I thought rather than doing a post about the predictable Australian Open final tomorrow I'd take a look at what we can expect for Roger for 2013 and what he is likely to achieve.
Heading into Australia we had no real idea of what to expect, he hadn't played any lead up tournaments so it was entering the unknown really. Some fans were confident Slam 18 was a formality, others were worried he might slip up and end his Quarter Final streak; as it turned out, neither of those things happened.
Now the dust has settled on his 5 set loss to Andy Murray in the semi final and we saw Roger find his way through a tough draw I think we're all in a much better place to have some expectations for 2013 as a whole so let's take a look…
Why I'm feeling confident for Roger's 2013 season
Pre Australian Open I was pretty confident that Roger would have a good season, I thought winning a slam would be tricky, but not impossible and I figured he'd definitely still be adding some more titles to his already jam packed trophy cabinet. First off post Australian Open, none of that has changed.
And secondly, now Australia is finished and we've seen how he handled playing the top juniors, an inspired Tsonga and a prime Murray I'm even more excited about the rest of the season and I think you guys should be too.
Whether Roger wins a slam or not I still think he's going to factor quite significantly in all the big tournaments right through to the World Tour Finals. I also think we will see quite a few epic matches where he comes out on top and once again thrills live crowds and TV watchers across the globe. Here's why:
1. He knows where his game is at
If you think about, ahead of his first round match against Benoite Paire, Roger was in exactly the same position as his fans. He didn't know what to expect of himself either having not played for weeks. Obviously he had an idea but nothing was concrete. Was he in form? Had Djokovic and Murray moved to a completely new level? Those were all questions he needed answering.
But now, after playing 6 matches, he knows exactly where his game is at and perhaps even more importantly he knows that he is still right up there with guys like Djokovic and Murray who are 6 years his junior. Sure, he won't beat them everytime they play but he will beat them at least some of the time. And at 31 years of age I find that pretty incredible.
Roger went into the tournament obviously wanting to win, no doubt about it and even though he didn't achieve that I guarantee after the tournament is over he will have learned plenty.
He will know what he needs to work on, how he has to manage his body over future slams and the tactics/patterns of play that will be key to future matches against the likes of Tsonga, Murray and the young guns who are rising through the ranks.
It was also Annacones first time out court side since the World Tour Finals, the first time he's seen Murray post US Open form so his eyes also help things.
All this adds up for an interesting few months where I think we can expect Roger to put in some pretty sweet performances.
As a fan you have to remember he's always going to lose some tight matches especially on slower courts but I don't think we have to get down about those, they make the big wins all the more sweeter.
2. He's scheduled smart
The unique thing about Roger is that he has massive talent, but he also has a lot of intelligence. It's a rare combination as most talented sports people tend to be completely brain dead, which often means they never reach their true potential.
Because of his ability to think he's planned out a great schedule for 2013 that allows him to ensure he's in great condition both mentally and physically to compete at the top level for an entire season.
I know some fans moaned, oh he's skipping Miami, why is he not playing Monte Carlo but playing every tournament going was never going to be wise. It was Roger's only option to stay healthy and make sure he scheduled recovery periods in between big tournaments.
If he were to play all those tournaments and Davis Cup he'd be basically ruining his chances of performing in the Slams. Nobody wants to see that.
His GOAT scheduling yet again makes me think he will be in good shape when it really matters, and his rest periods allow time to both get rid of niggles and also to practise on the areas that he and his team have earmarked as areas for improvement.
3. He's skipping Davis Cup
Another wise choice from Roger as he announced he wouldn't be available for Switzerland's opening Davis Cup tie against defending champions the Czech Republic.
The tennis tour is crazy enough at is in terms of travel without having to fly around the globe playing pointless matches in the Davis Cup.
As a player you have to make sacrifices, you either win Slams, or you play in Davis Cup. Simple fact really. By skipping it Roger has made his intentions clear, he wants to be in peak condition for the big tournaments against his fellow rivals.
If he was content just to make the second round of slams and just turn up for Masters 1000 he would have played the Davis Cup for sure, but no, he wants to keep competing at the top level and manage his body and schedule accordingly.
He's played over 600 matches on tour now, so I think he understands what needs to be done to challenge for a slam title, and if he didn't feel like it was possible then he wouldn't do it. All bodes well as far as I'm concerned.
What can we expect from Federer in 2013?
As far as I'm concerned we can only expect good thing to happen. The match against Murray showed he's still right up there competing with those guys. Yes he lost, it's never fun, but in the grand scheme of things it's not really too big of a deal.
Look back at the match, things weren't in his favour, Murray is a force these days and the courts are slow. What more could he have done? Forget tactics, 2nd serve returning and break point conversion for a minute, those things could have been better for sure but realistically he played as well as he could have played on that given day.
Look at is this way, the next time Fed and Murray meet it might be the same outcome, but based on how he competed over 5 sets yesterday we gotta remember it could also be a completely different result. Over his 6 matches in Australia we saw that Roger is capable of doing everything right for the duration of the match and winning in style. That for me makes 2013 sound pretty interesting.
So I go from here with a good feeling for the year. I didn’t play a tournament leading in, so now obviously I know where my level is at. Also knowing I have even more time to work on my game, work on my fitness this year. It’s something I’m excited about.
In terms of wins and losses, I don't have any expectations or predictions along the lines of “he will win 2 Masters 1000's, 1 slam and the World Tour Finals”, my expectations are simply that he'll continue to compete at the top level, carry on surprising a few people and no doubt suffer some tough losses too. At 31 that sounds like the peRFect season to me.
As I said in a previous blog post that the US Open is where I think there could be fireworks, it's a long way off but I get the feeling Federer has one eye on performing well in New York this year, maybe even more so than his beloved Wimbledon. One thing is for certain, barring any injuries, we'll find out!