Federer hopes late win is much-needed boost
At this point, Roger Federer will take a title victory however it comes.
Top-ranked Federer won the Estoril Open on debut and his first title of 2008 when fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko retired with a left leg injury while trailing 7-6 (5), 1-2 on Sunday.
Federer hadn’t won a tournament this late into the season in nine years, causing some to question whether his greatness was finally beginning to fade. He wasn’t fazed.
“After so many victories, you are also going to lose a little bit,” the 26-year-old Swiss star said. “Look, I bounced back considering the rough start to the season with my health and I’m definitely playing better. It was a difficult start to the season and hopefully from now on it’ll be easier.”
Federer improved to 7-7 in clay-court finals in picking up his 54th career title in his 71st final.
He played better throughout the week in the ever-evolving weather at Estoril.
Rain, wind and cold weather probably provided him with the best all-around test on his least-suited surface. He was pushed more than usual through the first four matches—against competitors ranked no higher than 68th.
“Looking at the way things were this week, I didn’t have crazy tough matches, but it was good to have three-setters that I got through,” Federer said.
“People play many more drop shots on clay, which is a great test to see how quick your feet are, and I got to the drop shots really good. I think that is a definite sign that I’m getting much better again. I feel great, I’m happy to play. It’s a good time for me right now.”
Federer will continue working on his movement on dirt with new coach Jose Higueras. His health is not really an issue after getting over the mononucleosis he was diagnosed with earlier this year.
“Two months ago when I didn’t have enough matches and because of my sickness everything looked a little more up in the air,” Federer said.
“Now, with a tournament victory and ... with guys like [Rafael] Nadal and [Novak] Djokovic who haven’t even played on clay yet, I already have five matches on it” for a slight advantage, he pointed out.
Federer said the testy conditions limited what he could take away from his first week working with Higueras. But Higueras will be at Monte Carlo this week and, depending on how that goes, maybe at Roland Garros.
Federer would like the French Open—the sole grand slam missing from his trophy collection—to be his 13th major championship but he’s not sounding panicked about adding it.
“Wimbledon is always number one in my heart, that will never change,” he said. “But I’m obviously aware of the potential of the one I haven’t won yet and for this reason it would probably create bigger news around the world than Wimbledon. But probably not in my heart.”
Davydenko, seeking his second Estoril title in three finals appearances, leads the ATP in match wins following a title in Miami and a successful Davis Cup weekend for Russia. But his record against Federer dropped to 0-12 and he didn’t see any difference between the Federer of today and the one that has been number one for four years.
“He had good control; he kept the same [play] as before,” Davydenko said. “I don’t see anything different between the last matches and now.”—Sapa-AP