In Roger Federer's words: 'Unlike in the past, the clay season is entirely open'

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In Roger Federer's words: 'Unlike in the past, the clay season is entirely open'

After losing to Gustavo Kuerten in Indian Wells 2003, Roger Federer switched his focus to Miami where he played in the final a year ago, losing to Andre Agassi in four sets. In the opening encounter, Roger took down Luis Horna 6-2, 7-5 in an hour and 21 minutes, racing past his opponent in the first set and scoring a late break in set number two to seal the deal without having to play a tie break.

After the match, the Swiss spoke about surfaces and the footwork as the main factor if you want to have success on all of them. At the age of 21, Roger already had notable results on both hard, grass and clay, standing in the top-5 and a contender for every significant crown in the calendar.

As we already said, he was the finalist in Miami a year ago before winning the first Masters 1000 crown on clay in Hamburg a couple of weeks later. Back in 2001, Federer stunned the seven-time champion Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in five sets, proving his skills on the fastest surface and hoping to find that form again in three months after the first-round loss to Mario Ancic in 2002.

"Going to clay and returning to other surfaces after that is the biggest challenge. You have to work on your footwork because that changes everything; the way you move on clay is very different from the one on hard or grass where you have to make smaller steps.

The first few practice sessions or condition sessions you do, you work on the right on-the-court movement. After that, you can start to work on your serve and volley game or be more patient from the baseline. That's just the way I look at the court change.

The upcoming clay season is entirely open. Unlike in the past, players who are not the clay courters have a chance on the slowest surface as well. The balls are getting slower on the hard courts. Guys like Luis Horna, against whom I played today, stand five meters behind the baseline while waiting for the return; it works fine if you don't have a big serve.

Standing back gives them more time and it seems to work on every surface. Maybe that wouldn't work on grass where you still have to rush to the net."