Roger Federer‘s February is fairly clear when it comes to his schedule. Very late in the month the Australian Open champion will play at ATP Dubai 2017, an event that is also expected to have both Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka in the draw. Dubai is a moderately important event on the ATP Tour, offering 500 ranking points to the champion. That’s certainly enough to cause some swings in the rankings, even within the top ten. However, the next big events on tour for Federer are both Indian Wells and Miami in the USA.
When it comes to ranking point defenses, there isn’t a lot for Federer to worry about in the months ahead. Last year he did not contest the Dubai draw, meaning he can only gain points there this season. With his form at the Aussie still on everyone’s mind, there’s no reason to be skeptical of his chances to win a title in Dubai. In fact, if he were to do it then it would be his 8th career title at the specific event.
Federer was also idle last season during Indian Wells and Miami. Following his efforts at the 2016 Australian Open, he did not contest another event until Monte Carlo. That means when looking at the months ahead, there is nowhere for Federer to go but up. He’s already the World No. 10 with 2000 points banked for a year following his win at Melbourne Park. With the events in Dubai, Indian Wells, and Miami offering a total of 2500 ranking points to their champions there is a lot of growth potential for the Swiss Maestro before the clay-court season starts. If Federer plays well in March then, realistically, he may bank another 1000+ points at the three upcoming events combined.
Peter Bodo, writing at ESPN.co.uk, made an interesting point in a February 9th article. The title of the article is “Why you shouldn’t get carried away about Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal” and it suggests one big reason for skepticism: age. Federer is 35 years old, and Nadal is an injury-prone 30-year-old. According to Bodo “(Nadal) and Federer showed there might be plenty of tennis left in them yet. We’ll see how they ration it out.”
Nadal aside, the notion that Federer will have to “ration” his high-quality tennis is a very interesting one and Bodo’s point is both blunt and accurate. Certainly, the Swiss Maestro, if he’s not harboring a secret injury right now following Melbourne Park, will be ready to do some damage in Dubai. But three tournaments played close together may prove tough for Federer. If he does into the deep rounds in Dubai, then it may hurt his chances of being resting for Indian Wells. Likewise, a deep run in Indian Wells might hurt his chances in Miami. If Federer is going to “ration it out” then he’d be smart to focus on doing well in Dubai, taking the foot off the throttle in Indian Wells, and then going for a title in Miami.
After the latter event, there is Davis Cup, but the Swiss are already out of the draw. The next mandatory event would then be Monte-Carlo. If Federer arrives there well rested, as his scheduling suggests that he should, there’s plenty of room for growth there as well compared to last year. It’s entirely possible that Federer could be back in the top five by the French Open and Milos Raonic, Wawrinka, and Kei Nishikori should all be looking over the shoulders right now.