Federer Realistic about Number One Ranking

“Sure it is challenging (to get back to number one). It is going to be very difficult because Rafa is playing well,” Federer said on Friday.

“It’s not something I have in mind right now. The goal is to play well here in London and prepare for next season and hopefully at some stage get it back.

“If not then I will focus on just winning tournaments. That is something I like doing as well!

“I have Australia to defend first. Rafa has no points to defend here, that’s why things look very good for him for the next few months.”

http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5hQuiYd-UwnjTNecB47r9CK2GEkSw?docId=CNG.019256bfe6ccb3a315e27f0faf7bcd07.d51

The gap in the rankings between Roger and Nadal is currently about 4000 points. Roger has closed the gap of late, but it’s a bit of a shame he couldn’t win Paris and pick up another 650 points. All in all you’d have to say he has done well since Wimbledon though. At least he has given himself a chance of getting back the number one ranking next year, just to beat that illusive record amount of weeks at the number one spot of Sampras. There is a total of 1100 points up for grabs for Roger if he wins the Masters cup without losing a match. Nadal on the other hand can gain the maximum of 1500 points if he wins the event without losing a match, since he is defending no points after losing all his matches last year. I think Nadal will make at least semi’s, which means he will pick up at least 400 points here.

If Roger can gain any points on Nadal in London it would be a big bonus. Nadal can open the gap between them even further next year at the Australian Open. In fact he is almost certain to do so. If Nadal wins Australia it would be almost impossible for Roger to catch him again. Preferably Roger must defend his title there, in which case Nadal will still probably open up the gap between them. If Roger defends Australia, he will have his chances during the clay and grass court seasons to pass Nadal in the rankings. The number one spot is not massively important though, and Roger realizes that. He is relaxed about it, at he should be. He has already made Sampras’ achievements look almost average compared to what he has achieved in the game. Every other record of Sampras that he breaks now is just gravy.

The other record of Sampras that he can at least still equal, is the amount of Wimbledon titles won at seven. The amount of years ended as number one will also be tough to equal, but not impossible. He would have to win at least two slams next year to do that. Roger is now at a stage of his career where there are many records beckoning. Not that he needs to get them. He has already set stunning records like the 23 consecutive grand slam semis and five consecutive titles at two different slams, which may never be broken. If he wins Australia next year he will have won five titles at three different slams which would be insane. He then would also have been the first man to win five Australian Open titles. If he wins one more US Open he will become the first man to win six US Open titles.

It is a fun time in his career because every slam title he adds will be monumental. Personally I don’t really mind which slam title he wins from here on. I have already stated why winning the Australian, Wimbledon and the US Open would be significant. If he wins the French Open it would be significant because it would reinforce that the 2009 title was not a fluke, and give him a second career slam. So while a lot of people are dreading the fact that Roger is in decline, I’d like to look at it from the point of view that a very interesting time lies ahead. Of course things are not getting easier with Nadal dominating and Djokovic and Murray pushing as well, but that makes it fun. Every slam he wins from here on is one less that these guys wins and will be a record breaker. Also, Roger has had good results since starting to work with Annacone.

Darren Cahill has said that he can see the positive influence that Annacone has had on Roger’s game. He has also said that he believes Roger’s best is still ahead of him. Now while that is obviously a far-fetched statement, Darren Cahill is a very respected tennis analyst, and what he is saying is at least a very positive thing for Roger’s future. A lot of people are all too ready to write Roger off. You just can’t write a guy who is as experienced and as optimistic as Roger off. I mean the guy has basically nothing to lose. He has done it all. He now plays only for fun and therefor with abandon. I’d be surprised if he doesn’t win more slams. The number one ranking is secondary to winning slams. If he wins slams the ranking will follow. But if it does not, it doesn’t matter much anyway. Adding more slams was and is always the most important thing, and it will stay that way.

Which slam would you like Roger to win the most next?

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Roger Federer


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24 Comments

  1. I really do believe that next year if Roger is able to maintain anything like the form he’s been in recently he’ll have a lot of great opportunities. Especially in the clay court season where Nadal is defending a hell of a lot of points, and even after that, since Rafa is generally a bit injury prone and has never been that great at holding the No. 1 spot or a dominating form for any great length if time.

    I’m kinda in two minds over the poll – Wimbledon is super special for me and more than anything I’d love to see him win there again, but at the same time I think another FO title would really consolidate his achievements in a great way, and probably annoy the haters, which is always funny.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Youve taken the words out of my mouth Detective. Wimbledon is the special one while the FO would add more balance to all his achievements. If he wins two more id ask for those two, with his last title coming at Wimbledon.

