Roger Federer Where Would He Most Likely Win Grand Slam No 18?

Federer

Photo courtesy of zidapps.boku.ac.at

Can Roger Federer win Grand Slam No. 18 has been one of the big tennis questions of recent years. We think, as the world No.3 and a 17 times slam winner, he certainly can so The Tennis Review gives you an answer to another question: where would Federer most likely win that elusive 18th Major title?

1 Wimbledon – Champion in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012.

With Federer organizing his 2016 season around the Grass courts, skipping much of the clay to leave him fresh for the surface that most naturally complements his game, he has given himself a great opportunity to win slam No.18 in SW19.

SW19 was both the scene of Federer’s very first and his last slam victory, and the venue of seven of his 17 slam wins.

Last year when Roger Federer defeated Andy Murray, the Queen’s champion, in straight sets in formidable style, in the semis, many thought that the Final was on his racket.

Novak Djokovic, though felt otherwise, and he defeated the Swiss in four sets.

What Federer needs to happen if Wimbledon is to be the 18th slam:

Federer needs to make it to the final in speedy fashion, just like he did last year, and in 2014. At the age of 34, and he will be almost 35 by the time Wimbledon comes around, Federer cannot afford to go into the final on the back of any epic matches.

Especially as he would likely face Novak Djokovic. The world No.1 has been the final hurdle for Federer in all three of his slam finals since his last slam win at Wimbledon ’12, and each time he has not been able to clear the Serb. The world No.1 simply does not let Federer play his aggressive game, keeping him back with his depth of shot, and negating his serve the second it drops in quality, with his formidable return.

If Federer gets to another Wimbledon final, and if he faces Djokovic, he needs to overwhelm the three time champion, not giving up control of the match for even a second. The Swiss has to keep his first serve percentage in the mid 70s at least, stay true to his aggressive game style- there can only be plan A versus Djokovic in the slower second week SW 19 conditions- and stay calm on the big points.

The moment Federer gives him an inch, the Serb will take a mile, and then some.

Watch highlights of Federer’s last Wimbledon win in the video below.

2 US Open – Champion in 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008.

In 2014, Roger Federer went into the US Open semi-finals with the unexpected boost that must have come with the news of Novak Djokovic’s upset at the hands of Kei Nishikori.

That, though, was as far as Federer’s luck was going that day. Despite all the hard work he had put into climbing back to No.2 in the rankings to earn second seeded status, and coming back from two sets to one and match point down in the fourth set to defeat Gael Monfils in the last eight, Federer could not capitalize on Djokovic’s defeat and the prospect of facing Grand Slam beau Nishikori for the title and was instead overwhelmed in straight sets by a red-hot opponent in Marin Cilic.

Last year, Federer did manage to live up to his second seeding and make the final, for the first time since he was runner up to del Potro in 2009, but  he never produced anywhere near his best tennis, failing to convert 19 of 23 break points, and making errors at the net when he had the court waiting with open arms for the kind of winners he had produced in his last four straight sets win over Stan Wawrinka.

What Federer needs to happen if the US Open is to be the 18th slam:

One big positive for Federer this season is that the US Open’s Arthur Ashe court will have a retractable roof.  Last year, rain delayed the final until the early evening which favored Djokovic who enjoyed the slower cooler conditions at an event he had won once and not since 2011. This year, if the Swiss does face Djokovic and it rains, Federer will enjoy indoor conditions, which he usually excels on, and they should be faster than the ones Djokovic does so well on.

But while the weather conditions and what influence they have on the outcome is now under control, there is still one aspect the Swiss will not be able to command- a red-lining opponent.

If Federer does face a del Potro or a Cilic,  he needs to somehow keep them on court until they run out of steam. Federer certainly has the defensive skills to do it, but he likes to go down swinging nowadays.

Can Federer execute a defensive plan B if his opponent is swinging even better than he is at the business end of the tournament? He would only need to do it until their form had blown over and then the Swiss could himself get sailing again with his own aggressive game.

Watch highlights of Federer’s last triumph in the US Open final in 2008 below.

3 Roland Garros – Champion in 2009.

Federer was, from 2005-2011, the world’s second best clay Courter after his red dust nemesis Rafa Nadal.

