Quietly going under the radar at the Australian Open is the announcement that 17-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer will skip his home country’s Davis Cup match against the defending champion Czech Republic next month in Geneva.
Everyone involved is playing the news off as business as usual because Federer has missed the early rounds of Davis Cup competition in past years. This year’s first round will begin the week following the conclusion of the Australian Open.
Fed’s main priority in tennis now is being in the best condition both mentally and physically to compete at a high level for an entire season. His only option to staying healthy all year is scheduling recovery periods before and after each Grand Slam. For him to change his schedule and play in Davis Cup competition will require him to abandon his approach to competing in Grand Slams.
World-class players have to endure crazy traveling schedules playing competitive tennis in every corner of the world for 11 months straight. If the tennis hierarchy wants them to partake in Davis Cup then they will have to cut down the number of tournaments scheduled after the US Open and begin Davis Cup competition at that time. Yes, everyone (tournament organizers and players) involved would lose money in this new format, but this subtle change to the schedule could help cut down the amount of injuries sustained by players at the tail end of the year.
At 31-years old, with 12 years of experience and over 600 matches played, Federer has earned the right to pick and choose where he competes in a given year. At his age, it’s very difficult to chase a No. 1 world ranking and maintain a very challenging schedule at the same time. Fed understands how physically demanding the sport has become, but the secret to his incredible success is the ability to raise his game to another level at that precise moment in a Grand Slam final.
All of his main competitors are younger than him so Federer has to be smart and realistic about the limitations of his own body. Fed’s schedule is geared for him to peak physically at the Grand Slams. That’s why he will be a top the world rankings once again at seasons end.