Roger FedererTennis Predictions

How Will Federer Fare in 2019?

Will the Swiss make a return to the clay courts for the upcoming season?

Hey all, Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel, Feliz Navidad, God Jul, Fröhliche Weihnachten, Wesołych Świąt and Veselé Vánoce to everyone on the blog. For those wondering why I choose those languages it's because are they are countries that visit the site most often 🙂

Anyway, the Hopman Cup is now just 5 days away and Roger will likely be en route to Perth. The Swiss has been practising in Dubai for the last couple of weeks and one of his last sessions was against Robin Haase.

Some of you may have seen the rumour he's considering playing on clay. That came from a guy who's been in and around the practice facilities at Al Qasr over the last week. I'm not sure if he works there or is just a fan who hangs around courtside so I guess it's unverified but I assume he asked Roger the question and he gave him a short answer. The original tweet was in Arabic but the translation is below:

Roger hinted at the possibility of his participation in Rome and Barcelona on the clay as preparation for the French Open but has not determined anything yet and it all depends on the state of his body after the tournaments in Indian Wells and Miami.

So will he play on la Terre battue? From the tweet, it looks like a decision won't be made until after Miami. Once back in Switzerland he can then decide whether to practice on clay or stick with hard courts. Clay is more demanding on the legs so he'll need to adjust the training block should he roll with it.

Should he play? Currently, I'm neither for it nor against it. You can make the argument that last year skipping clay didn't pay off, but that doesn't mean to say it wouldn't this year either. I would think over best of 5 on clay he would struggle but Henman proved in 2004 you can attack on the dirt and have success. Whether that holds true in 2018 remains to be seen but I don't see why not.

What Will 2019 Hold for Federer?

Federer on Clay

I'm more interested to hear what you guys think about this. Personally, I don't have too many predictions for the season but I think it will be an interesting year for the game as a whole.

For most of 2018, Roger wasn't at the same level as he was able to play in 2017 so it's going to be interesting to see if he can raise his level, keep it the same as 2018 or it diminishes further.

After Indian Wells, he didn't really play that well for the remainder of the year, there were some great matches thrown in of course but Wimbledon and the US Open were disappointing. So while he was good, he was never great.

Obviously, we know the hand injury was a problem there so is he fully over that? In some ways, his season hinges on whether that problem is still lingering or not. If it's gone, then I'd like to think he can get back to playing hyper-aggressive on the return and look to keep moving forward to finish at the net.

Aside from whether or not Federer can keep father time at bay for another season, for me 2019 has 5 key questions:

  • Will Novak continue to dominate as he did for the second half 2018?
  • Can Nadal come back all guns blazing and rule on clay?
  • Does Zverev kick on from the World Tour Finals and finally deliver in a Grand Slam?
  • Which other players can break the Big 3 stranglehold on Slams? Thiem? Khachanov? Tsitsipas?
  • Will Stan and Murray get back to the top?

Interested to hear your thoughts and predictions, as always let me know in the comments.

Jonathan

Huge fan of Roger Federer - I'll pretty much try and watch all his matches from Grand Slam level right down to ATP 250. When I'm not watching or tweeting about tennis I play regularly myself and use this blog to share my thoughts on Fed and tennis in general.

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140 Comments

  1. First comment after 4 years!!!
    Still like yesterday when I received a Fed’s cap from Jonathan from a lucky draw in 2013! 2 first comments in 2014!!!
    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year everybody!!!
    All the best to you and Roger in 2019!
    Cant wait for Hopman Cup!
    Best,
    Quan

      1. Cause you put me as second even though I have the same amount of wins as Emerson. That’s why I think Alex should be second rather than third and Nambi third rather than fourth.

  2. Rumor is a rumor Better let’s take a crystal ball 😉 My guess (not from rumors) is, if Fed plays clay 2019, it will be a kind of farewell tour.

    What do I expect? 2018 was a natural decline of ageing Fed. Who wants, can still believe, everything is possible. But it is not. 2018 has proven it. Not many good matches. Some “happy-start” in Australia, than a bit ridiculous Rotterdam and maybe his best this year in Indian Wells.

    I can hardly imagine Federer to be able to restore his winning capability by playing faster and shorter rallies, at least against top20 players. Some of them will be better 2019 2018 – natural way of development. His body resolves his schedule decisions.

    First answer will be, how he performs in Australia. Not sure, but he will probably seeded not better than 5. in Australia, so defending the title rather not realistic.

    Then defend Rotterdam again? Play there only to defend points? So this may be another setback in the ranking. Then defend Indian Wells with Djokovic probably on a new winning streak. Probably another setback.

    Miami the best chance to improve the ranking position 😉

    Playing on clay, where there’s nothing to defend, would have the sense of trying to improve ranking before Wimbledon.

    Not a shining prospect for the whole year.

    We don’t know anything about hand issue. Rather not an injury, rather fatigue because of not moving so well , not reaching optimal positions to hit the ball well, playing more and more hard hitting opponents – this may be the reason of the hand problem and this will not go easier 2019.

    Fed told before the off-season, he will work on approaching the net earlier. Well – we have seen him trying this 2018, with the result, he was passed often and not winning lot of points at the net. So the problem is not how to go faster to the net, but how to win there more points.

    He will try this (no other way, I guess), but it will be very difficult to implement.

    ———————————-
    Now short answers to your 5 key questions.
    1. Probably yes.
    2. Probably yes, but there are some going to challenge him more and more every year. Thiem. Tsitsipas. Zverev (not in Paris).
    3. No. WTF is very specific and Zv. was not playing that well there. Ask Lendl and the answer will be probably – not yet. Maybe in 2-3 years if he shows to be capable of with his heavy game. Highspeed serve and backhand-cross is not enough to win BestOf5
    4. The stronghold can break by itself (Djokovic excluded). Challengers with most chances: Thiem, Coric, Tsitsipas
    5. No. Both too old to recover from such deep holes. How long can they get wildcards? Some day they need to play qualifying. Very frustrating.

    ===================================
    Conclusion
    Only Djokovic will stay on top, so no more Big3, but Big1 playing every tournament against challengers able to beat him (than maybe not win titles).

    1. How can he be seeded 5th or worse at the Australian Open?

      “We don’t know anything about hand issue. Rather not an injury”

      Roger Federer: “I hurt my hand at the start of the grass court season. It affected me up to the US Open. I even felt it a bit here in London. I could no longer hit the forehand blindfolded.”

      Has Bresnik told you Fed is lying? 😆

      1. I’m sorry, I was wrong, Fed can lose his current ranking position first after AO.

        “I hurt my hand …”. Help me to understand because of my weak English. “Hurt” does not necessarily mean injury or it does? I would assume, if this was a typical injury, Fed would speak about injury. And however we understand the word, what kind of injury could it be to affect him since Stuttgart up to London incl.? If you know more, let us know.

        Your invention about Bresnik is not funny. It’s offending. But OK, I’m not so prone to insults. I k now, you are kind of kidding, but you should avoid to use a name of a person not having anything to do with me and my opinions.

        BTW – I’m quite sure, Federer is not always telling truth but this is acceptable. I guess you lye sometimes in your life, when you feel, it’s justified. But I don’t suggest , Tony Godsick to control and your posts here 😉 Or maybe you are Godsick’s agent?

        Funny?

        IMO, we don’t know enough to assume, it was an injury . Maybe wear and tear and you not always are sure, where and how it started.

        It’s for sure injury in the common understanding, if it is some visible incident during a match, sometimes causing retirement, sometimes only MTO’s. Someone who wins the title and after half a year says, he was hurt since Stuttgart to London, looks for excuses for losses.

        And a remark re Bresnik. Of course I know a lot of Bresnik, mostly from his interviews. One of Bresnik’s golden rules is “if you enter the match, it means you are fit and healthy (even if you feel, you are not) and don’t speak after the match about what justifies your poor performance.

        But maybe Federer is not really a man (like Stan The Man is), but rather cry-baby? First losing one tournament after another and not delivering a game the world expects from him and then speaking about His mono or bad back from ten years ago a.s.o. Of course all those things affect everyone and Federer is not only one who had something like being hurt or injured in 2018.

        For example – Thiem twisted badly his ankle in second round match in Indian Wells, has played (almost not able to play) to the end of the set and then some games of the second, then retired. He needed 2 month to pause and recover.

        Probably the ankle was still not perfect in Madrid or Paris, but I have never heard him speaking about that.

        But OK, yes, Bresnik told me, Federer is the worst liar on tour, hahaha …

      2. Why do you have to go off on a complete inane rant? It’s fine to play devil’s advocate, but you do such in a bland, long-winded and zero wit style 🙁 I know you will say it’s because English is a second language but meh.

        “IMO, we don’t know enough to assume, it was an injury. Maybe wear and tear and you not always are sure, where and how it started.”

        Here is the quote again: “I hurt my hand at the start of the grass court season. It affected me up to the US Open. I even felt it a bit here in London. I could no longer hit the forehand blindfolded”

        If you hurt yourself, and it affects you for 2 months of the season, what else can it be other than an injury? 😆 Who knows what it was, clearly not enough to prevent competing, but enough to affect his game for a prolonged period.

