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Roger Federer's wizardry will be intact, but compromised movement could force him to play more first-strike tennis: Jim Courier

Roger Federer unleashing a forehand
Roger Federer unleashing a forehand
Modified 07 Jan 2021, 23:03 IST

Jim Courier believes that Roger Federer’s movement will likely be affected big time by his double knee surgery. According to the American, Federer could counteract this problem by playing 'more first-strike tennis' and shortening the points, which would reduce the impact on his aging body.

Jim Courier is a four-time Grand Slam champion, who now operates as a tennis commentator. But unlike Federer, Courier wasn't the most dedicated proponent of the 'first-strike' style when he played on the tour. The American was a solid baseliner who would try and wear down his opponents with consistency, which is probably what explains how he won two Roland Garros titles.

In contrast, the primary aim of first-strike tennis is to finish points early by taking the ball on the rise - much like what Roger Federer usually does. This style generally sees the user try to dictate play by serving big and attacking returns with speed.

During a recent discussion about Roger Federer, Courier made it clear that he does not doubt the Swiss legend’s ability with the racquet. However, Federer's two knee surgeries in 2020 have led the American to believe that the 39-year-old may no longer glide across the court as smoothly as he usually does.

Courier reckons that this potential dip in mobility would, in turn, force Roger Federer to go for big shots with a higher frequency.

"Roger Federer's wizardry with a racquet will be intact," Courier said. "He will not have lost his racquet skills, but the big X-factor is the movement. He had two knee surgeries, and the return couldn't come as fast as Roger and his team had hoped. Roger has played first-strike tennis for his entire career, and he could even increase if the movement is not there."
Roger Federer
Roger Federer

The 20-time Grand Slam champion may not have the greatest foot speed, but he covers the court very efficiently. Roger Federer’s precise footwork ensures that he does not need to exert himself too much physically.

It remains to be seen what strategy the 39-year-old will adopt when he finally returns to the tour next month.

Irrespective of Federer’s tactical approach, Jim Courier believes that the World No. 5 will find it tough to make it through Grand Slam tournaments when he returns.

"Still, it will be tough for him to endure seven best-of-five encounters without a proper movement, which is what he is here for," Courier added.

We should be grateful for seeing Roger Federer on the court again: Jim Courier

Jim Courier interviewing Roger Federer at the 2020 Australian Open.
Jim Courier interviewing Roger Federer at the 2020 Australian Open.

Jim Courier made no effort to hide the fact that he is a Roger Federer fan during the conversation. The American has built up a healthy camaraderie with Federer over the years, having interviewed him numerous times on and off the court.

Courier believes the tennis world should be thankful for still being able to watch Roger Federer in action, given how much of a 'fun' experience it is.

"We should be grateful for seeing him on the court again; he is so fun to watch, and we all hope to see him playing as long as possible," Courier said.
Published 07 Jan 2021, 22:40 IST
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