Despite closing in, Federer not focused on push for No. 1 ranking in 2018

Roger Federer isn’t thinking about a return trip to the world No. 1 ranking.

Maybe he should.

Closer to Rafael Nadal than he thinks–or cares to admit–he is, Federer bagged 200 more points when he beat Marin Cilic 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1 during round-robin action at the World Tour Finals on Thursday afternoon. The Swiss struck 17 aces and saved the only break point he faced before getting the job done in one hour and 54 minutes.

With 600 points to his credit already at this tournament, Federer–who also defeated Jack Sock and Alexander Zverev in Group B–is now 1040 points behind Nadal. The 36-year-old can pick up 900 more points (400 with a semifinal win and 500 with a final win) and go into 2018 a mere 140 short of Nadal, who lost his London opener to David Goffin and then withdrew because of a knee injury.

But Federer isn’t focused on No. 1.

“I have 2,000 points to defend in Australia; he doesn’t,” the reigning Australian Open champion explained. “So there’s the problem already. I know he has a lot of points to defend, too, but not as many as me. That’s why I always said it’s not a realistic goal in some ways, world No. 1. It’s the ultimate achievement in tennis in some ways–it always has been for me. But at this age, it just can’t be because I think I’ll make mistakes if I start chasing it. I’m not sure how much the body allows me to chase goals like this.

“Still far away from being close in the points with Rafa. Still need to win this tournament before it’s actually really close.”

Winning the tournament would give Federer his eighth title of 2017, which includes triumphs at the Aussie Open and at Wimbledon. Nadal, meanwhile, also captured two majors among his six titles.

“The year played out the way it did, and Rafa was better,” Federer admitted. “He deserves to be there. I’m really happy for him because he had a rough season, as well, in ’16. It’s great for him.”

Nadal was better–at times–but also played more. The Spaniard concluded his year with 78 matches under his belt. Federer has contested 55 so far. But the 19-time Grand Slam champ has no regrets about his schedule, which featured a grand total of zero clay-court tournaments.

“I don’t have any (regrets),” Federer said. “But maybe losing to Tommy Haas (in Suttgart) and (Evgeny) Donskoy (in Dubai) ended up haunting me. I had match points in both matches…. I have no regrets because I totally over-exceeded my expectations. (I’m ) just happy I’m injury-free and healthy right now; enjoying myself, still. Then in Australia, I just hope to be fit again, to walk out on Rod Laver Arena and hopefully defend my title. But (it’s) still very far away at this point.”

The reality, however, is that the Australian Open is not very far away. And neither is the No. 1 ranking.

67 Comments on Despite closing in, Federer not focused on push for No. 1 ranking in 2018

  1. Whether Roger regains the #1 rankings in the beginning of 2018 will come down mainly to his fitness relative to Nadal, the only person close to him in the rankings. Roger might not repeat as AO champ, but it won’t matter if Nadal’s knee isn’t ready by the time the tournament starts, or if he loses or has to withdraw early.

    OTOH, if Fed’s back acts up, then he won’t have any chance, with all the points he will defend in the first few months. Things might be different if he decides to play some clay court tournaments, of course, but I’m guessing he’s done with them for good.

  2. Joe. is surely important and critical but I think the biggest factor will be the draw. Novak Andy Stan will all be outside no 10 and will be drawn to play Fed or rafa in 4th round itself. The one who draws Novak will have his hands full given his mental edge over both past few years.

  3. I’m not confident that either Novak or Andy will be 100% for AO. Even if they are fully fit, they will be rusty. (Roger’s ability to take a long time off and come back near full strength is unusual, I think).

    My view is that if Rafa and Fed are playing at their current (non-injured) level, I think both will have the edge over the other two at the AO.

    • Rafa had already done that, it’s not only Fed. You may say Rafa was younger back in 2013, but Rafa came back amidst a stronger field with the big four plus Delpo still in top form, with Fed tailing off because of back injury from Wimbledon onwards.

