rogerfedererfan

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


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Hello, it’s me.

f_200116_fed_bs_36-2

…I was wondering if after all these months you’d still like to read my posts.

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It’s been a while since I’ve written anything at all for this blog. My last post was back in October 2015 after the US Open. Since then, life got in the way. Work, personal commitments, illness and my best friend’s wedding all served to take away my attention from tennis. Not so much that I missed Roger’s matches because I didn’t. But I had no time to write at all. Actually, that’s probably not entirely true. I am sure if I had really wanted to, I would have found the time somehow. But while last year was a good year for Roger, he had 3 losses that hit me hard. And for reasons I still don’t fully understand, those losses made me lose my interest in writing.

It felt like so much extra work all of a sudden, to carve out time in the midst of everything else and write when I knew the pattern that would unfold. We would get a great tournament with Roger in fantastic form from only to get Novak in the final and lose the plot. It became predictable, almost routine. And sports aren’t fun if you already know the result. Well, it is if you are a fan of the player that’s winning everything, as we Federer fans know too well from the past. But we are no longer in that past and last year’s Wimbledon, the US Open and the World Tour Finals killed the fun for me in that order. I still enjoyed watching him play of course, I don’t think that will ever go away. But writing about the build-up as he went deeper into a tournament knowing what the final result might be felt like a chore and so, I stopped writing.

f_federer_220116_116Now that I look back, other than those 3 heartbreaks, Roger had a very good year. With the exception of the Australian Open, he performed well in the Grand Slams. He also did well at the ATP 250 and 500 tournaments. Winning 6 titles in a year is no joke, just ask Julien Benneteau. The only reason he ended the season ranked #3 is because he did surprisingly badly at the Masters level. Yes he won Cincinnati and he reached the finals in Rome and Indian Wells. But out of the other 6 Masters, he skipped 2 and had 2 R2 losses and 2 R3 losses. That’s a lot of points Roger lost out on and thus Andy took the #2 spot in the year-end rankings. Still, had he won just 1 of the 3 losses I mentioned earlier, the year would have been fantastic no matter what his ranking turned out to be. Obviously that didn’t happen and so we ended 2015 with Roger being the 3rd best player in the world.

I wasn’t sure what 2016 would bring but I had a feeling it would follow similar patterns to 2015. So far we’re only in the 2nd tournament of the year and although he didn’t win in Brisbane, he was ill that whole week so I think we still don’t know where exactly his game is at. He had two good matches at the Australian Open thus far but had a difficult time in his 3rd round match. His draw is very tough so he has already faced opponents who are better players than their current rankings suggest. The journey ahead is not going to get any better so we shall have to wait and see how it goes.

f_federer_220116_109In other words, it’s still too early to predict how this year will go. Yet regardless of the uncertainty, the New Year filled me with a renewed sense of hope that all beginnings tend to bring and made me want to write again. But since it had been so long, I wasn’t sure exactly how to start writing or what to write about. I had been mulling over this dilemma for the past few weeks until suddenly, it hit me 2 days ago: Roger’s 300th Grand Slam match win was coming up. ‘300’ has a special significance for me because I started this blog over 3 years ago with my first 5 line post about how Roger was 1 win away from ensuring 300 weeks as the World #1. It seemed only right that I start writing again as Roger reached another ‘300’ milestone. And so, as the umpire called ‘Game, Set, Match, Federer’ in his 3rd round match, I knew it was time for me to write… something, so here I am.

Hopefully I can keep writing as the year goes on. Maybe, despite the evidence thus far, 2016 will bring fun surprises and amazing and unexpected wins. And if not, then possibly I can ride on that wave of optimism and write anyway. There are however, 3 facts that we know will happen no matter what. 1. Roger will keep setting new records 2. Roger will still play the most watchable and entertaining tennis of all time and 3. Roger will remain an amazing, lovable and fun human being both on and off the court. Perhaps those 3 immutable truths alone will keep my blog alive 🙂

 

***Photos are from the Australian Open site***

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Blaze of Glory

Roger+Federer+2015+Open+Day+6+qWYxzSIRuEFxFine Roger Federer, I give up. I relent. You have forced me to come out of my self-imposed hiatus and write something, anything, just to capture this moment in time. You have made an amazing run all the way to the final of the US Open and now I have to write. You just had to go and be awesome. Ughhh.

Here I was, quietly minding my business while catching bits of tennis on the side (your matches were mostly all I watched). With each match I saw you cut through your quarter and then your half of the draw. With every win I could sense I was about to get overly excited but then just in the nick of time I would manage to reprimand myself: “No! This is good that he won and I am very grateful that he made it this far, but anything after this is a bonus so NO! Don’t get your hopes up! Just …. NO.”

But you weren’t happy with simply winning were you? No, you had to win each match Comprehensively. Completely. Totally. Why haven’t you dropped a set yet Roger? Why? Your opponents even had break points and poor Philipp actually broke you twice. But you had the audacity to win those sets anyway. You see what this does? This makes you seem infallible. And no one is infallible Roger, we know this, you and I. So why hasn’t the shoe dropped yet?

I used to know how to process the US Open. Ever since 2009, that Grand Slam has been a nightmare. The hours are crazy and I have horrible memories of watching painful losses at 3am in the morning. The US Open to me has been that really oily plate of fries you know you shouldn’t eat, but you are hanging out with all your friends so you eat them anyway, knowing they will make you sick in the morning. And like clockwork, you wake up the next day clutching your stomach in pain and cursing at yourself for being stupid and never learning. The US Open is unhealthy for me. It robs me of my sleep, makes me ill and also makes me angry for putting myself through it each year.

But that was the past 6 years. What happened to that routine Roger? All of a sudden, now you are back in the US Open final. You have thrown out all my safety nets. This is now uncharted territory. I don’t know what to do with myself. I could list out your fabulous records that you set to get here:

  • Roger Federer has reached his 7th US Open Final, his 27th Grand Slam final, his 133rd career final and his 9th final of the year.
  • Roger Federer also reached his 38th Grand Slam SF and 46th Grand Slam QF.
  • Roger Federer has won 297 Grand Slam matches out of 345 that he has played.
  • Roger Federer has won 78 matches at the US Open
  • Roger Federer has played 1,281 career matches and has won 1,047 of them.
  • This is the first time Roger Federer has not dropped a set till the final at a Grand Slam since Wimbledon 2008

But all this does is make me even more greedy. You are fantastic Roger. I keep running out of superlatives to describe you. But I have conflicting emotions about how quickly you can get my hopes up despite my best intentions. I am trying to stay level-headed but you are making it very difficult. I don’t know what will happen in a few hours from now. I am nervous, pessimistic and excited all at once with a steady undercurrent of feeling nauseous.

