This blog covers all things RF. It is dedicated to my dearest friend and avid FedFan @EfieZac. May she RIP 💙

My take on Federer’s loss at Rotterdam


I am writing this post because I want to remain faithful to my blog. But it’s taking everything inside of me to fight the urge to just leave it and move on. I don’t want to replay last night’s match; I don’t think I can go through that experience again. So I’ve decided that I can’t write my usual post, this will be just my take on Roger Federer the past few days.

As recently as my last post, a mere 24 hours ago, I mentioned how happy I was with Roger’s movement. All of that seemed to have evaporated in this match. Throughout the match I noticed him not reaching for shots that he otherwise would have made a run for. There were times when he should have bent down to dig out a dropshot but let his hands do the work the best they could which inevitably didn’t work. His serve, which was already pretty shaky this tournament, dropped down to dismal levels. He hit multiple double faults and unbelievably his second serves were often even worse than his first, he hardly won any points off of them. But none of this would have bothered me as much had I also not detected an overall sense of gloom and negativity. His shoulders drooped, his walk had no confidence and he appeared to have no interest. It almost seemed as if he didn’t even want to try to play better. There was no hunger in his eyes. Just going through the motions one missed shot at a time.

The entire week I thought something was off, he was breathing heavily and sweating a lot from the very first match but I figured maybe it was because the stadium was so hot. Still it’s unusual to see Federer sweat and huff and puff like that. It was the same the next two matches too. I don’t know if ultimately it was his old back problem that had come back to haunt him or maybe it was a flu bug that was going around, we heard reports of Tsonga being sick and who knows, maybe even Goffin. I have another theory though. This drop is quality and demeanor reminded me of another time in the recent past where I had seen Federer like this – the Shanghai Masters last year. And I thought what do they have in common? Then it hit me, his family didn’t travel with him then either.

I think Roger has set up his team just perfectly to his liking. And when they are all together, it works for him. And I think his team not only includes Luthi, Annacone, Vivier and Godsick but most definitely Mirka and at this point even his twin girls. I think it becomes extra difficult for him to find motivation and focus when half his team isn’t with him. Not only was Annacone not there, but more importantly his family wasn’t. Imagine instead of Roger Federer the tennis god, he was an ordinary person off to another country for a work conference and then gets news about his daughters being ill, or something of such nature. He would be distracted like the rest of us. Now I’m not saying that his daughters were sick but I merely wish to illustrate a point. It’s hard being away from your family, especially if you actually don’t do it too often, which he doesn’t if you think about it; perhaps an entire month out of 12 which is highly unusual considering the rest of the ATP.

Before the twins were born Mirka was with him EVERYWHERE all the time. His players’ box might have had different coaches and physios to none throughout the years, but Mirka was always there, no matter how big or how small the tournament. And I’m sure for years she has temporarily filled in as coach, physio, hitting partner and strategist whenever he needed any of them. In his interview a few days ago he joked about having lunch at 5pm and then said in passing “It’s been very quiet. I’m going to bed really late…”. I think he misses the hustle and noise of raising two young children in the house. Conversely when he won Paris Bercy in 2011 and was asked about juggling his life with his children he mentioned how the night before, he needed to get up at 4am for his daughter who felt unwell and laughingly said it wasn’t the best way to prepare for a final but that’s what he needed to do and he was glad he had to do that because maybe that even led him to win the match.

I think Roger is fantastic at multitasking and giving attention to each component of his life very carefully. This includes matches, practice, training, sleeping, the ATP Player’s Council, ATP promotional events, ITF events, sponsors photo and video shoots, media commitments, philanthropy, finalizing his tennis gear with Nike and Wilson and also Mirka and the twins. He seems to thrive on being busy and when this setup is tampered with, maybe he feels like he’s lost his anchor a bit.

