July 24, 2013 by Parveer Mann
Have you heard the saying, The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. It was famously adapted from 18th century writer, Robert Burns’ To a Mouse and it really seems to summarize Roger Federer’s summer thus far. After his early exit at Wimbledon, he has done a little improvisation with his schedule and added two lower-tier tournaments in Hamburg and Gstaad. However desperate the moves seem, they seem to come at a time when Roger’s focus is not ranking points but the need for a little personal research and development.
Roger made headlines last week in Hamburg when he began experimenting with a larger racquet head (98 inches in surface area). It is a move that some feel is long overdue for Federer who has really been averse to any change over his 10 year tennis reign. The advantages of a bigger racquet head could be as simple as compensating for the loss in court coverage by providing him a little more reach on his return shots. It is a move that may prove to be highly beneficial in matchups with players who have started to find those angles against him. The mini trial continues this week in Gstaad and it will be interesting to see if it will continue into the US Open series.
More Schedule Changes
Another surprising announcement this week was that Federer would play an Australian Open tune-up for the first time since he played Sydney over a decade ago. I think it is just an extension of the creative scheduling approach that he set up for himself this year. It provides for flexibility in the spring and summer months (skipping Miami and Monte Carlo) so he can be more flexible at other points of the season like he was this year.
I understand that the results have not been at the level we have come to expect from Roger. Instead, the most important takeaway of the season so far for us all may be these minor tweaks and alterations he’s been making. He is giving us the model for what the rest of his career will look like, one that is motivated by a passion for the game and trying for greatness rather than simply accepting the new normal.