Years later, Fed­erer still on top

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports -

(AP) — Used to be that Roger Fed­erer sim­ply could not win a match, let alone a cham­pi­onship, at ma­jor tour­na­ments.

That might be hard to imag­ine now that Fed­erer owns 20 Grand Slam tro­phies. But you can look it up: he lost in the first round on three of his first four trips to Wim­ble­don, and three of his first five ap­pear­ances at the French Open.

So let’s re­call what Fed­erer said at the All Eng­land Club on the day he col­lected his first Grand Slam ti­tle, all the way back in July 2003.

“I hope,” Fed­erer said, “it’s not go­ing to be my last.”

Seems silly nowa­days, doesn’t it? Be­cause there he was, nearly 15 full years later, tears dot­ting his cheeks as he spoke to an ador­ing Aus­tralian Open crowd af­ter beat­ing 2014 U.S. Open cham­pion Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in Sun­day’s fi­nal in Mel­bourne. Hold­ing his most re­cent prize, Fed­erer de­clared, “The fairy tale con­tin­ues.”

It’s hard to de­cide what is most re­mark­able about Fed­erer’s ca­reer.

Cilic’s take? “The pas­sion to com­pete, sea­son af­ter sea­son, es­pe­cially at this high level,” said the man who has lost two of the last three Grand Slam fi­nals to the Swiss mae­stro. “Also, be­ing able to chal­lenge him­self, first phys­i­cally and then men­tally, as well, to be at the top al­most ev­ery sin­gle week.”

The sheer vol­ume of it all does stand out. Fed­erer has won ex­actly 10 per cent of the 200 ma­jor tour­na­ments con­tested in the pro­fes­sional era. Be­fore Fed­erer started col­lect­ing his 20, the most any man man­aged to ac­cu­mu­late was the 14 for Pete Sam­pras; he now stands No. 3, be­hind Fed­erer and Rafael Nadal with 16.

There’s also that con­stant work to evolve and im­prove, most no­tably dur­ing his re­cent re­nais­sance by adding ver­sa­til­ity to his back­hand side with a flat­ter, more pow­er­ful shot than his long-pre­ferred slice.

And there’s the longevity, which is par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive in light of the re­cent in­jury woes for the younger mem­bers of ten­nis’ elite: Nadal, No­vak Djokovic, Andy Mur­ray and Stan Wawrinka.

Clos­ing in on 37, Fed­erer is now the sec­ond-old­est man to win a Grand Slam ti­tle in the Open era – Ken Roswell won Aus­tralia in 1972 at 37. And af­ter go­ing more than four years with­out a tro­phy, he’s added three in the span of four ap­pear­ances at ma­jors (he skipped last year’s French Open and sounds like some­one con­tem­plat­ing do­ing so again in a few months’ time).

“I don’t think age is an is­sue, per se. It’s just a num­ber,” he said Sun­day. “But I need to be very care­ful in my plan­ning, re­ally de­cide be­fore­hand what are my goals, what are my pri­or­i­ties. I think that’s what’s go­ing to dic­tate how suc­cess­ful I will be.”

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.