French Open Tennis 2011: 10 Reasons Why Roger Federer Won't Bounce Back
Federer is the No. 3 ranked player in the world, which would be considered incredible for many. However, Federer is considered by some to be the greatest player of all time—or GOAT for short.
With that distinction, it's hard for people to watch Federer unable to beat the best players of his generation with any kind of regularity.
Regardless of whether or not Federer returns to the top of the rankings or wins any more Grand Slams, he's still the most complete player of all time.
He absolutely dominated the game from 2004-07, losing fewer than 10 matches each year during the four-year stretch. He was only defeated 24 teams in that span.
Now, Federer is looking to bounce back. He's not happy with his 28-7 start, and he has a return to the top in his sights.
Can Federer make it back to the top of the rankings?
Here's 10 reasons he won't start paving a path at the French Open.
1. Novak Djokovic
That's the number of consecutive matches Novak Djokovic has won. The last person to beat him was none other than Federer, but that was in November of last year. Djokovic has beat Federer on three occasions during the streak, winning seven of eight sets.
Djokovic has a stranglehold on the men's game, also beating Nadal four times during the stretch—all in finals, two of which were on clay.
The last couple times Djokovic has played Federer, the announcers have been persistent in saying that Federer has to play out of his element to beat Djokovic.
They say he must take chances earlier in points because his normal game doesn't pose a threat to Novak. Although I find that to be an extreme exaggeration, the signs are clear: Roger is falling.
Djokovic is 24, while Federer is 29. This is a problem for the GOAT.
2. Rafael Nadal
Even if Federer conquers Mt. Djokovic, there's still another player in the way of his return to the top.
Nadal has bested Federer both times the two matched up this season. He even straight-setted Federer on a hard court, something people thought would never happen a couple years back.
Nadal's game has always been a matchup problem for Federer, leading Nadal to a 16-8 record against Federer. When people argue against Federer as the GOAT, their No. 1 argument is his performance against Nadal. If you're not the best of your generation, how can you be the best of all time?
Either way, Federer needs to get a win over Nadal soon, before his body starts to give out on him. The French Open is a bad venue, as Nadal is 11-2 against Roger on clay.
Federer may have to wait until Wimbledon for a better shot at the Spaniard.
3. Overall Talent of the Field
The ATP is exploding with talented tennis players.
John McEnroe commented on the overall ability of the men's tour.
"The competition is much stiffer that it was in my day. The players are fitter and more of them are capable of winning tournaments than you had back in my day."
With so many players in the mix at each tournament, Federer is given yet another obstacle. There are rarely gimme matches anymore. From the first round to the final, Federer has to be at or near his best to get the win.
This was most prevalent when Federer was almost taken out at Wimbledon in 2010—in the first round. Federer had to battle from two sets down to beat No. 60 Alejandro Falla in the opening round of his favorite tournament. He lost in the quarterfinals that year, one of his earliest exits of all time.
No match is easy on the men's tour.
4. Tough Surface
Federer is no slouch on clay.
Actually, it's the surface he grew up on. Some, including myself, think it's his second best surface (behind grass, of course). If it weren't for Nadal, Federer might have just as many French Open titles as Wimbledon trophies.
However, clay is a demanding surface. Points are longer, wills are tested and the younger athletes tend to have the advantage. One of the most unheralded parts of Federer's game is his skilled movement. No step is wasted, and each preparation is beautiful.
Can Federer meet the demands of clay this year?
Maybe, but long matches will favor people like Djokovic and Nadal. In terms of shortening points, clay is the worst surface.
If you've seen Federer play recently, you've probably been witness to his decaying backhand.
Although it's always been his weaker shot, Federer has never been inept on the backhand wing. His topspin backhand progressed as he did, becoming a feared shot at his peak. Now, Federer struggles to make clean contact on his weaker stroke.
Shanking backhands out of play isn't a rarity anymore, scaring the Federer camp. With Federer, it's a matter of confidence on his backhand. If he's feeling great, watch out. If he's visibly shaken, so is the frame of his racket.
Every player on tour will attack this stroke because the alternative is arguably the best stroke the game has ever seen: the Federer forehand.
6. Intimidation Factor
In his prime, Federer could win matches just by showing up.
Just like Tiger Woods, his presence cast fear into the other players, causing uncharacteristic errors by the opponent. Now, everybody wants a piece of Federer. In fact, Roger just lost to Richard Gasquet in Rome. He had previously won eight straight matches against the Frenchman, having lost to him once in 2005.
The name Roger Federer no longer carries the same swagger it used to on a draw sheet. Players go into the match with a shred of hope—and with the depth of the tour—that's all they need.
When a once dominant force shows a sign of weakness, opponents will line up to take a shot at a falling Goliath.
7. Confidence Shaken
Nothing is more important to a tennis player than his confidence.
Without confidence, a player isn't capable of playing anywhere near their best. Losing more matches than usual combined with the media attention surrounding each loss has caused Federer's confidence to take a hit.
There's times he doesn't look like the player that won 16 Grand Slams, missing easy forehands and volleys. Federer has even shown signs of anger and frustration in the past couple months, something that he removed from his game during his rise to the peak.
A shaken Federer is a beatable Federer.
Roger won the French Open in 2009, giving him the career "Grand Slam." Coupled with 15 other major tournament titles, Federer has accomplished it all in the world of tennis.
So, what is his motivation now?
One of my friends brought this to my mind the other day. Do you think Federer is putting in the extra effort that he did when he was 24?
I honestly think he still works his tail off, but I could definitely see him skipping a trip to the gym for some rest. Why stress your body anymore?
This is not a question of Federer's will, just something to think about when looking at Federer's current situation.
9. Personal Life
Is Roger Federer slowly parting from the game?
If you didn't know, Roger Federer is the father of twins. His wife, Mirka, gave birth to Myla Rose and Charlene Riva on July 23, 2009. Since then, Federer has only made the final in two of six majors, also losing his first final to someone not named Rafael Nadal.
Raising kids takes time and effort, and can be clearly distracting. Federer has surely scheduled less practice sessions to spend time with his two children.
The disappearance of Federer's dominance is not entirely due to his personal life, but it could definitely play a part in his current dip.
At one point while recently watching Federer, I saw him sweating.
This was the first time in my memory that I'd seen the Swiss star visibly perspirating, which was unsettling to the eyes. He was clearly expending more effort than usual, showing some signs of fatigue.
Federer is 29 years old, which is not young by tennis' standards. Once a tennis player not named Andre Agassi hits 30, their career usually starts to see the bell curve begin.
Can Federer fight off age like Agassi did? Or will he see the regression that the average tennis pro experiences?
What do you think? Is Federer destined for another run to the top of tennis, or not?