Federer comes Full Circle
August 24, 2012 in Uncategorized
It was nearly exactly a year ago that Roger Federer’s year of resurgence began, and ironically, it all began with a disappointing defeat at the hands of the then number one ranked player in the world, Novak Djokovic. After having two match points in the fifth set of the semi-final clash for the US Open, Federer found himself on the losing side for the second year in a row. But whereas in 2010 Federer had had his match points on Djokovic’s serve, in 2011 he was serving at 40-15, at 5-4 in the fifth. And then Djokovic played what will perhaps go down as the most memorable return of serve in tennis history, a slap forehand that was struck so fiercely that it burnt across the court for a winner before Federer had even finished his service follow-through. And another missed match point later, Federer was left to see his dreams of a US Open final wither away into nothingness.
Many would have been crushed by such a defeat, and admittedly, even Federer himself (known for his composure on and off the court) was left criticizing Djokovic’s decision to play that forehand return on matchpoint, rather than crediting him for his success at being aggressive. It was clear that the then 16-time Grand Slam champion was rattled, that he would be finishing a year without a major for the first time in nearly a decade, and that along with his ageing body and his declining skills, his hopes of a return to the top of the sport would also be erased. But it was not to be. Federer went on a winning streak after that match, and won tournament after tournament, well into the new year. He stumbled at the Australian Open, again to Novak Djokovic, but again instead of retreating, he played even more tournaments that he normally would have, all in an effort to beef up both his confidence, and more importantly, his ranking. Federer played more matches than Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, and after trumping Andy Murray in front of a heart-broken British crowd in the Wimbledon final, Federer returned home to the top of the tennis hierarchy.
A silver medal at the Olympics and a Cincinnati Masters Title later, Federer returns to New York, a year later, a year older, but as a different player. He now has 17 Grand Slam Titles, is the number one player in the world, and is brimming with confidence. It remains to be seen whether Federer and Djokovic will wind up in the same half of the draw yet again, for the eight time in the last nine majors. Djokovic has enjoyed more success in these semi-final encounters, with two wins this year over Federer, at the Australian Open and the French Open. Federer though has tasted more recent success at Wimbledon. How will the US Open fare this year? Time only will tell. But it will be a poignant moment if Federer and Djokovic meet in the semis again. Federer will have come full circle…
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