Roger Federer continues to chase that elusive 18th Grand Slam title this week at the All England Club. Heading into Wednesday’s quarter-finals, we take a look at just what Federer needs to do to triumph at Wimbledon.
He’s got the most elegant style of play, the classic game suited to grass. He has won the Wimbledon Championships seven times in his career – the last of them coming in 2012. That was the 17th and as of now, the last Grand Slam that Roger Federer has won.
For a Fed fan, it’s a bittersweet experience to see the Swiss maestro compete on the tour these days. Bitter because Federer’s ability to triumph at the Slams comes under increasing scrutiny with each passing major and yet sweet because of Federer’s ability to compete at the top of the game (he is currently ranked No. 2 in the world). And Federer’s ability comes under increasing admiration as he closes on his 34th birthday, way past the expiry date of most top players on the Men’s side.
For a while, Federer owned the Wimbledon Centre Court – winning five titles in a row between 2003 and 2007, reaching the finals in 2008, winning again in 2009 and 2012 and returning to the final last year, where he lost a heart-breaking five setter to Novak Djokovic. Hence his past performance makes the All England Club the most probable venue for his 18th Grand Slam title. But what is it that Federer should do to win Wimbledon this week?
Coming up – Roger federer vs Giles Simon
For starters, Federer will need to beat the Frenchman Giles Simon in Wednesday’s quarter-finals. The Frenchman won their first two encounters on the ATP Tour but lost their last five encounters. Federer has been in good form this fortnight – his only hiccup coming when he dropped a set to the big-serving Sam Groth in the third round.
For someone who has been ranked as high as No. 6 in the world, this is surprisingly only the second time that Simon has reached the quarter-finals at a Grand Slam. And he did that in style, beating the big-hitting Tomas Berdych in four sets. That came after knocking out Gael Monfils in five sets in the previous round. Simon should not prove to be much of an obstacle but the road ahead will only get tougher as Federer hopes to win his 18th Slam.
Semi Final likely against a Home Favorite ?
A win against Simon should set up a likely semi-final with hometown hero Andy Murray, who meets Canadian Vasek Pospisil in the last eight (Federer leads their head-to-head 12-11). Federer will need to be at his best against a rejuvenated Murray. Federer will need to alter the script a bit, perhaps volley more so that the well trained Murray has to work out a way to win.
On the other side of the draw, the winner between the projected semi-final between Australian Open champion and World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and French Open champion Stan Wawrinka will emerge as the likely finalist. That’s a tough path for Federer as he chases another Slam title.
The Roger Federer Playbook
Federer has been playing clean tennis this week – hitting at least 60% of first serves in and winning more than 80% of his first serve points in each of his matches. He has averaged 38 winners and 10 unforced errors during his first four matches. He has also approached the net 128 times in his first four matches, winning more than 75% of the points from the front court.
Federer will need to continue doing the same and perhaps more when he takes on the likes of Murray, Djokovic and Wawrinka. And he will need to avoid going the distance to five sets against the top contenders. His nerves seem to have got the better of him in the final sets in recent times. The quick points on grass will surely help but Federer would still be vulnerable in a five set battle against Djokovic or Murray .
The Beginning of the End ?
While Federer has said he will not make any retirement plans public and embark on a farewell tour like his coach Stefan Edberg did, it’s most likely that the public will get another chance to see the G.O.A.T. compete at Wimbledon at least one more time as Federer has stated he intends to play till the 2016 Rio Olympics. For millions of Federer fans, the sight of their God raising the Silver Cup as the sun sets down would be the perfect way to celebrate the legacy of a legend whose true significance in the history of the game will only be known once he hangs up his racquets for good.