Your Expectations for Federer in 2012

The year of 2011 is not over yet but Roger only has Basel, Paris, and the Masters Cup left. I expect him to do well in these events. Roger played very well at the US Open and the indoor season has always been good to him, especially Basel(4 titles + 3 finals) and the Masters Cup(5 titles + 1 final). I think Djokovic will play Basel even though he withdrew from Beijing and Shanghai. So I think we can look at least at another final for Roger in his home event. In Paris Roger have never been past the semis which is a bit strange. This year he is taking a long enough break and I think he could do well there, as in make the final or better. At the Masters Cup he will be looking to defend his title which he won in epic fashion last year. Hopefully he can end the year on another high by winning a record sixth Masters Cup.

Roger has a lot of points to defend in the events that he has left and he is not playing Shanghai or Stockholm this year, which means he will lose the points he gained in those events last year. This means Murray has already passes him in the rankings and will probably end the year ranked ahead of Roger. Roger could end the year ranked number four, which is not where we are used to see him. I don’t think he would mind that much however. As far as his slam draws goes it will make no difference. The draws will probably stay fixed in which case he will keep facing Djokovic in the semis. He didn’t need to go to the east just to stay ahead of Murray in the rankings, when that could have cost him injury. And besides, we all know Roger is still better than Murray.  But let me get back to the topic of this post, which is your expectations for Roger in 2012.

Roger had another consistent year in the slams this year, although he went without a slam title for the first time in nine years. He has also won only one title so far this year in Doha. I think he can win at least one more title this year, but the last time he won only one title was in 2001. So we are looking at a slamless year for the first time since 2002, a year end ranking outside of the top two for the first time since 2003, and possibly the lowest title count since 2001. It does look like Roger’s decline is becoming more rapid at age 30. But really it is nothing to be sad about. Roger has had arguably the peRFect career and I think he wants to keep playing for as long as possible. There is still big things left for Roger to achieve in the game. The order of big events to win in tennis in descending order are as follows: Grand Slam > Masters Cup > Olympic Gold > Masters Series > Davis Cup > 500 > 250.

Actually it is hard to know where to put Davis Cup since it is a team event, but I put it in between a Masters Series and ATP 500 event. I still believe Roger has a shot at the highest level. It will be tough from here on, but if he has a tournament like he did at the French Open or US Open this year, he could win another slam. The trouble is getting by Djokovic or Nadal. Roger matches up well against Djokovic and on a good day can still beat him. Nadal is a more difficult proposition because of the match up issue. But if he meets Nadal in a slam semi there will be less pressure and then maybe he could get a win. Maybe if Murray overtakes Roger in the rankings now he will finally be in Nadal’s half of the draw. It would make it look even more like a fix job if Roger still ends up in Djokovic’s half of the draw, so maybe the ATP will finally be too embarrassed to let it happen again.

Next in line is the Masters Cup. Roger have already won five of those and one more would put him alone on six titles. That would be another vey nice record to hold for Roger at this prestigious event. He could do it this year already. Indoors may be his best surface at present and he will probably have his best chance there to beat Nadal and Djokovic. Third on the list is the Olympic gold in singles. This is another title that Roger would love to add to his illustrious resume. In 2012 the Olympic singles event is being played at Wimbledon, which makes it really special for Roger. For me personally the Olympic gold is not that big a deal, especially since Roger already has an Olympic gold in doubles. A gold remains a gold in Olympics, and the title doesn’t have much historical significance. But it certainly won’t hurt the resume. Then we have Masters Series events.

Roger have won 17 of these, second only to Nadal who is on 19 and collects most of these things on clay. I don’t think Roger will catch Nadal, but that doesn’t matter. If there were one or two Masters Series events on grass I’m sure Roger would have held the record. Having said that, it remains a big event and Roger could still pick up a few before the end of his career. As far as Davis Cup goes we know Roger have never been extremely motivated for Davis Cup. It is a fresh change from the individual competition though and does carry some importance. It would be nice if Roger could help his country to win a Davis Cup, but it will be tough with teams like Spain and Serbia around. As far as 500 and 250 events go Roger can still win some of those too. Every title adds to the total after all, and it will help to keep his ranking up.

So as far as the big titles go I would say that is the slams, the Masters Cup, and the Olympic gold, and Roger still has chances to win all of these. These will be the titles that will really drive him in the years to come. He really has achieved it all, but winning another slam could be a nice way to go out, and it would make his record just a little harder to chase down. The question is whether he will retire like Sampras on a high after he won his last slam, or will that give him the incentive to keep playing? Remember Sampras actually struggled a lot for 2-3 years before he won his last major. Roger is not struggling that much yet. He is still making deep runs in the slams. And Roger has a better mentality than Sampras. He plays for the love of the game which means poor results will not necessarily affect him that much.

So I can see him playing for a few years still. But let me take a quick look at the slams next year. Where will Roger have his best chances to pick up a 17th slam? And you better believe that he can still do it. If Sampras went through a two year slam drought then Roger can certainly do it too. Next year at the Australian Open Roger will be two years without a slam, and he may just pick up number 17 there. It is however hard to say which surfaces favor Roger these days. On one side he is slower than he was in his prime, which means slower surfaces gives him more time to get to the ball. But at the same time his serve and volleys are probably the only improved part of his game these days, which are favored by the faster surfaces. Last year at the Oz Open the slower hard court clearly did not help his case against Djokovic.

