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History |2011

The season starts according to plan: Roger wins the Qatar Open and seems to carry the momentum of the last tournaments over into the new year. However, this is followed by the unsuccessful title defence of the Australian Open and so a lengthy dry spell ensues. Although Roger drops down in the ATP world rankings and remains without a Grand Slam title in 2011, he achieves an impressive comeback towards the end of the season. As in the year before, his play reflects a golden autumn and culminates in the victory at the ATP World Championships in London. 


Roger commences the tennis year 2011 as the world number two and immediately gets off to a good start: At the final of the Qatar Open in Doha he defeats Nikolay Davydenko in two sets and wins the 67th tournament of his career. It’s a warning to his rivals, especially since Roger enters the Australian Open as the current title holder. Is he able to live up to his role as favourite at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year? The first matches are promising, and indeed he reaches the semi-final with relative ease, after facing only one challenging encounter against Gilles Simon. Shortly afterwards, the world’s number three, Novak Djokovic, also qualifies for the semi-final. Right at the beginning of their encounter Roger is presented with an early break chance which he unfortunately is not able to convert. The first set goes to a tie-break which the Serb wins with his strong game. Two sets later the match is lost: closer than the result would suggest as Roger managed to level with Djokovic time and again, keeping the match an open one. With the defeat Roger no longer holds a Grand Slam trophy. 

At the tournament in Dubai Roger quickly gains ground again and match by match he fights to reach the final. The first chance of a rematch against Djokovic presents itself. However, unlike in Melbourne, the Serb who is bursting with self-confidence grants Roger few opportunities to find his way into the game. In the end, Djokovic deservedly wins the match in two sets. 

Indian Wells is the next stop on the tournament calendar, and here again Roger’s play goes according to plan. On his way to the semi-final he must eliminate his doubles partner and fellow compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka. The latter can at least console himself with the fact that he is to play the final of the men’s doubles with Roger. Roger’s next opponent in the singles is Novak Djokovic. 

Not having lost a match in a long time, Djokovic achieves a flawless performance against Roger in the first set. In return, Roger dominates his opponent in the second set, thereby levelling the game up. An incredible rally ensues in the deciding set in which the Serb has the upper hand: He qualifies for the final and overtakes Roger in the ATP rankings. Unfortunately Roger and Stan are not victorious in the doubles final either and are defeated by Alexandr Dolgopolov and Xavier Malisse in three sets. 

After two semi-final setbacks in Key Biscane and Madrid against Nadal Roger also drops out in the early rounds at Monte Carlo and Rome. At the beginning of Roland Garros the media’s attention is therefore focused on Djokovic and Nadal. But of all places, this is where Roger takes revenge in an enthralling semi-final and is thereby able to end the Serb’s long series of 41 consecutive wins since 2011. However, the path to victory is anything but a stroll, rather a 3h39 long thriller. Roger eventually converts the third match point in the fourth set, resulting in a face-off between Roger and Nadal in the final – the classic match par excellence. 

They make it a thrilling final. Roger gets off to a commanding, aggressive start, resulting in a 3-0 lead at the beginning of the set. At 5-2 the Spaniard suddenly finds his way back into the game and in the end even wins the first set. Roger continues to fight but must also relinquish the second set to his opponent. He manages to narrow the score to 2-1 in the third. The fourth set suddenly develops quickly and Nadal, despite Roger’s good play, is able to win the all-important points and subsequently celebrates his sixth victory at Roland Garros. 

Roger starts with fresh vigour at Wimbledon. He concedes only one set on his way to the quarter final where he faces Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The game seems under control with Roger leading by two sets – a head start that he never before relinquished at a Grand Slam tournament. However, the Frenchman achieves the to-date impossible: he courageously wins the following two sets and maintains the upper hand in the final set, leaving Roger to postpone his ambitions of a 7th Wimbledon title. 

