Should Federer Take an Extended Break from Tennis?

Greetings. There have been some good discussions on my blog after my last post again and I thank you for taking part and keeping this the go-to blog for all loyal and knowlegeable Fedfans. One thing that came up in the discussion is a long term break from the game for Roger, or a Nadal-like break if you will. Roger was always the one who was very healthy and still to this day have never retired from a match. He has only withdrawn before a match on two occasions. Nadal was always the one with the knee problems(how serious it was God only knows) due to his taxing game style. I always thought Roger would have great longevity because his game style was the opposite of Nadal’s. He glided smoothly across the court and played offensive, first strike tennis. He also scheduled very wisely, because his health was more important to him than making an easy million in appearance fees.

So I always thought he would have great longevity. That is until his back became a problem. His back has been a problem for a long time now. How long exactly I’m not sure but it is clear to me that he always had a weak back, and that all the years on tour started catching up with it. Probably the first time I can remember his back giving him problems was already back at the 2008 Masters Cup against Murray. Incidentally that was just about the time I started this blog. That is almost five years that Roger has had the back problem that I know of. Probably it started earlier than that. It didn’t seem to bother him much in his prime though, because he was playing a lot and winning just about everything. But like I said he always had a weak back and once it started it seemed to get worse and worse. Despite the back problems and inevitable decline he has still won 5 slams after his prime.

That is impressive. With every slam win after his prime it took more and more out of him to win slams though. After winning 2 slams in 2009 and 1 at the beginning of 2010, he went slamless in 2011. Toward the end of 2011 Roger won Basel, Paris, and the Masters Cup in succession. It was a sign of things to come in 2012 and Roger was clearly making a big push for another slam, which he won at Wimbledon. It took almost 2 and a half years for Roger to win his 17th slam, and it took a lot out of him. He went on a tear of 6 titles and 4 finals. His level was almost prime level. It took Roger a long time to gather himself for that big push, and I don’t see how he can play that well for that duration of time again. I can see him play that well for a whole tournament again, but he won’t dominate again and get back to #1. It’s very hard to imagine anyway.

Another thing which came out of our discussion was that the exhos in South-America at the end of last year took a big toll on Roger. We have said all of this before, but it is worth mentioning again after seeing the way 2013 turned out. I have been speculating about the reason for Roger’s poor form since Rotterdam this year. Probably the first thing I thought of was the toll 2012 took on Roger, because since the US Open last year he was struggling. During the indoor season he struck me as burned out. Roger still had a good Australian Open where I thought he played very well. But it was like the final encore of Roger 3.0. After that things went south for Roger. Also at that point I think the back problems started again, because he was wearing double shirts towards the end there. Someone said the back problems started in the quarters against Tsonga.

Then from Rotterdam onward it was clear that Roger was not himself. And again I think his back was bothering him there. I now believe it is not as much as being mental burnout, but physical burnout, and specifically Roger’s back. If Roger was mentally burned out from 2012 he would not have played so well in Melbourne. And even if he was burned out after that he took a 7 week break after Indian Wells. He never quite got going during the clay court season and then had the loss at Wimbledon. Now it’s finally become abundantly clear that he has a serious back problem. It is clear that his back has been seriously hampering him at least since after Melbourne. That in turn made his confidence suffer. It’s a vicious cycle. His back never gives him a long enough break to play enough matches and get some confidence going.

We may have a situation here where Roger’s back has declined faster than his game itself. But it is also clear that the South-American exhos were a bad idea. Of course we don’t know what the situation was and obviously sponsors would have been involved, but these exhos never seem like a good idea to me. The one he played with Sampras at the end of 2007 clearly took a toll and he should have learned his lesson from that. I was surprised when I heard he would play an exho at the end of 2012 after the brutal 2012 season. It seemed irresponsible. Or careless. Sure it gave him a lot of positive energy, but it was once again emotional and drained him as well. I would have thought some quiet time in Switzerland with his family would have been the best option after such an emotional and draining season.

