rogerfedererfan

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

Closing the chapter on Brisbane

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Roger Federer lost the Brisbane final yesterday. I purposely waited for a while before thinking about what to write for this post. I wanted to clear my head before sitting at my laptop again. So after the match, I spoke with my mother, played with my cat and went for a walk.

As I chatted with my mother about something completely unrelated to tennis, my initial high-strung emotions slowly dissipated.  As I played with my cat I felt lighter and could even smile; I can usually rely on Simba to make me smile. By the time I went for a walk I was able to think about it clearly and when I was done, I knew what I was going to write.

Roger+Federer+2014+Brisbane+International+G5t19Yn7_6FlI realized for me what helped was to look at not just the match but rather the match as part of the tournament and more importantly, the tournament as part of a longer journey. I think this journey started last year in Basel which is symbolic in its own way. Basel was where it all began for the Maestro and it makes sense that after the tough year he had, his climb back started from there as well. 2013 started going downhill from as far back as Rotterdam and it wasn’t until Basel that the rot was stopped. Since then on, it seemed the worst was behind us and I find myself still firmly believing that. Basel was a very good tourney and he carried that form into Bercy and then London. Was it vintage Federer? Not nearly, though I still believe he gave us the shot of last year in London vs. Delpo. But it was a welcome improvement. His performance, grit and intensity increased over those 3 tourneys and he went into the off-season feeling much better about himself than a few months prior.

After an off-season that was packed with training he came to Brisbane ready to test himself. Not only was he testing his own body, he was also testing a new racquet. The Brisbane draw was a good mix of players at different levels of their tennis. First up he faced the perennial top 40r Nieminen who can cause problems on any given day. Then came the Aussie Matosevic, a player he had never faced and one who could’ve made him work for it but he underperformed, in part due to Federer’s brilliance. Next came Chardy, another unknown player but with a great serve and big forehand. Roger had to fight through this one but ultimately came through and went into the final without being broken.

The final vs. Hewitt started off with the worst possible way as he was broken right away. Hewitt has always been very strong mentally; add in the fact that he was playing on home soil and how hungry he was for his first title since 2010, nothing was higher than his motivation that day. He said later, in that first set, he saw the ball as big as a football. Meanwhile, Roger looked distracted in that set. His movement was sluggish, his body language negative and he hit shanks so far wide the balls could’ve landed in Melbourne to be used at the Australian Open. He confirmed that there was no back issue which leads me to think it was a combination of some physical and mostly mental fatigue, annoyance and general discomfort at being challenged as fiercely as Lleyton was fighting him.http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Roger+Federer/2014+Brisbane+International+Day+8/HR8BsOBWUyB

We know how the match went. He somehow found his rhythm in the 2nd set, fired 5 consecutive aces in a row and took the set. Then came the beginning of the 3rd set where the momentum was with him. Sure enough he got multiple breakpoint opportunities, 7 in fact. He squandered them all while Lleyton converted the one he got and the writing was on the wall. I was sad to see the breakpoint issue rear its ugly head because in the 3 tourneys at the end of last year he looked to have more control over that problem. Regardless, after that first set which was bizarre, I thought he did a good job of hanging on and maybe another way to look at the breakpoints opportunities was that he kept putting Hewitt under pressure.

But enough about the match. It left some fans sad while others were angry and some downright mean which is something I will never understand. How can you be mean, rude and hateful towards someone and claim to be their fan? 😦 Anyway….. setting these haters aside, I understand the sadness felt by many because I felt it too. But then I took a break, thought rationally and came to my understanding about the journey he was on. I then realized if Basel was the start of the new race, Brisbane was the pit-stop. To pause and check progress, and address any hiccups faced. As such, here are my take-aways from Brisbane:

  • The new racquet still feels a bit alien to him at times though it seems to be a much better fit than the post-Wimbledon one.
  • His returning still needs some work. This court was super fast however, so to be fair, it was difficult for other players too. Nonetheless, this is something he could focus on.
  • When all else was failing, his serve stood strong for the majority of it. Throughout the tourney he consistently served well and hit over 40 aces. The last time I remember such a good serving tourney was probably Australian Open 2013. If nothing else, the new racquet seems to have made a positive impact here.
  • Barring that first set in the final which I still don’t quite understand, his body held up well. More importantly, his back seems fine, thank goodness.
  • It seemed he was able to handle players up to a certain caliber but was perhaps not quite there yet in terms of facing a performance like the kind Lleyton produced. I don’t care what the rankings say, Hewitt did not play like a player ranked 60 in the world. He played like a former #1 and a Grand Slam Champion. He was by far the best player Roger faced this week and I think Roger is leaving Brisbane with an idea of what gear he needs to take it up to going forward. He will be more aware of exactly what and how much he needs to improve. Coming in, he didn’t have a barometer to gauge his progress. Now he does and I for one don’t think the prognosis is bad at all especially considering the new racquet situation.  
  • The obvious area of work needed is his confidence. He said so himself, he needs a bit more confidence to win tournaments. The way to get confidence is to win more matches. I firmly believe he will get there as the year goes on. We’re only on January 6th remember?
  • Coming into the new year after a 6 week off-season with a new racquet, a final is not too shabby don’t you think? May I remind you that world # 3, 4, 7 and 9 also played an ATP 250 in Doha and all lost before the QFs. Plus none of them had gone into the off-season with as much to work on as Roger. None of them were being pushed into retirement even though they ended the year ranked in the top 10. None of them were speculated about as much as Roger. Considering all that baggage, I’ll take the final in Brisbane, thank you very much.

