Re: Roger news and articles
I found this at the Roland Garros website.....
Federer out to conquer Paris jinx
Thursday, April 29, 2004
The world number one fell at the first hurdle at the last two French Opens. Does that mean Roger Federer has a mental block when it comes to playing in Paris? Unlikely. Since last year’s shock first round exit, the Swiss superstar has conquered virtually all his demons, and is no doubt looking forward to putting his painful Parisian past behind him. And on current form, who would bet against him adding Roland Garros to his growing list of Grand Slam titles?
On Monday 26 May 2003, the crowd at the Philippe-Chatrier court looked on in amazement as Roger Federer capitulated to Peru’s Luis Horna. That shock defeat, coming after the previous year’s loss to Hicham Arazi, meant Federer tasted first-round elimination for the second successive time at Roland Garros. The defeat to Horna was particularly unexpected, since Federer had arrived in Paris as one of the favourites for the title following impressive wins in Marseille, DubaÔ, and Munich, and a runner-up spot in the Tennis Masters in Rome. No-one could have predicted that Basle’s finest son would collapse in straight-sets (7/6, 6/2/ 7/6) in the very first round.
"I spoke about it long and hard with my coach (Peter Lundgren),” he later told Centre Court magazine, “and I realised that mentally, I was jaded. I was in great shape physically, but I needed some time to get over the disappointment. Losing in the first round of a Grand Slam hit me hard."
In hindsight, the shock seems to have acted as a catalyst for Federer. He resolved to cut out the concentration lapses that were undermining his undeniable talent, and his play since then has frequently come close to perfection. Just a few days after his sorry departure from the French Open, he won on grass at Halle and, of course, a month later romped to his first ever Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, dropping just one set on the way. Before the season was out, he also triumphed in Vienna and, memorably, in the Houston Masters Cup, where he cruised past Andre Agassi (twice, once in the final), Juan Carlos Ferrero, David Nalbandian, and Andy Roddick.
The Hamburg precedent
A change of coach in the off-season has, if anything, improved his game even further. He tore into the 2004 season by winning the Australian Open in Melbourne and becoming world no.1 for the first time. Hot on the heels of Melbourne came victories in Dubai and at the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells. The question now is whether he can carry this success over to clay, and to Roland Garros in particular.
In theory, his varied, attacking game and flawless physique mean he should be capable of rivalling anybody on the surface. He did reach the quarter-finals of the French Open as far back as 2001 remember and, one year prior to that, won the first ATP Masters Series event of his career by outplaying Marat Safin (6/1, 6/3, 6/4) on the clay courts of Hamburg.
So we know he can play on clay, but one question still remains: will he arrive in Paris worn out from his hectic schedule since the start of the season? Because he keeps on winning, Federer has had less recovery time than anyone else, and while Switzerland were no doubt grateful that he played in two recent Davis Cup matches, Roger’s body would probably have preferred to rest. Federer, though, seems acutely aware of his body’s limits and has planned accordingly. He has chosen to give the Tennis Masters Monte Carlo a miss to preserve himself for Roland Garros, meaning the only action he will see between now and the French Open will be the Rome and Hamburg ATP Masters events.
His fitness should not be a worry then, but Federer’s chances of going all the way may well depend on the draw and the weather. Avoiding the big clay court specialists early on will surely help him gather momentum, while a bit of last year’s scorching sun would make for fast courts that would suit this Swiss craftsman just fine. Whatever happens, watching Federer try to break his jinx promises to be one of the most fascinating aspects of the 74th edition of the French Open.
"What kind of shape am I in now? Well round is a shape." said Roddick with a laugh. "I had a very detailed retirement plan, and I feel like I've met every aspect of it: a lot of golf, a lot of carbs, a lot of fried food, and some booze, occasionally — I've been completely committed ... The results have shown."
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