Let me say right from the start that I am a big Roger Federer fan. I think that he’s the best, most dominant athlete of his generation. In any sport. As much attention as he has received over the years, I think he’s still been under-appreciated. Because of that I am predisposed to think that the current arguments that Federer is washed up and vulnerable at Wimbledon are ridiculous. Even if it weren’t for that bias, though, I would struggle to find a lot of logic in the arguments that Federer shouldn’t be considered the heavy favorite when Wimbledon kicks off on Monday. Here’s a look at the major arguments that people are making against Federer, and why I am just not buying them.
1. He lost in the quarterfinals of the French Open – Ideally Federer would have gone deeper in this tournament. For a lot of reasons, though, I’m not concerned. First of all, he lost to Robin Soderling – a clay specialist who has been in the finals at the French two years in a row. Last year he beat Rafael Nadal, and became the only player ever to do so at the French in the process, so it’s not like it was a massive upset for Federer – especially because it came on his worst surface. If Federer had lost in the first round to a qualifier I’d be concerned, but not here.
More significantly, this loss in the quarters represents the first time in 24 grand slams that he did not make it at least to the semifinals. That should be appreciated as an almost impossible accomplishment, but it had to end at some point. Do you know how many times Nadal went out before the semis over the same stretch? Nine – and he didn’t play in three other tournaments over that time. Nadal lost in the quarters of the Australian this year and the fourth round of the French last year, yet he still was somehow able to win the French this year (note the sarcasm). Serena Williams is the most direct comparison to Federer in terms of all-round dominance. Over the same stretch as Federer she has lost before the semis 12 times, and skipped three other tournaments. What the loss at the French showed is that Federer is mortal, not that he’s finished.
2. He lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the finals of the Gerry Weber Open – The Weber is one of the key grass prep tournaments, so the loss to Hewitt has gotten a lot of press. If you look at how he has prepared for Wimbledon in recent years, though, you would realize that the response has been overblown. In two of the last three years he hasn’t even played in the Weber or any other grass prep tournament after the French. This year he played and made it all the way to the finals. Increasingly, Federer is playing a schedule that allows him to peak for the big tournaments, and beyond that he doesn’t care. I can’t imagine Federer is concerned about the loss because he doesn’t care about the tournament anymore. It’s all about getting ready for Wimbledon now, and he’s the one who knows that. Besides, he lost in three sets to a former Wimbledon champ – again, it’s not like he lost to a qualifier. Ideally Federer would have won that tournament, but it’s more important that he is ready for this tournament, and he has given no indication that he isn’t.
3. He faces a tough draw at Wimbledon – This one is the most moronic of all. ESPN has led the charge here by suggesting that Federer faces a very tough draw at Wimbledon this year. As evidence of that they point out that he could have to play Djokovic, Roddick and Hewitt en route to the finals. The argument is just plain stupid. The fact is that the number one seed always faces a tough path to the finals – potentially playing half of the seeded players en route to the finals. The players listed and several others are tough, but you can be sure that there isn’t one of them who doesn’t fear the thought of playing Federer anywhere – never mind at the facility that has become his personal playground. This draw is no harder than it has been in the past, and no matter what Federer is still the best grass player on the planet – and it’s not even close.
Is Federer at the absolute peak of his career? No. There are a lot of miles on him, and his hunger can’t be as high after all of the success he has had – especially now that he has a family of his own. He’s only 28, though, so it would be a real mistake to buy flowers for his grave just yet. The current attitude of the press reminds me of what we heard in the summer of 2008. That year he lost in the semis of the Australian Open and the finals of the French and Wimbledon, and it was popular to say he was done. All he’s done since then is win four of the last seven grand slams, and lose in the finals of two others. He’s also lost just one of his last 49 matches at Wimbledon, and won six titles in the process. It’s possible that Federer will lose this tournament, but assuming that it’s all but a sure thing, as many ‘experts’ in the media are doing, is just ridiculous.
i’m also a huge fed fan – have watched almost all of his matches since 2004 – your summation of his position within the game and the mentality he plays with now is spot on. thanks for the enjoyable article and we’ll be rooting for our man starting on monday.
Thank you. Just a major thank you for a rational, well written piece.
Its about time some one wrote something
Which makes sense, fed washed up errr yeh like that makes eny sense
At all he has won more than eny player ever played , and just because he’s not winning
10.15 tourneys enymore it doesent matter, which player who has won
16 majors would want to win every masters 1000 tourneys and all the other lil tourneys!
He is the grand slam man now he aint gonna be remembered as the all time leader of minor tourneys!
Come on man he gonna be remembered by majors! Who evr said he is washed up and knows
About tennis and who has common sense wouild knwo this is normal for every player you win you lose
That’s how the game goes, fed can win wimbledon and hope he does so everybody stop dissing him all the time,
If u ask sampras , laver , borg , mcenroe, and evry other tennis legends and experts in the game who have been following
Tennis for like 50 years and even the current players including nadal, murray,djoko, roddick, derl potro etc,
They will all tell you that first he bis the best tennis player ever lived and also he is no where near washed up, he has many
Years left so every body and all you dumb ppl out there stop dissing and appreciate him once he leaves tennis
Evry one will miss him from the game ,he set the bar so high and now least ppl can do is be grateful! I wish all the best players the best
And hope fed wins, I’m happy to have got all that off my chest and excited about watching wimbledon this year, I’m an athlete myself play football
For my colledge and play tennis and am the best in ma colledge (not bragging) and when I watch federer play , I think how can ppl be dissing this guy!
Saying he is finshed he is this and that and then when he wins another major ppl will say ohh he is the best again its absolutely ridiculous!
Fed the man the maestro the g.o.a.t!
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