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The Great Federer Debate…2008. From Allen. Thanks.

Posted by tennisplanet on October 3, 2008


The Great Federer Debate…2008
by J.A. Allen

It simply doesn’t matter whether your argument begins or ends with concepts of slumps, mono, age, momentum, motivation, bad luck or even Nadal, Djokovic and Murray…the fact is that somehow and miraculously the field in men’s tennis caught up to Federer. But it took them almost 5 years.

No one man has held the tennis center stage alone for so long during the modern era. True—Nadal held his own on clay. Had Nadal not been a factor—the tennis legend of Federer would be irrefutable—untouchable by anyone using today’s standards. Federer single-handedly dictated the tennis landscape until 2008.

If you remove your blinders of expectation you must admit that even the 2008 Federer campaign has been fairly remarkable. Most players would give anything to have the year Federer has had so far. However, we are not accustomed to thinking of Federer as “any other player.” We force him to live up to the standards he set for himself and the rest of the tennis world.

Roger shaped the game as it now exists. Players aiming for the top spot had to be able to beat Federer. Most couldn’t and most didn’t. Nadal, after three years of chasing, found a way to adapt his clay game to grass.

His aggression, his improved serve, his spin, his never-say-die attitude on every point has had Federer backed into the proverbial corner on many occasions—but most often on clay. Nadal would never have exerted such effort to perfect his competent game had he not been fast on Federer’s heels.

Those of you who expect Federer to return to the game he seems to have left behind will be disappointed because there is no going back—only forward. Federer will never be the player he was because even he cannot reach back and grab perfection again. The game has changed because of him and now even he must adapt. The question many of you seem to ask is “Can he?”

The answer is a resounding — Of course he can. There is no one playing tennis today with as many gifts as the talented Mr. Federer. He still has the complete package at his fingertips. He can serve, return, improvise, move, adapt, volley, slice and pick apart the opposition with skill and artistry. When Federer is on, when his prowess peaks, superlatives seem inadequate.

Just as earlier in his career he had this arsenal at his disposal—he has retained these considerable tools. What he needs to figure out now is how to use them to his best advantage considering the rest of the field.

What routinely worked for him in 2006 or even 2007 may not be what works best in 2009—and by that I mean what it takes to win. That is what a great champion does—he figures out how to win using his strengths and capitalizing on his opponent’s weaknesses.
This is never a static process. For a while Roger made it look like everyone else was standing still. But now we realize that was not the case.

Nothing remains the same and everyone must move forward or fade away…

Roger will reinvent his game for the future. Does he need a coach – yes – just another pair of eyes to analyze the game and provide another perspective; but it must be someone Roger trusts implicitly.

Roger fought intrepidly throughout 2008, refusing to quit, refusing to take refuge in excuses, forcing himself to move forward positively toward the next summit. He put on a show of promise, of hope, of optimism that culminated in Olympic Gold, the U.S. Open Championship and a meaningful Davis Cup victory.

He has earned respite, a reprieve from the circuit. Roger and his team need time to evaluate and to reassess going forward. 2009 will be the culmination of his career as he reclaims his #1 ranking and as he surpasses Sampras’ total of 14 Grand Slam championships. 2008 will be remembered not as a defining moment, but as a transition to further future glory…


12 Responses to “The Great Federer Debate…2008. From Allen. Thanks.”

  1. leo said

    So be it.

  2. Cloe said

    Allen, thank you. Very insightful post. Yes indeed, may it be so. I also heard rumors about Fed hiring Brad Gilbert as new coach. Do you know, is this be true?

  3. chieko said

    It really is a pleasure to read your writing again Allen san. It must be nice to be able to speak your mind in your language to eloquently. It is what I want to do eventually.

    I do hope that he will find someone he can trust to be his coach again. Next year will be such an interesting year. I can’t hardly wait.

    Thank you again.

  4. Vivi said


    Another great post, hats off to you and please keep on coming.

  5. mircea said

    Hope you’re right. Then again, should Federer fail again this year at the FO, I will question his claim to being the greatest ever.

  6. lou said

    Amen to that! Go Roger!

  7. jennifur said

    am i dreaming? somebody shake me! is this an alternate universe? oh no. i am in the federer matrix where only a “miracle” can allow other players to “catch up” to him! LOL. Keep dreaming dude. it’s inspirational. the next summit, and all that “great debate” stuff, is the fodder of fed-fans-united. but be careful “the talented mr. federer” may turn out to be “the talented mr. ripley” and we all know what he turned out to be.

  8. Tony said

    Nothing wrong in hoping that the Fed may once more rise to the occasion and re-duplicate his most fruitful years. But it is interesting to note how some people think that Nadal and Djokovic are in danger of being overrun by the younger Turks on the tour without any hint that the same danger lies in waiting for the Fed as well. If there is anything that the year 2008 teaches anybody who is fair-minded and reasonable, it is that the Fed is subject to the same vagaries as the other top two players. The Fed may have looked good in the last slam of the year. But you know what they say: you may fool mother nature, but you can never fool father time…

  9. J.A. Allen said

    As I recall, the Talented Mr. Ripley was a Killer!! On a literal or figurative plane – I can see Roger in that role on the tennis court–I am sure that is what you meant, Jennifur. Cloe – I don’t see Gilbert and Rog hitting it off. Although, there are rumors without borders…hitting the airwaves. Much speculation abounds. I was so hoping for Jose. I liked him. There is also much speculation about Cahill…we shall not know until much later…maybe December. But in the meantime, the guess will keep coming. jaa

  10. Deep South Girl said

    Cloe—I’ve heard that Gilbert sent Federer a “Wrist Assist”
    Federer saw the ad and wrote Brad asking his advice to see if Brad thought the “Wrist Assist” would help his game. So, I don’t think Gilbert is going to be his coach–it’s just that he gave his advice on the product.

    That’s what I’ve heard.

  11. J.A. Allen said

    Hi Tony – I respect your opinion and it is certainly a reasonable opinion to espouse. I think we all knew it was possible – that someday it would happen…that Roger would look ordinary out on the tennis court…that he would lose just like other players lose. But, it was a shock when it happened, to his fans and to Roger. He has redeemed this year by winning Olympic gold and the US Open–I don’t think he will dominate again as he did previously, but I do believe he is still a force to be reckoned with – I believe he will get the #1 ranking back and pass Pete! I am sorry to be so delusional – but I am not alone!! jaa

  12. Tony said

    Well, I applaud your great and profound belief in the Fed, JAA. I hope he does not disappoint you. But it is curious that you and other Fed fans keep on harping on the “Olympic Gold.” But really, that was in doubles, not in singles (and Nadal won that). And since you look to him to passing Sampras record and winning the French as well, I surmised that you were thinking of singles, not doubles. I think I know what you mean though; the Fed has admitted that winning that Olympic Doubles Gold did something for him. Perhaps it made him rediscover the fun in tennis?

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