On a rainy day in Monte Carlo with several rain breaks Roger has carried on where he left off in Miami and lost to friend and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka. Once again the forehand let him down big time, making unforced errors on a regular basis. For many Federer fans this is all becoming a little too painful too watch. As for me I find it interesting watching the whole thing unfold. Lets be honest, how much time did Roger really have to process the loss at Miami? I mean it hasn’t even been two weeks since he smashed his racket to pieces against Djokovic, and in the mean time he did this little thing called getting married. So it hasn’t exactly been a time for him to take things into perspective tennis wise. Playing in Monte Carlo was a late decision that was always going to be a little risky.
It’s debatable weather he should have played in Monte Carlo. Obviously with the benefit of hindsight people will say it’s the wrong decision, but it is after all a Masters Series event and already Roger is not going to defend his title in Estoril. And it’s not like he lost to a mug opponent today. Wawrinka is a very accomplished clay court player and played a good match. Last year after coming off losses to Roddick and Fish, Roger almost lost his first match at Monte Carlo to Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo. Had he played against Wawrinka that day he might have lost. There is many reasons why this loss isn’t the end of the world for Roger, although many will make it out to be that way. It’s a bad start to the clay season but I see no reason to make more of it then that for the moment.
Just so you don’t think I’ve lost it, I am not ignoring what a terrible match Roger played today and I was as disgusted as you probably were. But that’s no reason to abandon common sense. Like I said Roger has had little time to digest what happened in the US hard court season and there is no need for alarm, yet. If he continues in this vain I would be the first to admit that his unbroken record of 19 consecutive grand slam semi-finals or better is under serious threat. But he still has Rome and Hamburg to resurrect his clay court season. But as always there is a lot to be said for his latest loss. Like I said he wouldn’t have had any chance to digest his hard court season and make adjustments, but still I’d like to look at what he is doing wrong.
Roger is being completely stubborn. He still haven’t come out of his bubble and he expects his opponents to bow down to his greatness. Only they don’t feel like doing that. Wawrinka almost did it, he kept Roger is the match as long as he could by not taking his break chances. But in the end I guess he realized Roger wasn’t gonna stop handing them out so he finally took one. It’s clear that he is still in the Miami and Indian Wells mindset where he is not wiling to make any adjustments when his opponent is competing successfully with him. Will Roger ever make that adjustment? Nothing is guaranteed. But like I said before things will only get worse for him until he either reaches a turning point or he must retire if he doesn’t want to ruin his legacy.
But even that option should still be pretty far away. I mean he’s obviously not doing his head to head records against the likes of Murray and Rafa any good. But if he breaks Sampras’ slam record that wouldn’t be so bad. Pete Sampras won grand slams over a span of 12 years, while Roger hasn’t even been doing so for 6 years. What is tricky for Roger is that he was more dominant then Sampras, which means that it will be harder to hang around when things are not going his way. Still he should be thinking long term and not let these few losses get him into a hole. He can take a lot away from what happened to Sampras in the latter part of his career. Sampras lost almost all confidence for something like 2 years but hung in there and eventually won another US Open.
The important thing for Roger is to make a mental change. He doesn’t want to keep doing the same thing and watch things get worse all the time. In his loss against Wawrinka it was once again painfully obvious what he was doing wrong. He goes for an attacking shot and when it doesn’t work he goes for more, even if he starts missing. It’s like he doesn’t give his opponent any respect. And once again the solution isn’t rocket science. Be more patient, hit the ball higher over the net instead of lower and wait for a more opportune moment to finish the rally. This pattern to go for more instead of less started out against Rafa on clay, then on other surfaces and finally against other opponents. And it is killing his game.
I must say it really disappoints me that he doesn’t humble himself. There is nothing wrong with his game. And as a tennis player I know one of the first things I learned was to go for less when I start missing. I mean it’s not a question of being less of a man or anything, it’s just smart tennis. You do it to get your rhythm and confidence back and to be able to go for more again. But when Roger start missing it’s like he doesn’t believe it’s happening so he just goes for more. Clay is the one surface that you can definitely not afford to have that mindset, because you will get owned. If Roger doesn’t realize something soon I see him having endless problems on the dirt. He has an opportunity now to get his confidence back because clay can help you with that.
But if you don’t approach it the right way it can also cause a lot of damage to your confidence. So it will depend on Roger whether he can get his mentality right. If he does he can make another French Open final, if not his grand slam run might just finally come to an end. It must be a daunting prospect for him to get to the finals and getting beat the way he was last year. His attitude will thus be very important. The kind of clay court season he has will also be important for his chances to recapture his Wimbledon crown. My advice to you as a Federer fan is not to be too attached to what happens to Roger. Like I said nothing is guaranteed and Roger may never get over his stubborn attitude. A coach might be good for him but I’m not even sure he is looking for one right now.
It would be great to see Roger regain his confidence soon and watch him break Sampras’ record but people make their own decisions and they live with the cosequences. I mean I really hope for his own sake and for his fans’ sake he can get it together, but I’m not pinning my hopes on it. Good luck to Roger.