He could not get enough free points with his serve and forehand. Djokovic strangled him from the back of the court, proving just too solid for him. But to prove how difficult it is to predict which surfaces favor him more, he beat Djokovic at the French Open on an even slower surface. I think Roger still has his chances in Melbourne, if he can avoid Djokovic. The Oz Open is probably Djokovic’s favorite slam now. I think it will be hard to avoid Djokovic so I don’t think the Oz Open is his best shot at a slam next year. As far as the French Open goes, it is where Nadal is still at his most dangerous. Even if he is struggling he is still a huge favorite there. And there is no possibility of Djokovic taking him out before the final. I don’t think Roger is beating Nadal in Paris and it will be hard for him to repeat this year’s performance against Djokovic.

I think next year we will probably see a Nadal/Djokovic final in Paris. So again I don’t  see the French Open as Roger’s best chance at a slam. I still believe R0ger’s best chances for a slam title will come at the faster surfaces of Wimbledon and the US Open. This year Roger should not have lost to Tsonga at Wimbledon. I think he let himself down in that match after leading by two sets to love. I think Roger can beat Djokovic on grass on a good day, but the problem remains that he could face Nadal in the final then. Therefor I hope he is in Nadal’s half of the draw. I just think Roger is very much at home on grass and he is due for a good performance there. At the US Open, as we have seen this year, Roger remains a big threat. Djokovic will remain a tough nut to crack, but Roger has better chances to beat him in New York than in Melbourne I feel.

Let me know what you expect of Roger in 2012.

Which is Roger's best chance for a big title in 2012?

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Roger Federer


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40 Comments

  1. Realistically I think he would win one more GS.and I
    would bet on it being Wimbledon.I think it would take something incredible for him to win more than one but if anyone can he can.
    I would really like him to win the Olympics next year as that is all he hasn´t won.I feel that 2012 is gonna be a big year for him.He has a plan in mind and for sure he knows he will win.
    Come on Roger…you can do it…You are simply the BEST!

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  2. To be frank Fed has reached a stage in his carrer where he needs to prioritize a lot and take it tourney by tourney.. there is no point is planning for a longer run…
    Personally before predicting what will happen in 2012 i would wait till the year end and see how he plays… But there is no doubt that Fed has the determination to go on for a few years and win one more GS atleast, he did say in the presser after that horrible defeat against Joker that he would be really hungry for AO
    I hope the organizers put Rafa/Fed in same half, a Fedal semis is an interesting prospect in their rivalry and i’am sure it will attract the crowd like a Final…

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  3. Nice post Ruan. It is very difficult to predict Roger’s success 2012. But one thing is sure -> tennis without Roger is boring. I hope, that 2012 he can play at big stages against the best players again.
    Aus Open is difficult, even Murray is dangerous there (if Roger is not at his best).
    French Open is almost impossible (Nadal trauma, Roger’s backhand too weak against high bounce). Roger might not play 100% on clay due to his preparation for Wimbledon and Olympics.
    Wimbledon is a good shot but Tsonga, Berdych, Nadal, Djoko are very strong on grass as well.
    Olympics -> same as Wimbledon but only the final is best of 5 sets.
    Us Open -> the courts have slowed down, so it’s more or less similar to Aus Open.

    Roger can always beat Murray and Djokovic on his day but his consistency has declined so he is vulnerable to other players as well. Can he still beat back-to-back 2 top three players?

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  4. If Federer doesn’t win anything next year it wouldn’t bother me. Roger has a remarkable list of accomplishments and needs not to do anything else but to play and play the best he can. I am hoping to go to the U.S. Open and see him play next year, so I am looking foward to that. Lets not place high expectations on him and see how things pan out.

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  5. 2012 represents Roger’s last best chance to bag a slam. His biological clock is ticking LOUDLY, so if that doesn’t motivate him to improve on 2011’s results, then nothing will. Dare I say that he will rise to this challenge? Dare I say that he might even win two Majors next year? I do. It’s just a strong intuition, nothing more… a gut feeling that this greatest of champions will go out with a bang instead of a whimper.

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    Susan Reply:

    I have a gut feeling too that Roger will win another Slam on 2012.Meanwhile , just grateful he still wants to play and i can watch his incredible game.

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  6. “For me personally the Olympic gold is not that big a deal, especially since Roger already has an Olympic gold in doubles. A gold remains a gold in Olympics, and the title doesn’t have much historical significance.”

    “The question is whether he will retire like Sampras on a high after he won his last slam, or will that give him the incentive to keep playing?”

    i would just like to know some opinions here regarding the interview of Roger that was published recently in
    L’Equipe magazine (the interview was done before the semi against Nole and updated after the US Open). It’s entitled Roger Federer: “The end doesn’t scare me”

    this is somewhat related to few of the statements you said Ruan.
    here’s the last Q&A that made some RF fans a bit depressed (including me..though I’m trying to look at it in a more positive way.)

