By Ann Liguori
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The resurgence of the great Roger Federer this year as the game’s top-ranked player is one of the top stories as the U.S. Open gets underway on Monday morning. Order seems to have been restored. The Swiss Maestro is back where he had been for so long, at the top of the rankings and the top seed at the U.S. Open, as he hopes to win his sixth U.S. Open title in the next two weeks.
And how many believed Roger’s career, at the age of 31, would still be the focus as we head into this year’s US Open? First Rafael Nadal overtook him in the rankings, then Novak Djokovic dominated last year. Surely Federer had nothing more to prove. But then he won Wimbledon for his 17th Grand Slam singles title. And with that title came the number one ranking.
Federer has a tougher half of the draw than defending champion Djokovic. Federer and Andy Murray could meet in the semi-finals. Federer beat Murray in four sets on the grass courts to win his 7th Wimbledon title but Federer couldn’t repeat that result on the same court during the Olympics as Murray won the Gold Medal match, defeating Federer 2-6, 6-1, 6-4.
Murray also has the edge in career head-to-head matches: 9-8. And with a Major Title still eluding the Scotsman, will he be hungrier to win here and perhaps follow up his Olympic Gold Medal with Britain’s first Grand Slam men’s singles title since 1936? Will this U.S. Open be Andy Murrays’?
Djokovic is looking to win his fifth major title in two years although his season has been up and down to say the least. Federer defeated Djokovic in the semi-finals at Wimbledon. And most recently Federer defeated Djokovic 6-0, 7-6 to win the Western & Southern Open. With Rafael Nadal on the sidelines with a knee injury, could Federer continue on his magical way?
Federer said that he has already reached his goal for the year, “becoming world No. 1 and (winning) Wimbledon again and getting a medal for Switzerland (a silver). It’s been incredible. But I do have this one left for me this year where I really, really want to do well, and I couldn’t be more happy returning here as No. 1. It’s super exciting.”
Is Federer still as obsessed with winning titles? Or has his legendary career, status and fulfilling family life (a loving wife and three-year-old twin daughters) mellowed him a bit?
One thing is for certain. With the depth of the men’s game, he won’t take any match for granted.
“It’s going to take something special from my opponent to win,” says Federer. “That’s kind of how it feels right now; then again, I might walk away from Monday and lost the first round.”
“You have to always be very careful how you say it and how you then play. I will take it one match at a time. There’s no doubt about that. I will never ever underestimate an opponent ever again. I did that enough when I was a teenager. Those times are long gone.”
Federer: the wise old man at 31 is still hungry, still winning and still the guy to beat.
Be sure to listen to Ann’s up-dates on WFAN Radio from the U.S. Open at the top of each hour, starting at 11 am.
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