Saturday, January 27, 2018

Thoughts before the final, plus some London memories

As we prepare for another grand slam final for the amazing Roger Federer, I thought I would take a few minutes to write down some thoughts, since it's been a while.

Though I was eager for 2018 to start, I must admit to being a little nervous.  I mean, after some years of struggle with no major wins, injuries and the 6 month break, the dream year of 2017 happened to the great delight and surprise of many, with two majors and three masters wins, along with some incredible emotions to go along with joyful moments.  It's hard not to have the expectations high again, which leaves room for bitter disappointment.  So far, though, there has been no disillusionment whatsoever, as we've seen Roger march to the final yet again, but this time with no sets lost.  What's not to love?

I've thought several times over the past year what it would have been like had Roger not won in the final last year.  Seriously, he was down a break in the 5th; it looked inevitable.  What would have been different?  Well, Nadal would have come much closer to his major record, creating more stress to at least get one more.  Also, what would it have done to his confidence?  Going into the quarter of death in the Indian Wells tournament it's hard to think he would have had what it took to get through that, especially having to beat Rafa again.  But look what happened instead?  What a blessed year it was!!

So when I think about this upcoming match I can do it with much less stress.  Will I still be extremely nervous, talking to my TV in the middle of the night, and feeling incredibly disappointed if Cilic ends up on fire?  Of course - that's just part of being a Federer fan.  I would absolutely love to see him hold up that trophy again and get to 20 (TWENTY!!!) major titles (good grief, that's ridiculous).  But if it ended up happening that he doesn't win it, to me it holds much less importance.  I don't think it would affect his confidence level to not have this trophy or affect the rest of his year in any way, which I do think would have happened somewhat last year.  He proved that he can still come in fresh after his successful year last year, not even dropping a set.  So I'm hoping I can enjoy the final more this year without the intense stress and feelings of almost despair if he were to lose.  All that said, though, I have high hopes for the outcome of this match.

On another note, I never ended up writing a post about my amazing trip to London for the ATP finals.  It was a sensational time all the way around.  Being in Europe my first time, seeing some of the sites of London, taking a tour of Wimbledon (highly recommended), feeling like a pro using the public transportation around London, and of course a lot of great tennis matches at the O2 arena, including watching Roger live.  A huge highlight was getting to meet quite a few of my twitter friends, which was an absolute pleasure!!  And, one of my favorites memories, after going to say hi to Lynette, Robbie and Mirka Federer and talking briefly to Tony, two days later I got to visit with Robbie Federer during the whole of Roger's practice.  What a very special experience!  Then followed a few emails back and forth when I got home after he asked me for some advice on something related to travel in the U.S.  It was a wonderful time in every way and I'm so glad I took the opportunity to experience something so special.

Looking forward to hopefully writing a very happy post after another AO win!

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Random thoughts before Roger's season ends

Do you guys mind if I just ramble a bit?  I meant to write a blog post after Roger's win in Basel, saying something along the lines of......
As every Federer fan is more than aware, Roger won his hometown Basel tournament for the 8th time, claiming his 7th title of the season and his 95th career title.  When I was thinking about writing a blog post I thought, what more can I possibly write that hasn't already been said about this incredible man, his career, and his supremely amazing 2017 season?  It's been an absolutely wild ride that I never would have dared to imagine.

I never ended up getting it written, though, and life is moving on. For example, we had the joyous and hilarious experience of seeing Roger play an exhibition match in Glasgow Scotland to help Andy Murray raise money for Unicef in which he ended up wearing a kilt provided from a woman in the crowd.  He has a way of just making things so much fun!  After much laughter, I still kept randomly smiling all day long just thinking about it.

The biggest focus in my mind right now, however, is that (wait for it).... I'M GOING TO LONDON!!!  I have never been anywhere in Europe, so this is exciting in itself, but the big reason I'm going right now is because I want to take advantage of as many opportunities as I can to watch Roger play live.  These are the kinds of moments that make special memories that last a lifetime and I don't want to someday regret that I missed out.  So my tennis friend and I are taking a big trip for the sheer pleasure of watching some amazing tennis, while taking what time we can to explore London a bit (for example, we plan on taking a tour of Wimbledon, which I'm excited about - Roger, do you want to come show us around?).  We have tickets to each round robin session and then head home on the day of the semis (in which I will be dying to know what's going on!).  It would be so special if Roger could finish off this incredible year with another win at the ATP finals, but regardless, seeing him play at such an amazing tournament that he's had great success at will be so worth it.  No one knows how much longer he will play, not even Roger himself, but let's enjoy each and every moment we have to experience this extremely talented and supremely special person.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Roger caps off superb week in Shanghai with 94th title

Remember the days when the head-to-head between Federer and Nadal was 23-10 in favor of the Spaniard?  When it seemed that he was in Roger's head so much that it didn't appear there was any way to right the ship?  I admit that Fedal match still strike some fear in my heart, but who would have ever believed that victories would be 4-0 Federer for 2017, and five in a row all together?  That he would beat him in a major final and two Masters 1000s, in a year that has been equally impressive for both as to the titles they have won?  And that by October their H2H would be 23-15?  I still have to pinch myself sometimes to believe the happenings of this glorious year for Roger aren't really just a dream.

