Marco Falbo: Roger Federer, you are ending 2013 ranked No. 6, after starting it ranked No. 2. How do you assess your season that has just ended?
Roger Federer: It was a very difficult year. It may have begun well with the semi-final in Australia, and it ended well. But it would be better to forget the months from March to October, despite the quarter-finals at Roland Garros and the win in Halle. My back problems began at Indian Wells in March; after the match against Ivan Dodig, I shouldn’t have kept playing, the games against Stanislas Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal were too much. After that, I fell behind with my training and was unable to catch up again because my back problems soon returned. In the summer too, it would have been better to have given up in Hamburg and Gstaad. These problems cost me a lot of time and threw me off course.
Was 2013 a lost year?
No year is lost. In the circumstances, it was actually an interesting season. It’s no joke being injured, of course. But I had to get through it, I had to question everything. Along with the back problems, I had other setbacks of a kind I had seldom had in the previous ten years. But nonetheless it was an interesting experience – to see how different people reacted, and how I dealt with this situation myself. Sometimes, I could hardly move properly, and yet was sharply criticized by some people.
After always reaching at least the semi-finals at 36 Grand Slam tournaments in a row, you lost in the second round at Wimbledon to Sergiy Stakhovsky. Was that the low point of your year?
Of course, that defeat was one of the biggest disappointments of my season. I went to Wimbledon convinced that I could win the tournament for the eighth time. But it wasn’t a complete surprise for me. Because I hadn’t played really well in Paris. Then Wimbledon was the start of the bigger problems.
Haven’t these unaccustomed defeats against low-ranked players taken away your enjoyment of tennis?
Defeats are part of tennis. What matters is how you react. What is also important for me is that I am honest with myself. I am the sort of person who often questions everything; I did the same when things were going really well for me. That’s why I am not affected much by the criticism, which I don’t think is justified.
Where do you see yourself in terms of your performance? Have you come up against certain limitations, or do you think that you are still capable of top performances?
I can see no reason why I shouldn’t play better again in 2014, and have some great wins. I have still got some major goals, because I certainly haven’t forgotten how to play tennis; after all, I was still number one in the fall of 2012, and at the end of the season, once my back was better, my results also improved. I reached the final in Basel and the semi-finals at Paris-Bercy and the World Tour Finals, and beat top-ten players without playing my best tennis. If my serve or my forehand had been a bit more solid, the results could have been much better.
You achieved some of your best wins at the indoor tournaments. You contested 13 matches in three weeks, and beat top players such as Juan Martin Del Potro twice, Richard Gasquet, and Grigor Dimitrov. Were you surprised?
The end result is good, even though I would have liked to win a tournament. But that would perhaps have been asking too much, after such a year. After all, I was able to concentrate again fully on my tennis and on tactics for three weeks, and my body didn’t give me any problems. In the preceding months, that had been different. That is a big step, and makes me want more. My self-confidence has also returned. By the end, everyone around me was talking positively again, the mood was much better than in the summer. That boosts my morale for the coming year, and it’s a big relief. The fun has definitely returned.
What are your specific goals for 2014?
I would like to win about five tournaments again and play in great finals, that’s where I have most fun. My ranking is less important to me, unless it’s about being number one. But it would be good to be in the top four or top eight, to get good seedings.
Are there any changes in your planning in 2014?
Yes, they’re already being prepared. I’m concentrating fully on my training; for once I won’t be participating in any show tournaments, in contrast with 2012 when I went to South America. What is important is that I can train hard in Dubai in December without any setbacks. I think that it will take until April for me to catch up completely with my training. For once, I’ll be opening the new season at the ATP tournament in Brisbane, after which it’s the Australian Open.
Will you be testing rackets with bigger heads, as you did in the summer when you even contested two tournaments with one?
I will, for sure. Because this summer’s tests don’t tell us much because I wasn’t able to play properly in Hamburg and Gstaad because of my back problems.
