It was just two months ago Roger Federer presented tennis legend Stefan Edberg to the world as his new coach (per The Independent). Pundits like Greg Rusedski were very open in their analysis, praising the partnership and emphasising how Federer was changing his game with one goal in mind: one last run at Wimbledon.
But with a big win over Novak Djokovic at the 2014 Dubai Tennis Championships, and a dominant run on the hard court of Indian Wells, the Swiss former world No. 1 has once again positioned himself as the man to beat on the ATP tour, months before the start of the iconic London-based Grand Slam.
As reported by the Press Association (via The Guardian), Federer made quick work of Kevin Anderson on Friday to advance to the semi-final at Indian Wells, where he'll face Alexandr Dolgopolov. Anderson was only able to challenge Federer for a short period in the first set before the Swiss legend won six games straight to put the South African away.
Federer has yet to drop a single set at Indian Wells, and with other big names like Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray having already exited the tournament, Federer has to be one of the favourites to take home the trophy.
For a man who had to battle rumours about possible retirement all of last year (as reported by Rachelle Corpuz of International Business Time), 2014 is shaping up to be a great year.
Federer is playing unburdened, and it looks like he's having fun on the court once again, as opposed to last year. The Press Association (via The Guardian) quoted the current world No. 8, saying:
There is a sense of calmness to my game right now. Also confidence. But also that grit and wanting to win badly feeling is out there, which was hard to find at times last year. So now I've got it all. That results came as quickly as they did, maybe that did surprise me a little bit.
As shared by Sports Illustrated's Beyond the Baseline, the semi-final result at Indian Wells will put the 17-time Grand Slam winner back in the ATP top 5:
And with that, welcome back to the top five, Roger Federer.— Beyond The Baseline (@SI_BTBaseline) March 14, 2014
As it stands, the table seems to be set for another showdown between Federer and Djokovic, if both players can win their semi-final matches. Fresh off his win at Dubai, and playing some of his best tennis in years, Federer has to be feeling good about his chances in a rematch with the Serbian world No. 2.
Not only has Federer not dropped a single set all tournament, but semi-final opponent Anderson wasn't even able to break Federer's serve once. ESPN.com's Greg Garber foresaw such a performance when he did his power rankings heading into the tournament, saying:
Low and behold, a healthy body (the back ... is back), a new coach (Stefan Edberg) and newly aggressive attitude (serving and volleying!) has Federer looking like, well, he's 28 again. He's a four-time champion at Indian Wells, winning as recently as 2012.
In the same article, Tennis Channel's Justin Gimelstob was quoted, saying:
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.
Federer looks nothing like the player we saw last year, which can only be a good thing. And with Wimbledon still several months away, it would appear the "Fed Express" is well ahead of schedule.