Challenging times…

Also his body could have done with the rest, but instead he was playing more tennis and getting little rest. So mentally and physically it cost him. I believe 2013 could have been a much more successful season if he did not go to South-America and instead just got away from it all and kept it simple. It is almost as though he relaxed after his 2012 achievements and forgot that he still wants to play tennis after 2012. Never mind the sponsors. This is about Roger’s tennis, and the longer and better he plays the better for the sponsors anyway. In my opinion 2013 has basically been a washout, and I blame the exho in South-America for it. It’s a similar story to the 2007 exho with Sampras, after which the 2008 season was basically a washout too compared to the level of his prime. Back then Roger should have taken a break as well.

Jason came up with these facts again on my last post, and he brought up the time Roger went to South Africa too. That was after he won the Australian Open in 2010 and after that he didn’t win a slam again for about 2 and a half years. He also speculated that Roger could have won an additional 2-4 slams had he not done these outings. I agree with that. It is about priorities I guess. If Roger didn’t play any exhos or did work for his foundation he would look like a pretty selfish guy. That’s not Roger though. He is generous and likes to give back to the sport that gave him so much. That is admirable. It is tempting to be greedy and want everything for yourself. This is an even bigger reason to be a Fedfan and why Roger is such a great role model. He really is a great human being, and not just a great tennis player. Personally I would probably have been a lot more selfish.

I am just being honest. I would rather have had 20 slam titles by now and I wouldn’t have cared as much what the fans thought of me. But that is why he is Roger Federer and I am me. I wouldn’t care as much about the money and appearance fees, because I would have already been so rich. But winning 20 slams and being the untouchable GOAT would have had a nice ring to it. Lets just hope this latest trip to South-America did not cost him #18 because it may well have. Like I said, 2013 has basically been a wash out now. It’s too late to make it a good year too. Roger won’t win a title in the North-American hard court season if he even plays it. He could win an indoor title if he’s lucky, but that would still be just two titles for the year. That would be the least amount of titles Roger has won in 12 years! So now I get to my original question.

Does Roger need an extended break from tennis? First of all what would an extended break do? Right now Roger lacks match practice and confidence. The only way to remedy that would be to play a lot of matches and get his confidence back that way, but his back won’t allow him. The problem with the back is back spasms. This is a muscular problem due to weak muscles. You would think that you can strengthen these muscles and the problem would be fixed, but it is not that simple. I think it is genetic and it definitely can’t be cured. I speak of experience. But I do think the core and surrounding muscles can be strengthened so that the back becomes manageable. I’m not sure Roger has a very strong core or upper body. He always had a bit of a gut and his upper body isn’t very muscular. I’d like to see him get in the gym and really strengthen that upper body.

I have mentioned this  before as a way to reinvent himself so that he doesn’t get overpowered as much. Recently he seemed to have slimmed down. That could help his back in the sense that his back is carrying less weight. But if his core isn’t strong enough it won’t be enough. Now that Roger has lost some extra body fat he may want to start building some muscle and strengthening that core. There is no doubt Roger would have already worked on strengthening his core, but his back is still giving problems which means it can’t be strong enough. I don’t think taking a Nadal-like break would be the right thing for Roger. Eight months is a long time and at this stage of Roger’s career going away from the sport for that long could prove to be fatal. And besides I don’t think he needs that much time to strengthen his core and upper body.

A 3 or 6 month break should be sufficient. A good time to take the break would be after Indian Wells until the beginning of the grass court season. Roger doesn’t need to play the clay court season anymore. With the long rallies I can’t imagine that it is very good for his back anyway. The problem is he needs to take action now, and it’s still a long time before the clay court season. A lot of what I am writing here is just speculation and it is quite hard to figure out what exactly Roger should do. But we do know that he has to try and sort his back out. Like I said he desperately needs matches for confidence but his first priority now is looking after his back. Roger took a 7 week break after Indian Wells already but I think he now needs to take a longer 3 month break. Or even longer if that is what it takes for him to come back healthy.

What say you?

Should Roger take an extended break from tennis?

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44 Comments

  1. I’m glad everyone is now realizing the back is the main issue. Roger has said before how is back has prevented him from practicing and training the way he wants to. I’m sure he has done many exercises to strengthen his core. His trainer is very knowledgeable. From what I remember, his back has been an issue all of his career to some degree.
    Does anyone know what is going on with Cilic? High glucose levels from what? Seems he was put on a silent ban at Wimbledon. Sounds familiar.

