Brisbane Singles Round 2 – Federer def. Nieminen 6-4, 6-2

Roger Federer won his first round match against Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets.

Roger Federer won his first round match against Jarkko Nieminen in straight sets.

Roger Federer made a winning start to 2014 as he comfortably beat World No. 39 Jarkko Nieminen of Finland in straight sets, 6-2 6-4. Roger now has a 14 – 0 record over the Finn, and was comfortable throughout the match. Forehands were flowing off of his new larger racquet and his movement seemed as good as ever. These are ominous signs for the rest of the pack, as an in-form Federer is still the hardest player to play against. Here are the match statistics –

Statistics for Roger's 1st Round victory over Nieminen

Statistics for Roger’s 1st Round victory over Nieminen

Excellent serving from Roger with 9 aces and no double faults, and a very decent 61% first serves in. He also won 79% of points on first serve and 64% points on his second serve, which was very good to see. The best statistic, however, is the break points – 100% saved and 75% converted. When you can bring your A-game on the break points, you usually win games, and that is what Federer did today – a brilliant way to start off the new year.

Federer plays doubles tomorrow when he pairs up with Nicolas Mahut against Jeremy Chardy of France and Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria. His next singles match will be the quarterfinal on Friday, when he plays World No. 55 Marinko Matosevic of Australia. The two have never met before, and Matosevic beat American Sam Querrey in three sets (5-7, 7-6, 6-4) to advance to the last eight. It will be an interesting match-up as Federer has always said that he likes playing against the hometown boys, and will be a test of Federer’s eye for gauging opponents. That being said, however, I fully expect Federer to come through this test in straight sets as he has too much variety and firepower to be troubled. This is especially true now that he has a solid straight-sets victory under his belt with his new racquet.

You can catch the match highlights (1st Round, vs Nieminen) here:


Fedberg Confirmed & “I Will Play with the Larger Racquet in 2014”, says Federer in an interview

Federer Latest

In a telephonic interview with Andreas W. Schmidt published on BazOnline (click here for the full article, in German), Roger Federer spoke about the baby on the way, his fitness and his thoughts on 2014. The full article is in German; the following report summarizes what he had to say.

He started off by confirming the news that Mirka, his wife, is pregnant once again, and they are expecting a third child. He hoped for her well being and a smooth pregnancy. He also remarked that if any complications were to arise (let’s all hope they don’t), he can reschedule his tennis calendar by adding and subtracting a few tournaments, like he did last season when he spontaneously made the decision to play Hamburg and Gstaad. He rounded it off by saying that this does not impact his tennis much, but rather makes him happy as a father and enables him to play better.

He talked about his week of training with Stefan Edberg, one of his childhood idols. He said that they spent a few days together, where he received valuable input from Edberg; it was a new experience for Edberg himself, as he had little prior coaching experience. He further went on to say that it was not yet decided whether Edberg would become his permanent coach, but if there was a way, he would be happy if Edberg joined his coaching team on some weeks during the tour – he couldn’t be a permanent part of his team as it required a lot of travel. He further affirmed that his current coaching team remains the same – Severin Luthi (coach), Pierre Pagnini (fitness trainer) and Stephane Vivier (physiotherapist).

The interviewer then asked him if meeting with Edberg meant that he was tuning his game to be more offensive, but Federer dismissed it as a misconception, saying that if he trained with Thomas Muster, it would not mean that he would start playing two-three meters behind the baseline. He said he was simply happy to have received valuable inputs from Edberg. He felt that he was an interesting player to coach, and held the volleying skills of Stefan Edberg in the highest regard.

Jokingly, Federer said that he was too late to strike up a deal with Boris Becker (“he was already taken!”).  Federer went on to say he was ‘as surprised as everyone’ with the decision, as taking up a full-time coaching role meant staying away from one’s family and having to travel so much. The interviewer asked him to remark about the recent trend where players are hiring players from the 80’s-90’s to be their coach. He said that he can only speak for himself, and that he had a great time with Stefan Edberg. He also said that gaining the perspective of these greats was very good for him, and apart from Peter Lundgren, he has never worked with a player from this generation.

