Not a single Grand Slam. 2013 to 2016, four long years. And now, two out of two – the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
How did Roger Federer turn things around?
Here is what seems to have helped : an involuntary break caused by a knee injury and subsequent surgery.
It was not by design that Federer took time off. But the break helped. The body got enough time to regather its vitality. The mind was sharp as ever. And the spirit was willing. Re-energized like never before, Federer defeated Nadal and won the Australian. The win made him realize the value of his break. So much so, he skipped the French, was fresh and raring to go at Wimbledon; and won it without dropping a set!
In the post-match speech and interview, Federer has announced plans to take a longish break once again. At soon-to-be 36, he has decided to conserve his energy for the big ones – the surfaces that suit his style and are easier on his ageing body ( that rules out the French Open). So, he will not have enough ATP points to become World No 1. That is not on the goal list anymore. In fact, he has said that he feels like he is working part-time and enjoying it. Federer also says the support of his wife and family is what comes first. If they don’t want him to play, he stops. End of story.
What can we learn?
Federer did not win anything of note for four years. He then had to give up on a heavy-duty routine. Took a complete break. Had doubts. And he came back with a bang. With a new plan on how to prolong his career and continue to win. Having reassessed his priorities and secure in what now matters.
When it comes to our own life,
Do we have a set routine or a grand-plan that needs scrutiny? Will a break or a change work for us? Do we have a new plan? If a player as great as Federer adapts to circumstances, are we even aware about the need to adapt, let alone a plan for adapting? Are we willing to reassess our priorities? What comes first? What can bring everything to a stop?
The most important thing to remember is that for all of his tennis prowess, Federer had to take a good, hard look at himself, where he was in his career and what he wants. A genius also comes at crossroads, vulnerable and needing to make choices. When will we?