Federer to Take Off Season after Australian Open: Why

“The off-season didn’t feel like an off-season to be quite honest,” he said.

“And I am not saying that to joke around in any way. I only had eight days off and went back into practice.”

“My year end comes after the Australian Open which I can’t wait to come around,” he said.

“But I can wait for another three weeks.”

http://www.sportsfan.com.au/federer-feeling-the-pinch-after-big-week/tabid/91/newsid/151687/default.aspx

 

Hey folks. A couple of days ago I realized that Roger had not yet made his tournament schedule available for 2015 and yesterday I found the above article, after which everything made sense to me. If you read my blog regularly you would know how I have been going on about Roger only having reached his peak now, after he kind of started over at the beginning of 2014. I said 2013 was an all time low and the new changes he made would take some time to take effect. And I felt that those changes only started paying off towards the end of last year. Roger missed out narrowly on Wimbledon last year after which I still thought there were unfinished business at slam level for the year. I thought the US Open would provide a good opportunity for him to set things right especially after seeing his draw, but it didn’t pan out that way. But then he had that amazing tourney in Shanghai and impressed throughout the indoor season.

He was unlucky to miss out on a seventh World Tour Finals title too after having to withdraw from the final. But finally he was rewarded with a big title when the Swiss won the Davis Cup. You will also remember that I started talking about the Australian Open as another good chance for a slam title because it comes right after a string of successes, the latest of which was the Brisbane title and winning his 1000th match in the process. Now, lets take a little trip down memory lane to 2012 when Roger won his last slam at Wimbledon. Before he won Wimbledon he won four out of his last eight events. Currently he has won four out of his last seven events plus Davis Cup. I think you can see where I’m going with all of this, but I don’t want you to think that I am implying he will win the Australian Open. Winning slams doesn’t work that way, as we have seen at Wimbledon and the US Open last year.

Still basking in the glory of 1000 tour wins

After seeing Roger’s draw in New York we were all so convinced he would win the tourney and look what happened. For me personally it was a painful loss and I won’t let myself get that emotionally attached again. But I do happen to think he has a great shot in Australia this year. Before Wimbledon that was where he won his last slam title. He has also reached the semis or better there for eleven straight years which is a terrific record. Yes they slowed down the courts significantly since 2010 but I think they sped it up again last year, and hopefully this year it will be the same story. Don’t get your expectations up too much because I don’t take responsibility for disappointments, but I feel like this is as good a chance of him to win #18 as any. The time feels right now. I remember before he won Wimbledon in 2012 he was playing really well and having a lot of success.

He had to earn that slam by playing well for a considerable amount of time and peaking in confidence. It didn’t fall into his lap. I think he is at the same point now but his results have been even better. Back in 2012 he won Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, and Madrid. Now he has won Cincinnati, Shanghai, Basel, Davis Cup, and Brisbane. I think he may be playing even better but I guess you also have to take into account that Wimbledon have been a more successful event for Roger than the Australian Open. But not as far as consistency goes. I also feel like there is not necessarily someone else who is the clear favorite to win the title. OK I have to admit Djokovic remains a big problem in Melbourne but what happened in Doha? Is that a sign of vulnerability? Time will of course tell. I just feel there may be a window of opportunity for #18 here and that things may just finally all fall into place.

At the Rolex event in Melbourne. Nice one Rog!

And I think Roger knows this too or why did he not take an off season? Usually me and Roger’s thinking is very similar and I think it is the case again here. I think he felt he was starting to peak at the end of last year and he didn’t want to lose that momentum going into 2015. I think he also feels that things didn’t quite fall into place for the slams in 2014 and that he is now ripe for it. So he is gonna make this one last push to see if he can grab #18 and then take a break after Melbourne. The one concern that there could be is that he could be tired and that he pushed himself just that one too far, but personally I don’t think that is a problem. I think he did the right thing to make that final push or else he could have lost some momentum. I think the stretch is worth it and that it could well pay off. I remember Roger also saying that his best chances of a slam is probably at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Maybe he is really gunning for #18 here in Melbourne and he said that to take some pressure off himself. I much prefer that attitude from him anyway, rather than putting unnecessary pressure on himself. I think he is quietly confident and as a fan I’d like to take the same stance. I’m not gonna say Roger is the favorite or that he will win it, but I am quietly confident and I won’t be surprised at all if he does. Well now it’s your turn. Let me know what you think. Is Roger playing better now than he did in 2012? Is he finally ready to win that illusive #18?

Is Roger playing better or worse now than he did in 2012?

