Blogs & Opinion


Change for better

'Tweaked schedule highlights Roger's desire to get back to the top'

Barry Cowan Posted 15th February 2012 view comments

It's a real treat that Roger Federer has decided to play in Rotterdam.

We expect to see plenty of the Swiss in the coming weeks as tennis returns to Sky Sports with a flurry of tournaments - includings from Dubai, Indian Wells and Miami.

But Federer hasn't played in Rotterdam since he won the title in 2005, so it's a real bonus to see him in action at this stage of the season; it shows his desire to get back to the top.

Eye on the ball: Federer will be eager to bounce back from his Davis Cup defeat

Eye on the ball: Federer will be eager to bounce back from his Davis Cup defeat

Federer doesn't normally overplay early on in the year but 2012 is different; this is an Olympic year.

He's already returned to Davis Cup action - where he was beaten by John Isner, who was in brilliant form - and now he's altered his schedule to play here.

It may well be a conscious attempt on his part to get a few more tournaments under his belt before the schedule becomes incredibly congested.

The whole team came out of the weekend with flying colours and that can only be good for GB tennis because it creates a positive playing environment that will hopefully inspire our promising juniors.

Barry Cowan
Quotes of the week

LIVE ON SKY SPORTS
ATP Rotterdam 500

10am, Thu, Sky Sports HD4
Full coverage details
Watch on the move with Sky Go
How to remote record

This year the French Open, Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open all fall within the space of a fantastic three months and every player will need to be in peak condition to cope.

Improve

Federer's appearance is great news for Rotterdam's organisers but he's not the only big draw by any means.

Tomas Berdych and Juan Martin del Potro - both quarter-finalists in Australia - are two players I'll be keeping a particularly close eye on.

Berdych is playing really good consistent tennis right now; the World No 7 is one of the few players around who is capable of keeping pace with the rising level of men's tennis.

He realises that he needs to improve aspects of his game - like coming forward - and we've seen elements of that in some of his big wins, such as when he beat Federer at Wimbledon.

As ever, Del Potro isn't far away from another big win. At the moment he's close without getting the job done. I remember it was a similar story at the start of 2009, the year he won the US Open.

It's so important for the likes of Berdych and Del Potro to keep knocking on the door because you never know when your week will come; when it does, that's when you have to cash in.

Neither player has the potential at the moment to overtake the top four - that quartet is clearly ahead on a consistent basis - but each (and I include Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in this group) is capable of toppling one of the big names on their day.

Unfortunately I can't say the same thing about Richard Gasquet, whose best years seem to be behind him.

It's amazing to think that he was a top eight player five years ago. He's done well to get back into the top 16 but he'll need to push hard to get back into that top 10.

Underdogs

One of the most surprising results of the last week was Great Britain's Davis Cup victory over Slovakia.

Based on rankings I thought Leon Smith's side would lose 4-1 but despite being massive underdogs, Dan Evans inspired what was a massive victory for the team.

Evans is undoubtedly a player with talent but his results have always been up and down.

I think most people would have expected Martin Klizan to close out the fifth and decisive rubber after coming back from two sets to love down, but it was fantastic to see Evans dig deep and come up with the goods.

I hope that that experience will give him the confidence he needs to push on with his game and perform over a sustained period.

The whole team came out of the weekend with flying colours and that can only be good for GB tennis because it creates a positive playing environment that will hopefully inspire our promising juniors.

There's a real buzz about our women's Fed Cup team too.

There's no doubt that Elena Baltacha, Anne Keothavong, Heather Watson and Laura Robson make a good team; they are all pushing each other, which makes for healthy competition. We saw that this weekend in Doha where Anne beat Laura and Heather to reach the main draw of the Qatar Open.

They'll now play Sweden in April for a place in the second tier of the Fed Cup. I'm realistic enough to know that it isn't enough to make big headlines, but the progress made by both our men and women is a stepping stone to better things and that has to be great news.

back to top

Other Tennis Experts:

Latest Posts in Tennis:

Barry Cowan

Murray back to his best

Andy Murray's semi-final win over Tomas Berdych was almost a 'complete performance' says Barry Cowan....

Barry Cowan

Too tough to call

Andy Murray is in impressive form but Tomas Berdych is showing real class, says Barry Cowan....

Latest News RSS feeds

Watson suffers Dubai exit

Britain's Heather Watson was sent crashing out of the Dubai Duty Free Championships by world No 132 Kateryna Kozlova.

ATP Rio Open latest

Head to our live score page for the latest from the Rio Open, or watch the action on Sky Sports 3 now.

Nadal gears up for Rio test

Rafa Nadal's fitness for the rest of the season will be tested at the Rio Open ATP event in Brazil.

Wawrinka wins in Rotterdam

Stan Wawrinka won the ABN AMRO title in Rotterdam after a 4-6 6-3 6-4 victory over Tomas Berdych in Rotterdam on Sunday.

Kei seals Memphis treble

Kei Nishikori won the Memphis Open for the third time in a row following his win in the final against Kevin Anderson.

Features

Andy Murray's intelligence, Roger Federer's volley, Novak Djokovic's backhand - what makes the Perfect Player?

Andy Murray's intelligence, Roger Federer's volley, Novak Djokovic's backhand - what makes the Perfect Player?

If you were creating the perfect men's tennis player, which strengths would you take from the current stars of the sport?

Australian Open 2015: What did we learn Down Under?

Australian Open 2015: What did we learn Down Under?

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams' Australian Open victories will have surprised few, but questions surround the supremacy of the men's game's 'big four' and whether the women's No 2 can ever close the gap...

Sky Sports look back at Andy Murray's previous performances in Grand Slam finals

Sky Sports look back at Andy Murray's previous performances in Grand Slam finals

Andy Murray suffered a sixth Grand Slam final defeat as he was beaten in four sets by world No 1 Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open.