A Recap of the Federer Situation

Well I think it’s about time again we take stock of where Roger is in his tennis career and what lies ahead for him. It’s been a tough old year where Roger seemed to reach new lows with almost every event he played. Yet he is currently in the top 5 in the world. Not too bad for a player who has been reaching new lows, is it? He has quite a few points to defend until year end though, in Shanghai where he made semis last year, Basel where he made the final, and London where he made the final as well. The main objective should be to make the Masters Cup and he is currently 7th in the race, with the two recent US Open semi-finalists Stan and Gasquet hot on his heels. Gasquet and Stan starts their indoor season this week in Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur respectively and Stan only has to make the final to pass Roger in the race already this week, while Gasquet will close in further on him.

With the lack of tennis Roger played this year I thought it might be wise to add at least one event to his schedule but preferably two. I would have liked him to play Beijing or Tokyo since he is playing Shanghai anyway, but it doesn’t look like he will. If he now adds Paris to his schedule he will play three weeks in a row, but he probably won’t go deep in all of them so that might work. Or he can add Stockholm again which is right after Shanghai, in which case he is playing three weeks in a row again, but then he will have the week before London off. I’ll be surprised if he doesn’t add one of those two events to his schedule given how well Stan and Gasquet is playing and how close they are to him in the race rankings. He seems pretty laid back about it all, but he surely does not want to miss out on the Masters Cup.

That would be yet another new low. The fact that he is #5 in the rankings after recent events is something positive, and I’d like to see him end the year in the top 5 as well. I wana see him end the year strongly because the indoor season has always been good to him and so that he can gain some momentum and confidence going into 2014. The US Open loss to Robredo can be viewed as another new low too. With his draw and his form in Cincinnati Roger was expected to get back into the quarter finals of a slam at least after his streak was broken at Wimbledon, but he got destroyed by Robredo of all people in straight sets. At least at Wimbledon Roger lost in four sets and was very close to taking it to a 5th set. He was at least playing the big points a little better because against Robredo he was utterly useless on the big points.

Yet I don’t necessarily view that loss as such a big negative. Other than the big points he was still playing well and he ended up avoiding Nadal, saving himself the humiliation of getting beaten in the only slam they haven’t played at yet. The one positive other than the fact that Roger is still in the top 5 in the world is that Roger said from the start that 2013 was going to be a transitional year. Therefor we can’t take the results in 2014 too seriously. There was always going to be a slump after the peak of 2012. Roger is not in his prime anymore where he will dominate year in and year out. It is now a case of peaks and valleys. I would be more concerned about what happens in 2014. At some point I said I will start worrying when Roger can’t make the quarter final stages of slams anymore. That has happened twice this year now, but I will only really start worrying if it keeps happening in 2014.

I think if Roger makes the Masters Cup and finishes the year in the top 5 you would still have to say it was a pretty good year for a so-called transitional year. That is why I want to see him really continue the upwards curve that started in Cincy and continued in the first three rounds of the US Open. The loss to Robredo was a setback but like I said not necessarily that bad given the situation, and it will take some time for him to get his consistency back as well. He has had a lot of setbacks of late and lacks matches, so it will take time to build up that confidence again. Confidence is really what it all comes down to and is the big question mark for me at this point. The match against Robredo was another painful reminder of how much Roger’s confidence have deteriorated over the last few years and what aging does to a player’s confidence.

Look at Lleyton Hewitt for instance. He is 32 years old now like Roger and has fallen all the way to #57 in the rankings. I love how he still keeps going purely for the love of the competition. It’s an inspiration. But I can’t help noticing how much his mental fortitude has deteriorated since his prime. He used to be known for his mental strength in his prime. When he was in the lead the match was over. He didn’t let up and just kept playing better and better. Now look at what happened at the US Open. In the 4th round against Youzhny he had this great opportunity to make a slam quarter final, especially after he went up two sets to one. But then he just flat out choked. He was a break up in the 4th and 5th sets if I remember correctly but lost in 5 sets. I mean it was just tragic to see how far he had fallen mentally from his prime.

