If you are a regular reader of my column, then you are already aware of what a big fan I am of Mr. Federer.
In my last article “Back to School,” I discussed the importance of having role models in life. I truly believe that as a sports icon, Roger Federer is one of the best role models around.
It’s not just what he brings to the court for his fans, but what he brings to the entire world. The devotion of his personal time, to several different programs that are supported by the Roger Federer Foundation, is a guideline which more professional athletes should aspire to imitate and devote their personal time to.At this year’s Wimbledon it was such a pleasure to watch Federer back in the game and competing on the courts. Arguably, he played the best tennis of his career; his footwork, his balance, the simplicity and cleanness of his strokes, the way he glides across the court. John McEnroe refers to Federer as the “Baryshnikov of tennis.”
In addition to his abilities to move on the court and strike the ball, his body language, and the way he carries himself on the court in between points, is something we can all learn from. And I don’t mean just on the tennis court, but how we present ourselves and speak with our body language in daily life. He presents himself as confident, while not being cocky; always in control of his emotions, no matter what the situation.
One of my favorite commentators, not only in tennis but in a variety of sports, is local Naples resident, Mary Carillo. Mary isn’t just a great commentator, but she was also an accomplished player, winning a mixed doubles Grand Slam title at the 1977 French Open, with John McEnroe.
During one of Federer’s matches at Wimbledon, Carrillo made a great point of how Federer takes the ball early on the grass and steals time away from his opponents by using east/west on their side of the court, while moving north/south on his side of the court.
I feel this same overall strategy/game plan will hold true for him during the U.S. hardcourt season, leading into the year’s final Grand Slam, the U.S. Open.
With that said, I believe Federer (as we have already seen) will play the same limited schedule of events as he did leading into his run at Wimbledon. I also feel that his general strategy will be to take the ball early, off of the hard court and steal time and space away from his opponents.
Federer also does a great job of stealing time away from his opponents with his serve, and I am not referring to the actual speed of the serve itself, but I am referring to the fact that whenever Federer gets any type of lead on his opponents, he puts the pedal to the meddle, and somehow manages to hold serve at either love or just giving up one point during his serve game. He then turns around and manages to make his opponent face break points, and struggle to hold serve on the next game; followed up again, with holding serve at love on his serve. This wears down his opponent not only physically, but more importantly, mentally and emotionally.
With Djokavic out for the rest of the year, and with Murray and Nadal both exiting Wimbledon rather early, and considering that the aforementioned three players, along with Federer, have dominated the Grand Slam tournaments over the last decade, it will be interesting to see how the second week at the Open plays out. Currently ranked number three (as of the writing of this column), Federer should be looking at a pretty favorable draw for the Open.
Even at 36 years old, I believe Federer to be the hands-on, odds-makers’ favorite, to win a historical and unprecedented 20th Grand Slam.
It is still early and my crystal ball is a bit foggy, but I am going to go out on a limb, and pick Federer to once again make tennis history and to “boldly go where no man has gone before.”
The U.S. Open begins on August 28th, and as always, it promises to be entertaining and exciting! Coverage will be provided by ESPN and ESPN2, and they will offer 130 hours of televised coverage, as well as over 1,300 hours of live streaming coverage, of all the televised courts, on WatchESPN.
Wayne Clark is a certified professional tennis instructor with over 25 years experience coaching players on all levels of the game. Wayne is also qualified in pickleball instruction. He has been the head instructor at The Marco Island Racquet Center since 2001. The Racquet Center offers clinics, private and group lessons for both tennis and pickleball. Coach Wayne’s Island Kids Tennis/Sports Juniors programs run year round, and offer classes for players ranging from kindergarten through high school. Contact Coach Wayne by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone or text at 239-450-6161.