The Poached Egg
The hiring of Paul Annacone as coach appears a masterstroke in hindsight. Federer’s results and ranking since have shown an upward trajectory.
He has reached two consecutive finals: The Rogers Cup and Cincinatti Masters, winning the latter.
A new resilience and a willingness to slug it out with the best of them exemplify Federer’s ascendant star. He expects no easy wins and is willing to stay the course. This was so not the case earlier when Federer’s opponents were overawed by his reputation and gifted away easy victories.
The mortality of Federer has unlocked a new stream of consciousness in his opponents that there is life in professional tennis despite his looming presence.
As to how Annacone has added luster to Federer’s glory, the answer is still in the realm of speculation.
Roger, what is it? Is it validation? Is it motivation? Is it technical? Or is he a trophy coach?
Either way, Annacone is there to egg Federer on to his sixth US Open title.
Pressure less Cooking
Federer enters the US Open seeded second. He has won just two tournaments this year: the Australian Open and last week’s Cincinatti Masters.
The last time Federer won three titles or less in a calendar year was way back in 2002. Federer has not made the semi-finals at the last two Slams – another first for him since 2003.
He thus sails into New York with just the faint breeze of expectations. No gale winds that could capsize the Federer vessel.
Both titles this year have come on hard courts. This augurs well for his chances at the US Open. Del Potro – his nemesis the last time around – has yet to recover from injury.
Can Federer cook up yet another US Open victory? If so, it will have to be hand-whipped. No pressurized gizmos this time.
The Fading Competition
Nadal, the No. 1 seed, with 2 back to back Grand Slam victories this year is losing momentum. Although he has an Australian title under his belt, he has yet to display the same kind of form at the US Open. This could be his best chance ever but his preparation in the run up to the final Grand Slam of the season has been less than satisfactory.
Murray beat Federer at the Roger’s Cup in the finals but as his opponent reminds us “It’s not a Grand Slam, old pal!”. And the heat in Cincinatti was too much for the mercurial Scot. Can he fare any better in New York? Or will he be yorked once again?
Djokovic is there , almost there, still challenging, but maybe more challenged by the demons in his mind.
It’s safe to say that Federer looks better equipped and better primed than the other three prima donnas.
The resurgence of Baghdatis, the reappearance of Nalbandian and the rejuvenation of Mardy Fish adds an extra special dimension to this year’s Open. Throw in the ever battling Roddick and the competition looks respectable (on current form), though not formidable.Soderling and Berdych spice up the draw further.
I’d still go with Federer, for the competition may well cannibalize itself.
The Pink Wink
A wink at sartorial tastes had Federer parading around in strawberry – in Canada and in Ohio. A vision in pink, indeed!
Roger’s fortunes rose with his blooming plumage. Can he continue in the pink or will it be the blues?
All said and done, more power to Federer!