15.05.2017 15:22

Federer is unstoppable in 2017. But is he able to be number one again?

Autor: Marek Bartošík | Kurz: English section | Kategorie: Features and other

After successful beginning of the 2017 season, Roger Federer is looking forward to being world number one again. The next huge steps are French Open and Wimbledon. If he wins one of them, he will become immortal.

The Greatest of All Time, the King of Tennis, FedEx, the Swiss Maestro. These are only a few of many nicknames of the Swiss tennis player Roger Federer. They are often used these days, which is not surprising, because Federer has won Australian Open, Indian Wells and Miami this season. After that, he decided to take a break and not participate in clay court tournaments except for French Open. “It was fantastic, but I’m really tired. I just have to be a bit smarter in terms of scheduling overall. Unfortunately, I can't do all tournaments,” considers 35-year-old Swiss.

What Federer did this year was simply unreal. In two of three big finals he defeated his biggest rival Rafael Nadal and he overplayed him from the baseline. Except for that, he overcame Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, Juan Martín del Potro and Nick Kyrgios and showed mental strength against Berdych, when he saved two match points. And it is his Argentinian rival (and also a friend), who has something to say. “He always plays good tennis. He's the best in the history. His backhand improved a lot. It would be great if we see him in the top positions again. He's done so good, so maybe he will be there in a very short period,” mentions “Delpo”.

Four years ago a lot of experts, fans and other players thought Federer was done. At the time 32-year-old tennis “grandpa” suffered a few devastating losses, but one of them was especially bitter. As a defending champion, he lost in the second round of Wimbledon to the 114th ranked player Sergiy Stakhovsky. In addition, Federer had problems with his back. Everything seemed to be lost. But he came back. In both 2014 and 2015 he belonged to the Top 3 of the ranking. Last year the unexpected problems with left knee came. Federer was still able to make it to semi-final of Wimbledon. However, he came short to Milos Raonic in five sets and after that, he decided to end the season. He gave up the Olympics, US Open etc. “I had a back pain too. It all got too much at Wimbledon and I was out for six months,” says Federer.

Now all the troubles are forgotten. Federer is ranked 4th in the world and 1st in this year ranking (Race to London). He has gained more points than world number one Andy Murray and world number two Novak Djoković together so far. His biggest pursuer is Rafael Nadal, who is rolling on clay these days. However, with still clearly positive head to head, he lost to Federer four times in a row. Nadal’s last win is three-year-old from Australian Open. This could be crucial for “Number one battle”. Upcoming French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, can be very important. Former French tennis player Fabrice Santoro, well known as “the Magician”, shares his opinion. “Maybe Djoković and Murray will not be fantastic in Paris next month, but they could be fantastic later at Wimbledon or the US Open. So maybe Federer is reflecting on this in his mind,” thinks Frenchman.

And what stands behind this chance of odds? It’s Federer’s backhand. In past Nadal overplayed him from his forehand to the Swiss backhand and won over twenty matches against him. However, Federer’s game changed after the long break. Huge credit goes to his coach Ivan Ljubicic, former world number three. He convinced Federer to play more aggressive from the backhand side and thanks to that he turned 5th set of Melbourne final and added two titles on slow surfaces (Indian Wells, Miami). "I think I've gotten really confident, a lot of practice at the end of the season. At the beginning of the year I was able to step into the court and drive the backhand more frequently than I ever have before. I used to use different tactics by slicing more,” reveals Federer. The question is if this strategy works against Djoković and Murray. Last time Federer played against one of them was fifteen months ago. But the facts are, he defeated Murray in all last five showdowns and shared wins and loses with Djoković in Serbian’s best years.

It’s unbelievable that Federer still can think new weapons up. His younger compatriot Stan Wawrinka started to “bite” his idol. However, Federer came with the tactic where he uses high balls to Wawrinka’s backhand and then finishes a rally with a forehand winner to the open court. With this genius mind, there is a huge chance to be number one again and break another record. So far, the oldest top ranked player has been 33-year-old Andre Agassi. And what the unofficial “GOAT” says? "Yeah, sure, I'd love to be world No. 1 again. But anything else other than world No. 1 is not interesting for me. So that's why the ranking is not a priority right now. It's totally about being healthy and enjoying the tournaments," concludes Federer.

Klíčová slova: Roger Federer, number one, GOAT, French Open, Wimbledon


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