Now you can obviously tell me that I’m desperately searching for answers here and who knows maybe I am. Or maybe it’s a combination of this in addition to being sick and/or having back issues. All I know is he didn’t seem like his usual positive self this tournament. Perhaps his next tournament will be a good test of this. It’s in Dubai where his family is so maybe he will be renewed in vigor. He’s also the defending champion there, having won it 5 times so far, and might care more about a title defense at his second home, especially considering he crashed out of Rotterdam. It seems for now though he’s headed to South Africa on Sunday as part of his Roger Federer Foundation commitments and he hopes he can meet the great Nelson Mandela. This also means less practice time leading up to Dubai so I am not entirely sure on how I feel about this. Maybe it will be good to get away from tennis and instead focus on his organization which in turn might motivate him further once he gets back to playing. I guess we’ll find out on the 25th of February which is 9 days from now.

Till then, I hope he can put this behind him and get back some positive energy into himself. If he is feeling personally happy and confident, his tennis will automatically follow. But Roger has been through this time and time again and he wouldn’t be the champion he is if he didn’t know how to handle losses. I always think he handles it so much better than I or any of his fans do. But then again, I would rather have it be this way than the other way around. Our job as fans is to tear apart every draw, to worry about his every cough and sneeze, to scrutinize every opponent and have countless debates on social media with other fans about the merits of our champ. Roger’s job is to rise above it all, to reach the sublime and to prove time and time again how writing him off is dangerous and worrying about him is silly. I am quietly confident that Roger will soar again – and we will be with him every single step of the way. It’s our job, it’s what we do.


7 thoughts on “My take on Federer’s loss at Rotterdam

  1. Apparently Roger’s back was really bad. He didn’t mention it but it was on Annacone’s twitter.


    • Hi Sue! Thanks for reading the post and commenting! I heard that too although he didn’t seem as stiff in the previous two matches so wasn’t really sure. Even heard that there might have been a virus going around too. Either way, I’m sure he missed his family even more if he was in pain or ill. Here’s hoping all the kinks get sorted out in time for Dubai! *slightly worried about him :-(*. Thanks for visiting the blog and do stop by again!


  2. Morning!

    As promised 😉 Slowly getting over the fact that the Rotterdam week didn’t go according to Roger’s plans. I think you are definitely on to something, I have to say. Although I do think also he generally felt under the weather and if his back was indeed bothering him (a lot?) then it would explain it even more. The movement in the 3rd match was def different from the 1st two. One thing that someone said on Twitter struck me because I noticed it too and that was that Luthi’s expressions. He came across as not being overly concerned about something that only just had occured on court, if you see what I mean. He looked, as most of the time the case, serious and aware of things but it seemed like he sort of was expecting it to happen so to speak… Which backs the whole ‘physical theory’ up as well… Whatever it was, we will probably never know, but I hope he is okay now and that it was something temporary. I think it was actually. Don’t know, just a gut feeling (and not just hope/wishful thinking).
    There was another thing actually that bothered me a bit this week, and that touches your theory too, and that was his schedule. He was def doing too much (esp Monday), but at the same time I think he wasn’t. I think there were too many days between his arrival and the actual 1st match tbh… And then the ‘it’s been quiet’ comment that he made, made even more sense…

    Well, those are my thoughts on the match against Julien. They all say it’s such a huge accomplishment that he won from Fed and it is great that he could (for him). And I do think, the matches after that also, he played great. He really did. But to win from Fed who isn’t his usual self, is really different than to win from Fed how he was in the matches, let’s say at the AO, first 4 rounds. But that’s just my take. With all respect to Julien btw. Cause I mean it, when I say he played very well (esp the serve).

