Should Fed play Roland Garros if Rafa’s woes continue?
It looks likely that Roger Federer will not play tennis on the clay courts this year. The 2018 Australian Open champion chose not to play the clay court season to preserve his body for Wimbledon. Given that Rafa is injured and like others could be out for some time should Roger decide to reverse his 2017 decision and play on the clay?
Federer’s success of late has been down to his new style of attacking the net and adapting his style to win points as quickly and efficiently as possible. He has also prioritized his health above everything else. This ensures that when he is on court that he is 100% fit and healthy. Chosing to skip clay was a strategic decision one based on the longer term goals of career longevity relative to the chance to pick up another major. The French Open would be the slam Fed has had least success at. Partly down to Rafa but also due to the difficulty of winning on the surface. There are many many clay court experts on tour and to win on clay you need to grind.
Hypothetically speaking if Rafael Nadal was not in the best of form or on the side-lines would Federer play some clay court events with a view to playing the French Open? Playing the clay season presupposes that he would enter Roland Garros and in the absence of the clay GOAT Federer would be the favourite for the event. However guys like Del Potro and Djokovic might be in the form to dispute that. The Big Argentinian is playing incredible tennis at the moment and recently won Acapulco. His biggest tournament victory in years. Djokovic should be able to play himself into some kind of form by the French Open too. Who could discount him?
Is such a decision worth taking the risk? Roger may have a romantic notion of retuning to the city where he achieved his grand slam. However the surface could cause him problems as he moves from hard court to clay back to grass within a few weeks. The close proximity of the grass season and Federer’s schedule to play the two warm-up events before Wimbledon would make this tough on his body. High risk high reward. I hope he doesn’t let his heart rule his head.