The Gstaad Open – see Federer and Wawrinka in action
Roger Federer has had a bad few months by his standards. His straight sets loss to French showman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Roland Garros was very disappointing to his fans, as was his second round defeat against the Ukrainian, Sergiy Stakhovsky, who was ranked 116, three weeks ago at Wimbledon. He has now slipped down to number 5 in the rankings and I think he feels that this is a pivotal period in his career. Instead of taking his usual summer break at this time of the year, he has decided to play more tennis and test out a new racket.
Last week he played at the ATP event in Hamburg and his new, bigger racket didn’t seem to improve his form as he lost in the semi-finals to Federico Delbonis a 22 year-old Argentine ranked 114.
So you can see why some commentators and fans are talking of the demise of Federer. John McEnroe is one of those that has jumped on the bandwagon, saying that he “doesn’t think” that Federer will win any more majors, but I beg to differ. I think that McEnroe and other commentators are being a bit lazy with their analysis. Federer is widely acclaimed as the greatest player of all time (not by McEnroe who prefers Nadal) and he is so naturally talented, with such an efficient style of player, that at the age of 31 he should still be able to compete with the world’s best. Tennis is increasingly becoming a sport for players in their thirties. You only need to look at the success of Serena Williams, Tommy Haas and Radek Stepanek in recent months, to see that Federer is far from finished!
Federer recently won the grasscourt title in Halle and reached the final of the Rome Masters, so it is far too simplistic to say that he is in terrible form.
I believe that this week will mark a new start for Federer as he returns to the venue where he started his career, in Gstaad, high in the Swiss Alps. At an altitude of 1’050 the ball will fly through the air and Federer should enjoy the conditions. Rallies will not be as long as at traditional claycourt events and Federer is certainly my favourite to win the tournament. Everyone in Switzerland is mad about Federer. I have lived in Geneva for several years and have yet to meet a Swiss person with a negative word to say about the guy. I can assure you that his support this week will be 100%!
There are some other big names at this tournament including Stanislas Wawrinka, the Swiss number 2, who is having a great year and is currently ranked number 10 in the world. Wawrinka has never performed well in Gstaad however and finds it hard to control the ball at this altitude.
Juan Monaco, ranked 20, from Argentina could also be a threat to Federer. He is a tough claycourter but conditions may be just a bit too fast for him here. He may be Federer’s semi-final opponent on Saturday, but by that stage I expect the GOAT (greatest player of all time) to have found some form and started to enjoy his new racket. Monaco doesn’t really have the “weapons” to worry a player of Federer’s class.
Watch out for big servers in Gstaad such as Spaniard, Feliciano Lopez or Daniel Brands and Dustin Brown of Germany. Also I expect a return to form for Janko Tipsarvic (ranked 18) who played well in Gstaad last year.
I don’t see any of these players as a real threat to Federer however as he is simply a class above them all. He won the title here in 2004 and the year before he reached the final. He will be delighted to be back here and remember the good old days when he completely dominated the tennis world. This week could prove to be a “flashback” to 2004!
Gstaad is known as being a popular destination for high society and the international jet set. It’s a beautiful place to visit and if you want to see some real life in the village, this week is certainly the best time to go there!
To buy tickets to see the GOAT in action, go to the official website by clicking here www.creditagricolesuisseopengstaad.ch. Prices are not cheap – tickets prices start at 50 CHF tomorrow and at 105 CHF at the weekend, but as you probably know, nothing is cheap in Switzerland. Compared to a meal in a Swiss restaurant this is great value!
This article is written by Simon Russell, the editor of the site www.tennisessence.com a site that provides a fans perspective on professional tennis, and a professional approach to tennis betting. Follow him on twitter.com/simon_tennis and like tennisessence on facebook to get more tips and previews throughout the year.