Okay, before we launch into another chapter of Federer and the P Word, I’d like to offer quick props (an entirely different kind of p word) to Serena Williams for her 6-4 6-1 win over Johanna Larsson at the Collector Swedish Open in Bastad. I’ve started following her coach”friend”, Patrick Mouratoglou, on Facebook and I think he summed up the win quite nicely:
“53rd Title for #Serena, 28 wins on clay in a row. 100% matches won on clay this year. 12 tournaments won out of 16 since RG 2012, 82 wins 4 losses. Proud of her.”
In other weekend winner action, Yvonne Meusburger d. Andrea Hlavackova in Bad Gastein, Austria and Ivo Karlovic won his first ATP title in five years in Colombia vs. Alejandro Falla – even more impressive considering he was coming back from a bout of viral meningitis.
But lets dwell on Hamburg, where the impish Fabio Fognini swiped final victory away from the latest player ranked in the triple digits to beat Roger Federer: Federico Delbonis. Uh. . .hmm. . .Well, I’m glad I actually watched Delbonis’s semi and final matches, so I could 1. accept that he actually beat Roger in straights and 2. confirm that this guy can really play tennis. I should’ve had an inkling – the guy is an Argentine lefty, after all. Factor in his confidence-building run through qualifying, that wicked cross court backhand and the fact that Roger didn’t know him from a Popeyes Chicken franchise and well, his win over Roger isn’t quite so bloody a brand of head-scratcher. I even found myself rooting for Delbonis in the final over Fognini and feeling some sympathy bordering on outrage as he blew those three championship points in the second set.
Meanwhile Roger Federer is still looking for love on the terre battue, and if he can’t get some sugar at an ATP 500 tournament in Germany, well, why not return to the milky bosom of his native Switzerland and hope for a good cuddle at the ATP 250 in Gstaad? This is where he made his ATP tour debut back in 1998, after all, and he won the tournament the last time he played it in 2004. Yes, it’s a bit like a dude drunk-dialing after a bad breakup, but hey, sometimes desperate times call for desperate. . .Wait, does this look like a desperate man?
No. No. it does not. After Roger lost to Stakhovsky at Wimbledon he said that he wasn’t going to panic and I think he’s proven to be a man of his word. It’s true that his ranking’s slipping and his form is flopping like a goldfish on your bedroom carpet. He’s revealed he’s testing out a new racket of compensatory proportions and his schedule has gone from laser-focused to Caroline Wozniacki.
But Roger claims that this is all part of the plan – at least his plan B. Maybe the man is delusional (or is that my problem?), but his message to the press continues to be that the Fed Express will keep on keeping on. Take these pre-tournament remarks from the ATP website:
“Clearly I’ve been asking myself questions of how can I get out of, I wouldn’t call it a slump because I did win Halle in between, and I know that the game’s just around the corner,” he said. “It’s just important that I take the right decisions, how to move forward from here and then how I bounce back, because usually when things don’t go so well I find a way, and that’s what I’m looking for right now.”
“Right now it’s important for me to maintain my ranking, and eventually hopefully when I win big tournaments again or more tournaments, then I can move up again. Right now, I just need to first make sure that I’m healthy, that I do all the right things in practice and then that I can attack again in the matches.”
He’s not stressing, he’s seeking. And as far as P Words go, I think perspective, perseverance and patience are more prevalent than panic at his point. But before I go too far down the alliteration hare hole, I offer one last schmear of Federer salve from reporter Peter Bodo, who brings some good perspective to the whole new racket thing (via ESPN):
“The (new) racket clearly gives Federer a greater degree of pretty much everything in his arsenal, but it also magnifies the role timing plays in his game. He’s like a racecar driver testing a car that has x-amount more horsepower and a higher top end, but a more delicate throttle.
The tricky part of making this change is not whether Federer can learn to use the new frame; it’s about how long it will take him to use it with confidence, and to get that, you need Ws — plain and simple. Without them, you end up spinning your wheels … or blaming your equipment.”
And where is Federer right now? Not hiding out in Dubai or vacationing on a deserted island. He’s playing the circuit like one of those journeymen who keep beating him lately – chasing matches, seeking wins and the confidence that comes with them. I say as long as Roger turns to the tennis courts when things go wrong, something’s going right.
So where are you, Fed Fans? Leaning on the panic button or tapping out more positive P words?