At the Davis Cup in Berne Roger contributes significantly to eliminating Portugal 5-0 both in the singles and in the doubles with Stan. The Swiss team thus has the opportunity to advance in the World Group against Australia. This they will achieve in autumn owing to a convincing team effort. 

Roger is yet to play the tournaments in Cincinnati and the last Grand Slam tournament of the year, the US Open. In Cincinnati Roger’s game is without luck and he is defeated in the quarter final by Tomas Berdych. At the US Open however, he qualifies for the semi-final where he once again faces Novak Djokovic. The game is a hotly contested one in which Roger is able to take a convincing two set lead. When Roger fades somewhat in the third set, Djokovic is able to up the tempo on his part. Subsequently Roger loses the next two sets relatively clearly, resulting in a fifth set decider. Both opponents push their limits one more time and the spectacular and intense game remains thrilling to the very end. Roger earns two match points which he unfortunately does not convert. On the contrary, Djokovic’s powerful forehand and an error on Roger’s part result in the Serb reaching the final.  

With his advancement to the semi-final Roger at least qualifies for the ATP World Tour Finals in London for the tenth time in a row where he will also be the defending champion. Only Pete Sampras and Ivan Lendl have participated more often at the annual finale and can boast, as Roger at that stage, five tournament victories. 

While other players complain about the long and intense tennis season Roger is economical with his energy. Heavy heartedly he cancels the Shanghai Rolex Masters after his success with the Davis Cup team against Australia. By doing so he is momentarily overtaken by Andy Murray in the ATP rankings and falls back to number four. 

The long recovery break more than pays off as Roger rises to top form in the remaining tournaments. The tennis star, whom the media wrote off several times, begins his impressive push toward the end of the season with victory at the Swiss Indoors, winning it for the fifth time. 

It’s not long before Roger wins his next title, the 69th of his career. In Paris-Bercy we see Roger playing with inspiration, dominating his opponents at will. In his 99th career final Roger faces the Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga whom he literally steamrolls in the first set. In the second set he is able to control his opponent to a degree where his first victory at the BNP Parisbas Masters is never really in danger. All of a sudden Roger reappears on his competitors’ radar for the annual finale in London, deservedly so. 

In the group stage he defeats Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Rafael Nadal, qualifying for the semi-final early and also wins the third group match against Mardy Fish without any problems. He eliminates David Ferrer in the semi-final and again faces Tsonga in the 100th final of his career. The Frenchman manages to recover after being down by a set, but the final set clearly goes to Roger. Roger now can boast 70 tournament wins and is the sole record holder with six titles at the ATP World Tour Finals.

The tournament victory is not only cause for celebration for Roger but also for the Roger Federer Foundation which, as of 2011, is also active in Zambia and Zimbabwe. The eight tournament players auction off the contents of their lockers, i.e. their outfit, signed objects and memorabilia of the annual finale, donating the proceeds to charities of their choice. The event raises more than 50’000 USD. With 17’800 USD Roger’s locker generates the most money – to the joy of the beneficiaries of the Roger Federer Foundation. 

Sharing his luck and success with others are two components that contribute to Roger’s fame and popularity world-wide. Time and again Roger has been honoured for his athletic and exemplary conduct, and once again it is the case this year. He receives the 2011 Fan’s Favourite Award and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award. In an international survey he is voted as the second most important personality of our time, behind Nelson Mandela. This is a hard-earned honour which Roger has not only worked for on the court, but mainly off the court. 

In August 2011 Roger celebrates his 30th birthday, even though a few bitter setbacks cloud the delight of the season’s accomplishments. The consistency of his performance and his long-standing presence at the top of the tennis world are still unparalleled. It is difficult enough to win in good times but to fight ones way back in difficult times is what makes a true champion. 

Roger has proven this quality not least with his golden autumn: Playing his best tennis, he is still able to conquer every player no matter what age. Not the glorious past, but the athletic present entitles his fans to look forward to the Olympic year 2012.