I think if I keep writing this post I will soon start to write things that don’t make sense. So I shall end with saying: leave your heart out there Roger. You have broken all the rules and expectations by getting here. No point in playing it safe now. You have nothing to lose and only glory to gain. Might as well fight till the last breath.

I know the lyrics don’t match up to your situation word for word Roger but the mood conveys how I am feeling now. Give ‘em hell Maestro!

‘Cause sometimes you just feel tired,
Feel weak, and when you feel weak, you feel like you wanna just give up.
But you gotta search within you, you gotta find that inner strength
And just pull that shit out of you and get that motivation to not give up
And not be a quitter, no matter how bad you wanna just fall flat on your face and collapse.

Till the roof comes off, till the lights go out
Till my legs give out, can’t shut my mouth.
Till the smoke clears out. Am I high? Perhaps
I’ma rip this shit till my bones collapse.

-“Till I Collapse” by Eminem

Roger+Federer+2015+Open+Day+12+LTMCUSTeKn-x

***Photos are Getty Images from Zimbio.com***


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New York, New York, it’s a wonderful town!

Roger Federer - Steve Darcis Men's Singles Second RoundRoger Federer has been in New York City for over a week now. In that span of time he took a helicopter ride over the city, caught the latest exhibition at the Met and sobbed as he watched the Broadway musical “Finding Neverland” with his wife and twin girls. Typical NYC tourist? Not quite, because he also had a major Nike sponsor event with fellow Nike tennis stars of the past, present and future. He participated in a tennis clinic organized by Mercedes and he took part in the Arthur Ashe Kids Day event as he had done so often in the past. Not your usual tourist in the Big Apple by any means. But all that might make you wonder, what about the actual tennis? Well he crammed that into his busy schedule too 😉

Roger faced off against Leonardo Mayer in his first round match at the 2015 US Open. He had been worried about it because in their last match in Shanghai, Roger got very lucky indeed to come away with the win. However, at the biggest tennis stadium in the world, history didn’t dare to repeat itself. It was a one-way train from the get-go despite Roger initially having trouble with his first serves. As the match progressed, he got better and better and even brought out his newest tool, the SABR, a few times. Roger won the match 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in just 77 minutes.

Roger Federer - Leonardo Mayer Men's Singles first roundThis match set several records for Roger. The Swiss has now played in a total of 66 Grand Slams and trails only Santoro who played in 70. This US Open is his 64th consecutive Grand Slam appearance which is a record for both men and women. This is also his 16th consecutive appearance at the US Open. Meanwhile, here are a few links from this match that will give a better taste of what this experience was like for poor Mayer. Here is a link with the 3 SABRs he tried in just one game, here is the delicious smash at 2nd set point and here is the unreal backhand he hit. This is a link to the on-court interview, the presser video and the presser transcript too.

Two days later it was match time again. Roger faced off against Darcis in the second round with a night match this time. This match took 3 minutes longer than his first one. In 80 minutes he finished off Darics, 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 facing (and saving) just one break point. Unlike his first match, he started much better in this one and except for that one bad game when he was down a break point, he held his serves very well. He did miss out on 12 breakpoints but converted 7 which was obviously more than enough 😀 Here are some fun links for you for this match. The amazing smash, the running forehand and the fantastic volley, the SABR of the day, the on-court interview, the ESPN interview and the presser video and transcript.

By the end of both these matches Roger extended the following records he already holds:

  • Winning a record 293 Grand Slam matches out of a record 341 Grand Slam matches played
  • Winning 74 US Open matches, still in 3rd place (in the Open Era) behind Agassi and Connors
  • Winning a record 149 hardcourt Grand Slam matches
  • Winning a record career total of 640 hardcourt matches
  • Winning 791 career total outdoor matches, still in 2nd place behind Vilas
  • Winning 1,043 career total matches out of 1,277 career total matches played, still in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.

Last but not the least he also set a new record of 29 US Open Night match wins overtaking Agassi’s 28.

Roger Federer - Steve Darcis Men's Singles Second RoundRoger has played very well so far, carrying over his form from Cincy. It took him a bit of time to get used to the conditions but he improved with every game he played. From his next match, the road will start to get more difficult. He will face Philipp Kohlschreiber with whom his H2H is 9-0. However, Philipp also plays creative, aggressive tennis and he almost defeated Roger the last time they played at Halle a few months ago so that H2H is not set in stone. Remember the Australian Open earlier this year? Yep, thought so. *sigh* The match is the second one of the day, scheduled to start not before 1pm local time so tune in then to see the Maestro in action. Good luck Roger!

***Photos are USTA photos from the US Open site.***


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Therapy

Roger+Federer+Day+Eleven+Championships+Wimbledon+hjP8vjebeXlxThere are many types of Roger Federer fans. Probably the largest contingent is the general tennis fan who likes Roger’s game and playing style. This group doesn’t follow the tennis calendar religiously but they watch the Grand Slams and maybe even the odd Masters and ATP 500 if it happens to show up while they are switching through TV channels.

Then there are the Federer fans who have been clamoring for his retirement since… well there are subgroups here with various start dates. A) Since 2008 when he lost the Australian Open SF stopping his streak of reaching consecutive Major finals at 10. This sentiment reached its peak when he lost the Wimbledon final that year too; surely the end had arrived? B) Since 2010 when he lost at the QFs of Roland Garros, ending his streak of reaching consecutive Major SFs at 23; oh the shame of it all! C) 2011 when he failed to win a Major for the first time in 9 years; no Major no Roger? D) 2013 when he crashed out of Wimbledon in R2, injured his back and his ranking fell to 8. Not in the top 5 Roger? How dare you continue to hold a racquet!

