I know at first glance this may seem like a strange question, but hear me out. Where is Federer heading at the moment? I have already explained that there isn’t anything in particular wrong with Federer’s game. If he can play well for stretches, like the two majors and two Masters Series titles he won last year, the problem can’t be with his tennis itself. Rather it must be mostly a mental thing. Moreover, Federer can still play at the level of his dominant days, but not as often as he used to. In this post I will explore why this is the case, because I know Federer’s lack of form is something that weighs heavily on the minds of his loyal fans. Let me just say I appreciate your comments. Like one of my readers wrote, Federer used to be the one thing you could depend on in this imperfect world, and now that isn’t the case anymore.
This leaves all of us feeling somewhat edgy, and I want to thank you for your comforting posts, knowing that I am not alone in how I feel. So back to the subject. How can I ask such a question? I’m sure almost every Fedfanatic wants Roger to win Wimbledon, if not every Fedfanatic. So why can’t Federer perform more constantly at the level he used to? I am one of those people who does not think it has much to do with age. Rather I think it is a question of lack of flexibility on Roger side. We have been through this whole thing after the Australian Open of 2009. Everyone started questioning Roger. Then in Madrid he came to life as he defeated his arch rival Nadal in the final. He also won the next two slams and Cincinnati, and had decent results until the end of the year, although nothing spectacular.
I thought with the win over Nadal in Madrid he had put his demons concerning Nadal to bed, so I didn’t care too much that he did not have to face Nadal either in the French Open or Wimbledon last year. I thought Roger had matured as a player during this time. The way he beat Nadal in Madrid indicated that he was going to play the match on his terms, and not the other way around. Roger finally got it, I thought. But what has transpired so far this year makes me think that was only a temporary solution, and that Nadal’s early exit at the French Open and absence from Wimbledon had a lot to do with Roger’s success last year. The way he played against Nadal in Madrid and Soderling in Paris this year makes me believe that. Against Nadal he was playing way too negatively in the first set again, and against Soderling he didn’t try something different when he was losing.
Instead he blamed it on the conditions and didn’t give it any more thought. When there were rain breaks during the match I thought that Luthi would give Roger some advice and he would come out trying something different, but he didn’t change a thing. Consider the following comment from one of my readers Dragos:
I think that when too many people are telling you that you are God you finally end in believing that you really are. I think that Roger realized or is realizing that in tennis you cannot be God for ever.
Roger on the cover of GQ France
I’m not sure Roger is over this whole God complex thing. I think he still believes he can play the way he used to and beat every opponent out there. I think he was too stubborn against Soderling to change anything, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence his semi-final streak got broken. As my reader said, I think Roger is going through a phase where he is struggling with himself, even though he probably won’t admit it. He wants to dominate the way he did before, but for whatever reasons he is not allowed to do so anymore. But instead of making changes, he is stubbornly clinging on to his invincibility of the past. He is just as nostalgic as his fans in that way. He does not want those dominant days to be over. And as long as you resist, your problems will persist. You can only change what you acknowledge.
And I’m not sure Roger is ready to acknowledge that he is not what he used to be. I think if Roger is willing to make some changes he can get close to the consistency he once had. For one thing I think it could now be a good time to change his coach. I’m just not sure Luthi is really what Roger needs. I don’t think Luthi is the kind of guy that is going to stand up to Roger and tell him to change. Maybe that is what happened last year with Cahill when there were rumors that Roger was going to be coached by him. Maybe Cahill tried to stand up to Roger and Roger didn’t like it, so he decided not to work with him. Andre Agassi himself started working with Cahill late in his career after Brad Gilbert left him, and him and Cahill ended up adding another slam to Agassi’s resume. Agassi may not have liked the change, but in the end it worked out well for him.
I think Roger has reached a stage now where he can afford to risk making some changes. Maybe he should consider seeing a sports psychologist. Change something. He can’t possibly be happy with all these inexplicable losses, even though he says he is. That seems very much like denial to me anyway. Being called a God is nice, but it has it down side. It is that much harder to acknowledge your own shortcomings once they come to the fore, because you were told over and over again that you are peRFect. How many more losses and pain will it take for Roger to realize it’s time to let go of that impossible expectations of perfection? Maybe if he loses his Wimbledon crown this year it will hurt so much that he finally realizes he must make a change or retire. Seriously, does he really want to go on like this? It’s almost becoming embarrassing.
I’m tired of seeing a player that was once so dominant losing to players he used to beat with his C game. He is starting to spoil his head-to-head records with players he would never have lost to in the past. He used to have a 13-0 record with Davydenko, but Davydenko has beaten him twice since last year’s Masters Cup. H used to have a 12-0 record against Soderling but lost to him at the French. He beat Hewitt 15 times in a row yet he loses to him in Halle. He loses to Montanes in Estoril. The list goes on. These are guys he all used to own. Yet he loses to them on a regular basis these days. It’s painful to watch. I actually regret somewhat making a post about the ‘glory hunters’ recently, because it’s not easy to be a fan of someone who seems to be in denial. Wimbledon is Roger’s last line of defense as I explained before, and maybe if he loses there he will finally let go of all these expectations and consider making some changes.
If he wins Wimbledon he will just fall back into his old patterns. He won’t have any reason to make changes because he won the biggest tournament in the world. Then he will probably go on in more or less the same vain we have seen from his the last few years. Play well from time to time but most of the time play terribly. And who wants that but the haters? It’s not much fun following a player who have a few highlights during the year but plays like crap the rest of the time. So in a way I don’t want him to win Wimbedon, because that could end all this denial. And I think there is a good possibility that he won’t win. Once it gets to semi-final stage I think it’s anybody’s tournament. That’s how little confidence I have in Roger these days, and you know how much confidence I usually have in him. Once he loses at Wimbledon, he will be completely vulnerable.
He won’t have any ‘home’ on tour anymore. His homes used to be Basel, Halle and Wimbledon. Basel and Halle has been burned down. There is now only Wimbledon left, and once that home gets burned down, all of a sudden my joke of Roger retiring at the end of the year is not that big of a joke anymore. He then needs to start seriously considering making some changes, or consider retirement. End of story.
Ps. Congrats to Switzerland for beating Spain in the World Cup. I’d rather keep quiet about my own countries performance. :blush:
May the Fedforce be with you.
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