Hamburg 2013: The tournament that started the turnover

To most people concerned with the matter, the story of Federer's resurgence started at the 2014 Australian Open championships, when he used for the first time in a professional setting, the 97-square-inch head-size Wilson Pro Staff to dramatically positive results. However, the comeback started much earlier, ironically in the darkest moment of Federer's career, in the middle of 2013 just before his (very relative) freefall down the rankings. The resurgence started at the Hamburg tournament of that year, when he used a 95-square-inch head-sized prototype instead of his usual 90-square-inch head-sized. This article tells this in-retrospect incredibly significant turning point of Federer's career, from Federer's perspective.

2nd Round: D Brands

Brands provided the perfect 'testing opponent' for Roger Federer. What might have been a non-event in more normal circumstances though turned into a three-set scare for Roger Federer, when his quite evident discomfort with the racket - given the number of ball-shanks he made - costed him the first set. Federer however, adaptability being one of his key traits, overcame such discomfort in the last two sets. What must have felt to Federer like slow and not too compromising shots from the German, more than made up for the structural difficulties facing Federer, and prevented his elimination.

3rd Round: J Hajek

No problems from this one. The qualifier preempted any emergence of such difficulties with his taking just a bit too long to hit his shots, and to recover to neutral stance and/or position from each shot. This thus again like the previous round, made for the perfect testing opportunity for Federer, for you do not want to be burdened by the need to speed up your gameplay at a time when the main concern is to get used to the form and feel of an unfamiliar weapon. The opponent gave Federer so much to the extent that there was even some room for the 'toying around'.

Quarterfinals: Florian Mayer

This was the most capable of Federer's opponents throughout that 'testing tournament' - one-time upsetter of Nadal and one-time Wimbledon quarter-finalist. This thus represented the first true test to the 'Roger Federer with the new racket'. It was the first opponent who held him out in quality rallies, and who stole numerous points through some spectacular shot-making. Federer only just won by a thin margin - he won 7-5 in the deciding set, credits to a statistically higher amount of unforced errors and unwon netplay points.

Semifinals: Federico Delbonis

I don't think it had much to do with the racquet today- Federer (on his loss to Delbonis)

In spite of such statement of Federer, we believe that the discomfort with the new racket, evident even throughout the earlier matches of the tournament, plays a significant reason in his defeat. Firstly, Federer was taking longer than his usual to execute his shots - this is a very significant factor given that speed and surprise are core reasons why Federer is so great. Secondly, he clearly has very little touch throughout these matches. If you observe attentively, you would notice that the rates at which he failed to successfully execute his drop shots and slices are what you can say, compared to his usual, astronomical. Thirdly, although this could be linked to the second reason, his ability to hit dangerously angled shots (another core trait of Federer) was almost comparatively absent throughout the tournament.

The fruits of the change, like any other usual significant one, would not come immediately, when they came, they more than made up for this loss by massive proportions.

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