Roger "Darth" Federer: Changing Traits

Rajat JainSenior Analyst IAugust 9, 2009

When Roger Federer announced that he would be traveling with his big family to participate in Montreal, the news came as a bit of a surprise. The Swiss Master has continued to highlight his different personality traits over the course of his career.

From a young uncontrolled brat who broke his rackets time and again, he transformed himself into a calm and composed champion who epitomized perfection. He showed his willingness to never give up at Wimbledon '08, while he demonstrated his determination to silence his critics at U.S. Open '08.

At the French Open, he displayed his tenacity by winning ugly, when he was far from his best, and became immortal after Wimbledon '09.

Now, when everybody expected him to take a long rest after his newly grown family, he announced his return to Montreal, which just shows his love and commitment for the game.

In some ways, Wimbledon '09 was very different for Federer than other Grand Slams. After digging deep, and eventually ending as a winner, he finally ended his streak of always being on the wrong side of history—be it in Rome '06, Wimbledon '08, or Oz '09.

Being a part of historic matches is always special, but 20 years down the line, Federer would not feel dissatisfied after winning a Grand Slam final that is one for the ages.

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There has been plenty of talk about his golden attire and the “15” jacket, but it was his muted celebration after his victory that took my notice. He jumped in ecstasy for a second and then calmly came down to Andy Roddick and congratulated him for a valiant effort.

During the trophy presentation, he looked relaxed and at peace with himself. No falling down on the knees, no shedding of tears, and no emotional drama.

It is evident that the enormous weight he was carrying along for the past few years was lifted after his victory at Roland Garros, and his celebration at Wimbledon marked the beginning of a new era in Roger Federer’s career—one in which he will play without any pressure of history or the weight of proving a point.

Now he'll just play for the love of the game.

His burning desire to compete is interspersed with his immaculate fashion sense (let's forget Wimbledon '09 for the moment). It is amazing that even his costumes can reflect his state of mind. The fiery black attire at Oz '08 displayed his extreme confidence gained from an exceptional 2007, which gradually acquired dull colors over the year, to transform into a pale red and grey suit at New York.

Rumors are ripe that Federer would revert back to the Darth black costume this year at N.Y., and fans would rejoice if that were indeed the case. With all the elegance that is on show at Wimbledon, it is the shiny black under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium that oozes magnificence at the grandest theatre of world tennis!

Arthur Ashe Stadium is the arena where he feels at his best. The fast surface of Deco Turf, the low and consistent bounce, presence of a crowd that vociferously supports him...everything allows Roger to display his A game.

Federer may have played the most historic matches at Wimbledon, but his most dominant performances have come at the U.S. Open. You may go back to 2004, when he made mincemeat of Lleyton Hewitt, or 2007, when he beat Roddick, who played the match of his life (i.e. before he played the final in ’09).

But one performance that grabs my attention is last year's final, when he beat an in-form Andy Murray in straight sets.

Clean winners were hit on the backhand side, while second serves were attacked with disdain—Federer usually remains content to chip back the serve. The charge towards the net was smooth and effective, while he was even winning the backhand-to-backhand rallies!

The Scot was outplayed in that match, as Federer continuously pushed him back behind the baseline with his all-out attack. Murray has improved a lot over the past year, adding aggression to his arsenal, but Rog would always pose a challenge on faster courts, where he can easily control the pace of the play.

A bigger threat might come from Novak Djokovic—if he can regroup after his relatively poor season—who troubled Federer during their last two meetings at the Open, even though the score line would suggest otherwise.

All in all, the Deco Turf season would treat us with some fascinating tennis, and the draw at Montreal looks really inviting as we await the return of the Darth Federer at New York.

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