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View Full Version : Tennis: Roger Federer caps the most successful year in the history of Tennis


Arnab
November 22, 2004, 07:10 AM
in the Open era at least.

11 tournaments.
3 Grand Slams.
74-6 win-loss record.
11-0 in finals.
18-0 against top ten opponents, beating every top ten opponent at least once.
6.3 million dollars.
1 year.

For those who don't know about Federer's playing style, here's a description I have written:

Federer's game is a peerless combination of blistering power and deftness of touch, of speed of movement and languor of conduct on the court, of an unyielding desire to win and a calmness of demeanor. He possesses great control over his racket speed, angle and topspin. And when this control is combined with his superior anticipation and unusually quick movement, it lets him subtly dictate the momentum and the direction of the game. He also shows a great deal of mental adaptability and versatility and is known to switch his playing style in the middle of a match or tweak a few things in his game to outsmart and outplay his opponents. Using this gifted combination of attributes, facilitated further by his outstanding physical flexibility, Federer regularly returns many of his opponents' would-be winners. This usually frustates his opponents, forces them to make unusually extra efforts and thereby produces more unforced errors in their game. Federer, on the other hand, in the relatively few occasions where he makes unforced errors, shows unusual calm and an uncommon lack of visible frustration at the unfulfilment of expected result.

Federer has all kinds of tennis shots in his repertoire. His serves are relatively fast, ranging around 120mph. More important than the speed of his serve is his deceptive ability to produce them accurately at different angles and bounces using the same serving motion, a skill that was perfected by Pete Sampras. Federer also has flawless forehand and backhand shots that he can unleash with great power, often at speeds near 100mph, and he can place them anywhere on the court, prompting many commentators to exclaim that he makes the court look smaller or that he reduces tennis to mere ping-pong. He is one of the few top players who play with a one-handed backhand. Although he usually plays with moderate aggression and isn't interested in the foolhardy pursuit of the spectacular and dominant shots all the time, he has a knack of creating all kinds of winning shots when pushed into compromising positions (usually when an opponent approaches the net expecting easy putaways): looping crosscourt backhand passes, wristy and instinctive backhand pickups from the midcourt placed at very acute angles, exceptionally accurate down-the-line backhand passing shots while on the run, a heavily-topspinned forehand crosscourt pull from the baseline that, upon bounce, spins and fades away from lunging opponents, crushing forehand shots from the baseline that land inside the service box and speed away, and more. He has great defense at the back of the court and is exceptionally good at returning deep, close-to-the-baseline shots from his opponents with effortless, Andre Agassi-like but even better, instinctive half-volleys. He is among the best in the world - one might say on par with Lleyton Hewitt, but without the gritty terrier-like tenacity and with nonchalant grace - at chasing down his opponents' dominant baseline shots and keeping balls in play. In addition to these, he deliberately "mixes up" his game to keep his opponents guessing all the time. Some of his more creative shots while not under pressure include a beautifully executed, both feet on the air, inside-out forehand from his backhand side, generated using a unique, almost-complete lateral rotation of his torso, a backhand slice to slow down the tempo of the game, a shot not used often in men's tennis any more and dying, back-spinning dropshots placed at the foot of the net, both forehand and backhand, employed successfully from the back of the court against the fastest runners and anticipators in the game. He has great touch at the net - his foot-movement behind his well-timed and technically perfect volleys is reminiscent of Stefan Edberg's, and his feathery light pickups of Pete Sampras's - and it has helped him win many grass tournaments including two back-to-back Wimbledons.

All that being said, Federer isn't a machine; in contrast to his creative human genius, he does make human errors, his opponents do manage to genuinely outplay him once in a while and he does have occasional bad days, although the number of those days seems to be dwindling as he matures from tournament to tournament. His only enemies seem to be fatigue and injury due to overplay, and handling those adversaries physically and mentally is also a crucial long-term skill, and it remains to be seen how Federer performs in that respect.


Edited on, November 22, 2004, 12:20 PM GMT, by Arnab.
Reason: grammar in title