x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jury out on Roger Federer until he gets on the grass

It looks like things might be catching up with the Swiss former world No 1, writes Ahmed Rizvi

Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts after losing to Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters.
Roger Federer of Switzerland reacts after losing to Rafael Nadal at the Rome Masters.

Are the curtains finally coming down on one of the greatest careers the sports world has known?

It is not the first time Roger Federer's form has begged such questions. It happened in 2008, when the Swiss lost his Wimbledon title and the No 1 ranking to Nadal, but in 2009 he won the French Open and Wimbledon, reached the final of the other two grand slams and reclaimed the No 1 ranking.

Federer faced those questions again in 2011, when he failed to win any of the four majors for the first time since 2002, but the next year, he won his seventh Wimbledon crown and was back at the top, becoming the oldest player to reach No 1.

So he can certainly do it again, but this time, it is a looking a bit different. Federer, who will turn 32 in August, has yet to win a title this year and has reached the final just once in six tournaments. The 17-time grand slam champion had won four of those tournaments in 2012 - Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells and Madrid.

Federer reached his first final of the year in Rome on Sunday, but was annihilated by Rafael Nadal in 69 minutes, finishing with 32 unforced errors to the Spaniard's eight. He had a similarly error-strewn match against Kei Nishikori in Madrid.

Clearly, Federer is not in the same place he was last year, but no assessment can be made till the Swiss reaches the grass courts. If he crashes out in the early rounds at Halle and Wimbledon, the writing on the wall should become a lot clearer.