      Fed (and Rafa) in 2017 faced a weaker field, with first Djoko, then Murray followed by Stan all falling by the wayside, and Delpo was just coming back from his injury break too.

      Djoko, Murray and Stan may not have such a luxury as they may be facing Fedal (and Delpo) who are playing well, unless they’re also hampered by injuries again.

      • Yes, huge difference between coming back at age 26 vs. 35. Even Rafa has said he isn’t confident of his ability, now, to come back after extended periods of rest; that’s the main reason, imo, why he hasn’t followed Fed’s lead this year.

        • Rafa hasn’t followed Fed’s lead?? Rafa almost beat Fed in the AO final, not forgetting the speed of the court at AO was much quicker this year, this favoring Fed more. Had Rafa won that final, we won’t be here talking about Fed this or that!

          Rafa made three HC finals during that stretch, how bad was that? Only his 2009 was better. And Rafa was playing his best claycourt tennis st the clay season this year! It’s not only about Fed; Rafa had his wrist injury and he had shorter time than Fed to recover, stopped his 2016 only in October after Shanghai.

          Rafa wasn’t confident of his body or his game since 2015, how would he be confident with this comeback? It’s only after playing well enough to reach Finals on the HCs that he slowly regained his confidence.

          • Rest helps both Rafa and Fed. Rafa rested at the end of 2012 , was untouchable in 2013. I think he won IW as well. He just looked refreshed. Doubts were not there. He beat Djoker in FO, Toronto and USO. Thats why I wanted Rafa to skip WTF as well. Fresh rafa with sting in his serve is a very formidable opponent on all courts.

            Fed rested as well and was great in 2017 as well. I expect the same for Djoker and Murray. I think Djoker might come into form very quickly, he just likes AO surface so much. But by FO, both will be raring to go.

            • On hindsight, if Rafa skipped the Asian swing after Laver Cup and played Basel/Paris instead, perhaps he might not injure his knee and would then be good to go at WTF. All these are just mere speculations.

              I think the AO will be too soon for Djoko, Murray and Stan, clay may be where they pick up their games but I feel theyll all get back to normal second half of the season.

  4. Fed’s injury in 2016 wasn’t as serious as Rafa’s in 2012; it’s just that Fed wanted more time to work on his game, his BH in particular. Notice his BH was much improved after the break; if his injury was that serious, how could he improve his BH that much?

    • BH has improved, no doubt, but the mental edge he acquired over the break -and has solidified this year- is probably even more important. That mental change was evident even in that last set against Nadal at AO. Otherwise Fed wouldn’t have been able to swing so freely on those BHs.

      I think if he had had that mentality in 2015, he would have beaten Novak at Wimby and USO.

      • Joe, you are rather sore over Fed’s losses to Djoko in 2015. If this or that doesn’t help, why don’t you say if Cilic has some belief, he would have beaten Fed in the RR match here?

        It’s not only about Fed, it applies to the other players also. If Zverev had some belief, he would have won the first set TB and hence the match in straight sets. He didn’t, played too consecutively and lost the TB despite leading 4-1 at one stage.

        Even if Fed had some belief, who knows Djoko could still raise his level to counter Fed? You only think about how great Fed could be but failed to see how great Djoko could be also.

        • Well, Lucky, I’m the one who said that both Cilic and Zverev were the biggest threats to Fed at this tournament, more even than Nadal. As I said, when those big guys are on fire, they’re almost unplayable. If they had played their best at WTF, they certainly could have beaten Fed.

          I wouldn’t say I’m “sore” about those Fed losses in 2015. But I do think he was the better player at that time and he choked, especially at Wimby. For whatever reason, he was too tight, something very common as players age. But he seems to have gotten over it.

          • Joe, you’re a Fed fan, naturally you’re biased for Fed. I watched the Wimbledon final in 2015, and I had not the feeling that Fed was the better player. The same for the Wimbledon 2014 final even when it went five sets because Fed was playing catch up most of the times.

