Is Federer’s Injury a Coincidence?

I want to inform you that yesterday I underwent arthroscopic surgery on my knee. I injured my knee the day after the semi-finals in Australia. After getting tests done when I returned home, it was determined that I had torn my meniscus. I apologize to my friends in Rotterdam and Dubai, as I was very much looking forward to playing those events. While this is an unfortunate setback, I am encouraged and grateful that my doctor said the procedure was a success. I am looking forward to attacking the rehabilitation process this afternoon with my team and working hard to get back out on tour as soon as possible. Thanks for all your incredible support. I will check in with all of you soon.

Well, I never got to my ‘Final Thoughts’ post on the 2016 Australian Open but I will say some more about it here. I just want to wish Federer a speedy recovery from his knee surgery. It is, of course, a setback when the Djoker’s main rival is injured.

I see there has already been plenty of overreaction from Fedfans about this injury. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. It could give Federer a needed break after all the big losses to Djokovic since 2014. It may even help extend his career.

Like I told a reader, the injury may even be connected to all the losses to Djokovic. I don’t believe in random coincidence. The injury could be a physical manifestation of the mental frustration Federer has suffered with Djokovic of late.

He has thrown every trick in the book at Djokovic but Djokovic hasn’t moved an inch. It’s now becoming like the rivalry with Nadal. Federer can’t win any of the big matches and that must take a toll on him in some form.

The mind and body are connected so this injury doesn’t surprise me. This is perhaps Federer’s sub-conscious telling him that something needs to be adjusted. Federer’s back problems may have been a physical manifestation of his mental problems with Nadal as well.

Was it a coincidence that Federer’s back went from bad to worse in 2013 when Nadal was having that extraordinary year, only to recover completely ever since Nadal slumped again since 2014? I’ll let you decide.

Whatever the case may be, Federer has to figure out how to deal with Djokovic because he is not making any progress. Things will just keep getting worse for him. He already got pummeled in the first two sets in Melbourne.

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That was the kind of mental shock that could have resulted in the manifestation of physical injury. Djokovic is like a wall that Federer can’t penetrate. He has changed coaches, he has improved his net game, he has invented the SABR.

He has even grown a beard. Nothing works. Djokovic remains and impenetrable fortress to Federer. His one-handed backhand just isn’t good enough to hold up from the baseline against the best backhand in the business.

His biggest weapon, the serve, is neutralized by Djokovic’s lethal returns. If he comes to the net he gets passed. If he tries to hit winners Djokovic runs it down. There literally seems to be nowhere to go for him. This has to be enormously frustrating for Federer with his vast talent.

But more important than all the things I mentioned is the mental aspect. Because of where Djokovic comes from, he is a mental monster. He was hitting tennis balls inside an empty swimming pool as a kid before going to hide in the basement when Belgrade got bombed.

Becker calls him a streetfighter. More than a physical fortress he is a mental fortress. Nothing gets inside his head. He is immune. We saw that last year in the US Open final. It’s been a long road for the Djoker with many disappointments and setbacks along the way.

But he endured all and is now at the peak of his powers. No tennis player is his equal. He rules with ruthless efficiency. There is no weakness to be exploited. No chink in the armor. He takes whatever he wants and all must submit to his will. And yet he never becomes complacent.

I don’t know how Federer overcomes that. And again, he is losing the matches in the mental department. He gives Djokovic more than enough problems to defeat him but he doesn’t win the important points. No better proof of that is the 4/23 break point conversions in the US Open final last year.

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How does Federer at this point of his career change his mental makeup? Djokovic’s mental strength is something he developed all the way back from his childhood through years of adversity and setbacks while in comparison Federer had it easy.

Who and what you are as a person is not something that happened overnight. Everyone’s character is strongly shaped by their past. I’m sure there is a way for Federer to overcome his mental issues against Djokovic but he’d have to take a serious look at himself and admit once and for all that Djokovic is his superior.

No more of the ‘match is on my racquet’ nonsense. No more arrogance and denial. He never dealt with his demons against Nadal. Why would he do it against Djokovic? I think his body just gave him another signal that there is something to deal with but I wouldn’t get too hopeful that he would listen to that signal if I was a Fedfan.

Federer was always too proud and spoiled to admit that someone could be better than him or that he was the one that had to adjust. He was always told that he was the chosen one, the GOAT, a tennis god, or whatever else he was called.

I guess it got to his head because he didn’t want to admit that someone was getting the better of him or that he was the one who had to adjust. That’s what Djokovic referred to in his presser after the Australian Open final.

He said he didn’t want to allow himself to think that he has now set himself apart from the rest of the big four because you can get a big slap from karma very soon. Well, that big slap from karma came for Federer in the 2009 Australian Open final when he got the beating of a lifetime which to this day I believe he has not gotten to terms with.