Nadal has been on a roll this fall, winning the US Open and Beijing and looking quite fierce as he moved into the final in Shanghai.  In comparison, Federer sustained a back injury in the final of Montreal and then struggled in the US Open before his loss in the quarters.  I must say I wondered if his amazing results from the first half of the year were over.  However, Roger being Roger, he knew what he needed - time to let his body recover and then proper preparation to get himself into good form.  Arriving early in Shanghai he got himself into the tennis form he was hoping for, which improved more and more as the matches went on.

By the time he got to the final, in spite of a late match the night before, he knew what he needed to do in order to beat his biggest rival; the same thing he has been doing all year, playing aggressive, hitting glorious FH and BH winners, and serving out of this world.

Roger is now tied for second place for number of titles won with Ivan Lendl at 94.  Though 109 (Jimmy Connors) still seems a long way off, 100 is certainly getting closer.  There are a potential three more tournaments he could play this year.  I would think he would play in his home tournament in Basel, but I'm rather hoping he chooses to not play in Paris, though it would get him closer to catching Nadal at #1.  However, he has already stated that the ATP finals in London are his priority and for him to be at his best his body needs to be 100%.  Can you imagine him capping off this unbelievable year with a win there?  2017 has already been a miracle year for him - that seems an appropriate way to finish it!  And I have tickets for all the round robin sessions with my first trip to Europe.  London calling!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Federer back to himself in 3rd round win

Lately I haven't been writing many blog posts in the middle of tournaments, but I'm feeling so many emotions after Federer's third round win that I just have to get them out.

Roger's US Open started rather unexpectedly.  After a back injury in the final in Montreal and then pulling out of one of his most successful tournaments in Cincinnati, his first couple rounds in New York were less than stellar, both going to a very surprising five sets. It was easy to be concerned about the back, which he said he was nervous about in his first round. After his very up and down second round, though, even though it went five sets, I was relieved to hear him say afterwards that he never thought about his back.  His explanation was that since he had been rehabbing his back right up to the start of the tournament, he didn't have time to do the intense preparation he would have normally done before a major and that he would play better after playing 10 sets to start.

I chose to believe him, though I know some were still doubting, but the big test would be his third round match against veteran Feliciano Lopez. 12-0 head to head record or not, nothing could be taken for granted. However, Roger came out very focused, looking very intent on making this an easy win. Sure, it would have been better if he hadn't been broken back in the third set, but overall he proved once again that he indeed knows what he's talking about! He looked much more free in his service games, fluid overall and like he had found his rhythm. In his first two matches he made so many uncharacteristic errors, but he seems to have righted himself and to be back to the real Roger once again.

All that I've written may seem very obvious, and if so I'm sorry but I simply had to share it.  Not sure what the rest of this crazy tournament will hold, but Roger is once again in the second week of a major, and who knows what can happen from here?  Fingers crossed for a great final week.  Still believing for #20.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Are we dreaming? Federer continues to amaze

As the dust settles on another Wimbledon fortnight and the hype and excitement of Roger Federer's 8th title there begin to fade just a little bit, it's time to share some of my own thoughts on these incredible happenings.

A year ago we were mourning his announcement that he would not only miss the Olympics but all the rest of 2016.  What did it all mean?  Would he every regain his form to challenge the top guys again, let alone win not just titles, but grand slams?  No one knew, not even Roger.  He didn't win a title all of 2016.  I guess if he had to be stuck at a title number, 88 was a good one, but I was starting to question how many more he could even win.

Have you ever had a dream that, while a bit strange, also seemed so real that the next day you ask yourself "Did some of that really happen, or was it all just a dream?"  In a way that's what the past six months of Roger's career feels like.  Did he really win the Australian Open, beating Nadal after being down a break in the 5th set?  Well, I've watched it a million times on my DVR so I know it must be real.  How about winning Indian Wells a little over a month later, beating Rafa quite handily on the way to the title, and overcoming the "quarter of death?"  I watched that one in person from the second row so I know it's true, experiencing some heaven-on-earth moments over the couple weeks I was there.  But Miami - really??  Maybe that one is a dream.  I mean, come on, the guy is 35 years old, came back from a six month break, gets to another Masters 1000 final and beats Nadal FOR THE THIRD TIME THIS YEAR to win his third big title in a row. Crazy!

Disbelief in Miami

As always, Roger is so wise in his scheduling.  Though we missed him during clay, which I always grit my teeth and just through anyway, he knew how much he can handle at this stage of his life, and he knew what his real goal was - his beloved grass (plus, by missing the clay season it meant he could come to Seattle for another dream experience for me).  Sure, there were some questions when he lost in his first match in Stuttgart.  But even dreams aren't perfect.  I think it was a good wake-up call, however, because he then went on to cloud 9 in Halle and, of course a perfect Wimbledon, not losing a set in either tournament.

