The first tennis week of 2018 has already given some significant indications to tennis fans and media. The performances that Roger Federer showed at the Hopman Cup, in Perth, are the thermometer of the state of shape that is going through the Swiss Maestro.
Although the Hopman Cup is only an exhibition tournament, in the three matches played, Federer seemed in great psycho-physical condition. The first two victories against Yuichi Sugita and Karen Kachanov, both ended in two sets, showed to the world (and to his rivals) how the Swiss athletic and mental freshness are currently at the top of men's tennis.
Federer's second youth was also seen in the final against Germany, both in the men's singles won against Alexander Zverev in three sets, and in the mixed doubles, won along Belinda Bencic, against Zverev and Angelique Kerber. Not being an official tournament, the Hopman Cup gives relative indications on the state of the participants, but all indications seem clear.
Roger Federer will be the man to beat both at the Australian Open, and throughout 2018. It is true, he will have to defend 4000 points among Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami, but currently, in the tour, no man seems to have the same psycho-physical conditions. Federer will have to be good at managing himself, his body, and the media pressure that will inevitably surround him.
However, the Swiss has the necessary experience to better manage all these situations. His opponents do not seem at the moment to his level: the physical condition of Rafael Nadal, the other favorite of the season, is to be assessed.
Andy Murray will be out at least until the grass swing, while Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka are still unknown, as they will be evaluated especially from the physical point of view. Regarding the others, the only ones able to compete with the Swiss are Grigor Dimitrov and Alexander Zverev, but neither of them is currently nearing Federer's level.
He has now found the right mix of training, matches and rest, managing very well his body and the emotional part of his tennis. His backhand has now turned from a weak point to a winning weapon. This is demonstrated by the four matches won in 2017 against Rafael Nadal, thanks to his incredible backhand. All the premises indicate Federer as a great favorite for 2018.
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