LONDON -- With the top defensive players increasingly getting the better of him often in recent years, Roger Federer would like to speed up the game of tennis.
Or at least the courts the matches are played on.
Federer lost to Novak Djokovic in the final of the season-ending ATP finals on Monday, and then praised the top-ranked Serb's ability to retrieve so many shots and keep the ball in play. That's a trait Djokovic shares with Federer's other two biggest rivals -- Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray -- and the Swiss star said attacking play doesn't always reap the benefits it deserves even on hard courts because they're often slower than they used to be.
"It's an easy fix. Just make quicker courts, then it's hard to defend," Federer said. "Attacking style is more important. It's only on this type of slow courts that you can defend the way we are all doing right now."
Monday's final at the O2 Arena had a familiar feel to it. Federer did most of the attacking, trying to dictate play with his forehand and aggressive shot making. But Djokovic, as he often does, kept finding ways to get the ball back over the net and was sharper on the key points.
Federer won the first nine points of the match and was up an early break in both sets, but Djokovic recovered to win 7-6 (6), 7-5.
Federer was the two-time defending champion in London and emphasized that he was happy with this court, calling it one of the faster indoor surfaces on the circuit. He said slower courts are also good for long rallies -- which are a big crowd pleaser -- but that having more variety in the surfaces would force players to learn to be more aggressive.
"What you don't want is that you hit 15 great shots and at the end, it ends up in an error," he said. "So I think sometimes quicker courts do help the cause. I think it would help from time to time to move to something a bit faster. That would help to learn, as well, for many different players, different playing styles, to realize that coming to the net is a good thing, it's not a bad thing."
Federer has won a record-equaling seven Wimbledon titles on grass, the quickest surface, but has only one French Open title on the slower clay, where Nadal has repeatedly thwarted him.
Djokovic and Murray also rely heavily on their great defensive abilities, which have helped set them apart from the rest of the pack.
Having more tournaments played on faster surfaces could make it easier for other players to challenge the sport's "Big Four," Federer said, adding that he wasn't sure tournament directors would necessarily buy into that.
"I think some variety would be nice, some really slow stuff and then some really fast stuff, instead of trying to make everything sort of the same," he said. "You sort of protect the top guys really by doing that because you have the best possible chance to have them in the semis at this point, I think. But should that be the goal? I'm not sure."
Djokovic said his strategy against Federer is usually to try and extend the rallies and hope for an opportunity.
"He's somebody that is very aggressive, that likes to finish points very quickly," Djokovic said. "But I managed to get a lot of shots back into the court, being passive, a couple meters behind the baseline. ... That was one of the goals tonight, to always try to get him into the longer rallies where I think I had the better chance."
Replies to This Discussion
"Attacking is more important", says Fed. I know when I used to play attacking tennis, I'd want to be rewarded for it. :)
Faster Courts would make Fed lose more i think. Think of the old saying, be carefully of what you wish for... you might get.
I agree in that Fed's backhand would be overwhelmed even more. They would just keep serving to it and hitting heavier and faster inside out forehands to it.
Fed oughtta work on getting more on his first serve and concentrating on adding more drive aspect to his backhand. No more interviews. Everything top secret.
I would love to have Fed's bh, he he he! I'm sure it's extremely effective at the club level, and might even be more potent than my fh. But essentially, Fed is saying "please cater to my perceived strengths, and take away the advantage that some of this younger guys worked hard to obtain (defensive skills)." I dunno, smells to me like Fed is hinting that he can't keep up anymore.
There is so much subtext to what Fed says, some intended and some subconsciously felt perhaps by him. He made alot of errors off both sides, but he doesn't generate frightening offense off the backhand wing. He probably is requesting tournaments cater to him, just as Nadal has called for more clay and natural courts to cater to him.
Tim did you know he wins 91% of his service games, third behind Izzie and Raonic, I think his serve is fine and quicker court would help it. He has been working on being more aggressive with placement of both wings, and I personally think his BH is sweet, one cannot have all the weapons. ATP slowed up all the courts over the last 2 decades and look at which players benifited, time to have fast, medium , and slow courts so all styles can develop.
Well, I guess I am thinking Fed serve against the great Djokovic return and the steady Murray return. Then there's Fed's backhand against the Djoko and Nadal forehands. Even Murray is starting to peck at the backhand.
It's gonna cost alot to construct all these courts. Should come out of Fed's wallet. lol
Naw, they are already in place. Next time they resurface Aussie Open little less grip, Wimbledon can be put back to old grass height, indoor carpet can be what ever they want. Keep the clay courts the same. It really is amazing how much a slight change in court speed and balls can change these guys games, remember French when no rain and dry and Soderling was rolling everyone, courts were fast and all the clay court boys were begging them to water them more.
Oh, and we need to understand that Murray, Nadal, and Joko are three of the best returners and players of all-time(Murray not quite yet). Fed just needs to do what he does and look at his trophy case and realize he is the sickest, silkiest player ever, we all fall off some as we get older.
In 2001, Wimbledon tore out all its courts and planted a new variety of groundcover. The new grass was 100% perennial rye; the old courts had been a mix of 70% rye and 30% creeping red fescue. The new lawn was more durable, and allowed Wimbledon's groundsmen to keep the soil underneath drier and firmer. A firmer surface causes the ball to bounce higher. A high bounce is anathema to the serve-and-volley player, who relies on approach shots skidding low through the court. What's more, rye, unlike fescue, grows in tufts that stand straight up; these tufts slow a tennis ball down as it lands.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1815724,00.html#ix...
Well, I still think Fed can tweak that backhand to have more drive. He has nothing to lose, since he has all the records and trophies already. Alot of his fans are tired of seeing him lose points on that side. Do it for himself, the fans, and the next few years. ;)
Yeah, would be interesting to see, but most pros are creatures of habit and usually don't like to overhaul their game, unless your Andy Roddick. I actually thought Roger's BH looked great at times in London, but as a fellow one hander it's just a matter of time that those high BH's wear you down and his chip returns don't really help.