The news is just out - Federer has withdrawn from the Rogers Cup. It is for the sake of his career longevity, he says. On top of that, this move is also a smart one when considered within in the short run.
Why do we praise such a move as smart?
It comes down firstly to timing
It is all comes down to timing. The Rogers Cup of this year will be held between 3 August and 12 August. This will leave Federer a month out of the game. This is a 'Goldilocks' length of time in our period - not too long for Federer to get rusty in the tournament after this, and not too short for him to not get the sufficient amount recovery he is looking for. Have you ever stopped playing for a month or a few weeks, due to mental or physical fatigue, make a come-back and feel extraordinarily fresh and proficient, without any hint at all of rust. That is what Federer would feel by the time the Cincinnati Open comes around.
He is also choosing his battle wisely
By ditching the Rogers Cup final, Federer is concentrating on the tournaments he would most likely win, and the also the more consequential ones. If you look back at the histories of both tournaments, you would see that Federer was only champion twice at the Rogers Cup - in 2004 and 2006 - but was champion 7 times at the Cincinnati Masters - the last time being in 2015. To qualify these records one step further, it could be seen that Federer has not won a title at the Rogers Cup final upon and after the advent of the primes of Djokovic, Nadal and Murray. The Rogers Cup is also less consequential when compared to the Cincinnati Masters, because its court surface is less similar to the US Open when compared to the Cincinnati Master (the courts on the Rogers Cup feel sandy, when compared to the smoothness of the courts at the Cincinnati and US Opens); and it is further from the US Open on the calculator, which means that it will be less helpful as a 'warmer-up' for the US Open.
He plays to his strengths
As mentioned, the courts of the Rogers Cup look rather sandy when compared to the smooth surfaces of the US and Cincinnati Opens. The sandiness would be a disadvantage to the attacking style of Federer, which depends on ending the points as soon as possible. Federer's discomfort with such court surface was quite evident to us in the final of the Rogers Cup 2017 tournament, during which he lost 6-3 6-4 to Alexander Zverev. Because of the sandiness hampering the effect of heavy drive (a key factor in the devastating potential of his shots), his balls became rather float-y, which gave Zverev abundant opportunities to hit either outright winners, or critically punctuating shots.
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