Roger Federer: GOAT Of Scheduling?
by Sean Randall | November 18th, 2011, 2:42 pm

It’s the end of another long, taxing season but look who’s in driver’s seat to win yet another year-end ATP Finals title: Roger Federer. Really, after a decade in the tennis spotlight it should come as no surprise that Federer seems to be hitting his stride once again when the most is on the line.

On Sunday, Federer begins his bid for a record-breaking sixth title at the Finals. His incomparable success there is the result of many ingredients, but one that is often overlooked is his scheduling sensibilities.

While his main rivals like a Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray chased dollars around the globe, Federer has been hardened by a pseudo month-on, month-off approach during much of his career that has kept him at optimal health at the important times during the tennis calendar.

And the facts back it up.

Consider that through 998 pro matches Federer has never retired! Not even once! The last three months alone Djokovic has twice retired from play, but in 12 years of of taking the court Roger has never bowed out from a match.

Federer has also been lucky enough to steer clear of serious injury. In 2005 he missed three events at the end of the year to recover from a sprained right ankle. And last year he had some sort of back injury during the summer. And of course there was a questionable mono stretch in 2008.

But the truth is, unlike just about every other tennis great, Federer’s been virtually injury-free during his tennis career. No major injuries. No surgeries or menacing torn ligaments. Pure chance aside, partly that can be attributed to his silky smooth playing style, his seemingly low key training/practice regime, his body type and his genetics, but scheduling also factors into that equation.

“I always feel like the true tests are in matches,” Federer said earlier this summer. “For me practice is never most important, but it did get important maybe 10 years ago, let’s say. I realized that practice is very important to becoming a better player. For me, it’s really the results that sort of tell me where I’m at and not really practice. But I think practice gives me information on how I’m feeling physically.”

Federer hardly ever overplays/overschedules eschewing Davis Cup, doubles and some – not all – of those easy paydays. Then again he doesn’t enter that many tournaments because when he does play them he wins a lot of matches. But after any long run he smartly gives his body equal rest to recover and refresh.

Often in tennis and in other sports when players are physically over extended or exhausted that’s when injuries occur. Federer and his team get that.

They also get the business and sponsorship demands of being a tennis icon like no other current player.

“It’s good to have those partners that don’t force me to do anything,” Federer said at Monte Carlo in April. “Whenever I want to do the photo shoots and all that stuff, I know in a certain amount of time you also need to do appearances or photo shoots or film commercials, whatever it is, or quick meet-and-greets, all that stuff. I completely understand. But they don’t have any control over the schedule I choose. They politely ask, Are you playing? Okay, you’re not playing, we understand. It’s a big pity for us, but we understand. They understand the big picture.”

The result of this scheduling awareness is better fitness and health for the events that matter the most, the Slams. And while he’s not winning them like he use to he’s still right there in the second week at every single major knocking on that champions door.

So while many of the top players limp into the Finals next week, tired if not injured, a fresh, focused Federer arrives on a 12-match win streak and once again in perfect position to snatch another big title.

He may no longer be the best player between the lines, but he’s arguably the greatest and smartest ever when it comes to scheduling. And at age 30 that could be his best weapon.

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66 Comments for Roger Federer: GOAT Of Scheduling?

Fot Says:

I agree! He has learned how to manage his schedule better than anyone else on the tour. As a Federer fan, I sometimes hate to see him take a month off here and there…but I truly understand why he does it.

van orten Says:

i saw him in paris last week he is just the best player around..he has that unique aura than no one will ever ever have…he played in paris against a french dude and almost the whole stadium cheered for him..he is the crowd favorite in every tournaments he enters except madrid maybe…and even there everyone wants him to reach the finals vs nadal…it was an amazing experience to witness such support last week..and wait for the same in london…things will never be the same in tennis when this guy retires so lets hope for many more years …

Tennis Vagabond Says:

Yes, this is often overlooked as long as one doesn’t read the articles on the subject every time
a) a top player gets injured
b) Federer plays a tournament
c) Federer doesn’t play a tournament
d) New Years
e) Fridays. Oh, its Friday!

El Flaco Says:

You can also compare Federer to players from his generation who have dropped precipitously in the rankings.

Davydenko – rank down to 42, was as high as 3
Nalbandian – hip surgery, ranked 63
Gonzalez – hip surgery, trying to make comeback
Hewitt – multiple hip surgeries, low rank, was 1
Safin – retired
Ferrero – multiple surgeries, ranked 50, was 1
Ljubicic – ranked 30, was as high as 3
Blake – ranked 59, was as high as 4

There are other players from Fed’s generation who are doing quite well or at least haven’t fallen off a cliff.

F Lopez
Roddick(hanging by a thread)

Dave Says:

The news media and tennis analysts tend to understate Federer’s injuries and illnesses, giving the perception he is injury-free. But Federer does get injured and sick (he apparently played the Paris final with a slight cold, according to a British newspaper). However, Federer just does not whine or reveal his weaknesses.

In 2005, Federer did not just miss three events at the end of the year (Basel, Madrid, Paris) to heal from torn ligament in his right ankle (not just a sprained ankle). Federer also missed 2005 Rome due to injury and 2005 Montreal due to injury. That’s four Masters 1000 events plus an ATP 500 event missed. As well, the Swiss media reported that Federer played Safin at the 2005 Australian Open semifinal with an injury.