I think I will just stop here. When I start writing about this stuff I can just keep going forever. Maybe I will self-publish a book on Amazon Kindle one of these days and sell it for $1 or something. Then I may finally get a financial return on all my work :))

Is Federer's injury a coincidence?

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The is in your court.

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4 Comments

  1. Good analysis Ru-an, no doubt Federer’s skills and his graceful movement on the court( and outside the court) is still the most joyful to watch. he has set the bar so high that in his era two tennis monsters were born (Nadal and Djokovic).

    Each one gets the better of another hence it makes it such a interesting period in tennis. Sadly, when all said is done, Federer’s head to head record against these 2 is not something he would be proud of. Nadal was his namesis right from the start and holds a 9-2 in GS h2h which is relatively one sided. As great as Federer, he has never beaten Nadal outside Wimbledon. Djokovic, however, proved he can stand foe to toe and has beaten Nadal in all the GS surface though he is still missing the FO in his resume.

    Now Nadal is in decline, he is facing Djokovic whom he had good winning record, but the tide has changed esp at GS levels. Again, it’s not like he didn’t have the chance. In the Wimbledon 14 he came back to force a 5th set but lost. In Wimbeldon 15′, he was up set point in the first set but ended up losing it. In USO 14′ the crowd were all against Djokovic and he had plenty of break points but couldn’t convert. The recent AO he played the worse match against Djokovic the first 2 sets could be a tell tale sign he was not 100% fit. he looked especially sluggish throughout the match and not till the 3rd set he found his groove, but more likely because Djokovic dropped his level slightly.

    The recovery from surgery should give him time to think what he needs to do whenever he face Djokovic. He needs to acknowledge Djokovic’s dominance, and tailor his game and mental state specifically for him in order to have a breakthrough. Otherwise, time is running out for him and more beating could even affect his confidence in time to come.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks, IWC. Yes, Federer’s skill and grace are great to watch. But unfortunately, that is not enough to beat a mental fortress like Djokovic. Being pleasing to the eye does not win tennis matches. And neither does being popular for that matter.

    You are right that Federer’s h2h’s with Djokodal looks bad. He cannot be considered the GOAT with losing records against his two main rivals.

    I don’t think Federer was affected by any injury in the first two sets. Can you even play at all with that kind of injury? Given that it required surgery that is hard to believe. If the injury was bothering him in the first couple of sets then how did he manage to make the match competitive in the third and fourth sets all of a sudden? I don’t think that theory holds any water whatsoever.

    The sluggishness which you refer to was due to the emotional setback suffered from being taught a tennis lesson by the far superior player. We have seen that same sluggish body language when he plays against Nadal. It’s like he is not interested in the match. That is just from getting owned by the better player.

    So again we get back to the emotional side of things. It’s his pride/ego that gets injured and then manifests as a physical injury. That is my theory anyway. And according to the poll, most people agree with me.

    [Reply]

    IWC2016 Reply:

    Hi Ru-an,

    Yes you are right about Federer’s pride.

    He has many fans globally and his popularity with tennis and non tennis fans keep growing as he age, even without winning any GS since 2012. His appearance in any tournaments regularly sold out and tv ratings go up whenever he play. However, it is clear he is not the best player anymore despite his own self-belief.

    The knee surgery no doubt will affect his confidence in the first few months back in tour as it subconsciously add to the mind you’ll as good as your body allow you to be. He is not tennis god or invincible as the torch now has passed on to Djokovic. The time will come when Djokovic has to give away to a successor because he too can’t stop the reality of aging when his body starts to show sign of breaking down.

    I believe after Olympics Federer will start reflecting where he is and if no longer able to compete at a high level and challenge Djokovic, he could call it quit. He might play next year but but it would take a toll more and more to his body and mind. The truth is he can’t stop Djokovic from winning more GS and the possibility of surpassing him. He could have won more than 17 GS (if not more ) if not for he stumbles at the mental level when playing Nadal or Djokovic at crucial points in those big matches. I don’t think u can fix this unless you admit you are weaker in that department and mentally ready to ‘die’ on the court to win. I don’t think this is his personality.

    [Reply]

    Ru-an Reply:

    Good post, IWC. Being ready to ‘die’ on the court is not Federer’s personality. He is not a warrior, he is an artist. He has great fighting abilities and killer instinct but it is not up there with Djokovic and Nadal. They are on another level. And unfortunately for Federer, artistry does not win tennis matches.

    Being a warrior and having killer instinct does. So yeah, I don’t see how he becomes that if it’s not his personality.

    [Reply]

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