Missing French Open not a bad idea for Federer

Roger Federer decided to give French Open a miss this year. Not only did he missed the Open, he missed the entire clay season in order to concentrate on Wimbledon.

Federer earlier this year won the Australian Open, his first Grand Slam in five years and to do it by beating Nadal in the finals was phenomenal. Federer is a great champion and the current record holder with most Grand Slam singles title in men’s tennis.

Federer is currently 35 years old and possibly has a year or two left at the top level, so it is prudent that he decided to pick his battles.

This is not something new in professional sports. In cricket there are players who during the back end of their careers decided to skip one format over the other to prolong their careers.

There is nothing wrong with that. Sportsmen have very uncertain and short careers and them wanting to make most of their time is something which needs to be respected.

Federer won the French Open in 2009 on clay, a surface where is he not very comfortable playing. It is harder to play on clay when you get older.

Unlike grass courts and hard courts, clay isn’t a quick surface. Players need to have lots of stamina and the ability to engage in long baseline exchanges. Also unlike on synthetic and grass courts, you don’t get too many free points on clay.

Competing against young players on clay can be very taxing and can take a lot out of you. I am not saying that Federer would not have won the title – he may well have – but again that’s the chance he has taken.

It can be really hard for someone who has been struggling with injuries over the past year or so to ignore the fact that he isn’t young anymore.

Federer is arguably the greatest tennis player in history of the game and he has practically achieved everything a professional tennis player could achieve in the game.

He has also said that he is not aiming for number one ranking anymore which means that he need not play all the tournaments for points either.

Grass courts have always been Federer’s best surface and he has seven Wimbledon titles. He wants to be fit and ready for the championship and that’s something which is a personal decision. Only the player knows his body and what he can or cannot do at a particular time in his career.

Federer’s decision needs to be respected and there is no reason to question it. He is a great player and I am really looking forward to couple more Grand Slam titles from him before he calls it a day.

Wimbledon and the US Open gives him the best chance of adding to his 18 titles than the French open does. So Federer deciding to miss the clay season may not have been a bad idea and as Andy Roddick put it, it was smart from the champion.

My article published on The Roar

Australian Open – Can Roger add one more title?

Roger Federer arguably is the greatest tennis player to have graced the tennis court only behind Rod Laver. He has the record for most grand slam titles was at the top of the rankings for a record 302 weeks. But like every great athlete, age has caught up with Roger and at 32 he isn’t getting any younger. Roger is his entering 17th year as a pro and he has really struggled with performances in the last couple of years.

Since his win in 2012 Wimbledon, Roger hasn’t won a grand slam. 2013 was probably the worst year for the champion where he clearly struggled with his game and did not make single grand slam finals. He has struggled to compete with rest of the members of the elite group, Nadal, Murray and Djokovic. In 2013 Roger for the first time in a long time dropped out of top 4 in the rankings and is seeded 6th in the current Australian Open.

But rankings don’t really matter for the genius that is Roger. We all know what a great champion Roger is and the great man will be hoping for a good 2014. The Australian open will give us an insight about how Roger is shaping up for the rest of the year. In a way this year might even decide as to how long the champion will continue playing tennis. Roger has been a great champion and for sure deserves a great farewell. With enormous competition and with the age catching up, Roger has already cut back on the tournaments he plays. It will not be long before he decides to call it a day. For a diehard fan like me, it will be great to see the champion lift one more trophy. It is not going to be easy but the great man might just have enough left in his tank to pull one through.

Roger Federer is a great champion and he has comfortably brushed aside James Duckworth in the first round of Australian Open 2014. He has it in him to bounce back from the disappointment of 2013. His reflexes might have slowed down but he still has the skills and mental strength which has made him a great champion. I hope that he has a great tournament and also a great year ahead in 2014.

Djokovic reigns supreme and Paes completes career slam

Djokovic once again proved why he is the number 1 player in the world. He came through in a cliffhanger of a game against Rafael Nadal in 5 sets. The game was a perfect ending for a great tournament in which the top 3 ruled the roost again. Nadal who played a brilliant match in the semis to knock out Roger Federer lost out in the finals to the brilliant Djokovic. Novak Djokovic who had a brilliant 2011 continued in the same vein by winning the first grand slam of the year.

