Federer Says He is 100 Percent

@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?

Getting excited!

Ps. Roger will play on Monday against qualifier Alexander Kudryavtsev  http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/scores/schedule/

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23 Comments

  1. Ruan, I think you are right to suggest that Roger would stand little chance of beating the top guys if he is at risk of injury, so his comments are encouraging. However, I would expect to see him feeling his way back into his game in the first match or two.

    Djokovic is in good form, as is Murray – who I think is looking better for this tournament than he has for some of the other slams. As for Nadal – well, what can one say? He continually claims to be suffering from serious injury (in this case, his shoulder, which he says has been bothering him for some time, as well as his knees – again – which he says were injured in his winning Davis Cup matches against Argentina in December) but in the nick of time has now pronounced himself to be “100% fit” for the tournament. It is almost as if “injury” is part of his preparation; it rarely seems to interfere with serious play – unless he is losing. Oh dear, what am I saying. In any case, he, too, appears to be proclaiming that he is in contention for the title, along with the other top players. Yes, looking at his draw he should make the semis without much fuss.

    Personally, I am hoping to see Roger play some of the tennis he has showed us last year he is still capable of. I realise we can’t have him for too much longer. Even if he doesn’t win the tournament I would love to see him beat Nadal in a semi-final match-up. I would also enjoy the odd upset or two of some of the other big names before the final. That’s all part of the fun of a slam.

    (By the way, in respect of an earlier comment you made that Del Potro had stamina problems which he somehow fixed back in ’09, I am always surprised at how professionals who have trained hard at their sport for nigh on twenty years should have fitness issues at their physical peak in their mid-twenties, which they then miraculously cure in a matter of a few months – or as in Djoko’s case – even a few weeks. Yes, I am cynical.)

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    Chris Reply:

    I have the same feeling as Neil about the fitness issue. I was never a sports professional, but served for some time in an elite force. From there I know that a well trained body can recover incredibly fast from extreme survival training; swollen legs, blistery feet and hurting knees can feel perfect after a week of recovery, and be perfectly ready for another battle.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Correct me if I’m wrong Neil but I don’t think that’s what he was implying.

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    neil Reply:

    There might be some crossed wires here. However, I am saying – and I think Chris might agree with me – that twenty-something professional ahtletes have been training for years to arrive at that peak. They shouldn’t have “fitness” issues. If they do, then their natural stamina or strength is not that great (in which case they are not superior natural athletes.) If they are able to solve that apparent problem virtually overnight then we must wonder how they have been able to that despite years of prior training. It is also noticeable that today’s journeyman pro is much faster fitter and stronger than the best players of only a few years ago. Yet the players of the past trained as hard as their bodies would allow. So what makes the difference – going “gluten-free”, or “confidence”? It sounds so easy!

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    Manu Reply:

    Another 5 years, and we’ll see players flying!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol..

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    booya719 Reply:

    I’m not sure if the top players are physically stronger than previous eras…but they are definitely mentally stronger now. By top players, I mean top 3.

    The consistency and the demand for winning of the top players is a lot higher now. In the old days it was ok to lose now and then. It was ok for the tops guys to win a slam every 2nd year and win only a couple tournaments per year. Hewitt was number 1 for 2 or 3 years and only won 2 slams…which was considered fine and as expected from number 1.

    Now we have the internet, facebook, twitter, international press, and the entire world follows every player’s move. If you want to be a top guy or be considered a great player then you have to win everything. Where as in the previous eras it wasn’t the case. When the top seed lost it was not a big deal and there wasn’t a dozen press conferences and media people from 100 countries demanding why the top seed lost.

    The enhanced media and larger fan followings of today create higher expectations on the top 3 players to perform and win consistently. The top guys are expected to win, where as for the middle of the pack guys no one cares if they win or lose. Guys like Berdych and Tsonga went the entire year without any big titles and no one thinks anything of that fact.

    I think this has created mentally stronger top players now…or that the players who succeed and win tournaments have to be mentally strong and consistent in order to keep ahead. For this reason a lot of players who are top 10, top 20 guys can’t be bothered to take the next step and become an elite player.

