33-year old Swiss legend Roger Federer, fresh from twin disappointments at Wimbledon (lost in 5 sets to Djokovic in final) and US Open (lost in straight sets to Cilic), won his second Masters event of 2014 (after Cincinnati) by defeating Frenchman Giles Simon in two tight tiebreaks in the final.
He saved a couple of set points in the first set, and was even 3-5 down in the first set, before he managed to storm back in the tiebreak. He managed to save a set point in the second set too, and the Frenchman—who was only in his 2nd ever Masters final—will rue his lost chances. Federer stormed away with the second-set tiebreak, to win his first tournament after a 3-week rest after his loss in the semis of the US Open.
But Federer’s best tennis came a day ago, when he took on World no. 1 Novak Djokovic and played some of the best tennis of 2014, charging the Serb and being aggressive on virtually every point, serving like a pro, and closing out the match 6-4, 6-4.
This was the Federer of old, only with the agility and speed at the net of new coach Edberg, winning all the big points and refusing to let the Serb back into the match. Federer’s serve-and-volley strategy has worked considerably well this year. He has lost the big matches in the Slams, but has performed consistently well at the Masters events, and won his 4th tournament of the year in Shanghai.
What will please him is that this was one of three Masters trophies missing from his cabinet (if you don’t count the season-ending Shanghai Masters titles), and now, with this win, Federer has conquered 7 out of 9 Masters events on the ATP calendar, second only to Djokovic, who has won 8 out of 9 (except Cincinnati).
Djokovic admitted that Federer had never played better than this, and played a ‘perfect match’ to defeat him in every department.
The Swiss player will now rise back to no. 2 in the rankings on Monday, and is less than 1000 points off the Serb’s no. 1 spot now. Djokovic has everything to defend, with the upcoming Paris Masters as well as Basel and the season-ending London World Tour Finals.
Believe it or not, there is a high probability, the way things stand, of Federer finishing at the top of the rankings by the end of 2014. Also, there’s the tiny matter of his first-ever Davis Cup Final to be played, against France, after the season ends.