Roger Federer has only lost once this season and clinched three of the biggest titles of the season so far. Al Bello / Getty Images
Roger Federer has only lost once this season and clinched three of the biggest titles of the season so far. Al Bello / Getty Images

Roger Federer’s dream start to 2017 can continue with wise decision to swerve clay season



The dream, as Roger Federer said after his Miami Open triumph, continues.

Plagued by injuries in recent times, first of the back and then the knee, and written off as an ageing has-been, Federer should have been riding into the sunset at this age of 35 years and seven months.

Instead, returning to the courts after six months out due to a knee injury, he has won three of the biggest tournaments in the first quarter of the season, including an 18th grand slam at the Australian Open — his first major title since Wimbledon in 2012.

This is Federer’s best start to a season since 2006 — he is 19-1 with the only defeat coming against Russian world No 116 Evgeny Donskoy in the second round of Dubai, and is 7-0 against the world’s top-10 players.

And the wins should taste a lot sweeter because the Swiss has defeated his nemesis-in-chief Rafael Nadal in each of those three tournaments — the Australian Open final, Indian Wells fourth round and now the Miami final on Sunday, winning 6-3, 6-4. Never before in their fabled rivalry had Federer won three matches on the trot against Nadal. Now, he has won the past four.

“What a start to the year — can’t believe it,” Federer said during the trophy presentation in Miami.

Can it get any better? Yes, it probably can. Starting the year at No 17 in the rankings, Federer has risen No 4.

Given his form — and the struggles of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic — there is a realistic chance of him climbing back to the top of the rankings for the first time since October, 2012.

Pragmatism has played as big a part in Federer’s success and, understandably, he has decided against testing his surgically repaired knees on clay.

Instead, he has chosen to take an eight-week break and return at the French Open, which starts on May 28.

“I’m not 24 anymore, so things have changed in a big way,” Federer told ESPN on court after his Miami win. “I need rest. My body needs healing, and I need time as well to prepare. I have to pick my moments where I can peak and stay healthy.”

The temptation to keep going, though, must have been great, for Federer will lose a lot on the momentum side. But as he said in Indian Wells, “rankings is not a priority right now. It’s totally about being healthy, enjoying the tournaments I’m playing and trying to win those”.

Winning on clay has not come as easy to Federer as the other surfaces, and not just because of Nadal’s brilliance on the red gravel.

The Swiss’s attacking instincts are not ideal for the slower clay courts, where longer rallies are the norm, patience is an art form and coming to the net can be perilous.

Clay courts also place huge demands on a player’s stamina.

Federer, as he said in Dubai, understands exhausting himself on clay courts could undermine his chances at Wimbledon and the US Open.

More importantly, staying off the clay courts should keep the Swiss in his current frame of mind. The six-month break has helped him as much on the mental side as the physical.

It had been liberating in a sense, for it allowed him to put all those sapping defeats to Djokovic at the majors in the past and come back playing exuberant tennis again.

Federer is playing with absolute freedom now. A few defeats on clay could have put the shackles back on, and that would not have been great news for his fans, who will want this dream to continue for long.

arizvi@thenational.ae

Follow us on Twitter @NatSportUAE

Like us on Facebook at facebook.com/TheNationalSport

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

How to report a beggar

Abu Dhabi – Call 999 or 8002626 (Aman Service)

Dubai – Call 800243

Sharjah – Call 065632222

Ras Al Khaimah - Call 072053372

Ajman – Call 067401616

Umm Al Quwain – Call 999

Fujairah - Call 092051100 or 092224411

 

 

Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah To The Last Goodbye
By Dave Lory with Jim Irvin

The specs

Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8

Transmission: seven-speed

Power: 720hp

Torque: 770Nm

Price: Dh1,100,000

On sale: now

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

UAE athletes heading to Paris 2024

Equestrian
Abdullah Humaid Al Muhairi, Abdullah Al Marri, Omar Al Marzooqi, Salem Al Suwaidi, and Ali Al Karbi (four to be selected).
Judo
Men: Narmandakh Bayanmunkh (66kg), Nugzari Tatalashvili (81kg), Aram Grigorian (90kg), Dzhafar Kostoev (100kg), Magomedomar Magomedomarov (+100kg); women's Khorloodoi Bishrelt (52kg).

Cycling
Safia Al Sayegh (women's road race).

Swimming
Men: Yousef Rashid Al Matroushi (100m freestyle); women: Maha Abdullah Al Shehi (200m freestyle).

Athletics
Maryam Mohammed Al Farsi (women's 100 metres).

Top goalscorers in Europe

34 goals - Robert Lewandowski (68 points)

34 - Ciro Immobile (68)

31 - Cristiano Ronaldo (62)

28 - Timo Werner (56)

25 - Lionel Messi (50)

*29 - Erling Haaland (50)

23 - Romelu Lukaku (46)

23 - Jamie Vardy (46)

*NOTE: Haaland's goals for Salzburg count for 1.5 points per goal. Goals for Dortmund count for two points per goal.

F1 drivers' standings

1. Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes 281

2. Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari 247

3. Valtteri Bottas, Mercedes 222

4. Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull 177

5. Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari 138

6. Max Verstappen, Red Bull 93

7. Sergio Perez, Force India 86

8. Esteban Ocon, Force India 56

Tips to keep your car cool
  • Place a sun reflector in your windshield when not driving
  • Park in shaded or covered areas
  • Add tint to windows
  • Wrap your car to change the exterior colour
  • Pick light interiors - choose colours such as beige and cream for seats and dashboard furniture
  • Avoid leather interiors as these absorb more heat
Company Profile

Name: Direct Debit System
Started: Sept 2017
Based: UAE with a subsidiary in the UK
Industry: FinTech
Funding: Undisclosed
Investors: Elaine Jones
Number of employees: 8

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Results:

6.30pm: Al Maktoum Challenge Round-2 (PA) | Group 1 US$75,000 (Dirt) | 2,200 metres

Winner: Goshawke, Fernando Jara (jockey), Ali Rashid Al Raihe (trainer)

7.05pm: UAE 1000 Guineas (TB) | Listed $250,000 (D) | 1,600m

Winner: Silva, Oisin Murphy, Pia Brendt

7.40pm: Meydan Classic Trial (TB) | Conditions $100,000 (Turf) | 1,400m

Winner: Golden Jaguar, Connor Beasley, Ahmad bin Harmash

8.15pm: Al Shindagha Sprint (TB) | Group 3 $200,000 (D) | 1,200m

Winner: Drafted, Pat Dobbs, Doug Watson

8.50pm: Handicap (TB) | $175,000 (D) | 1,600m

Winner: Capezzano, Mickael Barzalona, Sandeep Jadhav

9.25pm: Handicap (TB) | $175,000 (T) | 2,000m

Winner: Oasis Charm, William Buick, Charlie Appleby

10pm: Handicap (TB) | $135,000 (T) | 1,600m

Winner: Escalator, Christopher Hayes, Charlie Fellowes

Sarfira

Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5


Latest
Most Read
Top Videos