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  2. Hi Ruan

    Your past few post has been very informative on aspects of injuries, player’s mind and condition. I like reading it a lot and keep coming back to read it a few times! I don’t mind if Roger take 3-6 months break. He will have sufficient time to work on his weak back. Right now he is racing against time and its going to be rush work to fix things for short term gain. If he really wants to continue playing, he should just play at Cincy, USO then skip Asian swing + European indoors. He might need to do national service on Basel Indoor tourney otherwise, should just stop right after USO.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Glad you found my posts informative and enjoyable Dippy. I’m not always sure what people think of these long posts. Seeing that Roger isn’t playing right now I figured they wouldn’t mind it. Skipping the indoor swing is another option and would give him more than 3 months rest. The indoor season has always been good for his confidence so I wouldn’t like to see him skip it, but if it means he will sort his back out then I am all for it.

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    Pryzm Reply:

    To me it seems that back problems lead inevitably to footwork problems, which in turn lead to errant shots, loss of confidence, and other problems. That’s certainly not the only progression taking place in the complex dynamic that Roger’s going through now, but if he can address the first, I think the second, third, etc. will take care of themselves – at least to an extent.

    One other problem I suspect is that his service returns from the backhand side have been poor (almost all due to back problems, I suspect – but there’s probably a very slight decline in reflexes at Roger’s still young age – I can’t remember, when I was his age, if I was noticing a decline in reaction time or not!). But – and here’s another point – this leads to fewer break point conversions, doesn’t it? Stakhovsky in particular (I didn’t watch the match myself) was said to be able to serve very effectively to Roger’s backhand.

    So one point I’d like to offer is that (IMHO) addressing his back problem will resolve a lot of other issues for Roger, including service returns, break point conversions, confidence, and others.

    Whether or not Roger should take a break, I don’t know. I don’t know how serious his back problems are, but I’m definitely familiar with back problems as I was born with some structural abonormalities in my back that have caused definite problems over the years. But not lately! I’ve found that yoga and some very specific exercises have allowed me to lead an athletic life and I’m very grateful for that.

    It’s my thought that yoga and mindfulness training could help Roger to recondition his back and to concentrate better, as well as to retain or regain the flexibility to make so many incredible shots that have amazed us over the years. Djokovic practices yoga, as I imagine most of us know, and its effect on his game has been obvious and very positive.

    This is a great site and I want to thank you all for your very educational posts. I’ve learned a great deal from reading what Ruan has to say, and I’ve also learned a lot from other bloggers here as well. In general I don’t mind if others disagree with me, but in this case in particular, I feel that I don’t know enough about the condition of Roger’s back to know what is best for him. I think it’s more important that I wish him the best than that I know the answers to his problems!

    Best Regards,
    Pryzm

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    Veronica Reply:

    Great comment, Pryzm. Yoga could certainly help with back problems; but as you say, we don’t know Roger’s specific back problem. Djoko is very open minded and thinks outside the box in searching for answers. He does yoga, meditation, healthy eating, sports psychology, etc. All these are directly responsible for making him no. 1 player in the world. It just puzzles me why other players are not trying out some of these helps; afterall, they are harmless, always available, and can only do you good.

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    rich Reply:

    Djoko “thinking outside the box”? Ped’s more likely – by far the quickest pathway to sporting success today.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Rich, I was sure I would get a response from you, haha! I know, it is very suspicious how Djoko, the most celebrated perennially unfit tennis player in history can suddenly outlast the most celebrated perennially injured but fittest player in history! But Djoko does not have the body of a doper,(although not all dopers have cut bodies) and I can’t see how doping can make Djoko the mental giant he is. But I know meditation, prayer, mental/emotional conditioning/healing can bring about tremendous mental change. And, more than any of the other top 3, I can easily see Djoko trying out alternative treatments. He is less conventional than the other 3, has a more reckless and open personality; which, I suppose, can also mean he would be more game to dope than the other 3! Ha! As for his super fitness/endurance, I’m not sure if the egg did it (although he never mentions it now) and his asthma/allergy/breathing problems, I can totally believe they are gone due to a gluten-free/healthy diet because I have seen these ailments being healed through diet and healthy living. He has become leaner which could explain the change in diet and I suppose when you do not suffer from these ailments anymore, you can train better and become fitter?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Right Veronica there is no proof Djokovic is doping. He’s a pretty thin build as well. Besides a lot can be achieved through the right diet, the right exercise routine, enough rest, meditation, the right use of the mind, yoga, etc. It would be a shame if he did it in a natural way through great effort and we accuse him of doping.

