Well, based on his 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win today over Novak Djokovic in the Dubai semis, everything is right with Roger Federer!
I think I said it during the Australian Open at the time when he beat JW Tsonga I had declared that was the best he’s played in a while. Well, this display today blew out any his Melbourne performances.
It was like everything came together at once, just like Federer said.
“I think I was able to play a bit more aggressively as the match went on,” said Federer. “I knew I was in a bit of trouble (after the first set) and not looking good at all, because he has a tendency to really run with it and play more freely on your serve. He plays very dangerous.
“It was just a matter of trying to play consistent but remain aggressive. Sometimes being also overly aggressive to see if it works. If it doesn’t, then you can always pull back a little bit. Clearly it was close, but I think I got the right balance, just the right balance. Then I started to serve very well, something I haven’t been able to do really this week yet. I knew to have a chance today I needed to serve well. So I’m just very happy I was able to deliver that.”
After a slow start (down 0-3), Federer kicked into high gear, and I mean really high gear, and just locked into Federer circa 2006, flying around the court attacking at the right times and even controlling (yes controlling!) the baseline rallies thanks to a surprisingly sturdy backhand.
He served well, his net play was sublime and he was forcing the issue with the forehand, but the backhand was the difference I thought. It just didn’t break down. Where’d those patented Federer shanks go?
Let me be clear, that was a very, very strong win today for Federer over a 4-time tournament champion in Djokovic who was out for blood looking for that first title.
So how did someone who couldn’t beat Federico Delbonis or Tommy Robredo last summer, do this to Djokovic? That after wins in Melbourne over Tsonga and Murray?
Is the just the quicker court In Dubai? That helped and he was playing in his second home of Dubai (timely rain delay!).
Is it Stefan Edberg? It could be. There’s no question he’s added to Federer’s aggressiveness. The stats prove as much.
Is it the hunger? For sure. No one wants to prove the doubters more wrong than Federer. How many times have we/I shoveled dirt on him only to have him turn things around.
Is it the racquet? It seems to be helping, especially the groundstrokes.
Is it the opponents? He still got crushed by Rafa and you could make the case Murray’s not 100% yet and Djokovic is again struggling, but last year remember he had just a handful of Top 10 wins, now already 3.
It is the back? It’s no longer hurting allowing Roger to really take flight. Maybe this really was the issue last summer.
Whatever the reasons are, at 32 Federer seems to be back to good. Maybe not great – we’ll see about Berdych tomorrow and then IW and Miami – but at least good again and that can be a stepping stone to back to great. And that’s extra important now given he has a new baby on the way, and that new baby is going to want to see daddy win a Slam. Well, I think that’s a real possibility again.
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