Federer’s Back Problem

I’m back guys. I missed a post this week when Roger played against De Bakker so I owe you one. But since I have some time and the subject of this post is an important one, I probably would have made this post regardless. Roger’s back. That’s right. Roger’s back is something that has bothered him for a long time now. In fact it may have always bothered him. I read somewhere that it has been a problem for him since he was a kid. That makes sense because it definitely is not an injury. It’s not an injury that he picked up somewhere that can be treated and healed. It is similar to Nadal’s knee issue. It’s a chronic problem. I used to have lower back problems when I was playing tennis too. It wasn’t something that I could ever get rid of. It was just something I had to live with and manage as well as I could.

I think this is the case for Roger too. I am not speaking from an expert point of view and I don’t have all the facts about Roger’s back, just for the record. But this is what seems to be the case judging from what I have seen from Roger over the years and from my own experience with back problems too. I don’t think this is something he will ever get rid of completely. He will just have to manage it as well as he can. Give it adequate rest and treatment and try to make the muscles stronger where there is a weakness. The back muscles is very important for a tennis player. There is a lot of twisting and turning and stretching going on. It is also important on the serve where Roger’s problem seems to be. This goes back to my last post where I just could not explain Roger’s performance against Benneteau until one of my readers left a comment.

The comment said that Annacone mentioned Roger had been struggling with his back throughout the week in Rotterdam. Also I read somewhere that Roger had not practiced for Rotterdam until last Sunday. On top of that he was playing with two shirts in Melbourne in his last two matches as far as I can remember. So I think it’s pretty safe to say he was having problems with his back against Benneteau. So yes my post was off base to a certain extent. But if you have been following my blog for a long time you will know that I am similar to Roger in many ways. First of all I am very honest, and like Roger I don’t ever look for excuses. Roger never mentioned anything about his back in his presser. I have a lot of respect for that. He was rather looking at where he went wrong and crediting his opponent, rather than blaming his back. This is the attitude of a true champion.

But there is no doubt in my mind now that his injury caused him to lose. When you are injured you can’t give 100%, and that would perfectly explain why Roger looked like he was lacking his usual passion. That injury is always in the back of your mind because you don’t want to make it worse. That would also explain Roger’s body language. He looked kind of nonchalant, like he was almost in exho mode. Come to think of it, my last post wasn’t really of base. Like Roger, my approach has always been to criticize myself first and then look for excuses. It may seem like I am being too harsh on myself or on Roger, but that is just the way I do things. Now that I know about the back problem it is obvious to me the fault is not with Roger, I am going to say it. I have total faith in Roger 3.0 and I know he is not going to put in a performance like this if there wasn’t a serious problem.

Roger with some fans in Rotterdam. Funny look on his face.

On the one side I am happy to have found an explanation for his loss against Benneteau, but on the other hand his back worries me somewhat. If he didn’t practice until Sunday it means he had two weeks rest after Melbourne where he could have gotten treatment for his back. Yet it still bothered him all week according to Annacone. I thought Roger made a great start to the season in Melbourne and he was primed to win Rotterdam. So his back is certainly not helping his momentum at the start of the season. Rotterdam is one of the few indoor events and those are the ones Roger really needs to cash in on. Also, the excuses about his family and not caring about smaller events really need to stop. I think Roger has proven that his family is not an obstacle in his tennis career. If anything it makes him better.

Also he clearly cares about the smaller events. Why else would he have won 5 of them last year? They are important to help him keep his ranking and to give him an unbeatable aura, so that when he goes into the slams it makes things easier for him. I said in my last post that he may have to play Miami, but now that I heard about his back that will probably not be a good idea. With his back problems a limited schedule is even more important. Next up for him is Dubai in about a week where he is defending another title, and then a week later he is also defending his title in Indian Wells. I hear Murray won’t be in Dubai so I hope Roger can make at least the final there so that we can have a Djokerer final. I really hope his back will be better for Dubai, but I guess there are no guarantees. I suppose as Roger gets older his back is becoming more of an issue too.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. We will just have to wait and see. Maybe it will bother him more from now on. Maybe it won’t. We can just hope for the best. As for the Rotterdam final Del Potro beat Benneteau 7-6(2), 6-3. I wasn’t interested in watching. I was more interested in the Sao Paolo final where Nadal was facing Nalbandian. I thought Nalbandian had a good chance winning this after an impressive win over Almagro in the quarters. But he got hammered 6-2, 6-3 by Nadal in the final. It was disappointing and I guess Nadal is not doing badly on his comeback, although he has been looking vulnerable. He lost against Zeballos in the Vina del Mar final and have been dropping sets all over the place. He was also doing his usual ‘I’m not the favorite’ thing before the Sao Paolo final and then goes on to destroy his opponent.

