OK, little preface: I wrote this as a response on the internet to a video dealing with the topic of Federer’s final leg of his career. The reply got long and, as has often been the case, I decided to keep it going long, and post it on my blog. (If anyone is actually reading these entire posts?? Wow. My hat is off to you; and I also thank you very much, and hope that it is due in part to my writing being easy to read. That is my goal; a difficult goal, but every once in a while I achieve it). … OK, and, another preface: I know there are a lot of very loyal and passionate Nadal and Djokovic fans out there (as well as other players; Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Zvereve, Murray, etc.). I respect you a lot – and of course your players! That being said, you are more than welcome to rant at me for being stupid in this post; but I will be straight up with you – I am a HUGE Federer fan! And I am also a dreamer: I realize full-well that I am utterly dreaming in this post. I realize it would be NO surprise if Federer announced his retirement tomorrow. Nor would it be a surprise if he attempted the US Open, and lost 6-1, 6-1, 6-1 in the first round. I realize that; you don’t need to laugh at me (us) for that – but you totally can if you want to. I am really just dreaming in this post, as I am in many, regarding Federer’s chances of another Major. Hey, no one ever thought he could win the Australian Open 2017. … and no one thought either that he would win the first set against Djokovic (I am giving respect to your player, Djokovic fans, by saying it was thought to be impossible under the circumstances) no one thought he could win the first set against Djokovic at the 2020 Australian Open, by breaking Djokovic twice – and that is what he came very close to doing, and perhaps “should” have done. … So, with that, here is my post: regarding my thoughts on how much longer Federer will try to extend his career, and his chances of success at the highest level.
I think it all depends on how much he enjoys playing on the tour, even while he is not at his best. If he enjoys it all *so* much that he can accept a bad loss here and there and shrug it off, then I think that gives him the chance to be successful with … his final phase of his career. Which would be a style of play that he would *need* to play. We saw a “preview”(?) of it at the 2020 Australian Open against Djokovic – the last match before his knee surgery and long absence. He played that match on one and a half legs (or maybe more like one and 1/3 legs). We all remember how close he was to withdrawing from the tournament – and probably he *should* have withdrawn, but he showed his strips again! It was a semifinal of a Major, and against Djokovic! … yet he still laced them up and gave it a valiant effort despite having a knee that could have blown at any given moment. (I honestly think it was one of the, if not THE, bravest matches of his career). And we saw how it went in the first set – he was blasting Djokovic off the court. He couldn’t keep it up, though. It was too hard to play at that level – hitting so hard, and so flat, and going for broke at every tiny opportunity: this was the *only* way he could win that match; he knew that going in. There was utterly NO chance of him running all out, and then planting on that knee (I forget which one; I think it is the right one). And similarly, he said recently, regarding his tennis, “there is no way to avoid doing the running.” Which is good and bad news: I take that to have meant that he still loves hitting the ball, and can hit the ball as well as ever, but the bad news about that statement is that he implies that he *wishes* he didn’t have to run, because the knee is worn down, or wearing down. … But still! I go back to that Djokovic match at the Australian Open 2020: (and this is *very* good news): he *can* play a style which is HEAVY on hitting! and light on running. The very good news is that 1) his knee is almost definitely not as bad now, as it was during that match, and 2) he was playing DJOKOVIC in that match!! And he almost won the first set 6-2. (Granted – I realize he wound up losing the set, but that was due to the balloon of his belief getting popped, akin to Peter looking down as he was walking on water, and sinking). So, in conclusion, I think he needs to play style of tennis which is heavy on laser-like hitting; I think he *wants* to keep playing, and would even *enjoy* playing that style; I think he *can* play that style; and I think he has the humility to play it, even if he loses first rounds from time to time. What has he got to lose?! He is 40! Come on; no one is expecting him to win the US Open, or the French Open! (speaking of which, he had a VERY solid French Open this year; ironically better than his Wimbledon, I would say. I think he could have beaten Berrettini – unless his knee was 1/2 re-injured by that point. But Koepfer is a rough customer! He is no push-over. And Federer won that despite the UTTERLY BIZARRE circumstances of having no fans in the seats whatsoever. I think he would have beaten Koepfer about 45 minutes to an hour faster had there been fans in the seats. Federer loves the fans as much as they love him! … OK, getting back to the conclusion: I think that all he would need, is to know that his knee is “good enough” to *really* maintain this new style I am speaking of; and to really commit to it. And we know he has no problem to committing to what he believes is the best way. So it is a matter of being self-disciplined enough to NEVER abuse that knee by sprinting and planting on it; and a matter of how long the knee will last under “below-average” usage on the ATP Tour. “If everything goes perfectly,” he can have another couple/few years, even! Hey, we already have the time-line pre-set!: outlast Nadal and Djokovic. 😀 Honestly, I think he can definitely outlast Nadal, and I also think he can outlast Djokovic, who (I believe we have just witnessed) is not only “over the hill” but on his way down the other side. We shall see just how fast he is rolling down that other side. Federer? (Our Federer): he has been “over the hill” for a LONG time – we Fed fans all know it – and yet look how gracefully he has handled it. The man is so impeccable. Ah! God bless him! GOD, BLESS HIM!