Federer Needs to be Bold to Get the Gold

by John on August 11, 2008

Is Roger Federer’s reign really over? Is it possible that he will win no more grand slam titles? Federer will relinquish his top ranking to Rafael Nadal on Aug.18, the day after the Beijing Olympics tennis program ends and an ATP record 237 weeks after the Swiss Maestro ascended to No. 1 on Feb. 2, 2004. Federer turned 27 on Friday, Opening Day for the Olympics, and some wonder if it’s all down hill now for the Swiss star. Federer certainly doesn’t think so. In fact he still feels like a deserving No. 1. “Until the rankings change on the computer, I do, yeah,” he said at a news conference Thursday in China. Federer has been shut out in the majors so far this year, and has won only two tournaments. “People expect more from me after my great last five years,” Federer said. “But I hope I can still save this season with either this (Olympics) or the U.S. Open. Right now the focus is on the Olympic Games…not the rankings.” Lleyton Hewitt, a former No. 1, doesn’t discount Federer’s chances of winning Olympic gold. “There’s only the French Open and Olympic gold that’s not on Roger’s career highlights,” said Hewitt, a dangerous floater in the Beijing draw. “He’ll be trying pretty hard here.” If Federer is to regain the aura of invincibility or at least a semblance of dominance now would be the time. Nadal may be finally showing signs of some chinks in the armour, perhaps wearing down from all his match play this year. Last week he lost fairly easily in the semifinals at the Cincinnati Masters to No. 3-ranked Novak Djokovic and voiced his displeasure about the plethora of hard-court tournaments and the inherent injury risk of playing on the unforgiving surface. After arriving in Beijing, the Spaniard gave hints of being exhausted from the grueling battle to reach the top, referring to the calendar this year as “terrorizing.” Not the pronouncements of a happy camper. Djokovic, extremely talented and winner of the Australian Open earlier this year, seems somewhat uncomfortable with the mantle of heir apparent to Federer and Nadal hanging over his head. The Swiss Maestro is still the most gifted and best all around player on tour in my estimation. All he’s lacking is confidence and nerve. If he gets that back in Beijing, look out Flushing Meadows. Federer plays his opening round match later today against dangerous Russian Dmitry Tursunov.

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