Federer: "It's Been An Amazing Year"
It might not be the finish that he had hoped for, but Roger Federer is taking nothing for granted in his historic comeback season.
Federer’s 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to David Goffin in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals might have come as a surprise, but not given the level of play that the seventh-seeded Belgian managed to produce after dropping the first set.
Maneuvering Federer around the court with his signature brand of pinpoint counterpunching tennis, Goffin claimed one of the biggest wins of his career just days after defeating World No.1 Rafael Nadal, becoming the sixth player in history to defeat both Federer and Nadal at the same tournament.
“I think it was a tough game to get broken at 1-0 for him in the second [set]. I had I think multiple game chances to get out of the game and go 1-1, keep the pressure up,” said Federer. “I think things really turned around for him at that moment. He started to feel better from the return, from the baseline. He wasn't missing as much anymore. He was returning also much better off the second serve after that.
“I just think the better returner won over the better server today.”
Despite failing to reach the final of the prestigious season-ending event for just the fifth time in 15 appearances, Federer punctuates a season of surprises with optimism for 2018.
“It’s been an amazing year for me. I’ve been so happy that I was playing at this level from the beginning till basically the end, till today. So it's been great. Really enjoyed myself in the process,” said the Swiss.
“Looking ahead, look, clearly the buildup is not going to be six months like it was last time around,” added the 36 year old. “It's not going to be six weeks of tennis. It's just going to be two, three weeks. It's going to be short. But I did that 15 years previously, so I know how to handle the buildup.”
After an injury-filled 2016 that saw him pull the plug on his season early in July that year, 2017 has been a roaring success. Bagging seven titles including two Grand Slams and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies, Federer’s body held up throughout taxing periods of play that afforded him a high level of consistency throughout the year.
“I'm actually very relieved that I was able to finish strong ... It shows that things are in the past now. It's good to know that I can bounce back, you know, and get my confidence back.
“So considering how last year went, this year was perfect.”
Yet, what of next year? Although stalwarts Federer and Nadal remained consistent forces throughout the season, chief rivals such as Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka shut down their campaigns early to recover from their own damages – and if there is anyone who can relate, it’s Federer.
“We all had to take time off. I didn't choose to take the time off last year. You make me look like a genius sometimes. You take time off, you come back, you're good again. That's not how it goes.
“I expect obviously from the likes who have been extremely high up in the rankings, who have won slams, like Stan, Andy and Novak, of course I expect greatness from them,” added Federer. “I wouldn't be surprised if it worked out for them as well like it worked out for me and Rafa.”
With a huge cast of returning players, current Top 10 stars, and a handful of #NextGenATP talent rising up through the Emirates ATP Rankings, Federer anticipates a sizzling start to 2018 in Australia.
“I hope also Kei [Nishikori], Tomas [Berdych] and Milos [Raonic] all find their way back on tour and prefer to be in Australia because that would make it a quite epic comeback for all the guys. Then you mix them together with the new guys from the [Nitto ATP Finals] here who have just come off a great year... I think it could be a very cool start to the year, which I'm really looking forward to.”