            The USO final I had not been watching as I was half asleep during the match so you may be right that Fed had his chances.

            • Well, my view that Fed was the better player was certainly not based on the final (where he choked; he started well, up a break, but then tightened up) but based on his performances before that point, especially against Murray in the SF. I know you don’t share my view of that match, but I’m pretty sure you’re in the minority. Murray played excellent tennis (see his post-match interview), but Fed was just too good, particularly his serve.

              I actually thought Fed wasn’t playing quite as well at USO, but still was very tight in the final, compared to how he had been playing immediately beforehand.

      • Come on, he won’t suddenly become more mentally strong just because of the break! He gained confidence because he was hitting his BH well; his five sets wins over Kei and Stan had helped him with his confidence imo.

        • Well, it’s hard to know where it came from. But I don’t think winning the matches before the final did the trick; after all, he had done that lots of times before but still not delivered against Nadal at slams. I’m sure the improved BH gave him added confidence, but he also spoke of just feeling relaxed before the tournament, not having any expectations (which he certainly did at wimby 2015), and just playing freely. And I think the time off had a lot to do with that.

          • Joe, Murray might have played well but Murray playing well couldn’t be compared to Djoko or Rafa playing well on grass at Wimbledon. Murray lacks the killer instinct, and he doesnt have a big weapon that could harm Fed esp on grass.

            As I’ve mentioned in the other thread, Djoko not only returned well but also served well in that Wimbledon match; Rafa in the Wimbledon 2008 final served and returned well, that’s why Fed despite hitting 20 aces vs Rafa’s 6, still couldn’t break Rafa’s serves in four of the five sets (he only broke serve once in the second set but Rafa broke him back).

            Fed played flawless tennis in that Wimbledon 2015 SF but I doubt if it’s Djoko in that SF, Fed would be flawless.

          • Joe, what are you talking about? Are you talking about Wimbledon 2015 or Wimbledon 2017 now??

            You looked one confused poster here. When did I comment on Fed’s Halle 2015?

            If you’re talking about Halle 2017, I remembered I wasn’t impressed with Fed even when he beat AZverev easily in the final, because I felt Fed struggled a bit against Khachanov in the SF. I remember saying if Zverev played like Khachanov and still was badly beaten by Fed, then I would be impressed.

            • Being at best or not being at best is taken to an idiotic level now. Rafa was great in third round in Wimby 2017, probably better than most of his 2010 victory campaign. Here he lost in the next round and in 2010 he won the tourney.

              Nobody remembers being at best on one munday day of the championships.

  5. If Fed won this event, he would rise to number one in the world with the Brisbane title at the start of the season. If my calculations are accurate, this would be the case even if Rafa was his opponent in that Brisbane final. Also if I’m not mistaken, Fed could also reach the Brisbane final and become number one if Rafa lost early in the tournament. Then again, we don’t know if Roger will win this event or if he will play Brisbane next season.

    • Please Benny, Fed is playing Holman Cup. Why are his fans so eager for Fed to do this or that in order for him to get to No.1?

      Even if he wins Brisbane and becomes no.1, he may most likely lose it after the AO! What’s the point then? Just to satisfy his fans?

      • I was not aware he was playing in Holman Cup again. And why wouldn’t he want to become number one again and make even more history? I don’t know why you are making me out to be super eager for that scenario Lucky. I am just giving possible scenarios if he played Brisbane. You and other Rafans analyze random statistics and aspects of Rafa and his tennis all the time. Why can’t I do the same for Fed?

        • Benny, Fed won’t want to change his plan to get a miserable 5 points lead over Rafa (assuming they meet in the Brisbane final). He’s more realistic than his fans and knows what he wants.

          He may lose early at Brisbane, there’s no guarantee, but playing at Hopman Cup would ensure a few matches under his belt, win or lose.

