Roger Federer new trick shot, the SABR (stands for “Sneak Attack By Roger”) has been the story of the summer. The 34-year-old Swiss brought it out with varied success en route to his Cincinnati title, and now he’s using at the US Open where he finds himself in the fourth round.
After a third straight-set win of the week, a tougher victory over friend Philipp Kohlschreiber, Federer explained how the idea of the SABR came up.
When I arrived in Cincinnati, I arrived, I don’t know what time it was, maybe after lunchtime, and then I went for a hit. It was Benoit Paire. He had like an ear problem. I was tired from jet lag. We were tired and practicing on center court, which was great. Last year I couldn’t practice on center court before my first match. This time I had plenty of time. I think it was Friday and Saturday, I guess. So I put in a lot of hours on center court.
But that time I was very tired and he was tired, and at the end we said, Well, let’s still play some games just because it feels like it’s the right thing to do. I was going to stop already, but Severin said, Play a few games get used to the conditions. I said, Whatever. Let’s play some games. And, yeah, at the end we were just kidding around almost, and that’s when I said, Okay, I’m going to chip and charge and just keep the points short. I’m tired. I want to get off the court soon anyway. That’s when I started to run in and hit returns. I hit a couple for a winner. They were like ridiculous. He laughed, I laughed, Severin laughed.
Then I did it again in the next practice just to see if it actually would still work again. Then I tried it the next practice and it still worked. That’s when Severin said, Well, what about using it in a match? I was like, Really?
So he pushed me to keep using it and not shy away from using it on big moments, and not just because you don’t know how you look with a full stadium. He was actually the one who pushed, you know, pushed me to it. And because we were always talking about that tactic, as well, we sort of came up with that name, you, know, sneak attack by Roger (S-A-B-R). I don’t know. Call it Fed attack, call it whatever you want, but I thought it was kind of funny.
And, yeah, today again it worked a couple of times. I didn’t get that many second serves when I thought I could use it, but moving forward it’s an option. Clearly I’m very happy it worked so well in Cincy.
Federer admitted he doesn’t plan on using it against one of the very biggest servers ever in the game, the towering John Isner.
“I don’t think so,” Federer said on court. “I can always try. But it’s probably not the right guy to do it against.”
He also admitted he didn’t have a good read on the serve because he hasn’t seen it enough,
“For some reason I feel like I don’t know it as well,” Federer said. “I don’t know how many times we have played against each other. Played Karlovic more and Roddick and Raonic it seems like almost. But John it’s been once every two years maybe, so I don’t know it that well. He’s got the power. It needs to be, and then clearly because he’s so tall clearly he finds the impossible angles for us, really. And he’s got a great second serve, as well. Obviously best-of-three-set match he’s even more dangerous. Best-of-five you feel like you have a bit more time, but clearly he can also run three, four, five sets serving great. It’s going to be a tough match.”
Federer has won four of five against the American No. 1 including a 4-set win the Isner’ Grand Slam debut at the 2007 US Open. Isner said he has yet to really gameplan for the shot.
“I haven’t thought about that too much, actually,” Isner said Saturday. “So I have probably a little, I don’t know, 48 hours to think about that. I can’t give you an answer right now. Sorry, I haven’t thought about it.”
Federer SABR against Djokovic in Cincinnati final
Federer SABR v Leonardo Mayer at US Open
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