Coming back to clay after four years was a big gamble for Roger Federer that paid off. It was a welcome sight to see the world's most famous tennis player participate in the clay season. Having the Big 3 play on the red dirt courts of Europe proved a captivating event for this part of the season where usually one of them shines above them all, Rafael Nadal.
We were even treated to another classic Federer-Nadal clash that went its usual route when the Swiss had the bad luck of facing the King of Clay (and deplorable wind conditions). All in all, however, this clay season had just that little bit more of a star power due to the appearance of the three most famous players on the men's tour: Federer, Nadal, and Novak Djokovic.
Rafa and Djokovic walked away from the clay semester with titles, including the Madrid Open for the Serb, and of course the biggest prize of them all, Roland Garros-- along with Rome-- for Rafa. Still, Federer's two quarterfinal achievements at those two tourneys are pretty impressive.
Combined with getting to the semis of the French Open, even more so. This is especially the case when you consider he hadn't played the surface in three years, and only started practicing on it just a few months back. Federer bested more recently experienced clay court players along the way.
Once considered the second best player on the surface in his earlier days, much of his confidence shined during the season. Other players would be considered above the Swiss on clay nowadays. However, Federer displayed a vintage form and looked as if he had never taken a break from clay.
Let's hope that Fed will consider playing this part of the season again next year. I also think that participating during clay season has provided the 37-year-old with a boost of confidence heading into grass season. Federer's careful approach and commitment to just the right amount of light scheduling should place him in excellent shape as he gets set to prepare for Wimbledon, where he's won a record eight titles.
He surprised many with a surprisingly confident form at the clay events. He'll be looking to continue the positive momentum leading to Wimbledon. Roger Federer, at age 37, has put himself in the exact position he needs to be at the start of grass season.