The game itself was a see-saw ride for the fans. Nadal started well by winning the first set 7-5 but Djokovic came back to dominate the next two sets 6-4, 6-2. At the end of the third set Nadal looked down and out but put in one last great effort to win the 4th in a tie breaker 7-6 to push the game into the 5th. Djokovic though held his nerve to clinch the final set 7-5 to win the match and the title.

It was a brilliant start for Djokovic in 2012 but for Nadal this was yet another loss to the Serbian in a grand slam. Nadal will now want to wait for his favorite surface at the Roland Garros for revenge if at all they face each other in the finals.

Leander’s Career slam:

Leander Paes finally won the Australian open to complete the career slam. This was the only title which was missing from his resume and he will be relieved that he finally got the monkey of his back. Leander and Stepanek were unseeded in this tournament and were brilliant in the finals. The Bryan brothers were chasing their 12 doubles title which would have given them the record currently held by the woodies and it was understandable that only a special effort from their opponent can deny them the prize. Leander and Stepanek were absolutely brilliant in the finals and provided no opening for the number 1 pair in both the sets.

The Paes/Stepanek pair had defeated the number 2 and number 3 seeds on their way to the finals which would for sure have given them a huge boost. It was a great tournament for Leander and he deserves the career slam. It would have been particularly sweet win for him as he had lost to the Bryan brothers at least 3 times in the finals of the Australian open in the past. Kudos to the Indian legend and I hope that he wins more titles this year and continues to succeed at the world level.

Overall it was a great open and the weather was fantastic throughout. The men’s tennis once again proved the domination of the top 3 as they ended up in the Semis once again. Roger, Nadal and Djokovic have dominated the slams over the past year or so and it will be great to see others stepping up in the remaining 3 slams in 2012.

Is Nadal Vs Federer rivalry a thing of the past?

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal now have to battle for Supremacy with Djokovic in a three way race to the top

Few years back world tennis was all about Nadal and Federer. Even though there were others, none of them challenged the supremacy of these two greats and they remained the undisputed world number 1 and 2. In the last year or so, with the emergence of Novak Djokovic we can see there is a shift in the tide. Djokovic who won the Australian open championship this year has a perfect record of 24-0 in 2011 and is yet to be beaten on the tour this year. He has already displaced Federer at the number 2 spot as has constantly beaten Nadal in their recent encounters.

The recent win in Miami against Nadal further confirms his rise to supremacy. The year 2011 has just begun and it is already promising to be a great year for tennis fan. With the rise of Djokovic the battle to the top is now a three way thing and I feel that the Federer Vs Nadal rivalry is now thing of the past. Nadal also has been dominating Federer in their recent meetings. So I guess the rivalry between Djokovic and Nadal has more weight in the current scenario. Djokovic is now the man to beat in tennis, both Nadal and Federer have found difficult to beat him in recent times. The Serbian in his recent interview has said that becoming the world number 1 is his ambition will want to begin the quest with the clay court season. Clay is a surface which has been a fortress of Rafael Nadal and a win there would almost confirm Djokovic as the next tennis great.

So Federer and Nadal now have a battle in their hands and with players like Andy Murray and Del Potro also close to their heels, we might have a great 2011 ahead. The French open will be interesting as Djokovic would want to extend his supremacy on clay too. It will be interesting to see who will finish as the best player in the rankings at the end of this season. And for the first time in few years it will not be a battle just between Nadal and Federer, which is a good thing for men’s tennis.

Australian Open 2011 – Djokovic triumphs and Lee-Hesh fall at the final hurdle

Brilliant Djokovic with the tropy after he demolished Andy Murray in the Australian open finals

In my review of 2010 tennis, I had mentioned how Djokovic could challenge the hold of Federer and Nadal on grand slams. Djokovic though did not waste any time in proving me right. Djokovic thrashed Murray, the other player who had a great 2010 to win the first slam of the year. Murray stood no chance against a red hot Djokovic who was flying high after his three set demolition of Roger Federer in the semis. It was a great win as Roger was tipped to win the title after the shock exit of Nadal by David Ferrer in the quarters.

