Sept. 20, 2017
Roger Federer’s comeback in 2017 has been something straight out of fantasyland for his fans. After taking the last 6 months of the 2016 season off due to injury, Federer came back to win the Australian Open, Indian Wells, and Miami in dominant fashion. The way in which Federer was winning was amazing as much as it was unexpected. He would then go on to win Wimbledon which was icing on the cake for Federer fans and the tennis world, really.
“Federer’s commitment to his craft and his champion’s mentality are displayed in the way that he has forced himself to evolve to overcome his biggest tests.” – Stephen Boughton
His comeback has been mind-blowing because he has seemingly been on the decline – as far as winning tournaments goes – since 2010. Since Federer has won more majors than any man in history he was expected (ridiculously) by his fans and the tennis world, in general, to win multiple majors every year. In each year from 2004-2009, he won at least 2 majors – winning 3 majors in 3 of those years. So when he only won 1 major in 2010 (AO) and 0 majors in 2011 many in the tennis world audaciously deemed that as the start of the end for Federer. When he won Wimbledon in 2012 it seemed like one last kick at the can for the G.O.A.T. Although from 2013-2016 he made it deep in majors when he was healthy, he never seemed to be able to get past the younger and more in-their-prime Djokovic and Nadal. After Wimbledon 2016 when Federer announced that he would miss the rest of the season due to injury, his future seemed very uncertain. A 2017 season with 2 Grand Slams, 2 Masters 1000s, and 3 consecutive wins over his arch-nemesis would have been outside the realm of imagination for most including Federer himself. His comeback is astonishing because it came out of the uncertainty of the biggest injury of his career at the age of 35.
Another reason why Federer’s comeback is amazing is the way that he changed his game in order to overcome Nadal. During his comeback at age 35, Federer has arguably been hitting his backhand the best he ever has. He is stepping into the court to take the ball earlier and hitting topspin backhands much more often than he used to. Federer’s SLICE has been a defensive weapon of his throughout his career. It allows him to stay in points when opponents are hitting attacking shots. Federer can slice backhands deep to his opponent in order to weather their attack and wait for a short ball where Federer will pounce. Against Nadal, this tactic usually didn’t work like it did against everyone else. So, in 2017, Federer and his team worked to improve the timing and power on his backhand and it became an offensive weapon. http://www.menstennisforums.com/2-general-messages/886481-data-showing-improvement-federer-backhand.html shows how Federer hit his backhand better than he ever has against Nadal. The improvement of a stroke like Federer has done with his backhand is impressive especially after having been on the pro tour for 19 years.Federer’s commitment to his craft and his champion’s mentality are displayed in the way that he has forced himself to evolve to overcome his biggest tests.
Federer’s comeback in 2017 is truly mind-blowing.