"Australian Open 2010: Roger Federer back in rude health and eying new peaks to scale"
Good to see how Roger feels after his 16th Grand Slam title.
On the morning after the same old night before in Melbourne, Roger Federer hardly sounded like a grizzled old pro drained and blistered by a fortnight of mental and physical exertion, but more like some fresh prince ready to skip off to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics.
By Ian Chadband
Published: 8:39PM GMT 01 Feb 2010
"I feel it's like, 'Go skiing tomorrow? No problem'," beamed the new Australian Open champion, before being quick to assure any alarmed sponsors that he actually had no intention of careering downhill in Switzerland when there were still new mountains to be climbed.
Yet after conquering his 16th grand slam peak, Federer's sheer sprightliness, joie de vivre and reinforced belief that more titles would follow swiftly could not help but make him recall the man who, at the same tournament two years ago, was ill, struggling and a shadow of his former invincible self, beaten by Novak Djokovic.
Now that the sick man of 2008, who had worked miracles just to reach the semi-finals while afflicted with mononucleosis, has been supplanted by the refashioned 2007 model – only with twins in tow – he fancies this could be the greatest of all his feats of self-reinvention.
"I felt at the end of 2007 that I was playing the best tennis of my life. Then 2008 definitely slowed me down. Maybe I started to doubt my body, feeling that eventually I wouldn't be as successful as I had been," he said.
There were times when he just could not get out of bed. "My body was down, you pressed the off button and thought for two weeks you're just not going to touch it and you'd just want to sit there and let it heal. Today it's very different," he said.
"I was well prepared for that tough period, able to enjoy it and stay calm because I always question myself, even in the best of times. I always asked, 'how can I reinvent myself?' "
The answer was there for everyone to see in Melbourne. The rebuilt Federer at 28 even feels ready to challenge his own long-held contention that the peak years for any player are between 22 and 26.
"Time will tell but I feel I've definitely improved," he said. "I think I lost a little edge in my movement in 2008, 2009 but I feel that's all come back. My backhand is where I want it to be, my forehand is back – I think that also left me a little bit when my footwork wasn't at my best and I had to press too much – and my confidence is back."
It will probably be little consolation to the beaten Andy Murray, but it was clear from Federer's reflections that the most satisfying aspect of his rejuvenation has been his ability to tame the awkward Scot.
"It's not easy to adjust to these new players over and over again Especially Murray. He neutralises you very well, tangles you up in these rallies and you can't do anything about it because if you play too aggressively you lose and if you play too passively you lose," Federer said.
"So you have to have this perfect balance [between patience and hot-bloodedness]. It was another tricky situation and for me to come through and prove myself over and over again is amazing."
Who can stop him? He noted that his baby girls were as good as gold at the moment. "But I also know there'll be tougher times when they just won't bounce on my knee but they will also crawl, run and be everywhere."
Ah, maybe that's the secret then; in the absence of Rafael Nadal getting under his skin, call for Charlene and Myla to get under dad's feet.