It took three months, three “Big Titles” and a 19-1 start to the 2017 season, but Roger Federer has officially declared the “comeback” portion of his season finished. The 35 year old, who took five months off last year to rest his surgically repaired left knee, made the announcement after dominating another ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final on Sunday for his third Miami Open presented by Itau title.
“The comeback is over,” Federer said. “I’m happy that nothing major happened throughout this period. It’s been a dream run on the court, off the court as well. My body has reacted very well and I couldn’t be happier, of course.”
Federer captured his 26th career Masters 1000 crown by beating Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 in the South Florida sun. The Swiss also claimed his third “Sunshine Double” after winning the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells last month. Federer has now won 11 consecutive matches and is 7-0 against Top 10 players in 2017.
Few, including Federer, would have predicted such a fast start three months ago when he began his comeback Down Under. All kinds of questions surrounded Federer, as he reminded on Sunday.
“Let’s see how the knee is going to feel in Australia. How is the body going to be in the Middle East? How is the body going to be West Coast, East Coast?” Federer said, tracking his season, which started at the Australian Open, then went to Dubai and then Indian Wells and most recently Miami. “There is a lot of traveling, and the knee can act funny when you travel and fly transatlantic and all that stuff. It’s not like I went home and all I did is take a warm shower. I had to do a lot of stretching, massage, and sleep well… I needed to be very professional to wake up every morning and be ready to compete.”
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Federer, who tore his meniscus in his left knee in January 2016, began this season with modest goals. “I told Severin, my coach, when I was warming up if I would have just played the Miami finals, no Indian Wells, no Australian Open, we would still be very happy right now,” Federer said. “But I have way more.”
For Federer, winning begets winning. The confidence he earned from his earlier titles in Australia and Indian Wells during his “comeback” helped him in Miami and against Nadal, whom he was playing for the 37th time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.
“You win a big tournament like the Australian Open, or any big tournament for that matter, you can just bank on some confidence. That confidence gets you through a lot of the tough matches that nobody ever speaks about again,” Federer said.
In the last eight, Federer had to save two match points to outlast Tomas Berdych 7-6(6) in the third set. In the semi-finals, Federer again came through in a third-set tie-break, beating Aussie Nick Kyrgios 7-6(5) in the decider. For the tournament, Federer was 6-1 in sets that ended in tie-breaks.
“I think I am definitely profiting from confidence, and then also from the right mindset. [I’m] able to compress all my energy into one single match and not be distracted by everything else going on around me,” Federer said.
Against Nadal, the Swiss star again focused on the match in front of him. “I was trying to remind myself just to play without pressure. Just do it one more time and go out there and be brave on the big points. I think I was able to do that,” Federer said. “I think it’s been a challenging four weeks because you have to be focused for a long time. I was able to do that and I’m very happy.”
Federer now plans to take an extended break before playing Roland Garros and a full grass-court schedule.