Roger Federer Must Deliver Strong Showing at Indian Wells

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Roger Federer Must Deliver Strong Showing at Indian Wells
Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press
Roger Federer is in great form heading into this tournament.

Four-time Indian Wells champion Roger Federer comes into this tournament on the back of a stunning win over Novak Djokovic in Dubai.

A set and break points down in that game, Federer rallied to take the tie and give credence to the notion that 2014 is set to be a better year than the last for the Swiss.

Under the guidance of new coach Stefan Edberg, Federer's serve and volleying has been a delight.

The old aggression has returned to his play, and despite being the eighth seed for this tournament, ESPN's Tennis Channel analyst Justin Gimelstob believes Federer is in with a shot at securing the title he last won in 2012:

Roger looks sharper and fresher and is already more dynamic in 2014 than he was in 2013.

Beating Djokovic, who he hasn't beaten in a while, was impressive. Roger has shown he's back in the conversation, and deservedly so.

Victory in Dubai gave him his 78th title, putting him in third place of the all-time list behind Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, per BNPParibas.com.

Before the victory over Djokovic, Federer hadn't won a tournament since June, and his record against the top-10 players was on the slide, 4-10 over the course of the year.

Back troubles in March and July and the move to a larger racquet can hardly have helped his preparations going into the major tournaments, but 2014 has already seen a marked and dramatic improvement.

He is already 4-1 up on top-10 opponents since January and has an overall record this year of 14 wins and two losses, including a final in Brisbane and a semi-final in Melbourne.

The key to Federer's new found freshness and well-being is undoubtedly the stretching routine he now has to go through before each match, captured by USA Today.

The flexibility to move around the court against the likes of Djokovic and reigning champion Rafael Nadal, will be one of the key components as to whether Federer can challenge for the major honours again throughout the year.

A world No. 1 ranking seems a distant memory, but Federer isn't bothered, according to BNPParibas.com via Erwin Ong:

If I can’t play for World No. 1, I play for winning titles. It’s the trophy I care about the most.

I’m really motivated to be playing here in Indian Wells.

I’m just happy to see that the hard work is paying off.

To win here, he will likely have to meet, then depose No. 1 seed Nadal, who won the title here last year after a seven-month sabbatical from the sport.

It signalled the start of another impressive year for the Spaniard, who remains the man to beat.

With a 6-0 record over his first-round opponent at Indian Wells, qualifier Paul-Henri Mathieu, a passage through to the next round should be something of a formality for Federer.

A potential matchup with Dmitry Tursunov awaits in the next round. The Russian is another opponent whom Federer has a perfect record against, having never dropped against him, per Tennis.Wettpoint.com.

If the draw falls kindly, then on current form, you wouldn't bet against Federer going all the way.

Toward the back end of last year, The Guardian amongst others were already questioning whether we were witnessing the end of an era.

That old Father Time had ultimately caught up with the best tennis player to have ever played the game.

There was a wistfulness surrounding talk of the demise of the greatest.

Yet, Federer has answered his detractors in the best possible way. He has people believing again. He believes again.

The victory over Djokovic has provided a shot in the arm for Federer at precisely the right time.

The king isn't dead. Long live the king!

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