by Orazio Rotunno
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
Roger Federer and Stefan Edberg: a decisive association, maybe come too late to enrich the King's Major record. Maybe...
3 Major finals (he hadn't played two in the same year since 2009), 9 finals in the 1000 events, including the one not played in London last year, of which three won. A Davis Cup and 12 titles won, bringing to 88 the overall number of trophies. All this with Stefan Edberg, at the venerable age of 34. And a growing regret...
What has changed with the Swedish coach is obvious, the results achieved by the Swiss in recent seasons can not be attributed to a mere change of racket, as much as a wider oval has undoubtedly helped him in missing fewer shots. The evidence has come in Basel, in the match against Nadal: it's true, the Spaniard is no longer the same as a couple of seasons ago, but for Federer he remains like the kryptonite to Superman.
It had been three and a half years since Roger last beat Rafa, in the Indian Wells quarter finals in 2012: in the following 5 meetings only defeats and only one set won. With Edberg on the "bench" only once they had clashed, but it was just the beginning of the partnership with the Swedish coach, at the Austrialian Open in 2014, with an easy victory for the Spaniard.
Since then, Roger Federer's game has known a crazy evolution, an exasperated verticalization that brought to the recent SABR, born as a joke, occasionally effective, but that is a clear sign of Federer's new challenge to his rivals, regardless of the outcome.
At 34, he exactly found what he needed and, at this age, he would still be at number 1, if a robot from Serbia hadn't been around.Attacking skills and an impressive serve had always been in the Swiss' arsenal, but they were definitely refined and sharpened with Edberg.
After a horrible 2013 no one could imagine that at the end of 2015 we could rattle off the numbers listed at the beginning of this article: a vertical, offensive game, based on anticipation and with feet well inside the court to take the opponent's time and reduce his own spent on court: to minimize the duration of rallies and matches risking the impossible.
This is the only way to stay at the top at his age against the competitors; it was applied greatly, of course aided by an excellent quality Roger has always been equipped with.
So he could overpower Nadal: beyond an apparently close win in three sets in Basel there was a one-sided final, where only the Majorcan's huge guts and defensive skills allowed him to linger on for over two hours.
Federer dominated, Nadal has always chased, exhausted by a relentless pace and without the chance of controlling the rally. Roger decides, with winners, unforced errors or unsuccessful ending shots. If possible, this evolution in his game made him even more entertaining and entrancing to watch than he was before: the impression is that, today, he only starts as second best against Djokovic in a best-of-five match.
What's even more impressive is that for Roger Federer also this season is ending at the top, from a physical point of view: Shanghai, the London final and the Davis Cup triumph last year, now a double in Basel after the US Open final. And the distinct feeling that retirement is still far away, as long as his game is so close to the highest levels.
Had he only chosen Edberg before...
- Stefan Edberg & Tony Pickard Mr Class and his teacher
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- "Federer is exceptional, but tennis needs a new name too"
- "I am a happy person"
- Federer criticizes young players: "I wish they volleyed more"
- Who Should Stefan Edberg Coach Next?
- Edberg: never planned to go beyond 2015
- Edberg & Federer, end of the partnership
- London Finals, night of awards for Federer and Edberg
- Federer celebrates 11th Sportsmanship Award with... Edberg
- Edberg: Federer is aging like fine wine
- Can a mental coach help Roger Federer evolve his game further?
- Edberg: "The final decided by two points"
- Edberg: Roger's sneaky attack a surprise for me as well
- Edberg on Federer: "You still cannot count him out"