2012 French Open Previews: Roger Federer
He's the father of two-year-old twins and two years removed from his last major title. Yet at 30, Roger Federer is crafting a clay-court renaissance.
The Swiss master played attacking tennis to capture his 20th career Masters title on blue clay in Madrid. He followed that with a trip to the Rome semifinals, falling to world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, whom Federer beat in the 2011 French Open semifinals to snap the Serb’s 43-match unbeaten streak.
The 2009 French Open champion serves with confidence, uses his variety of shots to confound opponents, covers the court quickly, and has been a French Open finalist in five of the last six years. Rafael Nadal remains his Roland Garros road block, but if Rafa falters, Federer, who made his Paris debut the same year a 29-year-old Andre Agassi won the French, can win it all.
Reason to Hope: Federer has reached the final in five of the last six years, possesses the most potent serve of the Top 5, and is 48-4 since losing in the 2011 U.S. Open semifinals, winning seven of his last 11 tournaments.
Reason to Worry: The Top 2 have his number: Nadal is 12-2 against Federer on clay, and Djokovic has beaten Federer in five of their last six meetings. Federer's flatter strokes offer less margin for error, which makes him vulnerable in grinding rallies on dirt.
The Last Word: The 16-time Grand Slam champion moved beautifully and served smoothly in winning Madrid. If his nemesis Nadal is knocked out, Federer could snag a second French Open title.