Don’t write Federer off yet

Federer is a champion, an artisan too with that glorious single-fisted backhand, and a dogged, ruthless fighter.

Oliver Brett December 20, 2011
Great athletes defy the scourge of age to transcend the presumed parameters placed on them by the others.

Sachin Tendulkar’s first Test century, which came in an unusually warm English summer of 1990, belongs to an innocent age.

He’s still one of the best in the world. Michael Schumacher began his stellar career in Formula One the following year. He’s retired once, after winning seven drivers’ titles, but he’s back and remains a competitive driver in the paddock despite being 42 years old.

In his own domain, Roger Federer shares the unyielding hunger of those two, although he does so in the more physical pursuit of men’s tennis – a sport which is enjoying a golden period of unrivalled quality.

Federer is a champion, an artisan too with that glorious single-fisted backhand, and a dogged, ruthless fighter.

His authority and supremacy was questioned as the top eight tennis players headed to London for the World Tour finals, the finest sportsman ever to emerge from Switzerland unusually light on trophies in the year.

Failing to win a Grand Slam for the first time since 2002, Federer had lost his world-number-three ranking to Andy Murray amid general perceptions that the top two in the world, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, had put themselves in a tier of their own.

But the Swiss is not made of the sort of stuff that allows him to meekly accept a place among the also-rans.

He did turn 30 in the summer, losing some of his speed and stamina, but none of his guile or touch.

A relatively easy tournament win at the modest Swiss Indoors event was an uplifting tonic. The following week, Federer stepped up a notch to claim the French Masters.

Suddenly, he arrived in London as the man to beat, with Murray having peaked during a successful run in Asia, while Djokovic and Nadal’s energy levels were also down following a gruelling season.

But to belittle Federer’s brilliance in London would be uncharitable. Even if the top three were fatigued, this was surely the time for David Ferrer or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to confirm the scepticism surrounding the older pro.

But neither could do it, and they will doubtless be among those who spend the off-season suspicious that the sleeping lion has stirred and is ready to prowl once again in 2012.

Because that, indeed, will be the real test. When the Australian Open comes around with indecent haste in January, will Federer reclaim his place at the summit?

Or will he have to respond once again as a refreshed Djokovic and Nadal make the early running?

It’s hard to call, but just don’t write Federer off ever again.


Federer’s 2011 singles record

Prize-money     $6,369,576

Matches won    64

Matches lost     12

Titles                 4

Ranking           3

Aus Open         SF

French Open   F

Wimbledon     QF

US Open         SF

Tour Finals     W

Oliver Brett The writer is a former BBC Sport cricket writer and is now involved with The Sport Collective
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


goggi | 12 years ago | Reply @Noman Ansari: Agassi was certainly a great tennis player(won all Grand Slam titles) and a female heart throb on the court, but his rival (pistol) Pete Sampras was one of the best professional tennis players of all time.
Tasos | 12 years ago | Reply All Novak did in 2011 was fantasic with only Roger being able to beat him at an incredibly high quality match in Paris. Novak is here to stay for sure if he is able to play at the same level. It would a wonderful 2012 season. It is upon RF and RN to lift their games against Djokovic.
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