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.

Olympics Tennis Fiasco – Who is at fault?

Considering this happened prior to the Olympics. It wasn’t a surprise that India did not even get close to getting a medal in Tennis.

My Thoughts

Recently the AITA (All India Tennis Association) announced the Indian Tennis teams for the upcoming London Olympics 2012. The overall announcement turned into a farce which ended up in the association having to redo the combinations. Tennis is one of the few sports where India has a strong chance of obtaining a medal in the Olympics. The strong Indian contingent comprises of fantastic doubles players such as Leander, Mahesh, Sania and Rohan Bopanna.

Everyone knows that Leander and Mahesh split once again for the 100th time last year and do not like to play with each other. It was pretty strange when AITA paired Leander with Mahesh for the London Olympics. But when the announcement came in there was a series of ugly spats in the media. Mahesh came in and refused to play with Leander and threatened to pull out. Leander for his part did the same thing. Rohan…

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Olympics Tennis Fiasco – Who is at fault?

Recently the AITA (All India Tennis Association) announced the Indian Tennis teams for the upcoming London Olympics 2012. The overall announcement turned into a farce which ended up in the association having to redo the combinations. Tennis is one of the few sports where India has a strong chance of obtaining a medal in the Olympics. The strong Indian contingent comprises of fantastic doubles players such as Leander, Mahesh, Sania and Rohan Bopanna.

Everyone knows that Leander and Mahesh split once again for the 100th time last year and do not like to play with each other. It was pretty strange when AITA paired Leander with Mahesh for the London Olympics. But when the announcement came in there was a series of ugly spats in the media. Mahesh came in and refused to play with Leander and threatened to pull out. Leander for his part did the same thing. Rohan Bopanna too refused to partner Leander as he has had a successful time partnering Mahesh in the grand-slams this year.

This was really sad when you consider that this was an Indian team which has been announced. Tennis as a sport is mostly individual except for certain events such as Olympics, Davis Cup etc…So it does not require the players to get along with each other like how it is with other team sports. The players and the AITA are both at fault here. AITA should have known about the situation and probably should have discussed the situation before announcing it to the media. The players too even though being unhappy should have spoken with the AITA first before expressing their displeasure openly to the media. It was ugly when Sania Mirza and Leander’s father too got involved in this circus.

I can’t believe that a person who is not even a member of AITA or has never played any tennis can come in public and request for a written assurance from a tennis player to partner his son. I feel sorry for the young Vishnu Vardhan who got stuck in this crossfire. He would have been honored to represent India at the highest stage and to be paired with a Legend in the Olympics only to find that Leander refused to partner with him unless Sania partnered with him for mixed doubles.

This seemed like a round of ugly politics and players egos coming to the fore. Leander and Mahesh are legends of Indian tennis but it seems like their egos are bigger than their achievements. We thank them for all the great things they have done for the Indian tennis but this situation could have been handled better. Threatening to pull out of a premier event for any reason when your country’s pride is at stake is an extremely selfish act. I understand that the mistake was from both the sides but a discussion behind the scenes would have been a much better option.

The young players look up to these legends for inspiration and this is not something they would like to see. I am just happy that the issue has been finally resolved and it seems like the players are happy with whom they have been paired with. Leander has finally agreed to pair with Vishnu and Mahesh with Bopanna. Sania Mirza will be paired with Leander and she said that she is honored to do so. Somdev and Sania will be playing singles after getting wild cards to represent India in the Olympics. After all this tamasha, it does look like India has some decent chance of multiple medals this year. I hope that the players put behind their differences and perform to the fullest in the event to bring glory to the country.

Nadal continues to dominate on Clay

Nadal poses with John McEnroe after winning his record 7th French Open title.

Rafael Nadal continued his dominance on clay with a record 7th French Open title. He beat world number 1 Novak Djokovic in a tough four setter 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 to claim the title. The win also makes Nadal the most crowned man in the open era history at French Open. Like most of the grand slams over the past few years, this year too we saw the top three making it to the semis. Djokivic dismissed Federer in the semis to set up a mouthwatering encounter with the defending champion in the finals. The final was a brilliant spectacle with some blazing tennis from both the players but in the end the consistency of Nadal proved too much for the world number 1.

Sharapova claims the women’s title

Sharapova becomes the French Open champion thereby completing her career slam

Sharapova beat Sara Errani 6-3, 6-2 in a one-sided final to claim the French Open crown. This was a sweet victory for Sharapova who in the process also regained her top spot in the rankings. This was a great comeback from the champion who went through a major surgery in 2008 in a bid to save her career. Maria joined the elite list of women’s tennis with this win as she completed her career slam.

Mahesh and Sania win the Mixed doubles crown
Mahesh Bhupati and Sania Mirza won the mixed doubles crown beating Klaudia Jans-Ignacik and Santiago Gonzalez 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 in the finals. The pair won their second title together, with their previous win being in the 2009 Australian Open.

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.