I say yes, hallelujah! Roger Federer is back to his old self. By that I mean his pre-mono, pre-2008 self. His No. 1 self, to be exact.
This is not something I say without deep consideration. Mark, an insightful commenter, asked me today why I hadn’t gone apesh*t over Rog’s double bagel win over del Potro in the quarterfinals. My answer was that my superstitious nature coupled with my overly cautious optimism was holding me back from making any ecstatic proclamations. If there’s one thing I’m nuts about, it’s the jinx factor. And I still needed more time to observe Roger’s play. He had that ugly five-setter against Berdych in the fourth round, and I wondered if his beat down on the Argentine was just another quirky result.
After witnessing Roger calmly and methodically dismantle Andy Roddick in Rod Laver arena last night, I can safely say that he’s reached his happy place. And so have I.
Fed’s back to hitting and moving with confidence, rendering his opponents hopeless and dejected by the start of the second set. The forehand’s lethal again and the mental assurance has made a roaring return, too: for almost the entire tournament, he’s been holding, breaking and consolidating, where as last year almost all of his matches teetered on the edge.
It’s just glorious to see him winning pretty again.
Fed fans, enjoy it while you can! If we gained anything from last year’s trials (and yes, I realize that 1 major win, 2 finals and a semi would be a career year for almost anyone else), it was an appreciation of how unique and fleeting Roger’s talent is.
Here’s the rub: Roger may be back to his 2007 form, but Rafael Nadal continues to improve and transform into a dominant all court champion. He’s Nadal: 2009, and this version has almost definitely made it to his first hard court Major final.
The old Roger may be sublime, but is he good enough to beat the new Rafael Nadal?