    Now, when you win a few slams you’re the greatest of all time. The next week you lose a match and something is horribly wrong with you and you don’t know how to play tennis anymore. It’s the way the media works and it does have an effect on the way players perform.

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    neil Reply:

    Booya, there may be more public attention given to top players today, which may equate to more public pressure, but it also increases the incentives to win; the tangible rewards for winning have increased enormously.

    That the top players in the past might only win one or two slams a year had less to do with what you suggest is their acceptance of that lesser reward as an appropriate measure of their efforts or abilities but that few players in any area have been able to consistently dominate their rivals – until 2004 and a player by the name of Roger Federer. No one has dominated as he has, which is why he holds almost all the tour records for achievement. The comparison is less a measure of mental strength (although Roger has certainly required that in order to defeat his rivals for so long – as he did between 2004 and 2008) but of the extraordinary gulf in sheer ability between the top player of this generation and his competition. I assure you that the top players of previous generations would have wished to garner more slams and more titles if they could, and it was not a lack of mental strength that prevented them.

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    booya719 Reply:

    What prevented Agassi from winning more slams? Obviously it was mental strength. Agassi couldn’t avoid recreational drugs…and he had a lot of problems off the court. If he were mentally stronger these off-the-court distractions wouldn’t have been an issue during his career. I’m sure he could have been a career top 3 guy and won at least another 3 or 4 slams if he were mentally stronger during his troubled years.

    What prevented Borg from winning more slams? Mentally he was finished after losing to McEnroe. He got tired of losing at the US Open, and when he lost at Wimbledon he didn’t want to continue on. He did not have the drive to come back and win again. He could have won another 4 or 5 slams probably if he had played another 5 years, but mentally he was too afraid of losing again and didn’t want to be bothered taking anymore losses.

    Tsonga vs Rafter, if they were the same age and same era, who would win? I am picking Tsonga’s power and ground game to destroy a one-dimensional serve-and-volley player like Rafter, yet Rafter was able to win multiple slams in his era. There are great players in this era like Tsonga and Murray who would be multiple slam winners in just about any other era.

    In previous eras, the drive to win for the top guys was not as strong as it is now with the current top 3. The top guys now want to win everything constantly, where as the tops guys back then were not as consistently driven. Players like Rafter could win slams and become number 1 with only 1 slam victory, because the top 3 changed often and the best players were capable of losing early.

    Now, the current top guys never lose before the SF or F. They have no trouble off the court. They aren’t taken in by outside distractions. From my observation, the current top 3 are more focused and dedicated mentally towards winning and staying on top than the tops 3’s of past generations. Feel free to disagree, but I’m tired of hearing that Djokovic and Nadal are juicing. It’s been discussed to death. Is it possible yes. Has it been proven no. If they are juicing, then all the more glory to Federer during the times when he does beat them.

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    Wilfried Reply:

    “Even if he doesn’t win the tournament I would love to see him beat Nadal in a semi-final match-up”. Good statement, Niel, i feel exactly the same as you do,not only because Roger has some unfinished business with Nadal, but also because Nadal has been criticizing Roger Federer recently for “letting other players burn themselves by complaining about tour conditions while maintaining his good reputation by rarely making negative comments about tennis. I think Nadal is not burning himself in defending a certain matter, but rather in the way he treats his body, you know what I mean, don’t you.
    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/tennis/wires/01/15/3000.ap.ten.australian.open.2nd.ld.writethru.1214/index.html

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Agree too Wilfried and Neil. If he beats Nadal in the semis and loses to Djokovic in the final i’d be happy. Oh and I’m about to make a post about the Fedal rift.

