Federer Finally Breaks Through

Roger may have lost to the Djoker yesterday in the semi-finals of Miami but he made an important breakthrough on another level. Since the beginning of 2008 we have seen a Roger Federer that has not been as dominant as we were used to seeing. He lost the competitive edge he had over the rest of the field, and in pressure situations he started falling apart. In the moments that it really mattered we saw time and time again Roger making unexplainable unforced errors. The backhand was not as solid as it used to be and the usually reliable forehand became surprisingly unreliable. There has also been a pattern developing in his matches where he starts out playing well and then for no reason his game just started falling apart.

First this was the problem he had against Andy Murray, but against Roddick the same thing almost happened and against Djokovic yesterday that did happen. There was really no excuse, the conditions were windy but he played fine in the first set and besides the wind is a problem for both players. After playing terrific tennis in the first set Roger inexplicable dropped his serve in the first game of the second set. From here on it all went so wrong for the former world number one. The unforced errors kept rearing it’s ugly head and it seemed no matter what he did he couldn’t make it stop.Then in the third set after dumping another routine forehand half way into the net, all the frustration that’s been building up since the start of 2008 finally came out when Roger smashed his racket into little pieces on the court surface.

My first reaction was shock. What the hell is that?!! Is Roger losing his mind now?! For all these years Roger had been on top of the men’s game he had an impeccable public image where he was the ultimate sportsman that never lost his cool and was the perfect ambassador for the sport. So I’m sure most people’s first reaction was shock when he smashed his racket. After the shock subsided my next reaction was laughter. It reminded me of a match I played against a guy who I faced in the same tournament, at the same stage I faced him at the previous year and I lost by the same score. It made me so mad that I threw my racket and broke it in four places. It felt like it had been a long time coming and I just had to blow off steam.

So after I stopped laughing at what Roger did I realized that it was a significant moment. All the failures from the last year or so had been building up inside him and it was time for him to finally release it all. For too long he has been protecting the Mr. Perfect public image and it was time to let go of it. Who is he being perfect for anyway? He has been perfect for long enough and served the game the best he could. The time has come for him to think about himself. He is now in the latter part of his career an it hasn’t been an easy time for him so far. Something had to give and something had to change. Throwing the racket was just a symptom of what his been building up inside the man for some time now.

He is just a human being and it’s time for him to realize that. He played tennis like a God for four years but it’s time to become human again. No one can play like that forever and that is OK. It is time for Roger to realize that and start relaxing again. It’s not the end of the world to be losing to guys like Rafa and Murray, he must accept that will happen from time to time. He puts so much pressure on himself that it is no wonder he breaks down under pressure. If he expects to beat these guys every time they play he will lose every time. But if he accepts that these guys are good and that he is not invincible anymore he might just start relaxing and start reliving some of those glory days. Thank God he threw his racket and that something finally changed!

This has not been a fun period for both Roger and his fans. We have now been witnessing and living through the pain with him for long enough and the time has come for change. I was hoping Roger could at least make the final of Miami but I would easily have exchanged that for him throwing his racket and getting rid of Mr. Perfect. So in the end I am happy with the way things have transpired. Now Roger doesn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder and worry about what the public would say, he can go ahead and relax and enjoy his tennis once more and throw his racket a few more time if necessary. Is everything suddenly fine in the Federer camp? No, but something has changed which is a start.

Lets relive that beautiful moment one more time:

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  1. I hope you’re right Ruan. I really hope that Federer’s racquet throwing is a sign of better things to come. It’s been a long time coming for something like this. Ever since 2008 his forehand has been so unreliable; his go to shot has failed him. For me, I think it comes to down to two options for Federer now. One, he finally admits something is wrong within his game and strives to overcome it, whether it being hiring a coach or just hitting the practice courts, with a more serious goal in mind (in my opinion, his practice sessions at tournaments are more for pleasing the crowd rather than for any other kind of merit). Or, like we’ve seen for over a year now, Federer just being too stubborn to change what needs to be fixed.

    I understand that what Federer has accomplished is phenomenal, and really, his rather large ego can be validated in that sense. However, he needs to realize (and I think he’s beginning to) that he is not the same player that he used to be. And, that it is okay. But ever since 2008, he truly has been in denial; stating that nothing is wrong with his game, that he does not have a Rafa or, now, Murray complex. And yet, all of his results point to the exact opposite of what he’s suggesting.

    One thing that I was almost glad to see was Federer’s rather sarcastic and scathing post-match comments. It was obvious that he was not impressed by his performance against Djokovic, if his red eyes and incredibly negative body language were anything to judge by. His remarks about how great his ‘effort’ was if he was able to play worse than Djokovic did in the first set, and, what really shows his frustration is his last couple of comments, where he thanks God for the fact that the hardcourt season is over. This from the man who is the greatest hardcourt player of his generation and era.

    I hope Federer’s reduced claycourt season can prove beneficial for him, allow him to focus and retool his game. As such an intense Federer fan, it really pains me to watch matches like today’s, which are becoming more and more frequent, though I hardly expect the same results he had in 2004-2007.

    But I really hope you’re right Ruan. I hope that his racquet smashing can become a catalyst, and hint at better things to come for Federer.


    ruanz3 Reply:

    Hi Jennifer, thanks for the great comment :D You say some very true things, im impressed. You are right he has been in denial. Have you ever heard of the saying “What you resist persists”?I think this has been the case for Roger. You cant fix something as long as you dont admit there is a problem. I think this loss against Djokovic will help him to finally realize there is a problem. HE hates nothing more then to lose to Djokovic and it was seen in his press conference like you said. He is now in a situation where he must change something or he will go into sharp decline, so in that sense what happened was a good thing. He needs to either change something and go break the slam record or keep going like he is and ruin his legacy. And i dont think he will settle for the latter. Great talking! :-)


  2. Great take, Ruan. I would not have thought of it like that (being a wake up call to him and his human-ness), although it was obviously out of character for him to destroy his racket like that. I was out of the room when it happened, and my friends screamed at me to come watch. My jaw dropped, but I laughed as well. Finally, Roger Federer realized he is human! haha Great post, thanks Ruan.


    ruanz3 Reply:

    Hi (John?)

    Thanks for the comment! :D


  3. Let’s hope he doesn’t go for the latter!
    I’ll miss not seeing Federer in action though. Another three/four weeks until his next tournament. *sigh*

    I guess I’ll just have to watch a non-Federer tournament :-P


  4. Something that many do not address is Roger’s back problem. I think it is significant. I started to realize it after the World Championships in 08. He was playing against Murray and making the same types of forehand errors as he has recently and not serving well — and he started to bend down on his knees and twist and he finally just sat down in the middle of the match. No drama, nothing, he just couldn’t go on–he was seated not at his chair but at the back of the court. Then for the first time that I’d ever seen he asked for a trainer and got a back massage– he was in pain and it is certainly unknown to us outsiders HOW bad his back problem is.
    Does he need surgery etc. This is what I think has occurred in large part for him.


    Ru-an Reply:

    Hi Amanday, thanks for the comment. Like you said its hard to really know how bad his back is. His fitness coach once said his back is not injured. So it could be just something mental which i think it is. I think its an excuse for mental problems which he doesnt want to face. HE never had injuries before and now suddenly that he is having mental problems against Rafa and Murray he gets injured. Not sure im buying it.


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