Why Roger Federer Should Care About the Masters
“I think as the tournament would have gone forward I would have found my groove more and more, and who knows what would have happened?” said Roger Federer after blowing three match points in a three set loss to Marcos Baghdatis in Indian Wells. “But I don’t need to worry about that anymore. It’s about resting because I do feel the first match in my body. It’s something that always is tough, coming from a long layover and all of a sudden playing matches. But, the season is long. There’s no need to panic here.”
“I fought as much as I could… My game has issues at the moment. I’m definitely lacking timing. I don’t know where that comes from…It fuels my desire to go to the practice courts, because I don’t like to lose these type of matches,” Federer said after blowing a match point in a three set loss to Tomas Berdych in Miami.
“I hope I can come back from this. That’s usually what I do after a loss like this. Sometimes it takes a loss to wake up and shake you up for your approach the next week. When you always win, sometimes you forget how hard it is. That’s why today I don’t get too worried about this loss,” said Federer after saving six match points before going down in three sets to Ernest Gulbis in Rome.
The common theme here is Federer shouldn’t panic and he doesn’t like to play “these kind” of matches. What kind is that? Error-filled gag-fests on both ends of the court. Years ago, Federer was winning matches on his worst days with only Rafael Nadal being able to topple him (in no less than four sets, too). But in 2010, Federer has had only one good loss: a straight set defeat to Nikolay Davydenko in Doha where the Russian connected on 100% of first serves in the first set.
You could say that loss was bad because Federer was completely outplayed. But in that sense, all the credit really belongs to Davydenko. There’s no shame in losing to the better player on the day. But with his most recent losses, it’s hard to say who was the better player. After each of Federer’s losses in the Masters, there seems to be a general consensus that [insert hard-hitting under-achiever] deserved the win. Since he won, that is very true. But did they play amazing tennis to topple the 16-time major champion? Was it the best match of their respective careers?
No. A ridiculously lackadaisical and sub-par Federer lost to nervous chokers who were also fairly sub-par in their own right. Does anyone else see a problem with the world number one losing to players who have blown more matches than Federer has won in the slams?
So what’s the deal? Why is Federer playing so poorly? Why does he appear to be weaker mentally than the mentally weakest guys on tour? And why doesn’t he care?
I know that all tennis players have off days, but that’s not even the case for Federer. He has off sets. He played great in the first set against Gulbis, then like complete crap in the second set, and finally he was barely able to hang with Gulbis in the third. It seems like we just can’t trust what Federer says anymore. Either he was lying about all the practicing he’s done or he was lying about how good he feels before the start of the tournament.
He didn’t look like he was feeling well yesterday. Is it lack of practice? I doubt it. But here’s where the fun begins. Plenty of Federer fans are going to jump out and say he’s “lacking match play.” I could believe that for, say, Andy Murray. But Federer has always gone on lengthy breaks here and there throughout the years when he was still stringing together enough wins to actually win some titles.
For example, in 2005 Federer didn’t play for almost two months between Wimbledon and the Masters in Cincinnati. He wasn’t his best in Cincy but he still won. The only thing he didn’t win from there until the end of the year was the Masters Cup.
Of course people are going to say Federer was young then but he’s aging now so he needs more matches, but I don’t think age has anything to do with it. Federer could’ve beaten Baghdatis, Berdych, and Gulbis. He could’ve beaten them all in straight sets, even. But his body language was that of someone who didn’t really care about winning. Look back at the quarterfinals of the Australian Open where Davydenko was rolling through Federer. Federer wasn’t playing his best and Davydenko definitely was, but Federer still had a look about him that said he was trying to think of anything he could do to turn the match. Where was that look against Gulbis?
After everything Federer has accomplished, he surely deserves to be as lackadaisical as he wants, but he claims he’s still motivated. But in the beginning of the year he said, “Motivation for me is really not a problem because I love tennis too much just to say ‘I have won all the slams and two beautiful daughters and a wife — I’m happy so I’ll leave’…My hunger will definitely still be with me to succeed and you can tell when it isn’t because I will not step onto the court.”
If that’s the case, then Federer should start pushing himself in the Masters events. They’re still important events to the players and they’re important to tennis in general. Federer doesn’t do anyone any favors if he only wins matches four times a year. Do we really want the ATP to turn into the WTA? Does anyone want to watch Federer play terrible tennis? It’s a losing situation for everyone, even Federer. There is the notion that one day all of these small losses will catch up to Federer in the slams. When that day comes, maybe it will be a real wake up call for Federer.
Another big point that Federer fans argue is that Federer only cares about the slams. This may very well be true. But tennis fans care about the other events, too. The slams make up only two months of the entire year and the Masters make up only slightly more. Federer rarely plays other events which means he can play a potential four or five months of the year. Who wants to see him play like crap for half that time?
Federer, it’s time to step it up and give back to all the fans who have supported you throughout the years. It’s not going to kill you to win a couple of Masters events every once in a while.
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