Roger Federer tried this larger racquet frame in Gstaad and Hamburg, but was unsuccessful. He has confirmed he will play with a tweaked version of this racquet at the Australian Open.

Roger Federer tried this larger racquet frame in Gstaad and Hamburg, but was unsuccessful. He has confirmed he will play with a tweaked version of this racquet at the Australian Open.

Federer then confirmed that he will play in the Australian Open with the larger 98 sq. in. racquet. He further went on to say that he wanted to play with it right after the US Open, but could not because he had to ‘sort his game out a bit’. Now, he has had more time and has tweaked the racquet more to his liking by collaborating with Wilson. He said the change was inevitable with the direction tennis was headed. He said that he has practiced with the racquet for two and a half weeks now, and is feeling very confident. He said the racquet suits him very well, but the real test would be in Australia.

For 2014, Federer said that he was feeling very optimistic and felt that he would be in top form come March or April. He wanted to turn it around after the US Open itself, but could not due to the back problem, and hence, he felt restrained. He said that now he will play more freely having shaken off the back problem.

He said that he was very proud of the fact that he had never retired from a match in progress, and out of respect for the opponent, did not cite his back problem as the reason for his defeats in 2013. This just shows his class as an athlete and as a person. He said that he only talked about it freely when it had persisted for quite a while.

Lastly, Federer was asked about whether he would play the Davis Cup in 2014, to which Federer did not give a straight-forward answer but it seemed as though Federer was not going to play Davis Cup next year. He said that it was unlikely that he would play since it costs him a lot of strength and effort, and in the end, it became a question of how much he wanted it.

We came to know three important things from this interview –

  1. That he will play with his new racquet in 2014 (I have previously also written about how much this was necessary)
  2. That he will most likely not play Davis Cup in 2014 (It would have cost him unnecessary energy)
  3. That he will start 2014 injury-free (This was essential; playing with even a small-ish nagging injury is very tough)

The biggest news of this hour is that Federer has confirmed on Facebook (see post below) that Stefan Edberg will join his team!

Great news!

Great news!

Federer’s Latest Quotes

Roger Federer's Lesson from the Court (NIKE)

Roger Federer’s Lesson from the Court (NIKE)

Roger Federer has been making a lot of positive statements recently, in light of the beginning of the new tennis season, and this has instilled a lot of confidence in his fans. In this post, I thought I’d summarize what Federer has been saying.

In an interview with The Australian, Federer remarked that he felt that he shouldn’t be written off for the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of the year, as he is a better player now than he was 10 years ago, when he first won it.

I’ve always believed that I’ve improved over the last 10 years, that I’ve not gone backwards. I’ve been able to win it 10 years ago so I always feel that, as I move forward, I am a more complete player, a better player. That’s why I always believe that I can win if my body’s holding up and mentally I’m really hungry. And that is the case right now. I’m really healthy, I’m training extremely hard the last six weeks and I had some success coming back at the end of (the) year.

That was quite important for me and for my confidence because I was really in a difficult spot from Wimbledon all the way til Basel (the Swiss Indoors in October). “With my back issue I couldn’t train the way I wanted to. (In Melbourne) I really hope to be playing my absolute best, which I really think is possible. Then anything is possible for me.

It’s just important that I play better against the top guys. I’ve not been bad this year. I just didn’t land enough wins and that’s something I want to improve for this (coming) year. I have been to the Hopman Cup and Sydney and Adelaide, and now Brisbane and I’m looking forward to playing in Pat’s arena (named after Pat Rafter). “I have high hopes that Brisbane will be very successful for me.

Nike started an initiative called ‘Lessons from the Court’ in which Federer, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Ryan Harrison gave inspirational quotes regarding the sport. Federer’s quote (below) was a life lesson, really – transcending the sport, it is applicable to everything we do in life.

Tennis can be a very frustrating sport. There is no way around the hard work. Embrace it. You have to put in the hours because there is always something you can improve. You have to see the glass half full when it comes to practice and matches because you have to put in a lot of sacrifice and effort for sometimes little reward but you have to know that, if you put in the right effort, the reward will come. You have to believe in the long term plan you have but you need the short term goals to motivate and inspire you.

Federer also tweeted that he had just completed a week of training with his childhood hero, Stefan Edberg, sparking off rumours about an impending coaching partnership.