Federer’s mononucleosis illness should not be questionable. Switzerland’s Olympics doctor (Frey) confirmed to the Swiss media that Federer played the 2008 AO with mono, suffered a dangerously enlarged spleen as a result of it, and harmed his recovery as a result. Some people presume that Federer’s mono is mild (or even made up) compared to Mario Ancic or Robin Soderling, both of whom withdrew from the tour due to mono. But a person’s response to mono is like their response to a bad flu: two persons may have the same high fever, aches and blah feelings, but one stays home while the other goes to work. The person who chooses to stay home may have a lower tolerance for the flu’s effects (feels the effects of the flu more), or is more willing to quit… than the other person. Yet Federer is penalized because he is not a quitter.

Federer stubbornly continues till the end, no matter what ailment he is suffering. Instead of retiring from a match, he endures his suffering till the match is over (e.g., 2005 WTF final vs Nalbandian after his ankle ligament tear, and 2008 WTF vs Murray while Federer suffered from back injury since 2008 USO). 988 pro matches without retirement may be an ATP record. Other top players are more willing to retire when things are not going their way.

Arguably Federer is the best player in tennis right now (of course Djokovic is the season’s best player). The bookmakers agree — they’ve rated Federer favourite to win the WTF.

Eric Says:

Hmm. I think Djokovic bounces back and wins WTF. Or even Murray. Well, hopefully Roger can manage it; the draw was nice for him. On verra..

Fruitcake Says:

Dave … very well said. The media who call into question as to whether Federer really had mono, may care to know that Pierre Pagannini (Fed’s fitness coach) has publically said that in 20 years time, when Fed’s career is long over, the year he will look back on with the most pride is 2008 – simply because Roger showed “true grit”, never quitting, never giving up, even on days when he wasn’t feeling 100%. 2008 is the year when Federer wasn’t just my favourite tennis player, but my hero, having suffered with this illness myself.

Nole Says:

No player in the history cried over at trophy ceremony at any grand slam event..he holds that record too.

skeezerweezer Says:

^errr…..pass the tissue. And while your at it the 16 Slams. Hater.

“Consider that through 998 pro matches Federer has never retired! Not even once! ”

Shaaammmmon Sean! Astonishing stuff!

grendel Says:

off topic, but those who have followed young Dimitrov (perhaps with a slight sense of disappointment) might like to know that he ends the year ranked 75. That is of interest because at the beginning of the year, his stated goal was get into the top 40.

Ben Pronin Says:

Federer is probably the 20th player to cry during a slam trophy ceremony, at least.

Dave makes a great point. But isn’t Federer’s dad in pharmaceuticals? Maybe he’s just able to get great medicine and whatnot.

Either way, Federer is the best, tennis-wise and schedule-wise and all other wise. I’m slightly leaning towards him winning the WTF. It’d be fitting for Djokovic to do it, but he’s at least got one already. If Federer broke the record, that’d just be awesome.

carlo Says:

Federer certainly does get greatest of the present top competitors in the ATP for scheduling and managing illness and injury. I don’t know about greatest of all time – maybe Jimmy Connors would want to have a word about longevity and scheduling?

Federer does hold the record for #1 in consecutive weeks. I guess that speaks to his scheduling also; remaining strong enough to defend that many points for 230 something weeks straight is pretty phenomenal. And in 3 of the 4 consecutive years he held #1, he also won a year end championship. Add to that, he won a YEC in 2003 and 2010. He’s probably the best, yeah.

He is still near the top at 30. It will be interesting to see where others are at Federer’s age. (I’m pretty certain Murray is saving his best for 2012 and beyond)

grendel, that’s sad – Dimitrov missing a goal to be in the top 40. Hope he does better next year. His tennis is attractive. But the competition is extremely tough, which highlights how well Tomic and Raonic did this year. And Isner closing in on top 10 – slowly but surely Big John plods upward.

skeezerweezer Says:


AND he has done it with raising 2 young children, and a supportive wife with him on most of the tour. The other players on tour have a hard enough time just taking care of themselves…..

Kimberly Says:

Not to sound like a hater which I am not, but I thought fed retired against Blake once when his back was killing him. I recall the Federer himself saying that was the only match he retired in when he was criticizing djokovic for retiring against roddick in the heat during the Australian open. Maybe he withdrew before the match started though. Either way, I think that was the only time if it even happened and that’s pretty amazing.

Brando Says:

That crying remark is absolutely idiotic. I still remember when rafa cried after winning the monte carlo masters after 9 WHOLE MONTHS W/O A SINGLE TROPHY. Why? Because it means alot.

As for fed being GOAT of scheduling. Short answer: Yes. But i really think his success in this regard also goes hand in hand with his economical style of tennis. I have NEVER seen a more economical player as federer play the game before and achieve such success.

Anyway, as a nadal fan all i can say is that he is a treasure, and long may he continue to play the game and at the YEC- he’s just part of the furniture really, it just wouldn’t be the same w/o him :-)

jane Says:

What does that mean, economical. Wasn’t Sampras also maybe even more so economical, I mean if that refers to keeping points short??

p.s. Brando have you seen “Melancholia”? The final images, and the opening prologue – totally Burkean sublime. Wow that was some cinematography.

carlo Says:

Kimberly, Blake won in 2008 YEC by a w/o, you are right. So technically he didn’t retire.(Had to look that one up)

The more I think about WTF, the more I lean toward Nadal winning. Maybe I will go try to change my vote. Going on the record. Changing ‘don’t know to Nadal.

skeezerweezer, raising 2 young children would support the argument on the side of the difficulty of scheduling, but the supportive wife is a bonus and a benefit, making it all easier. *smiley face*

“The other players on tour have a hard time just taking care of themselves…” ha!