    Q :-P aul Annacone, your coach, compares your life to a Shakespearian play cut into 5 acts: the vocation, the victory over Sampras in Wimbledon, the first GS victories, the accession to the status of living legend… What will the 5th act be made of?

    RF’s Answer: Another GS title. Or the Gold medal in the London Olympics, in Wimbledon. That Gold medal, I still don’t have it. But the OG have always represented something extraordinary to me…

    Nothing about “playing for a lot more years” this time around… Just that he wishes he could win one more GS or the Olympic Gold – before calling it a career (though might jumping in a crazy conclusion this early). OG from singles really means something to him.he wants it badly i guess. And i do hope you’re right Ruan that winning a GS will give him the incentive to keep playing more in years to come, thus hearing him say again that he plans to stay for more years because he loves the game.

    On the predictions, I’m not ready to expect anything from here on. For as long as he plays with such beauty and grace then i;m more than contented..though winning the big tourneys would surely make me (and all RF fans) elated.

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  7. I honestly think Roger will have a good chance in Paris this year. Djokovic will just be coming back from injury and Murray and Nadal will be tired. And I agree that Roger can also retain his Master’s Cup title. He”ll be nice and rested and I’m just not seeing the competition right now.

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  8. I am sorry but I don’t have any expectations at all! I will just be happy to see him play. If he wins well and good if he does not, then onto the next game! Of course, I will be thrilled to see him win another GS or a gold in the Olympic but those are just bonuses for me! Aaargh I will dread the day when he finally retires! Tennis will be sooo boring! RF FOREVER!!!

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  9. I hope for two majors next year. He even has a shot at the Calendar Golden Slam.

    I’d like to see him beat Nadal in the final of RG because that’s one of the biggest challenges remaining to him in tennis. I think he has a good chance of accomplishing that next year; remember he was five or so points away from beating Nadal in straight sets this year.

    The Olympic gold would be nice too, and 2012 is probably his last realistic opportunity to get it.

    When it comes down to it, I have really only one wish for him: that he succeed in raising his game once again and create the true all-court style of tennis.

    It used to be that he would hit freely and his opponent would hit freely, and he’d emerge victorious because he’d always be able to make a winner first. That’s no longer true: if he’s content to hit freely against these power players, he’ll be pushed further and further back behind the baseline, and eventually lose.

    The list of players who can potentially hit him off the court is growing ever longer: Djokovic, Del Potro, Soderling, Berdych, Tsonga, Davydenko, Cilic, etc.

    If he’s to beat these opponents, he must use his superior variety to control the pace of the rallies with even greater precision than he used to, preventing them from using their full power until he can create an opportunity to come forward and attack. To supplement this, he’s improving his net game, so that he can approach more often and consistently execute the intricate volleying combinations needed to get through his opponents’ passing shots.

    I believe this is the task that’s occupied him for most of this year. He’s experimented more and taken risks he couldn’t afford before he won the career Slam and broke Sampras’ record.

    He’s given some tantalizing hints of achieving this, most spectacularly in beating Djokovic at RG. But he hasn’t been able to do it consistently enough to win big tournaments.

    In an interview, he once said that it would be nice if a player could take six months off from the tour to work intensively on analyzing and improving his game, but that men’s tennis was too competitive for anyone to take a long break and come back.

    He thus has no choice but to try to rework his game on the fly, while he’s still on the tour.

    It’s frustrating to watch because he almost has it–you can see it–but somehow it ends up slipping through his fingers and barely eluding him at the last second.

    Nonetheless it’s encouraging that he’s so close. It’s only wrong decisions on one or two points that are making the difference. He’s not been blown away in his losses in the majors.

    He’s attempting to play a more complex game than he did in the past, because that simpler game just doesn’t work anymore against the best players. His tennis was already very complex and high-risk, and now he’s trying to add a few more layers to it, using shots and tactics he’s not accustomed to using.

    It took him long enough to master that simpler game. No surprise that he can’t master the greater complexity overnight!

    It may well be that the shotmaking patterns required to pierce the nigh-impenetrable defenses of Nadal and Djokovic are simply too intricate for Federer’s mind–or any human mind–to execute with sufficient consistency over five sets. That could simply be the brute fact of the matter, which we might all have to just learn to live with.

    Federer clearly believes otherwise, and I also believe otherwise.

    He already has all the shots and skills he needs, just as he always has. The challenge before him is whether he can put all of it together to create perfect tennis, just as it always was.

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    booya719 Reply:

    Calendar golden slam? I like your optimism but I think I’d have better odds of striking gold in my backyard. I do agree though that beating Nadal in the final of Roland Garros would be Federer’s ultimate achievement if it ever happens. It wouldn’t be unrealistic to think of them meeting again there 1 or 2 more times, because Federer and Nadal are the two best clay court players far and above the rest of the field’s clay ability. Winning olympic gold is like a brass pebble in comparison to what beating Nadal in a RG final would be like.