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  2. To me, the optimism expressed here at Roger’s prospects is based on the assumption that he can still consistently play the way he used to 3 or 4 years ago. He can certainly play that way for a match or two but unlike at his peak period of 2004-7 he now frequently stumbles at a key stage in tournaments. For a variety of reasons, I don’t think he is the Roger of old.

    His opponents also seem to be getting stronger than they used to be. It has become increasingly difficult for Roger to dominate as he used to, with sheer talent. He is not suited to an intense physical and mental battle. His mistakes now are also very costly.

    For reasons you have addressed in previous blogs, Nadal looks harder and harder to stop in all the majors, regardless of what happens between times. The balance between them has swung against Roger on all surfaces. There are other players who demonstrate a similar physicality in their style of play that makes them dangerous to Roger. I couldn’t help but notice that at Wimbledon this year even Federer’s early round opponents frequently over-powered him on serve and groundstrokes. In an era when competitors from across a spectrum of professional sports are being caught out as drug cheats we can be less confident that what we are seeing is genuine. Assuming Roger is genuine (and that is still an assumption)it undoubtedly makes it much tougher for him when some of his opponents are probably not.

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    steve Reply:

    The competition is getting a lot more difficult, but I think there is plenty to be optimistic about.

    Agreed that Federer probably cannot win nowadays playing the way he did in 2004-07, but he has a lot more ways to win than just one.

    We are seeing a glimpse of the future (or is it the past?) in Llodra’s recent victories over Berdych and Djokovic. Even some of the best modern baseliners have real trouble with serve-and-volley tactics, because they have no experience with that kind of play.

    After so many years of baseliners dominating, net-attacking and all-court play is making a bit of a comeback. The pendulum is swinging back the other way.

    With Annacone’s help, Federer surely will be incorporating more of these attacking tactics into his game plan.

    The baseliners (Nadal included) are still vulnerable to opponents who can mix it up, use the whole court, and disrupt their baseline game, and that’s Federer’s hope of victory.

    Even on clay he can devise new ways of coming to net, moving his opponent around the court, and breaking the rhythm of the rallies, instead of sticking to the baseline and always hitting topspin, as conventional wisdom claims.

    I don’t know if you saw Federer’s match against Del Potro at FO last year, but that was a prime example of finesse and strategy overcoming pure power. Federer was being outhit for the better part of the first three sets, but he moved Del Potro all around the court with drop shots and varied slices, and came forward whenever he could. Eventually Del Potro lost just a little confidence from the baseline, and Federer came back into the match and ultimately prevailed.

    Drug cheats are a concern, but Federer may be the one man who can do it the natural way. His natural gifts are enough to overcome even artificially enhanced opponents, if he has the will to make use of them. If he cannot outhit or outrun his opponents, he can outplay and outthink them.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok i see you have addressed Neils comment. I agree with everything you say, but i also agree with Neil. I guess i am in the middle of you two. You both make solid points. But i dont take the same stance as either of you. Basically i have no expectations. Saying that Roger will win no more slams i think is pessimistic, while saying he will win 4 more is overly optimistic. I will be very happy if he wins 2 more.

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  3. I don’t think any sensible person can cann federer’s fo win a “fluke” whether they are his fans or not. He had already reached the final on multiple times and only lost to perhaps the best clay courter ever. Since he already had 3 fo finals, that means it surely wasnt a fluke. Only a hater would say otherwise.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You said it ;-)

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  4. Is it still a bit unrealistic for me to think he can make final attempt at CYGS? I want this for him, heck I am dying for him to achieve this and will pray him on this. If all else fails – defend AO and win back SW19 should be his top priority

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  5. Ru-an, good to see you have become more optimistic regarding Federer’s future :-)

    I think he will end up breaking the records at AO, Wimbledon, and USO, eventually, in addition to adding a few more FO titles. For next year, I am hoping for a repeat of the Channel Slam (the French Open-Wimbledon double).

    I agree with Cahill that Federer’s best tennis is ahead of him. That’s not to say he’ll win every match, of course, but if he wins one or two majors a year and keeps going deep into the Masters and other three-set tournaments, he can keep near or at the top for several years yet. I still think he can do the Calendar Slam, even though that will require a little luck and a lot of preparation.

