I want to come back to Roger’s presser after he lost to Nadal in Miami. It was one of those bad losses which caused the journalists to raise many questions about Roger’s future in the game. And you can’t really blame them. One wonders about Roger’s future in the game after being 0-4 to his man rivals since the beginning of the year, including one in slams and two other crushing losses.
Q. With the exception of Andre and maybe Connors back in the day, there haven’t been too many players winning slams after 29. What do you feel like you have up your sleeve that you’re going to be able to use to win some slams in the future?
ROGER FEDERER: Um, I don’t know. You tell me. I don’t know. I think I’ve done quite well over the last ten years. I feel like I’ve done a lot more than some other players, so I feel like I’m yeah, we’ll see how it all plays out.
We’ll see at 36, 39 how many more I was able to get or not. We’re not going to predict how many I’m going to get or not. I’m enjoying myself right now, and I feel like if I’m playing well I can get those. That’s what I care about right now.
Q. After Rafa’s play today, do you think it’s going to start a new era with Djokovic and Nadal on the top?
ROGER FEDERER: Possibly. I don’t know. You tell me. Let’s see in five years. Look back. It’s not like Novak hasn’t been around. Guys all talk about it like the guy can’t play tennis. It’s disappointing.
Q. It took Pete a long time to get his last title, and some of the other guys also, before they made that final statement, went through a lot of stuff. Are you prepared and thinking about maybe having to go through all that and ultimately prove your point? Is that a challenge, or more of a hassle and a drag?
ROGER FEDERER: No, bigger hassle is being asked all the time these questions. I don’t know how many times I need to answer until I just say I’m not going to answer it anymore. Up to you how many times I will have to answer the question until I’m sick and tired of it.
But I know that I can do many more things in the game. Sure, it’s disappointing losing a game like tonight, but those are the matches I work extremely hard for in the off season and practice, and I’m very excited by what’s to come still.
I don’t feel like I’m 35 like you guys make me sound I am. I’m still only 29, and I have many more years left.
Roger’s irritation and frustration with the journo’s questions is obvious. But they are actually just asking normal questions which many of us would like to be answered. I mean it’s not like it is totally disrespectful questions. It’s pretty realistic. I don’t know that much about Connors, but he played in an era which was not as competitive at the top as the current one is. No one these days play until they are 39, and I definitely can’t see Roger doing that. Agassi played until 36, but that had a lot to do with the fact that he went through times in his career where he lost interest in the game, so he had less miles on his legs and could therefor compete for longer. This is not the case with Roger. Aside from the fact that he schedules well and doesn’t overplay, he hasn’t had any off time from the tour and has played a lot of tennis.
He will not be like Agassi where he reaches his peak in his late twenties/early thirties. Roger’s peak, which was from 2004-2007, is now well and truly over. He showed glimpses of his best at the Oz Open of 2010 and also the indoor season last year. But with the rise of Djokovic in 2012, those kind of results seems even less likely now. The kind of loss that Roger suffered against Murray in Shanghai, Djokovic in Dubai, and Nadal in Miami can’t be great for his confidence. They are telling losses and they help open up the gap between him and his main rivals. Murray has fallen off the map for now after what happened at the Oz Open, but Djokovic and Nadal seems to be in their own league now. If you take Agassi, there wasn’t really players who clearly dominated him when he played into his mid thirties.
He still won slams into his thirties and could compete with the best of them, because he was riding a wave of confidence towards the end of his career. In Djokovic and Nadal there are now guys who can dominate Roger. Then Murray can get his act together and start doing the same. And don’t forget Del Potro, who will soon be a force to reckon with for everyone, let alone Roger. It won’t get any easier that’s for sure. And as I remarked in my previous post, Roger is the kind of guy who likes to be around the top and compete for the big titles. That is just who he is. He says in the interview that he keeps enjoying his tennis, but how much will he enjoy it when he constantly gets shut out of the big events by his main rivals? To me it seems like Roger is taking a long term view and isn’t looking to retire for several more year.
I mean I am talking until after the 2012 Olympics, until the age of about 35. Considering the final question that I posted, it doesn’t look like he is just looking to make one more good run like Sampras and then retire. I would have thought that Olympics would be a good time to go out from what I have seen of late. It still gives him six more slams to compete in where he can possibly make a good run and take the title, as well as the Olympics itself. Roger has now won at least one slam a year for the last eight years. If he doesn’t win one for the next two years, will cause him to rethink his retirement? And it is definitely possible that he won’t. For the first time in eight years he is currently not holding a slam title. As far as I’m concerned the only slam titles where he will have a shot from now on is at Wimbledon and the US Open.
With Nadal having won his first US Open, Djokovic having beaten Roger last year at the Us Open, Del Potro having done the same, and Murray around, he may not be able to win the US Open again. At Wimbledon he probably has his best chance, but his main rival Nadal stands firmly in his way there. Djokovic may also be a much improved player on grass after what we have seen from him so far this year. You may have Nadal and Djokovic playing in the Wimbledon final in the near future. Personally I wouldn’t be surprised if they meet in the Wimbledon and Roland Garros finals this year already. The point is Roger could have a hard time winning a slam in the next two years, and after that it will only get harder. Surely a lot depends on whether he can win a slam from now until the end of 2013 concerning his retirement.
But like I said, it looks like he is taking a long term view and isn’t even thinking about retiring in the next two years. He must think he can still win slams regardless of whether he wins a slam by the end of 2013. What do you think? Do you think he may rethink his current long term view and still retire after the Olympics, or do you think he will keep playing if he is not able to win the big titles?