Roger Federer Is the Defending Australian Open Champion, but Not the Favorite
PERTH, Australia — Amélie Mauresmo gained her two Grand Slam singles titles in 2006 and retired three years later. She had no concept that Roger Federer, the person who gained Grand Slam singles titles on those self same weekends as her in 2006, would nonetheless be on high of his sport greater than a decade later.
“I don’t know the way he does it,” Mauresmo stated. “What it places in your physique is large. The coaching, the matches, the journey, the jet lag, something.”
Mauresmo and Federer gained the Australian Open and Wimbledon singles titles in 2006. Two years older than Federer, Mauresmo, 39, retired from the game in 2009, at 30, and is on the Australian Open as coach of the French participant Lucas Pouille.
Federer is on the Australian Open because the two-time defending champion. His bid for a 21st Grand Slam singles championship begins Monday in Melbourne.
“Winning back-to-back Australian Opens like this, in my mid-30s, it’s certainly one of my favourite issues I’ll look again on in my profession,” he stated. “I didn’t suppose it was going to occur, and I had such a good time right here in Australia the final couple of years and at all times loved taking part in right here.”
Federer acknowledges his age readily, quipping on the Hopman Cup lately that his 20-year-old opponent, Stefanos Tsitsipas, “may very well be my son.” And he marvels at his personal skill to run up the rating within the file books — 99 titles and counting — at an age when many would rely him out.
But after an auspicious begin to final season, when he gained his first 17 matches, Federer appeared to path off. After successful the title in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in February and briefly reclaiming the No. 1 rating, Federer went with out one other match championship till October. After skipping the clay-court season for the second yr in a row, he misplaced within the quarterfinals at Wimbledon after holding a match level in opposition to Kevin Anderson, and within the fourth spherical of the United States Open to John Millman.
Federer performed down the doomsday discuss that accompanied his stagnation within the second half of the yr.
“I wasn’t too disillusioned,” he stated. “I used to be extra stunned to listen to that there was form of concern, or folks have been saying, ‘What a foul second half to the yr.’ ”
Federer conceded disappointing finishes on the Grand Slam occasions however thought he in any other case performed properly, together with a loss in a third-set tiebreaker to Novak Djokovic within the semifinals of the Paris Masters in November.
Federer gained all eight units he performed on the Hopman Cup final week.CreditTony Ashby/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
He stated what he wanted to do higher this yr “is actually play properly when it actually comes right down to the crunch.”
Federer stated he trusted his personal evaluations of his play in addition to enter from his coaches, Ivan Ljubicic and Severin Lüthi.
“I can analyze — with my age, very properly — my very own matches and my very own emotions,” he stated. “I’ve two nice coaches, two of the perfect within the recreation, who give me their honest evaluation, and I’ve a health coach who tells me if I’m shifting good or not. They’re all open and trustworthy in direction of me. I don’t need any sugarcoating; I would like it actual, and straight. That’s it. I do know, at all times, the place I’m at.
“It’s very clear in my staff the place I stand. And from that standpoint, I’m glad the place I’m proper now. I’m in an ideal place.”
Mauresmo longs to be taught extra about what Federer does in his off-seasons.
“I hope at some point he’ll clarify to everybody the whole lot,” she stated. “The little particulars, the whole lot that he’s put collectively to have the ability to play this properly at his age, to maneuver this properly.”
Federer isn’t precisely clandestine about his routines. He prefers, for instance, to do his low season motion drills on a tennis courtroom, relatively than indoors as many gamers do, to higher simulate the footing and friction of match circumstances.
“I do a little bit of weights, too,” he stated, grinning and gesturing towards his lithe body. “I do know we don’t see it, however I do.”
Federer began his season auspiciously, successful all eight units he performed on the Hopman Cup final week, by no means dropping serve in any of the matches.
But he considers the top-ranked Djokovic the clear favourite on the Australian Open. Djokovic, a six-time champion in Melbourne, has gained the final two Grand Slam tournaments.
“We know who the same old are,” stated Federer, who’s seeded third, “and I’m a part of that bunch.”
The longevity of that oligarchy, which additionally contains Rafael Nadal, has blocked a number of youthful gamers from breaking by on tennis’s largest phases. No participant presently youthful than 30 has gained even a set in a Grand Slam remaining.
“We’re all uninterested in you guys already, however what can we do?” fourth-ranked Alexander Zverev, 21, stated throughout the trophy ceremony of the Hopman Cup on Saturday, when he misplaced to Federer in singles and combined doubles.
“Especially you,” he added, turning round and Federer, who laughed. “I imply, you’re 30-whatever! Why? Just, why? Let us have one.”