        When he explicitly says “at the start of the grass court season” and you reply with “we don’t know when it started” I don’t think you can be taken seriously.

        With Fed, you are talking about a guy who has never retired once during a match in his entire career. And you have the audacity to say Bresnik has a golden rule that “if you enter the match, it means you are fit and healthy (even if you feel, you are not) and don’t speak after the match about what justifies your poor performance”

        I have a feeling Bresnik learned that golden rule from Federer. Your point is laughable.

        I can’t think of a single time he’s talked about injuries after a match. He brings it up long after the fact when asked (which is all the time as he does way more press than all the other players). He mentioned the hand for the first time after the Laver Cup, 4 months after it happened. The guy has played injured hundreds of times in his career and we’ll never know about them.

      3. I have hurt my hand during cooking (which may be a stroke, cut, burn). This affects lots of things, including playing tennis. I never think about such things in term of “injury”. If it was injury for Federer, why don’t he tell, it was injury. Of what? index finger, wrist, muscles, tendons? This is what I mean, when I say, “we don’t know anything about hand issue”. Yes, we don’t know.

        Federer is not the only man to play with pain . If he was really injured (twisted ankle, dislocation of bones in any joint (knee, shoulder …) and he would continue to play, he would be stupid. Is he? I wrote about Thiem’s injury in IW against Cuevas. I think, it was very stupid to continue to play and not even calling the physio to help him assess, how serious it is.

        Well, if Bresnik (so much younger than Fed) learned his golden rules from Federer (who was wearing pampers, when Bresnik was starting his coaching career, so yes, it’s highly probable, his golden rules come from Federers pampers).

        BTW – English is not my second language. My second is German; then Spanish and Portuguese. I know, it’s bad excuse, but I never had time or motivation to learn English in my young years.

        So it’s fact, I’m not able to find right short words and so my sentences are too long. I don’t know lots of idioms (very important part of this language, so what you can say with one word, I need maybe 10. a.s.o.

        This is not a blog about me, right? Why do you speak so much about me instead of explaining or answer to what you mean to be my content? If there is IYO no content, skip the post.

        “Who knows what it was” – well, that’s what I told in my first comment – we don’t know much about the issue.

        “I can’t think of a single time he’s talked about injuries after a match.”
        I’m not a historian of Federer’s everything: Maybe you are. Let’s refresh your memory. Rogers Cup 2017. Final against Zverev. Lost. At the net after the match Federer tells Zverev, he had bad back (which was visible even for a blind like me, so what the reason to tell?), meaning “you know, I could have won easily, but was not able to play because of bad back”. Is Zverev blind. And then Federer adds “but don’t talk” (meaning, don’t speak about it during the ceremony.

        How could Federer now know, everything he says at the net, is heard and in 10 seconds all journalists sell it as a news? And the crowd there and umpire and media people were probably not blind too.
        So, what a reason to tell?

        “He brings it up long after the fact when asked”.
        I guess, he was asked about that earlier, but didn’t tell the truth. Why suddenly he tells it after 4 months of poor playing?

        I think, a better rule is, either you tell this just as it happens or you say it never, asked or not. Only my stupid opinion of course 😉

        But, you have oriented the “comment war” to less important things.
        I thought (after seeing, reactions of others are like “Merry something” or “Time will tell”), you expect some opinions about the content of your post. So you have someone to have a comment war with.

        I think, you would have been disappointed, missing the opportunity of telling me once more, what do you think about me, right?

        But this is OK for me. Because you use a lot of idioms, I’m required to find them in Urban Dictionary ort another source and this way I’m bringing my English “to another level” – Thanks, Jon 🙂

      4. “I have hurt my hand during cooking (which may be a stroke, cut, burn). This affects lots of things, including playing tennis.”

        All very interesting, have you ever taken any serious knocks to the head? Your point of view seems to be if you don’t explicitly use the word injury with a deep medical explanation, it can’t be an injury which is stupid. We don’t know specifics, but we know it was an injury. That’s all we have and do you need much more? For example, Fed has dealt with back problems since 2003, we know very little about it, but we know it’s a problem and has impacted his results from time to time. Just like injuries have affected countless players. Did the hand impact results? Maybe so, it certainly seems like it did as his forehand/serve weren’t good in the 2nd part of the season.

        The Zverev one is a dreadful example. I seem to remember Sascha asking him what was up and he replied he hurt his back, but don’t talk about it in the ceremony. Like that’s an excuse. The whole world already knew he was injured mid-match, he stopped moving and serving properly. It would have been reported on regardless.

        For me, a better rule is don’t talk about the injury in the immediate aftermath (assuming it wasn’t blindingly obvious to the whole world you were injured ie you rolled your ankle and can’t move) as it looks like sour grapes or trying to diminish an opponents win. But feel free to talk about it later down the line if you feel it provides context, clears up a question or adds value to the conversation. That’s why we know about some injuries and not others.

        But that’s just common sense. So no surprises you have your own take on it 😆

      5. Hey, you are just waiting for my next comment?

        Only something I forgot before.

        You did try to teach me about the meaning of “at the start of the grass court season”.

        Look, I know, grass season started for Fed in Stuttgart, but I don’t know (maybe you?), if Roger did hurt himself in the first or maybe in the last match there? He was playing quite well all the tournament, so maybe “the start of the season” means in this case “last game of last set in the final”.

        Did you watch the tournament? Do you recall a moment fed to get hurt or to start visibly to had some problems with forehand?

      6. It was in practice in Stuttgart. He said in an interview after LC. So the start of the grass court season is literal. Right at the very beginning.

      7. Nice question´, Jon, about my head.
        Bingo! Yes, I was knocked at my head by a car, when I was about 10 and really, really stupid. I only know, I was running wildly with some equally stupid friends to be first on the piece of grass on the other side of the street to play football.

        I was unfortunately not only the most stupid but also the fastest that day.

        One of results is, I must take some drug daily since 40 years.

        So you are closer to reality than you think.

        Thank you for being so much interested in my health 😉 I had more of that in later years. Once I started to get knocks on my head, I could not stop, hahaha …

        Was I injured? No, this was only a knock on my head. Not affecting anything 😉

    2. Any one who play tennis knows that if you have a problem with the hand/wrist then youre in trouble. i have had problem with me knee for 3 years, not aseriouse injure but still so much pain so I can move as well as I did before. And if fed har hurt his wrist and “feels it” then it of course affect him. Anyone can understand that. It was the same with Novaks Elbow. He could play but he felt it and at some point it hurted to much. These athletes compete at there highest level and if they not 100% then they go from “great to good”.
      For Fed last year this was obvious, he didnt play that well at all and sill he went prety deep in the tournament except the open.

      1. “Anyone who plays tennis”. OK, your are anyone. I’m anyone. But we did experience different situations.

        Still, we don’t really speak about ourselves, but about Federer.

        If Federer has age-related movement limitations AND additionally hurt hand, it’s of course worse, than to have only one of these problems.

        The substantial difference is, from any injury you can recover, even if you must pause for a longer time (take Federer’s “bathroom injury”). But – I must repeat it – you cannot recover from age.

        Federer will probably be able to hit freely his forehand next season. But he will never move as he did 10, 5 or even 2 years ago. The whole timing depends on movement. Federer always had an outstanding footwork.

        I have not heard about any injury of him to have happened 2018, affecting his movement. So it’s not injury-related and not recoverable. it’s age, accumulated stress for having run si much, longtime problems with back . He will need to change his game so he must not run so much. And he cannot ask opponents to avoid playing a simple pattern – long shots, once left, once right, possibly powerful.

  3. Happy Christmas Jonathan & thank you again for all you give us on here. Is it time to just enjoy whatever we get with Roger saying he hopes his philanthropy one day is why he is known rather than the tennis on a doco …seems to be educating us he’s well prepared for moving on & getting us to get on board & accept inevitably his tennis can’t be forever!
    Interesting tho Marcelo Rios is planning a comeback at 43, Novak’s coach Vajda is openly saying ND wants the calendar slam for 2019 & the resting/ injured Rafa is still assumed to be after clay success …just hope Fed is fit re the hand etc. & surprises us all again …just got to be happy he’s ancient in tennis terms and still top 5!
    Roll on the last Hopman Cup always such an enjoyable event and Fed, Ferrer, Serena all on the cusp of their departures, playing it somehow seems poignant, yet Zverev, Tsitsi etc show us the game goes on in some form or other !
    Acceptance & gratitude Roger is still there with chances is how I’m approaching 2019.
    C’mon, Allez, Chum Jetze Roger.

    1. Ah I had no idea about Rios. The latest article said he wanted a guaranteed wildcard to justify training. Surely he’s got it the wrong way around with that mindset and is why he won FA 😀 probably won’t happen.

