Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Making sense of the last week for Federer fans

There are a lot of random thoughts rolling around in my brain related to Roger Federer and tennis in the last week, so I thought it was time to get some of it in writing and maybe make a little more sense of it all.

First of all, re: the Australian Open semis, I once again let myself get my hopes up for a win in a major against the dominating Novak Djokovic.  I tell myself over and over again not to do it, build myself up only to be crushed to the ground when he loses these matches that I so desperately want him to win.  His fans around the globe are hoping so badly for that elusive #18.  And really, I still do believe it will happen.  But let's face it - the Australian Open is the perfect scenario for Djokovic.  The court surface seems to suit him to a T, plus the fact that they play the semis and the final in the evening when conditions are slower just plays into his hands.  AO is to Novak as Wimbledon was to Roger in his prime.  For anyone to beat Djoker there when he's on a roll such as he is would be virtually impossible.  Sure it's discouraging, but best to face the facts and accept it for the time being.

That being said, that doesn't mean it's going to stay that way forever.  Let's look at reality as it's been in the last several generations.  Winning majors past the age of 30 is a difficult task.  Doesn't mean it can't happen obviously, but the rate of success seems to drop by quite a large margin.  I see some saying that Djokovic will catch and surpass Federer's tally of major titles and weeks at #1, plus claim the GOAT distinction.  Obviously that's a possibility.  However, Novak will be 29 in May, a number that has seemed to be a bit of a slowing down for many.  I realize that he started his run of majors a little later than, say, Federer and Nadal.  All I'm saying, though, is that although it seems like he will be in this form stretching on and on because we don't currently see someone to stop him, history shows this is not the case.  At some point he will have a slight drop in form and someone else will step up to the plate.  Maybe that's when Roger will get his chance for the draw to open up and win #18.  Time will tell.

Now to the latest news - Roger surprised everyone (not to mentioned freaked everyone out a bit) when he announced he had undergone a surprise arthroscopic surgery to repair the meniscus in his knee.  He said he had injured it the day after his semifinal, which is certainly rather puzzling.  My best guess is that he didn't really feel the injury until he woke up the next morning.  From what I have read related to this type of surgery, it's minimally invasive, pretty much an out-patient procedure, and relatively quick to heal.  He for sure will be missing two tournaments he had planned on playing, Rotterdam and Dubai.  My sincere hope is that he will be ready for Indian Wells, a tournament I have attended the past five year, volunteering both last year and this year.  It would be a huge disappointment if he weren't there.  I'm not going to worry too much about it at this point, but will try to think positively that he will be ready to play at that point in time.  No reason to borrow trouble (though sometimes easier said than done).

To end on a positive note, one big plus from the Australian Open is that the Federer boys were finally in public, along with their sisters, at the AO Kids Day.  It was so fun to see all four Federer kids together, hopefully something we will see much more of in the future.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Roger Federer begins his 2016 season with a final in Brisbane

Roger Federer started off the 2016 season as he has the last couple years in Brisbane Australia.  He and his fans were hoping for a repeat of his incredible victory a year ago where he celebrated his 1000th win in style with a victory in the final against Milos Raonic. The stage was certainly set when it turned out to be the exact same final as last year, after Federer beat Dominic Thiem and Raonic claimed the win against Tomic. Unfortunately health issues, as well as some excellent play by Raonic, crushed the hopes of an 89th title to begin the season.

Those who follow tennis closely knew there was potentially some cause for concern when rumors started to circulate that Federer had summoned a doctor earlier in the week, though it was unclear if it was for illness or injury.  He showed up to play his first match on Thursday, however, with an easy win, though he stated in press afterwards that he had been sick with a fever/flu that his four kids had earlier.  He managed to win his next two matches in spite of not feeling his best, though the quarterfinal against Dimitrov, in which he was pushed to three sets, was certainly a challenge I didn't know if he would come through.

After a fairly easy semifinal victory against youngster Dominic Thiem, I was hoping he would have enough left in the tank to get through one more match, especially with a few extra hours of rest before the final.  Unfortunately that wasn't to be.

It soon became obvious in the final that Roger wasn't finding his rhythm against an in form Milos Raonic.  Though there were certainly the usual moments of brilliance for Federer, there were also many easy errors into the net.  It's not often these days that Roger shows his frustration, but in this case there was a loud yell at one point in the match, and then a drop of his racquet onto the court with his hands on his hips as if he couldn't believe what was happening.  Unfortunately he was never able to find the way to gain the upper hand and the match was soon over with Raonic the victor at 6-4 6-4.

Federer gave a gracious speech in the award ceremony, but in his press conference later he revealed (more so than he normally does) that he was certainly affected by the sickness that had plagued him earlier in the week, and that he still was suffering effects from.  He said he has a lingering cough and sore throat, plus his legs had felt heavy all week, even after spending a day-and-a-half in bed Tuesday and half of Wednesday.  Never one to make excuses, he praised Raonic's game.  Still, though, it was obvious to me that he wasn't feeling himself, especially with the lack of aggressive play that has become so much part of his style in recent days.  He says he will rest up in the next couple days and hopefully be coming into Melbourne back to his healthy form with renewed vigor and energy, not to mention motivation to improve on last year's surprise early loss in the first major of the year.

 I also have to say, for any who have followed my blog over the years, that I have been taking a bit of a hiatus since August, but hope to get back into writing more frequently again as we begin an exciting new season.  Can't wait for the upcoming Happy Slam, and also I am counting the days until I leave to volunteer for 2 1/2 weeks at Indians Wells again in Player/VIP Transportation.