• Federer back to work after strategy backfires

    5/10/13 5:52 PM | Johan Lindahl
    Federer back to work after strategy backfires It's back to work for Roger Federer after strategy of taking a seven-week break failed to fire, with the defending champion out of the Madrid Masters and headed to Rome to try and repair the damage before next week's clay play.

    The second seed lost to Kei Nishikori and is now keen to get straight back to work on the clay. Federer will have a bye as a leading seed in Rome and has time to get onto the clay of the Foro Italico to polish his form.

    "I feel like I want to go to the practise courts this afternoon, but clearly I'm not going to do that. I'm going to make sure I'm going to be as well prepared as I can be for Rome. I'll sit together with the team and discuss what the plan is for the next few days and weeks now. So I'm excited for that, because clearly I have no choice but to hit the practise courts.

    "And I'll do that well and hard if that's the route I choose."

    After his loss, the 31-year-old will cast a laser eye on his clay game and hopefully correct what went wrong against Nishikori. "At least I come out with some ideas of what I need to work on.

    "Clearly the ball flies here (800-metre altitude) and it's faster, so that makes it sometimes more tricky to find your rhythm. We're so accustomed to always finding that rhythm eventually, so it's even more disappointing if you never really find it."

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The decline started following his success in Winbledon 2012. He was beaten by Murray on the same surface a few weeks later. The surface was not good but he played long especially the long match against Del Potro. He played bad in FO against Nole and so so in USO.

All components of his game is showing signs of rust- the first and second serves, the returns, the movements and accuracy.

He looked bulky and must have put on a few extra kilos in the past two months and it is clear he was not practicing as hard as one would have expected and he knows that.

Where does he go from here?


newfangkc , 5/11/13 7:16 PM

I rather think he has to do the opposite , newfangkc, 5/11/13 7:16 PM
stop reminding himself that 'he is RF'

Shireling , 5/11/13 9:45 PM

There is no cure for getting old. All great champions have to get old and their game starts deteriorating. Fed had his time and from now on it's going to be a struggle. But it's the way it is with sport.

Nativenewyorker , 5/11/13 9:53 PM

It's all Stan's fault. How can it be a coincidence that Stan starts winning left, right and centre at the same time Fed hits the skids?

rafaisthebest , 5/11/13 9:57 PM

Don't count the Fed out just yet. Let's see how he does at Halle and Wimbledon. Those are the better barometer tournaments for him. Surely he knows as he gets older he has to work even harder to stay fit. If he doesn't then we'll have to say that he's lacking motivation. And yes his movement to the fh side was very slow at Madrid.

chr18 , 5/11/13 10:13 PM


Why is any of this a surprise to you? Having watched tennis all my life, I have seen many great champions finally succumb to just getting older, at least in tennis years. It has happened to all of them.

It's not about counting out Fed. It's about facing reality. There are younger, talented players who are starting to make some noise. They are not going to wait forever.

I think it's fascinating that Stan seems to be playing so much better even as Fed is struggling in the twilight of his career.

I don't think it's going to matter when grass season comes. There is no solution to just getting old in sport.

Nativenewyorker , 5/11/13 10:25 PM

Why do you think I'm surprised? Where did I say or imply that I was surprised? Puzzled I am. Yes he is getting older but look at what Agassi was able to do at a later age when Reyes got him super fit. All I'm saying is that Fed can squeeze out a few more good years if he's very fit and not mentally burnt out. It's possible.

chr18 , 5/12/13 12:06 AM

Yes, with the help of a couple of shamelessly rigged draws as at Wimbledon, Olympics and WTF last year, Roger can probably add some more prestigious titles.

holdserve , 5/12/13 12:26 AM

Federer is done.
He just doesn't know it yet, but he has an inkling for sure
It will be interesting to see how he reacts once reality truly sets in.
It will be a final note to how great he is in how he handles his abdication,
Or not for that matter...

Twinge , 5/12/13 3:58 AM

chr18 & Twinge:

Fed has handled the decline as well as anybody. For me, the barometer is the 11 slam mark at which borg quit like a clown [great player, but he was a quitter for sure]. At a similar point in 2008, [fed had 12 slams] with the burn-out in full swing, Fed didn't quit. He weathered the storm and has added 6 slams and a few more titles after that. At a similar point, kneedal had to take another of his unjury breaks.

I think Fed's 5 slams after his 27th b'day are 2nd only to agassi's 6 slams. Fed's goal now is the longevity records of connors or lendl. He needs 7 more years on the tour to eclipse connors' 1243 wins [this might be hard to achieve] but he should get lendl's 1071 wins in 3 more years.

