Roger Federer is struggling harder than expected to return to 100% condition, feeding his fans the fear that it will be very difficult to replicate the achievements of 2017. The Swiss phenomenon has put together only three games in the last year and a half, however with a balance negative (one win and two defeats).
Having reached the quarter-finals in Doha a couple of months ago, a marked improvement was to be expected this week in Geneva. The 20-time Grand Slam champion, on the other hand, left the scene at his debut, at the hands of the not irresistible Spaniard Pablo Andujar.
Despite a break ahead in the third set, the 39-year-old from Basel lost his serve and forehand and ended up collecting a streak of four consecutive games. King Roger's schedule now includes Roland Garros, which is useful for testing over long distances when Wimbledon is about a month and a half away.
Interviewed by the New York Times in recent days, his former coach Paul Annacone pointed out how the opponents now have a different approach when they find themselves challenging the Maestro.
Paul Annacone talks about Roger Federer
"The less dominant you are, the more that aura of invincibility starts to dissipate just a tad," Paul Annacone said.
"And it only needs to dissipate a tad to make a difference. The locker room antenna is up. I think Paris is going to be really challenging for Roger Federer," Annacone said. "But if the body sustains itself and maintains good health and he gets enough reps, Roger’s not going to go into the grass season not thinking he can win Wimbledon.
He'll say all the right stuff, but in his heart of hearts, he knows he can win that tournament." Much like Roger Federer, Serena Williams is also looking to make a winning return to clay this year. "The expectations for both of them are so rough," Annacone said.
"As soon as there’s a loss, there are all these sweeping conclusions. They are at the peril of their own brand, so to speak. They can definitely still be great, but I’ll be interested to see if they can stay great for a whole match, a whole tournament."
Federer and Williams can bid goodbye to the sport anytime soon and thus, want to play as many matches as possible. Also, one is usually not fit after crossing the mid-thirties. Federer and Williams both missed the French Open last year due to injuries and will surely not want to skip it this year when they are fully fit and fine.
Besides, playing at any Grand Slam is a big achievement in itself and thus, they don’t mind impressing their fans in Paris this year.