Stanislas Wawrinka has become a top ten player. Might that mean that you would be more willing to appear in the Davis Cup again? In particular, will you be there against Serbia in the first round in February 2014?
The situation is the same as two years ago. I’ve long known that Wawrinka could beat the best players, he hasn’t had to prove anything to me for a long time. In the next few weeks I will make a decision about the Davis Cup. But at the moment I have no idea what it will be. But I am happy for Stan that things are going so well for him. It was a fantastic end of season, with two Swiss players in the semi-finals of the World Tour Finals. And neither of us knew right up to the final tournament at Paris-Bercy whether we would even qualify.
Novak Djokovic said in London that you were still very strong but that you had become a bit slower and didn’t move as well as in the past. What’s your response to that?
What he says is true. But it would also be strange if I could move wonderfully and at my best after a year when I couldn’t train enough and in between times lost quite a bit of my self-confidence. I don’t feel that I am as fast as in my best years, either. But despite that I can still compete with the best. That makes me feel positive. For months, I played while being afraid of back pains and got into bad habits in the process. On court, I was orientating myself to the back rather than to the front, I lost my usual aggressiveness. And somehow I became a different player. Now I need time to get all of that out of my system again.
Why did you split from your American coach Paul Annacone after more than three years? And what do you expect from a new coach?
It was a mutual split. We talked to each other in Dubai before the tournament in Shanghai and both of us had the feeling that it was the right moment. The split went as well as it possibly could. Paul will remain a good friend and we’re still in close contact with each other. In Severin Lüthi, I still have a coach who has been extremely helpful for me for a long time. But I don’t know if he can or wants to be on the road with me for 40 weeks next year. At the moment, I don’t know if I am going to appoint a new coach at all. I’m very happy with my team.
How do you assess the situation at the top, with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic as numbers one and two?
The two players’ achievements this year have been massive, and they are clearly better than the others. I think Nadal is the right number one, because he won two Grand Slam titles. I’m looking forward to seeing how the two of them start next season, they are quite clearly the ones to beat.
Thanks to Veronica(yes, she’s finally back) for telling me about this article. Also today is officially the 5th anniversary of my blog so I thought it would be fitting to make another post. This was a very nice interview Roger had with Credit Suisse because it summed the 2013 season up nicely and gave us an idea what the future holds. Although we already know the back problem played a big role in his 2013 season it is still important that he emphasized it again. He doesn’t like to make excuses and neither do I. I often criticized him but the fact that he talks so little about injuries makes it easier to do so, and also the fact that I assume when a player steps on the court they are ready to play. So to a certain extent it’s his own fault that he got criticized. It has now become clear that there were some instances where he should not have played.
Hopefully he learned a lesson from this and listens to his body more in the future. It’s nice to see Roger thinks his results can improve a lot in 2014, and it just makes sense that it can happen given that he is physically better. Hopefully the improvement we saw during the indoor season was just the beginning and that he will keep improving in 2014. That would make sense too because the indoor season was only 3 events, and it would take more time than that to get back to his best after he struggled since after the Australian Open. He thinks he can win something like 5 tournaments in 2014, which I think is a fair estimate if his level keeps improving. The main thing is to regain the confidence in his body, which in turn will lead to improved footwork, forehand, and serve. A lot of the movement has to do with confidence.
Certainly the footwork, serve, and forehand are key areas in his game if he wants to regain former glory, and like he says it will take about until April before he can catch up on lost training. I wasn’t expecting an awful lot in the first few months of the year anyway. Australia is so damn slow these days that it’s hard for him to do really well there. Having said that I’d like to see him start well in Brisbane and still make a good showing in Melbourne. Someone said he will not play Rotterdam this year but his schedule is not out yet so we don’t know for sure. Personally I’d like to see him play Rotterdam and Dubai and then of course Indian Wells. He can skip Slowami again as far as I’m concerned and come back in Madrid. Hopefully by the time Indian Wells comes around things can start clicking again for Roger and he can do some damage there before the clay season.