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    rich Reply:

    Apart from a bunch of former world champion track stars being busted for doping in recent weeks we have just seen two top tennis players cited for doping violations – Marin Cilic and Victor Troiki. It is pretty unlikely that players of their rank are doping but the players that still beat them – the top players – are not. Only the dumb or the careless get caught, so positive tests are and will be a rarity. I don’t look anymore for so-called “proof” of doping in respect of any professional sportsman – I assume now that most will be. We don’t have to go searching for complicated explanations for problems when the simple one is often staring us in the face: of course Djoko and other top players are doping. (Do you really think meditation and yoga turned him overnight from a player with stamina issues into an alien from outer space – like the so-called “freak of nature” from Mallorca?) I would go so far as to say that you can’t get to the top now unless you are prepared to dope. We know that it is widespread and very difficult to catch, so it would stand to reason that the most ambitious sportsmen (as Lance Armstrong showed ) will do it. If it is rife in cycling and everywhere else it sure as hell will also be rife in tennis. Why would players give up the chances of prizes and millions to be earned, when they know that the other guy won’t pass up those opportunities for a few scruples? Unfortunately, the biggest impediment to getting rid of doping is fan denial that it is even happening.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Fair enough there is doping in sport and tennis. Troicki’s case is questionable though, as he gave a urine sample because he was told it was ok and when he gave a blood sample the next morning it was clean. I suspect this may be a conspiracy by the ITF to make it appear as though they are working hard to catch the dopers. Cilic seems to be guilty however, and yet he got a much shorter ban than Troicki? Or maybe they haven’t decided on the length of his ban yet because it only leaked out through the media that he was doping.
    I think it’s wrong to say ‘of course Djoko and other top players are doping’ though. Does that mean all other top players are doping? I don’t think so, and if not all other top players are doping then it’s not fair to single out individuals, although I will say some look more suspicious than others, like Nadal for instance. But even with him we can’t be 100% sure.

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    Pryzm Reply:

    I just want to make a quick observation that there are PEDs such as EPO that enhance endurance (just ask Lance Armstrong) but don’t give their users a muscle-bound appearance.

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    rich Reply:

    You are right, Pryzm. There are also HGH derivatives that add to strength but don’t create muscle bulk. Athletes can appear ‘cut’ but not big. We can’t make judgments on these things solely by appearances – the drugs are after all performance enhancing and not necessarily appearance enhancing.

    Some people question whether ped’s will make you mentally stronger. Well, ask a user. The pro baseball player Jose Canseco, who admitted to steroid use in his autobiography, “Juiced”, said the dope made you feel “invincible”. Now where have we lately seen that on the tennis court?

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Well if Troicki did in fact dope then there is undeniable proof that doping doesn’t make you mentally stronger.

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    rich Reply:

    Ruan, if Troicki has been doping then he has been doing it for the same reason as any other player – to improve his chances. At that level, and against other likely dopers, it doesn’t guarantee winning – but it still makes him better than he otherwise would be. With players like Nadal, Djokovic and Murray I would say that if they are doping it would definitely make them mentally stronger, because they would know that they wouldn’t tire, and they wouldn’t miss. There is definitely confidence to be gained in knowing you can outlast or overpower the other guy. All of those players have shown previously in their careers that there are times when they clearly lacked that kind of confidence, and it was when they were nowhere near as physically strong or fit as they have become or when they are at their peak. Roger is an interesting contrast. As he gets older he is losing his physical skills – he is often being overpowered out there – and he is losing foot-speed and stamina no doubt. That’s all to be expected in an older player. But you can see that it also affects his confidence (particularly if he has a persistent back problem.) That suggests to me that Roger is an unlikely doper – or that if he is he is a very poor one.

