Down the line forehand on the run with plenty of zip from Rafa Nadal, straight drive past the bowler from Sachin Tendulkar, cover drive while keeping the bat steady and bisecting the field by Virat Kohli, release on three-point jumper from Steph Curry and high-arching flop shot from Phil Mickelson are (or were) one of the most beautiful shots in sports. And then there is the one-handed backhand from Roger Federer which on its day – which is most days – is the most effortless shot in tennis.
At one point of time, it used to be a non-factor against his long-time rival Nadal, especially on clay, to counter the top spin forehand with plenty of bounce on Federer’s backhand. But ever since, Federer with coach Ivan Ljubicic have tuned that element of his game. The strategy now is to go on the attack.
Federer opens the defence of his crown at the ATP Masters 1000 event with a second round match against Argentina’s Federico Delbonis on Saturday. Delbonis is one of the few players on tour to have a positive win-loss record against the 20-time Grand Slam winner. Federer, meanwhile, is chasing his sixth title in the Californian desert. “I didn’t come here to lose in the first round two and two,” he said. “I care about the moment. I care about the results.”