Probably not a bad idea for Roger to play Davis Cup against Serbia after the Australian Open either. It is extra matches and he needs that. Finally it doesn’t look like Roger is very keen on getting a new coach at this point which is kind of what I’ve been suggesting. Actually I have left out probably the most important news of all which is that he will be testing new racquets again! I thought that was great news, and I thought that since he went back to his old racquet and had some good results with it indoors, that he would stay with it. You may remember the post I made before Roger decided to test a new racquet suggesting he does just that. But my suggestion was that he waited until the off season to do so. Well that is going to happen now anyway. He should have just listened to me! Anyway I am excited about it and I hope he will find a racquet that gives him more power and consistency from the base line.
What say you?
Hi guys. This is a special post for me because it marks 5 years of existence for my blog!! I did my first post on December 4, 2008. Long time ago, isn’t it? It has been an amazing journey since then following the career of arguably the greatest tennis player that ever lived. If you take a look back at my first post you will see I predicted there that Roger would break Sampras’ slam record, at which time Roger was on 13 slams. I also said it’s not that relevant whether Roger wins the French Open, since at that time there was no possibility in my mind of Nadal catching up with him. The focus was more on Sampras and Roger surpassing him, and since Sampras didn’t win the career slam himself Roger just needed to pass his slam tally to be considered greater. How much things have changed in the last 5 years! When I started my blog Roger came off his worst year since his ascendancy to the top of the sport.
He got mono after his exhos with Sampras in the East and his results started dropping off. He did however finish the year on a relative high by winning a 5th consecutive US Open, the only player in the open era to do so. He was still struggling though, because he struggled during the indoor season with a back injury having to withdraw in Paris to Blake, and didn’t qualify for the semis of the Masters Cup. When Roger withdraws from a match you know something serious is wrong because it almost never happens. Despite winning the US Open and ending the year on a relative high there were more problems toward the end of the year. Then in Australia when my blog was in its infancy it received which was to this day its biggest setback. Roger was back on track when he made the Australian Open final and would face Nadal who had played a marathon match against Verdasco in the second semi-final.
It was a titanic struggle that lasted more than 5 hours, and Roger would have the clear advantage as he had 24 hours more to recover from his routine straight set win over Roddick in the other semi the day before. Roger ended up losing in 5 sets to Nadal after having opportunities to win the 3rd set and end all hopes of a tired looking Nadal. Squandering those opportunities proved to be a disastrous mistake because Nadal sensed the fear, and he is like a predator when he senses fear. He goes straight for the throat and doesn’t let up until the victim blows out its last breath. This was a crushing loss. I had just started my blog and already I wanted to give it up. It was the worst possible start for my blog and I was absolutely devastated. I mean I was floored. The only good thing about being floored is that there is only one way to go and that is up.
Even at that time my oldest reader Johnny had already started commenting on my blog. He has ever since lurked here in the background. I mean I’m not even sure he is around anymore. That’s how subtle he is. Anyway thanks for the support and loyalty if you are reading this Johnny. Fortunately I decided to endure with my blog after that crushing loss because 2009 would turn out to be one of the most rewarding years as a fan. But not before many more disappointments and people writing Roger off. Already at this point people were writing Roger’s obituary. They said he was finished and would neither catch up with Sampras nor surpass him. Roger was feeling the frustration as well as he shattered his racquet against the court surface against Djokovic in Miami. He was really in a bad place in his career, not unlike 2013.
Nothing was going his way. It was like he was cursed. He even suffered his only loss to Stan at Monte Carlo that year. He also lost another 3-setter to Djokovic in Rome. It wasn’t until Madrid when the breakthrough came and Roger got only his second victory over Nadal on clay in the final. It marked the moment where Roger stepped out of the shadows and into the light. He went on to win his first and only French Open after Nadal was shocked in the 4th round by Soderling of all people, in which was for me his most emotional slam victory. Never mind the fact that he didn’t have to face Nadal. He had already been in 3 French Open finals before 2009 and once more afterwards. So it was thoroughly deserved. He had the all important career slam. That was all that mattered. He was also tied with Sampras on 14 slams, which made him the greater player as Sampras had no French Open title.
