Friday, October 21, 2016

Don't write off Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal just yet

IN July 2003, Beyonce topped the charts with Crazy in Love, Roman Abramovich purchased Chelsea and a certain Roger Federer entered the top five for the first time after capturing his first major title at Wimbledon.

The era of the Swiss maestro had commenced and his unwavering attacking strategy earned him a hatful of Grand Slam titles and an army of adoring fans across the globe.

Federer and his unrivalled forehand appeared to be an unstoppable force but the emergence of a muscle-bound and unassuming teenager from Manacor soon dramatically changed the landscape.

Rafa Nadal was the antithesis of the Swiss. The Spaniard was defined by his remarkable court coverage and outstanding defensive capabilities, and his heavy top-spin forehand was perfectly constructed to break down Federer’s single-handed backhand.

The contrast in styles between the graceful Swiss and industrious Spaniard ensured that their rivalry transcended tennis and captured the imagination of the masses.

The head-to-head count is heavily-weighted in Nadal’s favour, and their unforgettable and highly-charged duels at Wimbledon and beyond are lasting memories which are unlikely to fade.

The updated ATP rankings on Monday made headlines due to Federer and Nadal both being absent from a top four position for the first time since 2003. At first glance it would appear that the ‘Fedal’ era has finally come to an end, but perhaps the pair, who have amassed 31 Grand Slam titles between them, have been written off too soon.

Nadal occupies fifth spot in the rankings and at some stage in the near future he will likely re-enter the top four. The Spaniard, by his own high standards, has had a disappointing season, having been hindered by inconsistent form and a wrist injury that put him out of action for three months.

For the second consecutive year, Nadal has struggled to perform at optimum level and his aura has been diminished. He appears vulnerable and susceptible to upset and his famed ability to produce under intense scrutiny has become a distant memory.

Perhaps the most concerning aspect of Nadal’s game has been the unpredictable and erraticnature of his performances. In Beijing last week he was flawless against Paolo Lorenzi in his opening match but he followed up with an error-strewn display against Grigor Dimitrov and exited the tournament with barely a whimper.

The 30 year-old appears bewildered by an inability to execute routine shots that he would have made in his pomp without a second thought, and his confidence has taken a battering as a consequence.

Nadal needs to emerge from the fringes and become a major contender once again. Attempting to achieve La Decima at his beloved Roland Garros will be his ultimate target. His chances in Paris will always be strong as there are very few players who have the capability to take down the ‘King of Clay’ in a five-set match on the vast Philippe-Chatrier Court.

Federer’s season was curtailed after Wimbledon due to a knee complaint but the consummate professional is grafting hard ahead of an eagerly-anticipated return in next year's Hopman Cup.

After such a lengthy lay-off, the odds are stacked against the 35 year-old reaching the top again but his supreme natural talent and flair will not have diminished in his short time away from match action.

It may take time for Federer to find his groove but if he remains healthy, a return to the top ten is almost certain.

Whether the Swiss can compete with Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka in the twilight of his career remains to be seen but it would not be a surprise to see the majestic Swiss roll back the years and inflict serious damage with his Wilson wand at SW19 once again.

2017 promises to be an important year for Federer and Nadal as both will feel they have a point to prove. Doubters will question whether the two legends can still mix it with the current elite but such esteemed champions can never be counted out.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Roger Federer helps Rafael Nadal open a tennis academy in his home town

On the court, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have been intense rivals. But on Wednesday, the two all-time greats were nothing more than old friends as Federer joined Nadal to celebrate the official opening of the Rafael Nadal Academy by Movistar in Nadal's hometown of Manacor, Mallorca.

“I'm really here to honour the great man, Rafa. I think it's wonderful that he's taken this journey on to give the kids something back,” Federer said. “I've been around the game 17 years. I've seen a lot of hard workers and inspiring players, but you've been the one in my opinion who has been the most inspiring and most influential and made me the player I am today. Because you're left-handed, because of your spin, because of the intensity you bring to the court, I had to re-invent and re-work my game entirely. And that's because of the person you are and how much you've trained.”

Federer and Nadal have played 34 times. The left-hander leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-11 and has won five of the their past six matches. Federer, though, took their most recent contest, the final at the Swiss Indoors Basel last season.

“I've seen you prepare for tournaments and practices the same way, which I can't do, because my mind doesn't allow me to, I can't prepare for matches and practices this long. We're completely different when it comes to this,” Federer said. “I admire everything and how you do it, and I hope you can still do it for many more years to come. I really wish you good health. I think it's of the utmost importance.”

