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10:57 AM Tue, Nov. 20th

Howard: An open letter to Roger Federer

Column: My Point

Dear Roger, I am one of your many tennis fans and would like to give you my two cents maybe not of advice, but certainly of thought through the eyes of what history may hold for you.

“Please think harder about playing the French Open this year.”

Yes, I know the stats of your unbelievable 2017 year of tennis with a limited schedule of tournament play.

You won the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami, skipped the clay court season, took Wimbledon and lost in the quarters at the U.S. Open. Your promotion of the new event called the Laver Cup, of which Europe won the first title, and then capping the year off by taking your third Masters title in Shanghai, which made everyone a believer, maybe even logical genius in keeping the dream alive for an over-the-hill 36 year-old.

Even with the injuries of some of the other top players, Djokovic, Murray, and Nadal, the feat of winning two more major singles titles and stretching your career to date at 20 has once again given most everyone and recently in Tennis Magazine your number one status for players in the “Open Era” and probably the greatest player to have ever picked up a racquet.

In 2018 you started off just like 2017, winning the Australian Open. You made it to the finals at Indian Wells and probably should have won, but didn’t and then to Miami and out in the second round to a very good qualifier ranked in the 170’s. After that loss you announced you’d be back playing again after the clay court season ends.

Really?

If you were injured or worn out - sure. You’ve put your time in and no one could say much.

But why would you possibly give up a chance to play a major, something in the past you had much pride in playing each year. Many players would die to have the chance you are turning down.

No one’s asking you to play the “whole” clay court season, but if you were going to play the French, certainly you should play at least one warm up tourney prior to it - just for a little prep time.

Add to the equation that Rafa Nadal has not been playing any tournaments due to injury, Murray has been out, Novak is trying but going out early to date and it seems you just might be the guy to beat......but you have to play.

Ugh.

Do you think Rod Laver would have passed up a chance to play a major in his hey-day? No way, you don’t get that chance back. Give him a call he’ll tell you too I bet. Ask any past pro player who will never get that chance again.

An extra week has been added to the grass court season, which also makes this decision to play the French more viable.

To date you’ve won only one French title with five final appearances, and the last two years you’ve been absent from play there, so please make us all proud and at least give it a shot.

You’ve won the Australian, the first leg of the 4 majors, you need the 2nd major to keep every great players dream alive of winning a calendar Grand Slam. Budge - Laver (twice) and Roger Federer, wouldn’t that look and feel fantastic?

In 04, 06 and 07 you won 3 of the 4 majors and who knows, maybe this year you could at the age of 37 grab all four majors, but not if you aren’t willing to try.

Most tennis players will love you one way or the other Roger, so it probably doesn’t matter, except to me!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.