Roger Federer has set his sights on claiming an eighth Wimbledon title this summer after the latest chapter of his remarkable 2017 ended with him winning the Miami Open.
Roger Federer extended his run of dominance in 2017, clinching his third title of the season 6-3, 6-4 over Rafael Nadal at the Miami Open.
The incredible comeback continues. Roger Federer won a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open crown as he defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in an all-Swiss final at Indian Wells.
Roger Federer says he hopes to play for at least another two to three years and that his "mindset is for the long term" in assessing his tennis future.
Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have faced each other in eight major finals, plan to team up as doubles partners next year during the inaugural Laver Cup.
Coming off a seventh Cincinnati ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title, he beat his two highest-ranked opponents - Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic - back-to-back without the loss of a set. The manner in which he beat the pair had many noting a highly aggressive return approach, particularly off the second serve.
It is risky and requires sharp reflexes and a good read on the opponent’s serve. But in the final against World No. 1 Djokovic, in particular, it was a game plan that paid off handsomely. Cincinnati’s fast hard courts were ideally suited to the Swiss taking the ball as early as possible off the return.
What started out as a bit of a joke, practising half-volley returns, soon became part of an aggressive new tactic to rob his opponents of time, rushing them into playing passing shots where they would typically be getting into position after their serve to take the initiative in a hard-court baseline exchange.
In the Cincinnati final against Djokovic, Federer employed the tactic early and often and again at a critical stage in the first-set tie-break. "I was looking forward to doing it again as the set progressed, but I wasn't seeing that many second serves and didn't feel right in some of the points,” Federer said in his champion's press conference. “So I thought in the tie-break this is the time to do it. I thought he was going to go backhand and he went big forehand. So I had to lunge and had the perfect timing on it. Ended up going in and putting him under pressure.
“That was my plan, to keep asking question after question. I'm happy it worked out very well. On the return I was able to mix things up very nicely, and on my serve I was rock solid.”
Against Djokovic, Federer won seven of the 11 points where he employed the tactic. He did not drop serve the entire tournament, giving him the buffer needed to experiment on return.
“If you don't get broken... you can do whatever you want on the return games,” he said. “I was trying to do that again in the final, but I was happy I took care of my serve throughout the match.”
Constantly swamping the net off the return, Federer had Djokovic’s baseline tactics rattled. He won 20 of the 27 net approaches for the match and played nearly 50 per cent of his shots throughout the tournament from inside the baseline. So will we see more of the tactic at the US Open?
“I'll still go back and return some from far back as well,” he said. “I'll always mix it up and make it I guess uncomfortable for my opponent. I'm not going to play the way they like it. I'll always come out and make it an athletic match or make it uncomfortable in the sense that they don't know what's coming.
“Can't always do it. Some surfaces allow you to do it better than others, but in Cincinnati it worked out well. Let's be honest, I didn't do it on every single second serve, but I was very aggressive… and I am happy to see that actually it’s also a way forward for me, because for quite a long time my career I was very content to chip it and be aggressive with the forehand.”
Rafael Nadal, who is not in Federer's half of the US Open draw, said this week that he did not believe the second seed would use the tactic frequently at the US Open.
"I saw he was playing fantastic in Cincinnati... He was feeling the ball great. But I don't know if that works. He's doing fantastic without doing that. That's too much. That's something I don't believe he'll be doing that often."
Date: 28th August 2015, Source: ATP
Federer captured his 87th tour-level title and 24th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 stage. Having beaten World No. 2 Andy Murray in the semi-finals, it marked the first time he had toppled the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the ATP Rankings in consecutive matches en route to a title. Federer will reclaim the No. 2 spot from the Scot when the new rankings are released on Monday.
"Now I've got the confidence, I've got the matches, and I'm actually still feeling really fresh even after this week, because the matches have been rather short," Federer said. "I think I moved well. I was explosive moving forward. Volleys were good. I think from the baseline I was hitting my forehand very well."
