I’ve decided to play #opengstaad. Very excited to play in Switzerland this summer.This was the event that gave me my first wild card in ‘98!
Hi folks. How’s it going? Still watching Wimbledon? Before I get to my post let me just thank you for your vote of confidence in my last post. I made a poll asking who of you think I should become Roger’s personal advisor and motivator, and 71% of you said I should. It was just for kicks because it would never happen, but I appreciate your votes anyway. It sure would be a massive honor and my dream job to be Roger’s personal motivator and advisor. I’m crazy enough to think I would be good at it, but lets face it who am I to be Roger’s personal advisor and motivator? For that he has a wife, kids, and a great team around him. One more thing which I failed to go into in my last post was strings. Playing with looser strings would give Roger more power. Therefor, if he switches to a 95 sq in racquet head he can just use the current tension he plays with, because the bigger head means the strings will be looser anyway.
Now back to today’s subject. I’m sure many of you by now know that Roger decided to play Gstaad, which starts on the 22nd of this month. First of all I think adding an extra event to his calender is a good idea after taking a 7 week break and then losing in the 2nd round at Wimbledon. Roger hasn’t had that many matches since his return. He lost early in Madrid and in the quarters of the French, and now he played only 2 matches at Wimbledon. He was pretty low in confidence after getting straight setted by Tsonga in Paris and then won a confidence boosting title in Halle, only to run into Stakhovsky who was in the zone. Personally I didn’t feel he played badly in that match. It was more a question of running into an awkward opponent early on. Stakhovsky was out of his mind and made things awkward for Roger with his serve-and-volley game.
Still, you felt there were moments he should have done better. For instance right at the end where he saved a match point with a brilliant return and passing shot, only to steer a lame backhand wide. To me that still shows lack of confidence and match practice. Sure it is easy to keep making excuses and turn a blind eye to the fact that Roger is declining due to age. Yes Roger is aging but I have more belief in the GOAT than that, and so does the GOAT himself. One loss before the quarters of a slam is not gonna shatter us. Some people think playing Gstaad is part of a farewell tour. I find this ludicrous. When has Roger ever hinted at retirement? The only thing he ever keeps hinting at is that he will play for many more years. I’m dumb founded when I see anyone, let alone Roger’s own fans say that Roger should retire.
Baby GOAT in Gstaad 1998
Some players dream of losing in the second round of a slam, including me when I was still playing. And Roger should retire when it happens to him? I don’t think so. I feel Roger was somewhat unlucky at Wimbledon. Had he not run into a player who was in the zone I think he would have gained more confidence with every win, and would have been very difficult to stop at the semi-final and final stages. It’s tennis and it happens. The loss to Stakhovsky would not have done his confidence any good and therefor I believe adding an extra event to his schedule was a good decision. But here is the question: Should he have played Washington instead? Gstaad is first of all on clay. To go from clay to grass and then from grass to clay and then again from clay to hard court seems a bit strange. Gstaad is also a 250 event, while Washington is a 500 event.
Washington thus provides a better opportunity for Roger to gain ranking points, which he kind of needs right now. After Wimbledon he falls to #5 in the world for the first time in 10 years. If Berdych wins Wimbledon he falls to #6. So he could use those points. Washington is also played on hard court, which means Roger is not switching back and forth on surfaces and he can prepare better for the US Open. Of course the fact that Gstaad is in Switzerland played a huge part in Roger’s decision to play there. Playing Gstaad means he can wait longer before going to the states and spend more time at home. The twins’ birthday is also on the 23rd although I’m not sure that made a difference. If Roger played Washington instead of Gstaad he would have been at home during the twins’ birthday not playing a tournament, as Washington only starts on the 29th.
Who knows exactly what the his reasoning was. We can only speculate. The fact that Gstaad is a 250 event will give him a better chance to win the event too. Maybe his reasoning was that winning a tournament, even though it is just a 250 and on clay, would give him more confidence than going to Washington on hard court and possibly losing at some point. I don’t think playing Gstaad is a bad decision, but still worth questioning. Washington just seems fitting because there are more ranking points up for grabs, and it is part of the North-American hard court season. Roger has played Washington only once before back in 1999 and he lost 6-2, 6-3 in the first round to 407th ranked Bjorn Phau, when Roger was ranked 104th. Pretty shocking loss. As for Gstaad Roger played it 7 times so far and won it in 2004.
With the trophy in 2004
It would have been nice to see Roger set the record straight in Washington and also start his US Open preparation there. I’m not saying starting his preparation for the US Open in Gstaad is a bad thing. If he wins Gstaad it will still give him confidence, and it means title #2 for the year. Losing in the final of Washington would mean 300 points instead of 250 points for wining Gstaad. I guess Roger feels winning a title is more important than the ranking points. There is a lot to consider and like I said we can only speculate as to what exactly his decision making process was. One thing we do know however is that he is not only the GOAT of tennis but also the GOAT of scheduling, so it doesn’t help to second guess his decision making. He could well win Gstaad and make a really good showing in the North-American hard court season.
A few people have already pointed to Sampras losing in the 2nd round of Wimbledon in 2002 and then winning the US Open that year. Of course their hope is that Roger does the same thing. No doubt that would be the best possible way to hit back after what happened at Wimbledon. Sampras and Roger are different though, just for the record. If you read the interview which I posted in a comment two posts ago you would have seen that Sampras was asked about retirement after that loss at Wimbledon, to which he replied that he would be back at Wimbledon and that he was not thinking of retirement. Yet when he won the US Open a few weeks later he retired right away. If Roger wins the US Open you can put your house on it that he won’t retire. For one thing Sampras was not even ranked in the top 10 when he won the US Open.
He had been out of the top 10 for a year in fact. Roger is still far from falling out of the top 10. I expect him to be back in the top 4 soon in fact. Also Roger is still having way too much fun out there to think of retirement. Roger and Pete’s careers are following different trajectories. That doesn’t mean I think Roger can’t win the US Open. It’s just hard to compare. I just wana see a strong showing at the US Open. It’s gonna be tough for Roger to be ranked 4th at the US Open I think, even though he has no points to defend in either Gstaad or Montreal. That means he could have Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray in the quarters. Ferrer shouldn’t be a problem. I just wana see him make semis at least. That would be a good showing after what happened at Wimbledon. Anything more would be a bonus. A 6th US Open would be immense.