Notes from the North

Let's do the math:

1. Potential GOAT Roger Federer lost to Jo Wilfried Tsonga 3-0 in the French Open quarters;

2. The said Tsonga lost 3-0 to Spaniard David Ferrer in the semis;

3. Ferrer then went out and lost 3-0 to Rafael Nadal in the French Open Final.

4. That should mean that, if Federer played Nadal today on clay, he would lose... what 9-0? 27-0?

Tennis is a strange game. According to the math, Federer doesn't even belong on the same clay court as Nadal.

And yet, he really does. Even in his current finding-it-hard-to-maintain-focus state, Federer can still hang with Nadal.

Beat Nadal?

Well, I'm a huge Federer fan but even I can't see how today's Roger would beat today's Nadal, unless a lot of things went right for him and wrong for the Majorican.

And I'm not sure it's really a matter of age. Federer is still pretty young. And his skills haven't diminished.

I just think, as I have argued before, his COMMITMENT and his FOCUS are the weak parts of his game.

It's not surprising, really, is it? He's got nothing more to prove. He's won everything; he's generally considered one of the greatest, if not THE greatest, of all time.

What could possibly make him go out every day and work as hard as he must to keep up with Nadal, Djokovic and Murray? He doesn't need the money. He doesn't need more titles. He doesn't need an ego boost.

And, when life is so good, what could possibly make him focus for the three to five hours it takes to win a match against the other top players? Nadal, Djoko and Murray can take you out of a match if you lose focus for even 20 minutes.

So, apparently, can Tsonga, Ferrer and many other of the so-called second-tier players.

Fed has too much else on his mind, and too little left to prove, to stay committed, stay focused long enough to win some matches, not to mention some titles.

Rafa still has stuff to accomplish: he hasn't won more Majors than anyone else in history; he is still struggling to be recognised as one of the true GOATs in the men's game; even as he's establishing his claim to the GOAT title, he's facing stiff competition from Djokovic and Murray in particular.

Djoko is just just starting to emerge from the shadows of Federer and Nadal so he's got plenty to keep him committed and focused.

And Murray, well, he's working his tale off to make his breakthrough from the fourth Musketeer to the big show.

On the women's side, Serena Williams continues to fight, continues to focus, because she has not yet been recognised as the all-time best. In my opinion, she is the greatest of all time but others still throw around Navratilova, Graf, and others as competition for her.

Federer? He's got nothing left to work for.

And when the difference in a match, in a tournament, might just be that final half-hour of practice per day on the court, that last set of squats, those last 100 balls hit in practice, that commitment to winning and that focus on the ultimate goal, Roger Federer is at a distinct disadvantage.

Would he lose to Nadal 3-0 every time as the math seems to indicate? No way. But will we ever see Federer beat Nadal (or even Djokovic) again? I'm not so sure.


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