Paul Newman: Federer is king of cool when the heat is on
Tuesday 22 June 2010
He is hardly short of endorsements, but when Roger Federer's agent looks for his next deal maybe he should try a manufacturer of anti-perspirants. The six-times Wimbledon champion rarely sweats, either physically or metaphorically, and his coolness under pressure is one of his greatest assets.
The way Federer played when he served in the third set at 4-4 and 0-40 against Alejandro Falla was typical. One break point was defended with a lovely winning cross-court backhand, but for the most part the Swiss kept making the Colombian play, piling on the pressure and forcing him into mistakes.
Federer has now come back to win from two sets down on six occasions. This was the third time in the last seven Grand Slam tournaments he has done so. His comeback against Tomas Berdych in last year's Australian Open was a particularly memorable one, with the big-hitting Czech having initially played the Swiss off the court.
While self-doubt creeps into the minds of other players, Federer always maintains an unshakeable belief in his own attacking game. Continually going for your shots can be a high-risk strategy – Federer makes more unforced errors than many players – but when you have won 16 Grand Slam titles playing that way you are not going to change.
There are players a long way down the men's ranking list who can hit backhands and forehands with the best of them, but to do so when the heat is on can be a different matter entirely.
Federer, in particular, never knows when he is beaten. Who else would have won 10-8 in a fifth set when in the throes of glandular fever, as Federer was when he beat Janko Tipsarevic during the Australian Open in Melbourne two years ago?
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