Roger Federer was presumably never so happy to see his longtime rival Rafa Nadal win yet another French Open last month. Because this time the Nadal win — his tenth — didn’t come at Federer’s expense. After the two met in the finals of the Australian Open in January for a throwback memory lane stroll (Federer won), Federer skipped the year’s second Grand Slam event, leaving Nadal to dispatch that other Swiss, Stan Wawrinka, for the Roland Garros crown.
Federer skipped the French to focus acutely on Wimbledon, the hallowed grass court grounds where he has won the majority (seven) of his 18 majors. Like Serena Williams, who has taken timely breaks during her record-smashing career, Federer understands that scheduling is critical to prolonging his stay near the top of men’s tennis — and exhausting himself on the clay to lose in the end to Nadal made little sense. Wimbledon became his sole focus as soon as he emerged as the unlikely Australian Open champion. “The start to the year has been magical for me,” Federer said in a statement about skipping Paris, “but I need to recognize that scheduling will be the key to my longevity moving forward.”