"I tried to really mix it up on his second serve and I was hoping to serve good enough myself to keep me out of trouble," Federer added during an interview with ESPN following the match. "He had that one bad game at the beginning of the second set, which made the difference in the match.
"It was right tactics for him. I knew coming into the match he was going to be aggressive. No question about it. So I tried to handle it. I did well until the tie-break in the first set. After that, he was just the better player.
Federer had adopted an ultra aggressive mentality in cruising through the draw thus far, and the Swiss carried that same approach into Sunday's final. He won 40 per cent of return points entering the encounter and pressed for an early break immediately. Djokovic saved a trio of break points in the third game and another after a six-minute fifth game.
The opener would proceed to a tie-break, where Federer would snatch an early mini-break. A majestic looping backhand clipped the baseline to give the Basel native a 3-1 lead. He would not look back, taking 10 of the last 11 points to claim the first set. He hit 20 winners and won 16 of 21 net points to win the opener in 52 minutes.
Federer would continue applying pressure on the Djokovic serve as the match progressed, surging to a 3-0 lead in the second set after the top seed double faulted to hand the initial break to the Swiss. He would hold serve to the finish line, striking 32 winners and seven aces in total.
Date: 23rd August 2015, Source: ATP, AFP and Reuters
The Swiss, who sits at No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, is hoping to wrestle the No. 2 spot away from the Scot with a successful title defence in Cincinnati. Murray surged to the second position with his run to the Montreal title last week.
"It would be great to win another Masters 1000, especially here in Cincinnati," said Federer who has beaten Djokovic in two Cincinnati finals. "Going for my seventh here is just great. It's wonderful to be another finalist because coming here now I'm perfectly prepared for the final.
"I've been practicing and away from the game since Wimbledon. It's not that long, but in tennis terms one month is a long time. I'll give it all I have tomorrow. It's going to be tough. Couldn't ask for a tougher opponent than Novak.
"Hopefully I can take advantage of the fact that I'm fresh and ready to go."
Federer pounced early on Saturday, earning a quick break in the third game of the first set. He would consolidate for 3-1 and pressed for a second break with a 0/30 peek at Murray's next service game. He would eventually claim the opener in 38 minutes with a forehand winner down the line - his 14th winner of the set.
Both players would ride their serves to a tie-break in the second set, where 23-time Masters 1000 champion Federer converted on his second match point at 7/6 after grabbing the decisive mini-break with a crisp drop shot half-volley winner. He dominated the longer rallies throughout, winning 12 of 17 of nine shots or more and has now earned 35 straight service holds in the rivalry, dating back to Cincinnati last year.
The second seed will renew his titanic rivalry with Novak Djokovic, which is knotted at 20 wins apiece, on Sunday. It will be their fifth encounter of the year, with Federer winning on the hard courts of Dubai and Djokovic emerging in Indian Wells, Rome and Wimbledon.
"I feel okay," said Murray. "I've done well to recover from some tough matches. It's good. The positive about losing today is I get the opportunity to have an extra days' rest and recovery. I need that.
"I didn't feel too bad on the court. There wasn't many long rallies today, which helped. I served well, so I was able to get a lot of free points there.
"Maybe the first shot after the return he was just a little bit slow there. Against Roger, he's extremely dangerous off the first shot of the rallies. A good example of that is the 5-all point in the tie-break. I hit a pretty good return and just couldn't quite get to that ball and hit a good shot there."
Date: 23rd August 2015, Source: ATP
The Swiss has ridden an ultra aggressive game plan in cruising into Saturday's semi-finals, downing Feliciano Lopez 6-3, 6-4. He dominated proceedings in the first set, firing 12 winners and claiming 83 per cent of total service points, snagging the lone break in the sixth game after Lopez fell in a 0/40 hole. The second seed dropped only four points on serve in the opener.
