Preparation, organisation, planning and consistency have been as much a part of Roger Federer’s outstanding tennis career as his style, elegance and ability on court, so it is perhaps a sign of the times for the Swiss maestro that he now has made a surprising and last minute alteration to his 2013 schedule. Everybody knows that Roger Federer has had an outstanding recent record at Wimbledon and almost as predictable as a Federer run at the Wimbledon title was the Swiss player’s penchant for taking a hiatus from tournament play between the All England Club and the hard court US Open swing.
This season, however, everything has turned out rather unexpectedly for Federer who seemed as shocked as anyone by his early exit on the grass of centre court. After falling at the hands of Ukrainian Sergiy Stakhovsky, Federer openly showed his disappointment and also gave his first signs that he was doubting his long-established scheduling by telling the massed press that ‘Right now, this is a setback, a disappointment, whatever you want to call it…I didn’t play so much as of late [but] that gives me more flexibility with my schedule moving forward.’
After this press conference it is clear that Federer must have re-assessed his season based on a number of factors including the fact that he exerted a lot less energy over a much shorter period at Wimbledon than he would ever have expected. He may also have had more than a brief glance at the rankings list, which are soon to look a lot different than at this time in 2012, when the Swiss master had completed his return to world number one by virtue of his Wimbledon triumph. This year however, Federer’s poor Wimbledon campaign and the relative success of the likes of David Ferrer mean that Federer dropped out of the world’s top four and if there is anything that would compel him to play more tournaments this must surely be it.
With all this in mind, it has still come as somewhat of a shock that Roger Federer has re-jigged his schedule and announced his attendance at both the Hamburg 500 and the Gstaad Open clay court events. To fully understand the gravitas of this schedule change, it is important to remember that aside from last year’s Olympic Games and one Davis Cup tie in 2011, the last time Federer played any matches between Wimbledon and the hard court US Open swing was all the way back in 2004.
So Federer is clearly hoping that a change will be as good as, or in fact a better option than, a rest and that these extra tournaments will bring him some extra confidence, extra form and most importantly some extra ranking points. These points will not come easy however, with a number of other top players looking to make progress ahead of the hard court season and in the absence of the likes of Djokovic, Murray and Nadal. At Hamburg, Federer will line up alongside both Jerzy Janowicz and Tommy Haas, who both impressed with their campaigns at Wimbledon, as well as impressive lower-ranked players like Bernard Tomic and Fernando Verdasco. His task doesn’t look any easier at Gstaad, whose field includes the likes of Feliciano Lopez, Benoit Paire and Stan Wawrinka who will be just as keen as Federer to record a victory on home turf.
So, the tennis world will watch on and eagerly await the result of Federer’s surprise schedule change and there will be plenty of fans who share the Swiss player’s hope that this change will spark a revival that could elevate him back into the regular battle for Grand Slam glory along with Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.