Roger Federer: I’m Not Very Confident Going Into This Clay Court Season

by Tom Gainey | April 2nd, 2019, 10:43 am

One of the biggest stories this upcoming clay season is the return of Roger Federer to the slippery surface. The Swiss hasn’t hit a ball on dirt since a loss to Dominic Thiem almost three years ago at 2016 Rome, so it’s not surprising Federer, despite an 18-2 start to the year, is downplaying his chances on the clay.

“I’m not very confident going into this clay court season, I can tell you that,” Federer said Sunday after his 4th Miami title. “I don’t even remember how to slide anymore. You know, I’m taking baby steps at this point.

“I didn’t play one point, not one shot on clay, I don’t believe, last year. Two years ago I played two days. Three years ago I played not feeling great in Monaco and Rome and all that. So it’s been so little that I really don’t know what to expect.”

He did say that the Miami title and results to this point, which gave him the lead in the ATP race as the clay season begins, will help with the transition.

“I think what this win does for me, it just takes even more pressure off from the clay court season. And I anyway wanted to play the clay in not a relaxed fashion but let’s just go and do it and prepare well. That’s what I’m looking at now the next four or five weeks with my fitness coach and coaches Ivan and Severin and Pierre, figuring out how we gonna go about it.”

Federer’s pre-french plan right now on the clay is only Madrid where the balls tend to fly faster in the altitude, helping servers like him. He’ll have a solid month off before that event.

“Obviously I want to be ready for Paris. I hope all of that work is going to pay off for the grass court season and also for the hard court season. Already just how I’ve been playing here and moving here makes me believe just going on vacation now, a bit of a break, and then preparation, you know, the things physically should be fine, but again, we’ll see how the body is going to react.”

And would an early exit in Madrid result in playing Rome? We’ll see, but Federer and his fans have to be thrilled the 37-year-old is back on clay, perhaps for a final time.

“I’m very excited. It’s a good challenge, good test. Confidence, I don’t know, it’s in no-man’s land. It’s just there if I play well. I don’t know. I have to gain it all again. Start from scratch, really.”

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14 Comments for Roger Federer: I’m Not Very Confident Going Into This Clay Court Season

skeezer Says:

Fed you’ll get tuned in, it’s not like you have never played on the stuff.

Hey tennis x, don’t you say its about time to get Fed out of the trunk and into the funk? C’mon mon! ;)

Tennis Fan Says:

Nike has stopped selling the “RF” gear. Looks like Fed is about to get his logo back.

skeezer Says:

“…Who’s in the trunk
Roger Federer
Masters drought continues.”

Can we update this please?

Sophia Says:

Well, Fed plays better on grass and hard court than clay. But Nadal is out for this French, which opens many possibilities for the upsets.

skeezer Says:

Rafa is scheduled to play MC, why would be be out for FO?
On another newsworthy note, Nicolas Almagro is retiring from tennis.

Chico Says:

I’m just putting this up here since I’m 99,99% percent sure Fed won’t read it, but this clay court thingy is madness, except if he is gonna retire after Roland Garros.

But then, guess you can go happy mad with the claycourts if you happen to love the game.

RZ Says:

Chico – you don’t think Fed is reading our comments? :-)

I think Fed is playing the clay courts for ranking points to ensure a top 4 seed at Wimbledon.

the_mind_reels Says:

I think RZ makes a good point about ensuring a good seed at Wimbledon. I don’t think Fed fancies his chances at all of winning titles on clay, but I think he also knows from experience that sometimes just showing up is half the battle. (How many people *really* expected him to win Miami when the tournament started?)

If he shows up in Paris, gets a couple easy early round wins, and maybe Nadal and Djokovic run into trouble, then anything can happen! He’s going to keep his clay schedule fairly light anyway, so barring injury, I don’t think he would play the clay if he knew that even were he to go deep in Madrid or Paris, he’d not be in good shape for the grass.

To be clear, my expectations for Fed on clay are relatively low, but as I said, anything can happen. I could see him going reasonably deep in Madrid and then maybe QF in Paris?

RZ Says:

Exactly the_mind_reels! Fed didn’t win Halle last year (lost in the final to Coric) and lost in the QF of Wimbledon to Anderson, so he may not get a big seedings bump based on grass court performance. Any points he gains on clay will help him avoid the tougher competition until the latter rounds.

As Tennis-X writers have pointed out before, Fed is really on top of figuring out his schedule.

Alison Hodge Says:

Wasnt actually aware that Rafa wasnt playing the FO, or that Federer was retiring anytime soon ….

chrisford1 Says:

MC Draw is now out.

Almagro retiring?

It is a shame that he had all that talent and didn’t do much with it. Another Gasquet. He lost a 1st round challenger in his hometown, waved to what looked like 25 fans in the stands and that was it.

David Ferrer will bow out with much more fanfare in Madrid. Ferrer is the classic overachiever in sports. He lost sponsors as a junior player because no one saw him as a likely top 200 pro. He struggled with endorsements and being able to afford a coach that would accompany him. The Spanish National Davis Cup group was a godsend for steering funding and coaching his way. In return, Ferrer was never beaten in Davis Cup play, they got their money’s worth..As his career progressed, he got better and better, peaking at #3 at 31 years of age. 7th all time on the prize money list, 12th all time in matches won(ahead of players like Andy Murray, Borg, Becker)
Nadal: “Best player never to have won a Slam”.

Daniel Says:

FEd still gest a pretty big bump from Wimbledon title in 2017, 75% of best grass tirney 2 years apart in Wimbleodn seeding, aside from 2018 points from Stutgart, Halle and Wimby 2018. So, with this current ranking he is pretty much a lock for top 4 seed.

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