Roger Federer: “I Just Think It’s Normal To Improve As A Player”
by Tom Gainey | November 27th, 2011, 10:08 am

If you were lucky to have a some time off I hope you had a good holiday. From the sounds of it I missed some good action the last few days at the Barclays which concludes today with Roger Federer seeking a record sixth Finals title against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The now 30-year-old Federer says even as he ages he’s improving as a tennis player.

“I just think it’s normal to improve as a player,” Federer said Saturday. “Why should you move backwards, you know? Confidence is one thing, but that can be temporary and that can fade as quick as it came really. But then you have a certain base that you can always work with. I think as time goes by, as much as you practice, actually the matches make you a better player. I used to have a weak backhand. But then everybody played to my backhand. So obviously I was always going to improve my backhand eventually. I think the same thing kind of happened to many different players. I don’t think Novak’s forehand used to be a strength. Today it’s a weapon. Rafa the same thing. He used to struggle if you hit hard into his forehand. Today it’s no problem for him anymore.

“It’s interesting how you evolve as a tennis player,” he added. “For me it’s only logical to improve. But you have to have the work ethic, the professional side of things, to sleep, drink, live healthy as a tennis player, because no one else is running but ourselves. We have no substitute. That makes it extremely difficult mentally. I think the top guys have done actually really well trying to maintain that high level of play. Like I said, I have also been amazed myself how long I’ve been able to keep it up. But I’m happy my level is still very high and my body’s holding up.”

Federer also spoke about the emotions he feels on the tennis court, and even his episodes of crying.

“The emotional side I’m not surprised because I’ve always been an emotional tennis player,” he said. “I used to be so emotional when I used to lose. Then eventually, I think it was the first time in Davis Cup against the Americans after winning singles, doubles, singles, I was so exhausted, the pressure left me, I think I had tears in my eyes after winning. It was the first time I had winning tears.
Ever since, I’ve had many of them. I’ve been an emotional player when it was all said and done really. But I try to keep my emotions in check while the tournament is going on because I feel like I need to save it in case there is something more. Can’t be an emotional rollercoaster throughout the whole career, season, or match.”

Later today Federer will bid for a third straight Sunday win over Tsonga in the final match of the ATP season in London.

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3 Comments for Roger Federer: “I Just Think It’s Normal To Improve As A Player”

MMT Says:

I have to say, I love the fact that we’re seeing technical analysis from Federer, and it just goes to show you that 1) the great players continually improve and 2) the great players think technically, and not all that psycho-babble about believing this or believing that.

Havings said that, I would take issue with one thing, which may be a result of English not being his first language – I don’t think evolution is the right word to attach to his or Nadal’s or Djokovic’s improvements. Evolution implies that it sort of happened by accident.

Make no mistake, I do believe the players games evolve, and some evolve for the worse. The great players intentionally add technique to their repetoire and improve consciously – like Federer’s backhand, or Nadal’s serve, or Djokovic’s forehand. It doesn’t happen by accident.

But then again, who am I to question Roger Federer’s technical analysis.

grendel Says:

At Fed’s presser:”Q. You talked about the fact that this time you managed to win a close match, maybe a few times this season it hasn’t gone your way. What made the difference today? Is it a mental thing?
ROGER FEDERER: I think it’s a mental thing, yes. Not only. Sometimes it’s also the player playing better than you. Jo played better than me at Wimbledon. Maybe not much, but enough just to come through. Same as Rafa at the French Open in the finals, Novak in the semis of the US Open. It’s fine to respect that. But I feel when it happens maybe that often, I do have to question myself that maybe I did something wrong.”

Again and again and again the great players talk about the huge impact of the mental on tennis. Nadal says his mind is his greatest weapon. Rusedski says the key to Djokovic’s great year was mental – the confidence he gained from davis Cup. Peter Fleming repeats over and over: at this very high level,the answer to poor performance lies in between the ears. Anyone less inclined to “psychobabble” than Peter Fleming is hard to imagine. The importance of the mind can hardly be overestimated. Obviously – it should go without saying – technical excellence is always an absolute necessity. Improvement, if possible (for any player must have a ceiling), is naturally always desireable. These two things are NOT in conflict. They absolutely go hand in hand. They interact with each other – rather as do for example nature and nurture – in ways which cannot easily be separated. Sometimes, though, you want to stress one rather than another.

Dory Says:

Well Roger I think your slice backhand is still excellent and reliable, but the plain topspin backhand can still improve a lot. You net it most of the times when playing over the higher part of the net or shank it.

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