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Agree about Roger. If he was doping there would hardly be any physical decline at this point, and his back won’t bother him as much.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Yes, Ru-an, I definitely think it is a conspiracy by ITF on Troicki and Cilic cases, to detract from the real culprits – the top players. I just hate it when these small fries get crucified for petty crimes while the big ones get away with murder. Rich and Przm, thanks for the info. Look, like you guys, I suspect there is doping at the top and if anything, Djoko’s latest health book maybe another lame detraction from the real treatments that propelled him to no. 1. You can even say that the possessed look he had in his eyes in 2011, is highly suspicious as is his lean and almost anorexic appearance these days. Overdose, maybe?! Ha! And Djoko’s parents and Uncle Toni seem the kinda people capable of doing anything. I maybe naive but I believe Pandora’s box has been opened with the Armstrong case. It’s a matter of time. But sometimes the too obvious can be wrong; much as I wanna convict Djoko/Nadal here and now. But what we can do, as fans,(and I hope, tennis writers/commentators/writers/ex-players too) is to pile up the pressure; eg bring up doping issues relentlessly, jumping at every opportunity, every suspicion to tennis media/authorities. ITF will bow to the pressure. Governments have been brought down by people power.

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    rich Reply:

    Veronica, you make some very valid and useful observations. Good for you.

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  3. Hey Ru-an, again a nice article, but I do disagree on certain points you made.

    I think the exho last year was basically a good thing to do. It made him realise how much of a craze there is for him in a country he has never even played or vacationed. Can you personally imagine that Ru-an? Going to a country you have never even been and seeying people worship you as almost a God?? I would, to be honest, love that for it to happen once. Roger could see with his own eyes how much he is loved. The exho’s were only six matches. He always plays that much even on tour.
    BUT…. I do think it was very bad to do the things he had to do outside the matches. The organization was like, well we paid him so much, we got him here, will maybe not happen again, lets milk him out completely, lets fill every minute of the time he is here. He had to do SO MUCH aside from the matches. Really, where did he even get the time to sleep?

    I will never believe that he does those exho’s for money. He is one of the richest sportsman of the planet, he gets more than 50 million a year with everything and he has the biggest sport portfolio of all sportplayers. Such a man does not need money. No, the SA-exho Roger did for his fans. Maybe not a smart idea to do it in 2012 after that grueling year, but oke. I actually hoped that it would made him more hungrier to win more GS and titles because he got to see with his own eyes what he means to people.

    And Ru-an, Roger is ALL about giving back. Can you imagine winning a GS in 2003 and founding your own foundation in that same year??? That is how much he wanted to give back. He did not have the foundation when he was playing for a couple of years or when he had like 10 GS, no he founded it in the same year he won his first one. A less selfish person could have said, well let me first make a name out for myself and then I will be in a position to give back. But Roger is not like that. Again, he founded the Roger Federer Foundation in the same year as he won his first slam. That is what Roger is all about. He said he wanted to give back and he always kept and keeps his word. (This is just a stupid point, but I am going to make it anyway, even Andy Murray is not doing something like this, yes he is also doing great things to give back, but still).

    Ru-an, I do agree with two things. Like you, to be honest I would also be like, well, let me have first 20 GS so I can never be surpassed, and then I can relax and start to give back. To be honest, I might think like that too, but that is why we are not the Goat and Roger is. That is why we are not loved by millions and he is. The Greatest (also person) of all time (well with some others like Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhiji, Martin Luther King and many many more!!!).

    Second thing I also agree with you is that he should take a 3 month break, not more. BUT I think he definitely should skip RG. Let Novak and Rafa fight that one out for themselves. Maybe Andy will skip it too (because of some created “backproblems”).
    And I would really like it (because he deserves it) if he could surpass Ferreira’s GS record !!! After that, let him skip RG to come roaring back for Wimby.
    And he should definitely NOT do an exho this year (I know he is talking about it. Don’t do it Roger !!! Your fans can wait for you longer !!!). Maybe next year or in his final year.

    And one last point, I disagree with you Ru-an, I honestly believe Roger can get back to world number one. In 2014, maybe even 2015. Maybe at the end or maybe even for a month, but he will get back at world number one.
    He won his first and last slam when his back was locked. Of course, I am not stupid, his back is now far more worse, but I think Roger will find a way.

