Roger Federer soaks up the adulation in Miami after winning the title with his final victory over Rafael Nadal on Sunday. Photograph: Dave Shopland/BPI/Rex/Shutterstock
The Swiss master’s astonishing return has proved that longevity is still possible at the top of the game if you manage your schedule and know your body’s limits
Roger Federer’s decision to abandon the Tour for two months while playing tennis that stands favourable comparison with his golden years is a stark challenge to the game’s administrators to end the grind of a schedule that is pushing players to breaking point. As he said after winning his third title of the year, his second Miami Open and the 91st title of his career: “The body needs a break, the mind needs a break.”
It was his 20th match of the season after returning from an enforced six-month rest to heal knee surgery last year that threatened to bring his career to a shuddering halt and although, from a distance, he looked as fresh as a sprite beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in Sunday’s high-grade final at Crandon Park, it was only his practised calm that disguised the apparent stress he was suffering. He knows how far he pushed his body and he knows he got away with it. So does everyone else in the game.
Nadal made the most remarkable comeback of modern times in 2013 when, aged 26, he returned from seven months away to win 10 titles, including two slams. Late that year, Andy Murray chose to undergo surgery to save his career. Although he had won two majors with painkillers flooding his chronically painful lower back, he returned a happier and healthier athlete and, after a long and tough struggle, he displaced Novak Djokovic as world No1 late last season.
However, that effort also took its toll on both of them. Murray and Djokovic are resting elbow injuries that have put a hole in their 2017 campaigns at the top of the rankings and threaten to disrupt their charge at both the French Open and Wimbledon. They are scheduled to clash again in Monte Carlo, then Madrid and Rome before Paris, with fingers crossed.
The immediate media impulse was to wonder why Federer would take the air from his magnificent balloon ride across a tennis landscape that he has held in thrall since returning from his last “holiday” to win the 2017 Australian Open. Surely, goes the reasonable argument, Federer is giving his bewildered rivals a chance to rebuild their confidence and gather ranking points in his absence. It is like the school captain leaving out the keys to the headmaster’s drinks cabinet and telling the boys to get on with it.
Source By https://www.theguardian.com