Well there you have it, my concluding thoughts on Brisbane. Going into the Australian Open he has areas to think about and discuss with Luthi and also Edberg. But I don’t think that one final undid all the good that came out of that tourney. I also think he is in a much better place going into Melbourne than he was after the US Open last year. It hasn’t been an easy ride back up, but since Basel, it’s been two steps forward and one step back.

Progress has been made, is being made and will continue to be made. In the meantime, it might not be pretty so if you’re not cut out for the bumpy ride, I would suggest you get off the train. As for me, I have no choice but to stay on. I bought a lifetime supply of tickets when I got on the FedExpress, I don’t even know where the emergency exit door is.

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13 thoughts on “Closing the chapter on Brisbane

  1. Beautiful beautiful post… Thank you só so much for writing it. I agree with I think everything. Let me try and give my thoughts on it following your bullets:

    – I think the new racquet is a factor too. Although it seems only a little. He says it’s no factor at all anymore but I think he’s ‘downplaying’ that a bit tbh
    – The returns seemed to need some work yes. I agree. Could also be the court and in set 1 it could also have been Lleyton who played out of his mind tennis that day.
    – The serving got him out of trouble often as you wrote. Even though in the match against Chardy it was like only 52% or something?, and he still served aces like a boss. He in fact, did that the whole tournament. And it struck me that during the Chardy match they both had trouble with their first serves. But that’s Chardy. This is about the final. So back to that.
    – I couldn’t agree more with this. Hewitt had only 2 (!!) UEs in set 1 and that is an awesome stat to play against. Esp in the phase he is in at the moment. Meaning the ‘brushing off the effects of 2013’ stage.
    – Yes!! We are only at the first tourney. It is only 6 January. He made it to a final. And apparently he did that while not being fully back on confidence (!). It surprised me a little when he was open about that during the presser and it explained a lot of the first set to me tbh. It explained most of the loss to me even. Cause Roger fights big battles in his head when he’s low on confidence. Last year is the ultimate proof of it. And every time he did that last year, we were all going (before we knew it was confidence) ‘oh I wonder what’s going on’. And the same thing happened now. Many people were wondering. And there he was, acknowledging he needed a bit more confidence… I had a deja-vu, if that makes sense. And I think that’s part of the ‘recovery process’. To see how you can get the confidence back against the bigger players or players that play totally in the zone that day. He’s already there against ‘normal players’. But he still needs to make this step. That’s what I think.
    – And yes again! A final is great. Last year his first final was Rome. In May. May…. So I’ll take it too. Definitely. And change not too shabyy in very good. And you’re right about the top10 players losing early this week. But it also reminded me of Lleyton who beat a few other top10 players last year and no one mentioned that after this match…

    Overall, how I see it: I think he had a good week. He had a chance to see where his game is, where he is. He made it to the final. Got match time with the new racquet and worked on his confidence. He already talked to Sev after the match and that gave him a good idea of what to work on. And no doubt they’ll talk more and they’ll ask Stefan’s opinion. I’m sure of that. That will all help him to go onwards and upwards. I’m very proud of him starting off the year so well. The final wasn’t his best match with a 2013-like first set but nobody said this year would be a walk in the park for him. He actually mentioned he needed time to get fully back on his feet (probably until March, maybe April) and I think I owe it to him to give him that time.

    Which brings me to me last point. In my opinion, the over-critical and dramatic “fans” (I have no other words for them) act like he owes them things. This match was a disaster. Even his worst match ever. Why is he still playing? Etc etc. Lots of disrespectful things have been said again. They act like they of course would’ve done a far better job out there. And they act like he owes them things. If anything, I think we owe him (as I indicated in the previous paragraph too). We owe him our respect, our time and our patience. That is at least how I feel. Because he gave me so much, I can’t even express that in words (even though I’ve attempted to, as you know). And because you generally actually need to treat people with respect if they’ve never done you any harm.

