After days of speculation Roger Federer has finally confirmed the fact that he will not be playing in Montreal for the Roger's Cup Masters 1000 event. Given the issues he has had with his back the last few weeks, and his resulting level of play, this seems to be a good decision for him.
Of course, it brings up a multitude of questions, such as how bad is the back injury? Even if it is healed, how prepared will he be to defend his championship points the following week in Cincinnati? Do we need to be prepared for an even bigger drop in ranking in the next few months as he tries to find his form again? What will he decide to do about the new racquet?
The one thing we don't need to be questioning, but that keeps being brought up every time there is a blip on the radar with another loss or something not going according to plan, is whether he is going to keep playing long term. I just don't get it why the media and others keep wanting to put him out to pasture just because he's having a few hard times when he has said repeatedly, pretty much every time he does a press conference, that he plans to play for years to come. This is a man who holds so many records in tennis it's hard to even keep track of them. If he wants to continue to play for the love of the game and to continue to try to win tournaments even when it doesn't come quite so easy anymore, then he darn well has the right to do that! And if he loses to some guys outside the top 100 while he's experimenting with new equipment and while his body isn't 100%, that doesn't mean he's finished and will never be able to play top level tennis again.
Ok, my blood pressure is rising as I write all this. It just ticks me off that people jump to conclusions just because of a bad spell. Roger Federer is a true champion and true champions eventually find a way. So we give him time, we give him some space to figure it out, and we wait for some of those great moments that will surely come again, even if it's not happening as quickly as we would like.
Speaking of being a true champion, I'm sure most have read this delightful story of the teenager who, after facing difficult times fighting cancer, was treated to some special times meeting Roger, who treated her like a princess. If you haven't read it, though, you need to, so here is the link: Beatriz meets Roger Federer