I am with chr18, post-wimbledon season is the best barometer. Roger himself seems very motivated and wants to play 5 or 6 years at the least, body permitting. So mentally, he's charged up, physically - well, that majestic game of his is the most ideal for a long career, so he has a few things going for him. His scheduling is perhaps as perfect as possible. He always takes enough breaks for allowing the body enough time to recover. The dude is still to retire from a pro-match and only a couple of withdrawals from a tournament/match due to injury. That is a most-astounding trackrecord of fitness to have.

All said, the guy is still top 3. Sampras, at a similar age was out of top 10, I think.

Allez Fed!

Fedkovic23 , 5/12/13 4:22 AM

I also felt he looked a bit bulky and has added few kilos

And fedkovic I am sure you have achieved so much success in life that you think you have all the authority to sit on the internet terming Borg a clown and Rafa kneedal and all sorts of names.

Just cant understand the fun people who ahve achieved maybe 0.1% of what few of these tennis stalwarts have achieved get in deriding and denigrating them.

sanju , 5/12/13 4:35 AM

So I assume the rafabots have achieved enough success to be calling Federer/Djokovic names? oh wait, you find their cr@p interesting and funny, dont u rafabot?

Fedkovic23 , 5/12/13 4:49 AM

I also assume that there is no funnier thing than this crap fedocry..

tettylds , 5/12/13 6:51 AM

Honestly, only a clueless brain dead idiot would go after Borg. Quit like a clown? Yeah, after winning 11 slams and the channel slam three consecutive years. Interesting that it took 28 years for anyone to win the channel slam and of course, it was Rafa who did it. It also took thirty years for his six titles at RG to be broken. That alone indicates the enormity of the achievement.

Anyone who dismisses past great players or tries to demean their achievements, has no business being on a tennis blog.


You mention Agassi. However, he went down significantly in the rankings. Is that what you want to happen for Fed? It's not like Agassi was still winning slams until he retired. It depends on how low Fed wants to set the bar.

Nativenewyorker , 5/12/13 7:01 AM

It will be interesting to see how he reacts once reality truly sets in.
It will be a final note to how great he is in how he handles his abdication,
Or not for that matter...

Twinge , 5/12/13 3:58 AM

He will revert to type i.e. go nasty. Look to him to use his position as President of the Players Council to introduce rules which hamstring other players for his benefit.

@sanju, Fed putting on weight is a realisation that ballet tennis does not hang with the current jocks, power does............too late though.

rafaisthebest , 5/12/13 8:16 AM

I'd rather Fed went out "with a bang, not a whimper" but can't see him winning another slam tbh.
Can't see him sticking around once he starts losing early in tournaments either. If he doesn't qualify for year end, that might do it.

deuce , 5/12/13 9:06 AM

Tignor's takes on this subject echoes what many people are thinking/saying. See his piece The In-Fed-ability.

ed251137 , 5/12/13 9:58 AM

I want Federer o stick around as long as possible because the longer he plays the wider his h2h against Rafa will become and that would be set in stone after they've both hung up their bandanas.

nadline , 5/12/13 11:30 AM

He's a wily ol' goat, did you see his 3rd set performance against Nishikori? He tanked on purpose to avoid a Rafa drubbing. He is acutely aware of the significance of that ever widening H2H....

rafaisthebest , 5/12/13 11:49 AM

ritb: Wash your mouth out! You cant be serious. The Mighty Man tanking? Whatever next.


ed251137 , 5/12/13 12:43 PM

Fed has handled the decline as well as anybody. For me, the barometer is the 11 slam mark
Fedkovic23, 5/12/13 4:22 AM

Hahahahahahaha, yes right before his Oprah-worthy meltdown after Rafa beat him at the FO '08, Wimby '08 and AO '09.


Conspirator , 5/12/13 1:12 PM

That makes no sense really tanking the 3rd set. Then why win the 2nd set 6-1? Besides he could have done the same against Pablo the next round if he really wanted to avoid Nadal.

chr18 , 5/12/13 1:37 PM

Its actually possible that Federer tanked the match. I mean, players DO tank matches(whether we like it or not) In fact I think Tomic has admitted to tanking matches in the past.(and Agassi wrote in his book that he tanked a match against becker, so its not exclusive to low ranked players) However, the chances of Federer tanking are very small. We won't ever know for sure unless he tells us.

tj600 , 5/12/13 1:49 PM

Fed didn't tank, he just wanted Kei to show him what he needs to work on, So his 7 months lay off was a dude.

nadline , 5/12/13 1:53 PM

^^^dudd, not dude.