Wait until Jelena turns up preggers, right? or Xisca? Ms.Sears?

skeezerweezer Says:

This poster is content in the facts of the great Fed and what he has laid down. When all is said and done with Nole, Rafa,, Murray and whoever…there is no doubt in the history of tennis in OUR generation that Fed is GOAT. Too bad for some..via jealously, hate or whatever blindness they refuse to realize and enjoy, a player who has recalled the greatest shotmaking of the past and infused it with the present and future and created 16 counting slams to the History books of Tennis. I am confident that when Fed is done there will be no question as to who was, and is the GOAT. RF….Too bad the young ins of this age creating excuses of greatness about there favs when Fed has set such a high bar and they all are just chasing wannabees. Is Fed that boring? To you all…you don’t know what you all have until it is gone. As Jamie says……a prediction….mark it. Fed, imo, will be revered more when he is gone than now…..sad…some want to see him defeated so soon.

Brando Says:


Hi, economical- by that i meant how in this day and age of all court tennis, the manner in which federer can rally with rafa/nole/andy, to me, seems more economical. I feel the other 3 have to exert a greater physical effort with their style of play, and naturally, they pay a price for it from time to time.

As for ‘Melancholia’, no i have not seen it yet- do intend to at some point. From what i have read elsewhere kirsten dunst was supossedly good in this, oscar worthy, is that something you would agree on?

Next up for me, hopefully, will be Gary Oldman in Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy- meant to be absolutely brilliant from what i hear.

jane Says:

Thanks Brando. So you mean style not so much length of point. Or would you call Sampras’ play economical too?

Yeah, Dunst is great, oh but so is the cast in general: John Hurt, Charlotte Rampling, Charlotte Gainsbough, Kiefer Sutherland. But wow, the film is a looker too. The ending, the end is something else.

Ah, yes. Love Gary Oldman and haven’t seen him if late – an oldie but goodie with him, based on the play, is “Prick Up Your Ears.”

jane Says:

Oops, meant to say of late (not if) and based on the playwright (not play). I guess my comment is on hold because of the film title? Cannot think of another reason… No links.

margot Says:

I find it absolutely hilarious that one of the major criticsms laid at Fed’s door, is that he “cried.” lol
It’s the 21st century it’s OK for men to show their feelings isn’t it, or are we locked into some sort of macho c*** about what men should or shouldn’t do?
Brando: “Tinker, Tailor” is most excellent. Thoroughly enjoyed it, even though, two minutes in and not having read the book for years, I suddenly remembered “who dun it!” Honestly one’s blooming memory…now where are my car keys…..;)
jane: on your recommendation will be sure to catch “Melancholia.”

madmax Says:

Nole Says:
No player in the history cried over at trophy ceremony at any grand slam event..he holds that record too.

November 18th, 2011 at 6:24 pm

skeezerweezer Says:
^errr…..pass the tissue. And while your at it the 16 Slams. Hater.

“Consider that through 998 pro matches Federer has never retired! Not even once! ”

Shaaammmmon Sean! Astonishing stuff!

November 18th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

ummm..didn’t novak cry when he lost in the madrid finals to rafa in 2009. Yes, just checking the vid..he did. Oh well, I suppose crying is not the done thing. I say, bring it on. The more emotion the better! Go Fed!

Kimberly, hi. Got to say that the word ‘criticise’ is a bit harsh. When looking at Roddick’s take on the whole saga of Novak withdrawing at the AO, Roddick went way over saying something about contracting sars or bird flu..I think at that time, to be fair to novak, no one knew what he was suffering from and it was since found out he was an asthma sufferer, but at the time, it looked as if he had ‘given up’. Only when the doctors gave their professional opinion in support of Novak, was his ‘condition’ understood.

So when the players (not just federer), were asked about their thoughts, it’s really important (I feel) to read the whole shabang. One thing which always happens is when one or two lines of an interview is taken out without reading the whole story. It puts a completely different take on things, but I can understand how you would have felt if only reading the two lines.

Only another day to wait.

Jane, thanks for your comments by the way. They mean a lot.

Colin Says:

Federer has not always been so smart about his scheduling. I may misremember this, but didn’t he try to come back too early, once or even twice, before he’d fully recovered from the mono?
He seems a nice enough guy, but I do get tired of the exaggerated reverence toward him. I half expect to hear that when he signs autographs, the recipients miraculously recover from various diseases!

madmax Says:

Colin, that’s funny!

Kimberley, your fave and my fave and what they do ‘OFF’ the court is equally as important…thought you might like to read this:

Roger Federer continues to serve as president of the ATP Player Council and Rafael Nadal as its vice president.

“I’ve been impressed by their judgment,” Helfant said in a recent interview. “They are active participants in those meetings, and they care deeply about the governance of the sport. Their accomplishments on the court will speak for themselves over time and they’ll obviously be linked together forever in tennis history. But I would hope in the history of tennis, people will also remember all the work they put in off the court.”

Gimelstob said he was impressed by their attention to detail and staying power.

“We’re sitting there on a Friday night in a meeting room at the U.S. Open for four or four and a half hours with Roger, Rafa and Fernando González,” he said. “Speaking on everything from qualifying cutoffs, doubles and small stuff to prize-money allocation, to pensions, to real big issues. But the most impressive thing about Roger and Rafa in these meetings is that there is no less level of intensity and connection to the issues that don’t affect them.”

Dave Says:

In an article in the Herald Sun newspaper, Federer critic Leo Schlink took the opportunity to blow up something Federer said in response to a journalist’s question.