Also he complained about the surface speed before the final, saying Sao Paolo is faster than the US Open. So his downplaying his own chances combined with excuses seemed to work to the tee for him as he scooped up another clay title and $2 mil in appearance fees. I guess it’s really tough being Nadal with all the injury problems he has had and the ATP conspiring against him by making all the courts slower these days. Well it hasn’t exactly been the weekend of tennis I’ve been hoping for but at least we know Roger had a good reason for losing now. Lets hope his back is ready for Dubai!

Rotterdam QF: Benneteau Shocks Federer 6-3, 7-5

Hello guys. Not what we wanted, is it? This was an especially disappointing loss from Roger for me since I had three days off in which I could watch some tennis for a change. I joined the match at 6-3, 3-1 for Benneteau, after which Benneteau held serve to take a 4-1 lead in the second set. I had overslept my alarm clock and after seeing the scoreline I was glad I did. I could hardly believe my eyes. I thought Roger would want to make it clear that the Wimbledon match against Benneteau was an anomaly and beat Benneteau soundly. But of course I forgot about the Olympics since I could not watch it, and there he destroyed Benneteau 6-2, 6-2. Anyway it looked like I joined the match at exactly the right time, because Roger broke back to love at 2-4. I was convinced I was Roger’s lucky charm. But how did Roger end up in this position to begin with?

He got broken in the first game of the match and Benneteau was obviously feeling the ball well out there, because he also consolidated the break for a 2-0 lead. Roger did break back however at 1-2 after a Benneteau double fault. It looked like the usual order of things were restored, yet at 3-3 Roger surrendered serve again after an uncharacteristic forehand error. This reminded of Roger 2.0 whose heart wasn’t quite in it. Something was lacking. But I don’t wana take anything away from Benneteau. He really was playing well. Benneteau held onto his serve two more times as Roger shanked a backhand to drop the first set. It was time for Roger to restore order.  Yet at 1-2 Roger found himself another break point down and dropped serve again. He was going to 30-30 on his serve too often which gave Benneteau the opportunity to create break points.

It just wasn’t the clean serving performance from Roger that we have gotten used to. This is the point where I joined the match. Roger went on to break back to love at 2-4 and I was convinced he had woken up and that the match was turning around. Especially after he went down 15-30 at 3-4 and then came up with a clutch backhand winner down the line. It looked like Roger 3.0 was back. His work was far from done though. He had to get another break or at least force the tie break which would make him the favorite to win the set given his superb tie break record. It went to 5-5 and in Benneteau’s next service game Roger’s chance came for the break as he had two break points at 40-15. Benneteau saved both. Roger then created another break point opportunity. I was convinced he would take it this time.

It wasn’t to be. Benneteau held on and in the next game created a break point of his own which was of course match point. An extended rally ensued where Benneteau made his way to the net and hit an angled backhand volley cross court. Roger had a very makeable backhand passing shot but steered it wide down the line. He challenged the call but it was all over. It was a very disappointing loss. It was the Roger of old who lacked passion. His heart just wasn’t quite in it. Why? I can’t tell. I have heard rumors that he didn’t pick up a racquet since the Australian Open until last Sunday. Did he not prepare well enough? Who knows. The bottom line is his heart wasn’t in it. After breaking back in the first set he could have restored the order. He did not. After breaking back in the second set he had another chance to do so. He did not.

