Pospisil 2-6 6-3 10-5, as the veteran pairing made it three titles together on the season.
The singles players qualifying for the World Tour Finals in London are Djokovic, Murray, Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal, Tomas Berdych, David Ferrer, and Kei Nishikori with Richard Gasquet as the first alternate in the #9 race to London spot. The youngest player is 25 (Nishikori) and four of the eight contestants are over the age of 30.
The doubles teams qualifying are Bob and Mike Bryan, Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau, Jamie Murray/John Peers, Dodig/Melo, Simone Bolelli/Fabio Fognini, Pierre-Hugues Herbert/Nicolas Mahut, Marcin Matkowski/Nenad Zimonjic and Rohan Bopanna/Florian Mergea, with Pospisil/Sock and Bruno Soares/Alexander Peya coming up just short. Only Bolelli and Fognini are top tier ATP singles players, and the rest of the contestants are best at doubles.
Few believed in Stan Wawrinka, myself included, at the start of the second week of Roland Garros 2015, but he dazzled all comers with his array of powerful, spinning forehands and backhands, and captured his second career Grand Slam title over the world #1 Novak Djokovic, who was gunning for a career grand slam, and his second slam of 2015.
Wawrinka came out rather cagey against Djokovic, who took the first set with superior execution, it was a close 6-4 with Wawrinka earning just one break point chance, and after the first set it was clear this match had all the makings of a classic just like their other five setters at the US Open and at the Australian Open. Wawrinka would fire back to win the next three sets, his backhand damaged Djokovic, making him stretch out and throwing off of his rhythm, as Novak was hitting shots that sat up into the hot zone for Wawrinka.
The Djokovic serve slipped up as he started to surrender break point opportunities (14 over the last three sets), while he broke just one other time in the match, a break Wawrinka clawed back in the 4th set. The match seemed destined for a fifth, even after Stan won the second and third sets, but Djokovic collapsed under pressure, and Wawrinka rose to the occasion, playing his peak game of power hitting baseline to baseline. It worked on the Roland Garros clay, and after coming in as a huge underdog, Wawrinka leaves Paris as a well deserved champion, having turned around his 2015 season and made it into something memorable.The final scoreline was 4-6 6-4 6-3 6-4, as Wawrinka mostly dominated the last three frames in a surprise.
Prior to that, Wawrinka routined Gilles Simon on home soil in straight sets, and then he shocked his countryman Roger Federer, who came out cold, and never got hot in their quarterfinal. Wawrinka’s power flummoxed Federer and he never seemed comfortable against his good friend, Fed certainly tried, but he was lacking passion and spirit in his game, unlike in the previous round where he beat his rival Gael Monfils in 4 sets. In the semis Wawrinka surrendered a multitude of break point chances to surprise semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who was gunning for his second career grand slam final, but Tsonga failed to convert them as he won just won set off the Swiss and lost in four sets.
Prior to that, Jo had upset both Tomas Berdych and Kei Nishikori, ending their hopes in four and five sets respectively. Against Nishikori, Tsonga came out hot and won the first two sets, only to face a delay after a portion of the scoreboard in the stadium fell in the stands, he then lost the next two sets but rebounded to take the fifth.
The path for Djokovic went through Richard Gasquet as he beat the Frenchman with ease, and then he went through Rafael Nadal like a hot knife through butter, coming out hot, and playing unrelenting tennis against the king of clay. Rafa never really had a chance after losing the first set, and a disappointing 2015 clay court season ended with a whimper for him in the quarterfinal, as he lost for just the second time at Roland Garros.
In the semis Djokovic beat Andy Murray, who was in his third career RG semi, and playing his best ever tennis on clay. Djokovic was up two sets to love rather routinely, like most of their h2h meetings before Murray came alive, he started to win the long baseline rallies, and he took the third set. They went into the fourth neck and neck before the match was called due to impending thunderstorms. Saturday morning it resumed, and Murray promptly took the fourth set, but Djokovic redlined his game and slammed the door in the 5th, winning it 6-3 6-3 5-7 5-7 6-1, as it was a tale of two days of tennis. Murray previously beat Jeremy Chardy and David Ferrer to reach the semis, both in four sets.
Djokovic has to be questioning himself right now, after an incredibly strong 2015 where hardly anyone could beat him, he collapsed under pressure and fell to the blitzing power of Wawrinka, even after getting past Nadal, and Murray on clay. When it mattered, gunning for a title he had never won before, he couldn’t get the job done, and one has to wonder if his results could suffer the rest of the season out of mental anguish. He still is the world #1, and the probable favorite for Wimbledon, and the US Open, not to mention the remaining masters, but Wawrinka, Murray, and even Federer and Nishikori are still going to give him all he can handle and try to push him.
Wawrinka cemented that he’s been a totally different player since 2013, and with his second slam, he’s moved himself into the pinnacle of great players, rather than just a one-hit wonder. He always had the ability, and he remains a streaky player, but he showed once again he has the tenacity and the fire in the belly to win a two week tournament, that is best of five sets, not to mention he has won slams on two surfaces now.
Given Federer’s legendary status, he will never outgrow his shadow, but he deserves respect of his own, not as an also-ran anymore, but as a true star on the ATP tour, his backhand is a remarkable weapon, and the effortless power he hits with is envious. He’s far from a spring chicken at 30 years old, but he should have at least two, possibly 3-4 good years left on tour where his ranking should stay in the top 10.
Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, a successful veteran pairing upset the Bryan brothers for the doubles title. In mixed doubles American Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who won the women’s doubles title as well, won the title with her partner Mike Bryan over Lucie Hradecka/Marcin Matkowski.