Roger Federer’s title win at the ATP 1000 Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, makes him the favorite for the U.S Open title which starts Monday 25th August. The win, Federer’s sixth at the event, sets the Swiss up perfectly for his sixth U.S Open title as he enters the field match fit and confident while his main rivals are out injured or suffering dips in form.
The manner in which Federer overcame the challenge of sixth seeded David Ferrer sent out a warning to his competitors that at the age of 33 he is still very capable of adding another hard court Grand slam to his tally of nine (five U.S Opens and four Australian Opens).
After winning the first set 6-3, Federer may have been broken three times as he dropped the second set 1-6, but he was facing an in-form opponent ranked in the top three in the ATP’s return game leader boards. That made it even more impressive the way Federer pulled his serve back together in the third set to record a first serve percentage of 84 percent, and win 94 percent of points behind that delivery. Such a strong serving performance combined with Federer’s net-rushing strategy overwhelmed the Spaniard and enabled Federer to take the third and final set 6-2, and win his 80th career title.
The Cincinnati win was the most successful outing for the 2014 revamped game of Federer, which with the help of Stefan Edberg has established Federer as the most aggressive player in the game. That aggressive style has taken Federer to seven finals this year, but he has only been able to win two titles, in Dubai and Halle, while he just came up short in finals in Brisbane, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Wimbledon and Toronto. Finally, the duo of Edberg and Federer got it right at one of the big ones, and just like Federer’s timing on the ball the last week, their timing, with the U.S Open only a week away, could not be better.
It was also the second tournament of the year Federer played with his RF97 Autograph racket. One of Federer’s issues this time last year, when he was ranked seventh, and fell in the quarters in Cincinnati and then the fourth round of the U.S Open, was adjusting to the newer racket, designed with a bigger frame in order to compensate for the ageing process in the Swiss legend, but his results this season, which have seen him climb from eighth to third in the rankings, demonstrate the adjustment period is over.
Now, the ATP tour has to adjust to a revitalized Federer back to his best, and eager to get back to winning big. Federer’s hunger and enthusiasm at the results his game and tools are producing have been clear to see this U.S Open Series. Federer has survived three set thrillers against the likes of Cilic, Ferrer and Monfils, and has handily beaten rivals such as Milos Raonic and Andy Murray.
Meanwhile, his greatest rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have been nowhere to be seen. Djokovic suffered early losses in both U.S Open Series ATP 1000 events while Nadal had to withdraw from the U.S Open Series, and has just announced his withdrawal from the U.S Open, too.
With Nadal out of the picture, Del Potro injured, Djokovic slumping and Murray still getting his game together, the time has come it would seem for the red-hot Federer to claim Slam No.18. His Cincinnati win shows he still has a big win in him, and he will go into the U.S Open not only as the favorite with the fans, but the favorite with the bookmakers, too.
Commentary by Christian Deverille
Photo courtesy of James Barret – License