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  10. I also want him to win Roland Garros a second time. It wouldn’t be bad at all for his resume, adding one slam to the tally and leading to a better spread and variance in his GS-titels. He’s already played very well there this year and maybe might have been able to win RG, were it not for this missed slice shot on setpoint in the first set that barely landed outside teh boudaries of the court. I’m not so sure that Nadal still stands that squarely in his way, as was the case uptill now, to prevent him from winning the clay court slam. Nadal is at this moment a little bit like a wounded animal, vulnerable and very dangerous at the same time, but reduced nevertheless in its facilities and capacities to defend itself.
    Roger’s ability to beat Nadal on his own territory would be the ultimate proof of his GOATness and excellence as a tennisplayer.
    I hope for this to actually happen, but would be fine as well if it doesn’t.

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  11. For me, Roger will always be the Number one, in my mind and heart, no matter what the ATP Rankings say,
    these are the bonus years, anything from here on in
    will be very very welcome whether it be another Slam or a Masters Title, or an Olympic Gold Medal in Men’s Singles, i do hope that Switzerland will again ask Roger to be their Flag bearer at the 2012 Olympics! I cant however imagine watching Tennis without him :-( (((( he is the epitome of grace, elegance, fair play, ballet dancers footwork, i hope he has a wonderful 2012 Tennis Wise COME ON ROGER :-) )))))! Family wise i think that both him and his wonderful wife Mirka, will try for a son.

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  12. I disagree with the majority in thinking that Wimbledon is his best shot. Wimbledon is actually Federer’s worst chance of winning overall in my opinion. The fatigue from the clay season and no rest after the French is why he will never win another Wimbledon, unless he starts skipping the clay season and goes into Wimbledon fresh.

    Best odds of reaching the final of the 4 majors is the French Open – clay helps him against the rest of the field. Guys like Berdych and Tsonga are not dangerous on clay, where as on hard or grass they can be extremely dangerous when they are healthy. However, if Fed has to face Nadal in the final, it’s obviously his worst odds of winning a particular GS final. It would take a miracle for Federer to beat Nadal in the French Open final but I still believe it’s possible should they meet again.

    His best odds of winning the final against anyone is the US Open or Aussie Open. He’s usually never fatigued or injured for either of the hard majors because he always takes a long break to recover before each of them.

    The US Open is the fastest surface which suits his game the best. This is the slam where he can beat both Nadal and Djokovic back to back in a SF and Final. He had Djokovic beat the past two years and should have won them both. The Aussie Open also he played well enough to win as well. He was very close this year in both hard slams. He played well enough to beat Djokovic in straights at the AO. A few points here and there decided the sets.

    I’m not sure when the olympic tournament will take place but I don’t see Federer winning it unless he’s properly prepared and has a lucky draw. It will probably be a best of 3 format which puts Federer against the odds off the bat. A bad set and he’s finished. Best of 5 will always favor Federer against the rest of the field which is why he still goes deep in slams but does poorly in Masters 1000. If he gets taken out in a QF at the olympic tournament it would be an expected outcome.

    1. US Open (best chance to win)
    2. Aussie Open (a bit slower but still hard court)
    3. French Open (Nadal factor)
    4. Wimbledon (worst chance to win due to fatigue and lack of rest going in)

    In 2012 I expect Federer to win a 250 series if he even plays one, a 500 series (Rotterdam or Dubai), and maybe make the finals of 1 GS. That’s about it. I don’t see him winning a Masters 1000 next year. Depending which slam final he reaches he may or may not win it depending on who he faces and such…luck of the draw, etc. At this point I have no expectation for Federer to win another slam. If he wins that’s wonderful but it’s no longer an expectation.

    For the rest of this year I see him losing the Basel final to Djokovic and then losing in a Paris QF or SF. The Masters Cup will depend on his pool. He’s got either Nadal or Djokovic plus 2 other guys. If he draws Nadal, Ferrer, and Fish I like his chances of making at least the SF. If he draws Djokovic, Berydch, and Tsonga it will be tough to win 2 out of 3 RR matches to make a SF. It all depends on who gets the lucky pool. Federer is going to need a lucky draw to win a tournament and so far he has not gotten one all year. For whatever reason the luck of the draw is not on his side so I expect the hardest pool/hardest draw possible whenever Federer plays a new tournament.

    Hopefully he can get prepared for the Aussie Open whatever the result is in his next 3 tournaments. His results at the hard slams don’t lie. 16 straight SF. That’s probably a record that the next man is not even close to as far as hard court consistency. He has not missed a hard court grand slam semi final since the 2003 US Open. Simply amazing. The two hard slams are definitely his best shot if not his only shot from now on.

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    steve Reply:

    Thoughtful posts from everyone, Booya, Balthazar, and Veronica.

    I would like to venture a different explanation for Federer’s recent hardships on grass, and a different prediction for his future at Wimbledon.

    Grass is his best surface, but it’s also the most demanding and difficult for him to play on. It requires his movement and decision-making to be at their peak.

    Both Federer and Sampras have often said that only one or two points make the difference in grass-court tennis. The balance is extremely delicate.

    Hard courts and clay are more forgiving; he can usually count on getting more break point chances there. On grass there are very few opportunities to break, and if he misses even one, that could be the match right there.

