Saturday, April 27, 2013

Waiting for and wondering about Roger Federer

Federer fans have had their patience tested as we wait and wait and wait for Roger to play again after a lengthy break in which he has taken time to spend with his family and also have a large block of practice time, which he felt he really needed after the very busy 2012 Olympic year.  Not only that, but we also have had the unusual experience of wondering, as we head into the fifth month of 2013, when he is finally going to claim his first title of the year.  After an amazing autumn in 2011 in which he didn't lose another match after the U.S. Open, followed by a brilliant start to 2012 in which he claimed his 17th slam title at Wimbledon along with quite a few other impressive tournament wins, it has been a bit disheartening that he hasn't held a trophy now in over eight months.

I admit to feeling some trepidation wondering what to expect with his return at the Madrid Masters.  He goes into the tournament ranked #2 thanks to a collapse from Andy Murray in Monte Carlo, yet with a minimal 10 point advantage.  As Roger won on the blue clay of Madrid last year (and will remain the only player to ever win a blue clay tournament, as it goes back to red this year), he has a lot of points to defend.  And speaking of points to defend, he will have semifinal points the following week in Rome, finalist points in Halle and then, of course 2000 championship points in Wimbledon.  That's a lot of pressure after a lengthy break following several months without his usual success.

The last time he took a lengthy break was after the highly disappointing loss to Novak Djokovic in the 2011 U.S. Open semifinal after holding match points.  Can he come back now as he did then with incredible motivation, anxious to show he is still a strong contender in every tournament he plays, without the surprise losses to players outside the top 4?  Or is his advancing age as well the continuing demands of his family starting to take it's toll?  Of course my hope is that the fact that he has failed to add to his impressive 76 titles since last August, along with the time he has had to rest, heal and get the needed practice, will be enough to push him past some of these confusing losses and see him still with several trophies in 2013.

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