After a successful return to clay court tennis yesterday in Madrid, Roger Federer revealed one of the reasons he’s returned to the surface was to get into longer rallies, something he didn’t see much of on hard or grass courts.
“This was more about preparing for extended rallies which I knew I wanted to work on because of the problems I had at the US Open with the heat,” he said about skipping the clay in the past.
“I just think a lot of things led to that problem at the US Open. I had a stiff back, I guess, from sort of post-Wimbledon until I end up pre-season as well a little bit and because I have been on the hard and grass courts for so long, rallies were always on the shorter side, I’d say, especially since Cincinnati anyway and it was mild and I had a desire to work again especially in fitness because the matches didn’t allow me to extend the rallies as much, you know, to work on playing longer points and that, obviously, is what you need on clay maybe.
“We’ll see. Maybe it will be just one game in Paris and it was all for nothing. Still, I think it helps for any surface, you know, to be really tough when the rallies go long. And I feel very strong right now. And obviously we worked on that in December already.”
Federer might face some lengthy rallies tomorrow against the speedy shotmaker Gael Monfils. He leads the Frenchman 9-4 but the two haven’t met since a 2015 French Open win by the Swiss.
Federer said the courts in Madrid are well-suited to his game. Much better than the Paris courts which are at sea level.
“I think Paris is going to be very different,” Federer said Tuesday. “Of course, you add maybe some colder conditions and rain to it, you know. You’ll have to play differently, have a different approach, different mindset. But I think here in Madrid you can definitely come in with a hard court mindset, to some extent.
“Take the ball on and it’s easier to stay in the sets just because you can serve your way out of trouble which maybe you cannot do time and time again on other clay court events like Monaco, maybe Barcelona. I haven’t been there in so long, but everything at sea-level plays different, you know. So that’s why I know Madrid is not Paris, you know, and then of course I don’t know how the conditions are going to be exactly, I haven’t played with the balls over there. There’s going to be a switch in ball manufacturers as well, so we have to see.
“This is definitely not traditional clay courts in the sense because you can play and this is altitude for us players.”
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