Next there are those who are big Roger fans but also simultaneously fans of other players too. Maybe sometimes they root against Roger when their other favorites play him but most of the time they support him against (almost) anyone else. For this bunch, tennis is bigger than any one player, even if that player happens to be Roger Federer. Heck, even Roger says this so they are in illustrious company. Yes Roger will retire soon and they might be sad for a while, but life goes on and so does tennis so they’ll keep moving with the times.

Roger+Federer+Day+Eleven+Championships+Wimbledon+PR1fUy2PpEtxIf you recognize yourself in any of the three categories I outlined above, then you probably won’t understand the one that I belong to. This is the irrational group. No rhyme, reason or logic is applied here. Roger winning anything elevates us to such highs as if we were holding the trophy ourselves. Roger losing crushes our soul and will to live. It’s all extremes and it’s extremely unfair to Roger that we attach so much of our well-being and sanity to his actions. After all, he’s human, a mortal man who has ups and downs like any of us, right? Haven’t we all had bad days at the office or that horrible exam that made us teary even before we read the second question? We’ve all been there and Roger is no exception, right? Wrong – and therein lies the problem. We don’t apply the same rules to Roger.

Despite being at the top of the sport for a decade and a half and winning the Fan Favorite Award 12 years in a row, I’m sure Roger himself is still mystified at the degree of fandom he continues to inspire. His story is pretty simple. He was a tennis prodigy born in Basel and had the fortune to be blessed with the perfect parents for an athlete. He was raised well and this came in handy when he struggled to get his temperament under control. For a while he was known as an underachiever and then at some point it all clicked and the rest was history. Similar stories can be found on the ATP tour so why do thousands live or die with every shot he makes or misses?

People become fans for many reasons. It’s easier to understand when the fandom is for a team; fans identify with that team because of their history/legacy/location/nationality/principles. Usually there is something higher to attach oneself to than the individual players on that team. Thus, even when favorite players move on, fans usually remain with the team (for the most part). It gets more complicated when the fandom is for solo sports. Then it becomes all about that individual athlete. Either we become fans because we can identify parts of ourselves in the player: “She’s struggled with XYZ and I can identify with it”. Or, we become fans because the athlete is everything we hope and aspire to be and that is why I am a fan of Roger Federer.

Roger+Federer+Day+Eleven+Championships+Wimbledon+BUHuxb20W6WxRoger and I are polar opposites in our personalities. In fact, my personality is a combination of Rafa, Pete and Andy (both Murray and Roddick). I can be very moody like Pete and disappear into my shell for long stretches of time. I am forever underestimating myself like Rafa. I genuinely don’t think I am a lock or a favorite for anything and I constantly worry about a zillion things going wrong. If I were a tennis player I would totally ‘talk’ to myself while playing, like Andy M. does, berating myself with occasional screams. And my sense of humor is like both Andys, though I’m probably not quite as quick as Roddick.

I am ordinary in all the wrong ways and extraordinary in ways I should not be. I am constantly striving for some balance in my life and then I see Roger who juggles several different commitments and responsibilities at once. Not only does he never drop a ball, he actually seems to enjoy and thrive amidst the chaos. Sure his tennis skills are to die for but they are just one out of his many attributes that amaze and inspire me. Here is a hastily written list of the many reasons why I am in awe of the Maestro:

  • His ability to quickly move on from a loss or setback
  • His positive outlook in life
  • How he can see the best in every situation
  • His ability to compartmentalize
  • How he can prioritize his many responsibilities
  • How articulate he can be
  • How he is his own mouthpiece – no handlers or managers or coaches speak for him
  • How friendly and warm he is despite who he is i.e. Federer the Tennis God
  • How he manages to balance his personal and professional life
  • How he loves Mirka and loves being a father
  • How seriously he takes the fact that he is a role model for so many
  • His ability to be so comfortable in his own skin
  • His zeal for his charity
  • His confidence
  • His consistency
  • His longevity
  • His passion
  • His dorkiness and enthusiasm
  • His dedication, focus and discipline to work hard
  • His hunger to keep on learning
  • His ability to see the bigger picture
  • How he is still in awe of his idols
  • His openness to change and willingness to adapt
  • Oh and his tennis too… his jaw-dropping talent
  • Last but not the least, his hair that is immune to humidity

I am sure by the time I upload this post I will already think of a few more qualities that should have been included here. But you see, because of how much I look up to him, to me he is no ordinary being. In my mind he represents a symbol of possibilities: When you have the incredible combination of talent, personality, work ethic and passion all in exact proportion, a “Roger Federer” can happen in this universe. It’s rare and unique for such perfection to happen in nature. But once every generation (or two or three) a marvelous alignment of the stars happens and a “Roger Federer” is born.

Roger+Federer+Day+Four+Championships+Wimbledon+ERh3s0HUjeFxIt’s not his fault I view him this way, but the fact is, I do. I am probably damaged and deranged, not to mention, obsessive. Maybe that’s why I elevate him to a status that he never even asked for. But when he succeeds, I feel all is right in the cosmos because in my mind, he is meant to succeed, he was born to succeed. And when he loses, especially at something he worked so hard to achieve, I can’t compute. He suffered in Wimbledon 2014 but he pushed that aside and set about targeting Wimbledon 2015 right away. His preparation was perfect, he worked hard, and he had accepted his previous loss gracefully and had risen like a phoenix. Surely he would be rewarded this time?

Yet here we were; finalist again, after an amazing run. I was heartbroken and numb not because of this loss itself but because of what it represented to me. The fact that he came away empty handed, again, made me question whether it was worth it for him to work as hard as he did. Then I took it to another level of negativity. If after all that, Roger couldn’t win, what chance do I have in my puny life whether I try or not?

Before you say something in protest/shock/disgust or you are ready to step away from this blog muttering “this woman is crazy” please know this: I KNOW Roger is not responsible for my life. I KNOW it is not healthy to have my mood depend on his results. I KNOW how I sound, I’m aware of my weakness. But you know what, life is tough. I’m sure I have it better than 8/10ths of the planet’s population so this is all relative, but to me, my life is tough. So if becoming an obsessive fan of a man, who exemplifies all the good there is in this world, is what brings me joy, I’ll take it.

Whether you (or he) likes it or not, Roger Federer gives me hope. He gives me a glimpse of magic and incredulity in the midst of the daily grind and that’s not just through his tennis. Roger made me smile in the middle of a bad work day with his Malawi visit video. His emoji laden tweets make me chuckle for a minute while running between errands. He can make my bad days good and my good days great.

