By Ann Liguori
For many years, Roger Federer spoiled his fans with his dominating performances and ‘never-a-doubt’ romps in the early rounds of the Grand Slams.
Nowadays, as sharp as he continues to play, it is not always a ‘given’ that the Swiss maestro will get through the earlier round opponents unscathed as he did for so many years.
It used to be that every time Roger Federer took center stage throughout most of the rounds in a tournament, there was no question he would win fairly easily. The five-time US Open champion was as flawless as flawless could be. He made it look so easy and effortless with his speed and grace. He spoiled his fans with his magic and ability to beat all kinds of players, intimidating them with his record and credentials, while remaining humble and easy going, on and off the court.
On Saturday afternoon, Roger Federer looked like he would make quick work of the 27th seed Marin Cilic of Croatia when he took the first set, 6-3. Then Cilic raised the level of his game and Federer struggled with his serve and Cilic took the second set, 6-4. But Federer regrouped, got his serve working for him, cut down on mis-hits and disposed of Cilic, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, moving into the Round of 16.
I’ve said many times that Federer is a master at conserving energy and only plays as well as he needs to, to win. Now anytime that Federer drops a set, you wonder if it is a temporary lapse or if the other players have narrowed what once used to be a huge gap.
This is the first year since 2003, that Federer has not won a Grand Slam title. There is still time, he must be thinking! Federer is looking to win his 6th US Open which would surpass the five US Open titles that Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras won.
But it is always a bit sad when a player as dominant as Federer was, loses that edge. I personally feel that Federer has a few more Grand Slam titles in him. It takes a combination of staying healthy, some luck and having good draws.
Federer has nothing else to prove, already the winner of a record 16 Grand Slam Championships. He is a father now and seems quite content on turning 30 and being a good Dad. Perhaps Federer’s dominance in the game started waning around the time his wife Mirka gave birth to twin girls on July 23, 2009?
Federer had won Wimbledon and the French Open that year and was runner-up at the Australian Open but then at the US Open, Federer lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the finals. But he was able to win his 16th Grand Slam Championship after the girls were born when he won the Australian Open in January, 2010.
It certainly could be the combination of becoming a devoted father and being on top for so long with the younger guys, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic taking over.
In 2010, Nadal was injury-free and put a magical year together that included capturing the French Open title, Wimbledon and the US Open. And this year, Novak Djokovic has dominated the record books!
As successful as Djokovic has become and as more and more younger players play catch-up, here’s hoping that Roger Federer continues to shine for many more years to come!