Who knows how great Federer’s season could have been had he converted match points in the Indian Wells final against Juan Martin del Potro, and the Wimbledon quarterfinals against Kevin Anderson? It had already begun brilliantly, with the Swiss winning an incredible 20th Grand Slam title by defending his Australian Open crown. He then headed to Rotterdam and won the title there, reclaiming the No.1 ranking in the process to return to the summit for the first time since November 2012. By the time he advanced to the Indian Wells final, Federer had built a sparkling 17-0 record to start the year.
But then came the loss to Del Potro, and from there, his form nosedived. He was stunned in his opening match in Miami by Thanasi Kokkinakis, didn’t play for three months – skipping the clay-court season for the second straight year – and then suffered that disappointing loss to Anderson at Wimbledon after leading by two sets to love. He was later upset by unseeded Australian John Millman in the last 16 at the US Open, struggling in the sappingly humid conditions.
Federer would go on to win two more titles after February, but they were relatively minor ones in Stuttgart (250) and Basel (500). It was in Basel that he revealed he’d been struggling with a hand injury since the grass-court season. He fell short against Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati final and again in the Paris Masters semifinals. Borna Coric proved a thorn in his side in the Halle final and the Shanghai semis. Another young gun, Alexander Zverev, ended Federer’s season with a defeat in the last four of the ATP Finals.
Closing the year with four trophies, including a Grand Slam title, and a win-loss record of 48-10 – at the age of 37, no less – should be indicative of an extremely successful campaign. But after the heady heights of 2017, there was the sense of a comedown for Federer 12 months on. He won’t be short of motivation in 2019.
After 58 matches played in 2018, Federer was:
“I was not allowed to think of it going into the match, because that’s exactly when things go bad, when you think too far ahead. I think that was a tricky one tonight. All day I was thinking, How would I feel if I won it, how would I feel if I lost it? I’m so close, yet so far. I think I was going through the whole match like this. I’ve had these moments in the past, but maybe never as extreme as tonight. Getting to 20 is obviously very, very special, no doubt.”
– after winning Grand Slam title No.20 at the Australian Open
“I’ve had a lot of testing the last month. I think I’ve had seven tests. It’s been quite heavy. Also blood and urine. Two in Stuttgart, in Halle. In the village I live in in Switzerland, the tester lives in the same village, so it’s very convenient (smiling). It’s very convenient. If he’s bored at home, he probably just says, Let me check in on Roger to see if he’s having a good time (laughter) … I mentioned many times in Dubai I’ve hardly ever been tested, which has been quite disappointing. To honest, in the 15 years I’ve been there, it’s been one test.”
– on the state of drug testing in tennis
“Sampras once upon a time said, If you win a Slam, it’s a good season. The second half of the season could have been better maybe. I maybe lost a couple too close matches that could have changed things around for me a little bit. I don’t know, Paris or Wimbledon, whatever happened. Being close makes me believe I can keep going, I can win again. That’s uplifting in some ways.”
– reviewing season 2018 after exiting the ATP Finals
The Swiss got up close to nature in the lead up to the Hopman Cup – and was snapped in quite possibly the photo of the year with this quokka at Rottnest Island …
After an early loss in Miami in March, Federer didn’t play for three months. During that time he visited Zambia to check on the progress of his foundation’s efforts in delivering education to children in the sub-Saharan nation.
Not only was he overseeing the Roger Federer Foundation, he was also supporting the charitable efforts of his contemporaries. In September he was in Austin, Texas for an Andy Roddick Foundation event before joining fellow players for a Novak Djokovic Foundation event during the Laver Cup.
— Novak Djokovic Foundation (@novakfoundation) September 28, 2018
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