Hey guys, the draw for Cincinnati is out and there's no respite for Roger as he's landed in another tough draw where he'll have probably have to face Nadal, Muray and Djokovic if he's to successfully defend his title.
I guess on paper this is the toughest of draws possible but truth be told I'm not too bothered, he's going to have to beat these guys if he's to win a slam so getting to test out his game against them in a Masters 1000 is actually quite good as it will give a good indicator of his level and what needs to be done.
Out of all recent Federer's recent losses we have had the injury excuse to fall back on when he's been losing to lower ranked players so I'm interested to see what happens in Cincy, assuming the back is a-ok, what happens when he meets Dull on a fast hard court with a new racquet? It could be a juicy encounter and for once I'm actually looking forward to a Fedal match. To make it interesting 3 things have to happen – both guys have to make it to the Quarters and Fed must be physically 100%.
Federer's Projected Opponents
- Round 2: Kohlschreiber / Fish
- Round 3: Haas / Anderson
- Quarter Final: Nadal
- Semi Final: Murray / Berdych
- Final: Djokovic
So as you can see above it looks like Fed will open against Fish or Kohli, both guys are accomplished hard court players who can pose a threat. I'm not sure what to expect from Fish as he's been out of the game for a while with a medical condition but he did play an epic with Federer here in Cincy last year so he is clearly a danger who knows how to play in America.
Then in the third round it could be his old buddy Tommy Haas who is still playing in rejuvenated fashion although he did look to have an injury in Montreal so there are question marks over him. Others in the mix include big serving Kevin Anderson who is a danger and Granollers who is one of those guys who can test anyone.
The Quarter Final is where it gets interesting though as he's seeded to meet Nadal on hardcourts for the first time since their Indian Wells encounter where Fed struggled with a bad back and lost in straights.
Should Roger get past Nadal a meeting with Murray or Berdych looms, Murray lost early at the Rogers Cup but he usually does better in Cincinnati so I'd expect him to make it unless he's on a really bad post Wimbledon lull.
The the final would most likely be against Djokovic who's playing Nadal in Montreal tonight which could be another epic match, I'm personally thinking Djokovic schools Dull tonight after his loss at the French and yet again shows his dominance on hard courts. That could knock Nadal's confidence before Cincy too which would be good news for Fed fans. As for the projected Cincy Final, then Federer and Djoker is a good match up so should Fed make it that far I'd fancy his chances.
Why I Quite Like the Draw
As usual Twitter erupted with worry after the draw came out because Roger has yet another tough draw on paper but I'm not really bothered. Firstly, it can all change as upsets happen and secondly because I have no expectations for Roger.
Wimbledon, Hamburg and Gstaad were all new lows, so whatever happens here has to be viewed as a rebuilding exercise. And why not eventually face off against the best? I liken it a little bit to a boxer who is recovering from a defeat, usually he fights a tune up bout against a well seasoned opponent, someone like Fish and then usually he goes toe to toe against the best. Which in this case is Nadal, Murray and Djokovic.
He may lose to anyone one of those guys, or he may not. He might not even have to play any of them if they lose early too. Either way it should be interesting and I'm looking forward to seeing what happens.
The main thing for me is that Roger is at the very least in better physical shape and is able to play freely without having his back prey on his mind. If that happens then we are moving in the right direction.
According to practice pictures Roger has continued using his prototype Wilson racquet which is another good sign and shows he is committed to the cause. After the tough Gstaad loss I'm just looking forward to seeing Fed step on court at an event that's been a very happy hunting ground for him over his career. And to answer my original question – can Roger defend his title? It will be difficult but anything is possible. Allez!
Some Information from Zurich
TUpdate thanks to Duong in the comments who made me aware of this interview with a Riccardo Maiga who trained with Fed in Switzerland, some interesting comments:
How did the opportunity to play with Roger Federer arise?
Right now I am in Zurich, where I'm playing the swiss league for my club, the Grasshopper Club Zurich. I've just come back from a nagging injury and I started training a few days ago to get back to fitness and play some doubles by the end of the season. In our club there is a hard court with very similar conditions to the U.S. Open: Roger is located in Zurich with his family and trainer, and is taking advantage of our facilities. He trains in turn with all players who attend the club at this time. Friday, from 13.30 to 15, it happened to me.
How did you see him? What kind of training did you do?
He's playing a lot, every day he has two training sessions. We trained for 90 minutes but he is working mainly on the athletic aspect. Even on the tennis court he devotes much attention to this aspect. He alternates hitting the ball with athletic work, such as repeated movements and footwork. Immediately after training, he personally telephoned Montreal's tournament director to inform him of the withdrawal.
What did you talk about? What is it like to train with Federer?
Despite me being Swiss, I had never met him. I will say a banality: it's surprising how down to earth he is, he's a delightful person. With me he made an effort to speak in Italian. He made 2-3 jokes in our language, talking about the special relationship with our country. He talked about football, he says he cheers for AS Roma, he reiterated that the first ATP title he won was in Milan and told me he really loves Rome and its tournament. You know, in Switzerland there aren't a lot of italian speaking players. Many told me he was special from a human standpoint, but experiencing it first hand was exciting.
What feelings did you have? Will the real Roger Federer be back?
These days I have followed him carefully. He is doing significant physical work, he is convinced that the problem lies there. I think he had a big physical decline, from which various problems arised, starting from the famous troubles with his back. He needs to train a lot, I'm not surprised he's doing that. He's very focused on the U.S. Open. When you see him play with fluidity, with the ease that only his arm knows how to express, you can not believe he's done. If he regains his fitness, he can be super-competitive. The problem is that New York will be best of five. It is not easy to be at your best in such a hard tournament.
Did you understand anything about Federer's immediate future? Also, what racket is he training with?
For certain he will start next week, still in Zurich , we said that we will meet again in the coming days. He didn't say more: About Cincinnati there's still secrecy, it's still in doubt. As I said, I saw him call Montreal's director with my own eyes , but before that very few knew of the withdrawal, even though there were rumors in the club. The racket? He keeps using the new model. The size is still a mystery. For sure it's not 98. You know it's 93? I don't know, everyone here swears it's 95, however it's always a model painted black with no logo. I believe that the racket is a great reason to continue training. In my own small way, a couple of years ago I made a change like that, going from a 93 to a 98 and I can assure you that it is a very challenging transition. Federer needs to hit a lot of balls: as soon as he had this racket he played two official tournaments.