Sunday, January 10, 2016
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.