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