    For now, I think he should skip Montreal and play Cincy and USO.

    Long comment, hope you guys take the time to read it…

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    Veronica Reply:

    Katyani, I sure hope and pray you are right! If roger ever gets back to no. 1 again, I will be the first one to remind everybody that you said it first!! As for the SA exhos, it was a very successful tour, roger was rejuvenated and he was feeling the love. I really thought he would pick up from the tour and continue his 2012 good run into, at least the early part of 2013, but instead it exhausted him evenmore. Historically, Roger doesn’t follow up exhos with good form as someone commented earlier. So maybe exhos are not a good idea after all; at least not at this point of his career. I hope roger leave all these exhos to when he retires where he can go on a year long farewell exhos tour. I heard he is planning an exho end of the year. Oh god, I hope it is not true!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Yes Veronica he should just commit to a year of exhos after he retires, but the exhos have already cost him a few slams. It would be silly to go on an exho at the end of the year, which I heard about too. He really needs to focus on making 2014 a good year because he won’t have much to defend. Ending 2014 in the top 4 would already be a nice achievement.

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    Veronica Reply:

    Yes, Ru-an, I really hope Roger would realise he doesn’t have all the time in the world. He should forget about exhos and trim down his media/sponsorship commitments. There is really only 2014 and perhaps 2015 that he still has a fighting chance to compete with the top guys; and even that is not even certain as we don’t know how his back will respond to every match/tournament from now on. It’s a difficult situation for Roger. I hope it also becomes an urgent situation in that Roger needs to “panic” a bit more and not be so laid back (as he always refers himself to be) and everything that he does, must now be urgently centered fully around getting his game together. He must give 100% of his time to his tennis. He said recently he doesn’t care about ranking anymore and just wants to play for the love of the game and he cited Leyton Hewitt as an inspiration!! Not too long ago, he says he hopes to get to no. 1 maybe next year! And in a recent interview he says he misses Fedal and he is sure their rivalry will return! Rather contradictory statements, don’t you think?! Ru-an, are you understanding this?!! Really appreciate your efforts SO much, Ru-an, for keeping us entertained and engaged during these Federer-less time!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    You’re welcome Veronica but you know you probably work just as hard as I do to keep this blog entertaining and engaging! As for Roger there does seem to be a contradiction if he wants to play exhos at year end again. There is now no more time for messing around. 2014 is probably his last chance to win a slam and he has said so himself. He also said that 2013 will be a transitional year. So I expect him to take 2014 very seriously.

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  4. A great blog, Ru-an, thanks a bunch, informative plus questionable, Roger’s future plan. Do have question, Ru-an, since you did not mention the new racquet Roger is trying, would that not contribute to his back problems, it is both mentally and physically a challenge for him.
    Hope this goes through, Ru-an. Am not a computer techy for sure!
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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    Ru-an Reply:

    I’m not a computer techy either Dolores so I have no idea why your first comment didn’t go through. I realized after my post I never mentioned the new racquet so it’s a good thing you bring it up. I honestly don’t know how it could affect his back problem. I still think it was a good move though and that he has to stay with it until he adjusts to it. That will take some more time too and he will only feel he has really adjusted until he has a few good wins and some confidence under his belt again. But the back is the main issue right now and he must do whatever it takes to sort it out. I still wana see some good tennis from him!

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    Dolores Reply:

    Thank you for your reply, Ru-an. Roger has much to conquer, does’nt he? Agree with you that he should stay with his new racquet, think in the end it will pay off. Yes, his back healing is most important, mho is a 3 mo. rest from tennis. Will miss him a lot for sure.
    Dolores

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  5. Good review of the situation as usual. I think at this stage we all agree that we applaud Fed and would like him to be around for a bit. My sense is that if he does decide to play one or two tournaments this hard court season, and loses early again, he will take the rest of the year off and return in 2014. In a recent interview to a Swiss newspaper (done after the Gstaad loss), Fed said that at his level of play, self-confidence was the biggest quality and attributed Murray’s and Djokovic’s wins to their heightened self-belief. The challenge here is can Fed find that self-confidence again in the face of losses? I watched his 2010 takedown of Murray in the Aussie final again just to remind me of his hardcourt play, and I was struck by three things (1) his footspeed and court awareness which was better than anything I have seen all of 2013 (2) the lack of unforced errors and shanks (3) his utter determination to win. The last point is key. In the recent past, Fed’s face has told the story. He looks disheartened and understandably so, with his sore back. My hope is that he rehabs hard and comes back believing in the longevity of his body. Fed needs to trust his body before he can trust his racket. Last but not least, my sense is that he will continue to tinker with rackets this year.