Schlink: “Ever the master of psychological warfare despite slipping to an unbecoming world No. 4, Roger Federer has again questioned Andy Murray’s achievements. Bullish again after successive tournament wins in Basle and Paris, Federer targeted Murray’s credentials ahead of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the O2. The Swiss champion queried Murray’s excellent effort to win Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai in a memorable three-week sweep after again failing to break through at grand slam level in 2011. “I’m not taking anything away from what Andy did, but was Asia the strongest this year?” Federer asked. “I’m not sure. Novak (Djokovic) wasn’t there, I wasn’t there and (in Shanghai) Rafa lost early.” Expert in the dark art of seeding doubt, Federer also homed in Murray’s unexpected loss to South African Kevin Anderson in Canada three months ago. “It’s been a good effort by him after losing to Kevin Anderson in Montreal,” Federer said. “Don’t forget how things were looking then.” ”

Federer was just being honest (he forgot to mention that Murray was ridiculed by the media after losing in the first round of three consecutive tournaments in Rotterdam, Indian Wells and Miami) — there’s nothing wrong stating your opinion based on true facts. But I’m wondering whether that quote was taken out of context from his interview which ATP titled “Federer believes anyone can win.” In any case, Federer’s critics chose to make a mountain out of a molehill about something relatively minor in order to suggest that Federer put down Murray and undermined his recent success… while relegating Federer’s more important positive remarks about Murray’s grand slam chances to a secondary place: “I’ve always thought he is plenty good enough to win a Grand Slam and he will have a good year in 2012.”

On the other hand, other top players can state their opinion without being taken out of context and exploited by the media. Imagine if Federer had said about Rafa Nadal what Nadal had said with respect to his rivalry with Djokovic, Roger would be portrayed as being in denial, having his head in the sand and putting down Novak. Yet, there’s nothing wrong with what Rafa said (in tennis history, many great [players such as McEnroe, Wilander, Connors, Vilas all had let downs after their greatest seasons).

“when asked whether (Nadal) had talked to Toni, his uncle and coach, about what he needed to do to turn around his record against the Serb, Nadal insisted: “I’m not working every day thinking about Novak. I’m working and thinking about what I need to do to keep improving, to be a better player. That’s what I’ve done all my career and what I want to keep doing. “Novak had an unbelievable season. What he did is very difficult to repeat. His level of tennis was very, very high. He beat me and he was playing better than me. That’s why he was able to win almost every match during the season. “I can talk with Toni, I can talk with a lot of people, but at the end of the day what I have to do is work hard to keep improving. If I improve, he’s not going to be at this level all his career and the rest of the players will have chances. So Djokovic is not a goal for me. A goal is to be a better player than I was last year. Later we will see if that’s enough.” “

van orten Says:

read something very true last week:

fed cries to fake he is human cuz we all know he is GODDDDDDD!!!

roy Says:

it’s not scheduling it’s genetic luck. a body with few mechanical flaws.
nalbandian, haas, gonzo, played very few tournies for many years, far fewer matches than federer, yet major injury problems. many more examples.
federer when dominating played a hell of a lot of matches in a year, as you do when you are making finals all the time.
the argument that his longevity is about scheduling has no real basis.

so federer playing sparingly, and nadal and murray and djoker all shameless money chasers?

1 Djokovic, Novak (SRB) 13,475 0 18
2 Nadal, Rafael (ESP) 9,375 0 19
3 Murray, Andy (GBR) 7,380 0 18
4 Federer, Roger (SUI) 6,670 0 18

that right hand column is tournaments played btw.
so why has everybody played the same number of tournaments, nadal with a massive +1

i suppose they just don’t list all the extra money grabbing tournaments the others are playing while federer is kicking back…playing the exact same number of tournaments.

Dave Says:

van orten: Do you have a link to what you read that was “very true” :)

Fruitcake: “Pierre Pagannini (Fed’s fitness coach) has publically said that in 20 years time, when Fed’s career is long over, the year he will look back on with the most pride is 2008 – simply because Roger showed “true grit”, never quitting, never giving up, even on days when he wasn’t feeling 100%.”

You’re right. Paganini is well respected, and not one to exaggerate. Here’s one snippet from an October 2009 interview: “Q: In 2008 (Federer) was set back by glandular fever. In your view, when did he recover from this, athletically?
Paganini: Last year, he lacked always two or three percent. Glandular fever is a really hard thing. And then the back pain came in the fall, that did not help either. I would say that from 2009 he was again his old self. But it was sensational, the way he fought through everything in 2008, even though he was limited. That limitation makes a big difference at this high level, and challenged him mentally to the extreme. 2008 was from the mental side one of his best years.”

ATP awards: Have been announced.

I’m not sure on what basis Nadal was awarded the ‘Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year’ since the Roger Federer Foundation’s projects and activities in 2011 have been much larger in scale (from the last December’s Match for Africa to projects throughout Africa). But while he certainly does his bit for charity, I’m not sure he did the most last year of all players. Nadal did donate 4 Magic Bubbles (O2 Bubble that he uses to accelerate his recovery after matches) to the Special Olympics. Not quite as advanced as Djokovic’s CVAC pod and Dr. Igor, though. It’s time other top players like Federer use modern technology to get an edge and counter the effects of age.

grendel Says:

jane and Brando – absolutely the economy refers to style. Federer’s style has often been called “effortless” and, allowing for the exaggeration, I don’t see how anyone could miss that. He has the smoothest tennis I have ever seen. That is not to everyone’s taste. I can quite see why the physical urgency of both Nadal and Djokovic (very different in either case, however)could be more appealing. Personally, I like to see different types. On the “smooth” side, I would highlight Federer (head over heels the most physically beautiful to watch), Sampras, Edberg, Berdych, McEnroe, Murray, Mecir. On the all out effort side:”Nadal, Djokovic, Becker, del Potro, Gonzalez, Connors”. Safin, and Nalbandian, I’d say, belong to both camps. Make what you will of that!

w.r.t. Melancholia, I agree, jane, about prologue and final images – greatly helped by the music; Wagner was the obvious choice for this portentous stuff (Terence Malik also fruitfully employs Wagner in his The New World) and Wagner did his stuff alright. Only quibble about final images (SPOILER ALERT!!): when you see the planet finally penetrating earth’s atmosphere, this is so absolutely stunning that I just wanted to watch it and watch it and watch it! In such a lingering sort of a film, couldn’t he have lingered a little longer here?

