There's been a lot of talk lately about the "slump" or "downward spiral" or however you want to describe it of Roger Federer. And make no mistake about it, there is something going on. The bad thing about this is that the timing couldn't be worse.
Every day, it seems, there are more young players nipping at R-Fed's heels, and after seeing him struggle with Pete Sampras (even though, to me, it looked like he wasn't going all-out), then losing to Mardy Fish (Mardy Fish!), why wouldn't they be? I don't think Federer's really done, by any means, but I think he's definitely off track from doing things of historic proportions, which it seemed like a couple of years ago was going to be the case.
That's why I think if he's going to get back on track, it has to start at the Sony Ericsson Open. He beat Gael Monfils pretty easily, and his match today with Robin Soderling (who's had a pretty good start to the year) is just starting. He needs to really go out there and put a whuppin' on Soderling. And if Federer gets through that and his next match, then meets Andy Roddick in the quarters, he really needs to drop the hammer on him as well.
The fact that Novak Djokovic is out of the tournament kind of waters down the quality of winning the whole thing, since Djoko (who's been playing more like the number 2 player in the world) has given him some fits lately. But if Rafael Nadal meets Federer at the end and R-Fed manages to pummel him, that could do wonders for his confidence—and possibly get him back on course to making history.
Granted, I think he's still going to break Sampras' Slam record, (which I think is semi-bogus, since seven of the titles came at Wimbledon), but with Federer's game, he should be doing more than what Sampras did: Just don't pile up titles at Wimbledon, dominate everywhere—and why not get back in that mind-set here at the Sony Ericsson Open?
An old friend of mine and I used to talk tennis for hours, whether it was our own games or what was happening in the pros. I've started Tennis Talk, Anyone? to, well, talk tennis with an even broader crowd! My name is Van Sias and I've been playing for 20 years now, and not only am I player, I'm a huge fan of the game as well: pro, amateur, you name it. I'll post links to news items related to the sport, and offer my own personal opinion, predictions and hopefully get some of yours as well.