The 2009 French Open champion has all the skills to do well on clay with both aggressive shot-making and baseline defense among his artillery, but it was only when Nadal was defeated by Robin Soderling that the Swiss was able to get his hands on the trophy and complete his career Grand Slam.

Federer does not seem at all focused on Roland Garros this season, and it is only because of his recent knee surgery he entered Monte Carlo to get some much needed match practice, but Roland Garros might be where he has a great chance to finally win slam No.18.

The Clay courts are more forgiving on the knees than hard courts and the slower courts give the 34 year old some much needed time to set up his shots and track down his opponent’s.

That advantage, of course, all depends on his opponent and the quality of their shots. Last year, Federer was overwhelmed by a superbly aggressive Stan Wawrinka in straights in the quarters and he will always be vulnerable to an opponent like Wawrinka playing their best aggressive tennis on clay courts in hot conditions, the kind of tennis that not even Djokovic’s defensive skills could negate.

But there is one opponent who has yet to redline in his final Roland Garros match, and that might be one reason why Federer has a great shot at the French Open- it is the slam his current nemesis Novak Djokovic has not been able to crack.

Federer, himself, has played a major role in Djokovic’s Roland Garros nightmares – it was the Swiss who put in one of his career-best performances in 2011 to defeat Djokovic, who was on a 43 match winning streak, in four sets, and ended the chances of the Serb, who had defeated Nadal in two French Open lead-in finals, and was favorite to take the title.

What Federer needs to happen if Roland Garros is to be the 18th slam:

Roland Garros is the slam where Federer would most likely, if he can get back the No.2 seed, avoid Djokovic in the final- the world No.1 is more vulnerable in Paris to the likes of Nadal or Wawrinka before the championship match.

However it is also the slam where avoiding Djokovic is the least beneficial- if he  does face the Serb, Federer will have a rare mental edge over him and a chance to take advantage of the nerves that befall the world No.1 when he gets within a match of the one slam trophy missing from his collection.

Federer can enter the French Open pretty much under the radar- well, by Federer’s standards, anyway- and a relaxed, loose Federer is the last player Djokovic, or anyone right now, wants to see on the other side of the court and up at the net fighting for an 18th slam in the Roland Garros final.

Watch an emotional Roger Federer in the trophy ceremony for the 2009 French Open in the video below.

4 Australian Open – Champion in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010.

The Australian Open is where Federer first lost to Djokovic in a slam and has been the scene of some of his greatest losses such as his 2005 semi-final defeat at the hands of Marat Safin, and his 2009 tear-jerking final loss to Rafa Nadal.

Federer also suffered his biggest upset since returning to form in 2014 when he went down to Andreas Seppi- who he had defeated nine consecutive times- in the 2015 third round.

The slow hard courts at Melbourne park, even slower at night when the semis and finals are played, are tailor made for players like Djokovic and Murray who can track down every ball against the tour’s more aggressive players and force them into error.

Federer’s defensive game, meanwhile, does not benefit from the slowness of the court as it does on clay. For, while the the court is slow, it is still faster than clay so does not compensate for Federer’s decreased foot speed over long points. Federer also does not have as much time as he does on clay to unleash his formidable shot-making skills for winners.

While Federer can, on a good day, hit through the plexi-cushion court and challenge his chief rivals, he is not able to sustain that level for more than a set or two against men who can run side to side five sets long.

What Federer needs to happen if the Australian Open is to be the 18th slam:

Federer would have to produce two weeks of stunning tennis to win a fifth Melbourne title. Everything would need to fall in place at a tournament Novak Djokovic seems to have on lockdown for a couple more seasons at least.

Federer’s finest strokes painting the court might not be enough so he might also need the most strokes of luck he has ever had in a slam to come his way, too.

For, if the draw fell apart, and if Federer got his best match ups on the other side of the court, slam No.18 could come in the most unlikely of ways in what, to many, would be the most unlikely of venues, which is, now and then, exactly how tennis works out.

Watch Federer’s last triumph in Melbourne in the video below.

Where do you think Federer would be most likely to win Slam No.18? Let us know in the comments box below.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.
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