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Old 14-11-14, 10:41 AM   #821
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Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 128,754

Roger was really exceptional on Thursday night, it was the best heís ever played against me, but I was disappointed with my performance. Thereís no denying how much it hurts.

At 6-0 and a break down, I wasnít worrying about losing the match 6-0 6-0 so much as trying to string a couple of points together and maybe start thinking about winning a game. I knew he was struggling to handle my demon second serve but I just couldn't make it count.

It was the first time Iíd been in that position in my whole career and I hope it never happens again.

This year has been testing and Iíve learned a lot along the way, itís just a shame to finish it with another very harsh lesson. Iím sure it will be a tough one to look back in the future.

Maybe I can use it as motivation, although thatís never really been an issue for me. I just have to remember that this time last year I was at home doing my rehab after back surgery and watching bits and pieces of the matches on TV. It wasnít easy.

Sometimes Iíd gone into the Paris Masters at the end of the year feeling quite tired, whereas last year I was watching it thinking: ĎIíd love to be there.í When you see guys competing, you realise how much you miss that.

Over the last few months Iíd really started to enjoy my tennis again after struggling earlier in the year. My back had still been giving me some trouble when I thought that doing the rehab meant it would be fine.

That wasnít the case, and I was completely wrong to expect it to be like that.

Then the split happened with my coach, Ivan Lendl, and that was tough too. I brought Amelie Mauresmo into the team over the summer and for the last two or three months you would say it has gone well.

A match like Thursday nightís is extremely disappointing for me though. I need to make sure when Iím going into those big matches that I have everything covered and Iím totally clear about what I want to do. Thatís something I need to look at.

So what have I learned this year? Well, firstly that going through surgery is not something I want to repeat, so Iíll try and take better care of my body in future.

I also learned that when you do spend three or four months away from the court, the other guys get better.

People often like to compare generations and ask whether Roger would have beaten someone like Rod Laver. The surgery made me realise that while youíre away the game moves on even in the space of a few months.

The other guys continue to make slight improvements, your level drops and they just get a bit further away from you. To catch up with them takes time and, in my case, this year I ran out of time.

I clearly wasnít at the top level by the end of the year and Iím going to need to put in a lot of work to get back there, which might mean changing my plans for the off-season.

Iíve got my friend Ross Hutchinsís wedding next week and Iím the best man Ė I canít say my confidence levels are sky high right now but Iím sure the speech will go OK. I had then planned to head to Miami in the first week of December, but if I want to make changes to my game it will take a lot longer than 10 days of practice.

There wonít be drastic alterations to my game but Thursday night was not good enough, and even against the best players I should be giving myself opportunities to win games, sets and matches.

The good thing is I now have time to think about a few things and then go and work on them. A week is a long time in tennis, things can change quickly, and I know I can do what is necessary to sustain a higher level consistently. My goals remain as high as ever and the next target is already clear Ė to try and win the Australian Open.

Thanks for your support during the year and in London over the last week, Iím just sorry I couldnít have done better, but Iíll work as hard as possible to come back stronger in 2015.
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