It is often said that admitting a mistake puts someone halfway to turning things around. The rest of the journey is to make sure those mistakes do not happen again, that you have learned from them and you do all possible to stay on the right path. Do all that, and the right results will end up happening.
This week in Basel, Roger Federer admitted that he has made several mistakes in 2013 with his schedule and some of the matches he played. What he did resulted in the worst year of his career for probably a decade and many people have given up on him ever winning another Grand Slam.
I have said it before and I am saying it again; at the end of 2012 and the start of 2013 I wrote here, on wearetennis.bnpparibas that Federer would not win a major in 2013 but would win another, his 18th, in 2014. I am sticking to that.
Even though Federer, who is now 32, has dropped to seven in the world rankings and only on the edge of qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals in London (it’s never taken him so long to confirm his place in the final eight), there is still plenty of fire left in him.
He acknowledges that he played matches he should not have played this year. He cites three events in particular that he should have bypassed for the sake of his physical and mental state – he should have given Rafa Nadal a walkover in the quarters of Indian Wells because of back pain and he should have skipped on playing Hamburg and Gstaad when he lost to Federico Delbonis and Daniel Brands respectively.
It was understandable Federer was looking for some confidence after losing to Sergiy Stakhovsky at Wimbledon, who later described the upset as the “curse of Federer” because he didn’t win another Tour level match for seven events.
“Things always look better in hindsight. I wasn't able to train as I wanted during my seven-week break following Indian Wells (and) I fell into a negative spiral,” he said.
While I believe he will win another Slam, the rankings are another issue. I don’t think anyone feels that he will get back to No.1 but he is not likely to stay where he is and should move up. Next year he has fewer points to defend and he could do what Nadal did this year and gain the benefit of picking up points.
The issue here though is that he will likely have tougher matches earlier; that is maybe meet the likes of Djokovic, Nadal, Murray etc in the quarters rather than the semis of finals.
Adding to his woes is the split with one of his coaches, Paul Annacone, who he had worked with for over three years even though they both are clear that it was amicable.
“We had a great working relationship and a great friendship as well. That's something I know is going to continue,” said Federer. “We talked a lot. It was always important to communicate about our feelings and that's what we did after the training block in Dubai.
“It went really well, but I felt it was best to talk about it and he also thought it was good to have a change and end it there. All I can do is thank him for all his efforts. We got the most out of each other, which was the idea for the relationship.”
He has made it clear that retirement is not in his sights and his aim is to play the Olympic Games in Rio in 2016. He is now suggesting that is a guide and he may even consider going beyond that, all things being equal … that the mind and body remain in shape and the rigours of global travel do not bother him.
“As long as my body and mind is ready to go to travel, I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing, I'm successful,” he said. “I'll be playing for some time. That hasn't changed due to a tough six months. Playing at the Rio Olympics is something I'd like to achieve. That doesn't mean I'm going to end my career there, or earlier or later. It's just an idea.”
Right now qualifying for London is his target, besides trying to win Basel and the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris/Bercy. He has to have outstanding results in these last few events to boost his mind set for 2014.
“I want to compete for London, but I've got to win matches to get there,” said Federer. “I need to approach things in the correct way (and) I'm going to give everything I have to get to London.”