So the dream continues.  Seeing his joy holding the trophy, seeing the tears come when he saw his kids in the audience, watching all the hugs from family, royalty (tennis & otherwise) and friends was so endearing, I just couldn't stop smiling.  So Roger is now the holder of 19 (did you get that - NINETEEN!!) majors, after being stuck at 17 for almost five years.  No, it's not just a dream - we really got to experience this absolutely joyful six months.  Is it too much to dream of another US Open title, another World Tour finals title, getting back to #1?  Maybe, but I've seen dreams come true and it would be hard to be surprised by anything at this point.  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Roger Federer wins again in Halle, giving high expectations for Wimbledon

 Once again on Sunday Federer fans were treated to a masterclass display by our Maestro as he won a record 9th Halle title and his 92nd overall.  You'd think that after so many that it would start to get boring or routine after a while, but that is so far from the truth.  And looking at his happy face with his trophy, you would think it was one of his first.

It was one of those matches where he was simply in his groove.  Sure, Zverev didn't play his best, but much of that was due to the fact that Roger didn't allow him to.  Watching him play when he's in this mode is without a doubt one of the most beautiful in sport.  The variety of shots he comes up with, his incredibly graceful movement on court, and the ease with which he does it never gets old.  But of course, anyone reading this blog is intensely aware of all of that, so I don't need to go on, though we do need to be extremely appreciative to still be able to watch this level of play at 35 years old.

After Roger's surprise loss in the first round of Stuttgart I wasn't necessarily nervous, but I couldn't help but wonder what our expectations should be after the 10 week break.  Just because he had an absolutely incredible dream comeback after his 6 months off, that doesn't mean it will happen again.  As one of my twitter friends reminded me, he could very easily have been ranked around 30 after Australia if he had lost early, which wouldn't have been surprising after such a long break.  Instead he completely spoiled us by winning three prestigious tournaments, putting the locker room on notice that he's still a force to be reckoned with.

Still, though, what should our expectations really be?  All of a sudden he is considered by many to be the favorite to win Wimbledon again.  Whether that helps or hurts him, I don't know, or if it makes any difference at all.  Of course a good draw would help, but look at the "quarter of death" draw he had in Indian Wells and what he did with that!  I think it really depends mostly on himself.  When he's playing the way we know he can, when he's confident, aggressive, and serving well, he almost certainly will win any match he plays, especially on his special grass surface.  The question is, of course, will he?  

I'm trying not to "expect" him to win, or to feel like it's not successful unless he does.  But though my mind tells me those things, and that he has already given us so much by winning in Australia, my heart knows how disappointed I will be if he doesn't win.  However, I'm going to try to enjoy every single moment of watching him the next couple weeks on the hallowed tennis grounds of Wimbledon, and I know he will be loving every moment.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

My thoughts on Roger Federer's French Open decision

One of the big stories so far going into this year's French Open is Roger Federer's announcement that he will not, after all, play the second major of 2017.  On the one hand this was a surprise, as he had been planning to play, and per twitter sources had gone to Zurich to begin his clay warmup.  After a couple days of practice, however, he and his team made the difficult decision to skip the event and focus on grass and hard courts.

I saw a lot of very sad and upset reactions on twitter after the news broke.  In my mind, however, the fact that he went to Switzerland, practiced on clay, obviously with the intention to play, and then made that choice means that he didn't feel like it was a wise decision for his body to take the risk of playing.  I said much of this on twitter already, but for me I would much rather be missing him for a couple more weeks rather than have him play if he doesn't feel that's best for him and then have him end up getting injured.  He has proven over and over that he knows what he's doing and that we can completely trust him to make wise decisions.  The ultimate reason he's doing it is to prolong his career hopefully for "many years to come."  I think all Federer fans will agree that this is what we really want to see.  Roger is always looking ahead at the longterm and this is what we need to do also.

I've seen some who are concerned that he's setting himself up for disappointment in the grass season by putting so much focus on it.  Well, that could happen, and of course that would be sad, but do you know what?  We got #18 when we totally didn't expect it, plus the Sunshine Double!  So much joy in those three months.  We need to revel in the highs, when lows come accept it, and wait for the moments of joy again.  He can't do everything anymore!

One thought that came to my mind as I processed all of this was what happened in Dubai this year.  That was a surprise loss to a low ranked player that no one was expecting after his success in Australia.  But I had a feeling after that loss that it was going to pay off for him, and look what ended up happening in Indian Wells and Miami.  I can't imagine he would have had those results if he had ended up playing all week in Dubai.

So to sum it up, look at the longterm, realize he can no longer do everything, look forward to what will hopefully be a great summer and fall for him, but without expectations of what he "has to" achieve.  Let's enjoy what he is still able to give us at this point in his amazing career, hopefully for several years to come.