The late season surge from Roger Federer winning his last three tournaments of the year (Basel, Paris and London) show tremendous signs that the player of the last decade will be ready to make a run for the top spot again in 2012.
Federer did not win a Grand Slam title in 2011 and was part of two major collapses. Roger lost to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga at Wimbledon after leading two sets to love. At this year’s U.S. Open, Federer was serving with double match point and lost to eventual winner Novak Djokovic. At the age of 30, it seemed like father time was about to close the Fed Funhouse.
There are tough times for every player at any level of play. Times where the way you lose can cut deeper than other losses … time when you choke or let up during big points and in an instant, the match slips away. These losses will never leave you and will sting for a long time.
I have found that what a player does after such losses separates the true competitors from the chokers in our sport. Roger showed me something that we can all learn from. After two devastating Grand Slam losses, it seemed to me that instead of doubting his game, he simplified it. Roger went back to his core strengths and finished 2012 on a confident roll.
Roger is a very dynamic and complex player with unlimited options. With so many options and the losses to Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, I believe Federer lost sight of what truly makes him great. Roger wins most of his points from big serving and big forehand play. After losses in big matches, I would hear comments that Roger should serve and volley, Roger needs to come over his backhand more often, etc. To be honest, I would agree to some point, but the Fed dynasty was built on two massive weapons: The serve and the forehand.
The three events Fed just won were a throwback to the Fed tactics of old. Roger beat Nadal 3-0 in London with an executioner’s mindset. The first serve set up the big forehand. The return of serve and backhand groundstrokes played solid. This allowed the weapons to dish out the pain on Nadal.
“The Federer Approach” is one that you can use in your own game. I often see players stressed about their weaknesses. They spend so much time on what they don't do well instead of what they win points with. Sharpen the saw and spend more time with your weapons that win you matches. Don't take your weapons for granted and develop them even more for better results!
Roger did not win a Grand Slam in 2011, but with the focus on the core strength of his game, look for more major titles for Fed in 2012.
Don't play big … play MASSIVE!
Raised in Ludington, Mich., Luke Jensen’s resume includes 10 ATP Tour doubles titles. He was also a member of the U.S. Davis Cup teams that reached the finals in 1991 and won in 1992. His ambidextrous play, including his ability to serve the ball with either hand at 130 mph, earned him the nickname “Dual Hand Luke.” Luke is currently director of racket sports at West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y. He may be reached by phone at (315) 403-0752 or e-mail LukeJensen84@yahoo.com.