After reading the 5 most exciting players to watch post on Sports Illustrated (in which Roger was inexcusably left out of) it got me thinking about the sheer number of shots he's played that live long in the memory. It also gave me the idea for this 2 part post where I'll share my top 20 shots of his career. If I had the time this post would be more near a 100 – but a.) I don't and b.) I'm not sure they're all on YouTube!
The Backhand Pass Against Djokovic in the 2011 French Open Semi Final
This is probably the shot of the year, in the match of the year for me. The whole context of the match and how it'd been played just made this shot extra special. It was an important stage in the 4th set, the match had been a pretty gruelling encounter and to pull this shot out of the bag in such circumstances was incredible. The crowd were on the edge of their seats and when he made that shot, it was like a massive release of tension. 3 things made it for me:
- The great defense and flexibility to retrieve that ball with a full stretch squash shot forehand.
- The execution of the backhand flick that required immense racket head control whilst on the run, the margin for error with that kind of shot is so low
- The sheer look of disbelief on the face of Novak Djokovic.
Backhand Pass Against Nadal Match Point Down in the Wimbledon 2008 Final
Video removed 🙁
This is surely one of the greatest shots of all time. It was made under extreme pressure and took a huge amount of guts to play it. A down the line backhand pass from outside the tram lines on match point down. I've included the video from the entire tie break as it was truly epic with great shot making from both sides of the net.
The Inside Out Forehand on Break Point Down vs. Haas in the 4th Round of the 2009 French Open
The thing that sets Federers shots apart from any other tennis players is the ones he's made when it really matters. People say “oh Monfils is exciting to watch” but is he? I mean really? Ok he played some athletic shot in the 2nd round of a Masters 250 tournament that got a round of applause, but in reality nobody ever remembers them in years to come. This inside out forehand against Haas was immense, it's really the shot that changed the course of the French Open, the ability to go for such a shot on break point is scary. Let's just think about it, it's 30 all and Roger just missed a forehand down the line by a country mile. He's given Haas a virtual match point as he'd be serving for the match if he converted the break. He has to regroup, make a first serve and then use excellent footwork to hit an inside out forehand with enough angle for it to be a winner. It actually makes me think I'm sometimes harsh when I accuse Roger of choking like I did when he lost to Djokovic at the 2011 US Open. You can tell by the reaction of the crowd that this shot was incredible, and if you watch a little longer you will see where Roger breaks Haas to serve for the 3rd set which gets an equally impressive roar.
2 Points from the Tie Break against Blake at the Australian Open in 2008
This is one of those moments that just shows total ownage from Federer. It's taken from a tie break at the Australian Open in 2008, Blake gets on top in both rallies and is taking HUGE cuts at the ball. Federer hangs tough, shows excellent defense and comes out of both rallies on top. It's like Blake couldn't have feasibly done anything different. I think if I had to pick one video that truly shows the mastery of Roger then it would probably be this one.
What shots compilation could be classed as complete without featuring the tweeners Roger has hit over the years. Is there a better a player of this shot? I don't think so, he makes it look stupidly natural when it's not. These aren't my favourite shots ever, but I think they show a great level of ability and flare to be able to pull them off. Special thanks to fellow Federer fan mbthecool19 for putting this video together.
Awesome Rally vs. Davydenko at the 2006 US Open
Another clip that shows total ownage, this is Roger at his very best. It's a great rally that finishes with a flat, bullet forehand that leaves Davydenko absolutely no chance.
Rally vs. Nadal in the Final of the ATP World Tour Finals 2010
Video removed 🙁
This is just one of those rallies that has every type of shot. The 2 backhand half volley pick ups that Roger plays to keep himself in the point require great racket head control. And then the winner to end the rally is from a crazy angle.
Retrieval Half Volley Flick Lob vs. Agassi
This is just a crazy shot, it shouldn't even be humanly possible yet he made it. Enough said.
A Moment of Magic vs. Djokovic at the Rogers Cup 2010
The angle on this forehand is crazily good after a super long rally.
Inside Out Backhand vs. Djokovic in the 2008 Australian Open Semi Final
Another one of those unreal moments, who else have you seen play an inside out backhand that finds the corner? Crazy. This was one of those matches that was high drama, Roger was suffering from Mono but still fought hard and produced a collection of amazing shots.
If you think I've missed out some shots, please email me at jonathan “@” perfect-tennis.com, drop me a line through the contact form or leave a comment below and I'll get them added to the list! I haven't even finalised the next 10 shots for part 2 of the post so I'm on the look out for additional ones to consider.