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History |2013

Seen in the light of Roger's exceptional tennis career, this year is marked by many disappointments for him as well as his fans.
Due to back problems and some unusually early defeats draining his confidence, he is able to achieve only a few highlights at the big tournaments. For the first time in eleven years, he drops to seventh on the World Rankings. Despite winning only one title – at the Gerry Weber Open – his playing skills keep shining through, especially towards the end of the season at the tournaments in Basel, Paris and London, where his performance rapidly improves.


As World Number Two, Roger starts the season at the Australian Open. The outlook is very promising: he beats his opponents, Benoît Paire, Nikolai Davydenko, Milos Raonic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, on his way to the semi-finals, where he faces Andy Murray. After a fiercely contested fourth set, which Roger wins, he nevertheless has no chance in the deciding set and loses the match to the Scot in nearly four hours.

A first surprise follows in Rotterdam at the ABN AMRO Tournament, where he loses in the quarter-finals against Julien Benneteau, thus being defeated by a player whom is not in the Top Ten. This is the start of a roller coaster ride – caused by a single mishap – which soon gives rise to increasing insecurity. He narrowly loses his semi-final in Dubai against Tomas Berdych. However, in the Indian Wells quarter-finals, he is well defeated by Rafael Nadal and in Madrid, he even suffers an unexpected third-round defeat on clay against Kei Nishikori, the 16th-seeded Japanese.

Roger does not allow himself to be distracted: he is top notch in Rome at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia and qualifies for the final, after eliminating – amongst others –  Gilles Simon, Jerzy Janowicz and Benoît Paire. However, once again, he has to leave the tournament victory to his rival, Rafael Nadal, in two sets.

Winning his first match with ease, Roger manages the start of the French Open back in good form. Only in the fourth round against Gilles Simon, Roger lags behind after a fall and has to catch up from being down 1 set to 2. He wins the fifth set and thus achieves his 900th tour victory. He is up against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the quarter-finals. However, he does not really find his game and finally loses the match against the tenacious Frenchman in three sets.

Roger competes in his first grass tournament of the season at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle. He defeats his first two opponents in two sets, but gets more opposition from the German, Tommy Haas, to whom he loses the first set, but – due to his good serves – scores a safe victory. The final against Mikhail Youzhny follows a similar course: once again Rogers loses the first set, but then turns it around and clinches this tournament for the sixth time and can hereby celebrate his 77th tournament title.

Alas, this joy does not last very long. Ironically, in Wimbledon, in a very hard match, he loses his second-round game to 116-seed, Sergiy Stakhovsky. By this defeat, Roger – for the first time in 36 major tournaments – fails to reach at least the quarter-finals and drops down to 5th on the World Rankings.

Unfortunately, the subsequent tournaments take no turn for the better and, even worse: a new obstacle comes into play, namely his back problems. Roger cannot reach his hoped-for top form and is often eliminated unexpectedly early or by supposedly "easy" opponents. Only in Cincinnati is he able to challenge a top player, but nevertheless loses this quarter-final against Rafael Nadal, thereby dropping down to 7th on the World Rankings. The next damper follows already at the US Open, where he loses to 22-seed Spaniard, Tommy Robredo, in the fourth round.

It is only at his home tournament in Basel that Roger finds his rhythm again and delights his fans with his fighting spirit. Although he loses the final against Juan Martin del Potro, he regains much of his confidence by playing tennis of the highest of levels in all his matches.

The fact that Roger's performance is improving, is manifested in both of his last tournaments, namely the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris and the ATP Finals in London. Although not quite achieving a coup de liberation, his dauntless matches against the Top Ten players demonstrate that the distance to the top is decreasing and that Roger is taking important steps in the right direction.  

Despite a turbulent year, Roger does not neglect his social responsibility. Within the scope of the Roger Federer Foundation, he is personally involved in various projects. He participates in Pratteln in a group meeting of a:primo, which supports children from educationally disadvantaged families. He collects donations with children for Winterhilfe Schweiz [winter relief, Switzerland] at the LINDT Chocolateria, again with the objective to help disadvantaged children in Switzerland.

He is named the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year for the second time in 2013 for his involvement as a credible ambassador for children in difficult circumstances. Roger's Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the ninth time and the ATP Fans’ Favourite Award for the eleventh straight year, demonstrate the particular accolade bestowed upon him off-court.

On-court, Roger has not yet achieved the sporting success implied by the changes he undertook in his environment, namely the new collaboration with Stefan Edberg, switching to a bigger racket and focused season preparation without exhibitions – the many separate pieces of the puzzle which Roger wants to combine for a successful tennis year. Perhaps the happy event, expected in 2014, is one of them…