Just few more days. Just few more days. Just few more days!
Finally the offseason is slowly coming to an end. And this year more than ever, I am REALLY looking forward to the new tennis year!
Usually, after the season ends, I spend some weeks reliving the highlights of the year: re-watching the matches I liked the most, going through pictures and sorting them out in appropriate folders, making top10s and stuff like that.
But this year was different. You all know it wasn’t Roger’s best year, to put it mildly. Back issues and consequent lack of practice had a heavy impact on Roger’s confidence and on his physical preparation. It was painful -yet somehow moving- to see him struggle with pain and lose against players he would normally defeat playing blindfolded.
So, despite the good indoor hard-court season, I really wanted 2013 to end as soon as possible and never have to think about it again, as if it had been just a nightmare.
And so did I, until now. In these loooong tennis-less days in fact, while I was already tasting in my mouth all the good things the new year could bring us, I realized that, to be objective about my 2014 expectations, I had to face what happened last year. Because sometimes the best way to know where you’re going is to look back at where you’re coming from.
And I actually found many reasons to be optimistic.
First of all, the end of the season gave us some of his best tennis of the year (mind you, not THE best tennis…otherwise SOMEONE might ask you if you were under a rock 😛 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k0Ik31eXlXI&feature=youtu.be&t=1m26s). For the first time since Australia, he managed to beat a top 10 player (after losing a tight final in Basel, he gained revenge and defeated Del Potro twice in Paris and London) and took Djokovic to the third set in both Paris and London (with the Serb eventually going on to win both events).
So, on his favourite (and the quickest) surface and when his back finally stopped bothering him, he regained confidence and, what’s more significant, he showed us he can keep a high level for quite a long period of time. I often read that “Federer ON A GIVEN DAY can still be a threat for everyone”. No doubt about that, but at least indoors, where matches are quicker and rallies are less grueling, he managed to keep a good level for three consecutive weeks, which was amazing to see.
Also in the last few tournaments he’s played, he’s showed emotions on court like he hadn’t done in a long time. We could often hear him talking out loud to himself in Swiss German during matches (sometimes to encourage himself, sometimes to say more unflattering things) and I’m sure nobody has forgotten his unusual and heart-felt celebration after his win against Delpo in London. He wants more, and he’s ready to fight with all his heart to reach his goal.
Other aspects that make me confident about the season about to start are related to Federer’s behaviour off the court. He’s as motivated as ever and -after all he’s won!- he’s willing to improve and to change things, if necessary.
For the first time this year, I’ve heard him criticizing his own choices openly in front of the press (http://www.rts.ch/sport/tennis/5307285-federer-admet-quelques-erreurs-mais-se-dit-pret.html) and being very honest about what had happened to him and what he thought he needed to change.
And they weren’t only words either. After the delusional racquet test during the summer, in Hamburg and Gstaad, he is now training hard in Dubai with a new Wilson prototype and in ten days we will see what he has chosen.
During this year he also went through another major change, having parted ways with Paul Annacone after three years of fruitful collaboration. Much has been said upon the subject and also in these very hours the news of a possible partnership between him and Stefan Edberg is everywhere on the internet. But what really stands out, and in my opinion says a lot about Federer’s mindset, is that he is constantly in search of something new, he is always willing to get even better and he is not afraid of changing in order to do so. I don’t think I could imagine a more different attitude from the one of the “almost retired” player, as someone has been calling him. I really don’t.
All these things tell me that Roger is here, very much alive and very much eager to compete and prove the world that he can still have his say. And we’ll be by his side, as always, grateful and honored to see him play and give his all once again!
My best wishes of a very Merry Christmas to everyone and of a wondeRFul New Year!
He’s ready, we’re ready. Bring 2014 on!