It looked worrying ahead of the Australian Open but Roger Federer isn’t worried about an error-strewn first set in his Brisbane International final defeat.
Tennis fans have got slightly used to the great Roger Federer looking mortal at times in recent years but an error-riddled opening set in Sunday’s Brisbane International final raised plenty of eyebrows.
After reaching the decider against Lleyton Hewitt without dropping a service game in his previous three matches, Federer looked more weekend hacker than 17-time grand slam champion as the Australian veteran claimed the first set 6-1.
In 27 lacklustre minutes Federer completely missed the ball with one shot, shanked a couple more off the frame of his racquet and was broken three times by world No.60 Hewitt.
So underwhelming was the display it had many speculating if the recurring back problem which hampered the world No.6’s 2013 was flaring up again just days before the Australian Open.
Federer insisted post-match the set was just one of those things and nothing more, a claim backed up by the way he fought back to claim the second before eventually falling to a 1-6 6-4 3-6 loss to Hewitt in the pair’s 27th career meeting.
“Lleyton played good. Definitely got a lot of returns back and put the pressure on me from the baseline,” Federer said.
“I really was struggling with all sorts of rhythm. I wouldn’t say I was serving poorly, but it was just a tough set for me. I was put on the back foot very often.
“In quick conditions to find the rhythm is a difficult thing, because it’s almost something you don’t want to be looking.
“You want to keep playing your game and hope that things turn around for you eventually. Kind of did in the second set, so that was better.”
And while Sunday’s match was lost, Federer was happy overall with his Brisbane performance as he tries to reclaim his glory days and overcome rivals Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray for a fifth Australian Open crown.
“Pretty pleased just that my body is holding up good in the first week, because you don’t quite know what to expect,” he said.
“Overall many good things, but then also a couple things you need to just readjust maybe … get to Melbourne and see what the court speed is down there and then you’ll have a real good idea of what you need to work on.”