    Last year when he lost to Berdych, his fitness and confidence were affected by the viral infection he had last spring. This year, I think he’s in a transitional phase, and the balance of attack and defense in his game is a little off because he’s trying to make adjustments. He made a few bad decisions, a few thoughtless points. Maybe his serving and returning were just a little bit off, and Tsonga–who excels at first-strike, big-serving tennis–ended up running away with it.

    If he succeeds in raising his game again, I believe he’ll win more Wimbledon titles, and we’ll once again see more lovely, ethereal grass-court tennis from our man.

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  13. As I said before, I have a gut feeling that Federer will do better in 2012 than 2011. I think the Djoker will slip a bit next year, though he will still own Nadal to further erode the Spaniard’s confidence. This will provide Roger with a bit of an opening. I somewhat agree with the previous poster’s belief that the hard court slams are Roger’s best chance to win. But saying that he will be too tired to win Wimbledon due to the labors of the French is a bit of a stretch. He merely has to cancel his Hamburg date, and then he should be fine. Remember, he let Tsonga steal the quarters from him at Wimbledon last year—I doubt that was due to fatigue. A much more likely reason was a creeping laziness in his mental state brought on by lack of motivation. So I believe that Wimbledon also provides Roger with an excellent chance for another Major title. And when you throw in the Olympics at the same site, it just might further stoke his burning desire to win everything there next year.

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  14. Booya, Balthazar (what cool and incredible names you guys have!)very good comments and observations and I am with you in your opinions and especially about Wimbledon being the least chance of Fed getting a slam; reasons as both of you have already pointed out. I’m just surprised why majority of fans still believe Wimbledon is Fed’s best bet. If we look at past 2 years results, Wimbledon fared the worst – 2 quarterfinals. QUATERFINALS folks! You cannot be serious!!! AO he has always maintained SF or better. But AO courts have further slowed down some more this year. It was a nightmare for Fed to hit through Djoker and it was a nightmare for me to watch him at AO this year. So AO has only a very slim chance for Fed. The main reason he did well at FO this year (although he was on form) was the faster balls. Take away the faster balls and I don’t think Fed’s results would have been what it is for this year. So for FO to have a realistic chance, they must use the same balls next year. The Nadal factor though is still too glaring, too threatening; and don’t forget, Djoker is actually very good on clay (see his clay court stats. I thought he is actually better on clay than grass) It took an extraordinary effort from Fed, (and faster balls) to stop Djoker in FO this year. Fed has always reached SF or better of FO for past many years except 2010 where Soderling broke his SF streak. Wimbledon, however, despite 5 consecutive titles, suddenly in last 2 years, Fed is knocked out in the quarter finals. And they were not even closely fought. It does send a message to me that Fed is not that strong on grass as we all have come to think as a given for him. In the USO, although he lost in 2009, it was in the finals and it was a close match (5 sets) Even for 2010 and 2011, they were all close and tightly fought matches. Can’t say the same for the losses to Tsonga and Berdych in Wimbledon though (although we can argue for Tsonga that he was in the zone). I totally agree with Balthazar that main reason Fed lost to Tsonga is not so much of fatigue, etc but a “creeping laziness in his mental state brought on by lack of motivation”. You couldn’t have put it more perfectly, Balthazar! No matter what Fed proclaims to the press, I still think motivation is a lacking factor in Fed’s matches. Although he likes challenges, likes the tour, etc, etc, when he is truly challenged on the court, that “laziness” or whatever you call it, creeps in, and he doesn’t try that much, he switches off, it’s like he is telling himself, “What for? I’ve done it all before, I’ve won it all before. I’m not going to die for this”. Or it could be thoughts like, “If it takes this much out of me, I don’t think I wanna do it. I’ve got the records already. I’m switching off here!” That, I think, is the conscious/unconscious reason why sometimes, we see him just switch off out of the game. Hopefully, as Balthazar commented, the Olympics would put a burning desire in him, give him that extra motivation to go all out, give all of himself without holding back and win everything there – Wimbledon and Olympics. And so we come to the USO and my conclusion is that USO is the place where it is most likely to happen for Fed. The NY crowd loves him, he plays best on the fastest court and of all the slams, USO is the fastest. We can argue that there are many capable hard court players on the tour and there is more competition on hard courts. Still, I feel, Fed rules USO coz Fed rules fast hard courts. He hasn’t put on terribly bad displays so far in USO and I think his records are the best in USO. Coming back to the Olympics, I wish, I wish, how I wish! If he gets it, ALL drinks on me, to all you lovely Fed faithfuls out there!!! I really hope and pray but rationally, it doesn’t look too bright to me. There is added pressure (as this year is the last realistic chance for Fed to win a singles gold) and there are so evil EYES on this one : the Bull’s eyes, the gluten-free King Kong that breathes from an egg’s eyes, the Masters specialist’s eyes. Not forgettting the French and the Czech republic AND the Argentinians are sending their best sons to eye and get this one. So, therefore, MY eyes are on USO 2012. Now, Fed, go get it for goodness sake! You are The Mighty Fed, REMEMBER??!!!!

