from Il Corriere dello Sport
by Roberto Zanni
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Number 8 in March, number 3 of the ranking now: «Stefan? We are a family»
In early March, Roger Federer was still at the eighth place of the ATP rankings, the lowest ever touched since 2002, recovering from a terrible year where he also managed to spend nine months without beating a top-10. The pain in the back, just a title won in 2013 (Halle), on the threshold of 33 years old, passed last August 8th, the Sunset Boulevard had already become a reality for the Swiss. What happened next?
REACTION. We have to go back to last March to see the resurrection of one of the greatest (or the greatest?) tennis players of all time: he was still at the bottom of the top ten list, but just two months had gone by since he had hired his childhood idol Stefan Edberg as his coach.
And from that number 8, which creaked with the past Federer, in July, in the glimpse of an eye, Roger came back to the top stage of world tennis. A number 3 ranking that is now more steady than ever, after his third title of the year won in Cincinnati, one of his favorite tournaments (six successes in total), where he also reached his fourth consecutive final after Halle, Wimbledon and Toronto.
But Federer's records don't end here: 80th career torunament, only Connors (109) and Lendl (94) have done better in the history of men's tennis, but, with the success on the hardcourt in Ohio, he also got, well in advance, a pass for his 13th ATP World Tour Finals in a row, another record. "It’s always one of the big goals I set myself at the beginning of the season - he said after beating Ferrer in the final, 16th success against the Spaniard - “It’s always an absolute honour being part of the best eight. Getting a chance to win an extra trophy at the end of the season – which is so prestigious, one of the biggest ones we have in the game and one I’ve done so well at – is a great feeling."
SECRET. Back healed, racket changed, but the turning point for Federer to get back to the top again is named Stefan Edberg. And if, in 1992 at the US Open semifinals against Michael Chang, the Swede played the longest match in New York, 5 hours and 26 minutes, that encounter is also recalled for the 254 times he went to the net.
And now, with the new partnership Federer-Edberg, the Swiss has changed his way of seeing and expressing his game: an example is his three set victory against Monfils, come in just 108 minutes.
Serve and volley, or at least a greater propensity to attack as soon as he has got the chance, has become a more prominent feature of Federer's game, the evident result of his new coach's influence.
A strategy that is giving new fruits and that maybe, just against Djokovic and Nadal, may not be so successful.
Roger attacks more and runs less: to remain on the final against Ferrer in Cincinnati (won 6-4, 1-6, 6-2), the Swiss has run 1644 meters against the Spaniard's 2081.
Here is the new Federer, ready to land in New York. "A week ago I did not think about winning Cincinnati, I thought I would not play. For New York I do not want to make the same mistake as last year, - he said - I was training too much. Now I'm happy with Stefan, we are like a family."
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