Roger Federer Is Right to Skip ATP 1000 Canadian Open Five Reasons Why


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Roger Federer’s decision to skip the 2015 ATP 1000 Canadian Open will have disappointed fans who were planning to catch him in action in the US Open warm-up event, but, in the long term,  it is the right decision for both himself and his fans. The Tennis Review gives you five reasons why.

1. The Canadian Open has never been the happiest of hunting grounds for Federer.

Federer is arguably the greatest hard court player in history, with five US Opens and four Australian Opens to his name. However, he has had less success at the Canadian Open than at other hard court ATP 1000s, winning just two titles (2004, 2006) and finishing runner-up three times.

The surface is arguably one of the slower hard courts, and players of the likes of Simon, Djokovic and Murray, all great defensive players, have gotten the better of him there over the years, something they have failed to do at faster hard court ATP 1000s like Cincinnati.

2. Cincinnati is the week after.

Federer’s most successful hard court ATP 1000, the Cincinnati Open, starts the very next week after the Canadian Open. Cincinnati is the best warm up event conditions wise to the US Open with one of the fastest hard court surfaces on the tour and compliments Federer’s aggressive game and excellent service game.

Last year, Federer won his sixth Cincinnati trophy, the week after losing the Canadian Final in straight sets to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Playing in Canada did not end up damaging Federer’s title chances in Cincinnati, but Federer might have benefitted from Djokovic’s early defeat, Murray’s poor form, and facing players such as Ferrer and Roanic in the last two rounds, players against whom he has favourable match-ups.

3. A seventh title in Cincinnati would give Federer much needed confidence for the US Open.

Last season, Federer’s biggest rivals, Djokovic and Murray were struggling in the US Open Series, and Nadal was absent, so his win in Cincinnati was not entirely unexpected.

This season, things are a little different. We do not know Djokovic’s post Wimbledon triumph form yet, but he does not have last year’s distractions of being a newly-wed with a baby on the way. As for Murray, the Scot is back up at world No.3, making big finals and winning titles. Meanwhile, Nadal may be slumping still, but that slump could turn around given a few confidence boosting wins in Hamburg and the early Montreal rounds, and the Spaniard likes the slow high bouncing Canadian Conditions. More crucially, he likes playing Federer in those conditions.

Federer will face a stronger field in Cincinatti, and he will be in better condition to stand up to it if he skips Montreal, where those players will be competing. A couple of wins against the likes of Murray and Djokovic going into the US Open would also mean he would have a valuable confidence boost, and Federer, who has not won a slam since Wimbledon 2012, and made just two finals since then, needs that confidence more than he needs a few hundred ranking points or a few hundred thousand dollars in prize money from playing in the Canadian Open.

4. At this stage of Federer’s career, it’s all about the Slams.

Federer, with 17 Slams on his resume, and the record for weeks at No.1, is always going to be in the Greatest of all time debate. At this stage of his career, an extra runner up finish or a title at an ATP 1000 is just the icing on the cake. Tasty, but the cake tastes pretty good anyway.

Another Slam title however would mean far more than just icing- it would be another layer. A very sweet one, too. Winning an 18th Slam, and beating his own record in the process, at the age of 34, would not just put him in the Greatest of all time debate, it would cancel out any arguments against- a weaker era, Nadal’s winning head to head- and cement him as the G.O.A.T, if there is such a thing.

Last year, Federer was as close as he ever has been to undisputed G.O.A.T status when he went into the US Open as arguably the favourite, and with Nishikori’s upset of Djokovic, and a slamless Cilic in his semi, the Swiss was expected to finally get no.18.

Things did not quite work out that way, though – Cilic played the match of his life, and Federer, for the fifth year in a row, failed to make the U.S Open final.

While all credit must go to Cilic for being so strong under such pressure, it did not help Federer that he had had to come back from two sets to love down against Monfils in the quarters, or that he had played two consecutive finals the week before the US Open started.

5. Federer is a week away from turning 34 and he needs rest.

The bottom line. Federer is about to turn 34. In tennis years, that is as close to retirement as it gets. Considering Federer’s age, the fact he is world No.2 is astounding. It is also not surprising he hasn’t won a slam. Federer may have plenty getting in the way of slam 18, a rival who has his number in big finals among them, but his biggest obstacle is his age, and since he turned 31 in August 2012, Federer has only made it to meet Djokovic on two occasions in slams, losing to Berdych, Murray, Tsonga, Stakhovsky, Robredo, Nadal, Gulbis, Cilic, Seppi and Wawrinka before the Championship match.

The fact is that however much they slow down the surfaces, Federer still gets a step slower than his opponents, and the more matches he plays, the less his chances get, and the longer his matches go, his first serve percentage decreases, the errors increase, and the defeats mount.

Rest before a big event is exactly what Federer needs right now at this stage of his career. In his last five slams, he has had a busy time leading up to them and has made just two finals. In fact, his Success has been hurting him as he gone on to lose at the Slams to players with much less success, but fresher legs, in the leads ups.

  • At Wimbledon ’14, he won Halle the week before and lost the final when serving to stay in the match in the fifth set.
  • The US Open’14 saw him play two finals leading up to the event and lose in straights to Cilic in the Semis.
  • He won Brisbane the week before this year’s Australian Open and lost in round 3 to Seppi against whom he had enjoyed a 9-0 career win-loss.
  • At this year’s Roland Garros he had competed in the Rome final the week before only for  Wawrinka to beat him in straights in the last eight.
  • At this year’s Wimbledon he won Halle a couple of weeks before, and even two weeks rest was not enough to stop him looking worn out by the fourth set of the SW19 final.

By skipping the Canadian Open, an inform Federer could tear up the Cincinnati draw in straights which would leave him match tight and still fresh for NYC, and give himself the best possible chance of enhancing his legacy at this year’s US Open and leaving the game with 18 Slams.

That possibility should come as some comfort to fans who will miss him in Canada, but who will not miss, if Federer makes the US Open final, their hero get the chance to make even more history.

Commentary by Christian Deverille

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