Roger Federer: Player of the Month for November 2010
What started off as a romp to his 16th Grand Slam title in Australia quickly turned into a difficult and less-than-successful spring and summer for the Roger Federer.
Falling in the finals of the Madrid Masters event to Rafael Nadal, Federer recorded further demise at the French Open, Halle tournament and Wimbledon.
However, known for the ability to shake off hardship and failure, Federer returned to the Masters event in Toronto before losing to Andy Murray. Learning from his backcourt mistakes in Canada, Federer fought toward a title campaign in the muggy conditions in Cincinnati.
But he couldn't hold his form at the year's final Grand Slam in New York, losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals.
But the year would not end there for the competitive Swiss champion. Taking a good month off after the US Open before flying into the event in Shanghai, Federer reached yet another final before losing to the best-of-three-set brilliance of Murray once again.
Although Federer wasn't capitalizing on his Sunday chances the way he once did, his ability to enjoy the competition, while honing his game for the upcoming World Tour Finale in London, was commendable.
Recording his 64th and 65th career titles in Stockholm and Basel, Federer not only supplanted Pete Sampras for the fourth position in the all-time titles list, but he also placed himself as the favorite heading into the culminating event of the season.
Defeating five of the world's best players with the loss of only one set throughout the week, Federer notched his fifth career year-end title, while banking a hefty $1.6 million in prize money.
Sweeping past David Ferrer, Murray, Robin Soderling and Djokovic without breaking a sweat, Federer gave himself an opportunity to gain a crucial victory against his chief rival, Rafael Nadal.
Trailing Nadal by a substantial head-to-head margin heading into the championship match, Federer did own a comfortable lead over the Spaniard on surfaces other than clay.
Stamping his intentions early on the match, Federer jumped out to a one-set lead on the strength of winning 100 percent of his first serve points. Dropping the second set to his valiant and courageous opponent, Federer rebounded in a major way to crush Nadal's hopes in the third set.
The win over the Spaniard could set the stage for an enticing 2011. Although Nadal has proven that his clay and grass-court skills are second to none, the Mallorcan still hasn't fine-tuned his game accordingly to dominate the hardcourts.
Federer, on the other hand, proved that his asphalt ability was better than ever. Taking to the low-bouncing nature of the O2 Arena like it was his own backyard, Federer's precision and margin off his shots were inch perfect.
More than anything else, I was pleased with how Federer appeared to cast aside his previous game style for the fresh advice of Paul Annacone.
Hiring the American after Wimbledon to aid him back to the top spot in the world, Federer implemented the slash-and-crash tactics of Annacone on numerous occasions against Nadal, and the rest of the field.
Remaining aggressive and shortening the points will be vital to Federer's success over the coming years.
He has unquestionably lost some court speed since his dominance from 2004-06. And his execution of shorter, more forceful points will undoubtedly add a great dimension to his game.
Federer's serve will also remain the cornerstone toward his longevity. Hitting any spin or location with the same ball toss, Federer won over 80 percent of his first and second-serve points against Nadal in the final.
While the Swiss has set a tentative date for the 2012 London Olympics to end his career, he recently did admit that he was contemplating an appearance at the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
Whatever the case, and whenever he decides to hang up his magical Wilson racket, Federer once again displayed his innate ability to enjoy the game he loves during his profitable fall season.
I was reminded of Federer's passions for the sport earlier this week when I stumbled upon some footage of his first Masters 1000 win over Marat Safin at the 2002 Hamburg event in Germany.
Becoming overtly emotional after his defeat of the Russian, Federer's mindset and passion remains the same today.
Fist-pumping and calling upon his inner will to pull him past the sport's best players, Federer's reign atop of the men's field appears safe for the foreseeable future.
Federer once so-rightfully claimed that "I live the game." Judging by his excitement and acceptance of the grinding demands of the drawn-out calender, the 29-year-old Swiss native should find his name in the Grand Slam conversation until his final event.
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