Federer had not faced a break point all tournament, but trailing 2-3 in the second set his serve would come under siege at 0/40. True to form, he would reel off five straight points to hold and immediately broke to 15 in the next game for a 4-2 advantage. He would close out the match after just 62 minutes, striking a total 26 winners, including eight aces.
A 23-time ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion, Federer now owns a 12-0 ATP Head to Head against the Spaniard, having conceded just one break of serve in their previous seven meetings. He has claimed each of the past 10 sets played as well.
The pair enjoyed a lighthearted moment at the post-match handshake, with Lopez exclaiming, "You were flying all over the court." Federer responded: "I have a few more years left in me."
"I did feel good, especially in the first set," said Federer. "In the second set a little less maybe. It was also an important game to hold being down Love-40. That's exactly the kind of match it can become. As an experienced tennis player, I'm aware that matches can turn around extremely quickly.
"It's good I got out of that game and was able to break right away and then bring it home. Things tend to get away from you super fast against big servers, especially on a surface that's faster like here. I'm very happy with the match."
The Basel native is making his 15th appearance in Cincinnati, one of six tournaments he has won six times or more. The second seed, who owns a 40-8 record in the American city, reached the semi-finals for the fifth time since 2009.
Lopez, who had spent five and a half hours more on court than Federer entering Friday's encounter, was coming off a titanic third-set tie-break win over countryman Rafael Nadal in the third round.
Federer will face third seed Andy Murray in Saturday's semi-finals after the Scot rallied from a set down to turn aside Richard Gasquet. He owns a 13-11 edge in their ATP Head to Head, most recently notching a 7-5, 7-5, 6-4 win in the Wimbledon semis.
Date: 22nd August 2015, Source: ATP
Federer raced to 5-0 in the opening set before Anderson was able to get on the board. The 34-year-old would go on to claim the result on his fourth match point when Anderson’s forehand found the net. It was one of those nights when everything seemed to fall into place for the Swiss great.
“Definitely felt better than other days. Felt good on the return, felt good on the serve, seeing just the ball really well,” Federer said. “It's a pleasure to play that way because it doesn't happen very often that you feel this good. So you've got to enjoy it, but then, unfortunately, you have to quickly put it behind you and look forward.”
Federer revealed he had trained with his opponent only last week and knew it could have potentially been much more difficult against the big-serving 29-year-old. He said nothing, though, replicated the conditions of actual match play.
“I played a great match and I'm very pleased, because I knew that tough challenge ahead,” he said. “I had practised with Kevin last week here. I lost both sets I played with him in practice, so I was really happy that I was able to turn it around tonight.”
Federer finished with 23 winners and just eight unforced errors to Anderson’s 12 winners and 21 unforced errors. He moved to within two victories of reaching a seventh Cincinnati final - which he would enter with a perfect 6-0 record. First he must get past Lopez. He carries a perfect 11-0 record against the Spaniard.
“Played a lot against him in my life. We go way back to the European Championships, under-16 and under-18 where I lost both times against him,” Federer said.
“Then on the Tour I don't think I lost against him, but we played on all different conditions, and we know each other obviously very well because of that. It was a tough match for him tonight; played a good ’breaker. Obviously everybody knows how well he can serve. He also beat Raonic here, now Rafa. Clearly he's on a run.”
Date: 21st August 2015, Source: ATP
Federer made his first serves count in winning 95 per cent of such points, despite serving at just 43 per cent for the match. He fired six aces and 24 winners, while not facing a break point, to prevail after 69 minutes. The Swiss dropped just three points on serve in the second set, improving his Head to Head to 4-0 against the Spaniard. He was also ruthless on return, averaging 2.4 metres inside the baseline to return Bautista Agut's serve.
The Basel native is making his 15th appearance in Cincinnati, bidding for his seventh title (2005, '07, '09-10, '12, '14). Last year, he defeated David Ferrer to improve to 6-0 in finals in the American city.
