@staffsky: #Federer in good mood: “I am 100 percent again and convinced that i can win this tournament. Five days ago it was different”, he just said.
I saw the above tweet from Rene Stauffer, the author of Roger’s bio Quest for Perfection, on twitter today. I thought that was encouraging news and worth sharing. I don’t think Roger would say that if he doesn’t mean it, so we can assume his back has responded well to treatment and that he won’t be suffering from any back problems during the tournament. I also like that he feels so confident that he can win it. I think the back problem was quite a big concern for a lot of us and it is a relief to see that his back responded so well after five days. It goes to show again what good decisions Roger makes. If he decided to play on in Doha he would almost certainly have made the back worse and would not have felt so good as he does now. I always thought Roger would be dangerous in Melbourne and his form in Doha seemed to continue on from last year’s end.
The back was definitely a concern however. As a fan you are then less confident about his chances and it will be the same for Roger. If Roger goes into the tournament uncertain if his back will hold up it will definitely affect his mentality. In a slam which is best of five sets and over the course of two weeks it is of utmost importance that you go into it feeling 100%, especially for Roger who is 30 years old. Physical health and mental fortitude are very closely connected. The fact that Djokovic and Nadal is around means Roger have to be 100% in all areas if he wants to win this slam. Therefor this is very good news. If Roger wants to win this slam he would probably need to go through Nadal and Djokovic in consecutive matches, and for that he has to be physically in great shape. And if he has to play the likes of Del Potro and Tomic before the semis it will require an even greater physical effort.
It is clear to me that whatever happens this slam will require great physical effort if Roger wants to win it, as well as mental fortitude. I think if he went into Melbourne unsure if his back would hold up you could pretty much forget about his chances. He needs to be able to trust his body and feel confident. I can’t stress enough how important physical and mental fortitude will be if he wants to win his 17th slam. There is simply no room for injury or doubts. The heat in Australia has always been brutal as well, and Nadal and Djokovic are brutal opponents. Roger’s draw actually looks quite hard if Del Potro makes quarters. Tomic just won Kooyong beating Fish in the final. Roger may end up playing Tomic, Del Potro, Nadal, and Djokovic in succession. That is a pretty brutal draw. But on the plus side every match is a good preparation for the next one.
Roger should get through the first three rounds without dropping a set. He should be fresh going into the second week. Then he will need to start lifting his game. The next two rounds will be important because he must not physically exert himself too much. He should try to win those two rounds in three or four sets. If he goes to five it could cost him. He wants to go into the semis still relatively fresh. He has to assume that he will face Nadal in the semis and Djokovic in the final and be physically and mentally prepared. If he can beat Nadal it would give him huge confidence going into the final and he may just snatch slam number 17. Will this be that fairy tale slam where everything falls into place for Roger?
Ps. Roger will play on Monday against qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/