Living Dangerously … in Paris
by Mohan Mali
If you are a Federer fan and follow his progress passionately, of late for the last two weeks that is, frustration could be part of your life (and if you’re wondering about that sore neck, it’s probably from throwing your head back in disbelief repeatedly during his five set marathons that you watched live). This is followed by a sigh of relief when he gets through those matches at The French Open.
Federer’s progress through the tournament has been far from convincing. Having said that, all the other potential winners of this Grand Slam like Nadal, Djokovic and Murray have already bitten the red clay in the tournament. Therefore the guy deserves some credit for hanging in there and coming through two five setters. Acasuso, Mathieu and Haas all pushed him to the brink of defeat, except Monfils who was dismissed in straight sets. They achieved it by going at Federer earlier in the match and attacking him. Surely, Soderling will be well aware of this and will have his assault plan ready for the final on Sunday. So . . . with the early demise of the Mens’ tennis top brass, it has all gotten very interesting for the mens’ final in Paris.
Federer will have to get his act together for the final and take charge of the match earlier than later. He will also have to make it amply clear from the word go that he wants this badly and nothing can stop him from reaching his dream of equalling Pete Sampras’s record. If he decides to camp on the baseline and see if Soderling is willing to hand it to him on a silver platter, my guess is he would be left dreaming.
Soderling on the other hand has nothing to lose and can be very dangerous, if allowed to play his tennis; that is bashing the tennis ball flat on both wings with a lot of venom that takes time away from his opponents. Not to mention the flat serve that gets delivered from close to 11ft above the ground. Soderling is also good at keeping the ball deep which can prevent Federer form attacking.
Federer has some of the most amazing weapons up his sleeve to pull this through. His serve is the most underrated in the world of tennis and has rescued him in difficult situations in the past on more than one occasion. Fed also combines it with follow up play by placing the ball in the right place than concentrating on sheer speed. Playing against Haas, Federer did not lose a single point on his serve in the first set.
The drop shot can be deadly and very useful against Soderling if he can execute it with Swiss precision. So obviously there are many ifs and buts.
But Federer seems to go through patches of passive thinking through his matches and tends to switch off. In his defense though he has learnt to back off a bit and paces himself through the match. However being the artiste that he is, he gets nervous. (All artists do, machines don’t).
With the tennis talent and experience that Federer possesses there is only one person standing between him and his 14th Grand Slam. It’s not Soderling, but Fed himself.