Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 12 November 2019

Roger Federer 'too good' to consider retirement: Miami Open talking points

Following the second 1000-level tournaments of the season, here are some key takeaways from South Florida

Roger Federer was on a different level to his rivals en route to winning his fourth Miami Open title. Reuters
Roger Federer was on a different level to his rivals en route to winning his fourth Miami Open title. Reuters

Federer ‘too good’

Beaten finalist John Isner summed it up. “Roger, you were entirely too good today. You were entirely too good this whole tournament. You were entirely too good your whole career. It’s absolutely incredible what you are doing. We all want you to keep playing and never retire.”

The “R” word has followed Roger Federer around for what seems like the past five or six years – or since 2013 when he only won one title, struggled with a back injury, dropped out of the top four for the first time in 10 years, and failed to reach a grand slam quarter-final.

Since then though, Federer has defied the doubters and Father Time to win a further 24 titles – including three majors. His latest piece of silverware, collected in Miami on Sunday, was the 101st of his incomparable career.

Federer, back up to world No 4, was head and shoulders above his rivals in South Florida to become the first player to win multiple ATP Tour titles this season, following his triumph in Dubai.

There is no question that the 37-year-old Federer is into the latter stages of his record-breaking career, and each premature loss – particularly at the grand slams – will create renewed talk over his future.

Indeed, a return to the claycourt swing, having skipped the past two years, was seen by many as part of the Federer farewell tour.

But Federer has made it clear that as long as he feels he can compete at the top, he will continue playing. And the 20-time grand slam winner is certainly doing that.

Much of the obsession surrounding Federer’s future is based on the void his absence will create, particularly from the fans’ perspective: no player is more universally adored than the Swiss superstar.

Thankfully, Isner and the wider tennis world appear to have a bit more time to revel in Federer’s brilliance.

Djokovic slump part II?

Novak Djokovic has suffered earlier than expected defeats in three of four tournaments this season. Reuters
Novak Djokovic has suffered earlier than expected defeats in three of four tournaments this season. Reuters

Plenty of breathing distance at the top of the world rankings (2,345 points to be exact) and an emphatic winner in the year’s first grand slam tournament, so far so good for Novak Djokovic in 2019, right?

Technically, yes, but the Serbian’s results in the other three events he has entered have been strangely underwhelming – his latest was a defeat in the fourth round in Miami to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut, who incidentally defeated Djokovic in the Doha semi-finals in January.

Could Djokovic be embarking on another slump similar to post-French Open in 2016 which he didn’t fully recover from until Wimbledon last year?

A few surprising defeats does not a downturn make, so at this stage not too much should be read into his current form. But Djokovic will want to get back to winning ways during the claycourt swing – a section of the season when he has not won a title since 2016 – to avoid further talk and additional pressure.

WTA wide open

Ashleigh Barty moved up to world No 9 following her Miami Open victory. Reuters
Ashleigh Barty moved up to world No 9 following her Miami Open victory. Reuters

Ashleigh Barty claimed the biggest title of her career by winning the Miami Open on Saturday as the Australian claimed her rightful place in the world’s top-10 and improved her 2019 record to 18-3.

Remarkably, Barty became the 14th separate winner on the WTA Tour this season, providing further evidence at just how wide open and competitive women’s tennis has become.

As the season enters the claycourt section, expect even more players to add their names to the 2019 roll call as the likes of French Open champion Simona Halep, world No 5 Angelique Kerber, and world No 7 Elina Svitolina all look to get in on the act.

Updated: April 1, 2019 05:32 PM

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