Roger Federer shifts schedule to play in Gstaad and Hamburg

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After an early exit from Wimbledon, Roger Federer updated his playing schedule. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

After an early exit from Wimbledon, Roger Federer added two lower-level tournaments to his playing schedule. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Roger Federer confirmed via Twitter that he will play the bet-at-home Open in Hamburg, Germany, which begins on July 15, and the Credit Agricole Suisse Open in Gstaad, Switzerland, which takes place a week later. Both are lower-level clay-court tournaments; Hamburg has ATP 500 status and Gstaad is an ATP 250 tournament.

After losing to Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon last week, Federer said he wasn’t going to panic. The Swiss great, who came into the tournament as the defending champion and seven-time winner, hadn’t missed a quarterfinal in 36 straight Grand Slams dating to the 2004 French Open. He also hadn’t lost to a player ranked as low as No. 116 Stakhovsky in 11 years.

“Well, what do you do after something like this?” Federer said after the loss. “What do you do? Do you do the 24‑hour rule? You don’t panic at this point, that’s clear. Just go back to work and come back stronger really. Somewhat simple. Hard to do sometimes.”

Federer foreshadowed some summer schedule changes, noting his light load in the first half of the season. He played just eight tournaments before Wimbledon, making the final at the Italian Open and winning the ATP 250 grass-court tune-up in Halle, Germany. His 35 matches in the first half of this season is the fewest he’s played since 1999, when he was ranked outside the top 100. He has beaten a top-10 player only once this year, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at the Australian Open.

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Federer initially set a lighter schedule for 2013, in part so that he could recover from the grind of 2012. Last year, he pushed to recapture the No. 1 ranking to break Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks in the top spot, and he played a compacted schedule because of the Olympics.

“I didn’t play so much as of late,” Federer said at Wimbledon. “At the same time that gives me more flexibility with my schedule moving forward and next year as well. Particularly an early loss like this gives me extra days to rest. I have more options now than I did have one year ago when I was running around trying to chase down every possible tournament and every point to get back to world No. 1.”

With his early Wimbledon exit, Federer will drop to No. 5 in next week’s rankings. Federer will also fall to at least No. 6 in the Race to London (he could drop to No. 7 if Juan Martin del Potro makes the final), with the top eight qualifying for the ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer’s decision to go from the grass to two clay-court events before the North American hard-court season starts in August is an interesting one. The travel won’t be too bad for either and they both hold a sentimental place in his career. Gstaad was Federer’s first ATP tournament, in 1998, and he’s always loved Hamburg, where he won four titles when it was a Masters Series event.

Hamburg is reportedly giving him an appearance fee of nearly $400,000, but it’s not about money for Federer anymore. Now exempt from so many of the ATP’s scheduling restrictions (the mandatory ATP Masters events are completely optional for him), his schedule seems entirely driven by going to the tournaments he loves in the cities he loves. But surface changes are always tough on the body and he’s going from two weeks on grass, his best surface, to clay, his worst surface, and then on to the North American hard courts, where he’s the defending champion at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

This post has been updated to correct Federer’s results this year.

  • Published On Jul 03, 2013

    In 2012, Federer did not play "a compacted schedule due to the Olympics" -- Federer's 2012 schedule was not much different from other years.. In order to play the Olympics and win the silver medal worth only 450 ranking points, Federer made a trade-off: he dropped the 1000-point Canadian Masters the following week (while Federer put in a monster effort to beat Del Potro in the Olympics semifinal, Djokovic was uncharacteristically lame in his back-to-back losses in the Olympics semifinal and bronze medal match -- he was probably saving his body for the 1000-point Canadian Masters in order to regain the No.1 ranking). In 2012, Federer played 17 tournaments (he played 18 tournaments in 2010 and 19 tournaments in 2008). Federer had less grind at the end of 2012 than he did at the end of 2011, so he put in a similar effort in both 2012 and 2011.

    Federer had an extra two weeks off season just like every other player. However Federer went on a lucrative exhibition tour of South America, which for him was probably the biggest highlight of the last 10 months, given that he netted $14 million. Federer appeared to come into the 2013 season less fit and prepared. He referred to the 2013 season as a transition year and cut his schedule compared to previous years. However this led to his lack of match practice and confidence due to early losses.

    Hamburg's $400,000 appearance fee is really peanuts compared to (a) what Nadal charges for appearance fees ($1.2 to $1.5 million), (b) the financial returns to Hamburg that having Federer will bring to the tournament and (c) what a player of Federer's GOAT stature could command for an ATP500/250 tournament in a rich European country like Germany (where the German-speaking Federer is extremely popular). Because of Federer's appearance at Gstaad, the tournament increased center court seating and sold over 5,000 extra tickets.

    Courtney has mentioned Federer's appearance fees (Hamburg, Rotterdam, Dubai) in at least three articles -- that's three times than the one time she has mentioned the appearances fees for Djokovic, Murray and Nadal combined (only once, for Nadal's appearance at Vina del Mar).

    Nadal was reportedly paid an appearance fee of about US$1.5 million to play in the ATP250 Thailand Open in 2010. British newspapers reported that Nadal was paid appearance fees of about US$1.2 million to play the ATP250 Halle event. And Courtney reported Nadal was paid $1.2 million appearance fee for the ATP 250 Vina del Mar (Chile) event. Nadal's $1.2 to $1.5 million appearance fees negotiated even with 'financially-weaker' events (Chile, Thailand) are higher than what Federer negotiates with 'financially-stronger' events (Dubai, Netherlands).

    Hamburg's $400,000 appearance fee for Federer is not news worthy. What's more newsworthy and significant about Federer is that Forbes ranked Federer as the world's most powerful athlete (finally displacing Tiger Woods who had been on top for 11 straight years), as well as the eight most powerful celebrity. Yet this story was unreported in Courtney's Beyond the Baseline blog.


    Good for him. I absolutely adore Roger and want to see him back in the top 2-3 very soon if possible. I can't wait for the hard court swing. It would be great if he could notch a Masters 1000 title and make a deep run at the U.S. Open. Always rooting for you, Federer! Got get 'em.


    Halle hasn't been his only final in 2013, he also reached that round in Rome.