Brando, if you’re going to see “Tinker, Tailor etc” you might care to cast an eye over my 15 year old son’s review ( I went to see it with him, and he enjoyed it a bit more than me. Incidentally, on reflection, I think I was unfair to you about that quote thing – it was a pure coincidence, and even though I know coincidences happen all the time, like everyone I am resistant to this fact until I start to think.

Roy, the economy and smoothness of Federer’s style has much more to do with his relative injury free career (I believe, actually, he did retire injured from a match in France, as a 16 year old junior)than his scheduling. Genetics may well have something to do with this, but you need to be careful in aserting this. For where does genetics not play a major role? Who is your favourite – Nadal, perhaps? Do you seriously imagine genetics has not had a huge impact on what he is? Once we travel down that road, the very notion of freedom of choice and so on becomes problematic. Probably best avoid it for peace of mind!

madmax Says:

van orten :) clever.


this should bring a smile to your face…and all the novak fans too as well, of course, the roger fans:

Djokovic, Federer, Nadal win ATP awards

By Joe Fish, Reporter
Filed: Saturday, November 19, 2011 at 12:42 UK
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have all been honoured at the 2011 ATP World Tour awards.

The prizes were announced ahead of the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London this week. Each of the trio to be presented with their award on court at some point during the tournament.

Djovokic receives an honour for finishing the year as world number one after winning three Grand Slams and a record five ATP Tour titles this year.

Meanwhile Roger Federer picked up two gongs, winning the ATP Tour Fans’ Favourite award and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award for the seventh time in eight years.

Spaniard Nadal was presented with the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for his work with the Rafa Nadal foundation, which provides opportunities for socially disadvantaged children.

The ATP World Tour Finals begins tomorrow with Federer and Nadal both in action, against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish respectively.

Dave Says:

For 2011 season:
– Nadal: 79 matches (66-13 in 16 tournaments plus 2 DC ties)
– Djokovic:73 matches (69-4 in 14 tournaments plus 1 DC tie)
– David Ferrer: 73 matches (56-17 in 19 tournaments plus 2 DC ties)
– Federer: 71 matches (59-12 in 15 tournaments plus 2 DC ties)
– Andy Murray: 68 matches (56-12 in 17 tournaments plus 2 DC ties)

It’s not just scheduling. For a 30 year old, Federer is playing about as many matches and tournaments as Djokovic and the other top players. Federer’s underappreciated success in this area probably due to efficient play, being smart to avoid injury during play, preventative conditioning, treating injuries effectively and gritting out matches when ailing. If Federer did not play those 2 DC ties, including travelling all the way to Australia for a DC tie, he would have probably played one or two more tournaments.

While Nadal has played 6 to 8 more matches than the other top players he has played more claytcourt matches than Federer, Djokovic and Murray. E.g., Nadal played 27 clay matches compared to Federer’s 16 clay matches. That means Federer played more hardcourt matches than Nadal, which should have given Federer more wear and tear on his body. By avoiding the indoor hardcourt season, Nadal not only protects his body but also avoids more losses.

M Says:

“Consider that through 998 pro matches Federer has never retired! Not even once! The last three months alone Djokovic has twice retired from play, but in 12 years of of taking the court Roger has never bowed out from a match.”

Sometimes I wonder if such stoicism is good for long-term health, even though I figure the wolves will howl after me b/c I know it feeds into the hero myth and all that, blah blah.

I thought when he retired (withdrew?) against Blake in Paris 2008 it was the right thing to do for his health.

margot Says:

Dave @7.26am but it’s not the first time is it? I wouldn’t criticise Fed in a million years for crying, but these little snide remarks..hmmm.

grendel Says:

Come on, Dave, Federer is not a saint. Margot is justified, imo, in regarding his remarks vis-avis Murray as a touch snide. It’s not the end of the world. Meanwhile, Nadal’s comment:”What he did is very difficult to repeat” really does come across as objective and, furthermore,is set in the context of a very generous tribute to Djokovic. Federer just isn’t like that. He thinks of himself as the best and is quick to question the credentials of a potential rival. It’s classic Darwinian stuff, and at least he gets it out into the open, doesn’t leave it festering. One has to take people as they come, imo, and there is much about Federer which is very appealing. There is some dark stuff, too. That’s how it goes.

Kimberly Says:

Madmax–thanks for sharing the post @ 6:26—nice to read! Congrats to all award winners!

Dory Says:

Not GOAT of scheduling. But he plays the most EFFICIENT tennis. The one which is least taxing on the body. Hence his amazing consistent long term records.

madmax Says:


Murray is no saint either. Federer doesn’t deviate from how he has always been..just the haters will continue to hate…And really, murray in the same bracket as Federer? Come on. Whose head is bigger now…Murray..”and I was injured?”

Although Murray was not keen to trade barbs, it was surely not an accident that he chose to mention the Paris Masters in comparison, which Federer won without facing anyone ranked higher than seventh.