          • I’m not sayin Fed would play Brisbane to get to number one. I just thought he might be going back there as his warmup tournament cuz he went for a couple years before playing Hopman Cup this season.

      • By the way you say he will “most likely lose it after AO.” Just to be clear, is Fed not the favorite at the AO, especially if he wins this WTF? He would be riding a large winning streak while Rafa ended the season with injury. Especially the court is as fast as it was this year, I wouldn’t bet against Fed taking the title.

        • Fed wasn’t playing well here, I doubt he would play well at AO next year simply because he won’t have the luxury of a six months break again. He struggles in BO5 matches more often these days.

          • Also, Fed didn’t have it easy at AO2017 having to play three five sets matches, it may not be any easier for him next year.

            He won Wimbledon because he had enough time to rest after playing Miami – almost three months break. He didn’t have as much time to rest before USO, at best four to five weeks and so he struggled at the USO.

            • He hurt his back which is the main reason of his loss. He did not have lot of recovery time after USO but is yet to lose a match. Won all 15 matches so far against top players.

              A fit Fed would have won USO.

            • Lucky, I think you’re engaging in a bit of revisionism. If you remember, you were the one who thought Fed was struggling in the grass lead-ups to Wimbledon, and doubted that he would win them (e.g. Halle), much less Wimby. I think your bias often prevents you from judging his playing level accurately.

          • Struggles in best of five? If struggling means winning three five setters at the Australian open to win it and winning Wimbledon, then I would love to struggle with everything I do.

            • Yeah, no “struggling” that I’ve seen… He had competitive matches against top-10 players and a couple major champions in AO, but those are players he shouldn’t just be blowing off the court if they’re playing well. The struggling in best of five was at the US Open, but we’re not surprised he struggled there.

        • If the court speed is the same as last year, of course he would have to be the favorite, even if only slightly. He’s been the most dominant player on faster surfaces the last year, and I personally don’t see those other top guys winning it all in their first tournament back.

          That being said, it will surely be harder for him to win it given that he won’t be as fresh as he was in 2017, as Lucky mentioned. Also, while his draw was very difficult last year AO, it has potential to be just as difficult this year, as he could have to meet Novak, Stan, or Andy earlier than usual, also like last year.

          The way I see it, no one is a far-and-away favorite, as Fed is old and won’t be as fresh as last year, who knows what Rafa’s knee situation will be, Novak Andy Stan and Kei have been out for a long time. I think it’s pretty open! That being said, the guy who has been the most dominant player off clay when healthy for the past year has to at least be considered a slight favorite…

  6. Too bad he’s not fit. Why he hurt his back? Probably he didn’t have enough time to rest after Wimbledon; that’s why I said, he needed time between tournaments to rest.

    He wasn’t impressive at Shanghai or Basel but did enough to win because they’re on his favorite quick surfaces. It’s the same with Rafa on clay, he just needs to play enough to win his matches and need not be at his best because it’s his favorite surface.

    • I thought Fed was damn impressive in shanghai final and that was echoed by Rafa himself especially after a tight three setter . His serve was untouchable.

      I dont think anybody knows tennis more than Rafa on this forum at least.

      • Fed was impressive in the final, but I don’t think he’s that impressive in his earlier matches. The big three get better as they move through the draw.

        Rafa was hampered by his knee, if not I would expect him to play better in the final, though Fed would still win imo. The way Rafa played, cant even generate a BP all match, made Fed looked even better.

      • We are talking about their level of play, nothing wrong about that. You may play your best but still lose, and not playing well but win. We can have our opinions, whether we feel impressed by their level or not.

