Monday, January 20, 2014

The Amazing Roger Federer Back to the Quarters

It does the heart of the hard core Federer fans good, those who have stuck with him through thick and thin, never believing the tiresome reports that he is done and that he should retire, to watch him come up with such a dominant performance against top 10 player Jo Wilfred Tsonga, someone who beat him convincingly in the last major they played in.  The Federer we watched send Tsonga packing in straight sets in the 4th round of the Australian Open was one reminiscent of the guy who made 23 straight grand slam semifinals and 18 out of 19 finals.

From the very start of the match he looked in control, confident and dictating points, aggressive and forcing errors, not allowing Jo to play his game.  It wasn't that Jo was playing bad, but Roger simply didn't give him the opportunity to play the hard core style that has given Roger problems in the past.  Not only was Federer playing aggressive and in control tennis, but the errors that have plagued him over the last year were largely absent.

He has been talking for the last few months about the problems with his back last year and how this didn't allow him to have the large practice blocks he needed to play well, not to mention simply not allowing him to move in the way he needs to move to play the kind of tennis we had come to expect.  Many in the tennis world seemed to pretty much ignore this, however, just saying he was in decline and that he couldn't keep up any longer with the younger generation who were overtaking him.  Regardless of how the rest of this week goes, though, I think he has proved already that he is still very capable of playing top notch tennis that will challenge anyone he plays.

There was a lot of talk during the match about the difference the new racquet is making for him.  It seems to be allowing him more power and a bit bigger sweet spot.  When he tried it earlier last year he wasn't at a point with his body where he could give it a fair trial.  But this is the perfect time for him to catch up with the other players in the equipment department to give him a little more help that he needed.  It's so encouraging to see this making a difference for him and that he is adapting so well to it.

Of course, stronger tests are on the horizon for him as he has to take on Murray now, who has a slight edge over him in the head-to-head.  Personally I think he is up to the task, especially given that he completed his match in less than 2 hours and should be rested and ready for the challenge at hand.  Hopefully in a couple days I will be writing another post talking about how amazing he is playing and contemplating the semifinals.  After his last match it seems like a good possibility.

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