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Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Wednesday, March 19, 2014
INDIAN WELLS---Roger Federer could have been
upset about losing a close final in one of the biggest
events outside the Grand Slam tournaments.
But the blow of a three-set loss to Novak Djokovic
in the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday was softened by
knowing how far he had come since injuring his back
a year ago at Indian Wells.
Last spring, Federer took a seven-week break. After
Wimbledon, he re-injured his back and found himself
questioning everything, leading to an uneven year for
someone who once ruled this sport.
"I had some doubts at certain times," he said. "But,
overall, I knew that it can t be that I will feel this way
forever, so it was just important to stay patient and
wait. That s the most difficult thing to do. I haven t
had it very often in my career. That s why it was some-
what new for me."
The chatter grew that Federer s game had fallen.
Some suggested he consider retirement. He heard the
noise but didn t listen.
"A few weeks ago, months ago, a few people said
I couldn t play tennis anymore," he said. "But at the
same time, that fire, wanting to win, is important,
and right now I have that. I think have a really good
balance right now."
Despite being denied a record fifth title at Indian
Wells, Federer is 19-3 this year, his best start since
opening the season with a 23-2 mark two years ago.
He s 4-2 against top 10 opponents, the most wins of
any player this year.
He moved up three spots to No 5 in Monday s rank-
ings. That s the closest he s been to the top four since
last June, when he was third.
Federer won his first title of the year two weeks ago
in Dubai, beating Djokovic in a three-set semifinal.
He was a finalist in Brisbane and lost in the semifinals
at the Australian Open.
"I m just happy I m playing consistent tennis and
I m going deep in tournaments and I m giving myself
chances to win," he said. "I m playing really good
tennis. I m moving well. Serving well, consistently
well. So many things are working."
Federer heads to Miami this week for the Sony Open,
which he skipped last year because of his back.
"I m just surprised that I m able to keep it up week
for week now," he said. "I expected myself to have a
breakthrough tournament, but then maybe a couple
of early exits. Who knows, maybe that s all upon me,
I don t know. But I got very, very close, so it s encour-
aging for Miami and for the rest of the season."
Federer s rivals have noticed a recharged Roger. (AP)
Federer off to best
start in two years
KEY BISCAYNE---Serena Williams will certainly be
in a comfort zone when she opens the defense of
her Sony Open title this week.
Williams is a six-time winner of the Florida event,
collecting more trophies than at any other tournament.
That surpasses the five titles won at three of four
Grand Slam events---the Australian Open, Wimbledon
and US Open.
What s more, the tournament is held not far from
where the top-ranked player has lived since she was
a preteen. While she also spends many weeks training
in Paris, nearby Palm Beach County remains close to
"I ve been waiting on this and it feels good to be
back here," Williams said Tuesday. "It is home. It feels
Williams opens on Thursday against Yaroslava
Shvedova of Kazakhstan, who beat 2010 French Open
champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy 6-4, 6-2 in
the first round on Tuesday.
"I love my fans and love the opportunity to be able
to play for them," Williams said of the South Florida
She s entering her fourth tournament of the year
after winning the Brisbane title in January against
However, a bad back has taken its toll. She lost in the
fourth round of the Australian Open to Ana Ivanovic, and
in Dubai lost in the semifinals to 23rd-ranked Alize Cornet.
Williams had insisted the back was better, but she clearly
had trouble reaching up for her serve against the French-
"The back is good," she said, smiling. "It s much better.
It s really good, actually. I ve been doing tons of treatment
to make sure it stays loose, so I don t have any problems."
The 32-year-old Williams, a winner of 58 career titles,
is considered the best of her generation, if not of all time.
Her achievements tend to lead to the assumption that
whenever she plays, she s going to win. While it s not a
given, she doesn t mind having that kind of burden. (AP)
Serena readies for Miami tourney near home
right, takes her
turn with a hula
hoop during an
interview with 10-
yesterday in Key
looking for a
Biscayne title in
the Sony Open
which begins this
week. AP PHOTO
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