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30 Comments

  1. I could see Roger taking the whole month of February off after the Aussie Open and not playing again until Indian Wells in mid-March. I also suspect he’s not going to care too much about the clay court season. Last year he seemed not to care too much after losing to Gulbis at Roland Garros, and then went on to reach the Wimbledon final.

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  2. His net game is certainly better than 2012 and I would say better than ever right now. His return of serve is better, more aggressive. And his backhand is better, more of an offensive weapon. Maybe his serve and forehand are a little less lethal than they were. So it’s close. But then when you add his new mental toughness, that pushes it over the line for me. That mental strength can help him win matches that he might have just given up on back then. Please do not underestimate Novak. He is playing some phenomenal consistent tennis for a long time now and he is great on that court. I really really believe in Rogers chances but Novak will not go down easily.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Not underestimating Novak Eric. I still think he is the favorite for the title.

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  3. Hey Ru-an, great article. You really write good articles and exactly the way I like it.

    For me, I always think Roger will win the slam he enters. If he doesn’t, I don’t feel bad for me, but bad for him, because he deserves it sooooo much. He has a chance to win AO, but somehow when he plays good there, he seems to have Rafa in his draw. I really think Delpo, Karlovic and Rafa will be in Roger’s draw. Just to make it hard for him. Ofcourse Novak is the favourite, but look at last year. All it takes is a Stan to defeat him. I really think Andy will go down the hill from here on, but recently he has been winning and winning, so even he has a good chance to come far at AO.

    And although Roger keeps saying his best chances are at Wimby and USO….. even if he does not believe it himself, I HONESTLY believe that before he retires, he will win RG. And I am not kidding when I am saying that Rafa is not going to win RG this year. I will explain another time why I think that. Novak is wayyyy to desperate to win RG and everytime he has the chance to win it, “the universe” doesn’t allow it (with rain in 2012, his mental in 2013 and him beeing sick in 2014).
    Roger does very well at RG, but somehow it is never meant to be with him too, but I do believe he will win it. Somehow… knowing that Rafa will be at RG kind of “stops” him to really go for it I think.
    Winning AO will mean he will have to face Rafa and this year he seems to be ready for him.
    And I love the fact that he is keeping the pressure off himself.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thank you Katyani. I try.

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    Alex Reply:

    Tell you what, we now know that Rafa IS in Roger’s draw! But I have already made a prediction that Rafa is not yet ready for Grand slam tennis and can be ousted in the early rounds. As always we can never truly write him off but it makes sense that he is not ready yet.

    Secondly, even if Rafa DOES reach the semis and has to face Federer, I would very much like fed’s chances this time around for the same reason as stated above. Roger is already at Grand Slam challenging level, is match fit and match sharp and the same cannot be said for Rafa so I am also quietly confident that out man can take nadal down this time.

    Thirdly, Delpo is also not ready for Grand Slam success and the fed express would run him over him at this point.

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  4. First of all, I congratulate Ru-an on another wonderful article. Second, I completely agree with Roger about the off-season. I think it is a great move to take the whole month of February off. I dare even to say that Roger should take off Indian Wells off his schedule as well. Or he could play that but then take off Miami.

    After that I believe that Roger SHOULD play Monte-Carlo. The completest in me believes that Roger should try to win Monte-Carlo and ROME – the last two remaining Masters 1000s that he hasn’t won.

    He should tinker with his schedule to accommodate these two.

    It might actually play into his hands.

    If he does well or OMG he wins Australia – EPIC (Can’t wait for that – even though I sense a bit of fatigue in Roger), then the break would be well-deserved. Yeas, a lot of points will come off – but this is for Roger’s OWN good.

    If he skips Dubai and Davis Cup, and possibly then plays Indian Wells and skips Miami (or Vice-versa).. Then PLAYS MONTE-CARLO – then depending on freshness possibly skip or play Madrid – but then PLAY ROME (again try for the Masters 1000 there).. then rest and go for the French Open.

    If he does poorly there, he could play 1 or 2 tournaments on grass prior to Wimbledon but maybe just one to be fresh there too…

    And we’ll see how he does there.

    But I think that emphasis from now until Wimbledon should concentrate on:

    Australia

    Rest and Recuperation

    Monte-Carlo

    Rome

    Rolland Garros

    Wimbledon

    That’s just me.. :-)

    I’d like to hear what you guys think.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Vily, if Roger had not won Shanghai last year, I don’t think he would play Rome and MC this year. But he is not stupid and does go for history :-) I think now that he has won Shanghai, he will play Rome and MC. I agree with you that he should play it too.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Vily. Yeah the fatigue is a question because Roger sure have played and awful lot of late. But I think his form is good enough that he can win early rounds easy and conserve energy. As for the schedule I agree he should skip Dubai but not IW. And I think he should for once put more into the clay court season. We saw in the DC how good he still is on the surface. There is also an extra week to play on grass this year I think? So he can either play another tourney or rest.