Roger+Federer+Day+Nine+Championships+Wimbledon+XyfjhwMdNkbxWhich is why, when he falls, I get hurt on a personal level. Because when he falls it makes him human and being human hurts. The rest of us mortals know that all too well. I don’t want Roger to ever feel hurt. He has given us so many happy moments and occasions, he doesn’t deserve the hurt. I’ll borrow a quote from Mr. Roddick here: ‘the Roger in my mind never gets beaten’. So when he suffers a loss, it is a painful aberration that is hard for me to accept on many levels.

I know the reality is we will get more of these losses as time goes on. While they are not as unexpected as before, they still hurt and inflict fresh wounds each time. It takes a while for the scabs to form and the rate of recovery is directly linked with how much Roger and I wanted that win. So for instance, Roland Garros was a 5 out of 10 on my scale of Want-That-Trophy. But Wimbledon was, is and always will be an 11. This is why my funk, and my lack of any interest in getting back to tennis, is lasting as long as it is right now.

I am guessing that when he rejoins the tour I will be more or less ready to rejoin it as well. I am secretly relieved he’s skipping Montreal because I am not prepared to allow tennis back into my life yet. Wimbledon was always going to produce an extreme reaction from me depending on the result; I knew that going into the tournament. Now that it’s over, the rest of the year won’t be as up and down. Sadly, that’s comforting to know and it helps me to look forward towards the end of the year.

I know reaching the Wimbledon final was a fantastic result. I know this objectively. But I also know how much he wanted the win, how much he is used to cradling that glittering golden trophy in his arms. I know how at the end of the day neither Roger nor I are used to him collecting runner-up silverware. But maybe it’s because he’s not used to it that he continues to fight. Maybe he knows the excellence he is capable of and that knowledge is what keeps him going. As for me, after reading the above you have probably realized by now that I have no choice. As long as he keeps going, I keep going; no ifs, ands or buts.

Roger+Federer+Day+Two+Championships+Wimbledon+1-A01ROix-xxThe losses hurt badly, especially when they hurt him badly too. But just like his trophies, tweets and videos make me smile, a beautifully constructed point that only he could produce – that makes me smile too. He still makes me say out loud at least once per match, in jaw-dropping wonderment, ‘You’re a genius Roger!’ His matches still provide a glorious escape into a world of beauty, talent, thrills and squeals. He has had 7 losses this year and the Wimbledon final was of course the worst. But he has also won 40 matches so far. That’s 40 different times he has made me smile and made my day(s) and that’s not counting the non-tennis moments when he made me giggle. I’d be a fool to give that up even if I could.

I don’t know why I wrote this post. I think I needed to get my feelings out and use my writing as a therapeutic tool. I wanted to understand for myself why I react the way I do about his matches. I know this isn’t the way most people feel, though I’m hoping at least a few people will identify with this or else I really am all alone in my insanity. For better or for worse, I’ve exposed all my vulnerabilities. I don’t know if baring my soul will help me in the long run but for now, here I am, still standing. I’m still crying over the hurt from Wimbledon but I know that I’ll be back when he’s back. There’s nothing left to say after that.

 

***Photos are Getty Images from the Zimbio.com.***


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Discombobulated

b_240615_federer_20I love the word ‘discombobulated’. I have loved it ever since I first learned the word in school, which was, ahem, a long time ago. The first meaning of the word in dictionary.com is as follows:

Discombobulate: verb (used with object), discombobulated, discombobulating. 1. to confuse or disconcert; upset; frustrate: e.g. ‘The speaker was completely discombobulated by the hecklers’.

Now some of you who follow this blog or follow me on twitter, might have noticed that the Gerry Weber Open came and went without a single post from me. Roger Federer’s first tournament on grass this year, yet not a peep from moi. It’s not that I haven’t had the time to write; rather I haven’t known exactly what to write. Not because I have lost my passion for it but because, this grass season, or rather, the anticipation for this grass season has made me a bit discombobulated. I don’t know how I feel about it.

b_260615_club_10A part of me is super excited because Federer on grass is as close to perfection as tennis can ever get. But another part of me is so petrified of it because Roger, I, you, we, they have all been gearing up for this Halle-Wimbledon stretch. He didn’t go deep at the Australian Open: ‘no problem, at least it wasn’t in Wimbledon.’ He crashed out in the first round in Madrid: ‘well that was clay; wait till the grass season comes around.’ Well, now it’s here and it’s making me want to fast forward through it all because I don’t want to handle the stress. But then he hits those beautiful shots and shows off his nonchalant brilliance and I squeal with delight, temporarily forgetting all the worry and anxiety. See the conflict?

And that’s not all. There’s a third part of me too, the part that feels frozen. I feel like if I even talk or write about Roger’s upcoming grass season, I might jinx it somehow. The biggest lesson I learned from 2013 was to take it one match at a time. Somehow for this season, that lesson has gotten ridiculously and insanely intense in my mind. I feel like I shouldn’t even take the time to process each match and prepare for the next one. I am living in a heightened state of trying to be in the present so much that until the ball is struck in the upcoming match, I choose not to even think about it.

I am struggling, trying to manage my expectations while keeping my excitement in check and yet allowing myself to enjoy the season as well. With so much confusion and ambiguity swirling in my head, I have come to the conclusion that I don’t think I can write a coherent post. My mind is definitely not clear enough for scheduled match reports so I didn’t do that for Halle and I have decided that I won’t be doing them for Wimbledon either. Instead, I am going back to the basics – just Roger and I, the way it began my fan journey. Only the sound of tennis balls leaving his racquet followed by the audience oohing and aahing in reverence will serve as commentary.

