Federer hungry for home victory at Gstaad tourney

Roger Federer will seek to resurrect his disappointing season in front of expectant home fans as the 17-time Grand Slam winner returns to this week's claycourt Swiss Open tennis tournament for the first time in nine years.

Federer hungry for home victory at Gstaad tourney
Federer: "Looking for the timing and the rhythm." Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP

Federer, 31, with his world ranking down to fifth for the first time in a decade, lost 7-6 (9/7), 7-6 (7/4) in the weekend semi-finals at Hamburg to Argentine qualifier Federico Delbonis as the slumping Swiss struggles to get adjusted to a new, larger racquet.

"I've been very close on numerous occasions to changing racquets in a bigger way," Federer was quoted as saying on the ATP website while in Germany.
"But then very often, time was the issue," the Basel native said.

"Maybe also just the records of Grand Slams — I was always keeping on playing quarters and semis — so then it was also a bit more difficult to change it because of the time," he said.
"After I lost at Wimbledon, I thought this is a good time to go and test the racquets, to take a bit of time off and then add some tournaments and see was there enough time to change or not," said the Swiss.
At his last appearance in the elite alpine community of Gstaad in 2004, Federer won the title a year after reaching the final against Jiri Novak on the back of a first career trophy at Wimbledon.
Federer, whose only title this season came on the grass of Halle in June, added the two summer clay events to his schedule after losing in a Wimbledon second-round surprise to Sergiy Stakhovsky, also into the field in the Swiss Alps.
Federer admits he is aiming to reclaim top form.
"I'm just still looking for the timing and the rhythm," he said in Hamburg.
"I tried everything I could (in Hamburg). It's been a difficult week throughout," he said.

"But I'm happy I fought through many matches. It gives me the matches I was looking for.
"Unfortunately, I couldn't make it to the final, but nevertheless, I did have four good matches and these are the kind of matches I need."
In Gstaad, the top-seeded Federer will begin after a bye, facing the winner from a match between childhood friend Marco Chiudinelli and German Daniel Brands, whom he beat in three sets in his Hamburg opener.
Stanislas Wawrinka takes the second seeding as the Swiss plays in Gstaad for the 10th time, with a 2005 semi-final his best showing on the clay at 800 metres above sea level.
The world number 10 joins Federer with a first-round bye along with third seed Janko Tipsarevic and number four Juan Monaco, making his Gstaad debut.

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Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?

Roger Federer is talking optimistically about returning to his "highest level" after knee surgery, but does tennis have to start adjusting to a future without the Swiss star?

Is this the end of the road for Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer?
Is it the end of the line for Roger? Photo: Martin BUREAU / AFP

The 20-time Grand Slam winner announced on Wednesday that he would be sidelined until 2021 after his second operation in a matter of months.

Federer remains upbeat, tweeting: “I plan to take the necessary time to be 100 percent ready to play at my highest level.”

In some ways 2020 is a good season to miss after the coronavirus ravaged the tennis schedule. Writing Federer off in the past has proved dangerous.

He returned from a six-month injury lay-off to claim the Australian Open in 2017, winning his eighth Wimbledon crown later that year.

But he will be 40 in 2021 and is now heading into uncharted territory.

Despite his groaning trophy cabinet, there are two factors that will motivate Federer to keep going — the risk of losing his grip on the men's Grand Slam title record and a missing Olympics singles gold medal.

Rafael Nadal has 19 majors, just one shy of Federer's mark and Djokovic has 17.

Spain's Nadal will be fancied to draw level with Federer at the French Open, rescheduled for September, while few would bet against Djokovic winning in New York weeks earlier.

In April, Federer said he was “devastated” when Wimbledon was cancelled for the first time since World War II. Last year he fell agonisingly short at the All England Club, failing to convert two championship points on his own serve against Djokovic.

The Wimbledon grass probably remains his best chance of adding to his Grand Slam collection — he has not won the US Open since 2008 and his only title at Roland Garros came in 2009.

Even though Federer has slipped from the very pinnacle of the game, he is still a major threat to Nadal and Djokovic.

'Golden' ambitions

Last year, the world number four had a 53-10 win-loss record and he reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open in January in his only tournament this year.

Federer, who is still six ATP titles short of Jimmy Connors' all-time record of 109, has one glaring omission from his CV — the Olympic title.

The Swiss won doubles gold in Beijing in 2008 with compatriot Stan Wawrinka but lost in the singles final to Andy Murray in London four years later.

The postponed Tokyo Games will almost certainly be Federer's last opportunity to complete a career “golden” Grand Slam — he will turn 40 on the day of the closing ceremony next year.

Tennis will feel the loss of the elegant Federer keenly when he walks off the court for the last time.

Djokovic and Nadal have been the dominant forces in recent years but the Swiss remains the biggest draw and last month topped Forbes' list of the world's highest-earning athletes.

His last appearance on court was in front of nearly 52,000 fans — touted by organisers as a world record for tennis — at a charity match against Nadal in Cape Town in February.

Federer is nearly always the crowd favourite wherever he plays and has proved a perfect ambassador for the sport since he won his first Grand Slam title in 2003.

He certainly expects to be back and competitive next year.

“I will be missing my fans and the tour dearly but I will look forward to seeing everyone back on tour at the start of the 2021 season,” he tweeted.

The avalanche of support from his adoring fans showed they would miss him too, but they will have to get used to a time when he is gone for good.