By Jane Voigt
Roger Federer won his first-ever Shanghai Masters 1000 tournament today. It seemed odd that the man with the most Grand Slams (17) and number of weeks at number one had not won this one title. But, facts are facts. And, there are more hills to climb for the man who ascends to No. 2 in the world tomorrow.
In his insightful story Douglas Perry of the Oregonian pointed out quite accurately that, in so many words, hill-climbing is the joy for Federer in tennis. If he were to stand still, like retire, he could witness an assault on his records, play with his four children, travel the world, buy haute couture clothing and eat 4-star food while contemplating what would have been if he had not left the circuit.
The scenario does not fit the Federer most fans have come to know, and want to continue to know. In fact the tennis world really rather, deep down, have Federer play on and on in perpetuity, an awfully self-centered proposition but an authentic pull on the heart strings from international tennis.
Today, as soon as he had congratulated his opponent Gilles Simon, had kissed the vase, and the confetti had fallen, and had tried his luck at Mandarin, and the scoreline had set a tone of intrigue — 76(6) 76(2) — the press leapfrogged the obvious and began to project what’s next plus what should be next for the man who had just captured his 23rd Masters 1000 and his second of the year — he won in Cincinnati, as well.
His schedule is packed full of possibilities. Does he try and upset Novak Djokovic and end the year at No. 1, again? He’s only 1000 points off the lead. Does he put all his tennis balls in one hopper and go-for-broke to win another missing title in his resume — a Davis Cup? Can he actually skip Basel, his home-town tournament?
Here’s what is on Federer’s schedule through the end of the season, according to his web site:
Basel: October 20. His home-town tournament and a 500-level event (500 points)
Paris Masters 1000: October 27. Twice the points and a mandatory event for committed players.
ATP World Tour Finals: November 9. Federer is six-time champion, the most of any player. 1,500 points.
Davis Cup Finals: November 21 against France.
There are outside, off the court, influences in play, too.
Novak and Jelena Djokovic are expecting their first child within the month. Novak has made himself clear, at least to some in the press, that being a father and alongside his wife are priorities. If Federer is a mere 1000 points off the lead and Paris falls within those due-dates, and it awards just that number of ranking points if he wins, then Federer would probably jump in that draw, which could mean, he could back out of Basel.
As strong willed as is Roger Federer a mental blow of disregarding his country’s biggest tournament presented in his home town could just push his psyche over an invisible line called ‘in control’ to a jittery mental dance with obsession. Guilt does not make a focused Federer.
The Barclay’s ATP World Tour Final is a gimme. Roger will be there. He’s the captain of that extravaganza. Going for, and perhaps winning, a 7th and unprecedented victory would certainly puff-up his confidence for then the most important weekend of his life … Davis Cup.
Federer is a man of habits — tried and true routines that help maintain the man who steps on court. He likes to sleep 10 hours a night. It’s as much a part of his daily schedule as is kissing his children hundreds of time, or, at least, eating breakfast. Hitting the gym is another component His new physiotherapist, Danny Troxler, of Switzerland has brought a fresh sense of training to Federer’s off-court regimes, as well.
“He’s been with the Davis Cup team a couple years,” Federer said, as reported by asapsports.com. “I’m very happy with all the work he’s put in. He’s put in a lot of months and weeks for me, a lot of sacrifice. I’m very happy with everything he’s given.”
With heightened confidence, a new physio, a first-time Shanghai win, and the possibility of a Davis Cup for Switzerland on the horizon, Federer is poised.
So, for right now, before we leave this predominantly Buddhist nation, let’s bring ourselves back to the moment and review a few of Federer’s records for the year.
- Winning percentage: .862, 62-10. Best since 2007. (@ChrisSkelton87, Twitter)
- Shanghai is his 81st ATP career title (Jimmy Connors 109, Ivan Lendl 94)
- First time since 2006 that Roger has won back-to-back Masters 1000 titles
- Thirteen top-ten wins
- Nine appearance in finals
- Eleventh time in 12 years he has won at least 60 matches in a season (tennis.com)
We will know what he decides soon enough. There are no secrets in sport, at least where this man’s scheduling is concerned.