Roger Federer's match against Denis Istomin was a bit of a scary experience. After seeing him bomb out in a lot of matches so far this year, it seemed like it might be history repeating itself when he started making wild errors to get broken and end up losing the first set. The question was, would he fight back and have ultimate victory, or would he continue in the downward spiral?
Not only did he fight back, as he has in some matches in the second set only to still end up losing it in the third, but it seemed to me that he "figured out it." That's what made me happiest in this three set victory was that after making the errors with way too many hit long or just meekly into the net, in the next two sets he found his range again, maybe pulling back a little to not be quite so risky, and playing some of the beautiful shots he is known for. (Or, of course, it could be his very unusual shirt change after the first set, not to an identical shirt as usual but to a completely different one - which some people, like one of my favorite readers didn't like at all. :)
The beauty of this match in my opinion was that he didn't just barely squeak by even while still not playing well, or on his opponent's errors (though there certainly were more by Istomin), but he came up with a solution for what wasn't working for him in the first set. That's one thing that has been missing over these last months is his ability to figure out what is going wrong, which we as fans certainly aren't used to. No matter his greatness over these past years, he still had sets where things weren't working for him. But one of the signs of greatness is to find the answers in those circumstances, which he hasn't been able to do too many times this year. So to see him come back and play for the most part beautifully for two sets was to me a great victory and hopefully signs of things to come.
I know that doing it in one match doesn't mean it's all fixed. I keep thinking of what Rod Laver said recently about getting older, that a person can play brilliantly in one match and then the next match it's simply not there. However, I'm hopeful that something clicked for Roger in this match and that he will be able to put a run together, not just this week, but in the next few weeks for a great end of the year, to show all those doubters that Roger Federer still has a lot of greatness to show to the world!