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    Florian Reply:

    I think that his schedule for this season depends on how he does in Melbourne and his chances to become number 1 very soon. If Djokovic is too far away after the first Grand Slam of the year, he primarily will concentrate on his main goals, which are Wimbledon and the US Open as he said in an interview. If that is the case I think he will not put all his energy into the clay court season although I personally like his chances on this surface too. Ruan, you are right, there is an extra week between Roland Garros and Wimbledon this year.
    But first things first, I hope and think Roger can win #18 in Australia even though Djokovic is the favorite.

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  5. Djokovic remains a big problem in Melbourne?

    So are you saying that if Federer meets Nadal in Melbourne, Federer will win and Nadal is not a problem? ;-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Nope, never said it. But I don’t consider Nadal a favorite at this point. I will reassess the situation after the first week. Also I have to see the draw first.

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  6. Good article. He really deserves some time off to rest. On the other hand (just my opinion) I think as you get older you lose your feel quicker. Federer has played better perhaps because he has been playing more – although that leads to fatigue.

    The other thing I would be concerned about is the ranking…it’s great to back at no.2 and avoid Nadal at least until the semi finals. (I am sure they will put them in the same half tomorrow – the international attention is just too tempting). If he misses Dubai that would shave some easy points at a tournament that he absolutely owns, it’s fast and dry and along with Cinncinatti it might be his best court.

    Oh well let’s see how he does first a the AO, that might determine his schedule as well.

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    Florian Reply:

    Good point and not just your opinion ;-)

    “Stefan wanted me more to play more matches and play tournaments more consistently,” said Federer, who is squeezing 17 events into 2014 – not to mention next month’s Davis Cup final – where the reigning No 1 Novak Djokovic settled for 15.

    “I used to go in spells, but he doesn’t believe in taking too long of a break. He says it’s fine to do that when you’re younger, but when you’re older, maybe it’s easier for your body to keep on playing.

    “We took a similar approach in training. Stefan reminded me to keep on playing points, whereas before I would only do that when the next tournament was close. I think it actually helped me to remain in a good rhythm. When you take a direction like that, you’ve got to stick with it and see if it works out. For me it did, because I’ve had no recurring issues any more with my back.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/tennis/rogerfederer/11216129/Roger-Federer-reveals-the-secrets-behind-his-incredible-success.html

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks for the article Florian. That is interesting. He’s gonna have to take a break at some point though or he will burn out. But that’s good news that he is playing more now instead of less. It sure is for us fans anyway.

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    Joe Reply:

    Maybe Roger should start playing in more ATP250s, as Connors did?

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  7. Well the draw is out. I am interested in hearing Ruan and everybody else’s take.

    I am disappointed to see that Murray is Federer’s QF potential opponent, plus (of course, for TV ratings) Nadal is in his half with QF opponent the mental giant Berdych. Apart from that I see no one who could trouble Nadal and I am not just being negative for the sake of it…well anyone wanted to see Federer 5.0 tested to the limit, ti’s Nadal on a slow hard court…

    Wawrinka is in Djokovic’s side with Nishikori, I believe in his quarter; Djokovic drew Raonic. It’ll be a hell of a semifinal if the guy who played Federer in the SF of the WTF shows up, or a joke match if the clown who played Djokovic in the round robin of the WTF appears. I don’t want to be hard on Stan, as I like his game.

    Federer also has some dangerous people like Istomin and Chardy (who gave him a tough run in Paris) floating around up to the 4th round. So it will be one match a time, indeed…

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    Vily Reply:

    It’s a tricky draw for Roger, no doubt but he’s had easy draws in the past and done poorly.

    I truly don’t know what to expect.

    On one hand, I am bit worried about the 11 year SF streak (which might come to an end). On the other hand, if Nadal loses, you never know.

    We’ll take it day by day.

    One thing for sure is that early rounds can be deceiving. Roger can look REALLY good early but I’d rather see him peak and do well late in the tournament. Losing a set or two along the way is acceptable as long as Roger keeps moving forward in the draw.