        • I agree with you Lucky. In their favourite surfaces, Fed and Rafa can play their B game and get succeed against the most of the field.
          Federer has been a master at scheduling, picking strategically the tournaments where he has more chances of winning and protecting is health. The only bad move he made this year was playing the Canada Masters, where he wasn’t ready and the bad back surfaced again.
          I don’t really believe he’s crazy to go for the number one ranking. With the field getting stronger next year, it will be almost impossible for him to have the same successes he had this season. No way he’s risking himself on clay,with the big possibility of jeopardize another Wimbledon run, and as we know his main goal now is to increase his Grand Slam tally.
          About his level of play, I think it’s clear as water that he’s a million miles away of the form he displayed in Indian Wells(his best overall performance,IMO)and not even near to his level at the Shanghai final. However, given the current competition at the WTF, he can very well ending up winning it all without playing at a good level of tennis.

  7. Conclusion- Roger Federer is the best tennis player ever.

    He will win WTF since AZ lost to Jackie.

    R. Federer will also win Australian Open and one more GS by the end of 2018 if he is fit and injury free.

    N. Djokovic might win French Open, that guy is good, he won’t be fully ready for AO but by FO he will be smoking.

    Fed might add another wimby or USO to his GS record, I know he can do it, he can win another 2 GS next year, 3 will be extremely difficult.

    Wishing Fed, other tennis player’s and you guy’s the best.

  8. A fit fed would not have necessarily won the uso open. Rafa had peaked by the 4th round and was playing well within himself , Feds exact own words. Fed would not have beaten Rafa at uso given that it was best of 5 and the court was slow at uso and rafa was in peak form. Let’s not overhype what Fed would have done when he clearly did not do it and in the process discredit what Rafa achieved. Rafa was peak from 4th round of uso and in Beijing.

    Fed played excellent in shanghai final and peaked at right time in the final.

    Fed won Basel not playing that well.

    Fed will win wtf again not playing that well as rest of the players are worse. The only player who based on form has an outside chance of beating fed is grigor but we all know how he folds against Fed.

  9. Fed won the Australian open for 3 reasons against Rafa.

    The bigger racquet helped control the bh and to hit over it and not leak errors.

    Rafa was clearly tired after that gruelling semi and it clearly caught up with him in 5th. He was slow to get to the ball and thus made few errors.

    Fed implemented the advise given to him…play the ball not the opponent. There were his own words.

  10. Fed is better on quicker surfaces, Rafa on slower surfaces which may explain why Rafa beats Fed often at the AO and FO.

    They rarely meet on grass these days and I believe Fed would have the edge on grass should they meet again. The USO has slowed down through the years so should they meet there, I think Rafa will have the edge.

    Fed’s chances vs Rafa will be at the quickened AO and Wimbledon; also Shanghai and Basel (if Rafa plays there). I’m not sure about Canada and Cincy, they use different balls there and both Fed and Rafa complained about the balls used at Canada.

    The indoor HCs at Paris and WTF, in the past when they were quicker, I think they favored Fed but looking at the courts at these two places now, they looked slower to me with not so low bounces so perhaps Rafa would have his chances if he played well.

    • This year Fed has beaten Rafa on medium-fast (AO and Shanghai) and slow (IW: 27.3) and medium slow (Miami: 30) surfaces. When healthy, I think he must be considered a favourite in 2018 on any HC surface until Nadal beats him again.

      The biggest difference with the clay is not the surface speed but the sliding. It’s what Goffin alluded to the other day before his match with Rafa. He said he liked his chances better on the HC if only because Rafa can’t slide like he does on clay. He must be the best slider ever.

      • Joe, I’m talking in general, not this year alone. You can’t deny Rafa beating Fed three times when the AO was played on slower surfaces.

        Rafa won the HC slams without sliding on the courts; what’s Goffin talking about? Goffin beat a hampered Rafa and even then he needed to go the distance to do so, yet he’s here talking about Rafa’s movement on the HCs vs clay??

        • Yes but lucky you said Rafa would be favored against Rafa if they meet at the US Open as in next year or in the future. Also in Cincy, Fed is definitely the clear favorite against anyone. He’s won it like eight times or something like that as the conditions suit him perfectly and it’s a quick surface. If he went this year with the hampered back, he still probably could’ve made a deep run or won, considering he did so at Montreal, which is a much less successful tournament for him.

