Miami: Carrots and Sticks.
“My game has issues at this moment,” Federer said. “I’ve had timing issues the last couple weeks and it leaves my confidence lacking.”
Let’s see – up a break early in the first, 8 breakpoints and 0 converted in the second, and match point in the third set. Apart from the first set horror story, respectable quality tennis through most of the second and third sets.
And yet, we’re left with a Federer loss as Birdy def Ferdy 64 67 76. Just wait til I’m done with you, Federbear!
The million dollar question still remains – why hasn’t Roger Federer done well in Indian Wells and Miami for the last 4 years?
Sure, we can excuse him for his recovery from mono in 08, back injury in 09 and I suppose playing 3 matches in 2 and a half months didn’t do him any good. But excuses aside, what it is about Indian Wells and Miami that just seem to bring out the worst in Fed?
Just throwing this out there for y’all to chew on:
The difference between tournaments like Indian Wells or Miami and the likes of Cincinnati, Madrid or Hamburg is that the IW/Miami double are an end unto themselves. In the grand scheme of things, they’re the anticlimatic climax. Winners pocket fat cheques and become hot topics for a week or two, before the abrupt start of the clay season kills the buzz.
Do they lead to legacy? To glory? To something worth talking about in 10 or 20 years?
By contrast, tournaments like Cincinnati and Madrid are means to an end – grand slam glory. Like all Masters Series tournaments, they are statement victories, but they also provide the momentum going into a slam, they boost a player’s odds as well as confidence. They are the final pit stop before the climax.
By the same logic, the flip side of a warm-up tournament is that underperformance raises self-doubt and questions in the media as to who is the real favourite at a subsequent slam.
Carrots and sticks, it’s what drives donkeys … and apparently Monkeys.
For Fed, who climaxes his year around the 4 slams, Indian Wells and Miami provide neither the carrot nor the stick for him to compete with gusto. Or even to attend a warm up tournament in Dubai. If he wins, the momentum doesn’t roll over into the clay season. And when he’s lost early, the results equally haven’t bled onto the red dirt of Europe.
But can I say this for good luck? “Thank God the hard court season is over.”