Roger Federer: Defining Swiss success

Four titles, including a Grand Slam crown, might enough for most players in one season, but Roger Federer isn't really like most players...

Roger Federer agrees with former tennis great Pete Sampras, who once said: “Every year with a Grand Slam title is a great year.” From this point of view, his season already was a huge success after the first major tournament.

Federer started 2010 by winning his 16th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open, beating Andy Murray in the final and increasing his lead over former record holder Sampras, who finished his career with 14 of these trophies. “In Melbourne, I played some of the best tennis of my life,” Federer says, looking back.

But after being thrown back by a lung infection in February that kept him from playing in Dubai, Federer went through some tough times. He surrendered his titles at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, losing in the quarter-finals to hard-hitting Swede Robin Soderling on a wet and cool day in Paris and to Tomas Berdych in Wimbledon, thus missing the final of the All England Club Championships for the first time since 2002.

The defeat in Roland Garros ended one of the most astonishing streaks in tennis history. Federer had reached at least the semi-finals in all of his past 23 Grand Slam tournaments. The loss had another consequence: Federer lost the No. 1 spot to Rafael Nadal and missed the chance to surpass Pete Sampras, who holds the record of most weeks at No. 1. His total now stands at 285 weeks, only one week short of the record.

“Rafa fully deserves to be No. 1, since he won the last three major tournaments,” Federer says. “But I know if I am playing well, there is no question that I am able to challenge him and get a chance to return to the top spot.”

In August, Federer managed to conquer the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters in Cincinnati for the fourth time. It was his 17th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, equalling Andre Agassi and putting him only one win behind leader Rafael Nadal.

But luck was not on Federer’s side at the other three big U.S. tournaments. At each of them he lost after having wasted match points, in Indian Wells against Marcos Baghdatis, in Miami against Berdych and in a spectacular US Open semi-final against Novak Djokovic.

But Federer still finds a lot of positive aspects in his 12th full season on the ATP World Tour. In Paul Annacone, a former pro and long-time-coach of Pete Sampras, he found a new, highly experienced coach to strengthen his team and add new ingredients to his game and tactics. Having spent some years on the tour without a coach, Federer now counts on two of them, Annacone and his Swiss friend Severin Luthi. He also managed to play through the whole summer without being hammered by injuries or back problems.

He again paused for four weeks after the US Open to recharge his batteries in Dubai, his second home, and to stay with his wife, Mirka, and his twin girls, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva. They started to keep him busy by running around in all directions. “I always try to guess where they are going, but every time I am wrong,” he laughs.

When Federer returned to the tour in Shanghai, he felt fresh and eager to play in a way he’d rarely felt before at this stage of the season. In China, he avenged his loss to Djokovic and went on to reach the final, losing to Andy Murray.

Only one week later he conquered his third trophy of the year, winning the If Stockholm Open for the first time. With his 64th title overall, he equalled the career total of Pete Sampras. The following week, he surpassed Sampras’s mark by winning his hometown title at the Swiss Indoors Basel. Only three players have won more tournaments in the Open Era – Jimmy Connors, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe.

“Compared to my best years, 2010 was not that great,” Federer acknowledges. “It could have been better, but it could have been much worse. All except one player would be happy to get these results.” He was looking forward to the great finale of the year, the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London. “I am very optimistic that I can end the season on a high note.”

The View From Switzerland:

When Roger Federer arrived at the Swiss Indoors in his former hometown Basel for the 11th time in early November, 9,000 fans awaited him and gave him a standing ovation before his first match. Federer is in a class of his own when it comes to popularity in Switzerland.

He was the first living person to appear on a Swiss stamp. In 2003, the Swiss TV-viewing public gave him the most important award of the country, “The Swiss of the Year”, when he only had one Grand Slam title under his belt.

Federer is the most popular and respected person in his home country and has attracted new people from all ages and classes to tennis. Most realise that he is the best and most important ambassador for the country, which he represents with values that count as typically Swiss: reliability, quality, humanity.

Some criticise him for his reluctance to play every Davis Cup tie, but he keeps promising that one day he will do everything to win this trophy for the first time for Switzerland.

Date: 19.11.2010, Source: ATP Deuce


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