A big thanks to Jonathan who uploaded a video of Roger practicing his volleys with the new 98 sq. cm. racquet (below).

Lastly, Federer also shared a video promo of his match against Jo Wilfried Tsonga at the Australian Open, ‘A Night with RF and Friends’. He will also honour Rod Laver that night.

Interview 1: After the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals 2013

Federer at his post-match press conference

Federer at his post-match press conference

On the importance of end-of-season form

I think always the end of the season carries over in some way, shape or form, good or bad.  But then again, it’s just about hard work, about relaxing a little bit, recover from all the inflammations you might have in your body, because those also need to disappear a little bit because you try to start the next season as physically good as you can, sort of mentally refreshed, I’d say. You’re going to look back a little bit, but once you actually start the off‑season, I think you’re just happy to be playing tennis again after a bit of a break.  Then you kind of start sitting down on what would you like to work on, where do you feel like your game’s got to go. Towards the end is where you maybe start talking about future opponents and that stuff.  In the off‑season, you take a break from all that stuff, the tactical maneuvering.

On the speed of the courts these days, and Nadal’s style

It’s unbelievable that he gets away with playing so far back indoors these days, but that’s the conditions.  So credit to him for making that work for him.

On what he expects from 2014

Yeah, winning titles, winning five titles or something, I guess, something exciting, leaving the tournaments as winner.  That’s what keeps things exciting. But, you know, I think something’s possible for next year.  I think it was a stronger finish than I thought it was going to be in Basel, Paris and London.  I’m more positive now looking ahead than I would have been a few months ago where I wasn’t quite sure what to expect after the US Open. But, you know, I’m back confident and excited, you know, going into the off‑season and starting again next year.  I need to make sure I stay competitive, I can hang with the best, and particularly beat the best.

On how important rankings are to him

Rankings, if it’s not world No.1, then I’m not that, you know, interested in.  Even though you kind of look at it, it would be nice to stay in the top four, top eight, that kind of thing, for seeding purposes more than anything else. Losing in the quarters is like losing in the first round for us at the top.  That’s why either you’re good enough to make it to the semis and finals, and then especially wins.  It’s really a tour of winners. If you look at the points difference from the points I’ll make during this tournament and what the winner’s going to make, it’s like I never even played this tournament almost, which is fine.  The winner deserves it all.

On how his body is coping with match-stress

Well, what I learned is that I can play three weeks pretty easily.  I played a lot of matches, you know, as of late, a lot of three‑setters, a lot of tennis.  From that standpoint, that’s very satisfying, knowing that the body can do it, the mind can do it, life allows it to happen. I’m happy that I have that option, as well, that I know I can play three weeks in a row because I remember Agassi didn’t do that at all any more towards the end of his career.

On his semi-final showing in London

You know, just again beating two top‑10 players is a good thing for me after not having beaten any for almost seven or eight months.  Considering the back issues I’ve had, I’m pleased that I’m pain‑free for a long period of time now with a lot of tennis.  That’s definitely also going to give me confidence physically and also mentally.

On his love for the sport

For me, it’s pretty simple:  this is what I used to do as a little boy, you know.  It’s something that always is there in your DNA.  It’s almost like I started walking at the same time I started playing tennis in some ways, you know.  It’s like one of those moments where you’re just happy out on the court, you’re happy improving, happy trying to change things, adjusting now. The thing is that when you stop, you’re still so young that why stop so early?  Why just walk away from it because, I mean, I have many other things to do in my life than play tennis, but because I can still choose, I pick to play.  As long as I have this choice, I’ll keep on playing.

On his schedule for next year

I don’t know if I’m going to play more necessarily.  I’m just going to play a full schedule.  What that means, I don’t know yet.  I mean, it’s pretty much planned through my season. Clearly Grand Slams are going to be part of my highlights, hoping to sort of make sure I play my best there with some selective other events that I consider important to me, some of the Masters 1000s.  Then hopefully I have something left for the World Tour Finals at the end of next year because that’s clearly a goal. Then just some personal goals because there’s a big gap, as well, between Australia and the French Open. I just still have to decide what the goal is there, then I’ll just attack and try to play good tennis.