Big serves, big wins - Federer is back

Updated: 2012-03-20 08:06

By Agence France-Presse in Indian Wells, California (China Daily)

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Swiss ace polishes off Nadal with 125 mph ace to lock up his third consecutive ATP Tour victory

Roger Federer leaned forward in his chair and watched the raindrops hit the ground in front of him. The Swiss superstar had three extra minutes during a rain delay on match point in his semifinal against Rafael Nadal to think about what he was going to do with his next serve.

His first inclination was to go down the middle. But when play resumed, Federer stepped up and hammered a 125 mph ace to Nadal's forehand, putting the final nail in the coffin and writing another chapter in their epic rivalry.

"I thought about going down the 'T' but when I was tossing the ball in the air I thought I would go the other way," said Federer, who beat American John Isner 7-6 (9/7), 6-3 in Sunday's final for his third ATP Tour title in a row.

There is no blueprint to success for Federer. The 16-time Grand Slam winner can adapt to just about any situation even when the chair umpire unexpectedly pulls the players off the court for a rain delay on match point.

Federer is making the right decisions these days.

"I have definitely been fortunate throughout my career," he said on Sunday. "I have taken a lot of bad decisions. You try to not take them later on again.

"So I think my experience has helped me out. And then you obviously manage your life a bit different when you have family. When you're feeling great, you're practicing well and you're playing a lot of matches.

"But then you also never want to overdo it. I do it in blocks. For me that works well. Other players do it completely different. There is no written rule to it, because every player is very different."

This is Federer's first crown in Indian Wells since he won three titles in a row from 2004-2006. He now has a record four titles, one more than Americans Jimmy Connors and Michael Chang.

Federer says he is pleased he was able to pull this one out because it had such a strong field and he was battling a virus the first week after arriving in the California desert.

"What surprises me is that I've actually won this again after all this time, and particularly this year where I was struggling and hurting a lot at the beginning of the year," Federer said.

"This tournament victory couldn't come at a better time in my career. It's a big tournament. It's really wonderful winning these big-time events on the ATP Tour."

Federer, who turned 30 last August, said all the hard work he is putting in on the practice courts and in his fitness training is paying off.

"It's amazing that it has all come around so nicely in the indoor season at the end of the year starting with Basel," he said. "I have won six out of eight. It's pretty extraordinary."

(China Daily 03/20/2012 page23)