    Clearly he has far more in his arsenal than any other player, and he is only beginning to explore it.

    His late masterpieces will be greater than his earlier ones, because he will have to use tactics and vary his shots more rather than overwhelming his opponents from the baseline, and also because he will be playing with greater freedom and creativity than he could ever allow himself before.

    The most important thing is that he enjoy himself, and he looks to be having fun again, as compared with earlier this year, when he often simply seemed to play aimlessly with no game plan, just hoping to make something happen.

    I think he has embraced the challenge of creating new tactics and methods to fight off the younger generation, and that will help rekindle his love of tennis and rejuvenate his spirit and keep him in the sport for a long time.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Sorry Steve but i think you are overly optimistic. I agree to a great extent what Neil said. Roger is not even close to what he used to be on a tennis court. The problem is mostly a mental one. He makes mistakes at crucial junctures and it proves costly. Even while he has been on this hot run he has lost crucial matches against Djokovic and Monfils where he has thrown away match points. I just cant see him winning 4 more slams, although of course I am hoping for it. As long as Nadal is around i believe he has no chance at the French. This is the major he is least likely to win. Wimbledon will also be hard as long as Nadal is there. His best chances will probably be at the hard court slams, but guys like Djokovic and Murray is aching to beat him there, and Djokovic has already done so now. I think saying he will add a few more FO titles is a bit like what Cahill said about his best still being ahead of him. Its just not true. I dont mean to burst your bubble, but one needs to be realistic as well. This doesnt mean im not optimistic. I see the remainder of his career more like an adventure. Any major he wins from here on is like a bonus, not a necessity.

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    Ed Reply:

    The Roger that I saw playing Monfils was not having a good time. Roger almost keeps his emotiona under control. So any time he shows what he’s feeling is rare and dramatic. His body language, his testiness at Fergus Murphy suggest that he was not the happy warrior, wise-in-the-ways of tennis, the elder who is now “playing for fun.” The Roger of the post-play interviews never allows himself more than one, “This was a disappointing win,” comment, before he moves on to his always optimistic comments. Clearly this is what works for him, but as far as giving insights into what he really thinks, I don’t think so. I agree with Ruan that any Slam from now on is a bonus. I’d love to see Roger roar back; in fact, I thought I saw that during the week in Paris until Monfils, where he was just at a loss to come up with an answer to Monfils’ serve, which, while sharp–and consistent–wasn’t dazzling. As far as Cahill’s comments, I’m very surprised, since I’ve always thought of him as a very sober, realistic observer. Perhaps I’m being cynical, but he is a part-time broadcaster, so his remarks can be construed as just building up the drama and the audience for his sport. I’ve noticed for years that not one broadcaster–maybe Martina and McEnroe are the only exceptions–who more directly comment on what they see when Roger plays. For the rest, there’s a silence that’s striking, since the commentators have no trouble at all criticizing everyone else, including Rafa.

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    Ed Reply:

    Oops! I meant to write, “This was a disappointing loss”–not “win.” Sorry.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I agree with you about Cahill. The only conclusion that i can draw is that he is playing to the audience. There is no way a smart guy like him can truly believe what he said. Also about the ‘having fun’ part i agree with totally. I have been wondering for a while now how Roger is coping with not having as much fun out there, because that has always been his main motivation for playing tennis. There is no way he can enjoy losses that has occurred since late 2007. He is not as happy on a tennis court as he once was. My viewpoint is that he should not expect to reach his previous level, but see the rest of his career as an adventure. It should be a time when every slam victory is a huge bonus cos it will break a record. The problem is that he cannot have that attitude if he he really wants to win more slams, because the mindset of a champion is that he can win every match he plays. Its a difficult situation, depending on how you look at it i guess. Lets hope he finds the solution cos its important that he enjoys the rest of his career.

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    steve Reply:

    Federer’s results since Wimbledon:

    Toronto: F
    Cincinnati: W
    USO: SF
    Stockholm: W
    Shanghai: F
    Basel: W
    Paris: SF

    I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t take those results (except Nadal). It’s pretty good for someone nearing thirty.

    He had a bad day in Paris. That’s it. Sure, bad days will happen a little more often now. But I don’t know why it’s suddenly the end of the world.

    It just looks worse than it is because of the way he loses. His game is so versatile that he can usually play his way to the edge of victory regardless of the opponent. To win, though, he needs that extra little bit of mental concentration, which is sometimes lacking.