Speaking of commentary, I’m not sure if I already discussed this in my previous posts, so I’ll quickly mention it here: b_260615_prep_11I don’t watch any of Roger’s matches with English commentary. I stopped doing that after the Rome 2013 final. That year was already tough but the commentators were not only merciless in that match, they were downright disrespectful. I decided after that day never to listen to commentary again for my own peace and sanity. So I either watch his matches in languages I don’t understand (i.e. any language other than English) or if I can’t find any non-English stream, then I watch in mute or very low volume such that I can only hear the cheers of the crowd. It has been over two years and I have never thought of going back. But enough of that tangent, back to the topic at hand…

I think I was able to enjoy Halle more without the additional self-imposed, pressure of writing posts. Given the anxiety/excitement I was feeling during the tournament, it was a relief that I didn’t have to make sense of my incoherent thoughts. I enjoyed each match as it happened and that was that. This tells me I should continue in this manner for Wimbledon. I will be on twitter with my streams up on my TV/laptop screens. I will clutch my pillow and rock back and forth with nervous excitement and Roger will glide across the grass like an ethereal spirit in white. Hopefully this will continue for 2 weeks at the end of which, Roger will hold up that golden pineapple while I will cry tears of joy.

I won’t be totally gone of course. I still might write random posts if the inspiration strikes me mid-tournament. I will also continue to update the RF stats pages of this blog. And as I mentioned above, I will be active on twitter as always, frazzling out 😀 I do hope to be back with regular posts soon. It would be great if you still remember this blog after this hiatus.

In the meantime, in honor of one of my favorite words, I leave you with a soundtrack also titled ‘Discombobulated’ that somehow goes perfectly with my conflicting and confusing moods for this grass season. Enjoy! Wishing the Maestro all the best! One match at a time Champ, you got this! I, we, us will all be there with every hair flick, death stare and roar – Chum Jetzt Roger!b_240615_federer_05

 

 

***These happy pre-tournament photos are from the Wimbledon site. May we have such happy photos again in about 2 weeks***


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Out of the frying pan, into the fire

Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Nine+gqGlyBJWfuUxRoger Federer played a 2 day match that consisted of 4 sets. As a result, my schedule was thrown into the wind and so this post will be haphazard and might not make much sense. The Maestro faced off against Gael Monfils in R4 at Roland Garros. That whole day was impacted by rain and which meant hat ultimately the match started over 4 hours late.

It needn’t have gone to a second day though. Roger started the first set very well and extremely quickly. He clearly knew the importance of finishing the match in one day. Set 1 was done without problems. But Gael stepped it up in set 2 and Roger played badly at crucial stages. He got broken in one bad service game, and then broke back as Gael was about to serve for the set. But then inexplicably he missed an easy volley that led to Roger not being able to consolidate his break and Gael won the set anyway.

Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Eight+-b_NDck7dSXxRoger was really the better player that night except for those few moments. So what should have been a 2 sets to love lead and possibly finishing the match that night in straight sets, turned out to be a 1-set all situation. Clearly now the match would need at least 4 sets to end and with the rain imminent, and darkness falling, the referee called it a night. And yes, Roland Garros has no lights or roofs, yet more reasons why it should be ashamed to call itself a Grand Slam in this day and age.

The next day Roger took to the court looking focused and sharp. He played a great first, no wait, third set. Gael tried to hang with him but Roger was always just a little bit better in everything; serving, shot selection and hitting winners. Roger was now 2 sets to 1 up. He needed one more. When he broke Gael to open the 4th set, Gael was mentally done. Roger went through the set like a hot knife through butter and all Gael could do was win one game in that set. And with that win Roger reached his 11th French Open QF, which is a record of course. More on that below.

For his QF today, he will have to face Stan Wawrinka. Unlike Roger, Stan was done with his R4 match in one day. He had all of yesterday to relax, practice and recover. He will come in fresh and ready for battle. Clay is a surface Stan excels on and Roger’s two defeats to Stan have come on clay. Roger is the only quarter-finalist who has not had a day off in between the QF and R4 matches. He also happens to be the oldest quarter-finalist as well, in case anyone is interested in that bit of trivia.

Now while I dislike the match-up with Gael, the match-up with Stan is no better. I have discussed my feelings about this in previous match posts so I won’t elaborate here. Roger said that even if he does not win, he would still be very happy since it will mean Stan will be in the SF. This is where Roger and I differ. I would be happy if Roger reached the SF. And Stan reaching the SF instead will not be the balm that will soothe my soul. No substitutions please.

I am definitely not looking forward to this angst filled match. But in the meantime, I am fine with celebrating the milestones Roger has reached with this win.

  • Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+Nine+nIHyIoBensaxRoger has now reached a total of 44 Grand Slam QFs. The closest to him is Connors with 41. The closest active player is Djokovic with 32.
  • Roger has now reached his 11th French Open QF. The closest to him is Rafa with 10.
  • Roger has now won his 65th match at Roland Garros, second only to Rafa.
  • Roger has now won 285 Grand Slam matches. The closest to him is Connors with 231. The closest active player is Rafa with 195.
  • Roger has now played 1,257 career matches and this was his 1,025th career match win.

The QF will be at 3:30pm local time on Lenglen. The forecast says cloudy, no rain but it might be very windy which will of course make a mess of things. Hang in there Roger, you can do this! C’mon Maestro!

 

***Photos are Getty Images from the Zimbio.com.***


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Federer reaches R4 at Roland Garros

2-f_Federer_0529_j02Roger Federer reached R4 of the French Open with relative ease, getting it done in 3 sets. Roger faced a new opponent, self-confessed Federer Fan, Damir Dzumhur. It took the Maestro a few games in the first set to figure out Damir’s style of play. But once he picked up on it, young Damir began to feel the impact of facing the FedExpress. Serving at 2 all, Damir was broken by Roger. From then on, despite hanging on in his own games, he never got a look into the Swiss’ serves meaning Roger faced no breakpoints in this set. Roger dutifully served it out to take the set 6-4.

The second set started with Roger breaking Damir right away but then quickly went down 15-40 on his own serve, trying to consolidate the break. It should be mentioned here that the conditions were very windy indeed which certainly disturbed the Maestro. Roger eventually held to go up 2-0* but Damir continued to frustrate him with exquisite dropshots which irritated the Swiss to no end, even making him howl in frustration at one point. Damir got on the board and then put the pressure back on Roger who had to save yet another breakpoint before ultimately holding to go up 3-1*. Roger continued to pressure Damir and lo and behold, got another break to go up 4*-1. An easy hold took the score to 5-1* for the Swiss with Damir having to serve to stay in the set.

f_Federer_0529_j05Damir held and you would think Roger would be able to serve it out but suddenly the score became 30-40 with a breakpoint for Damir. That changed to deuce and then a set point for Roger which he missed and somehow Damir got yet another breakpoint chance. Finally the Bosnian took it and unexpectedly, instead of starting set 3, Damir was now serving to continue set 2 longer. But Roger had gotten annoyed enough at this turn of events and he quickly got 2 breakpoints on Damir’s serve which were also set points. An insane flicked backhand cross-court shot ensured we were done with this set for good, at 6-3.

