Jo Wilfried Tsonga – now there’s a name one could learn to love hearing on a podium. “The Great Jo Willie!”
I’m sure every respectable tennis aficionado saw what Jo Willie - I love saying that - did to Mr. Federer in Montreal. He played the way I’ve been saying you need to play to beat Federer for years: “Balls to the wall” - as we say in surfing, loving every minute of it, aggressive, none of this “showing Federer’s game respect” mentality.
Jo Willie went out there swinging, hit with his incredible power and unfettered movement, and took the match to Roger. This match had the feel of a Waterloo, Roger came knowing he was going to have tough time but he didn’t expect the kind of weaponry that for once Tsonga brought to the match in its entirety.
Federer has every shot in the book. He’s powerful and consistent. He’s Roger Federer -‘nough said. But the players that beat Fed are the physical ones. They seem to intimidate him. Nadal has been showing the way for years - you’ve got to be physically stronger than him, and some of the guys are finally figuring this out.
Murray is catching on, though it took getting over his teenage petulance to finally settle down and look outside of his prodigious talent to find the answer: Fitness.
If you want to beat Fed you’ve got to show him you can stand toe to toe, not play from 4 yards behind the base line. I’ve screamed at Roddick on my TV a million times to step up to the baseline instead of trying stand next to the ball girls when he’s playing Fed. Though knowing The Rod-man’s reputation with the ladies, maybe there is something else going on back in the nether reaches of the courts…
I’ve taken a lot of flak for saying that I didn’t think Federer had a single big weapon, but that everything he did was on such a high level, and I think I’m being proven right. Jo Willie proved he had bigger weapons. The only other time I have seen Roger Federer so shell shocked was last year at the French Open when Nadal decimated him.
So in the end, who are the guys that have chance against the Fed Express?
Murray: He is in superb shape, but does he have the weaponry and mental strength to take down Federer in a GS final?
Roddick: Again, superb physical shape and he has the weaponry, but he’s carrying that 2-19 monkey on his back.
Djokovic: Not a chance in Hell. He’s got to figure things out, and his game is in crisis. I’m beginning to question his desire.
Del Potro: Kind of a question mark, as the wheels fell off in Montreal. I don’t think he has it yet for the US Open, but he does have the weapons, and as long as his very tall body doesn’t fall apart he could do well in the future. He’s still young yet and it remains to be seen if he has durability.
Jo Willie: This guy could be the next number one if he can just keep his body in one piece. There’s not a guy out there that can beat him when he’s healthy.
Nadal: Man, I don’t know what to think. Is he faking it, trying to set up a US Open win to get his Career Slam or is he just on his way out? This is a tough one to read.
So, who else out there has a chance?