How many more times will we see Roger Federer play this season? As much as the number one spot on the ATP rankings is important to him, there’s a good chance that he won’t travel to the Asian tournaments at all, maybe even skipping the Paris tournament to be fit for the Year-End Tournament in London.
This has been Federer’s best season since 2009, the year he broke the Grand Slam record held by Pete Sampras and completed his career grand slam. Conveniently, it was yet another season in which Rafael Nadal was sidelines for a long stretch of time. Coincidence?
How good was 2012? A return to the top spot on the rankings, while winning his first Grand Slam title, Wimbledon, since the 2010 Australian Open, in addition to the three Masters tournaments he won – Indian Wells, Madrid and Cincinnati. He also won two ATP World Tour 500 competitions, in Dubai and Rotterdam.
But the grueling schedule of the tour, even with a rest here and there, has taken its toll on Federer, who seems to have finished his Davis Cup win over the Netherlands, another long weekend in which he played two single matches and the doubles, with the Swiss winning 3-2, exhausted, and a bit contemplative regarding his future, at least the immediate one this season.
At 31, a dinosaur in terms of the tennis world, especially when your main rivals are all 25-26 and you’ve been on the tour since 1998, all the travelling and bouncing back from losses or two week tournaments just isn’t that easy anymore. Federer followed great tournaments by flat and disappointing displays. He always struggles against Berdych, but the US Open, always coming at a bad time for most players, at the far end of the season, was a perfect example to see how much Federer was worn out.
It happened to him after winning at Indian Wells, following up with a dreadful third round exit in Miami, losing to Andy Roddick, which usually loses his matches to Federer before he even walks out of the dressing room. Bouncing back from great performances just gets harder and harder. The Asian part of the season always suffers from some of the best players deciding to skip it, nursing injuries and preferring to take a rest, and it won’t be any different for Federer this time.
As time goes by, it gets more and more about prioritizing and focusing on the really important tournaments, which at some point might be just the Grand Slams and a select few of other competitions. Volume doesn’t matter anymore, and probably the world number one a bit less as well, after he proved he can capture it once again. It’s just about trying to finish his career with as many Grand Slam titles as possible, so they’ll be no reaching him once he retires.