Set 3 started with holds from both players. Serving to go up to 2 all, just like in the first set, Damir was broken again, this time with a wonderful forehand winner from our champ. But even though he was broken, Damir kept up his level of creative tennis. Both he and his idol gifted us some fun rallies to enjoy, featuring a large variety of shot-making. Roger consolidated the break to go up 4-1*, Damir then held to keep the break to just one. Roger held again to take the score to 5-2*, despite getting constantly pushed by Dzumhur. Damir had to serve to stay in the match but finally his nerves buckled and Roger had match point. Roger won the game, set and match, 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. Here are the stats.mmDamir had plenty to be proud of for his first outing on Chatrier and that too against his idol. It must have seemed a bit surreal, at least in the beginning. But then he got into the match quickly enough and we got to see his pretty dropshots and fantastic foot speed. Roger enjoyed the match and thought it was entertaining and even clapped at one of Damir’s amazing shots. He gave him a warm hug at the net and I wouldn’t be surprised if we hear the Swiss bringing him over to Dubai in an off-season in the future to practice with. Here is a clip of Roger’s presser, an interview he did after the match (thanks to Pika for uploading it!) and a tiny highlights clip.

Up next is where things start to get a whole lot tougher. In R4 our champ will face Gael Monfils. The past 4 matches they played (3 in 2014 and 1 in 2015) have split results with Roger winning both hardcourt matches and Gael winning both clay ones. Monfils has played two 5 setters back to back this French Open but he thrives on 5 setters. Given the athlete he is, I am sure he has recovered from them adequately enough. Plus if there was ever a player who loved the spotlight, it’s Gael. And what better spotlight could there be than facing off against Roger Federer at Roland Garros on Chatrier with the 14,000+ raucous French crowd cheering against the Maestro?

f_Federer_0529_j01Well there was such an occasion last year, in the Davis Cup final. That match was also a best of 5 sets and on clay and one which Monfils won in straight sets. But as we know, Roger was injured then, though Gael played brilliantly regardless. However, the match at Monte Carlo this year when they faced off is a bit more concerning. Gael won in straight sets yet again and Roger looked completely lost. But the French Open is a different beast altogether. Plus since Monte Carlo, Roger has found more form on clay, reaching the final in Rome. And Roger has faced him before at Roland Garros as well, thrice. And the Swiss won on all three occasions.

In other words, I have no idea how this is going to go. Not only is Gael unpredictable, but this year Roger has been inconsistent as well. So the possibilities for how this match could turn out seem endless. All we can do is be prepared for a rude crowd, Monfils’ trick-shots and fake-outs and also Gael having to tie his shoelaces every time he feels the match is going too fast. Most of the time this will happen when Roger is about to serve and no matter how many times I’ve see him do it, it irritates me every single time. At least Roger knows what he’s getting into. Roger himself has been particularly shout-y and expressive this French Open but so far he has managed to channel his frustrations the right away. Hopefully today will be no different. The match is the 3rd of the day on Chatrier. C’mon Maestro! Let him have it!

 

***Photos and stats are from the Roland Garros site.***


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Federer kicks off his 62nd Consecutive Grand Slam

2-Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+One+MDVx-6bjmuSxWe are in the second Grand Slam of the year! This is when the tennis tour gets very busy with a long clay season leading straight into the short grass one. Roger Federer had a strange clay run with some unexpected lows and highs. He won only one match at Monte Carlo; he won none at Madrid. On the other hand, he reached the final in Rome and won the title in Istanbul.

If we go by his most recent form then Rome was good for him. He played a great first match against Pablo Cuevas and a strange match against Kevin Anderson when he had a mental relapse for 3 games. Then came the match vs. Tomas Berdych where he was very annoyed but managed to remain focused and play a good match. After that was the SFs against Stan Wawrinka where he got broken right at the beginning but then quickly turned the match around to score a comprehensive victory over his compatriot. His run ended with a disconcertingly one-sided loss to Novak where he couldn’t maintain his form from the previous matches and Novak was basically on fire.

Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+One+YjaGRjIZKm1xSo even in Rome, despite making it to the final, he had some strange moments on court. Nonetheless, he got some valuable hours on clay leading into Roland Garros, the only Grand Slam Roger has won just once. Perhaps that’s why I have an almost apathetic relationship with this Slam. It’s the one that I have cared the least for. In fact, usually the best thing for me about Roland Garros is Roger’s Nike kits. He’s had some truly gorgeous outfits for the French Open for the past 8 years. This year’s kit is unique, with the purple shirt and hot lava shorts with a shiny purple stripe of course 😉 But I digress. Back to tennis 😛

Roger faced Alejandro Falla for his first match in Paris. It was a good match to begin with and had just enough push by Falla to make Roger have to work for it but not so much that Falla might get other ideas. One break in sets 1 and 3 and two breaks in set 2 sealed the deal. Roger faced breakpoints himself but saved both. Meanwhile he had 16 breakpoint chances but converted only 4 of them so there were plenty of moments for us to facepalm but none that pushed us into panic mode. The match was made up of mostly good points, some even great like these. But there were also some shanks here and there. He got better as the match went on so that was good to see. Here is a link to a tiny highlights clip but one that has that amazing hook smash you need to see.

At the end of the match, there was a scary incident when an idiot “fan” ran out onto the court for a selfie with Roger and after what seemed like ages, security finally walked him away. Given that these types of occurrences have happened at Roland Garros before, 2009 and 2013 finals no less, you might wonder why they continue to be so lax about security. But rest assured the security officials are not wondering the same. They said it was a mental lapse and there is no need to change policies. I guess all we can do is hope no such episodes happen again. Meanwhile, I have wasted enough space about this stupid incident so I won’t add a clip of it here; it’s everywhere anyway. Instead I shall gift you with a link to his on-court interview, a link to his presser transcript, and last but not the least, an interview of a different sort 😉

Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+One+HW8UmeYDKcXxUp next for Roger is Marcel Granollers, Roger has a 3-0 H2H with Marcel but all three matches have been on hardcourts. The Spaniard loves the clay (of course) and he’s been on the tour a while and will not be in awe of Roger. Today’s match will be at the same time as his previous one but this time Roger will be on Lenglen instead of Chatrier. I hope he gets used to the different court quickly.

