After his win at Indian Wells, Roger has to ask himself a question that he wouldn’t have thought about at the start of the year. That is: ‘I’ve got a realistic chance to go back to No.1. Is that what I want? Or do I play a measured schedule and aim for Wimbledon and the US Open?’
Records have driven Roger; he’s a little like Serena in that respect. He was motivated to get another Slam win, and after the Australian Open he has to be thinking ‘I can win a nineteenth Major’. I’ve no doubt that he also believes he can get to No.1 again. If that were to happen he would be the oldest No.1 in ATP history, adding yet another record to his resume.
One of the questions that we don’t know, though, is the true state of his body. We don’t know whether his back could handle what is required to win enough matches – or to play a deep enough schedule – to accumulate the points that he would need.
He made an interesting comment to me at a function we did prior to the Australian Open, his first true ‘comeback’ test. He said ‘one thing that I don’t know is how my body is going to recover after each match. Given the time I have had off, and the injury, I have to wait and see.’ At that point he was saying that the semifinals of the AO would be a good result.
Now he’s physically ahead of where he thought he might be, which is a huge positive. And he has taken the pressure off himself in terms of his own expectations; he set what looked like achievable goals and he has already exceeded them.
Following this win at Indian Wells he has to start re-evaluating those goals.
Two weeks ago I would have told you that I expect Roger’s full attention would have been on winning Wimbledon one more time. But I think he will now take a look and wonder whether he adds the French to his schedule – he hasn’t said that he’s playing that yet – and maybe a Madrid, which has a fast court and suits his game.
This season’s great form has opened a Pandora’s box of positive questions that he now has to answer.
Looking forward, I see Roger finishing the season comfortably at No.2. But if his body remains fit, and given what is happening with Novak’ form and Andy having to defend so much in the back half of the year, Roger really does have a free run at getting back to World No.1.
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