  4. I think he will retire in 2020 and have an average year in 2019, following his 2018 season performance.
    But who knows, maybe he’ll win the calendar slam beating Nadal in RG and Djokovic in AO…

    As for clay, I think he should play Monte-Carlo and Rome only, no RG and only Barcelona if he drops soon of MC. He’s calendar should be Australia, Acapulco, Indian Wells, Monte-Carlo, Rome, Halle, Wimbledon, Cincinnati, USO, Shanghái, Basel and London. 12 tournaments, without playing consecutive weeks and enough rest for his body (1 week of vacation and 1-2 of training). He needs to prepare the clay season, so playing Miami would interfere with that.

    As for:
    1) Will Novak continue to dominate as he did for the second half 2018? No, he’ll win but no domination.
    2) Can Nadal come back all guns blazing and rule on clay? He’ll come back on good form but he won’t dominate again.
    3) Does Zverev kick on from the World Tour Finals and finally deliver in a Grand Slam? No way in hell.
    4) Which other players can break the Big 3 stranglehold on Slams? Thiem? Khachanov? Tsitsipas? I hope Thiem and Del Potro.
    5) Will Stan and Murray get back to the top? No, both of them are finished.

    1. I think, how Fed will perform 2019 is not the matter of a schedule. It was – 2-3 years ago. now no more. He was in continued decline in 2018 and I can’t see him inventing anything to finish every point with serve or serve&volley and with SABR or direct winners on return. This is what he would need to repeat 2017 (additionally he would need some opponents to disappear, which no way can happen.

      Nothing to blame. Any single big title would be a wonder.

      As for 1-5 I principally agree with all your answers. I forgot DelPo when answering 1-5 myself. There is still Cilic and Anderson, but I think, both will fade.

      In terms of competition the season can be very interesting, with more players than in last few years having big title chances.

      Thiem has now the game to win big things on every surface (probably not yet on grass) and he is designed for BestOf5. I can imagine some players, defeating Nadal in US Open, but not in 5 sets. The result (Thiem’s loss) was actually worse for Nadal, who was almost dead after the match, while Thiem looked relaxed and ready to play another 2-3 sets. In fact Thiem ended Nadal’s season and I can understand, why Nadal would be maybe happy losing, knowing he is not able to play anymore.

      Federer at his best would maybe defeat Thiem pn every surface, but this is over. Thiem. Coric, Zverev, maybe Khachanov, they all will be too much for Federer in BestOf5.

      Delpo ended the year with decline and who knows, how will he perform next year? My guess is, 2018 was the year of his peak and not possible to repeat it.

      1. He can’t play two tournaments in a row, so the schedule I posted before fits in that aspect. It doesn’t mean it will allow him to play great again, just not exhausted.
        That 2017 run was based on a fresh start, a 6 month vacation. It allowed him to play his best, and of course he won’t do it again if he doesn’t get injured.

        If his 2018 performance was supressed by that injury, then we’ll know.
        Right now, I expect him to beat everyone outside the Top 10 like usual, an 50% of his best is enough to do just that. QF at Slams and QF/SF at M1000.

    2. “Right now, I expect him to beat everyone outside the Top 10 like usual, an 50% of his best is enough to do just that.”

      Do you mean, Federer was not at half of his best in 2018? He lost to Kokkinakis, 2x Coric, Millman, He had lots of close matches vs. guys ranked Top30 or lower, including Copil (93.) in Basel..

      I don’t think, the primary problem in 2018 (and continuing) was/is/will be the hand skills. Hand skills to great extent remain high for many years.

      Ageing in tennis starts from legs. And there is no way to improve, once the decline started. It was clearly visible all over 2018. How can it go better 2019?

      If your movement is in decline, the percentage of clean striking drops (maybe the reason for the hand issue) and this is the beginning of the end.

      Many players can still hit nicely at 60-70 years, but this is a static game, no or almost no running. To hit all his magics, he needs to move well. That’s impossible for the time to come. This was no more possible ion 2018.

      So Federer may be at 100% in hitting but 75% in running and the overall percentage will be less than 50%. This is what I expect to happen. And among those from Top20 or Top30 there are a lot of hard hitting grinders. They should be able to push Federer out of his comfort zone.

      He may go for approaching the net on second strike, but will be passed by many and not winning much points at the net.

      From this point of view Federer should improve his movement. But is this possible at this age? Maybe for one of two tournaments in the season. None of them BestOf5.

      1. No, he wasn’t, he played like shit in those matches.
        An average Federer beats those guys only by holding serve and waiting for their errors, breaking in the 4-4 or 5-5. They aren’t good enough to break that pattern.

      2. @Alexander

        I would not use such hard words. But somehow I agree with you about Roger not playing very well. With one small correction. This is how he did play all over the year. He was maybe a bit better in Indian Wells, but not in Australia or Rotterdam, winning both but playing against low-level opponents and not playing in great style.

        Rather unexpected victories.

        If this was Federer 2018, what must happen for Federer 2019 to be in better shape? He can recover from the hand injury, but he cannot recover from age. I must repeat – every year his movement will be less effective, affecting shots (only not a serve, but even top form Federer cannot avoid some serve errors or poor service days). This cannot be better 2019 than 2018.

        Lastly it was Rosset to tell him, it will degrade every year, whatever he wants and how hard he trains.

        I’m not comparing myself to Roger, of course (or you can lough loud), but I started to play tennis about together with Fed, with the small difference, I was 330+ years older 😉 First 10 years it was steady progress, I recovered still quite well from minor injuries. After my first “major” injury (I twisted the knee) I have never recovered at 100% and my movement declined every year.

        But at the same time I was still able to improve my shots. With no effective influence on my “game”. I could hit better from the stand, but not when I’m required to run to hit from good position, with good timing.

        Now forget about me. Ask every one retired or active ATP player, having so much in the bones as Roger has.

        Roger is a wonderful tennis player but even him cannot do wonders 😉

        So for the next year replace Top10 by Top10 in your statement.

  5. I think Kachanov may advance next year, with his raw strength for power play, aggressive energy and maybe improved technique. As for the others? No idea. Feeling that Djoko will continue his form first half. Nadal? sometimes up and sometimes down. Roger? Depends on his hand, like you say, Jon. And maybe his back too. If both of those fine, I suggest he wins 2 slams next year, Wimby and USO – and maybe WTF.

  6. And Thank you Jonathan, for you wishing us different characters no less a merry Xmass. Same to you, and Godt Nytår to you and all on the site. And thanks for the merry and beautiful photos with our hero, not least those of today!

  7. If he plays the French then my feeling is that it is going to be his last season on tour. Of course I could be wrong but I don’t think he ever intended playing clay again with a serious intent to winning on it. I know some have thought he needs to play more games to be competitive in the hard court and grass tournaments so there is that rationale too. Personally, I think that he maybe isn’t enjoying the grind too much and ha marked this season as his last.

    1. The rumors about clay 2019 are very vague, and Roger said the same last year, and this year – “Yes, maybe, we’ll see how I feel after…”. The media headlines are Just a lousy attempt to get possible readers activated. And now again irritating cleverish attempts to predict about his retirement. Why? Interesting? NO!

  8. Happy Xmas Jonathan and to all the people whose insightful comments about tennis make this site so enjoyable to
    Participate in.
    As to next year,we live in such interesting times I wouldn’t even like to predict what will happen tomorrow,never mind next year.I think that it would be good for tennis if one of the younger players won a slam but also wonderful if Roger could win one more.😊

  9. I’m looking forward to see how Roger plays out this year. Not only do
    I have the highest respect for him as a player but as competitor who
    plays out the match (even when injured) and as we have seen would
    rather lose than retire. That’s how I can’t understand when he says
    he injured his hand in practise it was doubted. Did anyone question
    Djo when he said he was carrying an elbow injury for two years, or
    Dominic when he hurt his back or Nadal’s knees?wrist/feet/back/
    ‘muscle tear that the Doc said would break is he played’….but that
    as we know is a book by a different cover. Sorry for the rant but I
    do believe Fed because he hadn’t aged that much that he forgot
    how to serve or hit a forehand.

    1. Roger told, he hurt his hand at the start of grass season, not during practice (according to what Jonathan quoted and everybody heard or read before). But this is not so important. You say, some doubt that. I have never seen or heard or read any doubts about that.

      If you meant me, sorry, I was only unsure (like everyone is, because Roger did not say details), what kind of injury it was/is (hopefully no more).

      And if you say, nobody doubts if Djokovic or Nadal say, he is hurt/injured. If lots of posters here are “nobody”, this may be true. Especially re Nadal and his MTO’s.

      This is very Christian as Bible says “why do you see the mote in the neighbor’s eye and not see the beam in your eye?”

    2. It was in practice. I posted that above. Here is another quote:

      “At the beginning of the grass season, I hurt my hand a bit during practice. I have the feeling it was more of an influence than I had thought. That should not be an excuse… but I could not hit forehands properly, especially in the final of Halle and then at Wimbledon”

      1. So we have now two different quotes about the same from you. May I assume, they come from different sources? Or Roger told the first and the second on different occasions?

      2. Well, the one immediately above sounds like maybe a German quote translated very stiffly into English. It doesn’t sound like something Roger would say.

  10. I really hope to see a healthy and happy Roger, playing some gorgeous tennis.
    Results wise I hope he wins 3-4 titles with one or two big titles and stays top 5. If he’s healthy I think it’s realistic.

