Roger Federer not finished yet, say rivals

January 11th, 2009 - 10:22 pm ICT by IANS  

Roger FedererSydney, Jan 11 (IANS) Swiss tennis champion Roger Federer finished last year with the worst record in head-to-head matches between the world’s top-10 players, becoming most vulnerable ahead of the first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open.Federer, who is a win away from joining American tennis legend Pete Sampras as the sport’s greatest champion for 14 Grand Slam titles, has, however, won just seven of 20 matches against the top-10 players last year.

Statistics not only reveal 2008 was Federer’s leanest season in five years, but that the Swiss master is under siege.

New world No.1 Rafael Nadal had Federer’s measure, knocking the 27-year-old from the top spot he held for a record 237 weeks.

Andy Murray overcame Federer for the fifth time in seven meetings when he beat the Swiss in a semi-final in Doha Saturday.

Australian Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald said he was not completely surprised by the trend.

“Right now at the end of his career, I’d imagine the majority of his endeavour is to win more Grand Slams and set his record up as the greatest ever,” Fitzgerald was quoted as saying in the Daily Telegraph.

“If you look at the big picture, last year was only a poor year by his incredibly lofty standards. He made a semi at the Australian, a final at the French, a final at Wimbledon and he won the US.”

“I think he can come back, as long as his body’s right. He can go on and win more Grand Slam singles titles, no doubt,” Fitzgerald said.

Aiming to crash his own way back into the top-10 after a string of injuries, former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt of Australia said Federer was far from finished.

“You can’t take Roger out of the mix. He obviously had a few more losses (in 2008), but you look at his results in the Grand Slams and even the way he bounced back to win the US Open,” Hewitt said. “Roger’s still going to be a big threat, especially come Melbourne. He’s always had great success there.”

Frenchman Gilles Simon, now No.6 in the world, is Federer’s another nemesis.

Simon beat Federer in their two matches last year, but he said there was a big gap between the top-four players Nadal, Federer, Novak Djokovic and Murray and the rest of the pack.

“I don’t think (Federer) can improve his game now, but I think he’s a very, very good player - maybe the best player of history,” Simon said. “It’s going to be difficult for him to improve again, but I think he can maintain his level.”

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