There are many speculations floating around that the Swiss maestro Roger Federer may make an appearance on clay in 2019 – after a hiatus of more than two years.
When Federer incurred a knee injury back in 2016, many analysts and die-hard fans believed that his illustrious career was finally coming to an end. Some went as far as saying that he would never win another major title again. These rumors were further solidified when he skipped the 2016 Olympics and took the remainder of the year off to recover.
When he returned to the tour in 2017, not many expected Federer to do what he did – win the Australian Open and follow it with the Sunshine Doubles at the Indian Wells and the Miami Masters. He later moved on to win the Wimbledon Championships along with the Shanghai Masters.
He had a less eventful run in 2018 although; he did manage to defend his title successfully at the Melbourne Park. He followed it with three more titles over the course of the year – the Rotterdam Open, the Swiss Indoors, and the Stuttgart Open.
What is the common denominator between the two seasons? It is the decision of the Swiss to skip the entire clay season.
Federer’s resurgence since the start of 2017 is an entire book that will go down in the history of tennis. For a player to win Grand Slams in his mid-thirties while keeping up a pretty impeccable manner of play is something not many can achieve. A lot of factors have to be considered here. However, in the case of Federer, the one thing that proved to be a crucial factor was his decision to sit out the clay season.
This is because clay itself is a highly taxing surface. Being slippery in nature, it causes more strain on legs which can often lead to injuries. From this perspective, Federer’s decision to miss the clay courts was entirely right – there is no point in risking leg injuries again, especially when he wants to continue playing for as long as possible.
It is quite fair to say that Federer’s love for tennis has brought him this far, to keep him going relentlessly at the age of 37.
He has often said that he wants to keep playing for as long as possible and in order to do so, he has to take good care of his physique. By avoiding clay, he has been able to save energy and train for the Wimbledon – one of his favorite tournaments on the tour.
However, all of that may change in 2019.
There is a good chance that Federer may play on the clay courts in the coming season. The rumor was first fuelled in September, before the start of the Laver Cup. He told ESPN.com that his clay season is under review. When asked why he would do it, he replied by saying, “Just because I want to do it. It’s a full-time passion thing.”
Of course, all of this is predicated on his fitness and the way he approaches his practice sessions. To make things more interesting, Federer’s former coach – Paul Annacone, in an interview to Tennis365 said that he won’t be surprised if the Swiss plays at Roland Garros. He also said that it depends on his schedule and fitness.
Now, according to Express.co.uk, Federer is considering playing in the Rome Masters or ATP Barcelona in 2019 to prepare for the French Open. However, this will be confirmed only after he has played in the Indian Wells and Miami Masters. Ultimately, it all depends on his health and physical condition.
Perhaps, the Swiss wants to give the clay courts a go once again and quite possibly, challenge Rafael Nadal on his own turf. This will be a delight for tennis fans, who have dearly missed the Swiss on clay.