    1.) Novak will be dominant for at least the first half of the season. The questions are how hungry will he be if he wins another 4 slams in a row, and if his body remembers he’s human (if he is human) during the season.
    2.) Because Novak finished the year while being so dominant, we forget that Rafa finished 2018 with a 45-4 record. He retired on 2 of the 4 loses, and was only beaten by top contenders – Cilic (Ret. at 5th set), Thiem, Novak (Epic 5th sets match) and Delpo (was devestated after epic match vs Thiem and Ret.). It seems that he’s only capable of drawing so much energy from his body for short patches of time, and I guess he will do his best to be fit for the clay season.
    3.) Part of the time. If Lendl does the job, Z will make the final step – the mental step. Tennis wise he has the complete package. When he’s mentally stable he’s very hard to stop. I don’t think he will be dominant but I think he will do better on the slams, maybe even reach a final.
    4.) A lot of young guns, surely some of them will do damage to the big3. Whom will it be? hard to tell. At least five young players with a potential to make some noise (=Masters titles, deep runs in slams, top 10), not including Zverev.
    5.) Murray is done. Top 50 at best. The hip is a killer for a player with his style. Stan may be a surprise, but I don’t see him coming back into the top 10.

    1. Re 1) “if he is human” – meaning, he could be next Federer? 😉

      Re 2) Of course Rafa will focus on clay season. For now we don’t really know, when he starts the season and in which form (not only devastated in New York but passed an ankle surgery during off-season). Rafa’s big bang parts of the year will go shorter. Similar to USO 2018 can happen in Paris 2019. Then maybe Rafa is done until the end of the season.

      3) IMO it’s not a mental problem for Zv. It’rather getting more variety to avoid running too much (as he is not designed to run much). And maybe getting better balance between the power in the upper body and relative weakness in the lower body.. Who can make him run a lot, will exhaust him, so he cannot play more than 3-4 5-setters with a lot of running.

      It seems, Lendl has some belief in this to be real – too professional to coach him for 1-2 years and not reaching the success. But probably not this year.

      Re 4) Yeah – Thiem, Coric, Khachanov, Tsitsipas, who else?

      1. 4) I didn’t include Thiem either. He’s a top 10 resident, got to a GS final and he’s 25. He’s not a “young gun” IMO. I believe he will keep improving in 2019 though.
        Khachanov, Coric and Tsitsipas are the obvious candidates. Medvedev is top 20 too and made big strides in 2018. I also think Shapovalov and De Minaur are able to make a step forward.
        Moreover, Rublev and Chung seemed like they are making a breakthrough in the end of 2017 and beginning of 2018, but injuries halted their progress.
        You can add Kyle Edmund to the mix of young guys who can maybe pull out upsets, also a top 20 guy under 25 years of age.
        I’m sure there will be ups and downs for these guys, but with so much talent and potential, we will see them pushing the veterans harder this year.

    2. A word about age. Yes, Thiem is no more young gun in terms of numbers, but he is a bit special case.

      First – he is late maturer, meaning his hormonal age is 2-3 year less, comparing to age-mates. So he is rather Zverev’s generation.

      Additionally he lost as teenager about 3 years after some mysterious infection, brought from a challenger in Ecuador and first diagnosed correctly and healed after about 3 years. 3 years of black hole for him in teenager years. Cannot deduct another 3 years, but for sure a year (such things can be compensated over years, but not at 100%).

      With a bit of simplifying we can still count him to the young gun group. If we want to take strictly the age only, Thiem’s generation is him, S hwartzman – a 1 older and Edmund – a year younger.

      And Thiem is one of not so many to make steady progress. No upsets, no setbacks.

      1. “meaning his hormonal age is 2-3 year less,”

        Isn’t this just your theory? What is based on? That he had a lesser beard than Dimitrov at 25?

      2. Regardless of Thiem’s hormonal age, when I wrote “young guns” I meant for young players who made their breakthrough from late 2017 until late 2018.
        So it’s not only a matter of age but mainly a matter of being new to the elite group of tennis players.
        Thiem broke into the top 20 in early 2015, and had single digit ranking in 2016.
        Zverev is top 10 for 18 months or so. Zverev is younger than most of the players I mentioned but I didn’t include him as a “young gun” because he’s already a top player. He has plenty of room to improve though.
        Tsitsipas, for example, had his first ATP win late 2017, when Zverev was already a top 10 player and two times masters champion.

        When I look ahead,

  11. We are certainly an international group. That list of languages is impressive.

    My prediction for Roger is that he will have an OK year, but not a great one, finishing at No. 5 and winning a couple titles, but not a Slam.

    I think Novak will have a good year, but will not totally dominate. He is getting older and injuries could be a problem. But I predicted earlier that he would finish at No. 1.

    How Rafa fares will depend a lot on his knees, and avoiding other injuries. If he is healthy, I think he will dominate on clay once again.

    Sascha will do much better at the slams, perhaps getting to a final, but I am not sure that he will win one.
    At least there are several young players who can make things difficult for the Big 3. Through sheer numbers, one of them may win a Slam. Possibly Thiem at RG if Rafa is not in top form or Khachanov at one of the hard court tourneys. But there are also a few other players who could do well – Delpo, Kei and Milos. For them it will be crucial to be injury-free during a Slam, and unfortunately that is a big problem.

    I hope Andy can have a successful season, finishing in the top 20. Anything more would be gravy. Stan is inconsistent at the best of times, so I am not optimistic about him.

    1. About continued dominance of Rafa on clay.
      Rafa has no more potential to improve. He needs to keep his trademark capability of fighting over long hours.

      But 2018 was only dominant in terms of titles. Every win cost him every year more.
      It was not on clay in New York, but this was first time since long Rafa have almost lost in five sets 4,5 hours epic. After that Rafa was not able to play until today and it’s not sure, he starts in Australia (if still not recovered from many problems, including ankle surgery, playing too much before clay is a risk for him to not be at his best in Paris). Thiem lost but was looking fresh and would be able to play another 2 sets, if necessary.

      As always there are lots of questions with no answers (2018 Thiem was 0:2 to Kudla in second round, but came back and won in 5. Some misfortune with another 5-setter lost to ´Sandgren , playing well but Sandgren was like Stakhovsky eliminating Federer in Wimbledon – at least ridiculous for someone playing 5 sets for the first time.

      If nothing ridiculous happens, Thiem will challenge Nadal harder than 2018 and will have more confidence. If it’s SF or F, Rafa will need to work harder than ever.

      Take Rafa at his best and Thiem at his best – and Thiem wins.

      Khachanov may show to one-time-thing in 2018. I recall 2012 in Paris Bercy, where my countryman, coming from nowhere, reached the final and was close to defeat Ferrer in the final. He was another big bang player. 2,02 m tall, serving regularly 240 kmh.

      Not much big things for Khachanov in 2018. Two titles (Marseille and Kremlin), both with rather weak fields. SF in Toronto, but no big opposition before (only Isner).

      I think, it’s not yet his time to go deep and/or win regularly tournaments.

      Rather Kei or Delpo, if fit, which is always a problem for both.

    2. Kind of an interesting year for Raonic, he was very poor this year. He needs to come in looking lean, last season he looked like a tank on court.

      I feel more optimistic about Stan than Murray. Murray’s forehand technique with his injury likely going to be a weakness. Interesting to see if he can generate as much power.

      1. Raonic suffered a severe injury in the off season and could not even train for several weeks. He probably came back too soon, and did not have time to get into shape.
        He did get in better shape as the season went on, but was, as usual, hampered by injuries. Right now he looks fine, and hopefully is injury-free. Today, December 27, is his 28th birthday.

      2. Novak enticed his physio back to his camp so fragile Rao has more issues ! The poor guy has his team depleted repeatedly by top guys, then his physical issues with a breakdown body type & for a guy so dedicated its odd how he lets the weight pile on when a nutritionist could easily help him solve it? Shows how windows of opportunity in careers can be so fleeting !

  12. Thanks Jonathan for your wishes and to all for the predictions and analyses.

    Maybe, we should just be happy for watching the Maestro play… just play… in 2019, at 37-38 years of age…

    And sing…
    “Que será, será 
    Whatever will be, will be 
    The future’s not ours to see”.

    Maybe, clay is not good for him, but French people (of whom I am) would be so glad to welcome him again in Paris…

    As I am not good at reading in the crystal ball, herebelow are just a few lines I wrote two weeks ago…

    “If poetry could dance, it would be called Roger Federer”(*)

    Dear Roger,
    In the heart of winter, the Northern hemisphere shivers –
    between snow and showers.
    In my country, alas, people are in anger (1).
    Not far from your country, the news report horror (2).

    In the warmth  of my house,
    to forget those bad news,
    I am ready to watch :
    your endless elegance,
    your joy and your sheer dance,
    your swift and happy moves,
    waltzing feather-light shoes,
    your mellow knight costume,
    bright like the Aussie moon.