    If his game were more limited, he’d lose more easily and the losses wouldn’t seem so embarrassing, because he wouldn’t have even had match points to blow in the first place.

    Cahill is right. He’s a pretty careful and thoughtful analyst, and I don’t think he’s suddenly changed. He’s giving his considered opinion. He thinks Federer can improve a lot, and he’s right.

    If anyone fits the description of “building up the drama and the audience for his sport,” it’s McEnroe. He just blows with the wind and says whatever pops into his head at the moment. As for Navratilova, maybe she forgot that she reversed a 4-21 losing head-to-head against Evert.

    You have to take a long-term view. Federer is making significant changes to his game, and trying to change his mindset on court, that will take many months to accomplish. He has only been with Annacone for three months or so, and already we’re seeing considerable improvements. It may be six months or more before he gets to a stage where his modified game is more stable.

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    Ed Reply:

    I’d love to take a “long-term view,” Steve, were it not that Roger’s 29, so how long-term is long-term? And, I agree that Roger’s results are impressive, but it’s Roger we’re talking about. If what’s going on is mental, I have to wonder about what happened with Monfils–that last forehand was painfully symptomatic of what we’ve come to see (and as fans, to struggle with) as Roger’s unreliability. Yes, McEnroe’s emotions play a huge part in what he says, but for that reason he’s said some very sharp things that no one else says–and, yes, he’s said what has “popped into his mind.” As for Martina, I don’t know what you’re referring to, a gaffe, obviously, that she made, but I’d suggest that that gaffe doesn’t invalidate a hard-headed realism that she brings to her commentating. Time will tell about Cahill’s observations; I hope you’re right; I suspect, though, that he’s not. We’ll know a lot more this week, that’s for sure.

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  6. I am puzzled as to how Cahill thinks Roger might improve. If Roger plays anything like how he used to – even as recently as this year’s AO – then, with the skills he has available to him, there isn’t a player on the planet who can beat him (and I include Nadal in that observation, with Roger demonstrating at Hamburg in ’07 and Mardrid in ’09 that he can beat even the best on clay.) So any ‘improvement’ on Roger’s part must, in essence, be to simply regain what he has appeared to have lost. Is that now possible? At this late stage of his career? I don’t know.

    By the way, I see that Nadal has, finally, received the Edberg Sportsmanship Award, after 6 years of waiting – repeated code violations for time-wasting and fines for on-court coaching notwithstanding. Somehow, I feel the injustice to Marcelo Rios. After all, who today – apart from Roger – bears any resemblance in their on-court demeanour to the exemplary figure after whom the award is named?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol, i couldnt believe Nadal got the award either. Maybe the ATP fixed that as well. LOL.

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    steve Reply:

    In music there are manufactured stars, performers who are molded by big studios. They are dressed and made up to design, songs are written for them, and their performances are artificially enhanced so that they look and sound better than in reality. Their every move is choreographed by public relations people who take constant polls to determine what will appeal to the largest possible audience.

    They’re puppets, basically, mass-produced by a moneymaking machine. The machine built them up and they would be nothing without it.

    To be a successful puppet takes not so much talent, but malleability, blind ambition, and a willingness to do anything it takes to get ahead.

    Without naming names I think we are starting to see the same kind of thing in tennis now. As Neil said before it’s harder to be sure that what we’re seeing in sports is genuine.

    In sports, manufactured stars would be created by enhancing their performances with drugs, and the media machine would engineer PR events to promote these manufactured stars’ careers. These events would be billed as spontaneous, but would actually be staged for the benefit of the audience.

    Eventually people catch on, maybe not consciously, but they sense something artificial is going on.

    That may be the reason for yours and Neil’s reaction to this turn of events.

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    marron Reply:

    LOL!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Huh? What does this have to do with Rogers tennis?

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    steve Reply:

    It doesn’t have anything to do with Federer or his tennis. I’m speaking of others.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Ok but my comment referred to Rogers tennis, and you were responding to me(and Neil). Or so it seemed anyway.

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    steve Reply:

    Sorry for the confusion, then.

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  7. Congrats Steve always positive about Roger, I absolutely
    agree with you.The fact is analyzing and criticizing him makes headlines and that´s what most journalists are after.But all this will pass and his achievements
    will be forever.He has nothing more to prove.After beating players so many times one day he´s beaten.
    Not surprised isn´t it illegal on some sites to say anything about Roger that´s not negative.But many great results will come.I´m sure.HE´S ROGER FEDERER.GO ROGER!

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