Excerpt from Tennis.com
by Peter Bodo
Stefan Edberg with Federer's wife Mirka Vavrinec and their twin daughters Charlene Riva and Myla Rose
In the ATP final, second-seeded Federer took care of No. 6 David Ferrer, 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. Once again, Federer attacked with something like impunity, and he appeared to be in greater command of the approach game than ever before. Could it be that Federer’s last great achievement in tennis will be re-inventing the slashing, chipping-and-charging, serving-and-volleying style of play?
In that regard, it’s about time that the self-effacing Swede Stefan Edberg received his due. Federer has made it clear over the years that he’s not happy to see a coach, whether it be his or anyone else’s, get undue credit for a player’s success. But it sometimes seems like Edberg, a childhood idol of Federer’s and one of the greatest serve-and-volleyers of all time, gets almost no credit at all. He doesn’t do press. Federer downplays Edberg’s role, and that’s just fine with Stefan.
But it appears that since taking on the job as Federer’s co-coach (with Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthi), Edberg has finally convinced Federer that at this stage in his career, he is best served by attacking the net. Paul Annacone preached a similar message, but it didn’t really come to fruition until this year. I don’t know if Edberg did it by hook, crook, or hypnosis, but Federer is a different player this season, and the longer the year goes on more different he looks. This title in Cincinnati broke a four-match losing streak in Masters finals.
The caveats that Rafael Nadal has been out of commission and Djokovic, newly married and fresh off a win over Federer in the Wimbledon final, has just been treading water, are incidental. As Federer said after the match, “I know Rafa wasn’t here and Nole lost early, but you can’t control who you’re facing. Today I served well in the clutch, I was moving well and coming to the net and using my slice very effectively.”
That last point merits a closer look. Almost every player Federer meets these days goes after his backhand, hoping to break down the one-hander. Now, with his new volleying proclivities, Federer doesn’t have to take a big, topspin cut at such probings. Often, Federer got into trouble during rallies aimed at his backhand because his flat/topspin variation just wasn’t steady enough, while the slice gave up too much of the initiative. Now, using the slice in conjunction with his volley hasn’t just leveled the playing field somewhat, it’s also given him a new weapon.
Sure, it will be hard to attack the likes of Nadal and Djokovic with as much gusto and success as Federer has shown in recent matches. But if the courts at the U.S. Open are playing fast, Federer will be able to do much damage with that backhand slice. And that includes shortening the time he spends on court against the usual assortment of early-round opponents.
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- Edberg liked ATP, but more impressed by W&S
- Stefan and Roger in Cincinnati
- Federer loses final to Tsonga but makes Edberg proud