    Near the Yarra river,
    an arena was  built – named after Rod Laver –
    one of those you prefer, to play in, in summer.
    In Australia, you won, in the heat of Melbourne,
    gave lofty emotions to your fans, by millions.
    In a few weeks, come on…will rock a new Open.
    What a competition, your sport’s celebration !

    I wish you all the best, and even betterer.
    Because you are unique, dear Mister Federer.
    Grateful to you, we’ll be, forever and ever.
    With your smile and your game, you  warm up our winters !

    From France.

    (*) A title borrowed from @SharadaK6
    That sentence on her twitter account gave me the idea of the poem.
    (1) the yellow vests’ social conflict, lasting for several weeks.
    (2) the Strasburg events near the Xmas market – 10 days ago.

    1. FBRF, Nice..
      Whatever will be, will be

      I am happy enough just to see him on court, showing his magic. I hope I will be able to see him live in 2019. AO 2015 was a blast but he left too early.

      Anyway, thanks Jonathan for the posts all year long. 2018 was not as spectacular as 2017 for Federer, but hey, he got #20 and thats amazing already.

      And thanks to all Fed Fans here who keep the comment section interesting to read, celebrated his win and made it easier when he was not at his best. Lets hope for a great year in 2019

      Happy New Year, Selamat Tahun Baru!

      Ah for the 2019 questions from Jonathan
      – I hope not, I can’t stand watching robotic-ugly-boring tennis (my personal opinion though). But strange that whenever he played Federer, his game become interesting to watch. Good match up?
      – Rafa will focus on clay I believe, that’s his best shot at slam
      – Zverev? I think he will have a good 2019, and his day of winning slam probably getting closer too
      – I can’t answer this one as I don’t know who to watch. Over the past few years young guns come, but go as fast as they come. I was expecting Dimitrov, Raonic, and some others to deliver years back, but big 3 still clean sweep all GS those years. Still can’t believe that between 2004-2018 they took 46 out of 56. How many young guns come and go between those 14 years 🙂
      – I am hoping for Stan but for Andy I have doubt.

  13. If Roger is succumbing to injuries that isn’t going to change. I would be very surprised if he gets through the coming year injury-free. Personally, I don’t like to hear him – or anyone – talk about injuries in the wake of losses. It discredits the opponent’s win and smacks of excuses.

    Nadal – who is always “injured” – will be back running as he always does, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the edge has gone and he gets toppled from his clay court dominance.

    Although Djokovic seems close to peak form his losses in Paris and London suggest to me that he, too, can be beaten now by a big-hitter having a good day. I don’t think he will dominate at the slams as he did before 2016. I think we are in for more surprise upsets this coming year. My prediction is that the big-three are on their way out.

    1. Agree – it was a great tennis era and it a kind of locked circle with the dominance of Biig3 (Big4 was invented by actually never existed).

      They all brought important things to tennis. I have learned an interesting approach on this blog https://mcshowblog.com/, rather telling about history of tennis, than representing some fanbase.

      The motto is “How Roger Federer Ruined Tennis”, while “creating” two monsters, only designed to beat him (Rafa and Novak). But at the same time this brought tennis to another level. If these 2 monsters didn’t exist, Federer would leave tennis 10 years ago, being bored by his mon-dominance.

      These two monsters made him develop his tennis and vice versa. They all delivered so many epic matches against each other. Ho would today’s tennis look like, not only without Federer, but also without both of His Two Monsters?

      I agree, the time is coming to close this era and I imagine, even Roger would be happy to be allowed to leave the scene, still being young and fresh but one pf so many nextgens finally to overtake the job. And letting him have his happy family, maybe become a mentor or coach of those who finally will beat him before he is too old. To beat him the way, every Maestro must eagerly look for.

      To see nextgens bringing tennis to another level. This way his destiny and mission and job in tennis would be finally fulfilled.

      So many of those nextgens were somehow coached and mentored by him, including direct interactions. I’m still waiting for some epics between them and the best of nextgens (like Thiems epics against Nadal last USO), not destroying, but overtaking the leadership in style and creating a new tennis era.

      But I’m not sure, if this is going to happen. Some big hole between Bi3 inevitably fading and no replacement in sight, would maybe kill tennis.

      1. I don’t care much about this. But IMHO if you say after 2 month, you were still playing with an injury, you are discrediting everyone, who defeated you during this time, you are a kind of telling “you won not by playing well but because I was injured”.

        Not Roger’s style and for sure not the intention. Rather a message to fans.

        And they are all strong enough to survive 🙂 Still for most to defeat Federer is a big thing even if it is obvious, he is not at his best (whatever the reason”.

        Thiem won two matches against Fed, both at the time of his comeback from knee injury. Federer was still a big challenge for Thiem. Thiem was happy to have won, of course knowing, it’s not TOP FEDERER.

        And winning in Stuttgart (to win the title after that) was an unreal experience for him. And there was no need for Federer to look for excuses. The match was even, Thiem was playing another level, he maybe did not play on before and after and he could not believe, he did it.

        Years before (at 16) he could have a practice with Fed on grass https://youtu.be/dQGPjp9emZk, which was maybe on of his biggest experiences “meeting” Federer 🙂

      2. I don’t agree. When there is no injury apparent at the time of the match but “injury” then gets raised some time later it only comes across as an excuse for the loss, and it does undermine the opponent’s win retrospectively. It doesn’t make any difference that it is two months later. Nadal is a master at doing this, with his “knees”. I’m disappointed to see Roger taking a leaf out of his book. It’s noticeable now that Roger does it more often as his form declines. If you aren’t feeling a hundred per cent in a match, take your lumps, shut up about it – and get better.

      3. I don’t get why people get into such a knot about sports athletes, especially tennis players, talk about an injury. The press are always asking the players about it. They are always asking Fed during a tournament if he is injury free and he says he feels great. Usually Roger lies at first. Then way down the road, he spills the beans and talks about it. It has NOTHING to do with the opponent or the outcome of the match. It just is what it is.
        If players didn’t play injured, I don’t think a tournament would even happen.

      4. @Sue

        If there was no significance attached to the injury, there would be no reason for anyone to raise it. For commentators or observers to notice it, and comment on it, is one thing, but when the player does this – especially when it isn’t apparent during the match – it only signals one thing. An excuse for losing or a poor performance. All sportsmen know this – even if some fans don’t. Roger hates losing as much as anyone – unfortunately he’s now more inclined to show it.

      5. I think, it tells more about Federer’s (physical and emotional) shape than about anything else.

        My overall and long-term impression was/is, Federer was/is always more emotional both in winning and losing.

        I don’t think, it’s really important for the opponent, how Federer reacts to his wins and losses and when does he express it.

        To those, who believe, Federer is perfect. It’s subjective so anyone (typical fanboy or fangirl, caring more about the drama than on tennis itself)) can state anything and discussing such statements has little sense.

        If I know, I have defeated my opponent, simply being bettter this given day but the opponent speaks about his injury, hard life, having conflict with his wife or girlfriend or just having to work hard on chopping wood for his chimney, before or after the match or a year after that, it’s always disgusting.

        Going to play but telling or giving signals before the match to not be at 100%, is always nothing but excuse. If this is nerving me or not, it’s my business, but usually I’m offering the opponent to have a light practice rather than play a match.

        When someone does if after the match (directly or after 2 years), I can only laugh and ignore. I know, you need to find an excuse, which means, it still hurts you to have lost.

        If it hurts you, do what you need to do to feel better. And for me this is a signal, I have hurt the opponent more than I was expected to. So I personally would think – OK, I have not only defeated you but the defeat was not expected, so I was probably better than I could think myself.

        Conclusion: thank you very much for compliment even if your intention is to diminish the value of my win.. No matter your intentions I fell, my game must have been unexpectedly well and if my opponent was the GOAT, it makes my win to be worth more..

        With this interpretation all the world is happy. The loser has his excuses (addressing probably his fans rather then the opponent), I have my satisfaction doubled. Fans are less frustrated.

        On the end all this not worth to drop a word. Everyone should take it according to his/her needs. Not necessary to discuss, because everyone is emotionally different. But everyone to express his feelings about such things is of course OK. Just for those who are more emotional about eventual sufferings of their hero than about the game itself.

      6. Many were wondering why his serving and shooting were all of a sudden so shaky. I think that the explanation of injure during training was something he owed to us, interested in and following his situation. The discussion about excuse for losing and wether ok or not, is terribly uninteresting except for what it shows about the sport of disputing and the fans of that.

      7. “The press are always asking the players about it. They are always asking Fed during a tournament if he is injury free and he says he feels great. Usually Roger lies at first. Then way down the road, he spills the beans and talks about it. It has NOTHING to do with the opponent or the outcome of the match. It just is what it is.”

        Exactly. The press are pushing for answers non-stop. It’s not like Roger is calling for a press conference to specifically discuss how a thigh strain ended his 2010 Wimbledon bid against Berdych, five years down the line 😆 It doesn’t show sour grapes or anything. In most cases, the reference to an injury is part of a larger answer.

        PRF, if your friends are bringing up a reason they lost a match to you 6 months down the line, you need new friends 😆

      8. @Jonathan
        Right, Jonathan. I need new friends. But not easy to find new friends at my age (Not only Fed is ageing ;)).

