Does it seem Roger is losing his edge. He has endured much, achieved much, tolerated much and delivered much this season. Do you think he can continue to have the weight of the tennis world on his shoulders, this is Roger Federer, not superman.
The day after his painstaking 5th consecutive triumph in the US Open last month, Roger Federer talked about how he had not felt stronger and fresher for a long time (yeahh…..) – that he believed the old invincibility (not quite) was flowing back. The chirpy champion looked as if he could have slipped straight into his tennis gear and played a few more sets.
Federer spoke, too about the period at the beginning of the year when he was not feeling at all chipper, about the glandular fever that had affected him and how he had worried about how he should tell the world that he had been suffering from it without any of his words sounding like an excuse for the semi final loss to Serbia’s Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open and the first round defeat in Dubai to Andy Murray. When Federer said yesterday that he might not play again this year, it was not that much of a shock, because his twin aims for 2009 are to regain his No.1 ranking from Rafael Nadal and collect a couple of grand slam titles so that he can overhaul Pete Sampras’ tally of 14, from which he is currently one removed. This is no time to flog himself to death.
Of course, a lot of tickets have been sold in several cities on the expectation that Federer will be seen in the flesh and not just his image tied to local street lights. But in Spain, they are going to present Rafael Nadal with his No.1 world trophy, it is going to be Rafa, Rafa all the way and perhaps Federer could do without having that situation thrust down his throat. Better to keep himself ready for China, where he will only have to play 5x at most, his 3 group matches and a potential semi final and final. All the matches are best of three sets.
I would expect to see him in Basel, because he simply loves to appear in front of the local crowd and his victory for Switzerland in the Olympic doubles with Stanislas Wawrinka in August meant the world to him. And I am sure he will present himself in China.
But that will be all for him this year. Federer will then fly off to to his pimping pad in Dubai to prepare training for the sweltering Australian summer – it is one of the most important periods of his year, a training block where he gets himself in the right shape for the mental and physical road ahead.
Is his body starting to talk to him about not playing so much next year….. no player can keep up the intensity he’s been at for the last few years…. there is a time when Roger will be to old and he will be a legend instead of a current hero…. it is inevitable.