NICK NEMEROFF – @NNemeroff
My main takeaway for Roger Federer in this event is that he still has it. Every professional player should closely examine how Federer has managed his body and schedule throughout his career.
Of course Federer has resources available to him that most players cannot rely on. That said, Federer has been keen on preserving longevity for years. Making mature decisions about his schedule has allowed him to play at such a high level at 37 years old.
One wonders how much longer Federer has… and maybe it’s a question Federer is asking himself. It’s within the realm of the possibility that Federer has no plan and is just holding out until his level regresses to a point where he can’t compete with the top players.
It’s also worth mentioning that Federer’s technical style has helped provide for his longevity. He demands less from his body than most other players, a fact that is often overlooked. The way Federer hits his shots is often seen as very effortless… and that’s because it is.
Fitness and scheduling are huge factors to Federer’s longevity, but we shouldn’t forget the role Federer’s stroke production plays.
MERT ERTUNGA – @MertovsTDesk
I doubt anybody legitimately thought it was a good idea for Federer to play Paris back on the day of the Basel final, but he did. He turned it into a positive. He would have obviously preferred to win that terrific semifinal match against Djokovic, but he found his form that had previously been missing for a while.
I have always thought (and said) that Federer rides on confidence, rather than peaking within tournaments from one match to another. He goes on good streaks of tournaments a lot more than a good streak of a couple of matches or three in the middle of a mediocre period during a season. He gets that done by gradually building confidence and trusting his game as a result of several matches of better and better performance.
Basel started that undertaking and Paris helped bring it near completion. London is a now a great opportunity to take the “near” out of that last sentence, also to roll into the 2019 season fully focused on fine-tuning his game in the offseason rather than searching for solutions to “re-find” his form.
MATT ZEMEK – @mzemek
Novak Djokovic did not feel physically well this week. (Side note: I noted in 2017 at Wimbledon that Roger Federer didn’t feel physically well, either. I don’t play favorites.) That detail will loom over the Saturday semifinal match he played against Roger Federer.
“Was Federer the beneficiary of Djokovic’s less-than-ideal condition?” That question will always be there.
Let’s not pretend it won’t be.
Yet, it remains that Federer fended off a dozen break points without losing one.
It remains that Federer found the serve which had been so balky and unreliable in previous weeks.
It remains that Federer was engaging Djokovic on a slower surface which rewards Federer less and plays into Nole’s strengths.
Sure, Djokovic is a dominant player on any surface or court speed. He is clearly the best player on tour right now regardless of surface or court speed. Nevertheless, it’s not as though Djokovic’s health was the only variable in this match.
Federer had to dig very deep and fight for everything he got. He lost the match, but won back a measure of confidence and trust in his game. When he was slogging through ugly matches in Basel against Filip Krajinovic and Gilles Simon, it seemed unlikely that he would play Bercy, and even more unlikely that he would do anything in Bercy if he chose to play it. Federer might have lost to Djokovic in a head-to-head meeting, but he undeniably gained from his week in Paris.
Even if London and the ATP Finals don’t provide the result he wants, Federer can still look back on the week in France as an important building block for the 2019 season, especially the Australian Open.
Federer lost and won at the same time on Saturday in a memorable semifinal. Tennis, like life, is often complicated like that.