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    booya719 Reply:

    I thought the same thing going into the 2008 Olympics. Federer had won nothing important up to that point in the year and surely his fire would come back to win there. Although he did win that doubles and ended up saving his season at the US Open, losing to James Blake will always be a tough loss that I’ll remember above most other losses. Federer really has no business losing to James Blake in any match, nevertheless at the Olympics where Federer has never won before and really was needing an important win at the time. If he can lose a QF to Blake he can lose a QF to anybody.

    I think in the end we can say it’s just unfortunate that Federer was in his unbeatable form from 2005-2007, years in which the olympics were not held. In 2004 he was just coming into his dominance and unfortunately he lost a few matches here and there still – he let that chance slip away. I remember that year he lost a match to Henman early on as well as the Berdych match at Athens.
    Nadal on he other hand had 3 and half years of slam winning under his belt and was in unbeatable prime form going into the 2008 Olympics with no real competition to stop him at the time. The timing really favored Nadal for his gold. If the olympics were held in 2007 and 2011 I doubt Nadal would have won either of them as his best years were from 2008-2010. I see Federer winning 2007 and Djokovic winning 2011, had the olympics been in those years. I feel Federer is not meant to win an olympic gold and my picks to be in the finals of the 2012 Olympics are Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Being best of 3 format really suits Murray’s game and I would put him above Federer as far as odds to win would be. While Murray lacks focus and concentration to win a major, in a best of 3, he’s much more capable of winning short matches.

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  15. I agree with both Balthazar and Veronica, however, I think that the last slam for Federer will be Wimbledon be it in 2012 or 2013 because he started winning GS there, equalled Sampras’s record of number of Slams there and it should cap his slams.

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  16. Hello everyone! Good to see the thoughts flying around here. I miss the man so bad! It was heartbreaking to see him go down to the Djoker again in that fashion. But interestingly, his presser gave me an insight into his thought process and why he kind of folded in the end after that screaming go-for-broke winner Djoker hit on match point. I think it was an insult to Fed, his beliefs, what he thinks about the game and its quite a testimony as to how much he believes in winning with talent and effort and how much he dislikes luck or anything other than his talent and skills being the deciding factor in a match he wins. Just a thought… He clearly said how he could not “understand”. Thought many have got on his case on that comment, I actually respect the man a lot more now. He wants to set an example on being No.1 in everything. Winning and in the way you win.

    And adding to that thought process, I agree to the posts above in that Fed should have done better at Wimbledon. I personally think he will and could do better there. I think what happened there again was another one of Fed’s self reflections during the matches with Tsonga and Berdych. I think he has set too high standards for himself at Grandslams and at Wimbledon for that matter and when he was pushed he probably was too hard on himself. I think that’s where the doubt comes into his gameplay and he starts trying to beat them at their own game. Its complex how his mind works and I think its all about living upto the expectations and standards that he has set on himself. I dont think its a lack of motivation or desire for Rog. I think he has enough motivation and desire to create even higher standards and results out there. The man loves tennis. He will find a way. And like a previous post I think its all about fine tuning the tactics, just putting it to work. I am sure they have and are figuring everything out as we speak. I am not ready to write him off yet… not yet… not until Fed calls it a day. I am still waiting to be pleasantly surprised in 2012!

    Go Rog!

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  17. Great posts, Veronica and Daz. In fact, I like most of the posts on this site—they’re well-thought out and insightful. And most importantly, they’re civil. Kudos to Ruan for being a great writer and moderator! Also, on the slight chance that some of you aren’t aware of it: I just reread and highly recommend David Foster Wallace’s great 2006 article, “Federer As Religious Experience,” published by NY Times Magazine. It’s an incredible piece of sports journalism, and justly famous for the way it portrays Roger at the height of his powers. Just google it and you can read it for free…. All the best to all of you.

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  18. Daz, very insightful comments on Fed and how his mind probably works. I also found his comment on THE shot that turned his world upside down very revealing of how the man operates. As you say, he felt insulted, how could Djoker play such a shot which depends on luck, which is a gamble and not a proper, thought-out, practised, “normal” shot?! Fed’s a pure classsical player – following certain rules and etiquette; like classical music. Djoker is like modern music, anything goes, reckless, unconventional, hey! it doesn’t matter, as long as I get the results. In that sense, there’s a lot to be admired about Fed; that he will not bow to popular theory; but it can also mean that he may never win another slam again because he has “restricted” himself to certain acceptable ways of winning. It can also mean he is not very open to change/progress and people like that also tend to have a lot of pride; the kind of pride that will not compromise. Not saying it’s a bad thing; it is what makes Fed who he is and what he has achieved and part and parcel of the reasons why we admire and love him so much. Just saying that if he stays more or less this way and not willing to risk/open to some things, winning maybe hard for him; especially since the newer generation players seem mostly concerned about the ends, not the means; as any means would do for them as long as they achieve the desired end. Fed is as much about the means as the end. This, I believe is not far from the truth and I am mixed in my feelings about this. On one hand, I wouldn’t want him to “change” some of his attitudes and be just like another tennis player but on the other hand, I’m sad that it would be so hard for him to win again if he doesn’t consider letting up his way of thinking and handling things. Maybe he would find a half way path where he could let up a little and with that, he would be able to achieve an even greater and more perfect level of tennis. I believe and know that he can go to a higher and more perfect level but he needs to find out for himself (and maybe listen to others more)and willing to go into unchartered ways of thinking and handling his unique situation and talents. But when all is said and done, I will be just happy to watch him play. Love you Fed!

