Taken from The Art of Tennis II: An Exploration of Planet Tennis
If the attempted Sunshine double (Indian Wells and Miami Masters titles) and what preceded it in 2019 has proven anything – already documented time and again over recent years – it is that Roger Federer has something nobody else does, namely batteries that last infinitely. It doesn’t really matter who is placed before him these days, if he is in form – forget the maturing body that shows few signs of his real age, or much by way of wear and tear – he will probably still win. Often with some aplomb.
While he leads the ATP race to London for the men, it’s surely the performances that have impressed the most. He often starts an event looking beatable, a little uncertain, and mostly ends looking the clear winner. Four events so far this year. Two titles (in Dubai and Miami), one runner-up spot (to Dominic Thiem in the recent Indian Wells final), and a mid-tournament exit at the Australian Open, where he failed to defend his title, meeting his match in young Greek Tsitsipas. This stirs the thought that the three-set format suits Roger perfectly these days, a true reflection of the gulf between the Grand Slam five-set format and the one that the rest of the annual calendar witnesses. I am more than aware that, in the upcoming Slams this summer, it is more than likely he will prove me wrong. If he can keep his matches short, which has perhaps been the key for a while now, especially when adding up each round of a Grand Slam event, then he has a chance. His evolving yet faithful style sees him able to execute a game plan, even adapt, and find a way to pass players now much younger. Players who will be infuriated to be still having the great of the game submerge their hopes and dreams. He is as large and looming an opponent as ever he has been. You can make mistakes against him, but he nearly always punishes them, and if they mount up – chances are you will lose that match. Simple maths.
His batteries show no sign of slowing down. If Roger really was considering retiring at the end of this season, and only results would fuel that decision, then the first part of the 2019 season tells us he will still be here at the turn of the decade. He simply has too much to offer still. While the target of Connors’ 109 titles does look a tough ask, Federer now standing tall with 101 of his own, the chance to defend the Miami title 12 months down the line (and who knows what comes next) may prove a little too tempting to refuse. Not to mention a close run at Indian Wells only two weeks earlier. This is art, this is passion, this is a hunger for more. There is a hunger only rivalled and matched by Djokovic and Nadal. Pete Sampras’ once magnificent shining record of 14 Grand Slam titles has been truly obliterated by this trio.