• What The Deuce

This could be the year of the Fed

What The Deuce
February 21, 2012
Roger Federer could be set for a glittering 2012 © Getty Images

Roger Federer oozed class as he made his return to Rotterdam for the first time in seven years a winning one with a demolition of Juan Martin Del Potro and 2012 could well turn out to be the year of the Fed.

At 30 years of age, it is not unkind to say Federer's best days are behind him. But he has started the year with a glint in his eye and a steely determination. Bullish noises have been made about getting back to world No. 1, adding to his 16 grand slams and topping his CV by tasting glory at the Olympics.

In recent years, Federer had seemed like a player going through the, admittedly high class, motions. His last grand slam victory came in the Australian Open at the start of 2010 and he has not looked like winning one in the past couple of years. That was not the case at this year's Australian Open as he played the best tennis of all until falling to Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. Nadal does appear to have a mental and physical hold over Federer and that is likely to remain the case as the European clay court season gets underway shortly.

Come the summer, though, and the launch of the grass-court season, that is likely to change. Federer has six Wimbledon titles to his name and being in a "good state mentally and physically" he seems intent on breaking the grip Nadal and Novak Djokovic have had on the majors in the past 18 months.

The Nadal question is one Federer may struggle to work out. The Spaniard has the weapons to break down the Federer backhand - especially on slower surfaces - but for all Djokovic's dominance of the sport in 2011, Federer has no fear of the Serb. Federer really should have beaten Djokovic at last year's US Open. He had control of the their semi-final, with the world No. 1 seemingly down and out when facing match point. Djokovic chanced his arm with an outrageous return of serve that could easily have flown 10-feet wide instead of landing flush on the line. It set him on his way to a third grand slam of the year, but there is no disguising that Federer more than matched a player that totally dominated the sport in 2011.

That US Open defeat could have been a shattering one for Federer, but he shrugged it off and went on a winning run that culminated in victory at the year-end Tour Finals. Just as Djokovic went on a brilliant run in 2011 on the back of leading Serbia to Davis Cup glory in 2010, Federer could use his win at the O2 as the spark for an assault on the majors in 2012.

His first tournament since the Australian Open went according to plan as he felt his way into the event with victory over Nicolas Mahut, worked hard to beat Jarkko Nieminen and Nikolay Davydenko before going through the gears to take down Del Potro.

Federer has won at least one ATP Tour event every season for the past 12 years and now has a quite stunning 71 to his name. The way he disposed of Del Potro suggests there are many more to come. The world No. 1 ranking is a long way off, he trails Djokovic by over 5,000 points, but the Serb has a stack of points to defend through the spring and summer. And with the Federer fire burning bright again, it would not come as a shock to What The Deuce were he to be breathing down the world No. 1's neck come the height of summer.

A bold show at Wimbledon seems highly likely, given there are only two or three players capable of testing the Swiss on the grass, and that could be the springboard for Federer to return to SW19 in his Swiss national jersey in July and take gold at the Olympics. A crowning moment for one of the game's true greats.

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