    We’ll see what happens I guess. I have very little expectation for this AO but I kinda like it this way. :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Translation: Draws mean very little.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well the draw means very little as usual. I wouldn’t look past Roger’s first round Lu. Nadal’s draw looks easy so he can make semis and maybe even win the tourney. We will see.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Well well well, I was kind of kidding about it, but again Rafa in Roger’s draw. Everytime Roger plays great… there they put Rafa in his corner. But he has to face him. Roger cannot “avoid” Rafa forever. Especially since he is Roger 5.0. But this Roger is not the AO-2014-Roger, so he has a good chance.
    And to be honest, Rafa seems to have problems with big hitters, so he might not even make it to the SF.
    Taking it one match at the time, but still bel18ving :-) Go Roger. 18th is waiting for us :-)

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    Alex Reply:

    You know Youzhny can potentially upset nadal in the first round…

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    Katyani Reply:

    Youzhny?? Nah….

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  8. I can’t say I’m surprised at the draw, the past few years Roger seems to have had hard draws at the AO. I’m trying to think of the last time Novak and Rafa met in a semi final. However I’m looking forward to see how Roger does in his obstacle race…it goes without saying I hope someone puts Nadal’s gas at a peep before the Semi finals!

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  9. My guess is he’ll skip Dubai (possibly Davis Cup, too), take February off, and play IW/Miami, a full clay season (MC included) and then straight on through Wimbledon. If he plays a lot during that time, he might skip Rogers Cup to have extra time off after Wimbledon and then hit the hard courts for the rest of the summer and fall. It would be in keeping with Edberg’s philosophy that long blocks of play followed by long breaks for rest and recovery are better than short stretches of play and short breaks.

    He’s skipped Dubai before, in ’09, which was the year of two of his greatest tennis triumphs, the completion of the Career Slam and breaking Sampras’ record for most majors won. So it’s not as strange a move as it might seem, even though it’s one of his most successful tournaments (6 titles in 8 finals).

    Like Ru-an said, I think he’s far from giving up on clay. Potentially, with the new game plan and racket he can achieve much better results on that surface, even including another RG title–Nadal or no Nadal. And after last year when the birth of the twins wreaked havoc on his preparation and probably contributed to his shock losses to Chardy and Gulbis, he’s surely eager to improve on that performance and raise his game this year.

    Winning an unprecedented eighth Wimbledon title is very much on his mind, and after the disappointment of losing that agonizingly close final last year he must feel there’s some unfinished business there. Last year he was not fully confident with all his changes and so Djokovic was able to find a crack in his game despite the titanic mental strength he showed to mount a comeback in the fourth set when he looked down and out. For all these reasons I feel he will give his all to be able to sustain his peak level throughout the clay and grass seasons, and this year that means taking a long break after AO.

    As for AO, it’d be great if he could win this one, but it will be really tough given that he’s depleted. If he loses this year, it’s not the end of the world and I don’t think people should be too disappointed or think he’s in decline again. He’s played a lot of tennis in the last four months without a real break, and worked really hard to regain the #2 ranking. It’s asking a lot for him to win 7 best-of-five matches in two weeks when he’s already so tired. Because it’s a Grand Slam, he’ll give it his best effort, but there’s just no substitute for being well-rested.

    My personal feeling is that major #18, if it comes this year, will come in the summer, perhaps even in Paris. Of course, this is just a feeling and it could come at the beginning of February…which would be wonderful. So go Roger!

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  10. Tough draw, but the past has shown that draws mean not so much. 5 out of the 7 last Grand Slams Roger was drawn into Nadals half but they only met last year in Melbourne.
    However, I have the feeling that they fix the draws to get the best possible matches. Since Stan and Djokovic had that epic clash at the AO 2013 they have been drawn together at every hard court Slam till today and the matches at the US Open 2013 and AO 2014 also have been nail-biters. At last year’s US Open Nishikori and Stan had a five-set battle for over 4 hours and now they are drawn together in QF and the winner could play Djokovic.
    In 2011 when Djokovic came up strong and Roger dropped to number 3, Federer-Nadal (number 1 then) was still the match everbody wanted to see and so they put Roger in 5 out of 6 times in Djokovic half to get a Fedal final.
    Since Djokovic is the man to beat at slams, Nadal and Federer should battle to play Djokovic in the final if things go the way the ATP wants. The only exception was Roland Garros 2014 when Djokovic and Roger were drawn into the same half, and guess why? Right, that the winner can play the GOAT of clay in the final.
    But nevermind the draw, Roger has the game and the mental strength to beat everyone at this year’s Australien Open. Chum jetze!

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  11. F Nadal. He is not ready to beat 5.0. No way. Not gonna happen.

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    Joe Reply:

    Well said!
    :-)

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Case closed.

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    Joe Reply:

    “We’re on to 2,000, right?” said Federer after his recent 1000th match win.

    Even though he was joking, this is the spirit I like to see in Roger 5.0!

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