Roger Federer: 5 Reasons His ATP World Tour Finals Play Means He's Back
Whether motivated by his inability to win a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2002, feeling slighted by critics who have said he is over the hill or playing with renewed sense of confidence, Roger Federer is on fire and once more taking the ATP by storm.
Playing at the top of his game, Federer has been flawless over the past few months recording a perfect 12-0 record and two titles since his semifinals defeat against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
As he continues his recent dominance at the ATP World Tour Finals, tennis fans are once against salivating at the possibility of another great season ahead for one of the game's greatest champions to ever play.
Here are five reasons why Federer shouldn't be discounted and will be back in the Grand Slam mix in 2012.
5. It's the Quality Not Quantity of the Wins
Federer's recent 20-1 tear is impressive by any stretch of the imagination, but recently it has been the quality of his wins that has been most striking.
His recent 6-3, 6-0 demolition of Rafael Nadal was especially spectacular. Granted to those who watched, it was clear Nadal was not 100 percent nor playing his best tennis. A big part of that, however, was Federer's dominance and ability to take Rafa out of his game. Federer fired six aces, served close to 70 percent and never faced a break point.
Against Fish and Tsonga Federer was similarly strong, defeating both players in three sets apiece.
More significant than how he played, was who he beat. While Federer has dominated Fish, he has struggled against Nadal and Tsonga.
No one owns a better record against Federer than Nadal, who at now 17-9 has owned his Swiss counterpart. Likewise, Tsonga has managed to ruffle Federer's feathers recently taking two matches from him over the summer.
For Federer to come out and beat all three players resoundingly bodes well not only for the rest of the ATP World Tour Finals, but also for next season.
4. His Serve
As Federer gets older, more and more he is going to have to rely on his serve to shorten points and prevent unnecessary wear and tear on his body. While a definite weapon of his game, Federer's serve has never been one of the game's best on par with the Roddicks and Isners or Ivo Karlovics.
If he wants to add a few more majors, Federer will have to make it so. After three matches in London, Federer is already showing signs of improvement.
Against Mardy Fish, Federer hit seven aces to zero double faults, didn't win 73 percent of his first-serve points and saved seven of nine break points.
Facing Tsonga, Federer was equally impressive, hitting 66 percent of his first serves, only tossing in one double fault and allowing Tsonga only two break-point opportunities.
If Federer can keep serving the way he has been, he should have a chance to add to his Grand Slam trophy collection.
Since the US Open, Federer has made it a priority to take a little more time to recover and to be fully rested. His 15-0 streak indicate the strategy is paying off.
So far through three matches (two of which were tough three-setters), Federer is moving well and playing with high levels of intensity and energy.
Can he keep it up for a potential four more matches as well as into the new year?
The month off between two Davis Cup matches in September and the tournament at the end of October really benefited Federer.
With another five weeks off before warmups prior to Australian Open, Federer should be ready and rearing to go for the Australian Open. If Federer can properly manage his schedule he should be able to remain fresh all season long.
2011 was a tough year for Federer. For the first time since 2002, he tumbled out of the top two, then top three, finally landing at the No. 4 ranking.
For the game's most dominant player of all time, the transition from definitive favorite to possible contender seemed to be a rough one.
Usually Federer saved his best stuff for the biggest matches, but this year, no matter how hard he tried, Federer was outdueled by Djokovic, Nadal and even Tsonga time and again.
Over the course of the year, Federer lost to Djokovic four times, Nadal three times and Tsonga twice.
The defeats and the mounting criticisms that he was too old and over the hill seemed to take their toll on Federer.
Having beaten Nadal and Tsonga to go along with his victory over Fish, Federer is showing he still can play against the world's best and one by one is getting the monkeys off his back.
If he can beat Djokovic again (he beat him at the semifinals at Roland Garros) Federer will have beaten his three nemeses all in one tournament.
Should he do that, look for Federer to regain that unbeatable swagger.
1. Federer Is Proving His Demise Was Overrated
Federer's demise has been way overrated, and with victories over Nadal, Fish and Tsonga (not to mention his nine victories over top-20 opponents in his last 21 matches), Federer is proving just how wrong his doubters were.
Given his eight-year run of dominance where he won 16 Grand Slams and finished no lower than second in the final ATP rankings, ending the year ranked fourth seems like a unmitigated disaster.
It really wasn't. Sure, Federer didn't win a Grand Slam, but he is playing in a golden era for tennis which not only has the greatest top four players to ever hold their respective rankings, but also a field which is as deep a collection of talent as the game has ever seen.
It was a down year for Federer for sure. But is he finished? Washed-up? No longer a threat at every tournament he enters? Of course not.
He happened to run into Djokovic—who was having the best season in the history of the sport—twice in Grand Slam semifinals, lost to the best player ever to play on clay in Nadal at the finals of the French Open and laid an egg against Tsonga at the Wimbledon quarterfinals. All in all, one less than perfect match. That's nothing to be overly upset about.
Take Nadal and Djokovic out of the equation and Federer likely wins three more Grand Slams. Even with both of them next year, it's hard to imagine Djokovic not losing more than five times and if Nadal slips in Paris, Federer is the second-best player on clay on tour.
Point is, sure it was a down year, but so long as Djokovic doesn't make an assault on history, Federer should manage to win a Grand Slam or two.
With a showdown with Djokovic looming in the ATP Finals look for Federer to set the tone for the battles that will ensue next spring.