Technical Analysis: Roger Federer, The Show Is Not Over
Here are the exclusive images of Roger Federer’s Australian Open training session on the eve of his legendary run to Grand Slam title No. 18.
Only a few selected members of the press were fortunate to witness Roger Federer’s exclusive training session on court No. 2 at Melbourne Park on the eve of his extraordinary run to Grand Slam title No.18. Photographer Roberto Dell’Olivo managed to capture some truly magical moments throughout the behind-closed-doors session, during which the Swiss legend looked cheerful, eager to compete and extremely motivated. Let’s take a closer look at Roger’s masterclass performance.
Roger is stretching towards the center of the baseline while hitting a forehand. His projection towards the ball is starting from the right foot and then unleashing a distinctive swing with arm outstretched, while his left leg is simultaneously taking a lateral step. A few milliseconds after meeting the ball, Roger’s feet are yet to touch the ground: He is in fact hitting a forehand with dynamic step. His arm-leg coordination is truly spot-on and his eyes are carefully watching the ball.
Immediately after Roger has made contact with the ball, his body weight is on the left foot. While following the point of contact, his eyes are closing for a moment and then quickly re-opening to observe the shot trajectory. The little adjustment step with the right foot is bringing Roger back to a frontal position facing the net. Absolute textbook material.
Roger is hitting a topspin backhand down-the-line in stylish fashion. Watch the external rotation of the forearm that is allowing him to hit the ball with topspin. Federer’s head continues to temporarily follow the point of contact for a millisecond with eyes half-closed even after his racquet has made contact with the ball. The transfer of the body weight to the ball is magnificent.
Roger is hitting a backhand from a lateral recovery position back to the center of the baseline. A very conservative follow-through is allowing Roger to maintain his balance. His wrist rotation is very controlled as well and his body weight is on the right foot, which is quickly raised to facilitate a smooth change of direction.
Roger is slicing his backhand with a nice little chip. His body weight is well-balanced and his shoulder turn is the key to a smooth slice. His upper body rotation is absolute perfection and his chest is facing the sideline while Roger is raising his racquet around shoulder height. He is also using his non-dominant hand on the throat of the racquet to aid the shoulder turn and to get his racquet into the right position until he begins the shot.
The picture on the left is showing Roger’s follow-through when hitting a splendidly aggressive forehand from inside the baseline. This image is perfectly showing his incredible balance at the end of the swing: Roger has just hit a frightening inside-out forehand and continues his follow-through until the racquet is touching his left arm. Despite a powerful motion in the upper part of his body and a forward thrust of his feet with fully dynamic suspension, Roger maintains an unreal balance throughout the entire action. His gesture almost looks delicate and graceful, in contrast with the tremendously heavy ball that the Swiss legend has just whacked. The picture on the right is showing a defensive backhand with a very nice upper arm-racquet action that is allowing Roger to hold his ground despite the depth of his opponent’s shot.
Here is the strongest asset in Federer’s game: The inside-out forehand with preparation, ball contact and follow-through from left to right. Roger’s left arm and eyes are searching the ball with great accuracy and his feet are about midway between parallel to the net and perpendicular to the back line. He is adopting a semi-open stance as he is drawing back his racquet with a standard backswing. His follow-through is very aggressive with an incredible upper body rotation and the jump is counterbalancing the power of the swing.
The middle frame is showing how Roger is meeting the ball just inside the sweet spot of his racquet to maximize the inside out effect. His upper body motion is allowing him to hit the shot with power and precision. He then continues to follow through while the racquet is swung around to his shoulder as he completes a legendary stroke.
The main reason behind Federer’s extraordinary performance at this year’s Australian Open was probably his relaxed attitude. He was always in very good spirit during his practice sessions, joking around with coach Ljubicic not only during breaks, but also while hitting the ball. The picture on the right is portraying Roger with a big smile on his face while he is starting his service motion, almost showing the happiness in hitting the ball like only he and a few others in tennis history have been able to do.