Why would Tomic tank a match?

nadline , 5/12/13 1:56 PM

chr18 , 5/12/13 1:37 PM

Here's why and how:

1. Fed thought he was going to walk over Nishikori so when Nishi took the 1st set shock set in for Fed.
2. The shock of losing the 1st set kicked in the adrenalin and that is where the 6-1 scoreline came from for the 2nd set.
3. In 3rd set, Fed then worked out that if getting through the young pretenders like Nishi was not easy for him, how the heck was he going to get through a working over by the Bull? This is when he realised that to strategically "withdraw" would be the better part of valour.
4. He couldn't take a chance against Pabs could he? As other posters have noted, Pablo has game, especially clay game. Fed may be old but he is not stupid. Better to tank during the Nishi game than be truly smacked by Pablo......

Why avoid Nadal at all costs you may ask. Well, endorsement deals m'dear. The more that H2H is stretched, the less purchase on the GOAT accolade...........

He doesn't want his sponsors heading for the hills just yet.............

rafaisthebest , 5/12/13 2:07 PM

Sadly, Baby Fed won't be getting a Merc to go with his Porsche from Shriekapova because Serena has just won the Madrid title.

nadline , 5/12/13 2:33 PM

I guess blue or red clay didn't matter to Serena.

chr18 , 5/12/13 2:40 PM

Why is that trophy allowed? This is a family sport, no?

Tiriac is a wretched perv.

rafaisthebest , 5/12/13 2:48 PM

This is a comment by a poster @BigTee on

"Congrats Serena, better game next time Maria. Thanks Maria for making the second set competitive. With such a losing streak against Serena, other players would not have bordered showing up at the final, by deliberately losing in the Semis"

This shows that my assertion about Fed tanking to Nishi is not far fetched, players tank to avoid playing their worst match-ups..............

rafaisthebest , 5/12/13 2:57 PM

It is also suspected that Fed tanked his match against Djoko in US 2010 when he saw that Rafa had won the other semi-final. Fed is watching the h2h like a hawk even if Fedbots act as if it doesn't exist.

holdserve , 5/12/13 3:03 PM

chr18, Lukas Rosol lost to some nobody in Rome qualies....there, I care!

rafaisthebest , 5/12/13 3:13 PM

People have been referring to him as GOAT for so long now he has gotten to believe it himself. And in spite of all the money in his Swiss bank he would love to have the nest egg of a huge pension fund in the form of endorsemens rolling in for the rest of his lifetime. A lot hangs on him hanging on to the records in the history book.


ed251137 , 5/12/13 3:24 PM

Fed's new strategy?


Conspirator , 5/12/13 3:41 PM

"And in spite of all the money in his Swiss bank he would love to have the nest egg of a huge pension fund in the form of endorsemens rolling in for the rest of his lifetime".

You mean Olympic singles gold medal, don't you?

jean , 5/12/13 3:44 PM

Fed's new strategy must be, as some other poster mentioned, what new ATP rule can be invented to hamstring the others.

holdserve , 5/12/13 3:49 PM

What is scary is that if by the end of the year the players haven't launched a strike against the time violation rule but simply grumbled, then next year the grand slams will implement it and it is even more stringent: 20 secs!

holdserve , 5/12/13 3:54 PM

Well, let's see which Fed strategies have back-fired to date:

1. Slowing/speeding up the courts. No matter, Rafa can play on either.
2. Blue Clay. Too blatant, even the ATP could not hide the chicanery behind that.
3. Time violation enforcement. No matter, Rafa can speed up his play.
4. Taking time off a la Rafa. Fat chance, literally. All that was achieved was layering on a few kilos on his frame.

What's a goat to do?

rafaisthebest , 5/12/13 3:56 PM

chr18, how come you did not report Rosol's results? Aren't you a dedicated follower of his? Do you sit in his box?

holdserve , 5/12/13 3:59 PM

The question ( about Fed) is are those kilos fat or muscle. If the latter, then maybe once he shakes off rust, he will be formidable. I can't imagine Fed piling up fat.

holdserve , 5/12/13 4:05 PM

Why do you think I'm surprised? Where did I say or imply that I was surprised? Puzzled I am. Yes he is getting older but look at what Agassi was able to do at a later age when Reyes got him super fit..
chr18, 5/12/13 12:06 AM

Reyes is a genius. His expert program for Agassi? Stay off the pipe.

Besides, a great player in his prime agreed, his only achievements north of 30 were due to the weak era making him look so good (see Federer).


Conspirator , 5/12/13 4:12 PM

Current ATP-rankings

1. Djokovic 12 500 pts
2. Murray 8 750 pts
3. Federer 8 670 pts
4. Ferrer 6 970 pts
5. Nadal 6 385 pts

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