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  2. What I am most afraid of for RF is that at some point he might just get bored playing the first rounds, as ‘boredom’ defined in positive psychology: “a response to a moderate challenge for which the subject has more than enough skill”. I have seen several times how he has relaxed after a first set in which it became all too obvious that his opponent had no weapons to challenge him, and then something happened like a certain loss of interest of RF in the match, which made him almost or sometimes effectively a “casualty of his casual play”.
    I compare it a bit like the first computer games I played in my young days on a Commodore 64 (yeah, I’m that old). I got really addicted to some of them, and wanted to play again and again, just to break my own records and make it to higher, unknown levels. Unfortunately, once my ‘three lives’ were lost, I had to always start again at level 1 and go through all the boring, non-challenging stages to make it back to this big stage, let’s say it was level 17, in which I had failed in previous occasions and wanted to take up the challenge once again. But playing over and over again the level 1-16 to get back to this challenging level 17 got boring, time-consuming, and I played them ever more hastily and uninterestedly, until I started to not even reach the level 10 or higher. And then I lost interest. The story would have been different, if I had had the chance to just try again the level in which I had failed, but in the days back then that was not an option.
    Could that not be was will eventually happen to RF? He has failed several times at the big stage; if I’m not wrong, he lost something like 9 grand slam finals. That hurt him, he analyzed these losses, worked hard, and wants to go back there and take another shot. He just wants to be there again and again, walk on the court and take on the challenge of beating Nadal, Djokovic, Murray or whomever, at the final stage of the tournament. That is the level he lives for, that’s where the Adrenaline is pumping in his body. But to get there, he has to play over and over again against players who just don’t have the means to make it a real challenge for him, and he gets bored, having played already 1000 of such matches, and his getting bored makes him lose interest, his concentration drops, his mind wanders of to think of other things. At this stage the other player, who just like RF has dedicated his whole life to tennis, works hard, dreams of titles, but has never really made it to the top, senses the opportunity, RF looks beatable, sluggish, unforced errors appear, and then the opponent’s body fills with Adrenaline. Is this my chance to beat TMF? And you get a matchup between a bored champion and a fully concentrated opponent who goes and plays the match of his life because taking out RF might be his most serious chance to become famous in the sport, and be it only for one tournament!
    That is what I am scared of, these first rounds in which he should not even lose a set against players who are unknown to most of the world. I am happy with the draw, because it is a challenging one, and RF needs the challenge to stay focused, concentrated and interested in playing. And a motivated, focused and healthy RF is a nightmare to any other tennis player who dreams of the big stage ;-)

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    neil Reply:

    Chris, when you mentioned a “Commodore 64” I thought you were talking about a make of car of a certain year – a Holden – which I remember all too well. Be careful when you talk about age – some of us here are truly vintage (like the car.)

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  3. Ruan,
    I think I said this a few months back, but I have an issue with Roger saying he is convinced he can win this tournament. He just needs to walk softly with a big stick, and let the tennis do the talking IMHO. That’s all. Gary

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    veronica Reply:

    Agree 100% Gary!

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  4. I think Roger says he feels 100 percent for 2 reasons. One, he doesn’t want the competition to think he’s easy pickings.
    Two, saying and thinking positive thoughts bring about positive outcomes.
    I remember at 2010 Wimbledon he said he felt “perfect” when asked. After the loss to Berdych he mentioned that his back was an issue. At that point, he was critisized for making excuses.
    I don’t believe his back is that great. Nadal, on the other hand, does the opposite.

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    veronica Reply:

    You nailed it, Sue! Agree! Roger doesn’t like to be easy pickings for others – all the times he has hidden his injuries/sickness until everything is over is prove of this. Also, as you say, Roger is super positive person and positive thoughts bring about positive outcomes. However, I do think his back has responded very well; although I’m not sure whether it is 100% or not. And having experienced such a scare, I’m a little anxious whether he would able to play as freely as he would like to. I think Murray has a draw from hell (the guy often gets terrible draws, doesn’t seem to “attract” luck to his side- poor guy) and Roger, imho has a nightmarish draw. But as Steve says, one game and a time and we will worry as it happens. In order for Roger to win, Tomic/Dolgopolov has to choke, Del Potro cannot hit form, someone takes out Nadal/Djoko. If all these players play reasonably well, it’s gonna be a LONG hard day for Roger at the office. If Roger doesn’t have the back issue, I am confident he still has a great chance even with this tough draw, but with this injury, it is hard to say. But I continue to have faith and stay positive. As Ru-an says, one can dream! So despite what my head says, my heart says Roger all the way! Go champ!! Btw, why does Djoko seem to be getting cupcake draws lately? Does being no. 1 give you some protection? In 8 hours time, I will be heading to Rod Laver with my newly purchased Roger hoodie and shirt and a pair of binoculars to do some serious Roger stalking!! Go Rog! You CAN do it!! We LOVE YOU!!!!!