I couldn’t help but feel the same about Roger watching him lose to Robredo, and I found myself wondering whether he can ever get up again and come anywhere near his prime level. The whole US Open was just another big disappointment in a series of disappointments as a fan of Roger. First Roger loses really badly to Robredo, then Nadal utterly destroys Robredo, and finally Nadal wins the title. For a Fedfan it can’t get much worse. As always Roger and Nadal’s fortunes were at opposite sides of the spectrum, and this time the gap seemed bigger than ever. Yet all hope is not lost, because Nadal going on to win the US Open may ironically be the one thing that inspires Roger to get back to his best. Roger is a proud champion and Nadal winning the US Open will not have gone by unnoticed. He knows Nadal is now a bigger threat to his legacy than ever.

If there is one thing that could inspire Roger in 2014 it is Nadal winning the US Open. This is why I say Nadal has been a good thing for Roger, because he has constantly pushed him. Roger could never rest in his comfort zone with Nadal around, and now he is forcing Roger to come out of his comfort zone again. Roger knows Nadal is now a very real threat to his slam record and if he wants to hold Nadal off he desperately needs to win another slam. Roger’s fall this year has been a dramatic one but ironically I think his nemesis have just breathed new life into him and saved him from drowning completely. I don’t think Roger is ready to just sit by and watch Nadal chase down his slam record. He may not be able to stop him, but he is not gonna give it up without a fight. Our biggest failures and disappointments often become our biggest success stories, depending on how we handle it.

It is interesting how things work because I have often drawn a parallel between myself and Roger. I have recently also been at a kind of low point with lots of uncertainty, but these are often the points in life where positive change can happen and something really good can come out of it. I think Roger has kind of reached a turning point and that he is back on his way up. You have to reach the very bottom before you can reach the very top and that is what I think is happening here. I have a feeling 2014 can be another very good year for Roger and I want to see him keep growing in confidence during the indoor season. For the first time since the US Open I am feeling good about Roger and life again. Onward and upward!

 

Ps. I have started another tennis blog called The Tennis Analyst! I have always had a pretty broad interest in men’s tennis and my new blog will cover tennis news which doesn’t really fall under a Federer fan blog. This way I can focus more on Roger in this blog and keep things separate. I also want to continue blogging about tennis after Roger retires so why not start experimenting with something now? Check it out and leave me a comment!

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16 Comments

  1. I liked all the blog. You were very positive. I don’t know about your other followers but you gave back my hope for Roger. I plan to check out the new blog. I know you will have many old and new followers. Good Luck

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Pat :-)

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  2. I will check out the new blog, as, like you, I am a fan of the game generally and not just Roger. As far as your latest post is concerned, I feel Roger is in something of a Catch-22. He is a confidence player, but he needs wins to give him confidence. While he struggles to achieve results, as he ages, his confidence clearly wanes. That means the results are increasingly harder to come by. It also means that he struggles to find his best game when it counts. As you also say, he is a proud man. I doubt that he will continue like a Hewitt, just for the love of the competition, as he continues to slide down the rankings, as Hewitt has. Can you see Roger still playing while ranked 50? My pick is that next year will either see a resurgence by Roger, if he is able to somehow retool his game and find his form, or there will be even more humiliating losses and he will call it a day.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I totally agree Rich. If things keep going the way it has this year I don’t see how he can enjoy tennis past 2014 and he will have to retire. But like I say in my post I don’t think that will be the case. He said that 2013 is a transitional year as though he knew what was coming. I definitely see him being much more motivated for 2014 and can see him at least staying in the top 5. 2011 could also be viewed as a low after which Roger had the high of 2012. It goes in cycles and I can see Roger have another high in 2014. I don’t see Roger falling out of the top 10 for some time still, let alone top 50. He doesn’t have many points to defend next year either. I can easily see him staying in the op 5 and possibly even win a slam. And no Roger is not like Hewitt who will hang around and grind it out outside the top 50, and neither do I want to see that. I wouldn’t want to see him fall out of the top 10, at worst top 20, after which I’d like to see him retire.