        I use another approach. Don’t call them friends at all. I simply need someone to be on the other side and hit the ball back or I must go to hit the wall 😉

        A Polish proverb says (DeepL translation) “If you want to meet a friend, you have to eat a barrel of salt with him”. And the other says “Better less but better”.

        BTW – I don’t really need new human friends. The only disadvantage to have a dog or deer in the forest as friends is, they hardly can hold the racket in their paws 😉

      9. I agree though if a player uses an excuse immediately after a match or a day later at practice or something. I just think ok mate, fair enough but nobody really cares 😀

        If someone I had played came back 6 months later to tell me they had a leg injury the last time we played I’d think they were a bit special and probably need sectioning.

      10. @Jonathan
        Yeah – a bit special. Sectioning could help 😉 But I had some direct answer – “mate, 6 months ago I was on Bahamas – you must have played another girl 😉

        I have learned a lot from playing local tournaments. The best you can do is not participate in (at least in my country). If I want to for some reason, I tell the opponent before the match – he should call outs on both sides of the net and tell me, if needed, if I’m staying on the wrong side 😉 Then I have a wristband with Babolat’s PIQ sensor after back home, I know, how well I have played, no matter, what was the opponent doing.

        I expect mainly he brings the ball quite regularly back, so I have to do 🙂

        This of course cannot apply to pro players 🙂

      11. @Sue

        I don’t know, if it’s true about lying first (=telling, he is healthy, when he is in fact injured). But I assume, you have observed this and you are right about how it happens.

        Maybe tactics for opponents not to know, he has some problems.

        But this would be too childish for a 37 years old. On the other side of the net stays another tennis pro and whatever you tell to the press, the opponent knows after first game, what a problem you have. Nonsense.

        Maybe just trying to avoid diminishing the eventual opponent’s win? Even more childish. And even if this is the intention, the result is the opposite. Just liker you lose the match, congratulate the opponent, tell in the post-match interview, the win of the opponent was well deserved (=he was just better this days). Then telling to anyone (not private) “Ah, I played miserably, but … credits to my opponent, is the worst one can do.

        This way the loser tells the world, the winner is generally so weak, he would never win a game against me, if I only was not playing so poor. Everyone must think then . OK, why do you did play so poor? The answer “bad day in the office or I don’t know would be stupid. Telling now truth – I was injured – would mean I was lying twice (or more). First lying about being fully fit (before the match). Second – telling the opponent , his win was deserved. It was not, because I was in poor condition.

        Very ridiculous sportsmanship.

        Once you tell the opponent (via press or directly), you should forget the issue you eventually had. And never spill the beans.

        Only my opinion. But I’m not only thinking so, I’m also doing so. Of course I have no press interviews 😉 And my steel rule is – I never drop a word about my health. If I get seriously injured during the match, I must ask for assistance and/or stop to play. If I can continue to play, I’m rather focused on not showing, I have something than on trying to win.

        Maybe my rules are not professional – I’m only recreation player 😉

      12. The only relevance of an injury is whether it affects your play. If you raise it, or admit to it under questioning, you are saying that it reduced your performance. If you didn’t leave the court because you could no longer play, then it is an excuse – whether it is admitted to straight after the match or years later. Sportsmen know that. Nadal is well known for this. Years after the match, he has said his knees were an issue when he lost to Soderling at the FO. An excuse that devalues Soderling’s win. Years after he was dumped out of successive Wimbledons he says his knees were a problem. Excuses again. He has reduced those wins by Rosol, Darcis, Kyrgios, Brown and Mueller. They all thought they beat him fair and square – as I did, when watching those matches.

        Now Roger talks of wrist issues since Wimbledon. It looked as though he lost fair and square to Anderson in their semi, but Roger’s effectively saying – if the injury was significant (and why raise it if it wasn’t?) – that he might have otherwise won. That’s called an excuse, and devalues Anderson’s win by rewriting history some months later.

        The only injuries that count are those that stop you from playing. If you are on court you don’t talk about them later. Period. If you are an elite player, you don’t have to go
        along with media speculation. But, increasingly, that isn’t the way now, with too many elite sportsmen protecting their egos (or their fans doing it for them) by talking about their “injuries” after losing.

      13. “That’s called an excuse, and devalues Anderson’s win by rewriting history some months later.”

        Talk about over dramatic. Do they put an asterisk in the scorebook? It hasn’t devalued anything.

        You clearly don’t read his quotes or press. Insight into injuries is never offered as some sort of excuse. They’re given as part of an answer and rarely attributed to specific matches. The hand thing, for example, is pointed towards Stuttgart, Halle, and Wimbledon. Still felt it at USO, and even a little at the back end of the season. He won Stuttgart and Basel, does that belittle his opponents, as he won with a hand niggle?

        You are longing for the days when elite sportsman didn’t talk about injuries. Except there were no press conferences, no tv coverage, little media coverage, and no social media. So we have no idea what they would have said.

      14. Jonathan, if an injury would have made no difference to the outcome of a match there’s no point in mentioning it. So why do players, or fans or commentators, talk about injuries? It inevitably implies the player’s performance was impaired, which means they might not have lost. So it sounds like an excuse. If you heard someone you beat say several months later that he had been injured I can guess your response. So why was he on court?

        No – it isn’t a big deal and it certainly doesn’t change the result but it does suggest a sore loser.

        I don’t happen to think injuries are Roger’s biggest problem. He can still get to match points against his opponents while apparently “injured” but then blows it with easy misses. That’s mental fragility. And he’s finding it harder to accept he isn’t the player he was. So talk of injuries probably helps him (and his fans) deal better with the fact he played sub-par. As I said earlier, Nadal has been a beauty for doing this. I don’t care to hear the same from Roger.

      15. If I beat someone, they’re not asked every week for the next 6 months whether they were injured or not by the press, whether they are pain-free, how their game is now compared to 6 months ago, ‘your level seems higher than 6 months ago now, why is that”? etc. etc. so crap example.

        This comment thread has gone daft tbh, Fed mentions in press his hand after the Laver Cup, very vaguely as part of an answer to a question with no specifics or explicitly saying I lost because of my hand. Now to you, he’s a guy who makes excuses non stop for losses 🤔

      16. If he couldn’t play, then I am prepared to hear about injuries as an explanation. But if he can play, they don’t count. Of course he isn’t going to say it’s the reason why he lost or played badly but that’s what it means, otherwise there’s no reason to talk about it. He doesn’t have to buy into media speculation. He avoided saying anything meaningful about Serena’s latest meltdown and he would be unlikely to get into a doping discussion. Roger is a practised diplomat – he knows the messages he’s putting across.

        I don’t think he’s always playing the injury card but there was a time he never mentioned it; it’s cropping up more often now. Two things: if he’s getting more injured then that will only get worse, and talking about it can become a sop to painful – hard to accept – losses.

  14. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all of you, too! Great to have Federer’s matches to look forward to, and for that I am just so grateful. One more year of Federer. I try hard not to have any expectations at the moment, except for title no.100, the sooner the better, And only hope that he plays without pain and with joy.

    As for the other questions,
    1. Yes, I do think Novak will dominate some part of 2019, although he has a huge amount of points to defend from Wimbledon onwards, so I hope that the template of younger, stronger players beating him (Khachanov, Zverev, Tsitsipas) continues.
    2. Rafa and clay…can’t make a guess about when this marriage will crack. I’m hoping Thiem his big clay wins (masters 1000s, slam) this year, long overdue.
    3. The WTF was best of 3, so totally different from best of 5 formats. Sascha is already one of the best currently on best of 3, so the WTF actually proves nothing new. I do hope he’ll crack the slam code in 2019, but that hope’s not based on his WTF performance but his generally upward learning curve and his very obvious ambition.
    4. A whole bunch of these young players are talented and exciting, I especially like Tsitsipas, Shapovalov and, of course, Sascha. Then there’s Coric, Khachanov, and the rest, all capable of winning big. Would love it also if Nick won one, just when everybody, including he himself, had given up on him.
    5. Stan and Andy…much as I like them both and thank god for the three slams each won, I think it’s a bit late in the day for them to come back and win more slams.

    1. Maybe Murray / Stan don’t have to win slams to be ‘back’ as such, just competing at the latter stages. When did one of them last make a quarter? I guess Murray but can’t even remember.

      1. Murray was in the semis at FO in 2017, he lost to Stan, who lost to Rafa in the finals. In fact, that semi was a hard fought one, I enjoyed it thoroughly, it was pretty disappointing how Stan lost tamely to Rafa in the final two days later. God, that seems ages away, doesn’t it! I think that was the last quarters or beyond Andy reached, (or Stan).