    I have a good feeling about this year. It won’t happen overnight. It will have ups and downs and maybe a few erratic losses even. But he is hungry and eager to attack as he said. And I’m up for the journey, even though that might be bumpy ride.

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    • What a wonderful post, RogerFedererFan, and natasja0409 your comments just added so much as well. I can agree more with “If anything, I think we owe him (as I indicated in the previous paragraph too). We owe him our respect, our time and our patience. That is at least how I feel. Because he gave me so much,” As I have said time and again, what a courageous man he is to not only allow us to celebrate his triumphs but to openly witness his struggle. When I “found” Roger in 2006, I walked in on this incredible period of dominance. From Wimbledon, 2006 until IW 2007, he lost one match. And such incredibly beautiful play. There is nothing that can make me waver in my loyalty and support. Yes, I wanted all his hard work and efforts to be immediately rewarded but that’s where the patience comes in. I believe the results will come in time.

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      • I should have said, “I couldn’t agree more” in my second sentence.

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      • Thanks for reading and commenting Deborah! You and I are both in agreement with Natasja’s comments about us owing him our respect and patience. I also think being negative here does no one any favours. Not only would it be sad for him to see such mean comments, it would stress me out too being so angry at him the whole time. I really do believe that those who keep wanting to make him retire should just simply give up on him and walk away. That way they would get inner peace and Roger wouldn’t have to see such horrible comments. *sigh* anyway, now that I’m off my soapbox, I am with you on how courageous he is to go through the down times with us too. I think he’s been very open in his pressers and he sounds realistic. I’ve seen comments by people saying he made them cringe when he said he would attack the AO. But he’s an athlete who needs to have a short term memory and focus on the positive. So I’m all for that. He said he knows what to work on, so now it’s a matter of getting more confidence which will come with time. 2013 cut his psyche pretty deep I think so the wounds will take a bit of time to heal. No matter though, because I know I will be here. To soak up every drop of tennis, presser and interview he does. 😀 Thanks again!

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    • I agree. We owe him big.

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    • Thank you so much for your lovely comments Natasja! You have truly outdone yourself! I admit I felt out of sorts after the match so it took time to gather my thoughts. As such I was a bit unsure on them as you know. So I was happy to see we were in agreement with our assessment. Basically it comes down to this, is he back to vintage Fed? no. Is he better off physically and mentally than last year? absolutely. Can he get better? definitely. Will it happen at the AO? Might not, he might need more time and he is perfectly fine needing it. I have a good feeling about this year but it will be a hard journey. But if he’s up for it, no reason why I shouldn’t be!

      As for him owing us vs. us owing him I could not agree with you more! I realized that all over again when I finally watched him live in London. He is so so so breathtaking to watch! He’s given us beautiful tennis + a great personality and role model to match. I dare anyone to find such an exhilarating combination. There hasn’t been anyone like him before or since. And every time he steps on court I am thankful he chooses to do so. Because ultimately it’s his choice, to play or not play, these “fans” don’t get that. I am in perpetual fear of that day when he no longer chooses to play. Which is why every single second I see him is extra precious to me.

      Thank goodness for Roger… he enriches my life in more ways than he will ever know. <3333. Thanks again for your great comments! Only a day left till RF and Friends! Hope we can watch together! 😀

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  2. No emergency exits for me either….taking this train wherever it goes….Thanks for writing this. Wise and beautiful words.

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    • Thank you so much for reading and commenting! To my joy I found quite a few people who resonated with that line. It makes me very happy to realize he still has the support of his fans. Thanks again and do drop by and visit the blog again soon!

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  3. I won’t deny that Maestro’s loss to Hewitt is oh so painful. It hurts me so much and I know solid fans and supporters felt that too. But just like you, I am here to support Roger for the long haul. He may be struggling now and have been a big disappointment to many but it will never erase the fact that he has shown us thebest tennis all these years. He has raised the bar and lifted up Tennis to what it is today. For that, I can never, ever hate and turn my back to

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    • *turn my back to the guy whom I consider my inspiration, my hero.

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      • Thank you for reading and for your wonderful comments Dhonna! It seems there are quite a few of us willing to support Roger through the good times and bad which makes me very happy, he deserves our support, our faith. The loss to Hewitt was painful and I think we still might get a few of those this year too. But I am hoping for an overall better year compared to the last. I’ll put my faith in him, at least he’s trying new things which shows how motivated he is. At least he’s already reached his first final of the year! Thanks again for reading and would love it if you visited the blog again in the future. 🙂

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  4. Bookmarked it! And I have been following you on Twitter so I will definitely be back for more! 🙂

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