Close Panel
Wimbledon Channel
KEY DATES FOR WIMBLEDON 2017

Qualifying begins: 26 June

The Draw: 30 June

Pre-event Press Conferences: 1 & 2 July

Order of Play: 2 July

Championships begin: 3 July

COME BACK FOR LIVE SCORES & LIVE BLOG FROM 26 JUNE

Menu
Wimbledon.com uses cookies.
We use simple text files called cookies, saved on your computer, to help us deliver the best experience for you. Click continue to acknowledge that you are happy to receive cookies from Wimbledon.com.
CONTINUE > Find out more
News
Friday, 10 June 2016 17:52 PM BST
Five things you may not know about Federer's game
Mark Hodgkinson reveals five surprising aspects about Federer's game READ MORE

Every summer on Centre Court, Federer conducts a Pavlov's Dog experiment during his service games. 

You'll often hear Federer's opponents saying that the Swiss has "no patterns" on his serve - they believe the Swiss plays primarily, if not purely, on instinct. They're much mistaken. The truth is, Federer appears to think more about the strategies of tennis than anyone else on the lawns. 

Over the course of last summer's Championships, Federer's favourite serve - at all stages of his service games - was to go wide. Almost half of them - some 47 per cent - landed wide, with 42 per cent down the 'T' and 11 per cent to the body.  When Federer was serving from the deuce court, he favoured a wide serve 52 per cent of the time. But go a little deeper and consider how Federer tends to serve wide on the opening two points. Should Federer move the scoreboard to 30-love, his opponent's Pavlovian response will be to expect another serve wide - which is why the serial champion will probably then favour a ball down the 'T'. It sounds simple, but according to analyst Craig O'Shannessy, it's not a pattern that anyone in the locker-room appears to have picked up on. In Federer's grass-court world, his opponents are salivating dogs. 

To confuse his opponents, if Federer is leading 40-love, he tends not to hit one of his favourite serves, but will opt for something a little different just to create the illusion of a mix. That could mean Federer going for a bigger serve than usual or trying to jam his opponent with the ball fired into the body. If he loses the point, it's not such a problem. In fact, it could even help him later in the match as his opponent will still be under the impression that the former world number one isn't following any patterns or strategies. 


Federer generates more backhand spin than his rivals do. 

In age of baseline sluggers, Federer's game has been likened to 'trying to whistle Mozart at a Metallica concert'. And there's nothing classier than his single-handed backhand. Still, there's more to the shot than beauty; there's also plenty of spin, more so than the shots struck by his Big Four rivals, who all swing at the ball with two hands. A Slazenger ball leaving Federer's strings can be fizzing through the air at a maximum of 5,300 revolutions per minute. That's considerably more spin than Rafael Nadal's backhand, which has a maximum of 4,300 RPM, and much higher than Novak Djokovic's high of 2,800 RPM and Andy Murray's top rate of 2,500 RPM. 


As one coach put it, Federer "moves like a whisper"; he also doesn't run as far as his rivals. 

On average at Wimbledon last year, Federer dashed 10.13 metres per point, while Novak Djokovic scampered 10.50 metres, Rafael Nadal covered 10.52 metres and Andy Murray ran down 10.57 metres. That pattern was repeated at the other three Grand Slams, with Federer's movement the most economical, and his rivals appearing in the same order. 


When he's at the net, Federer wins a lower percentage of points at Wimbledon than at the other majors. 

For an insight into how his game compares from one Grand Slam surface to another, it's instructive to look at the numbers for the major finals that Federer won. On the seven occasions he gathered a Wimbledon title, he won 66 per cent of the points he played at the net. Compare that to the 83 per cent he won on the day he scored his only French Open title, or the 74 per cent on the days when he won his Australian Open titles, and the 73 per cent when he won his US Open titles. 

You might say that Federer's success rate in those Wimbledon finals is bound to be lower as on the grass he is more adventurous than on the hard courts of Melbourne and New York. But that's not so. Federer made an average of 12 approaches per set during those Wimbledon finals; his mean at the Australian Open was the same, and his figure for the US Open wasn't far behind with 10 approaches per set at Flushing Meadows (at Roland Garros, he made an average of four approaches per set). 


Federer's most successful coach? Himself. 

This will be the first Wimbledon of Federer's association with Ivan Ljubicic. But whatever Federer achieves with the Croatian, the partnership won't bring as much glory as those times when the Swiss was his own muse and mentor. Eight of Federer's Grand Slam titles - so almost half of his record tally of 17 majors - were won when he was travelling solo. 


Fedegraphica: A Graphic Biography of the Genius of Roger Federer by Mark Hodgkinson (Aurum Press, £20).