Roger Federer has spent the past few weeks in Switzerland, practising and resting for the final push of the season. He’s back on the ATP Tour at one of his favourite stops.
The 34-year-old Swiss star is trying for an unprecedented seventh title in Cincinnati this week while getting his game in shape for the U.S. Open. The time off has helped.
“I’m fresh and obviously eager to play and can’t wait for the tournament to start, really,” Federer said after practice Sunday morning. “But practice has been going very well. I’m very happy with how I’m feeling.”
Federer decided to sit out the Rogers Cup last week, avoiding back-to-back tournaments. Last year, he was the runner-up at the Rogers Cup, flew to Cincinnati and beat David Ferrer in three sets at the Western & Southern Open.
Federer is 6-0 when he reaches the finals in Cincinnati, where he’s very comfortable with the courts and has a good feeling because of his career success. This time, he’s also rested.
“Last year I came in tired from five straight matches in Toronto, arrived late, wasn’t sure if I was going to play, decided to play and thankfully I did,” Federer said. “I ended up winning here. Now I have had plenty of time.”
Novak Djokovic is the top seed. He has never won in Cincinnati, the only Masters tournament title that has eluded him. Djokovic has lost in the finals at Cincinnati four times, most recently to Federer in 2012.
John Isner, the top-ranked American, is trying to extend his summer success. He won in Atlanta, lost in the finals in Washington and dropped a three-set match in the quarter-finals in the Rogers Cup on Friday in Montreal, losing to Jérémy Chardy. He’s won 11 of his 13 matches on hard courts.
“I’m holding up pretty well, actually,” Isner said. “It’s amazing what just one day off can really do. I’ve been used to playing a match every day, pretty much.”
“It feels like there’s a laundry list of things that’s bothering me. I served a lot, so my arm was hurting. But I think the most important thing is I’m not injured per se, just pretty worn out. But it’s a good problem to have, rather than the other way around.”
He’ll play American Sam Querrey in the opening round, a match that both players would rather avoid because it means a quick exit for one of them.
“Aw, I guess it was bound to happen,” Isner said. “We’ve played these Masters events for years now, but never played each other in the first round. In my mind, it kind of stinks.”
The tournament began Sunday with Slovakia’s Martin Klizan beating Dominic Thiem 7-6 (5), 3-6, 7-6 (4) in a match that lasted 2 hours 32 minutes. The top players get first-round byes.
On the women’s side, Serena Williams is trying for her second straight Western & Southern Open title. She was 0-5 in the finals before breaking through last year with a two-set win over Ana Ivanovic.
Williams has extra motivation to play well in Cincinnati. She was upset by 18-year-old Belinda Bencic in the semi-finals of the Rogers Cup on Saturday night in Toronto. Williams double-faulted a dozen times and described her play as amateurish.
She wants to get her game smoothed out heading into the U.S. Open, where she’ll be trying to become the fourth woman to win all four Grand Slam titles in one year.
“It would be amazing,” Federer said. “I think it’s great what she’s been able to achieve throughout her career, especially now this late. This dominance is incredible, so I wish for her that she can do it. She still has time, a few more weeks, and she knows what it’s all about and I think it’s going to be a huge focus during New York.”