I’m back guys. I missed a post this week when Roger played against De Bakker so I owe you one. But since I have some time and the subject of this post is an important one, I probably would have made this post regardless. Roger’s back. That’s right. Roger’s back is something that has bothered him for a long time now. In fact it may have always bothered him. I read somewhere that it has been a problem for him since he was a kid. That makes sense because it definitely is not an injury. It’s not an injury that he picked up somewhere that can be treated and healed. It is similar to Nadal’s knee issue. It’s a chronic problem. I used to have lower back problems when I was playing tennis too. It wasn’t something that I could ever get rid of. It was just something I had to live with and manage as well as I could.
I think this is the case for Roger too. I am not speaking from an expert point of view and I don’t have all the facts about Roger’s back, just for the record. But this is what seems to be the case judging from what I have seen from Roger over the years and from my own experience with back problems too. I don’t think this is something he will ever get rid of completely. He will just have to manage it as well as he can. Give it adequate rest and treatment and try to make the muscles stronger where there is a weakness. The back muscles is very important for a tennis player. There is a lot of twisting and turning and stretching going on. It is also important on the serve where Roger’s problem seems to be. This goes back to my last post where I just could not explain Roger’s performance against Benneteau until one of my readers left a comment.
The comment said that Annacone mentioned Roger had been struggling with his back throughout the week in Rotterdam. Also I read somewhere that Roger had not practiced for Rotterdam until last Sunday. On top of that he was playing with two shirts in Melbourne in his last two matches as far as I can remember. So I think it’s pretty safe to say he was having problems with his back against Benneteau. So yes my post was off base to a certain extent. But if you have been following my blog for a long time you will know that I am similar to Roger in many ways. First of all I am very honest, and like Roger I don’t ever look for excuses. Roger never mentioned anything about his back in his presser. I have a lot of respect for that. He was rather looking at where he went wrong and crediting his opponent, rather than blaming his back. This is the attitude of a true champion.
But there is no doubt in my mind now that his injury caused him to lose. When you are injured you can’t give 100%, and that would perfectly explain why Roger looked like he was lacking his usual passion. That injury is always in the back of your mind because you don’t want to make it worse. That would also explain Roger’s body language. He looked kind of nonchalant, like he was almost in exho mode. Come to think of it, my last post wasn’t really of base. Like Roger, my approach has always been to criticize myself first and then look for excuses. It may seem like I am being too harsh on myself or on Roger, but that is just the way I do things. Now that I know about the back problem it is obvious to me the fault is not with Roger, I am going to say it. I have total faith in Roger 3.0 and I know he is not going to put in a performance like this if there wasn’t a serious problem.
Roger with some fans in Rotterdam. Funny look on his face.
On the one side I am happy to have found an explanation for his loss against Benneteau, but on the other hand his back worries me somewhat. If he didn’t practice until Sunday it means he had two weeks rest after Melbourne where he could have gotten treatment for his back. Yet it still bothered him all week according to Annacone. I thought Roger made a great start to the season in Melbourne and he was primed to win Rotterdam. So his back is certainly not helping his momentum at the start of the season. Rotterdam is one of the few indoor events and those are the ones Roger really needs to cash in on. Also, the excuses about his family and not caring about smaller events really need to stop. I think Roger has proven that his family is not an obstacle in his tennis career. If anything it makes him better.
Also he clearly cares about the smaller events. Why else would he have won 5 of them last year? They are important to help him keep his ranking and to give him an unbeatable aura, so that when he goes into the slams it makes things easier for him. I said in my last post that he may have to play Miami, but now that I heard about his back that will probably not be a good idea. With his back problems a limited schedule is even more important. Next up for him is Dubai in about a week where he is defending another title, and then a week later he is also defending his title in Indian Wells. I hear Murray won’t be in Dubai so I hope Roger can make at least the final there so that we can have a Djokerer final. I really hope his back will be better for Dubai, but I guess there are no guarantees. I suppose as Roger gets older his back is becoming more of an issue too.
But it doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. We will just have to wait and see. Maybe it will bother him more from now on. Maybe it won’t. We can just hope for the best. As for the Rotterdam final Del Potro beat Benneteau 7-6(2), 6-3. I wasn’t interested in watching. I was more interested in the Sao Paolo final where Nadal was facing Nalbandian. I thought Nalbandian had a good chance winning this after an impressive win over Almagro in the quarters. But he got hammered 6-2, 6-3 by Nadal in the final. It was disappointing and I guess Nadal is not doing badly on his comeback, although he has been looking vulnerable. He lost against Zeballos in the Vina del Mar final and have been dropping sets all over the place. He was also doing his usual ‘I’m not the favorite’ thing before the Sao Paolo final and then goes on to destroy his opponent.
Also he complained about the surface speed before the final, saying Sao Paolo is faster than the US Open. So his downplaying his own chances combined with excuses seemed to work to the tee for him as he scooped up another clay title and $2 mil in appearance fees. I guess it’s really tough being Nadal with all the injury problems he has had and the ATP conspiring against him by making all the courts slower these days. Well it hasn’t exactly been the weekend of tennis I’ve been hoping for but at least we know Roger had a good reason for losing now. Lets hope his back is ready for Dubai!