“Look at Paris,” said the 24-year-old. “Rafa wasn’t there, Novak was injured and I was injured.

and there are plenty of people who have written (including british writers), that it wasn’t a strong field during the Asian swing.

madmax Says:

No problem kimberley…

and another thing about Murray (where I have just read that he was fit and well enough to play at Bercy – his own interview (ATP official website), same for Novak), and now Murray is making excuses of his own? that he was injured? So Murray couldn’t beat Berdych, Nadal was not in the tournament (when did he become a threat at Bercy?)and Djokovic was fit but then became injured, yet some still have to go there. Again I ask, has there ever been a player more criticized for winning than Roger Federer?

Kimmi Says:

” Roger Federer: The Swiss extends his reign as the most popular player on the ATP World Tour, selected as Fans’ Favourite presented by RICOH for a record ninth consecutive year. Djokovic finished second in the voting, followed by Nadal.”

I am actually surprised that djokovic would finish ahead of rafa.

I realized that they voted through facebook this year, maybe that prevented a lot of rafa fans voting. not everyone is a facebook member.

Congrats to the winners. federer gets the sportsmanship award again, his peers must love him.

jane Says:

Congrats to the winners of the awards. Nole finished second as fan favorite, which is heartening to hear, because with all the nasty comments it is nice to know his popularity is surging.

Fed is indeed a smooth player. And style must be a factor in injuries, etc. For example, in 2006 or 2005 he played close to 100 matches. So I think it is more recent, isn’t it (?), that he has cut back his schedule.

I have said it before: look at Nole’s schedule this year. He has cut out numerous events too; his schedule was very judicious. I suspect his injury (shoulder) is due to technique more than anything. Yes, wear and tear. But he has had serving and shoulder issues before, as far back as mid 2008. It is a little worrying.

Fed’s comment in the press, e.g., about Murray. Maybe it is headgames. He sometimes makes comments that could be seen as such. On the other hand, seeing the whole interview would help put it in context. Who knows what he was asked. Journalists tend to “bait” the players sometimes.

(SPOILERS) grendel, I don’t know. I tend to think it was exactly right. Those images, the trinity of the light sister, the dark sister,and the child in their triangular magic cave. And the collision. Gobsmacked. I didn’t want to get out of my seat. Yes, I wanted more. But that is perfect right? And then the way sound was used there. Blackmess and reverberating bass. Again. Perfect. And throughout the film, that low bass off screen, like something is coming. And it is. I loved it. Burkean. Terrible and sublime. Everything felt a bit trivial afterwards.

jane Says:

Hi madmax, are you going to O2 this time?

margot, for which days do you have tickets? I wish I were there too. : / Yes do see “Melancholia” but if you dislike Von Trier’s work, I have to wash my hands of it. ;) I thought this was somewhat of a departure for him but it is still distinctly his work. The wedding scene here reminded me of “THe Celebration” (Festen) from years back.

jane Says:

Vinterberg’s film, but in that dogme style, hand held, and discomforting realism. Funny, in an odd way, too.

margot Says:

jane, “Festen” was brilliant and shocking.
Just seen “The Ides of March” which I very much enjoyed. Ryan Gosling really can act. But, alas, alas “Gorgeous George” seemed a little less than “gorgeous….*leaves room sobbing*

jane Says:

margot, yes, ever since “Half Nelson” I have been a Gosling believer. We’ll just have to ignore “the Notebook” (for a while there every girl in my class wanted to do a film presentation on either “The Notebook” or “Amelie” – thankfully that is lessening.) Don’t know what to think of Gorgeous George. Liked that film he did with Tidla Swinton, but that is probably because I find her divine. Want to see “We have to talk about Kevin”.

grendel Says:

madmax – In what are the really important ways – when we get away from tennis, which is a small part of life when all is said and done – I’ve always thought that there is an inherent modesty in Federer. You can imagine having a chat with him in a restaurant, whereas some who are publicly “modest” you can imagine wouldn’t deign to spit on you. That’s why I think he is so appealing, deeply appealing.

And Federer is the best, imo, in impromptu discussions just after a match about conditions, other players and any problems they may be having, etc. But you have to remember, these discussions occur after Federer has won, when he is feeling quite genial.

I don’t regard him as big headed. He just has an inner conviction a)that he is the best and b)that this should be acknowledged. I’m sure most of us would feel the same way if we had won 16 grand slams. It’s natural. And infinitely better than pretending he’s nothing special. But he is occasionally a little snippy. I do think he has trouble in accepting another player may be as talented as him (Nadal perhaps is the exception here – but Nadal has always deferred to Federer, and you can’t say Federer is unaffected by this) – and do you know what? I think that is quite normal. It takes quite a feat of the imagination to conceive what it must be like to be Federer the public figure. In the circumstances, I think he does pretty well. But there is a price to pay, why should anyone be surprised?

As for Murray, did he really say that? Almost a carbon copy of Federer! Well, they say you imitate those you admire……

madmax Says:

Yes grendel, he really did say that.

I know what you mean about Fed being ‘snippy’, but I tend to let it go because I like to think that he does respect his opponents, and for the most part, he does and when read in the wider context, the interview was so positive about Murray on the whole and how well fed thought he had done, and how he thought he would win a slam. He must get tired of the same old questions don’t you think?