  15. I just hope to see Roger playing well because the variety that
    he brings makes it so worth the watch. I know that Novak
    was playing well enough to win 2 slams, yet I don’t think he
    was nearly as good as before, I was totally surprised that he
    lost Paris and Year end Finals and I thought he was well
    beaten. Can’t seem to think what will happen in 2019
    there for the first time seems to be quite a few new names
    on the horizon (or maybe not so new)….but C’mon Fed
    put down the crayfish and pick up the racket x

  16. Happy New Year everyone!
    The interesting thing about sport is the great unknowns. I can’t see Stan or Andy back to the top. With Andy, seems he ruined his body that fall playing everything in site to get to #1.
    I see Nadal focusing on clay. The nextgen moving up and starting to win slams. A huge group of talent moving up the rankings. Djokovic will win but not like 2018. I really don’t know if his heart is in it like before.

    Roger, please be happy and healthy. We love to watch the tennis you conjure up out of your top hat. Count down to Hopman Cup!

  17. I think if Roger plays clay next year, might be his last. Some news say that he has had an “intense” off-season which makes me think he wants to give his last,best shot next year and maybe that’s it after. Anyways, I think he will do decent, staying on the top 5, maybe winning a big title depending on his form and luck. Would be interesting to see if he plays clay, how he will perform. Would be nice to see him play RG. Now about the questions.
    Will Novak continue to dominate as he did for the second half 2018?
    Maybe not dominate but good enough to stay first.
    Can Nadal come back all guns blazing and rule on clay?
    If his health is good then probably yes.
    Does Zverev kick on from the World Tour Finals and finally deliver in a Grand Slam?
    Don’t think he will win a slam in 2019 but I expect for him to be at least in the QF’s at all four slams.
    Which other players can break the Big 3 stranglehold on Slams? Thiem? Khachanov? Tsitsipas?
    Level between Big 3 and rest is huge. I don’t know what’s with all the Thiem hype but I can’t see him winning a slam. IMO, he is another Dimitrov. Very inconsistent. Khachanov may become a force but I don’t know whether he can elevate his game mentally. Although he has a very physical game with a lot of powerful shots which can dispatch everyone at a good day. I am willing to bet on Tsitsipas or Shapovalov winning a slam but won’t happen soon.
    Will Stan and Murray get back to the top?
    Murray is done. I think Stan can make a comeback to the top 10.

      1. Nice if that’s true about the intense off-work. But I don’t think he’ll retire soon if he goes well in next tours. It might as well be just because he’s not satisfied with his playing lately, and wants to improve.

      2. Several sources quoted Roger saying he’d had an “intense” off season. This is from rt.com:
        “I’ve been very happy with how the off-season went,” he said. “The last three or four weeks have been very intense. I’m very excited and motivated for this next season.”

      3. He has a lot of points to defend in AO, so that may be a very strong motivation. Plus hopefully it’s because of his hand finally letting him train intensely.

  18. Thank you Jonathan for keeping this blog so interesting even for those of us who do not play tennis but just admire the art and grace of Maestro Roger.
    I agree with FBRF “whatever will be will be” –just watching him play and enjoy his game is enough for Tennis in general. And not only Tennis, Maestro is like an oasis in the turmoil that sometimes we go through.
    HAPPY NEW YEAR to everyone!

  19. I am inclined to agree with Armstrong that 2019 may well see the big three become limited in their dominance.At long last
    there are young players who can take the fight to them and are not paralysed with nerves at the crucial moments in matches.That is why Sasha and Karens victories over The Djoker were really significant I think.Nadal cannot win RG for
    ever.Thiem came within a few points of beating him in their last match,it would be nice to see him win on clay.The sport needs new champions.
    A happy new year to everyone😄

    1. None of those new young’s are very interesting to me. I just hope Roger will be playing along as long as he likes. And hopefully another as interesting comes up when Roger quits. But maybe that’s not possible. So be it, sigh…

  20. Fed will go after Connors records:
    ATP match wins
    ATP titles
    He will take a major chunk (may be at least 55 match wins and 6 titles) in 2019; the remaining gap will be closed in 2020.
    Just add olympics singles gold to finish off incredible career

  21. Well Armstrong7 we can dream can’t we haha! Somehow in my
    mind I thought Roger would play until 2020 since he seems such
    a precise athlete 2020 seems a cool number…..all that nothing to
    with tennis because I just don’t know how much more Federer can
    give as a Fan enough is never enough. But that doesn’t mean that
    I don’t want him to win more!! Hoping a good and prosperous
    NEW YEAR to all as they say ‘awe the best’ x

    1. Agree Elizabeth. As nobody cannot predict anything precisely, especially concerning our creative hero, we might as well dream. And dreams sometimes come true, believe it!

      1. @muser

        If you “might as well dream” you might as well not be in the real world. And in a dream state, your “creative hero” is hardly real. What is that but blind hero-worship?

    1. And he will play tomorrow at the Hopman Cup… and it will be fun. Enjoy, guys, enjoy !
      Will you comment on the Hopman Cup, Jonathan ?

  22. It might be an annoying season, because the R word will be there everytime.
    After every tournament he wins or after every disappointing loss he will be asked “Is this your final time here…? will you be back next year…?” etc.
    Why do we need the media, remind me again?

  23. While many have enough of the “telling-about-injury” discussion, it seems to be important. If it wasn’t, the discussion would die long ago.

    There is maybe an aspect, nobody wants to talk about.

    There are some ATP rules for injuries. There are none for pressers, social media a.s.o.

    To be possibly short.

    1. It’s more about gentleman’s code than anything else. Federer is seen nor only as GOAT (no matter the definition) but also as a role model (in every aspect), someone being PERFECT in everything he does. If something (still human and acceptable, but not for TENNIS GOD) does not fit this image (not necessary but created by fans and himself), some are rather ready to change definition (what’s gentleman’s code, what’s sportsmanship) than let him show his human face.

    2. On the other side it’s about EGO. Big player, BIG WINNER. Owner of every possible record. Does it go without big ego? Maybe not. But this ego leads sometimes to go dubious ways. Federer cries and makes some great histeria after losing to Nadal in AO 2009. The ugliest ego explosion I have ever seen on courts. But I know, how many think, it was not only acceptable, but even another proof of Fed being the (upcoming) GOAT. And it was soooo natural and soooo beautiful. The same ego leads now to what we are just discussing about.

    3. Federer was never a GOOD LOSER. But this belongs to GREATNESS. This part of greatness is, what Federer misses.

    This is my last post on this debate. Everyone will stay with his own conviction, so what’s the sense of the debate? Federer is too great to be subject of a debate, right? Nobody is perfect – he is. PERIOD

    1. Federer has cried in victory and in defeat. That puts paid to your ego point.

      The ugliest explosion of ego I have seen on a tennis blog was a commenter announcing publicly multiple times he would leave, then was back less than 24 hours later in every case. That told me they are not a man of their word. The characteristics of a worm. 😆

      1. Jonathan, have you ever seen a display like that after his loss in the 2009 AO? He had to be consoled by Nadal. If it isn’t wounded ego, what is it?

      2. Jonathan, it’s a bit of a stretch to say anyone has to be consoled for winning. Emotions are there but they are hardly disappointment. But it isn’t just tears – Roger has sometimes shown a palpable lack of warmth to a winning opponent and has made subtle remarks afterwards that can smack of sour grapes; like his response after Djokovic beat him in the 2010 USO semi, by crushing a fh on a match-point down, with the comment that “most of us learned not to do that in the juniors”.

      3. Well, I wanted to stop but the thread seems to be still alive.

        Why did he make similar histeria when winning? I don’t know about any special reasons, so I would assume, this was another expression of his big ego. Matter of taste, but big ego is not something I especially like. It’s like expecting all the world to be happy with his win. Of course not everyone was happy.

        And doing this, you simply try to draw attention to yourself.

        You may like it. I know, many like his childish behaviors , thinking it to be a part of his greatness. For me he is great for lots of other things. His big ego circus is for me disgusting and I’m even not sure, it’s genuine.

        Let him have some weakness. Making big ego circus belongs to the ritual in sports. Still I find it disgusting – the same for Fed and Messi or Ronaldo and thousands of others copy-pasting the ritual.

        If for this part of ritual Fed was the role model in tennis, nothing to be proud about.

        BTW – 2007, win over Rios. Federer falls “emotionally” to the ground after last point. But the match was not epic. Nothing to compare with his epic Rafa wins and defeats. And if you watch carefully, you can see Federer still on the ground, how he look to the side (small pause in the circus – is all the world watching? crying? standing ovation? – then the circus continues.

        I know, he was not the first to celebrate like this. It’s ugly for me equally if Fed is doing so or anybody else in any sport.

        This shows, what really the professional sport is. Big show for big money. Excellent play is not enough. There must be every kind of pumping on court, in player’s boxes and in the crowd.

        The crowd (as simply “another kind of mob” has big ego too. Everyone does things he normally thinks are disgusting and stupid. If you are part of the mob, you must follow the cheerleader.

        I think, this comes from US-made mass culture

      4. So no answers as to why he cried in similar fashion in the ceremony 3 years earlier then 😆 2009 was all about ego, but 2006 let’s just brush that one under the carpet. Instead, we’ll produce a misquote from Fed’s US Open 2011 loss.

        He said “I mean, please. Some players grow up and play like that – being down 5-2 in the third, and they all just start slapping shots. I never played that way. I believe hard work’s going to pay off, because early on maybe I didn’t always work at my hardest. For me, this is very hard to understand. How can you play a shot like that on match point? Maybe he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very normal. You’ve got to ask him.”