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  6. Excellent post, Ru-an! I am sure your readers appreciate the 270 degree view leading to the inevitable question about Roger taking a break.

    You are perhaps better qualified than some of us to speculate since you too have back issues and hence are better aware on how to manage them.

    It seems to be the nature of his malady is too unpredictable to chart an appropriate plan of action. For instance, there are periods where Roger’s back can be managed quite well, like it was in Rome for most parts. Then it flares up again like it did in Hamburg/Gstaad. It must be so frustrating, so disheartening to be in that position. I would be furious with a muscle injury that’s letting me down when I least expect it. I don’t even wish to imagine what Roger is going through when this happens.

    But it requires to be managed; so does Roger follow mini cycles of of rest, rehab & play every 1-3 months or does he take an extended break of 3-6 months before playing an entire uninterrupted season?

    I agree with some of the comments here from Sakhi who observes that Roger need to trust his body before he can be confident of letting loose. I admire and share Katyani’s optimism that Roger will get back to No.1 and yet, it is with a shade of reality influenced by the current situation, that I restrict that optimism to another 2 slams at Wimbledon and the US open.

    I also agree with you that 2012 was an unexpected and outstanding surge from Roger that took a lot more out of him than we will know. In an era of ‘strangulating’ surfaces suited to endurance-primed, baseline-grinding athletes, this man went back to the future and re-chiselled his legend into some impenetrable stone. Whatever he and his team decide to do from here, I will be least surprised to see him come back with renewed vigour to estabish himself once again, as the greatest of all time.

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  7. Skip Montreal and Cindy, play USO for record, then SHUT IT DOWN. I don’t think Roger should wait until next year to skip the clay season. Time is also the enemy, and the longer things are complicated by the back, the bigger chance Roger just retires.

    Get healthy immediately, save for the USO, and Roger knows very well how to play when his back is bad; i.e., he knows what he can/cannot do while still playing, but not making it worse. If he is healthy and lucky (he will be rusty plus maybe racket is still under development?), finds himself in quarters, then throw caution to the wind and go for 18. Otherwise, token appearance at best.

    Speculation won’t last too long, at least about the short term. Roger will tell Montreal TODAY of his plans for next week. Hear nothing and Roger has decided to play. If he is not feeling back pain, he will play, as he did train plenty b4 Hamburg (per the man himself) and is training now on HC in Switzerland (photos are out). If Roger plays, he will be very conservative with such a painful injury so recently happening…it will be on his mind.

    Now think back to all those matches where you were thinking “Why is Roger playing like this?” or “He doesn’t seem to care”. Go all the way back to 2007. Well, we did not know what Roger was dealing with w/respect to his back. It has been never ending, even during the great WINS, and it has tempered his enthusiasm. It has become much worst in 2013, but be sure, it has been with him forever, and a big problem, even in 2009, when he reached all 4 slams. Should have held all 4 titles at once, as the back was a big issue at 2009 AO, FO, W, and USO. He just couldn’t overcome it against Delpo at the USO, or the GOAT stuff would be not for debate, not even from Rafa fans.

    Enough said. We’ll see today what his first decision is regarding his back and Montreal. Roger may already know his intentions for the rest of the year, but we may have to wait until the day before each tourney draw to find out, as Roger will be keen to be very private and keep ticket sales going just in from fans HOPING to see him. Fair? No, but Tennis falls off big time without Roger.

