Roger Federer is Re-Inventing Tennis Yet Again With His New Shot 

At 34, Roger Federer is slower, but he’s mixing it up with some outrageous shots, like the one dubbed SABR.

3 min read
Roger Federer’s backhand is still a thing of beauty but he’s now got new weapons of mass destruction. (Photo: AP)

Roger Federer has made it to another grand slam semi-final after beating Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 in the quarter-final of the US Open on Wednesday.

Just reminding everybody, this man is 34 years old and he’s been playing professional Tennis for the last 17 years since he turned pro in 1998. Yes, he’s now a bit of a slow coach, but the man is mixing it up on the courts with some outrageous shots, including ones he seems to have invented.

Federer’s Outrageous Shot-making

Every sports great, who’s tried to prolong his career has had to adapt to the game in order to be effective on the field. For example in football, Manchester United’s Ryan Giggs moved from being a left-winger to a mid-field playmaker and Steven Gerrard became a defensive mid-fielder in the latter part of his career.

Similarly Federer too, has made some interesting changes to his game.

Roger Federer whips out a forehand in this quarter-final match of the US Open against Richard Gasquet. (Photo: AP)
Roger Federer whips out a forehand in this quarter-final match of the US Open against Richard Gasquet. (Photo: AP)

From the time the Swiss got together with coach Stefan Edberg in 2014, Federer has developed an aggressive game. He is moving forward for more net points and also trying to convert many rallies into winners.

Federer stormed 50 winners and won 23 of the 28 net approaches in the quarter-final game against Gasquet. The 17-time major winner has improved his serve as well. He has won 80 percent of his first serve points in 2015 as opposed to 77 percent of first serve points he has won in his career.

Federer’s New Shot, the SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger)

The Swiss maestro has also tried to keep himself amused with new tricks up his sleeve. Federer developed a new move during the recently-concluded tournament at Cincinnati which the tennis fraternity has named SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger). This is how he does it: he moves up to an opponent’s second serve as he is serving and converts the ball into a half volley to dictate pace in the return.

The shot was inspired by one of Federer’s long time coaches Seve Luthi. He discussed the origin of the shot in an interview after the third round in the US Open.

At the end of practice we were just kidding around almost. I said, ‘Okay, I’m going to chip and charge and just keep the points short. I’m tired. I want to get off the court soon anyway. That’s when I started to run in and hit returns. I hit a couple for a winner. They were ridiculous. He laughed, I laughed, Severin laughed. Then I did it again in the next practice just to see if it actually would still work again. Then I tried it the next practice and it still worked. That’s when Severin said, ‘Well, what about using it in a match?’ I was like, ‘Really?’ So he pushed me to keep using it and not shy away from using it in big moments.
— Roger Federer

Federer had in fact unfurled this shot to deadly effect in the final against world number one Novak Djokovic [video below].

But it’s not as if Federer has to just turn up with the shot to take the US Open. For one, his semifinal opponent (and friend) Stanislas Wawrinka has already emulated the shot.

On being questioned about Stan’s imitation of his shot, Federer joked, “We’ll do only that the whole match. The longest rally will be like, three shots.”

That In-Between Shot

Federer also has been playing shots between his legs throughout the year. The 34-year-old hit a perfect tweener lob against Sam Querrey in the second round of the Wimbledon earlier this year [video below].

His game apart, Federer has also invested time in drawing out the perfect racquet for himself. Last year, the Swiss got a racquet which has a bigger head. His new racquet is 95 square inches as opposed to his previous racquet which was 90 square inches. The bigger head provides the racquet with extra power.

So, a lot of thought and a little bit of madness has aided Federer to be fiercely competitive even in the latter stage of his career.

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