And why should Murray care about what others think about his game anyway? We could all criticise other players, rafa’s comments about soderling, and many other remarks that go unnoticed.

and another thing about Murray…it’s rare to see anything about his on court conduct, his swearing (which is pretty appalling)why not concentrate on that (and I am not criticising you per se, just the press. Strangely, I have just read that he was fit and well enough to play at Bercy – his own interview (ATP official website), same for Novak), and now Murray is making excuses of his own? that he was injured? So Murray couldn’t beat Berdych, Nadal was not in the tournament (when did he become a threat at Bercy?)and Djokovic was fit but then became injured, yet some still have to go there. Again I ask, has there ever been a player more criticised for winning or for being Roger Federer THAN Roger Federer?

and grendel, it really isn’t a case that I dislike Murray. It’s just they all play the mind games. It just seems when Federer says stuff that could be misinterpreted, then the seas part and all hell breaks loose, when really, it is par for the course.

Regarding Andy’s Asian swing, he won, and good luck to him, but it cannot be said that it was a strong field, because it wasn’t, and that is not to deplete his efforts. It is what it is.


Yes. I will be going next weekend. The tickets have almost tripled in price since I bought mine.

jane Says:

Lucky you madmax. Does sound as though the hype is building if tickets are rising in price like that. This can only be good for the event.

madmax Says:

Yeah Jane. I got tickets for last year, that was the first time I have been to the O2 and have to say, the energy there is quite incredible. Mesmermising. The heart beat did it for me.

grendel, just following on. It’s a pity some can’t concentrate on the positive comments that Federer has said about Andy, such as this:

“Interestingly, Federer does not subscribe to the theory that the longer Murray goes without winning a Major, the harder it will be for him to get his head round winning one.

‘I think it’s past that tough hurdle “Oh I haven’t won a Grand Slam”, that probably stressed him out more one and a half years ago. I think now he is a bit more laidback because he has gone through these ups and downs and knows how to handle them.

‘I’ve always thought he is plenty good enough to win a Grand Slam and I think he will have a good year in 2012. It’s just crazy sometimes how small the margins are in tennis.”

and this is on the back of Murray saying that he had a very tough time mentally and emotionally when he lost in the finals of the slams to Fed (USO and AO).

grendel Says:

I’ve confirmed my son bought a ticket for Wednesday for £10 – and coud have had ones for Tuesday and Thrisday too at same price, but is working, unfortunately, on top of studying. he said something about “telephone receiver”, don’t quite understand (he was in librar, had to be quick). he told me normal prices were now £250 -he paid £25 for tomorrow Fed/Tsonga, buying some months ago – so madmax’s £399 suggests severe skilduggery, it’s these touts who prey on people. –

Brando Says:

@Jane: Yes, i probably would call sampras’s style economical too (one of fed’s heroes) but to tell you the truth, i never really used to watch him play much. He seemed to cold, professional for my taste.

I shall also watch melancholia, based on your and grendel’s praise for it.

@Margot: I have not heard a single bad word said about this film, and i really do hope oldman wins an oscar for this. I find it UNBELIEVABLE for an actor of his talent and filmography to not even have one SINGLE nomination.

@Grendel: No worries re quote. I also came across the stat via rusedski, the only difference was that it was an espn article. I also did read your son’s review and i must say that like your blog’s it is also very informed, articulate and enjoyable.

Re gosling: Like jane i also saw him in half nelson, and whislt i thought the film did drag on at times, he did impress me with his presence and the subtle nature of his performance.

Clooney? Liked him in up in the air. In all honesty i do not see the cary grant comparison at all, other than the grey hair. He is more of a modern day robert redford/warren beatty i feel.

racquet Says:

margot @ 10:45am, you’re not alone in that sentiment.

racquet Says:

From the link above:

The British number one said: “I always try if I can to be positive about all the other players. For me, I have always said that Roger is obviously one of the best players ever to play and I love having the chance to compete against him.

“Hopefully I will get a chance to play against him this week and we can let our tennis do the talking.”


Dave Says:

Smart scheduling does not — by itself — explain Federer’s track record in playing so many matches in one season.

In 2006, Federer played 97 matches in 17 tournaments.

However, it was more like playing 104 matches under today’s tournament conditions — another extra 7 matches or an extra grand slam tournament.

– First, Federer won 3 tournaments (Canada, Madrid, Basel) that required the top players to play 6 rounds in 2006, while today those same events require 5 rounds. That’s like playing an extra 3 matches.

– Second, furthermore Federer played 7 finals that required best of 5 sets (24 sets total in finals at IW, Miami, Monte Carlo [4], Rome [5], Madrid, Basel, WTF)), while today these events are all best of 3 set finals. That’s like playing another 4 matches.

If Nadal, Djokovic and Murray had to play tennis under 2006 conditions (best of 5 set finals, 6 rounds in many non-GS events), would it have affected their overall performance throughout the season? In 2006, events like Barcelona had best of 5 set finals and the Masters 1000 events required 6 rounds. Already Djokovic’s body and motivation is breaking down after only 73 matches. Nadal’s body breaks down or he burns out at some point every season. Even under today’s tournament conditions.

Dave Says:

margot, grendel.

It’s jumping to conclusions to presume Federer’s comments were snide. Unless you have read the interview transcripts, you don’t know what question the journalist asked Federer (which elicited such a response), what the context was, and whether he was quoted out of context. Read the full interview before making such judgments.

Grendel, you’re making generalizations about Federer that are tainted by your attitude towards him. Your subjective opinions like “Federer just isn’t like that”, “Federer is not a saint” and “He thinks of himself as the best” are dubious, because there’s enough evidence out there to refute or question your opinions. Generalizations “(Federer) is quick to question the credentials of a potential rival” are contradicted by the generosity he shows towards Nadal and a number of top ten players (especially players where there is mutual respect). In any case, fed was very generous in backing Murray to do well in 2012 and also win a major.