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  19. Oh yes, I want to echo Bathalzar’s kudos to Ruan for being a great writer and moderator. Also kudos to contributors here whose comments are often thoughtful and insightful and very civil. For me, this is the most balanced and sensible (and enjoyable) Fed blog.

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  20. This year Roger has won only one title (at the beginnning of the year, in Doha) and no slams. Last year he won 5 titles, including a slam (the AO). In his peak year of 2006, he won 12 titles, including 3 slams. (That was 5 years ago. Roger is now 30. Those ahead of him in the rankings are 5-6 years younger.) Does anyone here see a trend, or is wishful thinking taking precedence over realism?

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  21. Neil—sorry to answer this way to your post, but I have an old Mac that rebels against the reply button…. Anyway, yes, you may indeed be right: it could all be wishful thinking when it comes to our belief in a Federer resurgence. But hope springs eternal, as they say. And that’s the whole point of being a fan. Also, when you consider what a great champion Roger has been, along with the fact that such a talent only surfaces two or three times per century, then it becomes quite understandable that many could believe that such a man could rise again like a phoenix from the ashes (the “ashes” in this case being a long string of Major semifinal and quarterfinal appeareances, with a French final thrown in for good measure). Yes, decline due to aging is inevitable. But when you compare Roger’s demise to Sampras’, it is so much more gradual than the American’s. Wasn’t Sampras suffering a dry spell of two years and only ranked 17th when he won his last Major? Thus, the belief that the greatest champion, Roger Federer, could still win a Major or two turns out to be not as far-fetched as you imply.

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    neil Reply:

    Yes, Balthazar, Pete did it, but that only reinforces how unlikely it is for a player in decline to defy the odds.

    To win another slam, Roger would have to beat not just one but two of the players currently ranked ahead of him (unless they all fall over with injury or an upset, which would then be a rather hollow victory), not to mention a field that is closing in on him – like a Tsonga. Do you really think that is likely? I don’t.

    What is more likely is that Roger will have another year rather like this one, but instead of holding match points in a GS semifinal he will lose earlier. That’s where his game is apparently going. I am picking next year to be his last on the tour – with or without a slam. As for the best of Roger – I think I saw that at the end of 2007 with his comprehensive demolition of Roddick, Nadal and Ferrer successively in the WTF in Shanghai. Since then the slide has been inexorable.

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    booya719 Reply:

    I definitely agree. I’m one of the few who believes that Federer is better off to retire. The only way Federer will win another major is to beat Djokovic and Nadal back-to-back in a SF and F. He’s also been getting the hardest possible QF draw as well with back-to-back Tsongas at Wimbledon and the US Open. The hard court majors are where it can happen for Federer but it’s still going to be extremely tough for Federer to win at this point against those guys 3 matches in a row.

    After a bit more thinking, the 2012 Australian Open for me feels like it could be Federer’s best and last real chance because it’s the next slam coming up 3 months away and his US Open form might not fall off too much until then. The US Open is very far away and to reach it Federer has to go through another disastrous season of losses. If Federer’s 2012 is the same as his 2011 I see him getting more frustrated to go through another season without winning anything. It will get to him eventually and start to really bother him because he has been making a lot of changes with no real result yet. It’s getting to the point that there’s not much left to change except for his racquet.

    The bright side about the AO is that it’s always a fresh season and it’s a tournament that Federer really gets up for and is always in good shape for aside from 2008 when he was sick. I think the AO is gonna be a good slam and we will see if Djokovic is able to defend a major title for the first time in his career.

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  22. Hi Ru-an,
    Greetings to you with good wishes for you. Have not missed a day visiting your blog, as you know, it is my favorite to visit reading your thoughts with many good comments from your readers.
    The drought season is coming to an end, Roger will be playing tennis again. We all missed him, no doubt. He is home in Basel with all top tennis players (except for Nadal)to participate.
    Comments have been both positive and negative for Roger’s future. I beg to differ on the negative ones as I believe hope is never to be given up. I believe Roger will still be giving his all to win a title, more we cannot ask for. He has achieved so much, is regarded as one of the finest athletes with class and elegance playing tennis. Roger, we love you. Good luck in Basel and thereafter.
    Kindly,
    Dolores

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    Ru-an Reply:

    Thanks Dolores yes I think Roger have a lot of tennis left in him. If he retires after next year then so be it, but I believe he can keep playing fr longer.

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  23. Neil, Booya, thanks for your thoughts. Predicting the future can turn out to be humbling for anyone who attempts such a venture, myself included. My basic point is only that there’s still a decent chance this great champion could surprise us all and win another Major or two. As to Neil’s point about a hollow victory for Roger if his rivals fall due to injury—with that I strongly disagree. I don’t believe in putting asterisks by championship titles. If you win it, you win it, and you deserve it. It’s that simple. Once you start down the road of disassembling a particular person’s accomplishments, you are forced to do the same for everyone else’s. It just becomes an endless regression of what-ifs, and means nothing in the end.

