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View Full Version : The questions facing Federer [good article]


R_Federer
01-18-2009, 11:46 AM
Sunday 18 January 2009
By Alan Trengove

http://www.australianopen.com/images/pics/large/b_federer_18_01.jpg

Few tennis fans, a year ago, would have said Roger Federer had anything to prove in the sport he’d graced for more than a decade.

Admittedly, he had never found a way to beat Spain’s rampaging Rafael Nadal on the slow clay courts of Roland Garros. But at the other three majors Federer’s grip, like his cool, gentlemanly demeanour, seemed unshakeable.

He’d then won Wimbledon five straight times, the US Open four straight times, and the Australian Open thrice. He’d reigned as world No. 1 for three years and, at 26, was considered the best player of his generation, if not of all time.

In fact, some commentators even wondered whether the main risk facing the great Swiss might be the monotony of winning so regularly. He needed more of a challenge, they said, as if having his nose rubbed in red dirt by Rafa each year wasn’t enough. (They overlooked his appearance in the final in three consecutive years, an effort beyond Pete Sampras.)

Today, as he shapes up for his 10th tilt at the Australian Open, Federer’s situation has changed. A series of unexpected defeats in 2008 threatened to erode his princely stature in the game. While still a wonderful player, he was now prone to costly lapses. He’d come back to the field, with an increasing number of young upstarts, such as Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Gilles Simon, beating him.

Federer’s confidence was shaken. Whether it is now fully restored is one of the questions he surely must resolve at Melbourne Park in the next two weeks. There can be no place for doubts, small though they may be, in a Grand Slam arena.

Another question is whether Federer has been unwise to deny himself a full-time coach; someone with enough clues to get him through the kind of bad patches he experienced in 2008.

Is it pride or stubbornness that prevents him from following the example of champions like Bjorn Borg, Andre Agassi and Sampras in hiring a respected full-time mentor?

Federer can rebut the skeptics by winning the Australian title for a fourth time, equalling the Open era record set by Agassi. Victory would also enable him to match Sampras’s record of 14 career Grand Slam championships. He’d then be poised to claim the record outright later in the year.

While both achievements would reassert his supremacy and be extremely fulfilling to a player highly conscious of the game’s traditions, they are unlikely to occur unless he recaptures the nerve, physical fitness, and tactical know-how that deserted him at critical moments in 2008.

His semifinal defeat by Djokovic at Australian Open 2008 was followed in early June by one of the worst hidings of his life when Nadal allowed him only four games in the French Open final. It was a real downer for Federer, who committed numerous unforced errors, including frequent mis-hits.

Then came his dethronement at Wimbledon, where he wasted far too many opportunities in another showdown with Nadal. When the Spaniard seized Federer’s No. 1 ranking, it was as if The Joker had knocked off Batman – the world would never be the same.

Other painful defeats during the year were inflicted by Americans James Blake (at the Beijing Olympics), Mardy Fish and Andy Roddick, and by Europeans Ivo Karlovic and Radek Stepanek. All had usually been outplayed by Federer in their previous clashes.

The pall lifted at the US Open, when the defending champ won the title brilliantly for a fifth time. It was, however, only his fourth crown of the year, compared, for example, to his swag of 12 titles in 2006.

To rub even more salt into the wounds, Murray eliminated Federer in a preliminary round of the Tennis Masters Cup in Shanghai last November, an event the Swiss had won in four of the previous five years.

So what chance a total recovery in Melbourne?

Federer will have to deal with a few fading ghosts. It was here, for instance, that Lleyton Hewitt frustrated him with a shock Davis Cup defeat. He also has bitter memories of losing at his first two appearances at the Australian Open to the little Frenchman Arnaud Clement.

His other losses at the Open have been to Germany’s Tommy Haas (2002), Argentina’s David Nalbandian (2003), Russia’s Marat Safin (after holding a match point in the 2005 semifinal), and Djokovic (2008).

Any one of these players can be unstoppable on his day, as can the likes of Nadal, Murray, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Simon.

It’s not going to be easy for the Fed Express to get back on track … but nobody would be greatly surprised if he did.

http://www.australianopen.com/en_AU/news/articles/2009-01-18/200901181232244795656.html

The_Steak
01-18-2009, 11:56 AM
Nice post.

Lendl and Federer Fan
01-18-2009, 01:51 PM
What Federer should do is ignore stupid media like that, do not over analyze, and just play tennis. Most important, just enjoy playing tennis. :)

R_Federer
01-18-2009, 02:00 PM
What Federer should do is ignore stupid media like that, do not over analyze, and just play tennis. Most important, just enjoy playing tennis. :)

Exactly. Really all he needs to do is cut down on his errors and he will almost certainly win. That was the onyl thing that was holding him back last year. He should also remember he won the last slam, also on a hard court.

TheTruth
01-18-2009, 02:27 PM
What Federer should do is ignore stupid media like that, do not over analyze, and just play tennis. Most important, just enjoy playing tennis. :)

Agreed! I think it's silly to try to instill doubt in people's minds like that. Federer is getting older. The competition is coming into their prime. But nothing's wrong with Federer's game at this point, so he should relax, enjoy, and take it one step at a time.

R_Federer
01-18-2009, 02:30 PM
Agreed! I think it's silly to try to instill doubt in people's minds like that. Federer is getting older. The competition is coming into their prime. But nothing's wrong with Federer's game at this point, so he should relax, enjoy, and take it one step at a time.

Technically everyone is "getting older" though. Federer is only 28 let me remind you and also recall he has never had a band aid even on his body. He has hardly had to break a sweat or play long points for the most part of his career. For this reason, Federer will still win slams at a later age then lets say Sampras for example. Hence I see 20 slams for him.

The_Steak
01-18-2009, 02:32 PM
20...? I can envision him hitting 15, but not 20.

R_Federer
01-18-2009, 02:37 PM
20...? I can envision him hitting 15, but not 20.

Dude he'll get 15 this year lol. He has probably 7 more years left after this. You see him winning 0-1 Slams in those 7 years? :|

He'll easily make 20 :).

The_Steak
01-18-2009, 02:38 PM
Not the way he has been playing so far...

He has lost a lot of his confidence, If he can get some of that old magic back he will get more.

R_Federer
01-18-2009, 02:40 PM
Not the way he has been playing so far...

He has lost a lot of his confidence, If he can get some of that old magic back he will get more.

You're right, I think that means this upcoming season is a HUGE year for him then. It will tell him if his game has gone down or if last year was just a small blimp in the career and that he is still the best on the circuit.

So ya if this year he wins 2 Slams lets say then 20 could be possible.

zagor
01-18-2009, 02:50 PM
Nice article,let's see what Fed has in store for AO,he seems in very good form so I'd put him as the favourite after Murray.