As crushing as the Australian Open loss was, the triumph in Paris went a long way towards making up for it. Many a time you see an absolute high after an absolute low like it happened here, which is why I believe that Roger could possibly win a slam in 2014 after the bitter disappointment of 2013. But he wasn’t done yet. After the incredibly emotional French Open win Roger went ahead and won his 6th Wimbledon title after missing out so disappointingly the previous year to Nadal. He had done the channel slam, he had broken Sampras’ slam record, and what is more is he was back to world #1. A similar situation than 2012 where Roger equaled Sampras’ 7 Wimbledon titles, returned to world #1, and soon after broke Sampras’ record amount of weeks at #1. Certainly Wimbledon has been the site of some of Roger’s very best moments.
Emerging from the shadows
After Roger won Wimbledon in 2009 things surely could not get any better. He had silenced the critics in the best possible way and the Australian Open loss was now a distant memory. He was back on top of the tennis world after some testing times. In hindsight that period was like his first encore after the main show which was his prime. I say that because he did not return to his prime. He would never be as dominant as he once was. He did however add a record 4th Australian Open at the start of 2010 in a brilliant display Down Under. It was a shame he lost in the 2009 US Open final to Del Potro after being a set and a break up. If he won there he could have had the ‘Federer slam’ and a record 6 US Open titles now. But it’s really pointless to look at it that way because Del Potro’s tennis basically ignited out of nowhere and he started playing unbelievable tennis.
Also you can never be sure how the future will be influenced by changing something in the past. The rest of 2010 was nothing special as Roger’s semi-final streak at slams got broken by Soderling at the French Open, and he lost to Berdych in the quarters of Wimbledon as well. The US Open was another disappointment as he lost to Djokovic after having match points. Things only really started improving again in the indoor season where Roger won 3 titles, including his 5th Masters Cup to equal Lendl and Sampras. There was new hope for 2011 but 2011 saw the arrival of Djokovic 2.0, a devastating force that utterly dominated the 2011 season. Roger didn’t win a slam in 2011, but he did stop Djokovic from most likely winning the calender slam when he beat him in the French Open semis in one of the best matches of his career.
It was Goderer through and through. It also happened to halt Djokovic’s streak who hadn’t lost a match all year until that point. It was another one of those moments where you wonder about what could have been, because had Roger not stopped Djokovic there I think he would have beaten Nadal, because he had dominated Nadal throughout the clay court season. But instead Nadal faced Roger in the final who was a much more comfortable opponent for him. Not that Roger just rolled over in the final. He put up an admirable performance but as usual could not capitalize against Nadal when he was in a favorable position. But still it was the highlight of what was an otherwise pretty disappointing season by his own high standards. He was convincingly beaten by Djokovic in Melbourne and at Wimbledon he lost in the quarters to Tsonga after being 2 sets to love up.
But the biggest disappointment came at the US Open where Roger lost for the second consecutive year in the semis to Djokovic after having match points. It was time to ask some questions and do some introspection, which Roger did. It seemed to pay off because he won the next three events he played in Basel, Paris, and London, in the process breaking the record for the most Masters Cup titles. This was indeed a sign of things to come in 2012 because Roger went on to have another terrific year that saw him win his 17th slam, a record equaling 7th Wimbledon title, and ascending back the top of the rankings. I see that stretch from the 2009 French Open to the 2010 Australian Open as his first encore, while 2012 was his second encore. Now, will there be a third encore? I think we will see one in 2014.