"It was a good win for me, it can only get tougher from here. I haven't played in a long time and I felt a bit rusty at times in the first set. I need matches right now, so it was good to start well here. I'm happy I got through this first one. Now I know what it's about, " said Federer.
"It's the first round of the hard court season for the next six plus months or so," said Federer. "I have things in mind to work on for the hard-court season. No. 1, you have to be fit and tough, because you can stop on a dime and move the other direction, which on other surfaces is not so easy to do.
"Here in Cincy it plays pretty quick, so why not move forward a bit. You have to just pick the right times and keep your opponent off balance. I think it is a good play for me."
Cincinnati is also one of six tournaments the World No. 3 has won at least six times, along with Halle (8), Dubai (7), Wimbledon (7), the ATP World Tour Finals (6) and Basel (6). He has won 38 of 46 matches played here and will seek to add yet another with a third-round meeting against Kevin Anderson or Jack Sock.
Federer is 41-7 in 2015, with titles at the 250 level tournaments in Brisbane and Istanbul and the 500 level events in Dubai and Halle. He is seeking to emerge victorious at all three ATP World Tour levels for the second straight year and fourth time since 2010.
Date: 19th August 2015, Source: ATP and AFP
Considering his dominance of the 2005 season, it should be cause for concern for his younger rivals. The Swiss player made the assessment on the eve of his 2015 campaign in Cincinnati, where he returns as a six-time champion.
A decade ago he was consolidating his dominance of the game, winning Wimbledon and the US Open crowns with four ATP World Tour Masters Series 1000 titles among his 11 titles for the year - the most a player had landed in one season in more than 20 years. He finished the year with an 81-4 win-loss record. On paper, his numbers this season may not stack up to that impressive run but his game has developed in the years since.
“I think I'm a better player now than when I was at 24 because I've practised for another 10 years and I've got 10 years more experience,” Federer said. “Maybe I don't have the confidence level that I had at 24 when I was winning 40 matches in a row, but I feel like I hit a bigger serve, my backhand is better, my forehand is still as good as it's ever been, I volley better than I have in the past. I think I've had to adapt to a new generation of players again.”
He opted to skip last week’s Rogers Cup in Montreal, having last year reached the final in Canada where he fell to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He was keen to avoid back-to-back events, instead choosing to focus on defending the title at one of his most successful stops on tour, having never lost a final in Cincinnati. Despite losing his No. 2 position in the ATP Rankings to Andy Murray, Federer is the tournament’s No. 2 seed this week and arrives fresher than he did 12 months ago.
With more than one-third of players in the Top 100 30 years or older, he admits that he is surprised the next generation has not yet taken over.
“We definitely had a very good generation of players,” he said. “I still remember my junior years. My year, 1981 and also 1982 and 1980, we were all very strong. It's nice to see that so many actually made the Tour. Personally, I'm surprised to see how many of them are still hanging in there and still playing.”
The 17-time Grand Slam champion puts it down to two main reasons. “Number one, it was a good generation,” he said. “Number two, the generation that usually pushes players out wasn't as strong as maybe other ones. I'm talking about the players who are 25 years old right now. That generation only had a few players and the same thing for age 20 right now. There are some good ones, but not like 30 of them when we came along. I think those are usually the guys that push the older guys out. So we're able to hang on. It's nice to see because in a few years, many of them won't be around anymore.”
Date: 18th August 2015, Source: ATP
Federer faces a tough path in his quest to successfully defend his Western & Southern Open crown, with Rafael Nadal in his quarter, a semi-final duel with third seed Andy Murray also looming large. While top seed Novak Djokovic has Stan Wawrinka as a potential quarter-final opponent on the other side of the draw.
Champion in 2005, ‘07, ‘09-10, ’12 and ‘14, Federer is seeded second and will face either Roberto Bautista Agut or Pablo Cuevas after receiving a first-round bye. He is 3-0 in his ATP Head to Head against Bautista Agut and holds a 2-0 record against Cuevas.
Date: 17th August 2015, Source: AP and ATP