This assessment of what Federer said is more reasonable.

grendel Says:

My attitude to Federer, Dave, is that he is a human being. I believe my admiration for him as a player matches yours, and my affection for him as an individual (in the sense that you can have affection for a public figure you don’t know)is every bit as strong as yours. It is differently coloured, of course. I don’t believe in worship, though, ever, of anyone, anyone at all, let alone absurd mythical beings, under any circumstances. I believe if you properly respect someone, you take on the shit as well. Always. Any temptation to don the rosy coloured spectacles, and I have felt this temptation and succombed to it you might be surprised to learn, should be rigorously suppressed, although it is not always possible. One is weak, as it were. For if you don’t, then you are just dealing with a fairy story of your own concoction. But always, when regarding the less attractive stuff, one bears in mind the shit in oneself – for there is no question of judgement here, just attempts to understand. That’s partly based on curiosity – but also affection. And sometimes, too, sheer bloody annoyance. Do you never get annoyed by those you love?

I have already pointed out why Nadal is an exception where Federer is concerned. On many occasions, in interviews, I have winced at some of the things Federer has said. And immediately, I have thought “what would I be like in similar adverse circumstances” – a million times worse, without a doubt. I have always pointed out – always, always – the immense pressure Federer is constantly under and how this must colour some of his more demeaning comments. Do you know, if they didn’t exist, I for one would be suspicious – what is this guy trying to hide, what pr crap is he pursuing? But what is so appealing about Federer is that on the whole he doesn’t do this. Sometimes, he acts like a pampered, spoiled brat – never done that, Dave? It’s ok, really it is.

The link you give is inconclusive. I agree, on the basis of it, it would be unfair to call his comments snide. There may be an element of that or not, I don’t know. But I have certainly seen Federer snide, and good grief, if I am snide less than twice a day, I feel I’ve done alright! How it goes, man.

Federer doesn’t regard himself as the best? Not enough evidence to refute or question? You’ve got to be kidding. This is not a scientific lab, we’re talking about a human being we have seen a great deal of. Of course we have many, many impressions of him, and you only object to the ones that don’t sanctify him. As for his generosity to other players, whoever questioned that? Who? Can I please repeat, we are human beings, that is to say – bundles of contradiction, every damn one of us. And that includes Federer.

grendel Says:

I am trying to give a link for cheap tickets – admittedly, offer expired, but might work for next year. But every time I submit, its lost. Anyone know why? No attempt at link this time.

jane Says:

grendel, love your 5:16 post. We have to take the good with the bad, the contradictions in our favorites. We can laud their strengths, while acknowledging, even accepting, their weaknesses. No one is perfect.

margot Says:

racquet@ 2.44 that’s a pretty brilliant quote from Andy and my experience of following the guy is that he does not bad mouth his opponents.
Perhaps his remarks about Roger were a bit of a riposte?
Dave@ 4.17, I’ll repeat my point, it’s not the first time.
For the record Fed is in my top 5 favourite players, just wouldn’t want him to come to tea, is all.

skeezerweezer Says:


What if I have you over for tea and also invite Fed? Would you come then? ;)

racquet Says:

margot, exactly (and he is gracious in defeat). The remarks were part of his response to being confronted with Fed’s quote at today’s press briefing. That’s entirely different to initiating controversy.

Like you, I’ve been a long time Fed fan – one of his staunchest supporters actually. But the trash talking and attempts to add asterisks to his losses have been a real turn off. He has achieved so much and cemented his place in history, so it’s completely unnecessary imho.

For the record, I’m not trying to court controversy or to rile Fed fans. It’s just a p.o.v. As someone posted above, very player has a flaw (or two).

grendel Says:

skeezer, that’s pretty good..

margot Says:

Well Skeeze, let’s say, re that scenario, YOU would be the attraction…;)

madmax Says:

grendel Says:
I’ve confirmed my son bought a ticket for Wednesday for £10 – and coud have had ones for Tuesday and Thrisday too at same price, but is working, unfortunately, on top of studying. he said something about “telephone receiver”, don’t quite understand (he was in librar, had to be quick). he told me normal prices were now £250 -he paid £25 for tomorrow Fed/Tsonga, buying some months ago – so madmax’s £399 suggests severe skilduggery, it’s these touts who prey on people. –

November 19th, 2011 at 2:25 pm

grendel, that’s made me think. Please could you ask your son to get me tickets for next year. (I’ll take two please) I paid £100 for mine! (but that was a semi final ticket). In fact, I checked yesterday and some were going for more than £500.

Even so, £10? That will take some beating.

It doesn’t surprise me that many of the journalists of course are backing Murray as their favourite, and won’t see any of his faults, or even report on his on court manners which are clear to see, no one comments on those.

I think a lot of the time, they want to cause a problem which isn’t there. It’s their job to stir the pot.

There is always so much pressure on him when he is playing in the UK and the build up just goes way overboard. I think, for the most part he has had the support of Federer, Rafa and Novak in terms of their belief that he will win a slam one day.

As you say grendel, no one is perfect. The journos need to take some responsibility for the questions they ask. It’s almost as if they are looking to start a fight. It adds to the intrigue.

madmax Says:

grendel, what I find really interesting is this comment from murray about novak:

Murray, who has yet to win a Grand Slam, said he has taken encouragement from Novak Djokovic’s rise to No1 in the rankings this year.

“He was struggling a lot at times last year,” said Murray. “He tried to make some changes and it hadn’t worked out right at all.’

Now, I am fairly certain grendel that he would have gone on to praise and compliment novak…but this is all that was reported. So you can see how words can be twisted very easily.

“It’s a question of whether you can play your best tennis at the right moments – it’s a confidence thing.”

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