A year ago at this time, Roger Federer was dealing with a bad back. He was experimenting with new rackets. And his nine-year run of reaching at least the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open ended with a fourth-round loss.
Things are different these days for the 33-year-old Federer.
Enjoying a new racket with a larger head, healthy enough to train properly and push forward whenever possible, Federer got back to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows with a 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 victory over 17th-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain on Tuesday night.
“Because of the issues I had last year, I had to be unbelievably careful what I did. We had to cut back on a few things I usually would do, but were scared to do. That was not what I wanted to do,” he said about his fitness work. “Sometimes if that’s what it is and it means don’t run on the treadmill or don’t do jumps or whatever it is, well, there’s other ways you can train that. I’m happy that basically today I can do whatever and I don’t have any more setbacks.”
And the benefit of that, Federer explained: “Now I have my confidence back. It’s as simple as that.”
At the 2013 U.S. Open, Federer lost to Tommy Robredo in the fourth round, part of a stretch in which the 17-time Grand Slam title winner was bounced before the quarters three times in the span of four majors.
At Wimbledon in July, Federer got to his first Grand Slam final in two years, and even though he lost that match to Novak Djokovic, it signaled a real resurgence.
On a windy evening against Bautista Agut, someone he had never faced, Federer moved well and won the point on 35 of 52 trips to the net.
“Coming to net requires a lot of agility and explosivity and all that stuff — and I have it back,” said Federer, a five-time champion at Flushing Meadows. “I’m happy I’m feeling good at net, too, because you’ve got to anticipate some and read some and it’s working really well. So I hope I can keep it up.”