    But, Dubai now. I have a better feeling about it. Home town, no travelling. Family close. Warm there! It would help his back, that’s for sure 🙂 I would be very happy though if he’d make at least until the semis. I don’t mind him losing if he fights like hell, plays great but it just wasn’t meant to be. I mind him losing if he was how he was in Rotterdam. Then I get upset and worried. Well, you know what I mean probably… But of course, I’d want him to win this, really badly, cause it will be great for him, so great 🙂 Last year though, was such a fantastic year, that I have set my expectations a bit lower, cause it’s bound to become a bit less, before it goes up again. That just happens to everyone… (self protecting this is, you see that ;)…)

    Thanks for the lovely, well-written post again! As always, a joy to read, even though it was a sad occasion that you had to write this one…


    • Hi Natasja! A belated thank you for the comments! And I completely agree with your sentiments about the Julien match. Like you said, full credit to him for winning over Roger, but Roger was only 60% of himself. And what what happened to poor Roger’s movement this match? There were times when he just wasn’t stretching or reaching for balls at all. I see your point about Luthi too, he didn’t seem like this was unexpected, unless he has a really good poker face. As always, with the Federer camp we won’t know about his injuries or their extent, at least not till much later if ever. I remember how long it took for them to reveal he had mono in 2008. it’s frustrating as a fan to not know but I understand why he does it. I guess we just have to put faith in Roger and his team and hope they know best. His focus this year will most certainly be the big tournaments so I can see him taking IW, and the clay court season very seriously.

      I am still unsure about cutting his practice time for Dubai short, but then he looked so happy in South Africa! And I was happy he was there with his mother, I was hoping he’s have at least one family member with him. His father got to enjoy South America last December, and Lynette being South African herself, I’m sure she loved going there too. And our champ was also able to spend some quality time with his mother too. I’m hoping that he will be mentally refreshed from SA and perhaps that will carry over to his play in Dubai. And like you said, if he does crash out, I hope he fights like hell rather than hand over a win.

      I too, like you am trying to manage expectations after last year which was in my mind his most amazing of his entire career. True he didn’t win 3 GS like in 2004, 2006 or 2007 but he battled back when everyone had written him off; he reached world #1 again, broke ALL sorts of records, won a 7th Wimby and 5 other titles, a silver medal (finally!) and was very close to ending the year as #1. All at the age of 30/31. I don’t think we’ll ever see a 30 year old have a year like that. So after that roller coaster ride, 2013 is bound to show a dip. I actually think he’ll spend most of 2013 quietly and then pick it up in 2014, but we’ll see.

      Thanks again for reading the post and your wonderful comments! This one was very emotional for me to write, I hope there aren’t too many such moments this year. For now, all we can do is keep faith in the Maestro – 4 days to go!


      • You know what I think about the whole practicing before Dubai? He said he hadn’t picked up a racket before he arrived in Rotterdam and after the AO. Did a lót of fitness training with his fitness coach. One of the things that supports the whole ‘back problem theory’, cause someone said ‘he would never not practice, unless it’s sensible to do so’ and I thought that made sense. I suspected a back problem at the AO and I suspected one in Rotterdam. And in between, he didn’t practice. So I think it needed more time to get better. And I don’t think Luthi has a poker face for that long… So it must have been something they knew about. We will never know though… The thing is, if it is that, we know it’ll get better. Unless it is (even) more serious than before, but I think he couldn’t have played at all if that were the case (and it would have shown more). So it might not be such a bad thing after all, that he only gets a few days, is what I’m trying to say actually… (often I need too many words!) 😉
        And now he goes back into the heat/warm climate, with no changes (like from Australia to Dubai to Holland and back), I think he’ll has a good chance of it being better again. It all depends on his physical form, what is going to happen in Dubai I think. And maybe this will be a low profile year… And then 2014 will be much better… I’m constantly managing my expectations; we have been so spoiled by him over the years 🙂 He is so unique to do what he did being 31 now and keeping up with the guys that are 5, 6 years younger (or even more)… I’m very proud of him.

        We’ll just have to wait and see… As long as he is okay. That’s the most important… 🙂

        And yes, SA video, touched my heart (again) I was so hoping he would do it and he did at exactly the right time. “I can only play a little bit of tennis”….. That’s a good way to end this reply for now… Cause I know that’ll leave you with a smile 🙂 ‘Til next time!


  3. PS
    If you saw how he was when he left, he did look happy though, being all smiley… (probably happy he got to see his girls soon!) So he does take things differently than we all do. Proof was there again…


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