          • Yes I’ve no doubt Rafa is favored over Fed at the USO. We’ll see it next year, no point arguing.

            Fed didn’t injure his back until the final of Montreal; it’s not that he played with an injured back and still could reach the final. The Cincy court seems to be slowed down these past few years; I remember some people saying that Rafa won in 2013 because they slowed down the courts there.

            Cincy is now slower than Shanghai and is considered a medium pace court. Maybe if Fed played there this year without a bad back, he may beat Kyrgios or Dimi, too bad he had a bad back and had to skip it.

  11. All this “shoulda, coulda, woulda” is so pointless. No player is ever guaranteed to win any match, especially against top players. So speculating what “would have happened” is just so ridiculous. Anyone can claim that so-and-so WOULD have beaten so-and-so. We can argue until we’re blue in the face about what we think was most LIKELY to happen, but even that is so pointless because something being likely to happen holds ZERO value! Look at our (I’m from USA) crazy presidential election- according to just about everyone, Hillary Clinton had like an 80% chance of winning the election, and she lost. That 20% chance of Trump winning was not 0%… Tennis is the same. So it’s so stupid to claim that we think people would have won matches that NEVER HAPPENED!

  12. I think both Fed fans and Rafa fans go overboard and start talking trash about the other player.

    I still remember one Rafa fan talking that Rafa played Laver Cup because of Fed and taunting Fed when he made a statement that he expected Rafa to pull out of Asian swing.

    Everybody knows here , these players play for a huge appearance money . They are not each others relatives’ that they will favor one another. Money is one main reason why Fed never skips Basel even though at the cost of Bercy.

    • The thing is, from the mouth of Toni Nadal, he said Rafa played Laver Cup because he’s obliged to help Fed, as Fed did Rafa a favor by being the special guest at the opening of Rafa’s Tennis academy. Rafa can do without the appearance fees, not that he needs those money.

      However, Rafa himself likes playing the Laver Cup, saying that he likes the team spirit, and I’m sure Rafa won’t regret playing it. I just hope Rafa cuts down on the other events to accommodate the Laver Cup, if not I think he will keep injuring himself every year till he retires.

      He’ll never learn his lessons so I foresee him retiring before Fed does. Fed will play till he’s 40, making sure he retires after Rafa, Djoko and Murray. I think Rafa will retire at end of 2019, my guess.

      • You think he will retire after the other big 3? Interesting. I think he can retire at the same time with Nadal, but Murray still has some good years, so does Djokovic…
        Anyway just think about this. After all 3 retire, Fed will go through a 2 years ‘week era’ so those slams will not count… lol

        • Fed can play till he is 42 or 43, as long as he picks and chooses his events to play carefully. Djoko and Murray perhaps may play till 35. I don’t think they can outlast Fed.

          I don’t remember Fed breaking down physically at age 30, unlike both Djoko and Murray, so I doubt they can play till they’re 39 or 40, 35 maybe, ie five more years, again my guess.

          • I think he might retire when he’ll start losing more frequently to young players. What’s the point of playing at 40 just to get beat regularly by Shapo or Zverev. Maybe 2 more seasons, max 3 I believe.

            • I’m not sure about Shapo or Zverev beating Fed. Fed can choose to play on quicker surfaces – AO, Wimbledon, Shanghai, Basel, Dubai, Halle, Cincy. As long as Fed’s back holds up, and he keeps his great serve intact, his footwork still not deteriorating much, he will still be competitive. He plays quick pace tennis and not many players, young or old, could keep up with him.

              Shapo and Zverev are hard hitters though Shapo has more varieties. I have doubts about their defenses, I don’t think we can find players like Rafa, Djoko and Murray – the three best defenders – among the younger generation to trouble Fed.

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