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  5. I want to be positive as Roger is.I´ve read his interview,incredible guy!
    Roger will be a phoenix rising from his back spams.Dountless he did the right thing taking time to recover and rise.Fed is up at night(keep that back warm)Take care Fed and GO FOR THE TITLE!!!

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  6. Chances are that Federer will have to play one of Djokovic/Nadal and one of Tomic/Del Potro in order to win the title. But it’s unlikely that he’ll have to play all four of them, so why worry about that scenario now?

    Federer once said that you can’t win a Grand Slam title in the early rounds, but you can lose it in the early rounds. His attitude seems to be just to get through the early matches, and not focus overmuch on them.

    He’s done this so many times, he knows by now how to give himself the best possible shot at victory.

    Maybe withdrawing from that semi against Tsonga will make the tiny margin between victory and defeat. If he’d played only one more match, it might have aggravated his back to the point where it would have hampered his AO performance. I guess we’ll only know after a couple weeks.

    His good form from the indoor season isn’t going to go away after such a short period of injury/layoff, although he may be a little shaky in the first rounds. Muscle memory should kick in after the first couple matches and his play will become more fluid and natural and he should be better able to implement the game plan that he has in his head.

    So come on Roger!!!

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    booya719 Reply:

    How do you figure Federer only has to play one each of those guys? Djokovic and Nadal have cakewalk draws and each will make their SF with no trouble at all. I don’t see either of them even losing any sets along the way. Berdych might win a set off Nadal if he gets that far and that is about it.

    About Federer’s draw, Dolgopolov in my opinion is also a very dangerous player. I would consider him perhaps even more dangerous than Tomic. Dolgopolov plays a very high-risk, high-reward tennis and if he makes the 4th round to face Roger he’ll be on his game. He’s capable of beating anyone when he’s in his zone hitting winners. If he hits errors though, like he can when he’s not in the zone, Roger will get through him without too much trouble. Dolgopolov made the QF last year at the Aussie and put up a good fight against Murray before he went out.

    It will be one of Tomic/Dolgopolov in the 4th, Del Potro QF, Nadal SF, Djokovic F. It’s highly likely Federer will play all 4 of those guys one after the other if he is to win the title. It’s guaranteed it will be one of Tomic/The Dog, and the only round in doubt would be Del Potro. Federer may receive a break there if Del Potro loses early. Nadal and Djokovic are sure-fire. The only advantage is finally playing Nadal first instead of Djokovic in the SF. That will be an enormous task alone even without having to play Del Potro.

    As Ruan said, on second thought that is a really tough draw. Nearly as hard as Murray’s. Tomic and Dolgopolov lack experience which is why Murray’s draw is a bit harder. He gets Djokovic in the SF which is harder to have to play him first. Monfils 4th round, Tsonga QF, Djokovic SF, Nadal/Federer F is probably one of the worst draws he can get on hard court.

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    steve Reply:

    I don’t see that much advantage accruing to facing Nadal in the semis. If the situation is that he must face both Djokovic and Nadal, then I agree that it’s much better to play Nadal first.

    But it won’t make winning the Nadal match any easier. Whether Federer loses to Nadal in the semi or the final, it’s still a loss.

    Why assume he will have to play all four of Tomic/Del Potro/Nadal/Djokovic until he does? All sorts of things could happen to prevent that. It’s 99% certain he will have to go through Djokovic and Nadal, but as for the rest, who knows?

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  7. I’m sure Roger is telling the truth and he is 100% fit heading into the event. He said he was withdrawing as a precaution and that he had to take care of his body first and foremost, and that is what he did. He is healthy. Even if his back does hamper him a little bit, at least he will have days off to recuperate, unlike in a Masters Series event.

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