Last night I saw Roger Federer play possibly the best match of his career. There have been many more meaningful matches in his career, especially against his Indian Wells Round of 16 opponent, Rafael Nadal, but the way Federer destroyed Nadal (6-2, 6-3) has to be graded up there with some of Fed’s best performances.
Much was said on Tennis Channel after the match about how Roger Federer switched over to a bigger racquet in 2014 and it is now paying dividends. Jim Courier gave almost all the credit for that decision to Paul Annacone who was Federer’s coach back then. I think the switch was definitely beneficial and it does take awhile for players to adjust to new racquets, especially in Roger’s case because he had used the smaller head sized racquet for so long.
The improved 2017 version of Federer, minus the loss to a much lesser-skilled player a couple weeks ago, has a lot to do with his backhand. Beautiful topspin backhand technique has been a staple of Roger’s game, but the one-handed backhand is a shot that relies on a lot of confidence, and Federer hasn’t always exhibited confidence on that wing during big points and matches. It’s quite possible that a mix of the bigger racquet, the couple of years of improved timing with the racquet, and current coach Ivan Ljubicic’s guidance, has put some energy and confidence into Federer’s step and swing. Of course there could be other factors that cannot be discounted, such as a feeling of nothing to lose and a renewed spirit for the game of tennis after being away from the tour a good chunk of 2016. Whatever is happening, it’s a pleasure to watch!
In the quarterfinal round of Indian Wells, Roger Federer will play Nick Kyrgios. The unpredictable Australian is fresh off back-to-back wins against another great player, Novak Djokovic. Make sure to tune in on Friday.