Wrapping up a rough Wednesday evening at Wimbledon for Roger Federer, here are some thoughts.
1. HE’S 39
Let’s not forget, Andre Agassi retired at age 35, Andy Roddick retired at 32 and Pete Sampras played his last match at 31, and here’s Roger Federer going strong at nearly 40!
At 39, he made the quarters at Wimbledon, the oldest to ever do it in the Open Era! He beat Cameron Norrie who has made a couple finals this year and blew out Lorenzo Sonego who is 13 years younger than him and having a decent year on all surfaces.
And at that age, it can’t be easy playing best-of-5 then coming back even after a day of rest. It has to take a toll but he’s managing.
2. THAT LOST STEP OR TWO
The problem for Federer is, because his game isn’t serve-based like an Isner or a Karlovic who could play until their 50s, he has to rely on his timing. And that timing comes from speed. As we saw early on against Adrian Mannarino and again yesterday, he’s just not as quick as he once was.
So the reality of it is, unless his knees are still hurting him (we don’t know), he’s not going to get any quicker.
That means he can’t get to as many balls as he once did, and the ones he does get to he might not be in the best position. So we see more shanks, mishits and even less pop on his ground strokes.
On serve he can still get free points or if he gets a sitter in the middle of the court, he’s fine. But getting pulled to the corners is a serious problem.
3. MORE REHAB?
Is the knee ok? We don’t know. Federer has a history of masking injuries on court.
He didn’t look great out there Wednesday, so maybe the knee was bothering him. Regardless, I do wonder if he’s at a 100% with the knee or not. And if not, how long will it take him to get there.
If it is that bad, maybe that’s a good sign that he has a lot to improve upon.
4. HURKACZ STEPPED UP
Full credit to Hubert Hurkacz who played Federer like he was playing just another ordinary match, first round at a 250. He didn’t get overwhelmed by the moment like Richard Gasquet, Norrie, Sonego or even Daniel Koepfer did at the French Open. He went out there as the better player and went right after Federer. No fear.
Going in, I thought he could make some deep inroads, I just wasn’t sure if he could mentally keep it together at the time of asking. But he did and did it impressively.
5. WHAT’S NEXT?
No surprise, Roger was noncommittal when asked about his future plans. Maybe the Olympics, maybe Wimbledon next year. We just don’t know.
What we do know is that he’s nowhere near the level he needs to be to win Grand Slams. And he’s turning 40 in exactly a month.
My thinking is with the virus still an issue in Tokyo, he’ll take another month to train/rehab, play Cincinnati and the US Open and reevaluate from there.
But it’s crystal clear we are very, very close to the end. His ranking — thanks to the ATP’s COVID system — will stay in the Top 20, but I just don’t know how many of these types of losses he can take. I guess we are going to find out.
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