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  3. Rich I agree with you I for one do not want see him drop to 10 and much less 50. I do believe Roger is planning a come back. Paul does not want to go down with a player falling that low.

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  4. Hey Ru-an, again nice article. Maybe I am just too optimistic, but I really think we are making a too big deal out of this WTF. Almost the “entire year” has been: will he make it or will he not? I think, not only will he make it to the WTF, but he will win it too !!! He was so close last year and Novak is not the Novak of last year.
    I know you guys don’t believe that much in Destiny or Faith the way I do, but I really believe that Rafa winning his 13th GS is a wake up call for Roger like losing USO 2011 was and that he has a few GS winning in him (not a lot, but a few).
    And about him retiring… something tells me, he does not want to retire before Rafa AND Novak AND Andy. Something tells me, he knows he can play longer than them because of their physical play.

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  5. Hey Ru-an, just visited your new blog for the first time. Nice blog. Short articles with a lot of important content. Good work !!!
    Ps: How do you leave a comment on that blog? Do you have to make a Google emailadress?
    I tried with my email (hotmail) from this site, but it did not work…

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Katyani. You can leave a comment by selecting the Open ID option http://openid.net/get-an-openid/

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  6. Nice post, Ru-an! I like the positive attitude. It’s good to take a longer view on things, and not to panic because of a few troublesome months. Roger is an amazing tennis player — the best ever — and that doesn’t just disappear. I firmly believe he’s got some A+ tennis left in him.

    A quick aside: Andy Murray, who has already qualified for the WTF, won’t be playing due to recent surgery on his back. This now means that making the WTF for Fed is basically a matter of finishing in the top 9, not 8, since Murray’s spot will go to the next person to qualify. I’d be shocked if Roger didn’t qualify under these circumstances, but the way things have been going this year, who knows.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks D.R. True about Murray. That actually slipped my mind in this post. Roger can probably qualify without adding an event. But Tsonga is playing and could possibly be a threat. With the points Roger has to defend at Shanghai he will probably make a decision after Shanghai whether to add an event.

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  7. Hi Folks. A lil`bit of the topic …but how come no one mentioned so far about the newest development of the Nadal possible affair with doping?

    On many german sport sites was posted an interview with the ex-tennis player Koellerer also known as “Crazy Dani”.Seems like any major english media is covering up this news even the famous blog “Tennis has a steroid problem”. Check the link below:

    http://www.puntodebreak.com/2013/09/25/koellerer-es-imposible-que-nadal-no-este-dopado?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

    Here is the translation:
    “Tennis is manipulated and drugged. And what has been done about it this year? Nothing. Except in my case. I’ve paid for everyone. Now they’ve stopped Viktor Troicki and Marin Cilic. But, why?
    “Let’s take Nadal. It’s not possible that he tests negative. After 7 months out of the courts due to injury, he came back and won 10 out of 13 tournaments. That is impossible. Impossible! It tells you everything. That combined with the rumours of fake injuries to cover up silent bans. Look, nobody believes in that story that he didn’t take anything! Imagine what it would mean for tennis if it broke the news that he tested positive.”

    About Ferrer: “He is, or was, a compulsive smoker. Once I played against him and he was smoking just 10 minutes before we came into the court. Then he ran even more in the third set, while I had mi tongue out.”

    About match fixing: “This is… a secret between players. Specially on summer, some lose early at tournaments, so they can still play during the weekend and win money twice. They have inside information about the players to gain some hundreds of euros”.

