Today, August 8, 2012, Roger Federer turns 31 years of age. It has been a wonderful year for the Swiss Master. Since he turned 30, he has picked up 8 titles, in Basel, Paris, the World Tour Finals, Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Madrid, and Wimbledon. A year ago, all the talk was whether or not turning 30 would change Roger. It did, but not in the way everybody imagined.
Since his heartbreaking defeat to Djokovic in the US Open semis last year, these are the numbers: 68-7, 8 titles, 3 Masters, 1 Slam, and an Olympic silver medal. Has it been a great year or what? For fans of Roger all over the world, including myself, this past year has been so very special. Roger has really pushed the limits of human achievement, and his hard work and attitude have paid huge dividends.
Fed is spending his birthday resting after an emotional month of July. He deserves to have a break after the incredible effort he has put into tennis since last September. He has played more events than any other top player in that time span and has only not made it to the semifinals in one tournament, Miami. He has winning streaks of 20, 16, and just recently, 12. I'd say Fed is exceeding expectations for a 31 year-old.
I believe a big factor in Roger's success has been the fact that his kids are growing up. They are 3 now, and there is certainly not as much work to be done now as there would have been a few years ago when they were just born. I think that's allowed Roger to focus more on tennis and training. The training is the most important part, as he has looked in great shape all year with only a few exceptions (Rome, French Open). His movement has been cat-like and his defense has been as good as it's been in years.
There have been so many tight wins this year for Fed, and that has made the year that much more special. Remember those close matches he won against Davydenko in Rotterdam, Delpo in Dubai, Raonic, Bellucci, Nadal, and Isner in Indian Wells?
And then there were the two tight matches in Madrid against Raonic and Berdych. And then there was the 2-sets-down comeback against Delpo at the French Open and the 3rd tight win against Raonic. And of course we cannot forget Wimbledon with the heart-attack matches against Benneteau and Malisse (albeit for different reasons). And then, finally, the epic Olympic semi against Delpo that secured the silver medal for Roger.
That is 13 very tight matches that Federer could have lost, but he pulled through and won them. That has been the key to his success in 2012 - his mental fortitude. He is not succumbing to defeats when he feels good enough to win (he obviously wasn't at the French and the Olympics). After years in 2010 and 2011, and even parts of 2009 that were very disappointing from the point of mental toughness, 2012 has been a true rebound year for the King - and at 31 now, that makes it all the more impressive.
Happy Birthday Champ, and may you become bestowed with the greatest happiness in your personal and professional life! My admiration for you will never waver.