A quick note before I end here. I don’t usually comment on draws. I used to, once upon a time, but 2013 taught me many lessons and one of them was draws can mean nothing. Easy draws can become difficult if a player gets on a hot streak. Tough draws can open up unexpectedly too. But this year’s French Open draw has been talked about a lot since Rafa, Novak and Andy are all in one half and Roger in the other. What can be easily forgotten by most (though never by the players) is that for Andy, Novak or Rafa to reach the QFs, they have to go through 4 other players first. Similarly, Roger has to go through 4 as well and while his quarter doesn’t include the other members of the Big 3, it has Wawrinka, Monfils, Gulbis, Simon, Stakhovsky, all players with wins over Roger in the past, some more than others.

Once you move beyond his quarter, Roger has his options from Berdych, Tsonga and Nishikori, players who have multiple wins over him and always give him trouble. So the Maestro has plenty of obstacles in his own half of the draw. I am not saying this to scare anyone. The only reason I mentioned it is because I’ve seen too many articles and tweets commenting on Roger’s easy draw and I just wanted to remind myself (and anyone who reads this) that it’s best if we take it one match at a time and let Roger’s racquet do the talking.

Roger+Federer+2015+French+Open+Day+One+pbmZrwglkRKxNow, it wouldn’t be right to end this post without a short list of yet more milestones our Champ reached with his first round win in Paris, so here they are:

  • By playing his first match at the 2015 French Open, Roger has now participated in a total of 64 Grand Slams trailing only Fabrice Santoro who participated in 70 of them.
  • By playing this match, Roger has now participated in 62 consecutive Grand Slams, from the 2000 Australian Open till 2015 French Open. This is a record for men’s tennis. He is now tied with Ai Sugiyama so if he participates in Wimbledon, he will overtake her record to set a new all-time record in both men’s and women’s tennis.
  • This R1 match was his 1,254th career match and 1,022nd career match win. He trails Lendl and Connors.
  • This R1 match was his 328th career Grand Slam match and 282nd career Grand Slam match win. Both are all-time records.
  • This R1 match was his 62nd French Open match win. He trails only Nadal.

Good luck for your next match Roger! Hope we get to see that outfit a few more times 😉

***Photos are Getty Images from the Zimbio.com.***


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My rant… in stats

As we know by now, Roger Federer lost in the third round of the Australian Open. I don’t like to write about losses so I figured I would come back to the blog when I finally had something else to talk about. But then came the deluge of stats all over the media: of streaks getting broken, measurements of his failure and indicators of his fall from grace. So I decided I had enough of this nonsense and compiled my own list of stats and records that ‘measure’ Roger Federer, as of his latest matches in Australia in 2015. Here we go!

  • 2f_federer_08222012_005-2Roger holds the record for most Grand Slam titles (17), most Grand Slams finals (25), SFs (36) and QFs (43) and NONE of these records will get crossed in 2015. The closest active players are Nadal for total Grand Slam titles (14) and finals (20), while Djokovic is the first active player behind him for most SFs (25) and QFs (31).
  • Roger holds the record for many consecutive Grand Slam streaks as well. He won 3 Grand Slam titles in a row and shares that with Sampras, Nadal and Djokovic. But guess what? He is the only player who did this twice, in 2006 and 2007 😀
  • Roger holds the record for most consecutive Grand Slam finals by reaching 10 finals in a row from Wimbledon 2005 to US Open 2007. But guess what? He holds the 2nd place too with 8 consecutive finals reached from Roland Garros 2008 to Australian Open 2010 🙂
  • Roger holds the record for most consecutive Grand Slam SFs with 23. It started in Wimbledon 2004 and continued till the Australian Open 2010. The closest player behind him is Djokovic with 14.
  • Roger holds the record for most consecutive Grand Slam QFs with 36. This started in Wimbledon 2004 and stretched on till Roland Garros 2013. Djokovic is in 2nd place with 23 and this is an active streak. But in order to cross Roger’s record, Djokovic needs to reach the QFs of every Grand Slam from now till Wimbledon 2018.tumblr_mbra6vJakk1qhlf7eo5_r1_500
  • Roger shares the record for the most consecutive Grand Slam matches won with Djokovic. They both won 27 matches in a row but guess what? Roger did it twice, meaning he has two streaks of winning 27 Grand Slam matches in a row 😉
  • By participating in the 2015 Australian Open Roger has now played in 61 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments extending his own all-time record. Ferreira trails him in 2nd place with 56.
  • Roger has played in a total of 63 Grand Slam tournaments. He is tied at 2nd place with Hewitt and they both trail Santoro in 1st place with 70.
  • Roger has won 281 Grand Slam matches which extended his own all-time record even more. Connors is a distant 2nd with 233 Grand Slam match wins.
  • Roger has won a record 75 matches at the Australian Open. Nobody else has even won 60 matches at this tournament and in fact, Edberg is in 2nd place, with 56 match wins.
  • Roger has won a record 147 hardcourt Grand Slam matches. Agassi is in 2nd place with 127.
  • Roger won his 1,000th career match in the Brisbane final and has a total of 1,002 wins now. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors. BKEphlhCYAEjUbb
  • Roger has now played 1,230 matches in his career. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors. Ferrer is the next active player to have played the most matches, 905. Thus, Roger has more match WINS (1,002) than the total number of matches PLAYED by any active player.
  • Roger won his 83rd career title in Brisbane. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger played his 125th career final in Brisbane. He is in 3rd place behind Lendl and Connors.
  • Roger won his 23rd ATP 250 title in Brisbane. He is in 2nd place behind Muster with 26.
  • Roger played his 31st ATP 250 final in Brisbane. He is in 3rd place behind Muster and Roddick who reached 32 finals each.
  • Roger set a new record in Brisbane for winning at least one title for 15 consecutive years from 2001 to 2015. The previous record was by Lendl for 14 consecutive years.1104111155551300957972593
  • Roger now has 62 outdoor titles. He is tied at 1st place with Nadal.
  • Roger has 57 hardcourt titles extending his own all-time record. No other player has ever won even 50 hardcourt titles; Connors is in 2nd place with 49.
  • Roger has won a career total of 750 outdoor matches. He is in 3rd place behind Connors and Vilas.
  • Roger has won a career total of 623 hardcourt matches extending his own all-time record. No one else has ever won 600 hardcourt matches. Agassi is in 2nd place with 598 hardcourt match wins.
  • Roger continues to hold the record for most matches won against top 10 opponents with 183 wins. Nadal and Djokovic are behind him in 2nd and 3rd place.
  • We all know Roger holds the record for most weeks ranked as #1, both total and consecutive. However, Roger also holds the records for most weeks ranked in the top 2. Roger has spent a total of 433 weeks ranked in the top 2 as of January 19th, 2015. Lendl is in 2nd place with 409 weeks. Furthermore, Roger spent a record 346 consecutive weeks ranked in the top 2 ahead of Connors in 2nd place with 300 consecutive weeks.

