I found this via an old post on kottke.org and the writing was superb. I don’t know what Asad Raza is doing now but I’m glad he wrote this.
Concentration takes mental energy, as anyone who has fought off five break points before shanking a ball on the sixth knows. And whenever I saw Federer on the grounds, he seemed to be using as little of it as possible. Practicing with Nicolas Kiefer on Ashe a few days before the tournament, he mostly just messed around. He would hit a few familiar Federer shots, the heavy forehand, the penetrating slice, then shank a ball and grin, or yell. Either way, he wasn’t really concentrating all that hard.
I think this “conservationist” ethic even extended to the matches. Typically, only the loss of a set would elicit from Federer the kind of breathtaking play we saw against John Isner and Feliciano Lopez. In the Roddick match, with Roddick playing as well as he ever has, Fed seemed to have reduced the number of points on which he was truly dialed in to just one per set: a crosscourt backhand pass in the first tiebreaker, and that reflex backhand return in the other. It was as casual a dismissal of a opponent in top form as I’ve seen.
I miss that old Roger but that was 14 years ago. Right now, I just want a healthy and content Federer even if it meant an official utterance of the R-word.