This is a tough one for me to explain, especially given how optimistic I was after Roger’s Australian Open performance. You can write it off as a bad day, but that doesn’t quite explain it. We know Roger 3.0 is a total professional and finds a way to win even if he is having a bad day. He definitely had his chances to get back in the match and win this. It was not like he was getting blown off the court. I know you want a more definitive explanation from me than this but I don’t have it. Rotterdam is one of the few indoor events and Roger had a friendly draw after Tsonga lost. It was a great opportunity for another title and to keep the momentum after what I thought was a very positive Australian Open. Who knows what is going on now. Next for Roger is Dubai. Will he play Miami to make up ranking points?

Maybe not the worst idea since he couldn’t defend his title in Rotterdam and have two more titles to defend now in Dubai and Indian Wells. He lost in the third round of Miami last year so there are some points to be had. He may have to play it. He sure has a lot to do in the next few weeks now if he is to hold on to the #2 ranking. So yeah this has been a disappointing loss. I am disappointed that I won’t be able to see Roger in action on my off weekend, but I’m not letting my emotions get the better of my objectivity. I have been totally honest with you in this post. I just can’t explain this loss. Spare a thought for my friend Jonathan from PeRFect Tennis Blog who traveled from the UK this weekend to watch Roger in Rotterdam. After saving up money and being excited to see Roger live in the semis and final Roger puts in a lackluster performance like this.

I am disappointed.

Highlights:

Presser clip:

Federer Makes Winning Start In Rotterdam

Hi guys. It’s been a while. I was going to make a draw post but firstly I have been too tired from work. Yeah yeah I know you are getting tired of that excuse, but secondly this is Rotterdam. It’s an ATP 500 event and and the draw hardly matters for someone like Roger. The top four seeds are Roger, Del Potro, Tsonga, and Gasquet. These are the only guys that can threaten Roger in the draw, and they would have to play out of their mind to beat Roger 3.0. Tsonga was in Roger’s half of the draw and he already lost in the first round. That just goes to show how little draws really mean. Roger’s road to the final is now very open after he beat Zemlja 6-3, 6-1 today. I caught the last part of the second set during my lunch hour and I liked what I saw. Roger was always going to be the strong favorite to win this tournament and his first round confirmed that.

There were thoughts that this may not be as routine as expected when Roger went down break point at 1-2 in the first set, but he saved it and broke to love in the next game. From there on it was all Roger as he only lost two more games. He broke once more at 5-3 and twice more in the second set. Despite the one-sided scoreline this match had some great rallies and the crowd must have felt they got their money’s worth. Roger looked sharped, which is what I expected after his Australian Open form. He keeps impressing me, and affirmed my faith in him to win a third Rotterdam title. There aren’t many indoor events around these days which is a shame, because Roger is almost unbeatable on the surface. Was he not tired after a long season in 2012 I am almost certain he would have won Basel and the Masters Cup.

How good is it to see the most beautiful forehand in tennis back?

I can see him winning Rotterdam several more times. But I don’t want to get ahead of myself. He can still face Del Potro in the final who can be a threat if he is playing at his highest possible level. Roger next faces De Bakker who is Dutch himself. I haven’t heard much of De Bakker of late and I expect another routine win for Roger. If he wins he will face Benneteau against whom he had that key match at Wimbledon last year. If they do face off you can expect something much more one-sided. In the semis Roger will face Simon if things go according to seedings, who has been a bit of a tricky opponent for him in the past. That could be more of a test, but definitely would be a less dangerous opponent than Tsonga would have been. Then in the final you would expect Del Potro to be there, but he is so unpredictable that it could be Dimitrov for all I know.

An interesting first round was two stars of the future Dimitrov and Tomic. Dimitrov won 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. I guess Tomic doesn’t do well outside of Australia very often. That’s the way it seems anyway. Dimitrov also beat Davydenko in the second round 7-5, 6-3 after Davydenko destroyed number 8 seed Mayer 6-3, 6-2 in the first round. Dimitrov has already made the Brisbane final this year where he lost to Murray. I have said before that 2013 may just be the year where he starts to make his move. He has always had a lot of potential but hasn’t really broken through. Maybe he can so so this week and make the final so that we can have a Fed vs Mini-Fed final.  I have the last three days of the week off so I will be able to watch some tennis for a change. I will also have some more time for blogging and look forward to catching u with you guys.

Fed FTW!

Highlights: