It’s been a week since Roger Federer won his 80th (!!!!) career title in Cincinnati but I can clearly recall that night. There I was sitting on my bed, petrified and urging him on via my laptop while the clock determinedly marched towards 4:00am. When he finally raised his arms in triumph, I collapsed back on top of my covers that I had been clutching with a death grip till that point. I was exhausted and exhilarated with tears of joy streaming down my face. In 3 hours I would need to be up again, to get ready to go to work but I wouldn’t have missed this moment for the world.
To me this title was the culmination of a lot of hard work Roger had put in since the end of last year. Or so I thought. After the Maestro’s win, some articles told the tale either as a bolt out of the blue or a story of redemption from the depths of the forgotten. I was so surprised by these ‘rise from the ashes’ stories that I had to recheck what I knew to be true. I went back to my trusty stats and turns out I was right; Roger had been building up to this trophy for a while now.
From Basel 2013 till Cincinnati 2014, Roger has played 15 tournaments (excluding the Davis Cup). Of these 15 tournaments,
- He won 3 titles, Dubai, Halle and Cincinnati, all in 2014.
- He reached 9 finals, Basel in 2013 and Brisbane, Dubai, Indian Wells, Monte Carlo, Halle, Wimbledon, Toronto and Cincinnati all in 2014.
- He reached 12 SFs: add in Bercy and the World Tour Finals from 2013 and the Australian Open from 2014 to the finals list above.
- He also reached 13 QFs; just add in Miami 2014 to the SFs list from the previous bullet.
In fact, the only tournaments where he failed to reach the QFs was in Rome 2014 which was barely week after his twin sons were born, and Roland Garros 2014 where admittedly he didn’t look that strong throughout the tournament before losing in R4. Plus, out of the 9 finals he reached, he was really close to the trophy in a few of them and only a few points separated the results in the end. In other words, he’s been having a great 10 months. As such I don’t think it was that dramatic that he won in Cincinnati; it was a long time coming. There are no mysteries here. He had worked bloody hard for it and to say it was a surprise is to discredit the journey he went through.
It was and still is a tough road. Trophies don’t come as easily as they once did. But through it all, despite coming oh so close on several occasions, he has never become negative. It’s been frustrating yes, but I’ll take frustrating over dazed and confused and just plain sad, thank you very much. Did you know he’s won 49 matches this year already while he won 45 in ALL of 2013? More importantly, did you know that’s the most matches any ATP player has won this year? He’s won 3 titles in 2014 along with Dimitrov and Wawrinka, only trailing Djokovic and Nadal who have 4 each. By reaching the Cincinnati final Roger reached his 4th final in a row; the last time he did that was in 2008.
He has had the most consistent performance in 2014 amongst all the members of the top 10. Even more interesting is how many times he has won against them. In 2013 he had only 1 win vs. a Top 10 player the whole year. This year Roger has defeated Top 10 players 12 times while losing only 4 times. This is also the highest number of wins vs. the Top 10 any player has had this year. Novak is next with 8 wins. Mighty impressive don’t you think? 🙂
Meanwhile, before I end the Cincinnati part of my post, here are the records Roger set with this win:
- This was Roger’s 6th Cincinnati title which is an all-time record.
- This was also Roger’s 16th hard-court Masters Title which is also an all-time record.
- Roger has now won 22 Masters Titles and is only behind Nadal.
- Roger now has 60 outdoor titles in total and again is only behind Nadal with 62.
- This title takes Roger’s count of total hard-court titles to 54, which is an all-time record.
- As mentioned above, this was his 80th career title which is the most of any active player. He trails only Lendl and Connors in the all-time records.
So where does that leave us going forward? As the US Open kicks off in a few hours I, for one, am feeling good. Will he win the Open? I have no idea. But I do feel that he’s coming in with a lot of confidence and feeling good about his game. Hopefully he has recovered from the back to back weeks at Toronto and Cincinnati where he played 10 matches in, I think, 12 days. As usual I will take it one match at a time and up first is Aussie player Marinko Matosevic. Roger has faced him only once before, earlier this year in Brisbane and won in straight sets. Hopefully he will have a repeat performance on Tuesday.
Now, a lot is being written about Roger being one of the favorites at the US Open this year, or that he might even have a chance at regaining the #1 ranking. To be honest, I saw those headlines and passed them by without blinking an eye. I will celebrate those milestones if he gets there for sure but for some reason, right now they aren’t impacting me one way or another. I keep thinking back to the US Open 2013 which is morbid I know. But same time last year was one of the lowest points of 2013 for Roger and for us. He was so down and despondent after that US Open 😦 But now a year later, even before the tournament has started, he looks thrilled with life. He’s enjoying his tennis, his family has grown, he has a great team set-up, a new and more powerful racquet and thank you tennis gods – he’s injury free.
I’m sure I will go back to frazzling once his matches start. But after the intense lead-up to the Cincinnati title, I enjoyed this week off where all we got to see were tweets, clips and photos of a happy Roger Federer. And I can’t stop smiling when I see him so happy. So before all the craziness starts I just want to say thank you Roger, for a wonderful year already! Your beautiful, free-flowing tennis has been a joy to watch and you continue to take my breath away, on AND off the court. I hope there’s more to come! Good luck Maestro! ❤
***Photos are Getty Images from http://www.zimbio.com/.***