        There are no two ways about it, Fed struggled to accept that loss. But can you blame him!? He sounds a bit pissy in a press conference 20 mins after the loss and it’s a bit condescending. I remember once when Djoker said he was outplaying Nadal on clay in a match he had to retire in 😆 so this stuff happens all the time.

        But does that make him a bad loser? I don’t think so. For me, if Fed were a bad loser, it would be impossible for him to be as graceful a winner as he is.

      5. Point above. I wonder how you see an anonymous and thus unaccountable poster on a blog can be “a man of their word”? I assume you are talking about a blog about doping rather than tennis, where banning commenters was a routine response to removing unpopular opinion, when abuse failed. No ugly ego in that, of course.

      6. @PRF I meant 2006. But anyway:

        BTW – 2007, win over Rios. Federer falls “emotionally” to the ground after last point. But the match was not epic. Nothing to compare with his epic Rafa wins and defeats. And if you watch carefully, you can see Federer still on the ground, how he look to the side (small pause in the circus – is all the world watching? crying? standing ovation? – then the circus continues.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XN9WtTCLOxg

        Haha what a weird way of thinking you have. So in this clip, he looks up to ascertain what public reaction is? 😆 Or in the real world (one that is round, not flat) he looks across to his box?

      7. Why does the format matter? If you say you will do something, then don’t. Blog comments, text message, face to face etc., it’s the same thing… I don’t get the doping blog reference.

      8. Jonathan, I don’t get the reference to a tennis blog or even make sense of the accusation. But it’s a sheltered world if that’s the worst display of ego on-line that you think you’ve seen. It is arguable that even maintaining a blog is itself a display of ego, quite apart from the subject matter.

      9. No idea what you mean, but I was trolling. But here it is in black and white for you. PRF said the worst display of ego he had seen his tennis was Fed crying at AO 2009.

        My reply was that the worst display of ego I’d seen, was him, saying countless times “I am done here now, goodbye” “my last comment on this blog” etc only to return 3 hours later to have one more word 😆 was it the worst display of ego I’ve seen? No, but sarcasm is lost on most people.

    2. I’ll agree that he’s never been a particularly good loser, and now he’s losing more often – especially in big matches – that part of his character is being increasingly tested. He has feet of clay.

      It’s becoming harder to watch Roger now, because not only is it difficult for him to play with the sustained brilliance he use to, it is clearly more stressful for him. He shows it in visible displays of irritation, and it is there in errors under pressure, and in erratic and inconsistent play. He is often poor in the clutch. It must be difficult for him that he cannot summon his gifts when he requires them, as he once did so effortlessly. He has become mortal.

      1. The second part is obvios though, in some matches last year he certainly did look irritated and not too interested in playing. But isn’t that just part of a career, especially one so long that we rarely see? It takes no gloss off his greatness. Look at Phil Taylor in the darts, his career has a similar path to Federer’s.

        You have been pushing this track for like 3 years though, that Fed is hard to watch now and a shadow of his former self bla bla bla. Then he beats Nadal in 5 sets at the Aus Open :lol:. Then he loses again and back to square one. There will come a time when you are right and the racquet is hung up, but why beat the same drum? It must be for your own peace of mind or ?

      2. I don’t think any of us picked his incredible renaissance in the first part of 2017. He certainly was in decline from 2013 and finally looked on his way out in 2016 with a sustained break from the game. At his age, it was unsurprising. 2017 couldn’t have been predicted, but was fantastic to watch. Like many, I wish it could have lasted longer. But it was an Indian summer. The equally sudden fall-off in his game in 2018 is disappointing for his fans to see – and I have long been such, since 2003.

        But I’ll ask you the question: would you have picked the kind of comeback he made in 2017? And in what direction is his game going now?

      3. What has me predicting a slam win got to do with it? I was doubtful he would add to 17 slams, but I wasn’t writing his obituary every time he lost. I just took the rough with the smooth. I’ve definitely criticised after losses but I wasn’t on that tract non-stop. For me, the decline started in 2008 when he lost to lowly ranked players outside his norm. Since then it’s been a gradual decline and he’s been able to develop his game, bounce back time and time again and here we are on the brink of the 2019 season.

        I was asking you what you gain from saying he’s hard to watch and you yearn for prime Federer?

      4. @Jonathan

        2017 was two things. Federer changed his game to hit backhand and go more often to the net. But this was a year without many great rivals. Some still at early stage of coming back. Others in a downhill – Wawrinka, del Potro, Murray, Djokovic, Nishikori, Raonic. Only Nadal was there. Younger players not yet ready for a big challenge.

        Fed’s draw at AO 2017 was a djoke. Nadal was in a poor form.

        2017 was only partly Federer’s renaissance. 2018 was back the real competition on tour and Federer did play poor all over the year.

        Now some start to “believe”, he will win most of big titles again. The ego of so many FedFans is bigger than Fed’s. Funny? No. Disgusting.

      5. Jonathan, I don’t gain anything from it; I simply call it as I see it. As a fan of his – and of the game – I have taken great pleasure from watching him over the years. But I am not the kind of fan who worships him, to the extent all he has to do is appear on a tennis court and I am happy, regardless of how he plays. He is not some kind of pop-star I swoon over – as some apparently do. Because I so admired his game it is disappointing to see it fading. But in that respect, I don’t think your observations about his career are very different from mine, except you tend to think the glass is half-full.

      6. More genius level thinking from @PRF. Fed won in 2017 because he had no competition. Fed lost in 2018 because he had competition 😆 yes it’s really that simple. If you win titles = there were no good players. If you don’t win titles = players are too good.

        I can’t believe we haven’t seen you next to Bresnik in Thiem’s box as of yet?!

      7. It’s disappointing because I so often found his game so inspiring. When he bumbles around the court like a journeyman – or even loses to one – it is kind of painful, because I’ve cared. I can’t view these contests with philosophical detachment. Most sports fans can’t. I felt the same when I saw Muhammad Ali getting the lights beaten out of him by Holmes. I don’t enjoy it. I suppose it goes with my not liking losing. Sore loser, perhaps.

      8. @Jonathan

        If you watched Thiem’s matches, you would know, I’m there in Thiem’s box. But you have never seen me in person, so it’s easy to understand, why do you miss me there, hahaha …

        A bit more serious.

        You are putting the cart before the horse. My comment applies to the very specific situation on tour. For example Thiem was then ranked 4 or 5.
        I have told Bresnik, not to think, Thiem is really Top5 now. Thiem had some “advantage” (proportional to his general position) in the ranking at this time too.

        Another difference between both. Biggest Federer’s opponents (on hard) were out of contention. Thiem’s biggest opponents (on clay) were still there.

        But we speak about Federer, no? Not sure, but I see since some years some mysterious person in Fed’s box – this may be you 😉 So because of another perspective (Federer’s lounge) you may see Federer playing big. This looked differently from Thiem’s lounge, even if both didn’t play each other. that year.

        But you probably don’t follow neither Thiem, nor Bresnik or me 😉 You would know, if Thiem loses, it’s 100% because opponents were better. We all (Thiem, Bresnik and me) are on the same side in assessing losses.

        If Thiem wins, you can be sure, he did play his best, because Thiem never wins while not delivering his best performance – against Nadal or Federer or Djokovic or Sandgren 😉

        Sandgren has done good job for Federer, but not 2017.. Federer had only one serious opponent there – it was Cilic and Cilic was hurt.

        Should Thiem not lose to Sandgren (very ridiculous run for a challenger hero), he would beat Chung in QF and not withdraw against Fed in SF.

        You may lough, but 2018 Thiem did play very well in Australia and would be a hard nut for Federer.

        Well, this is “what-if” thinking and I don’t really think like that.

        Thiem had bad luck, because I could not fly to Melbourne and Bresnik didn’t know, what to say Thiem about strategy of playing a typical American, who wins only because nobody told him, he has actually no chance 😉

        Back to Fed – somehow he didn’t have big opposition in both 2017 and 2018. This is simply fact. Nadal was in a deep hole since French Open 2016. He started his comeback in Miami 2017.

  24. @Jon

    Back in the day you wrote, long comments are not a problem, assumed, I use paragraphs. I’m polite student. I use paragraphs now. But you found always something to claim about. OK, OK, you are here Grand Boss 🙂

  25. @prf

    I don’t agree Federer had it easy in 2017. Nadal was playing near his best at the AO and it took Roger’s best game to beat him. Even if Djokovic, Murray or Stan had not been injured or in poor form during that period, they would have had their hands full with a revived Federer. On the other hand, the Djokovic resuscitation is one of the most suspicious things I’ve seen on a tennis court for years. But that’s pro sports.

  26. Thanks for flooding the comments thread @prf. You’re a joke mate.

    Thanks for another write up. Looking forward to this years aus open and adding to my only ever podium topping comment. Couldn’t care less about the mixed doubles against serena. I’m with J-Mac, serena would struggle to win points in th men’s game and lucky to be in the top 300

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