x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Problems are forming into a genuine crisis for Roger Federer

A combination of poor form, less effective groundstrokes and back problems means Roger Federer's game is going through a genuine crisis.

Roger Federer has form and injury concerns.
Roger Federer has form and injury concerns.

It is never a nice thing to kick a man when he is down, but it is hard not to when the game of Roger Federer is falling apart before the public's eyes as fast as it is.

My colleague, Ahmed Rizvi, wrote on the Swiss player's apparent decline last week after his shock second-round exit at Wimbledon last month, but things took a bigger turn a few hours later when he meekly exited the Swiss Open, a competition he had entered as a confidence builder, after losing to the world No 53 Daniel Brands in straight sets.

Without over-dramatising things, this now represents a genuine crisis for Federer.

An initial experiment with a larger racket head clearly did not have the desired effect, but it is not just the groundstrokes that are letting down Federer, 31, at the moment.

He admitted after the defeat in Gstaad that he is suffering from back problems, casting his short-term future in doubt. Federer's fitness record has been phenomenal, with the 1999 US Open being the last time that his name was not on a grand slam draw sheet.

The severity of his back injury is unclear at this stage, but the fact that the tight-lipped Federer publicly acknowledged it means it is a genuine concern, and doubts have surfaced that he will play in the Rogers Cup in Montreal next week.

At this stage, there is no reason not to expect him to play at Flushing Meadows in New York next month, but horrible form and his fitness worries means fans can almost certainly rule out a sixth US Open title coming his way.

gcaygill@thenational.ae

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