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With Roger Federer Out for Year, DownTheTee Readers React

By Jane Voigt

July 31, 2016 — Roger Federer won’t play tennis for the rest of the year. For die-hard fans, the loss hit hard. 

“I was planning to go to the U. S. Open and now [I] won’t,” one reader wrote in her response to an open-end survey composed by DownTheTee.com and emailed to regular readers. 

For tennis, though, the tours march on with an eye on the sideline and any news about the 17-time Grand Slam Champion.

Federer vs. Gasquet US Open 20150909 LB 0080-3

Roger Federer defeated Richard Gasquet of France in straight sets at the U. S. Open, 2015. Federer’s ability to watch the ball until it hits the racquet strings has inspired millions of tennis players to do the same. Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com.

Most of the readers’ responses to the questionnaire believe Federer will return, as he confirmed on his Facebook page, “I am as motivated as ever and plan to put all my energy towards coming back strong, healthy and in shape to play attacking tennis in 2017.”

“I do believe that Roger will return,” Bob Morris wrote. “He is so passionate about tennis and I think leaving the game now would be a major emotional letdown. If singles becomes too much physically, I could see him doing more doubles for the next five years.”

“I’m 100% certain he will come back for at least another year,” one reader, who wanted to remain anonymous, agreed. “He will want to retire with a flourish.”

Federer probably will never win an Olympic Gold Medal in singles, given his age — he’ll be 35 on August 8 — and the 4-year span between Olympic Games. He won a Gold medal in men’s doubles alongside Stan Wawrinka in Beijing, 2008. In London, Federer won a Silver medal in singles.  

Even though his hopes of Olympic gold are most certainly behind him, he could win another Grand Slam? He has not won a major singles title in four years. 

“I think in many ways it’s still possible, but the odds are getting greater,” Morris added. “However Ken Rosewall won [one] at 39 and Jimmy Connors came close. So, why is it impossible?

“I can’t stand it when people doubt him,” a reader said, preferring to remain anonymous. “There are some that have played for many years and not broken the top 20. He’s 34 and hasn’t dropped out of the top 5!”

“The stars and the moon will have to align for him to win one more,” Daniel R. wrote.

Jean Kirshenbaum doesn’t think Federer will win an 18th major, either, “but I would certainly like to see him do it. He has had his chances in the past two years, but he will not have anymore.”

Kirshenbaum also raised the issue some in sports would rather avoid — Federer’s retirement. 

“As fit as he has been for all of his career, at 34 it is unlikely his recovery will allow him to remain in top form,” Kirshenbaum wrote. “I just hope that we do not have to watch a slow decline or witness a career-ending injury. He could end up like Kim Clijsters, Jutine Henin, and Marion Bartoli. They couldn’t go on because the pain from injuries did not permit them to continue.”

Although readers are fond of Federer — he has 14,559,188 likes on his Facebook page — their tennis-watching schedule won’t change due to his absence. 

“It’s sad, but it won’t change the amount of tennis I view,” Daniel R. wrote. “He is no longer my favorite player to watch.”

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Given the speed of men’s tennis today, Federer’s ball tracking has to be something of a mystery to club players. Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com

“Believe you me Federer’s set back will have a huge impact on how I watch tennis,” another reader, who wished to remain anonymous, wrote. “I believe his absence will all the younger hopefuls to make their way into the rankings. It will give them more visibility, more opportunities to reveal their talents and skills, more input and feedback from commentators, spectators and potential endorsers. Move aside old pros. Make way for the new.”

“I was sorry to read about what has happened,” Morris added. “[But there’s] no change in my ‘tennis schedule.’”

Respect for Federer and what he’s brought to the game came through in respondents’ answers to this question — What has his impact been on tennis, for you personally? 

“His contribution has been immense,” one reader wrote. “He is the greatest ambassador the game has known in the modern era.”

“He always reminds us that tennis was a ‘gentleman’s sport,’ no just that it’s for men. But his grace, sportsmanship, and civilized behavior has always been stellar. It sets an example for all those behind him,” wrote one respondent, wishing to remain anonymous. “He never blames others for losses. He never ties to game opponents by calling time outs when he’s down. He is a true sportsman in every way. And, he’s magnificent to watch both in movement and in the way he strikes to ball.”

Federer also reminded some of yesteryear tennis. That he evoked an age of softer, gentler court action. Not the power baseline game of today.

“I must say that when Federer is on court among the power players, his agile movement, his impromptu strategic attacks and his racquet finesse reminds me of the earlier days of Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert,” wrote one woman. 

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One way Federer has kept his health in check is an insistence on sleeping 10-hours a night. He says that’s what he needs to recover and prepare for the next day on court.
Photo credit Leslie Billman tennisclix.com.

“I think Roger was the reincarnation of Rod Laver when he came on the tennis scene,” Morris wrote. “I loved Pete [Sampras], Andre [Agassi], Jim [Courier], and Stefan [Edberg]. But Roger not only was good he brought an elegance and style that was exceptional. He brought a voice that was thoughtful, confident and insightful. He ushered in today’s game in every way.”

Federer’s achievements in tennis are long and will stand the test of tennis history partially due to his lack of injuries throughout his pro career, which began in 1999. He doesn’t bully the ball, but uses leverage, confidence and athleticism to compete. When he practices he hits all the balls, which give him a keen advantage in matches … he’s prepared for the unexpected. But it’s his footwork and speed of recovery from one strike of the ball to the next that truly set him apart. He can change direction as well or better than a footballer. And, after all, tennis is a running game.  

© Jane Voigt Tennis 2013