    Ticket sales and especially viewership have declined significantly in 2013…not a coincidence. (Other than Hamburg and Gstaad, 2 events that saw ticket sales double when Roger got WC’s into both tourneys). If Roger announces a significant break, then Tennis will suffer even more. That’s why I don’t think we’ll hear of it…he will leave his schedule in place, maybe even release more info related to 2014 schedule, and announcements re playing will come right before draw of every tournament for the rest of 2013. JMHO.

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  8. Thanks Sakhi, Pete. NOW we know why Roger Federer can’t play tennis and has a creaky back!! His imminent SAINTHOOD is weighing on him!! Gosh! I teared up reading Beatz’s testimony! Is there anything that our man can’t and won’t do to bring tennis and sports to a better place?! So proud to be his fan! Btw, Vinny, excellent comment!!

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Veronica, just like you, I am a very proud Roger fan. Just when you think he cannot get better, he does !!!
    Of course the real hero is Beatriz. To have cancer at such a young age, but to fortunately survive it !!! I really hope you is and will remain healthy. She seems like a nice girl and she is very pretty.

    BUT…… VERONICA…… Just between you and me (and all the Ru-an readers)….. tell me honestly, did you not get jealous of her in that picture where she was in Roger’s arm a little bit TOO close???

    Honestly, were you not jealous of her???
    Because…. I was !!!
    I know it is bad of me, she deserves to be in his arms…. but I am human and I was and still am jealous !!!
    Thank God Roger is not perfect, because as you can see, neither am I !!!

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Lol Katyani you are honest and I commend you for that. Nothing wrong with how you feel.

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    Katyani Reply:

    Hey Ru-an, yeah I know, not proud of it, but still till today, when I see that picture…. I get jealous !!!

    By the way Roger is turning 32 on Thursday. Isn’t it funny, Bleacher Report began telling that he turned 32 already in January this year…

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    Veronica Reply:

    Hi Katyani, I already talked about Beatriz in a previous response I gave you in a previous post! Aww…to cry on Roger’s shoulder…And Roger teared up himself too. What a kind, sensitive and wonderful human being Roger is. That was the part that made me tear up. I think Beatriz will survive cancer; she has just received the best medicine ever – a healing loving hug from the GOAT! How can she not get better?! Btw, Ru-an, may I thank you for your great patience and sensitivity in accommodating fan girly stuff like these in your highly intelligent and classy blog! You are just too nice, Ru-an!!!!

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    Katyani Reply:

    Are you kidding me Veronica???
    Ru-an should get a medal for staying calm and not saying anything about the fact that some of us (meaning me !!!) gush so much over Roger !!! Seriously, I write a comment telling how much I love Roger, than I submit it and the next day, I am quite embarressed with some of the things I wrote !!! But hey, what can I do, Roger brings it out of me. Yes, it is ALL Roger’s fault !!!

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  9. Beautiful story of Beatriz meeting Roger, it tucks your heartstrings when reading Beatriz’s story. Roger rules from the heart, that is who Roger is. This is why he is loved the world over, not only for his talented tennis but for who he is. Another heartwarming story I remember, i.e., video of his visit to his Foundation in South Africa with his Mother. It was beautiful.
    Now he needs our love and prayers for recovery of his ailing back.
    Thank you, Ru-an, for letting me express my thoughts about Roger.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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  10. Our man Roger Federer is loved by all due to such things as well not only for tennis!! That Beatriz story was just heart warming and emotionally pure. I can imagine what she must have felt like. I wish our man recovers from his back injury and comes back to dominate tennis again & that girl too recovers. God will surely bless our Roger Federer and he ll be back!

    And Roger Federer has decided to skip Rogers’ Cup. Now since Roger is absent, its just Cup. Lets hope RF gets well soon and is back with confidence brimming sky high!

    And Ruan, really nice of this blog. Really happy to be on this blog as we can connect with all Federer fans worldwide. The man Roger Federer is more than special, he himself is a God for us!!

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    Veronica Reply:

    Haha Hari! Like, “Only Cup”!

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    Hari Reply:

    Haha thanks Veronica :-)
    And as for that doping issue, I feel they are doping but these tests arent enough and the top players are getting away with it. Its a shame to see this befall tennis. The Aus Open 2012 final was the nadir where I was more than 99.99% convinced that there is indeed something wrong with men’s tennis

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