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tennizen 03-10-2008 03:33 PM

The Federer Decline Thread
An interesting piece from Tom Perotta


Relax Federer faithful, it's only March

by Tom Perotta
Special to

No, dear fans of Roger Federer, the sky isn't falling. The No. 1 ranking is not in jeopardy just yet. It isn't time for your man to do something drastic, like hiring Brad Gilbert as a coach, shaving his head or asking Wilson to design him a new racket or some new strings. He doesn't need any encouragement from Tiger Woods, who has been tightening his grip on the title of "most dominant athlete in the world." He doesn't need to change his technique or his strategy or his training methods. One loss to Andy Murray at a small tournament in Federer's de facto home of Dubai doesn't doom a career.

Still worried? That's reasonable enough. Federer looked flat in Australia, understandable considering the food poisoning he had before the tournament began. It was also recently revealed the Swiss had mononucleosis -- unbeknownst to him at the time -- Down Under. However, before he played Murray, he said he was fit and eager to play. He seemed ready to make a statement, that statement being, "I'm Roger Federer, and you are not." He had to have been confident despite not playing in five weeks, since he had won in Dubai in 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2007 -- and lost in the final in 2006.

This would be his first appearance since losing to Novak Djokovic, the man most people peg as the next No. 1 player in the world (the confident Djokovic is no doubt one of those people). It was the Swiss' first chance to remind his rivals who runs the tour. Instead, Murray was only reminded that Federer's forehand occasionally disappears for games at a time.

Perhaps you're not worried about the Murray match, but something else? You're concerned that Federer has a long year ahead of him. He's scheduled to play more tournaments than usual, plus the Olympic Games in Beijing. He also has more good players to contend with than at any other point in his career. In four years as the No. 1 player in the world, Federer hasn't had to overcome a lot of obstacles at one time. He's had no season-ending injuries, no personal tragedies and no consistent threats on the tour other than Rafael Nadal on clay and, the past two years, Nadal at Wimbledon.

In the next two years, he'll face adversity, in the form of Djokovic, Nadal, Murray and maybe, just maybe, a player like Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, wherever he goes. He'll have to worry more about injury as he ages. He'll have to worry about losing motivation or confidence if he loses a few more matches. He'll have to deal with the pressure of being two major titles away from Pete Sampras' record of 14 -- so close, but still quite far away considering how abruptly a dominant tennis career can end (a 25-year-old John McEnroe won two majors in 1984 but couldn't win another one in his final eight years on the tour).

Federer has a lot on his mind, and a lot left to accomplish, but there's no cause for worry. In tennis, confidence comes and goes quickly. Remember how things looked in November? Federer dominated his last three matches at the Masters Cup and Djokovic ended the year with five consecutive losses and seemed destined for a slump in 2008.

Andy Murray wasted no time derailing Roger Federer's hopes of getting back on track in Dubai.
A little more than three months later, Djokovic is the Australian Open champion and taken seriously when he makes absurd comments, like: "Considering the results this year, I expected Murray to win." No doubt, Murray was going to have a chance, but Djokovic expected Murray to win? Really? What results was he looking at? Couldn't have been that first-round loss Murray suffered at the Australian Open to Tsonga. Maybe it was his first-round loss to Robin Haase, ranked No. 94 in the world, in Rotterdam a few weeks ago. A convincing performance indeed.

There was a lot to dislike about the way Federer played against Murray. He returned terribly (he didn't win a single point against Murray's first serve in the third set, 0-for-14) and he sprayed a lot of forehands. He was aced 10 times -- a credit to Murray but rare against Federer (Andy Roddick usually won't ace Federer that often in three sets).

Still, there was a lot to like, too. Federer frequently attacked the net, as he did in Shanghai last year. He served well in the first and third sets. He seemed to move well, which wasn't the case by the end of the Australian Open. Why doubt that he'll return to the form he had just a few months ago? He's had cold streaks before and come out of them just fine. Remember Guillermo Canas and Filippo Volandri? Canas beat Federer twice last year and Volandri beat him once. By the end of 2007, did those losses mean anything at all?

While the early loss in Dubai deprived Federer of a few useful warm-up matches leading up to Indian Wells, it might also help him. He can now fly to the United States sooner than he might have planned for the Sampras exhibition next week. Last year, Federer lost his first match at Indian Wells, in the second round, after winning it the previous three seasons. He stands to gain a lot of ranking points if he does well. He could gain a few more in Miami, where he lost in the fourth round. If he wins both tournaments and performs well at Estoril, Portugal, where he didn't play last year, he'll have a cushion over Nadal in the rankings that the Spaniard won't be able to top without a Federer flop at Roland Garros or Wimbledon, or a sensational hard-court season from Nadal (which has yet to happen). Djokovic has a lot of points to defend in the coming weeks, too, and he's still 1,300 points behind Federer.