What that encore will entail I can’t say. He may or may not win another slam. It would be the ultimate achievement if he does, and could well put him ahead of Nadal in the GOAT debate for good. Realistically it is hard to see him win another French- or Australian Open. The conditions at Wimbledon and the US Open are more favorable. Of course an 8th Wimbledon title would be the fairy tale ending. Whichever slam he wins he would be making history, but Wimbledon would just be that extra bit special. It is the Mecca of tennis and where it all started for him. It is the greatest tournament ever and if Roger wins the most Wimbledon titles ever he would surely be the greatest tennis player ever. If that happens it will surely be damn hard for Nadal to surpass him. But even if Nadal does surpass him by winning 6 more slams(which seems unlikely) Roger’s legacy will be forever cemented as peRFection.
There is of course no guarantee he can do it. It seems unlikely at this point, but one can dream right? I have written mostly about Roger and his tennis in my anniversary post which is perhaps fitting. I thought I’d write more about my blog itself but this post has already gotten long. Let me just say that the last few months have been the most testing time my blog have gone through since the 2009 Australian Open. 2013 has been a testing year as a Fedfan where our loyalty and faith got tested like never before. Around the beginning of the indoor season I started noticing less comments from my readers. I could not figure out what the reason was. Was it because the lively Veronica had mysteriously disappeared? Was it because I gave Roger a kind of ‘deadline’? Or was it just because Roger had been struggling so much in 2013?
A legend among legends
It was somewhat disappointing but I have since realized it was mostly due to Roger’s on court struggle, which is understandable. It is hard to remain enthusiastic when things hit rock bottom. But lets face it Roger did a great job of starting to change the momentum during the indoor season. I am happy with how things turned out and I am excited about 2014. On a personal note I will be going to Thailand to teach English in January and will be doing an intensive English teaching course starting in the second week of the Australian Open. So don’t expect any posts from me then. Hopefully after that things will settle down some and I can start blogging again. But I will do something I have never done before and will be putting a lot of work into it, so I can’t promise anything. My blog survived me going to work in the US so lets hope it can survive Thailand too.
A lot of that may depend on you too. I have tried carrying you guys in the last couple of months and maybe you will need to do the same for me at the beginning of next year. I just wana thank you all for reading my blog and participating with comments. It seems fitting that I have 992,028 all time blog views as I’m writing this post, and there is a good chance I will pass a million blog views before the end of the year. It has been a terrific spell for my blog over the last 5 years. There have been some incredible highs, as well as lows. I started my blog when Roger had reached the end of his prime and it has been an interesting period where Roger broke countless records and proved countless critics wrong. Roger has won 4 slams since I started this blog and each one has been an absolute triumph.
In that time he also returned to #1 twice and broke the record for the most number of weeks in the top spot. He won 2 more Masters Cups to break the record held by Sampras and Lendl. He completed the career slam and broke Sampras’ slam record. He equaled Agassi’s record 4 Australian Open titles. He equaled Sampras’ 7 Wimbledon titles. He extended his semi-final streak at slams to 23, and his quarter final streak to 36. He won 20 more titles. These are just a few of the amazing things he has been able to achieve in the last 5 years. And he is not done! I would still like to see that 18th slam at Wimbledon, but like I said it’s anyone’s guess whether he will be able to pull that off. He is Roger Federer though. He can probably do it. I just want to thank all my readers again for helping to make this blog what it is. This post is as much for you as it is for me and Roger.
I couldn’t have done it without your support. I don’t like to call names out because everyone plays a part, but I do feel like I have a bit of an obligation to thank some of my long time readers who forms a kind of core group. Readers like Chris, Steve, Dolores, Wilfried, and Veronica(who sadly has been absent for some time now and will hopefully see this post and comment), have been with my blog for a long time and have been loyal supporters and big contributors. I already mentioned Johnny. A special thanks to you guys. Your support means a lot to me. I know there are many of you who have followed my blog for a long time as well who have only commented once or twice, or never. You guys are just as important. It’s always a thrill when someone leaves me a comment and they say something along the lines of having followed my blog for years or never having missed a post.
