It’s been a week since the ATP World Tour Finals of 2012 and the tennis world has gone into hibernation. In the midst of this slumber, I, like many fans, have already been going through tennis withdrawal. We need our daily or at least weekly fix of tennis, of the players, of the tournaments and yes even the exhibitions; anything to cut through the dreary tennis-less winter. Well Roger and his team might have guessed his fans were going stark raving mad. They decided to give us a morsel of info in the form of Roger Federer’s 2013 schedule.
Confirming rumour mill, it appears that Federer will start the year with the Australian Open. He hasn’t been included/is skipping Abu Dhabi (see my earlier post on this topic). He is also skipping Doha, which I found surprising. This means he will start off the year cold, with a grand slam, which I am not sure is a good idea. Plus it means that for Fedal fans, no more exotic Doha promo photos (damn it!). After playing tennis on a boat, in water, on a magic carpet and in candlelight, I was expecting camel tennis in the sand dunes for 2013, but no such luck.
There are two more blatant omissions that strike you right away; Miami and Basel are not included in the line-up. Basel I kind of expected since we haven’t heard any confirmations about negotiations being finalized. There is a possibility it might be included but then I wonder if Roger will play Paris considering there is still no gap in the schedule between Basel-Paris-World Tour Finals (I am assuming Roger will qualify for the World Tour Finals, unless something goes horribly wrong).
Now according to the ATP Circuit Regulations 1.08 Reduction of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Commitment:
A player’s number of ATP World Tour Masters 1000 commitment tournaments shall be reduced by one (1) tournament for reaching each of the following milestones:
1) 600 matches* (as of 1 January of the commitment year);
2) 12 years of service;
3) 31 years of age (as of 1 January of the commitment year).
If all three (3) conditions are met then the player has a complete exemption from the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 player commitment. The first Year of Service shall be the first calendar year in which a player has competed in at least twelve (12) tournaments offering ranking points.
Roger has been on tour for 15 years (since 1998), has played 1,076 matches so far and turned 31 earlier this year. Hence he fulfills all three categories as of the beginning of 2013 and as such can choose to play whichever Masters 1000 series he wishes. Roger is skipping Monte Carlo but that’s the one Masters you are allowed to skip with no penalties, and he skipped it this year too. Plus, that’s hallowed Rafa ground anyway; no doubt the Spaniard will end up with at least 10 of those before he’s done.
As for Miami, he won that title in 2006 when it was still called the NASDAQ 1000 Open. Since then he hasn’t made it to the finals in the past 6 years. The slow courts with the slower balls due to the Miami humidity don’t make it fun for Roger. With Miami and Monte Carlo out of the mix Roger gets a solid month and a half break in between the hard court and clay seasons. It’s essentially the same schedule he had this year after losing early to Roddick at Miami and the break did Roger some good so he’s probably looking for that again before the longest stretch of the year comes up with Madrid, Rome, Roland Garros, Halle and Wimbledon all pretty much back to back.
He then has a month off before Rogers Cup, Cincy and US Open and a month off again before the final leg of Shanghai, Paris Bercy and World Tour Finals, with Basel squeezed in there perhaps. If Basel doesn’t make it on the calendar then I suspect he might take a shot at Tokyo to get an extra 500 points. It’s placed better than Basel, right before Shanghai and he still gets 3 weeks off after the US open.
It wouldn’t be right to complete this post without mentioning the Davis Cup. The 1st round is set for Feb 1-3, right after the Australian Open. Switzerland’s first match is against new Davis Cup winner the Czech Republic. It was possibly the worst draw for the Swiss team and I’m not sure if Roger will play so soon after the Australian Open. If he does and they win, the quarterfinals will be in April 5-7 which is during Roger’s one and a half month break. I can see the maestro playing in this leg, provided they get this far in the first place.
As Roger’s website states, the schedule is subject to change. But it certainly looks lighter than 2012 which is a good thing. Roger commented at the World Tour Finals how he didn’t have time to get in enough practice and training this year. After reaching 302 weeks at #1 I think now Roger will focus more on getting the bigger points in slams and Masters rather than playing more to get ahead of the race. Given the hectic pace of 2012, a bit of a breather is well-deserved. Hope Roger is now enjoying some quality vacation time in the Maldives. And then it’s off to South America for some fun exhibitions! Need to find streams to watch those matches; otherwise I don’t think I’ll last till 2013!