Roger Federer: Sluggish Start at 2013 Dubai Open Should Cause Little Concern

Dan Talintyre@@dantalintyreSenior Analyst IIFebruary 25, 2013

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 25:  Roger Federer of Switzerland plays a backhand in his semifinal match against Andy Murray of Great Britain during day twelve of the 2013 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 25, 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

Roger Federer has survived a scare from unseeded wild card Malek Jaziri in the opening round of the 2013 Dubai Open—taking the full three sets to defeat Jaziri.

The top-ranked male Tunisian tennis player—who is currently ranked 128th in the world—surprised many, including Federer, by taking the first set 7-5 after the Swiss maestro had blown several opportunities to clinch the set earlier on.

However, the dream run would end there for Jaziri, as the Fed Express would break Jaziri five times in the next two sets to record a comfortable 5-7, 6-0, 6-2 finish.

The sluggish start here clearly wasn't what the former world No. 1 would have aspired to heading into the tournament, and he certainly would not have been thrilled by the result. Yet despite the slow start, there should be little cause for concern about Federer in either the 2013 Dubai Open or the more grand picture of the tennis calendar ahead of him.

For a number of reasons, this one result should raise no alarms about Federer's playing style or whether or not he can still cut it with the world anymore.

Jumping to those conclusions are simply ridiculous.

First, this is only one match—and he didn't even lose.

The scoreline shows that the Swiss maestro dropped the first set, but it doesn't show just how good Federer was playing throughout that first set.

Jaziri was simply having a blinder of a performance and was hitting the lines and winners as a result of that. Federer simply rode the storm and came out with the win which, mind you, came in pretty convincing fashion throughout the next two sets as he kicked it up a gear.

The former World No.1 still sits at 8-2 for the 2013 season so far, with yet another Grand Slam semifinals appearance to his name at the 2013 Australian Open.

Losing one set is no cause for concern—especially when it comes against lower-ranked opponents, who are more likely to go for winners and try to end the points quickly than when Federer comes up against players such as Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic in the Grand Slams.

I remember hearing former tennis star and current Davis Cup captain Jim Courier speak about playing Federer when he coached the United States Davis Cup team and how he advised his players to try and topple one of the world's greatest players.

In short, he said that playing a normal game against Federer wasn't going to get you anywhere; Federer is simply better at tennis than most people. 

Playing a conservative, solid game without mistakes isn't ever going to get you the win. You have to go for your shots and sacrifice some errors as a result.

Essentially, he was saying that if you don't "go for it", you're going to lose—so why not lose trying to win on your terms rather than lose on his terms.

An interesting strategy, perhaps, but one that certainly rings true when players that are ranked well outside the top 10—which Jaziri is here. The Tunisian was going for the winners at the expense of hitting errors, and it paid off early, which is why Federer lost the first set.

But he cannot be blamed or criticized for when that happens; there is simply nothing he can do about it. After all, they sometimes just all go in—much like Djokovic's incredible demolition of David Ferrer in the semifinals of the 2013 Australian Open.

They sometimes just all go in, and Federer himself highlighted this after the win here, when speaking to reporters about the result. Per The Herald Sun:

The margins are small. He played a great first set. 

I'm happy I made the turnaround. It's a big relief for me. I'm glad to get another chance to move ahead...

Federer knew that Jaziri was going for it and he knew that it would not last for the whole match. Thus, he was able to endure the storm and capitalize on his opponent's errors when they started to come in the second set—which resulted in a comfortable win in the end.

The current World No. 2 was clearly not fazed by his sluggish start at the 2013 Dubai Open, and neither should those that are worrying about his form this year.

It was just one match, and he didn't even lose. 

There are far better things to be worried about than that.


What do you make of Roger Federer's chances at success in 2013?

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