This blog is something I am very proud of because it seems I have created something here which is meaningful because it is valuable to many people. That is probably the single most rewarding thing for me about this blog. The last 5 years have not been the most exciting or most eventful time of my life, and this blog is what kept me going. I didn’t find anything as far as a job is concerned that I was passionate about. So this blog was an outlet for my passion for tennis. Even though I couldn’t make a living off blogging at least I created something of value for people. Money is not everything anyway. It’s more important that you feel good about what you do and to add value to other people’s lives. I know I have my shortcomings and can probably seem very grumpy and egotistical at times, but at least I am honest and objective.
People get the wrong impression about this blog. They think it’s just another fan blog because of the name. But I have always stated that this is first of all a tennis blog, and second a Federer blog. I have always tried to be brutally honest. I have been Roger biggest fan as well as his worst critic. The fact that I have been so brutally honest and objective have no doubt chased away many a Fedfan from my blog, but telling it like it is have always been more important than having a lot of readers to me. Without authenticity popularity means nothing. I don’t have time for the fanatical type. I am not a blind worshiper who can’t find any fault with his favorite. I have always thought Roger is a great role model and ambassador for the sport, but he is not even my idol. I feel more like I’m on equal footing with him.
Is there one more left…?
I have always felt a strange connection with Roger. Of course Roger has a South African mom while I am from South Africa as well. But it’s not really that. When I watch his matches I can sense when he is going to slump or peak. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to watch his matches, because whenever I get bored during the match and start to lose interest he does the exact same. It probably sounds extremely superstitious but it is uncanny how it happens. Like Roger I have a sense for the dramatic, and I get bored with things easily. I think because Roger is so talented this tends to happen with him too. We have seen it time and time again in the latter part of his career. It clearly doesn’t make things easy on us fans. A match like the Del Potro match in London this year for instance leaves you tired and emotionally drained.
But at the same time it is thrilling and exciting. It’s all part and parcel of being a fan of past prime Roger. It has been a very emotional 5 years that’s for sure. It has also been a very rewarding 5 years as a fan. I have always felt that being a Fedfan is the most privileged position you can be in as a fan of any sport. Overall Roger’s career has been a fairy tale, and I would love for him to have a fairy tale ending to a fairy tale career by winning Wimbledon one more time. But if he does not it would still have been an unbelievable career. Now onto something a little more serious. I want to discourage the doping accusations toward Nadal from here on(yes Rich, that goes for you as well). I know I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but there are two reasons I want it to stop: (1) we don’t have any hard proof and (2) it reflects poorly on Fedfans and this blog.
If Nadal is doping he will surely suffer the consequences at some point. It is not our job to make that happen. We would be well advised to support Roger and enjoy what is left of his incredible career. It is always better to focus on the positive. We must remain righteous in our thoughts and actions if we want to endure. Cheating and dishonesty on the other hand never endures. Lets just leave it at that. Well I think I have said more or less what I wanted to say. We will just have to see what 2014 have in store for us. I am kind of entering a new phase in my life now where a lot of things will change again. My going to the US was just the beginning and I have big plans for the future. But a lot of things will stay the same as well. And hopefully one of them will be this blog. We never quite know what life has in store for us which is what keeps it interesting.
But whatever happens I thank you for a great 5 years. It was a blast and I wish you all the best!
Hi folks. I started a post this past weekend but couldn’t find the enthusiasm to finish it. I can’t remember the last time that happened, if ever. But since I have talked to some of you on my last post I have a better understanding of what has been going on of late and feel inspired to do a new post. There has been less comments and participation in discussion from my readers of late. I couldn’t quite figure out why and my traffic was as good as ever. Actually it is still growing. The reason is pretty much as I suspected – the fact that Roger has been struggling. I guess it is normal to be less enthusiastic and active when that happens. I kept my posting up despite less comments from you guys, but after my last post and the lack of comments I started losing enthusiasm. It just looked like you have lost enthusiasm yourselves, and this blog functions as a whole after all.
