Roger Federer's body language in Halle was 'a worry' ahead of Wimbledon Grand Slam title bid - Alex Corretja
Will Roger Federer be in a position to contend for victory at Wimbledon? The 39-year-old is bidding to win his 21st Grand Slam title at SW19 but has not had the best preparation as he lost in three sets to Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Halle Open. Alex Corretja gives his verdict on Federer ahead of the third major of the year.
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“He was, I think, inside himself. He’s the only one who knows how he’s feeling, the way he’s moving. Sometimes it’s not about complaining.
“It’s a matter of you are playing and inside you, you feel ‘this is not how I want to feel’. And I think Roger feels a little bit that way right now.
It’s not that his attitude was not good, it was that his attitude was showing a little bit of worry on his face. And usually you don’t see that on Roger because it seems like everything flows and everything is perfect, but now it is normal. He’s showing that even if he is probably the most talented guy ever, he will suffer like someone else and it’s good that he shows that.
Fellow Eurosport pundit Mats Wilander thinks it is "alarming" that Federer was open to talking about his attitude.
"I'm not sure if he's ever shown it or not. I actually saw him show it one time against Gustavo Kuerten at Roland-Garros, where he looked not interested to be there and was willing to hit the grass courts. So, I think that he's most probably felt like that before but for him to actually point the finger at himself - that's alarming.
"I think what happens when you do that, the thing we never talked about, it also puts a green light in the locker room to the rest of the field like 'wow, even Roger Federer doesn't feel like fighting to the very end with a good attitude these days.. so you know what Roger, you are 39, I am 21, I'm going to be out there for five hours if I have to. Even if you're Roger Federer."
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Federer’s last Grand Slam title was at the Australian Open 2018 and since then he has seen Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic close the gap in the all-time standings.
Nadal is level with Federer on 20 while Djokovic is one behind after winning the French Open.
Corretja thinks Federer “is still in the process” of getting back to fitness and is uncertain if he can challenge at Wimbledon.
“I’m just worried he doesn’t feel 100 per cent on his knee because it’s normal that his movements are still not the best. Probably he needs some more time. Is it going to be enough to be perfect for Wimbledon? Well, he needs a very, very good first week to get the rhythm that he needs to become good the second week and to perform well.
“I think if he gets the rhythm that he needs, he’s going to be very dangerous but there are many players that right now can hurt him, when before it was maybe only two or three.”
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Federer acknowledged after losing to Auger-Aliassime that he is facing a “huge challenge” as he looks to get back to the top of the sport.
“It makes us realise how difficult it is to come back after a big injury,” said Corretja.
“How difficult is it to come back when you are 39 years old. So everything that comes for Roger now, for me now, it would be a gift for him and especially for people who love tennis. We just can say, “OK, play as good as you can, and then we will support you, because you have given us so much that right now we can only enjoy what Roger is doing and don’t feel pain when you don’t see him doing well.
“It’s what he has right now and you need to accept that and then he will be the one deciding whether or not he wants to continue. If he sees that he is ready to come back to his best level, he will continue.
“If he feels like he cannot be at the level he wants and can’t win Slams. I don’t think he will continue.”
Andy Murray is in a similar position to Federer as he looks to challenge for titles again after undergoing surgery.
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The former world No 1 was emotional as he claimed his second ATP win since August at the Cinch Championships at Queen’s Club last week.
“He suffered like crazy,” said Corretja.
“He’s been struggling big time and he’s been realising how much he loves tennis, I think way more than 10 years ago - I think at that time he was an unbelievable tennis player. But probably, he didn’t realise that he loves tennis that much. I remember being with him at home and he was watching tennis, he loved tennis and he was working so hard physically and in the gym, on the tennis court. But at that time, he probably didn’t know that he loved the game that much. Now that he’s been away for so long he feels like, ‘oh, gee, I’m missing tennis’.
“So to see him back playing tournaments, matches, winning again and then struggling and suffering like this, it was so emotional! I think it’s going to be very difficult for him to come back to his best tennis because I think he gave everything he had and now he just needs to play, have fun and enjoy and then see what comes - but not with major goals.
“I wouldn’t recommend major goals for Andy more than saying, ‘OK, let’s go see if I can achieve that and then enjoy’. That for me, is the only reason to continue playing tennis, enjoying and showing the whole world that he’s an amazing tennis player.”
Wilander thinks Murray could spring a surprise at Wimbledon and reach the second week of the tournament.
"A success for Andy Murray to me would be to win a couple of matches. Prove to himself and to the locker room that he can win a four-set match, a five-set match and then threaten one of the big guys, maybe in the third round or the fourth round or the quarter-final. Failure will only be if he plays some kind of a middle-ranked player and loses in five sets because he gets tired or he looks like he’s not running full. But it seemed to me he was in great shape [at Queens]. I thought he played well.
"It is also a wake-up call to the rest of us that the next generation have this game inside of them when they play well, the older players can’t hurt them because they have more power, they serve harder, they hit the ball harder, they're younger. And I think that's what you saw with Matteo Berrettini and Murray. Five sets should help Andy Murray, a lot if physically he can last but mentally he's one of the best five-set players in the world so I think Wimbledon could be a very positive surprise for him and everybody else and I would not be surprised if he gets to a fourth round or a quarter-finals."