Why Roger Federer will win a major title in 2016
Abigail Johnson in ATP Tour 17 Sep 2015
He's closer than anyone to toppling Novak Djokovic from on top of the rankings. Yet Roger Federer, the widely-acknowledged Greatest Player of All Time, has not won a Grand Slam since 2012. As time slips away, here are 5 reasons why the legendary Swiss will win a major in 2016.
He's still hungry
While it may sound extremely simplistic, this is a major component for any kind of success. Talent alone is nothing without desire.
17 Grand Slam titles down the line, and not having won one for three years, many would forgive Roger Federer for calling it a day. Surely it would be so easy, having attained so much - and struggling to re-achieve it - to preserve your status as a full-time legend and close the door.
But Federer isn't like that. Instead, he's using his past accomplishments as fuel for the future. Rather than enjoying the sweet taste of victory and passing on from it, he's remembering the addictive flavour it presented, and wanting more.
After his painful 2014 Wimbledon loss, his words were: “I am still very hungry and motivated, and a match like this is very helpful.” It was a claim he backed up with his stellar run to the US Open final.
Let's be real: You want the kids to see what Daddy did in action, not just hear what Daddy once achieved. For Roger Federer, with two sets of twins, that has to be bonus motivation.
He's adjusting to the competition
If you don't know about SABR (definition: Sneaky Attack By Roger, a near-on half-volley of a service return that throws the opponent right off their rhythm), then you're seriously out of the loo right now. Roger's brand new, super-aggressive tactic has the world going crazy. It's currently the most modern thing in the sport – and proof that the Swiss maestro will do whatever it takes to get those key victories, and add to his trophy cabinet.
It's also fantastically promising for the 34-year-old going forward. After 17 years as a pro, the thought of change can't be inviting. Yet it's one that Federer has embraced. And in the coming months, he'll continue to reap the rewards.
He's getting closer
It simply does not matter that his last Grand Slam triumph was all the way back at Wimbledon 2012. You have to look beyond Roger Federer's titles, to his form
This form now has him taking down an incredible Novak Djokovic regularly, and owning the majority of the rest of the tour. Right now, Roger is vintage – and if he's anything compared to his stellar 2012 self, he's better. The one small difficulty is that his Serbian nemesis is better, too.
Beyond the form, the results have been pretty fantastic, anyway. Today, he and Novak co-dominate the Masters series events. And since that Sunday afternoon when he reduced Andy Murray to tears, Federer has been one win away from a massive accomplishment several times over.
There was the Olympic final just weeks after Wimbledon 2012 – a loss that broke him internally, as he narrowly missed out on the gold medal he has never attained. 2013 was the season in which many ordered him to retire, but since that wobbly form has has never looked back, doing nothing but improving and progressing - whilst reaching three more major finals and many more semi-finals along the way.
He's still progressing – and there's only one major roadblock
As effortless, skilled, talented and precise as ever he was, Roger only has one big concern heading into 2016: How to emerge from a Slam with seven victories once more.
Nothing in his game is stopping him. Away from the big stages, he is consistent, magnificent and pretty much invincible. On the big stages, he has proven that he can still take down opposition in best of five sets – from the lowest-ranked qualifier to the top level competition.
You could say that Novak Djokovic is his one major roadblock. After all, it's the world no. 1 who has brought the Swiss to a halt in his previous three major finals. And yet Roger has taken down the Serb away from those stages, and proven that he has what it takes to beat his long-time foe on them.
Aside from his opponent, two similarities occurred in Federer's two 2015 major final losses. Firstly, rain struck, and tampered with the conditions – presenting the heavy atmosphere in Djokovic's favour.
But there was one similairity occurring over all three Federer versus Djokovic final showdowns: Federer nerves.
At Wimbledon 2013, it was four tight unforced errors in the final game of the fifth set, abruptly finishing a legendary clash. At Wimbledon 2014, the serve that had been utterly flawless in the previous round was struggling to land inside the service box. And in the US Open final, 4 of 23 break point taken tell the story.
As the months speed by, and he still can't take that final step to winning Slam titles, naturally Roger Federer is getting tight and nervous. It has been painfully tangible - right down to the mid-match reactions of his wife, Mirka.
But it's only one problem. With his game still improving, and one sole, big challenge lined up for the 2016 season, his dedication and determination can surely see him across that final line.
In this form, do you honestly see him falling at four different hurdles?
Actually, make that five...
2016 was 'D-Day', and the Olympics are coming
Abundantly able in taking down anybody, Roger Federer has made it clear that he intends to stick around on the ATP for several years to come. It's a reassurance that will delight fans and casual followers alike, for whom tennis without Roger Federer is a prospect akin to Wimbledon without a Centre Court.
However, in the relief, many will forget that a while ago, Roger had an answer for those who continually pestered him about retirement.
He said that he would at least stay until the Rio Olympics in 2016. And what do you know? In less than a year's time, that is what he will be competing for.
It's highly likely that this will be his major goal for the coming season. And for the prior part of the year, he'll be working to get his form on top to achieve that accomplishment. When he did so in 2012, he ended up with a Wimbledon title along the way. Whichever was his highest goal – Wimbledon glory or a gold medal - that triumph surely softened the blow of the Olympic disappointment.
As he aims for Olympic gold, his level should continue to increase. And that time will encompass three of the four majors of the season.
If nothing else, that is a highly promising statistic for the 17-time Grand Slam champion - who has every opportunity to take that tally higher, very soon.
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