Monday, January 21, 2008


The biggest thing to take a way from Tipsarevic's near upset of Federer is not that you have to play your best to beat him, but that you only have to play better than him on the day. You see, one of the advantages of being the best in the world for 4 years is that your opponents tend to feel they have to beat your legacy, and to do that, unless you've got a legacy of your own, you have to "play your best."

Truth is, Roger committed 64 unforced errors in 5 sets, which is a pretty high number of errors, and as such, a good player with a pedigree like Berdych or Blake probably doesn't have to play his absolute best to beat him on a day like that. In fact, if you just play solid tennis, and put him under some pressure by attacking the net, flattening your strokes, and pinning him behind the baseline, you may get an even better result than Tipsarevic.

But take a look at a couple of quotes from James Blake, AFTER Fed's encounter with Tipsy:

"Every time I've stepped out on the court with him I've felt IF I PLAY MY BEST, I give myself A SHOT with anyone in the world."

"Just Janko taking him to 10-8 in the fifth shows that it doesn't matter who you are, YOU CAN PLAY YOUR BEST AND TAKE HIM TO THE LIMIT. You know, a couple breaks here and there, that obviously could have been Janko's match."

Now, here are Tipsy's comments:

"...he's not giving too many chances in the match...and if you don't have this complete positive attitude that you've earned this chance and then you're going to take it, there's a huge percentage that you're going to choke or [over-hit]".

"...with him, and with Rafa, I felt that the game is really point after point."

"Tactially I was prepared, talked to Novak before the match and with my coach, had an idea, had a game plan..."

Nothing in that quote about having to play your best, and having "a shot". Furthermore, Tipsarevic had a game plan, which means he had an idea of how he was going to win the match beyond, playing his best, which nobody can ever guarantee.

The idea here is that:
  1. You have to have an idea of how you're going to win beyond just playing your socks off
  2. Your game plan has to include a way to bring out the worst in your opponent, no matter who he is
  3. You have to stick to the game plan if it works and/or change it if doesn't
We all know what happens when Blake thinks he has to play his best - he panics and over hits... a lot.  But really, all Blake has to do is play better than Federer on the day. If he starts playing Fed's pedigree instead of the match, I think it's lights out for Blakey...again.
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