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  24. Federer remains the only man to beat gluten-free Djokovic by anything but a withdrawal due to injury. The entire rest of the tour has been unable to take two sets from the world’s #1, let alone three; Federer has been the only man to force him to five sets.

    Yes, he blew a match point in that USO semifinal. But no one else has even held a match point against Djokovic this entire year. Federer has done it twice, and converted once. That’s head and shoulders above what anyone else has been able to do–including the world #2 and #3.

    Why hasn’t he beaten Nadal? Well, Nadal has always been a very difficult opponent for him. Even if he is working hard on new strategies to deal with the Spaniard, I’m sure it won’t happen overnight.

    Yet there have been signs of progress there, too. The last time he faced Nadal at RG prior to this year, he was blown away in straight sets. This time he was four or five points away from winning in straight sets, which was much better than he ever did in 2005-08, during his physical prime.

    In the best-of-three tournaments, he’s fared relatively poorly. That, I think, will be a feature of his later career, due to the lack of recovery time between matches and because it’s easier for players to get hot and blow him away in best-of-three. Still, this year he made at least the semis of every tournament he entered from Doha to Miami.

    Yes, ultimately trophies are the proof of progress in Federer’s game. But the inverse conclusion–that because he’s not winning trophies means he must not be making progress–I don’t believe to be warranted.

    It’s true that predicting he will return to the top of the game and dominate (as I have predicted) is not what the evidence currently suggests. If he did return to the #1 spot and win several more majors, it would be a truly unprecedented achievement.

    But then he’s already done so much that has defied everyone’s expectations of what was possible.

    He has so many ways to shorten points, and so many tools he can use to nullify his opponents’ superior power and speed, that he has a very good chance of defying the odds, which are admittedly heavily stacked against him. If anyone can do it, it’s Federer.

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    Manu Reply:

    Great, thoughtful post. I fully agree.

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    neil Reply:

    Steve, if Federer was in his early twenties I would agree that he has time to adapt his tools and his strategies. But he is 30, slower and less sharp than he was 4 and 5 years ago. His much younger opponents meanwhile are still very much in their physical prime. While well thought-out, your arguments don’t take into account that every top sportsman is mortal and has a life-span, so to speak, when he is at his best. Roger is no longer at his best. No amount of argument can disguise his losses, which continue to increase, as against the staggering successes of his earlier career. Like many great champions before him, he is in his twilight years. He will never be what he was: the only question now is what can he salvage from his decline. One tournament this year? The signs are not encouraging.

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  25. Ruan,

    I was wondering ….we assume here on this blog that Roger is slower then he used to be in his prime and that this might be one of the reasons that Roger is winning less matches then before. But is there any direct evidence for this assumption?
    Googling a little bit to find some general remarks about the relation between speed and age, I found this comment written by a PHD biologist, which seems to contradict this assumption. He says mechanically speaking, peak athletic ability occurs for men around 28-30 years old. Roger being 30 years old, should therefore be still in his athletic peak and not yet in physical decline.
    It mentions also that sprinter Michael Johnson did not set his world record until he was 40 and Gail Devers recorded the 2nd fastest 60 meter in history at over 40 years of age.
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070427193535AAJMkvs
    Could it not rather be that Roger is mentally “slowing down” a bit, instead of physically, after having played that many competitive matches on the tennis circuit?

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    neil Reply:

    Your information from the “PhD biologist” is incorrect: Michael Johnson was 28 years old when he set world records in the 200m and 400m at the Atlanta Olympics. He retired in his early 30’s, plagued by injuries. Gael Devers ran an incredibly fast time at aged 40, but that is an exceptional achievement for an older athlete in any sport and was not replicated in the pre-doping era. Track and field has been known to be rife with steroid use, which can easily explain otherwise anomalous performances. Looking at tennis players, most appear to peak physically in their mid-twenties. If you don’t wish to accept that Roger’s physical skills are now declining (which is what I and others see) then you must come to the conclusion that everyone else is improving but he is not, and his game is increasingly being surpassed by more and more players. Further, if he hasn’t conceded any physical edge then why does he lose more matches than he used to 5 years ago? The will to win is still there. Again, unless you accept that he has lost some of his physical skills you would have to conclude he is simply not as good a player as those now beating him. So, if you think he is still at his physical peak why are other players improving but he – the most talented player in history – is not?

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  26. Thanks for your reply, Niel, and for correcting the information I put in my comment. I didn’t check its validity. It’s clear that Federer’s opponents have improved though, there is no doubt about that, and that he himself doesn’t have much or any margin anymore to beat them one after the other. Time is not on his side unfortunately. But I hope he’ll be able to at least challenge the odds once more and raise his level long enough to bag one more slam.

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    neil Reply:

    I agree. I think that’s about as much as we might realistically hope for. it would still be a great achievement, given where he is at this stage of his career.

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