Roger Federer has admitted his year would have been “very different” had he not battled back from a 1-3 fifth-set deficit in his Australian Open triumph against Rafael Nadal.
Without a Grand Slam title since 2012, Federer fought back to beat Nadal in January’s decider in Melbourne, setting himself up for a stunning return to form.
He followed it up with back-to-back Masters victories at Indian Wells and Miami before winning his 19th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon and has risen to number two in the ATP ranking.
“I don’t think I would have won both Indian Wells and Miami,” said Federer, 36, in an interview published in Saturday’s edition of The Times newspaper. “Maybe I would have won one. I would have played on the clay maybe. The season would have been very different.
“My plan was to play maybe the quarters at best at the Aussie and then take it from there.
“By winning all those big three events at the beginning of the year, it allowed me to sit there in the top eight of the world already after a few months of the season and not worry about being ranked number 35 if I had lost early in the Australian Open because of the points I had to defend. It changed the entire mindset. Thank God it happened like this.”
Federer and Nadal’s resurgence coincided in difficult seasons for Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, both of whom saw their years curtailed by injury.
Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic are also currently sidelined, but Federer does not believe players are put under too much strain on the tour.
“I think that all of the guys had to take a break because either they are carrying an injury for a while or they are reallyfreak moment in time that it hit a lot of the guys at the same time. The US Open wasn’t quite the same”.