Roger Federer shifts schedule to play in Gstaad and Hamburg
Roger Federer confirmed via Twitter that he will play the bet-at-home Open in Hamburg, Germany, which begins on July 15, and the Credit Agricole Suisse Open in Gstaad, Switzerland, which takes place a week later. Both are lower-level clay-court tournaments; Hamburg has ATP 500 status and Gstaad is an ATP 250 tournament.
After losing to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon last week, Federer said he wasn't going to panic. The Swiss great, who came into the tournament as the defending champion and seven-time winner, hadn't missed a quarterfinal in 36 straight Grand Slams dating to the 2004 French Open. He also hadn't lost to a player ranked as low as No. 116 Stakhovsky in 11 years.
"Well, what do you do after something like this?" Federer said after the loss. "What do you do? Do you do the 24‑hour rule? You don't panic at this point, that's clear. Just go back to work and come back stronger really. Somewhat simple. Hard to do sometimes."
Federer foreshadowed some summer schedule changes, noting his light load in the first half of the season. He played just eight tournaments before Wimbledon, making the final at the Italian Open and winning the ATP 250 grass-court tune-up in Halle, Germany. His 35 matches in the first half of this season is the fewest he's played since 1999, when he was ranked outside the top 100. He has beaten a top-10 player only once this year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Australian Open.
Federer initially set a lighter schedule for 2013, in part so that he could recover from the grind of 2012. Last year, he pushed to recapture the No. 1 ranking to break Pete Sampras' record of 286 weeks in the top spot, and he played a compacted schedule because of the Olympics.
"I didn't play so much as of late," Federer said at Wimbledon. "At the same time that gives me more flexibility with my schedule moving forward and next year as well. Particularly an early loss like this gives me extra days to rest. I have more options now than I did have one year ago when I was running around trying to chase down every possible tournament and every point to get back to world No. 1."
With his early Wimbledon exit, Federer will drop to No. 5 in next week's rankings. Federer will also fall to at least No. 6 in the Race to London (he could drop to No. 7 if Juan Martin del Potro makes the final), with the top eight qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals.
Federer's decision to go from the grass to two clay-court events before the North American hard-court season starts in August is an interesting one. The travel won't be too bad for either and they both hold a sentimental place in his career. Gstaad was Federer's first ATP tournament, in 1998, and he's always loved Hamburg, where he won four titles when it was a Masters Series event.
Hamburg is reportedly giving him an appearance fee of nearly $400,000, but it's not about money for Federer anymore. Now exempt from so many of the ATP's scheduling restrictions (the mandatory ATP Masters events are completely optional for him), his schedule seems entirely driven by going to the tournaments he loves in the cities he loves. But surface changes are always tough on the body and he's going from two weeks on grass, his best surface, to clay, his worst surface, and then on to the North American hard courts, where he's the defending champion at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.This post has been updated to correct Federer's results this year.