‘Roger Federer wasn’t that good at that time but…’, says former ATP star

After more than a year of absence from the fields, fans were able to admire Roger Federer’s unique class again last week in Doha. The Swiss phenomenon stopped in the quarterfinals against Nikoloz Basilashvili, who would later win the tournament, but the result was certainly not what mattered to the 20-time Grand Slam champion. The former world number 1 proved once again that he has not lost his magic touch, but the two matches played in Qatar showed that he needs to improve a lot in terms of physical condition. For this reason, the 39-year-old from Basel has chosen not to compete in the ATP 500 in Dubai, opting for an additional training block. King Roger should therefore return to the field again only for the start of the season on clay (his forfeit in Miami had already been announced). During a lengthy interview with Tennis Magazin, former Wimbledon champion Richard Krajicek recalled his two direct fights against a very young Federer, which took place in Vienna in 2000 and at the Ordina Open two years later, respectively.

Krajicek on facing Roger Federer

“I played against Roger Federer twice before,” Richard Krajicek said. “He wasn’t that good at that time, but still won both times! Roger doesn’t have the hardest serve. But his precision makes his serve the best in the world. He hits a lot of aces. If he had a break point against him two or three years ago or it was under pressure, then his serve almost always came in the center,” the Dutchman added. “You can no longer rely on that. In the meantime, he also plays more risk-taking, mixing up the variants more.” At the end of the interview, Richard Krajicek was asked which ATP player had a lot of untapped potential on their serve. The Dutchman named Dominic Thiem, particularly for his famed kick serve. “I think Dominic Thiem is really good,” Krajicek said. “His kick serve is particularly strong. In my opinion, he has the best serve of the not-so-tall players.” Roger Federer’s ranking would ordinarily have been in jeopardy under normal ATP guidelines. But the new COVID-affected rankings will likely ensure that the Swiss maestro stays put in the top 10, unless one or more players gain a mountain of new points at multiple events. Even though Federer has played just one tournament in the last 13 months, he will be able to retain 50% of the points he earned in the middle of 2019 – his most prolific period by far.