Roger Federer discusses the evolution of his playing style
by SIMONE BRUGNOLI | VIEW 6842
After spending four and a half years at the top of men's tennis, Roger Federer lost no. 1 in August 2008 with Rafael Nadal, who was also the player to beat in the first four months of the 2009 season. Nadal won the title at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Barcelona and Rome and was also the favorite in Madrid, hoping to win all three Clay Masters 1000 titles in a single season for the first time.
Played on an indoor hard court between 2002-08, the Madrid Open moved to the Caja Mágica and clay court that year, bringing together the world's best players in the battle for the trophy. Federer, Nadal and Djokovic reached the semi-final and we saw that fantastic encounter between Rafa and Novak in the fight for the title.
The Spaniard won 3-6, 7-6, 7-6 in four hours and three minutes after saving three match points to prepare for the title duel against Roger, who defeated Juan Martín Del Potro in two sets. Nadal did his best to recover in such a short time and position himself as a competitive rival.
Still, Federer took advantage of the circumstances to clinch a 6-4, 6-4 win in one hour and 26 minutes, becoming Madrid's first ever champion in the Caja Mágica on the red surface. It was a significant victory for the Swiss, who began to lose ground in the previous months after being beaten by his biggest rivals at the Australian Open, Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.
As we all know, he would take his form from Madrid to Roland Garros, beating Robin Soderling in the final to lift his first and only Major trophy in Paris and achieve a Career Grand Slam. Roger's plan was simple as he tried to keep points as short as possible on fast Madrid clay and avoid long rallies and pressure on his backhand.
The Swiss wanted to avoid the unforced errors that have always been undermining his game against Nadal on the slower surface. Roger won just five points more than Rafa, rejecting all four break opportunities and taking advantage of the two opportunities won on the return to emerge as champion, defeating Nadal for the second time in 11 matches on clay.
Roger Federer on his playing style
Roger Federer is scheduled to make his return to the ATP tour at the claycourt event in Geneva, which begins on 16 May. Federer's last outing on clay was almost two years ago, at Roland Garros 2019, where he was defeated by Rafael Nadal in the semifinals.
"I really can’t wait any longer to play matches," the Swiss said. "I am a more balanced player (now)." The 39-year-old further claimed that adjustments in his training sessions and improved racket technology are helping him play better today than how he did at 20 years of age.
"Over time I have been able to adjust the details in my playing style, my footwork and the technology of my rackets that make me able to play better now than when I was 20 years old," Federer said.