Can Federer win all 4 slams in 2018?
With Nadal, Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka, Raonic and Nishikori all dealing with injuries, a healthy Roger Federer has a real shot this year at the calendar Grand Slam, last achieved by Rod Laver in 1969.
A Federer Grand Slam would be one of the greatest achievements ever in sports, especially for a man who would be age 37 at the US Open.
Who can stop Federer?
Federer has mastered his game under pressure. He’s figured out the weaknesses of every opponent, and honed his ability to attack them on key points.
Even Nadal hasn’t beaten Roger lately.
Marin Cilic played a great tournament at the Australian Open and he was very close to breaking Roger early in the fifth set. He’s healthy, strong and almost a decade younger.
But Federer has figured him out.
He pounced on him early and never trailed.
Organizers perhaps gave Federer a big advantage by closing the roof, especially if reports are true that Federer warmed up indoors while Cilic practiced outdoors. This might explain why Cilic needed a lopsided first set loss to adjust to the different conditions.
Cilic’s forehand thunderbolts tried to push Federer off the baseline. But Roger wouldn’t budge. Taking the ball early on short-hops, Federer hit incredible half-volleys from deep.
Federer tied up Cilic with long, deep slices that died in the indoor air on the strings of Cilic’s backhand.
Cilic made adjustments. He got his feet moving, stepped into the slices and hit good approach shots to finish off points at net with overheads and high backhand volleys. He slapped forehand winners off high balls down the middle.
But even with Cilic playing top-level tennis, Federer found a way to win. Despite wayward service games riddled with double faults, Federer hit his spots on key points, targeting Cilic’s forehand in the ad court, changing speeds and spins to disrupt Marin’s rhythm.
Though he vented at a linesman, Federer had enough composure late to counter Cilic’s fire. He cruised in the fifth set, winning match point on a vicious twisting kick serve serve that threw off Cilic’s timing.
It’s not clear yet if Federer will play clay this year, which he skipped last year. But if Rafa isn’t in top form, Federer has a shot at winning his second French Open. He would then be the favorite to repeat at Wimbledon on his favorite surface. That would then set up the US Open as the stage for Federer to achieve the crowning jewel of his career. If the other guys remain unfit to play their best, Federer’s most likely foe in New York would be none other than Cilic.
Ultimately, Roger’s main rival is his own body. He’s one injury away from retiring. A bad back or knee could end his late career fantasy run. But if he stays healthy, happy and hungry for success, he could achieve the only thing he hasn’t done — win all four slams in a calendar year.
(all images copyright Christopher Johnson Globalite Media. All rights reserved)