Patrick Mouratoglou

Federer has to adapt to stay at the top

Patrick Mouratoglou

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An Australian Open final without either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal is a pretty rare event. Of course, everyone is talking about a handover in men's tennis as a result, but many observers, journalists and others are far too quick to jump to conclusions. I think they are going way too far.

Certainly, Federer has had a huge come down since the 2009 US Open. We know it and we have, on many occasions, analysed it. He only won one of the last six Grand Slams and wasn't in any of the last four finals of them. For Roger, we're talking about really bad stats.  

Yet, it's undeniable that, since last summer, he showed a new desire and a rising game level. He had great results at the end of 2010, especially winning the Masters Cup, though it wasn't enough in order to know if he'd be able to win in Melbourne.  

And now, the trademark of the Swiss, which has always been to be able to win when he was really wanting to, is seriously put in doubt.  

Roger is still playing at a very high level: his will and his determination will allow him to shine again. But he'll have to erase some mistakes which are costing him a lot.

Federer does still not play enough games: he's only relying on his natural talent and, unfortunately for him, it's not enough for him to win all the time anymore. This kind of behaviour is really tripping him up now in my opinion.

By playing like this, he's losing the habit of being there from the first to the last point and, because of it; he's going through a lot of ups and downs.

Overall, what hurts him the most right now is his focus quality or, even more, the duration he's able to keep this focus while playing a match under pressure.

Against Djokovic in the semi-final, but also during many other matches, we can see him play in periods: it's not rare either to see him getting the break, serving for the set and being unable to close it out because he totally messed his service game. He allows his opponent to come back.

The Swiss is playing tennis without taking his opponent in consideration. He's trying to make his own game prevail, but doesn't try to think about the game style, the strengths or the flaws of the one who is trying to beat him.

Talking about new kids taking power seems to be inappropriate to me for several reasons. Roger is still playing great, and he showed it at the end of 2010 and at the start of 2011.

The Swiss is healthy. We know he struggles a lot with his back, even though he doesn't talk about it a lot. He's now free from this and can play with his full physical abilities, which are a key point of his game.

If he's going to continue playing the way that his coach Paul Annacone wants him too, he's going to keep on believing in his chances to win several more Grand Slams.

And, if he finally deals with the things we've talked about, then I think he'll be able to remain at the top level and to make us dream for many more years.

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