Roger Federer has had a woeful 2016 season so far. Two months shy of his 35th birthday in August 2016, the Swiss Master is having a hard time staying in good physical condition. After his semifinal loss to world no.1 Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open, he underwent a surgery. He tore his left-knee meniscus in a freak accident, when he was preparing a bath for his twin daughters. It was the first ever surgery in Federer’s tennis career and he missed several big tournaments including the French Open. Knee was not the only problem for Federer, because his back also posed health issues. The Italian Open in Rome was the last tournament that Federer played and he lost to Austria’s Dominic Thiem. On his return to active tennis last week, it was the same Dominic Thiem, who has beaten the Swiss legend in the semifinals of the Mercedes Cup at Stuttgart. These were contrasting losses for Federer. The Rome loss came on the clay court while the one at Stuttgart was on grass, a surface, where Federer is considered a much better player. However, Federer didn’t lose tamely; he held two match points in the second set before gifting away the match to Thiem. Federer is currently in action at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle, a tournament he has won 8 times.
Roger Federer is already into his 19th season as a pro and it shows his ever undiminishing love for the sport of his choice. After a long lay-off, Federer played at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart and in defeating Germany’s Florin Mayer in the second round, he recorded the 1072nd match win of his career. In doing so, Federer went past Ivan Lendl’s 1071 match victories in the Open Era and only Jimmy Connors with 1256 match wins is ahead of the Swiss. The tennis superstar, who began his career in 1998, is still the world’s no.3 player and his desire and hunger to extend the tennis-court longevity at top level is relentless.
However, in the semifinal of the Mercedes Cup, Federer lost to his Italian Open conqueror Dominic Thiem of Austria. The Swiss had begun well by winning the first set 6-3 before slipping to 0-5 in the second. In a gallant rearguard action, Federer bounced back remarkably by reeling off the next 5 points and the set slipped into the tiebreak. Federer came close to beating Thiem but he smashed a shot into the net on his first match point. The Swiss had another match point on his own serve but after wasting his first service, Federer shaped for a serve-and-volley finish. However, the 22-year old Thiem sent a crushing return and leveled things up. From here, Thiem won the tiebreak and the match went to the decider. The semifinal was twice interrupted for 30 minutes each due to rain and the second delay came, when Thiem had broken Federer’s service to take a 4-3 lead in the third set. When they came back, Thiem completed the victory on his second match point, when Federer’s backhand flew wide. Next day, Thiem won the Mercedes Cup by defeating Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7, 6-4, 6-4. The German had reached the final with a 6-3, 6-4 win over another injury-ridden comeback man Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro.
As for Federer, he is now being seen in action at Halle’s Gerry Weber Open. The eight-time Halle winner is still without a title in 2016. After the Australian Open, Federer hasn’t played many tournaments but his eyes are firmly fixed at Wimbledon and the upcoming Rio Games. He has reached the Wimbledon final 10 times and held the coveted trophy aloft on 7 occasions. Since his last Wimbledon victory in 2012, Federer hasn’t added to his Grand Slam tally of 17 wins. In 2014 and 2015 he finished as runner-up to Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon and in the 2015 US open, it was once again Djokovic, who denied a Grand Slam win to the Swiss. Federer is the winner of men’s doubles gold with Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and had to rest content with silver in 2012 London Games, where Andy Murray had handed the Swiss a straight sets defeat in the gold medal match.