Australian Open 2018: Roger Federer under weight of his own expectation as rivals struggle with fitness concerns
Men’s tennis has developed right into a survival of the fittest, however the recreation’s most profitable senior citizen continues to glide by means of the years with apparently consummate ease. With the exception of the six months he took off within the second half of 2016 to relaxation an injured knee, 36-year-old Roger Federer has hardly had an interruption to his outstanding profession.
The world No 2’s persevering with fitness is all of the extra outstanding given the struggles of so many of his rivals, notably these of their thirties. Andy Murray, who has had hip surgical procedure, will likely be lacking when the Australian Open begins right here on Monday, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka have solely simply confirmed their participation after six months out with elbow and knee issues respectively, and Rafael Nadal goes into the yr’s opening Grand Slam match with none aggressive matches under his belt after a recurrence of his perennial knee issues.
Nadal thinks the game ought to examine the quantity of accidents suffered by the highest gamers – and certainly the Association of Tennis Professionals is monitoring the scenario – however Federer advised reporters right here: “I assume it’s a little bit bit regular, to not be at all times 100 per cent match and wholesome. The second when prime guys are damage, you guys learn about it. It’s not like we will cowl it up so simply. There are perhaps many different gamers which can be injured proper now, however we don’t discuss it as a result of they’re taking part in on Court 25.
“The ATP is trying into it. From what I heard, there are literally fewer accidents all through. What is an harm? How unhealthy is an harm? It’s all interpretation, I assume.
“I’ve at all times mentioned that I assume the second you attain 30, it’s regular to perhaps have some indicators of utilization of the physique, or no matter you need to name it. But the gamers and their trainers and the tour and all people ought to attempt their highest to attempt to ensure they will keep away from accidents. Is that by taking part in much less? Is that by coaching completely different? Is that by taking part in a unique schedule?
“Whose accountability is it on the finish of the day? I believe it’s the gamers’. Sometimes you do get unfortunate. Like a soccer staff, generally you may have seasons the place extra guys are damage than others.
“I think we’re professional, we know how to warm up, we know what to do. Later on things become a bit more tricky. But I think that goes with the business.”
Federer heads into the Australian Open favorite to win the title (Getty)
Federer, who performs his first match in opposition to Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday, didn’t go alongside with a suggestion that he had retained his fitness as a result of he’s an attacking participant who likes to shorten the factors, whereas gamers like Nadal, Djokovic and Murray are baseline grinders.
“The off-season is tougher than playing tournaments – for me anyway,” he mentioned. “I work onerous within the low season to create a base that serves me effectively all through the season after which I rework the bottom time and time once more all through the season. I believe that’s crucial.
“I believe attacking tennis additionally has rather a lot of put on and tear on the physique, as a result of being extremely explosive is one thing that’s an enormous problem. Playing extra of a reactive recreation is perhaps extra bodily within the sense that you just play longer rallies, you spend extra time on the court docket, but it surely’s at all times just about the identical. It’s an identical rhythm. There aren’t that many sprints happening.
Andy Murray will miss the match after hip surgical procedure (Getty)
“We discuss Murray and Djokovic being grinders. however I believe they really play fairly aggressive. Everybody does. Even Rafa is standing nearer to the baseline than he ever has prior to now.
“Injuries can happen in a single single second, like whenever you come down from a serve. You’re like: ‘How did that happen?’ Sometimes you simply don’t know. Sometimes it’s unexplainable how sure accidents occur.
“I’ve played thousands of matches in my life and I’m sure I’ve gotten lucky throughout my career. But sometimes you have to take a minute and talk to the team about it, like how we’re going to approach these next three months, next year, next day. Everything needs to be perfectly planned, I think, to avoid as many injuries as possible.”
Novak Djokovic has solely simply confirmed his fitness for the Australian Open (Getty)
Federer’s expectations right here this yr are very completely different to 2017, when he performed his first aggressive match for six months however went on to take the title after profitable three of his matches in 5 units.
“This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just hoping to win,” Federer mentioned. “It was extra of a ‘Let’s see what occurs’ sort of match, perhaps much like what Novak or Stan or others are going by means of this yr.
I play down my possibilities simply because I don’t suppose a 36-year-old ought to be a favorite. That shouldn’t be the case
“It was a case of: ‘Let’s simply see what occurs, I’m not at 100 per cent, however you by no means know in every week’s time what’s going to be taking place. If you’re within the draw, you give your self an opportunity.’ That’s what occurred for me final yr. It all ended up approach higher than I believed it will.
“It was the match of the yr for me, little question about it, with all of the five-setters as effectively. Having no expectations was so good in any case these years at all times having expectations, which I’ve this yr once more.
Rafa Nadal has not performed any aggressive tennis within the lead as much as the Australian Open (Getty)
“With age, I feel like I play down my chances just because I don’t think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament. That should not be the case. That’s why I see things more relaxed at a later stage of my career.”
Federer is the agency favorite to win the title however insisted: “I feel like maybe somebody like a Rafa, with the year that he’s had, and Novak with the six titles he’s had here, even if it’s unknown how he’s feeling, they could very well be the favourites too. At the end of the day, it’s all just talk beforehand.”
Stan Wawrinka is one other who’s struggling for fitness (Getty)
Federer mentioned he felt in good condition and had had excellent preparation for the match each on the Hopman Cup within the first week of the yr and in apply right here for the previous couple of days.
“I was able to practise as much as I’ve wanted to, which is good, which I didn’t do at the US Open,” he mentioned, recalling the again drawback which had troubled him going into Flushing Meadows final yr. “There it was all about managing the energy and the body, hoping to be able to play. Whereas here, it’s been constantly playing, practice, how hopefully I can play during the Australian Open.”