    Here is a nice comment by a reader called team_kickassSeptember 25, 2013 at 11:15 AM”:

    “My first thought: It’s a shame it has to come from a person whose reputation is close to zero after his match-fixing trial not to mention his antics on court.

    Yet, at the same time it does make sense. It has to come from someone from the margins, a person, that basically has nothing to lose and gives zero fucks about the ITF these days – for, well, ever since he has been handed his life-time ban it became clear that the ITF gives zero fucks about him too. He truely is a pawn sacrifice, albeit not a charming one, I admit, one that we should pitty.

    I mean, Koubek did not try to strangle him for no reason…

    Let’s recall, Köllerer was put on trial/tribunal after Odesnik snitched and got his own penalty for hGH significantly reduced, while Crazy Dani on the other hand got a lifetime ban for match fixing, charges he denies up to this point.

    Too bad he simply cites rumours and never gets more specific or presents more detailed accounts.

    But the general key note of his statement, despite being driven by revenge, seem in accordance with the latest reveals regarding feigned injuries, as in Cilic case, who have made the public or the comments from someone like Pedro Munoz, afterall the former president of the Spanish Federation, who is not known for erratic behaviour like Crazy Dani.

    Btw, do we know which player Munoz is referring to, fellow THASPERs and part-time Sherlocks?”

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Toni, this may sound very stupid, but I did not know that there was a tennisplayer called Koellerer.
    When I heard this name this week for the first time (I think on Roger’s own site) I thought some one was making fun of Roger. Because they make names out of FedERER (I thought KoellERER)….

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    Toni Reply:

    I did not know him either although i follow tennis for quite some time but have never been focused on players that do not show any spark of great talent :-) But he`s totally right :-)

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  8. I’m inclined to cut Federer some slack, simply because he’s in unknown territory, it was inevitable that he would wander around aimlessly for a bit before getting his bearings. This year he dealt with so many things and made so many changes that it was bound to leave him somewhat disoriented.

    I think he can return to the top and stay there for a long time, not just a short period as in 2012. The Olympics really took a lot out of him mentally and I think that kept him from sustaining a high level last fall and led to a bit of mental burnout this year. The next Olympics is three years off so if he can get back to the top he has a better chance of staying there for a while.

    The racket experiment is a good thing, anything within the bounds of good sportsmanship that can help him extend his career is a good thing. I don’t know what he’ll ultimately decide regarding the racket, but at least now he knows for sure how much a new racket can (or can’t) help him, rather than being forever in doubt.

    I too hope he has a strong indoor season. He needs the confidence after the year he’s had. His fantastic indoor season in 2011 was the basis for his 2012 run and I hope he has similar success this year.

    Also, I agree that Nadal is a strong motivation for Federer, not because of the Grand Slam record but because he still needs to beat Nadal at RG, and then after that at other Grand Slams. After that he will be able to play more freely, but until then he’s not at liberty. He has to finish what he started.

    Nadal represents the ultimate tennis challenge for Federer, if Federer can find a way to break down that brick wall then he can beat anybody. Once he realizes that supreme level of tennis required to do that, he should be able to continue for a few more years at the pinnacle of the sport. That’s motivation enough for him to try to raise his game.

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  9. Look Federer is 32, you can’t expect him to be as good as he was 5 years ago. Time gets us all. To be honest if I were him I wouldn’t want to spend my time grinding out matches in 250 events if my ranking had declined too much.

    I think his best bet to prolong his career or even win another big event is to take advantage of the one weapon he has that the other top players don’t.

    Murray, Nadal and Djokovic are not good net players. Murray is the best of them, but nothing special. Nadal only goes there when he has an easy Volley, and Djokovic’s overhead is almost comically bad for a player of his class.

    Playing more at the net saves Federer’s legs, compensates for him being a step slower covering the back of the court, and most importantly, allows him to be the aggressor.

    Federer is not as good a defensive player as the other top players, he is a great attacking player. So to win I feel he must be on the offensive.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good post I agree.

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