Thursday, 22 March 2012

Roger's Rebirth

My predictions for 2012 included the rise in rankings back to the top 5 of Juan Martin Del Potro, and to a certain extent that has occurred, but he has been consistently dogged by the presence of Roger Federer.

After losing to Baghdatis in Sydney, Del Potro has looked the goods, except the four times he has faced the revitalised Swiss sensation.  Federer has smashed the Argentine in straight sets on each occasion, including the two big ones so far - Aus Open and Indian Wells.  What does this tell us, apart from the fact that Roger has not completed his plan of revenge for the 2009 US Open defeat?

Simply that:
1. Del Potro has the game, once fully fit, to return to the top, and perhaps threaten the increasingly boring existence of the "top 4" or more correctly "top 3 + Andy".
2. Roger Federer is now playing the type of tennis that he we know he can, at a level of consistency lacking in the past couple of years.  He is the form player on tour without doubt, and right now would warrant favouritism in any match up, even with Novak Djokovic.

The true test with Djokovic in 2012, though, is not the win loss record as compared with his unprecedented 2011.  There is no secret that the ambition of the Serbian champ is to focus on the 4 Grand Slam events, and he is 1 for 1 in those thus far.

Federer is a real possibility of regaining the number one ranking not because he is suddenly playing any better - his tennis at the end of 2011 was as good as anyone - he did win the ATP Masters Cup don't forget.  What makes him especially dangerous as of now is the belief that he is the best being once more translated onto the court.  Immediately, opponents look less likely to pierce the veneer of the Swiss legend.  Even Nadal looks less convincing - only back in January it seemed that he had a demoralised Roger covered with his semi final win in Melbourne.  Now the clay courts seem the only chance for Rafa to again take the edge over Federer.

Form is fleeting for most, but history has shown that this sort of tennis from Federer is the stuff that generates a season to savour.  Watch out Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows - it could be the 17th and 18th GS success for the master.