If Sampras double-bagels Federer at their exhibition Monday night, maybe then Federer fans will have something to worry about. Otherwise, remember that it's only March. You might end up remembering this season as the best of Federer's career.

Tom Perrotta is a senior editor at Tennis Magazine.

zcess81 03-10-2008 03:49 PM

Re: Perspective on the "Federer decline"

Xoil 03-10-2008 04:10 PM

Re: Perspective on the "Federer decline"
What? Nole is not already GOAT? :confused:

Clay Death 03-10-2008 04:31 PM

Re: Perspective on the "Federer decline"

Originally Posted by zcess81 (Post 6700506)

:zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz::zzz: :zzz::zzz::zzz

Skyward 03-10-2008 04:42 PM

Re: Perspective on the "Federer decline"
Move it to Fed's forum. Most of the haters are lurking there anyway.

WhataQT 03-11-2008 04:53 AM

My career is not in decline, says Federer
My career is not in decline, says Federer

By Larry Fine

NEW YORK, March 10 (Reuters) - World number one Roger Federer dismissed suggestions his career was in decline and said he would use recent defeats as motivation after recovering from a virus.

The Swiss player lost in the first round in Dubai last week by Briton Andy Murray, his first match since defeat by eventual champion Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals in January.

"In Switzerland there is a little too much speculation my career is over," the 26-year-old Federer told a news conference before Monday's 6-3 6-7 7-6 victory over former world number one Pete Sampras in an exhibition match at Madison Square Garden.

"People just need to know I'm healthy and happy and not miserable and down and out."

Federer pulled out victory in the good-natured contest by 8-6 in the final set tie-breaker before a crowd of around 19,000 at the Garden, including world number one golfer Tiger Woods, the Swiss champion's friend.

Federer, the 12-times grand slam singles champion, competes at the Pacific Life Open at Indian Wells, California later this week. He was told he was suffering from glandular fever after the Australian Open.

"Honestly, losses like this motivate me more than anything," said Federer. "Trying to come back, trying to prove I'm still the one to beat.

"I just want to show I can do it over and over again."

The back-to-back defeats dented Federer's aura of invincibility and fed the confidence of those younger rivals who have seen him reign as number one for a record 215 consecutive weeks.


Within two grand slam titles of Sampras's record haul of 14, Federer said his affection for tennis was greater than ever.

"I love competing on center courts all over the world. So many people are happy when I get there. It touches me. I love to practice more and more now," he said.

"What I enjoy most are the matches, the pressure, the fans, center court. I hope that's going to stay with me as long as possible."

Federer said he was looking forward to competing at the Beijing Olympics in August and future Games.

"The (London) Olympic Games in 2012 is something I'm looking forward to, and go from there. See how I feel with my fitness, my motivation."

Federer may have made his worst start to a season in eight years but Sampras was confident the Swiss would soon be winning again.

"In a lot of ways Roger has created this sort of monster of being unbeatable," said the 36-year-old American.

"If you lose a match here, lose a match there, people have the assumption he has lost his edge, lost his dominance. I don't look at it like that at all.
"He'll play Indian Wells and he'll play Miami (in two weeks) and do fine at those events. When it comes down to it at the big, big events, I think he'll be the guy standing with the trophy."
(Editing by Ed Osmond),00.html

leng jai 03-11-2008 05:00 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer
MTF says his career is over so he should accept the facts.

TMJordan 03-11-2008 05:04 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer
Shut up FedMug, you're done.

VolandriFan 03-11-2008 05:10 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer
And we're swimming in denial. ;)

FedFan_2007 03-11-2008 05:20 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer

Originally Posted by VolandriFan (Post 6703939)
And we're swimming in denial. ;)

Hey you're the Volandri fan. Talk about living with constant denial! :devil:

JimmyV 03-11-2008 05:31 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer
Lol, he's got to be the first player in history who can lose 2 matches in a row, one a grandslam semi-final, and have people screaming that his career is over.

VolandriFan 03-11-2008 06:53 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer

Originally Posted by FedFan_2007 (Post 6703945)
Hey you're the Volandri fan. Talk about living with constant denial! :devil:

Yes I am a fan of Volandri and he is in my username. Big deal, I don't think we need to make a point of it in every thread I post in.

leng jai 03-11-2008 07:30 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer
Should have thought about that before making your name "VolandriFan".

Clay Death 03-11-2008 07:34 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer

Originally Posted by leng jai (Post 6704019)
Should have thought about that before making your name "VolandriFan".

no need to rough up volandrifan. we all have our players. he is an italian and he is proud of those representing his country.

i am a nadal fan and he cant win for losing. right now, he couldnt hit a bull in the butt with a base fiddle.

Deshna 03-11-2008 09:00 AM

Re: My career is not in decline, says Federer

Originally Posted by leng jai (Post 6703929)
MTF says his career is over so he should accept the facts.

:lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol:

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