Roger Federer is having a very, very good year. As evidenced by his decisive 6-0, 7-6 victory over Novak Djokovic in the final of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Federer's form is still as sharp as it's been over this entire season. However Federer has found this fountain of youth, he is still managing to draw from it. Considering how well he played today, I can't imagine Federer not being the overwhelming favorite heading into the U.S. Open starting on August 27.
Considering that his personal nemesis, Rafael Nadal, is indefinitely out due to injury, there is no one who is capable of defeating Federer the way he is playing right now. I would have said Djokovic could have given him a run for his money today, but the Serbian looked lethargic and completely uninterested during the first set. How else can you explain getting broken three straight times in a tournament final in the FIRST set? Djokovic finally woke up and managed to hold his serve in the second set and finally provided some decent tennis to watch, but in the end Federer was the one who seemed to want it far more and was able to close it out in a tie-breaker.
I've been worried that Federer's excellent year would ultimately wear him out before the season was over, and I still think that's a concern now that the hardcourt season has started. However, he simply looked years younger out there on the court today. He was moving well, looked fit, but most importantly still exhibiting that ultra-cool confidence that makes his fans love him so much. It helps when you're winning 75% of your service points over an opponent who is supposedly one of the best returners in the game today. Based upon how easily and effortlessly he took care of Djokovic today, I actually believe now that Federer can continue playing like for the rest of the season.
When Federer is playing well and believes he can win, the only player that can truly come close to beating him (and honestly, usually does) is Nadal. Djokovic is simply not the same player he was in 2011 (despite his title at the Australian Open, he wasn't as dominant there as he been the year before). Andy Murray? Murray may have found a bit of confidence and personal stress relief by winning the Olympic gold against Federer, but he still hasn't won a Grand Slam. Odds are that he'll have to go through Federer to do that in New York.
Federer, on other hand, is clearly out to prove (as he has for several years now) that he's the best player that the sport of tennis has ever seen. He is by far the most driven player on the tour right now just schooling the pretenders that think they have a chance against him. Clearly his goals now include putting that career record for most Grand Slam titles so far out of reach that no one will ever touch it. The U.S. Open title would give him 18 for his career, and be a fitting cap to one of the finest years we've ever seen him play.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. She's been shocked at the resurgence of Roger Federer this year after she foolishly wrote him off in 2011.
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