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Roger Federer Loses to Novak Djokovic in Straight Sets at Dubai 500 Final

Cliff PotterCorrespondent IFebruary 26, 2011

Old foes by now, Djokovic has the upper hand.
Old foes by now, Djokovic has the upper hand.Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

Roger Federer gave up after losing 6-3 in the first set. An early break for Novak Djokovic meant an uphill climb that Federer seems to be unable to achieve these days.

The match ended similar to other recent losses. After Federer went up 3-1 in the second set, Djokovic seemed unbreakable after Federer missed an easy overhead smash in the next game. It was like so many mistakes recently—Federer misses his opportunity and the play runs away from him.

At the moment, there is little question who is No. 1 in the world. Djokovic seems able to reach for the right moves against Federer and—with Rafael Nadal out indefinitely—seems quite capable of running the table this year.

After 21 games between these two opponents, the rivalry is nothing like before. In years past, Federer had Djokovic's number; it seemed that the big points went Federer's way. Now, the 23-year-old has seemingly matured into the world's best, at least until Nadal proves he can make a final and whisk him away.

Rarely coming to the net, Djokovic relies principally on hitting the corners or the right spot consistently. He owns the mental part of the game. True, Nadal has the right moves and mentality. However, Djokovic seems physically more capable than anyone else currently on tour, and his age is to his advantage.

While little has been said about the time of the match, it seems almost certain that night matches do not favor Federer. As one ages, one's vision is not as sharp as in the past. It is a well-known fact that teenagers function best at night, and require little sleep. Consequently, it stands to reason that night matches are better for younger competitors.

This may be no excuse at all. But for now, without further study, we should at least find all the weaknesses that are Federer's, who may never win another major.

The greatest weakness is the lack of ease that Federer once possessed. Few players have ever shown this exceptional ability to easily flick at the ball and place it precisely where the player wants.

This is not Djokovic, who seems to rely at times more on mistakes than the precision of a well-placed ball. I don't point this out, however, to take anything away from his excellent placement.

Still, the world has not seen a player with Federer's graceful racquet play of yesteryear. Not today. His strokes are more halting and uncertain.

The future for Djokovic could not get any brighter. His play is more constrained, relying less on movement than on placement, less on finesse as on brute strength. There will be few quickly drawn breaths with him.

And so he will go down as another of a long line of players whose play stirred little excitement but merely many wins.

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