222There it is. A quick snapshot at the records the Maestro holds and will continue to improve on once he comes back on tour in a month’s time in Dubai. The crazy thing is, this list is only the tip of the ice-berg. So the next time people try to bring you down by quoting a stat of his recent ‘failures’, just throw back a few of the above in their faces and tell them, with all that winning, and setting records and being insanely great over a ridiculously long period of time, even super heroes can have an off day. Therefore, they can shove their faces into the nearest pillows available because their favorites could never dream of the heights we have reached and they will never know how glorious the view is from that far up into the stratosphere. Game, set and match, Federer and his fans.

 

 

***I used older photos from my collection to depict the many faces of Roger rather than the sad images that were being used in the media recently. Unfortunately I don’t know the sources of these photos, they have been collected by me over many years. If you know of the sources, do let me know and I will include them here.***


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Federer’s Australian Open R2 match – Parts 1 and 2

2-Roger+Federer+Australian+Open+Day+3+W2HoTqQEYKSxIt was a 2-part match. Part 1 was Set 1, with Roger Federer not finding much rhythm, having trouble adjusting to the conditions and generally feeling ‘off’. In the midst of this ‘off-ness’ he kept flexing the fingers of his right hand, inspecting it every few minutes with great scrutiny as if he had grown a 2nd pinkie. Across the net was Simone Bolelli, a player who had never taken a set off our champ but was determined to stop that trend. This combo did not bode well for the Swiss and he got broken which allowed the Italian to take the first set, 6-3.

At the changeover, Roger called the trainer out on-court. Nervous fans looked on hoping to figure out what had happened to his hand but as the camera came close, he stopped the cameraman short as he wanted privacy to discuss his issue with the trainer. When set 2 started, we were no closer to knowing what this mystery ailment was but at least Roger looked to be rearing to go and that was the beginning of Part 2 of this two-part match. For a while the set was tense, with both players holding strong till 3 all. Roger served very well to go up 4-3* but as Bolelli was about to serve for 4 all, the Maestro had his chance. He kept pushing and kept Bolelli scampering and eventually got the crucial break. Roger served out the set, 6-3 and it was one set all.

Roger+Federer+Australian+Open+Day+3+A3OAyVn6H7axThe beginning of the third set was crucial for both players, either Roger was going to keep the momentum on his side or Simone would put a stop to that to start fresh. But Roger had begun to get in the groove by then and amped up his aggressive game from the first point. His relentlessness earned him a break point and a Bolelli forehand into the net, gave Roger the break. The Swiss quickly produced one of his one-minute holds to consolidate the break and put the pressure firmly back on Simone. Bolelli held but by then there was no stopping our Roger. He held again and then continued to impose his game on Bolelli’s own serve to go up a double break. A couple of aces consolidated the double break for Roger to go up 5-1* and even though Simone held the next game, Roger served out the set 6-2. 2 sets were now in the bag, we needed one more.

If Simone was going to mount a comeback, this was his last shot but Roger destroyed any hopes the Italian might have had by breaking him immediately and following that up with a blink-and-you-miss service hold to consolidate and go up 2-0*. Bolelli got on the board with the next game but then Roger took the next three games to get a double break and go up 5-1* leaving it to Simone to save himself with a service hold. The next game was full of unnecessary drama caused by multiple bad line-calls but ultimately Simone held, forcing Roger to serve for the match. Roger’s serves didn’t let him down and he took the final set 6-2 to win the match. Here are the match stats.msThat first set was not a good performance from our champ. He leaked errors, never found rhythm and had a hard time getting a read on Simone’s serves. I’m sure the strange finger issue, which might have been a bee sting (?) wasn’t the cause of losing that set but it definitely distracted him during it. Once he got the break in set 2, his tennis came back to life. He played more freely and as he began to pick up the pace. He grew more confident while Bolelli couldn’t sustain the high level he started with. What was good about the match was that Roger got better and better with each set in all departments; net play, returns and service games too. He was so superbly aggressive, it was a lot of fun to watch. Here is a link of the amazing dropshot he hit, a tiny highlights with match-point clip, a link to a clip of his presser and also the presser transcript. And a little preview video as well which you should watch 🙂

Roger+Federer+2015+Australian+Open+Day+4+q91d9ohHIlhxUp next for Round 3 is another Italian player, Andreas Seppi, who had a very good win against Jeremy Chardy and is coming into the match with confidence. Roger has a positive 10-0 H2H against Andreas and in those 10 matches he has dropped only one set so theoretically Roger should be able to win this. They haven’t played each other since 2013 Shanghai so it will probably take a bit of time for Roger to re-figure him out. It should be noted however, that the finger-pain mystery wasn’t really solved, at least not that we know of. Roger had a good practice session today with Severin Luthi and Stefan Edberg and his finger didn’t have any taping on it so I am going to hope that the strange pain was really a one-time issue. EDIT: I just noticed a tiny tape on the finger on another practice photo but I am still optimistic about it being a small insignificant problem. Roger’s match is the last one of the Day session at the Rod Laver Arena. Only hours to go! C’mon Roger!

 

***Photos are Getty Images from Zimbio.com and stats are from the Australian Open site***