Despite the stick that meant the defeat in the rooms of the British great, Roger Federer completed after the match against Hubert Hurkacz the liturgical movement that he traditionally makes through the bridge that connects the rest area of the tennis players in the Center Court and the changing rooms . The 20-grand champion was still trying to digest the loss, but he had no qualms about stopping and satisfying the crowd of fans who crowded below and demanded a hello. The last, perhaps, many of them weighed, while in the head of the Swiss a good handful of questions bounced because even he himself, surely, considered that this could have been the last afternoon in its track, the green temple on which the legend has built. Federer’s horizon is, right now, a gigantic enigma with several structural aspects to solve.
Mental exhaustion In the appearance before the journalists, the one from Basel admitted that he was “terribly exhausted”. After all, the last year and a half has been “long and hard.” In February 2020 he had to undergo arthroscopy in his right knee to repair the meniscus and the result was not as desired, so in June he visited the operating room again. In between came the pandemic, and the logical disconnection that made it difficult to reengage with the competition from the emotional point of view. From the sofa at home, Federer watched the calendar pages fly and, as if that were not enough, he had to postpone his reappearance because the joint did not finish responding. They were, in total, 405 days without officially stepping on a track – he did it in Doha, against Daniel Evans – and many lost sensations.
The physical response. The Swiss has a privileged chassis that has allowed him to compete regularly; in fact, he has never quit in the middle of a game. The injuries respected him until in 2013 he suffered a fateful year with his back. She was 32 years old at the time and entered a slump in results that lasted until 2017. The previous year, she damaged a meniscus while bathing her twins and underwent surgery for the first time, but she was redone and at age 36 she celebrated in Melbourne and Wimbledon, and in the following year also in Australia. Today, however, it is harder for him to get up. Exactly one month after his 40th birthday, the demand for rehabilitation is greater and in his last intervention he spoke of a tiring process, “incredibly slow”, and that he hoped to recover faster.
The technical factor and automatisms. Asked if the defeat against Hurkacz was due to a lack of matches, Federer explained that the reason had no origin in the rhythm. He believes that he arrived in London with the necessary filming and that, above all, he must rediscover his best game. “I definitely need to be a better player,” he argued. “Clearly, my game lacks many things that 10, 15 or 20 years ago were simple for me to do, but today I do not execute them naturally,” he added; “I have a lot of ideas on the track, but sometimes I can’t do what I want.” Consequently, his punches and maneuvers get dirty. Instead of rallying automatically, Federer thinks and doubts, and mistakes multiply. Although he left good flashes against Gasquet and Sonego, in the other games his proposal has been deficient.
The bar of greatness. In addition to the 20 greats, the Swiss has won 103 individual titles, almost all the awards that have been and have been awarded. Except for individual Olympic gold, there is hardly any goal or record that has resisted him. For this reason, Federer must consider whether his margin of recovery is large enough to fight for objectives according to his own magnitude, because despite the value of having reached the Roland Garros eighth and the Wimbledon quarterfinals, he plays for the Federer brand. That is, it is hard to imagine that you can stretch your stay on the slopes if you cannot truly fight for the greats, or that you can accept an excessively long sequence of premature stumbles. Despite the neatness, underneath is a competitive beast.
The defeats: substance and form. Of the 13 games he has played this season, the Swiss has lost five. Two of them occurred in the second round, another in the first and the last against Hurkacz came late in the tournament. That of the Pole is not surprising both in the background and in the form, with that final 6-0 that blurred the farewell, and the previous ones did leave a more negative trail because he collided in Doha with Nikoloz Basilashvili (42nd then), with Pablo Andújar ( 75) in Geneva and against Felix-Augger Aliassime (21st) in Halle. The latter against the Canadian was especially worrying, while Federer offered his more decaffeinated version. “I was quite disappointed, I did not have a good attitude. I was very negative and normally I am not like that ”, he reproached himself. The two falls on grass underscore the decline, since it is the surface on which, a priori, I had the most options.
Without the protection of ranking. By losing in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, the Basel man will drop to at least ninth on the ATP list – his worst ranking since March 2017 – although he could drop more places depending on who reaches the final and who takes the prize. trophy. Until the activity of the circuit was resumed, in August, Federer had the shield of the frozen ranking; a decision that was criticized from different sources (including players) when understanding that the rector of men’s tennis granted him a favorable treatment, since before the break he occupied the fourth position. Now, since his re-entry, he has been descending steps, which will be a serious handicap when facing tournaments. At the time of the draws, it will increase the danger of the rivals in the first rounds and will force unwanted crosses as it progresses.
The ticking of age. Off the hook in the annual race, and therefore far from achieving a ticket for the Masters Cup – he is 40th on that list, more than 1,500 points behind the eighth position that marks the cut -, the Swiss tries to endure and triumph in a age group in which no male or female tennis player has managed to raise a Grand Slam. Australian Ken Rosewall is to this day the oldest player to win a major; He did it in 1974, at 37 years and 2 months, precisely at Wimbledon. This is followed by Federer himself, who with 35 and 11 won in London four years ago. Both Rosewall and the American Jimmy Connors are two benchmarks of longevity; the first reached the Wimbledon finals and the US Open in ’74 at the edge of 40, and the second reached the semifinals in New York in ’91, with 39 years on the DNI.
You can follow EL PAÍS DEPORTES in Facebook Y Twitter, or sign up here to receive our weekly newsletter.