The 35-year-old Swiss endured his first major injury this season, 17 years into his professional career. Federer announced in July that he would sit out the remainder of the 2016 ATP World Tour season to continue rehabbing from knee surgery in February. He joked about injuries with Nadal, who's had his fair share, including a left wrist injury that forced him to miss 10 weeks earlier this season.

“I'm going through my first big injury now. It's been fairly easy for me. I've enjoyed my time at home. I've enjoyed seeing my family, practise has been easy,” Federer said. “But I don't know how it's going to be when I come back. You've done it a million times, so there again I can be inspired by you. How easily you always came back, and you made it look easy! You were always right away back in the Top 10, Top 5, World No. 1. That's something I'm going to be thinking about when I come back to the tour in January.”

The Rafael Nadal Academy by Movistar includes 26 indoor and outdoor tennis courts, a fitness centre, two swimming pools, mini-football pitches, a multi-sport court and seven paddle tennis courts.

“To share this with Roger is an unforgettable day,” Nadal said. “For Roger to share this important moment, for me and my family, [it] really means a lot.”

Nadal might have earned a few potential future clients from Federer's visit as well.

“I hope the kids are going to learn from this great man. He's one of the greatest we've ever had. His attitude speaks for itself. I hope it's going to be a wonderful academy,” Federer said. “One thing's for sure, I know where I'm going to send my kids if they want to learn tennis. I'm going to send them right here!”

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Roger Federer to make his comeback at IPTL in December

Roger Federer, who has been nursing a knee injury, announced that he will make his return at the season-opening Hopman Cup next year.

However, the 17-time Grand Slam champion will make his comeback on court even before that.

According to, the Swiss will feature in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) that is scheduled to be held in December this season.

Federer, who hasn’t played a match since the Wimbledon this year, has been an integral part of the IPTL, a team exhibition event that is held across five countries, Japan (December 2-4), Singapore (Dec. 6-8), Philippines (Dec. 9-11), UAE (Dec. 13-15), and India (Dec. 16-18).

The Swiss maestro led the Indian Aces to victory in the inaugural tournament in 2014, before moving to UAE Royals in the subsequent year.

Besides, Grand Slam champions Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic will be among the other marquee players to feature in the third edition of the IPTL.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Maria Sharapova Rips ITF, ITF Strikes Back

I'm honestly conflicted on the whole Sharapova thing. Both parties have their faults really.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Stan Wawrinka can't wait to see Roger Federer back on tour in 2017

Stan Wawrinka has only one wish for 2017: seeing Roger Federer healthy after a very tough season for him. ´For tennis in general, I would like to see Roger back at the top with no injury. I think it’s always good for everybody when he’s playing´, he said during his pre-tournament press conference in Shanghai.

He also commented on how he feels heading to the Shanghai event: 'So far I’m quite happy with the practice. I would say (the courts are) a little bit faster than last year, but in general I’m feeling good. Always enjoy to come back. I think we have a chance that the tournament is doing amazing job first for the player, not only on-site but also off-site if we want to discover the city, if we want to go to nice restaurant. So I always enjoy my time here, for sure.'

He also commented on Ernests Gulbis' remarks. In May the Latvian had said that he was not respected like when he was two years ago in top 10 of the ATP Rankings. For Stan this is normal: 'If you win more probably your life changes', Wawrinka said to Schweizer Illustrierte. 'It's obvious that Federer has all the privileges, he earned them over the years. I won some Slams and a Davis Cup title, I have my place in tennis. But I am aware that between being top 5 and being a lower ranked player, there is a difference.'

He won three Grand Slams, a Davis Cup, he has been nominated Swiss athlete of the year. Why does he keep playing? 'Because I like to do it. I live of the sport and I am very lucky. I like to practice and to compete either if I win or lose. There is no reason why I should stop now, although I am 31. At this age you are old for the sport but very young in life. I want to enjoy as much as possible.'

His Weight is 81kg and is 1.83 meters high. Asked if he took in consideration to be thinner in order to be faster, Wawrinka said: 'Obviously you have to be very fast at these levels. I spoke about it with nutritionists and my fitness trainer Pierre Paganini, but for my tennis and for my speed of shots I need a certain weight.'

Djokovic is six Grand Slam titles away from breaking Roger Federer's record. Asked what would mean for Roger to see it happen, Wawrinka replied: 'First of all we need to say that Djokovic still has to win five Majors and it's not granted that he does it. We were saying the same about Nadal Two years ago. It's not worth to speak about it now.'