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.

Can Anyone stop Rafa on clay?

Preview of French Open 2012

My Thoughts

Rafael Nadal is a master on clay. Even though he is an all-round player, his dominance on clay is something unmatched in the recent years. The only time he failed to win the French title in the last 7 years is when he was beaten in the 4th round in 2009 by Robin Soderling. In recent times though Rafa has faced tough competition from Novak Djokovic on other surfaces but hasn’t been troubled by the Serbian on clay yet.

Nadal’s preparation for this year’s title defense could not have been better as he won his 7th title at Barcelona couple of days back. He is looking stronger than ever and it seems difficult to imagine anyone threatening him for the title this year. The two immediate names which come to mind again are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Robin Soderling who is the only player to have defeated Rafa at…

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Can Anyone Stop Rafa on Clay?

Rafael Nadal is a master on clay. Even though he is an all-round player, his dominance on clay is something unmatched in the recent years. The only time he failed to win the French title in the last 7 years is when he was beaten in the 4th round in 2009 by Robin Soderling. In recent times though Rafa has faced tough competition from Novak Djokovic on other surfaces but hasn’t been troubled by the Serbian on clay yet.

Nadal’s preparation for this year’s title defense could not have been better as he won his 7th title at Barcelona couple of days back. He is looking stronger than ever and it seems difficult to imagine anyone threatening him for the title this year. The two immediate names which come to mind again are Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Robin Soderling who is the only player to have defeated Rafa at the French open in the last 7 years is suffering an injury and his presence is still uncertain.

Novak Djokovic has been brilliant over the last couple of years and is the current number 1 in the world. French Open is the only title missing from his resume to complete the career grand slam and he would be hoping that he can get that this year. Roger Federer who is at his last legs of his career will probably want to give the French Open another try and would hope to get the better of Nadal if he gets a chance to meet him again this year. Federer played brilliant finals last year against Rafa but could not get over the line.

Not many players have found the formula to beat Rafa at the clay court and it will be the same this year too. It will require lots of hard work and endurance to get past Rafael Nadal once again on clay. Nadal will be looking for his record 7th French Open title (Beating Bjorn Borg’s earlier record of 6 titles) and 11 Grand Slam title over all this year. He has already proven that he has the skills to compete on all surfaces as he already has a career Grand Slam to his name. He is a genuine challenger to Federer’s Grand Slam record and with age on his side no one will bet against him getting there.

This year’s championship will be interesting and it seems like it will again be a competition between the top 3. Will Nadal reign supreme once again on clay? Or will Djokovic and Federer be able to stop him? We will have to wait and see.

Article first published as Can Anyone Stop Rafa on Clay? on Technorati.

Wimbledon 2011: After Nadal Can Federer Reclaim His Fortress?

Article first published as Wimbledon 2011: After Nadal Can Federer Reclaim His Fortress? on Technorati.

Rafael Nadal proved last Sunday that he is truly the king of clay court. Rafa, who admitted ahead of his semi-finals clash that he was not playing well enough to win the title, did exactly that playing a brilliant game of tennis in the finals. Federer who was on a high after defeating the pre-tournament favorite Djokovic found Nadal too hot to handle in the final and went down fighting in a four set battle. It was a brilliant win for Nadal as he once again proved what a great player he is on any surface.

Now after the French open is complete the focus now shifts to grass courts of Wimbledon. The surface which was once a fortress of Roger Federer till it was breached by Rafael Nadal in the year 2008. Federer had won the championship 5 straight times prior to that and that was the time Nadal started to prove himself on different surfaces. Federer though came back to win the title in 2009 but lost in the Quarters last year. That was the first time Federer did not make it to the Finals of a Wimbledon championship in 8 years.

Roger has not been in great form since his fabulous win in the Australian Open 2010. He has been often upstaged by Djokovic and Nadal over the past year or so. He reaching the finals of the French Open against all odd should give him immense confidence ahead of the Wimbledon Championship.

It all began for the Champion in 2003 in Wimbledon and what a great career it has been till now. It has been a brilliant journey and I hope that he has one last hurrah. A win on his favorite surface will for sure give him the much needed confidence to keep going for couple more years.

I hope that we have a great championship once again on grass, a surface I just love watching tennis on. Roger is my favorite tennis player since Sampras and Agassi and I will be rooting for him all the way at the Wimbledon championship. For now let’s congratulate Nadal for his brilliant win on clay and hope Federer can repeat the same on grass in a month’s time.

French Open 2011 – Can Djokovic continue his winning streak?

Article first published as 2011 Tennis Season Shaping Up to Be a Great Year for Fans on Technorati.

With less than a week away from French open 2011, all eyes will be on the Serbian Novak Djokovic. Djokovic who is yet to be beaten in 2011 will start the tournament as the favorite along with Rafael Nadal. Beating Nadal twice in two weeks on clay would have obviously given him enormous confidence going into the open this Sunday. Nadal who has ruled the clay in the past will be defending his crown when the open kicks off on the 22nd of May. His biggest competitor this time will be the Serbian who beat him twice in two weeks in Rome and Madrid to get within touching distance of the number 1 ranking.

Nadal himself admitted after his defeat in Rome that Novak Djokovic is playing brilliantly and will be the player to beat in the French Open. Djokovic who has already won a Grand Slam this year would want to claim his first French Open title. Should he reach his first final at Roland Garros 2011, he will overtake Nadal to become the number 1 player in the world. Roger Federer who will be the number 3 seed in the tournament would also like to make an impact in the second Grand Slam of the year. By his lofty standards the former champion has had a pretty poor run this year.

But I feel that this year’s championship will be all about Nadal and Djokovic. Djokovic will surely want to be there in the finals which will give him a chance to claim his second Grand Slam of the year. Nadal will want to avenge his defeat at Rome and Madrid and reaffirm his status as king of clay court. The rise of Djokovic has for sure spiced up the men’s championship this year and the fact that he has a chance of dethroning Nadal from the perch makes it all the more interesting.

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.