I realize now that you guys have just lost some enthusiasm because of Roger’s results. I’m not mad at anyone for it but at the same time I don’t think Roger’s lack of results is a reason for losing hope anymore. I think he has shown during the indoor season that he still means business and that we have reason to believe that 2014 will be a much stronger year for Roger than 2013 was. I also find this struggle interesting. It is uncharted territory for Roger. Never has he reached such a low as in 2013 and I find it fascinating to see how he responds when faced with something totally new. I think if he stays motivated, which he is, there is no reason to believe that he can’t reach the opposite side of that all time low, which is of course an all time high. Lets say he manages to win another slam. Would’t that be an all time high after everything that transpired this year?
I think it will be. Of course there is no guarantee that it will happen, but there is no guarantee that it won’t happen either. I’m actually very excited about the 2014 season. The upside of having a poor season is that you don’t have many points to defend the next season. That is already a big positive for Roger in 2014, before he has even hit a ball. The other positives are that he will be well rested and this year he is not playing exhos in South-America either. He will take that momentum from the indoor season and start confidently in 2014. He will already start in Brisbane as the top seed and will have a good chance of winning the title, which would be the ideal way to begin the season. It will also be good preparation for the Australian Open where he has a semi to defend. It’s going to be tough as Roger won’t have a top 4 seeding.
Hopefully he doesn’t get drawn in Nadal’s quarter again. But getting drawn with Djokovic or Murray isn’t much better either, as a loss doesn’t help the head-to-head. On the slow hard courts of Melbourne these guys are just very difficult to beat. Ideally Roger wants to get drawn in Ferrer’s quarter. But getting to the quarters is no given these days and just getting that far would already be a decent result. Looking at the other slams you’d expect a similar result in Paris than this year, although you’d like to see him do better than losing in straight sets to Tsonga. At Wimbledon there will be the best chance for making points after this year’s loss in the 2nd round. At the US Open there will be another good opportunity for gaining points. In almost all the in between events there will be chances for Roger to gain points as well.
What I’d like to see is Roger returning to the top 4 by the end of the year. I think he belongs ahead of Ferrer and Del Potro in the rankings. He already beat Del Potro the last two times they met, and his head-to-head with Ferrer is a staggering 14-0. With the lack of points to defend next year I want to see him establish himself as one of the big 4 again, where he belongs. He may not be quite up there with Nadal, Djokovic, or Murray anymore, but I think he can sneak ahead of Del Potro and Ferrer. Del Potro is a very dangerous player himself and he may even win a slam in 2014. But then again Roger could too. At least I’d like to see Roger end ahead of Ferrer in the rankings in 2014 so that he is in the top 5 again. A slam title is of course the ultimate goal but it is less certain than in the past and I don’t want to create any expectations.
If it happens it happens. But before it can happen Roger will at least have to maintain a certain level of consistency. Definitely a better level of consistency than in 2013. This is why I felt the indoor season was so crucial. With 3 wins over a top 10 player during the indoor season, Roger has sent a little message that he can’t be taken lightly in 2014. It has lifted his confidence and I think he will capitalize on that in 2014. It will be a question of forgetting what happened in 2013 and not losing matches he should be winning. I believe he can do that and if he does he will give himself chances to take it a step further. He just needs one slam where he is playing well and there is a couple of big upsets. Then he must seize the opportunity and make it count. But it’s all about laying that foundation from where he can attack.
And that foundation is a burning desire and a refusal to surrender, exactly like we saw against Del Potro in London. As long as he maintains that attitude and his body allows him he is almost guaranteed to win another slam. That was the attitude he showed in 2012 and it resulted in #17. I think Roger’s back should do better in 2014 as well. He didn’t play as much as he did in 2012 and he had to deal a lot with his back. He should be in a better situation now to avoid it crippling him again. The match against Del Potro is the main reason my faith in Roger is restored. If I didn’t see the intense desire and hunger he showed in that match I would not have had much hope for 2014. But he showed me he still wants it bad and therefor I see no reason not to be optimistic about 2014. I hope you guys feel the same and will feel a bit more optimistic after this post.
Here is a little something to help raise your enthusiasm for the coming season as well :-) …