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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Federer admits he feels 'perfect'

Photo Titled Roger Federer
Roger Federer waves to the crowd after beating Robin Soderling, securing a place in the quarter-finals.

Bad news for the rest of the men in the draw – Roger Federer feels, in his own words, "perfect". Having endured a comparatively lean period from mid-2008 to early this year, when he "only" won the US Open and Olympic doubles gold, lost to Rafael Nadal at the French and then here at Wimbledon, the Swiss is back to his serene best.

"It's just a case of being relaxed out on court," said the de facto top seed in the absence of Nadal after his straight sets win over Robin Soderling. "No signs of panic - what I maybe had six months ago when I played. I would just feel uneasy, I wouldn't be exactly sure what the right plays were. Now I feel perfect. I think I'm moving well, serving well, my rhythm from the baseline is good."

Roger is therefore human after all – or at least he was for a while in 2008. Now he is back to being the machine who swept all before him for nigh on five years. "When you play a player like Soderling, for instance, whom you've beaten already 10 times in the past or you just play them very often, it shoots through your mind. All the information is right there, stored somewhere," said Federer of his photographic memory.

A talent for on-the-spot analysis was also revealed when it comes to tiebreaks. "You play them based on how you played the set," he revealed. "Where to serve, where he'll serve. You have a meeting with yourself in your head. I had to take chances more and guess sides, but when it got to 4-4, I knew he'd start risking on returns."

Soderling's strategy was to bombard Federer on the first serve and if the ball was a fault, bombard him just as hard on the second. "He was risking his second serves at 180, 190 kph, and it was obviously easier for him to try that at 15-0, 30-0 or 30-15. It doesn’t matter if you serve the odd double fault at that stage. It's different when you get to 3-3 in a tie-break – all of a sudden, it’s not so easy to fire down a second serve at 190 kph," Federer explained. "It was always going to be hard for him to keep serving those big second serves when they really mattered, that's why I wasn't particularly surprised he hit a double fault at five all in the [third set] tiebreaker."

Not only has he the finest array of strokes at his disposal, Federer even knows when his opponents are going to double fault. No wonder he has 14 Grand Slam titles – and counting – to his name.

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