Murray will be disappointed as he has once again lost the opportunity to become the first player from UK to win a grand slam since Fed Perry about 70 years ago. Both these players were the ones to watch out for after their good performances in 2010 along with Robin Soderling. Now with Djokovic winning the Australian open, it sets up the rest of the year beautifully. I am sure that Federer and Nadal will want to bounce back soon and regain their supremacy. But at the moment all the accolades should go to Djokovic who played brilliantly to win his second Australian open title.

In the doubles, Leander and Mahesh joined hands together after a long time at the grand slams. Their brilliant reunion at Chennai open almost turned into a fairy tale when they reached the finals at the Australian open. They played brilliant tennis and reminded one and all that they still have a lot to offer to their fans. The final though was an anti-climax as the Bryan brothers were too good for the Indian pair. But nothing can be taken away from the brilliant run they have been having since their reunion. All in all a good beginning to the year and it sets up some great contests in the upcoming grand slams. Will anyone be able to challenge Nadal for the number 1 ranking? We will have to wait and see.

Tennis – A perfect reunion and brilliant Roger

Leander and Mahesh won their 24th tour title and their 5th at Chennai this weekend

Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi won the Chennai open for the fifth time as it marked a perfect reunion for the two great Indians. The pair prevailed over the young pair of Robin Haase and David Martin in a tense 3 setter. This was their 24th title together and something which all the Indian tennis fans have been waiting for. The Chennai open started disastrously for the Indian contingent as Somdev, Bopanna and Yuki all wild card entrants had lost in the first round in the singles. But the doubles title was really a sweet end to the tournament for the Chennai crowd.

The great news is that Leander and Mahesh or Lee-Hesh as they are lovingly called by their fans have decided to play in the Australian open together in an attempt to win their 4th Grand Slam title together. It was yet another special win for the Indian pair and I hope they get few more before the end of the year. Congrats to Leander and Mahesh for an excellent victory.

Elsewhere it was business as usual for the Champion Roger Federer as he defeated Nikolay Davydenko in straight sets to capture his 67th tour title at Doha this weekend. This was an ideal preparation for the champion for his defense of the Australian open later this month. Roger finished 2010 in style when he defeated Nadal in the London Masters final and has began the year 2011 brilliantly by capturing the Doha title. Robin Soderling was another winner this weekend at Brisbane, Australia as he defeated American Andy Roddick to claim his 7th tour title. This is a brilliant beginning for the Swede who ended the year 2010 at number 5 in the rankings. The win has enabled him to reach his career high ranking of No.4 again. He will try to put up a great show in the upcoming Australian open where he was ousted in the first round last year.

Federer back to his dominating best

Federer with his Australian open trophy

Things returned to normal as Roger Federer won yet another grand slam title this Sunday to start the year 2010 on a high note. He defeated Andy Murray in straight sets to claim the title. It was yet another defeat for the Brit against Roger and he would be really disappointed with the result.

For Federer though this victory would be sweet and he extended his grand slam record to 16 wins. It’s amazing that people say that the champ is on a decline as he has won 3 slams in the past year. If this is called a decline then most current players would want to be on one.

In the last couple of years Federer has seemed to have lost the aura of invincibility and the command on the court with which he had dismantled the best with clinical precision. When Federer was left crying after his loss to Nadal in the 2009 Australian open lots of experts were quick to jump on the “Federer has lost it” bandwagon. Even though for the entire 2009, Federer seemed to have been struggling with his game the fighter in him came to the fore.

The elusive French open title followed by the Wimbledon last year indeed made the year unforgettable for the champion. During the course of which Roger upstaged another great Champion Pete Sampras when he overtook the latter’s tally of 14 titles during his Wimbledon victory. The brilliant year though ended with a disappointing loss in the US Open to Del Potro in an epic five setter.

In spite of that heart breaking loss I would say that Federer achieved his dream of winning the French open which remained elusive to Pete throughout his career. The 2010 though seems to have begun in the right earnest for the champion. He seems to have gotten back his form and confidence as he was largely untroubled on his way to the title. Seems like good times are back for the Federer’s fans and I hope that he goes on to win more titles this year and continues to scale more peaks.