INDIAN WELLS, California, March 19 (BSS/AFP) - Roger Federer leaned forward in his chair and watched the raindrops hit the ground in front of him.
The Swiss superstar had three extra minutes during a rain
delay on match point in his semi-final against Rafael Nadal to
think about what he was going to do with his next serve.
His first inclination was to go down the middle. But when
play resumed, Federer stepped up and hammered a 201-k/hr (125mph)
ace to Nadal's forehand putting the final nail in the coffin and
writing another chapter in their epic rivalry.
"I thought about going down the 'T' but when I was tossing
the ball in the air I thought I would go the other way," said
Federer, who beat American John Isner 7-6 (9/7), 6-3 in Sunday's
final for his third ATP Tour title in a row.
There is no clear blueprint to success for Federer. The 16-
time Grand Slam winner can adapt to just about any situation even
when the chair umpire unexpectedly pulls the players off the
court for a rain delay on his match point.
Whether it is on the court or off, Federer is making the
right decisions these days.
"I have definitely been fortunate throughout my career," he
said Sunday. "I have taken a lot of bad decisions. You try to not
take them later on again.
"So I think my experience has helped me out. And then you
obviously manage your life a bit different when you have family.
When you're feeling great, you're practicing well and you're
playing a lot of matches.
"But then you also never want to overdo it. I do it in
blocks. For me that works well. Other players do it completely
different. There is no written rule to it, because every player
is very different."
This is Federer's first crown in Indian Wells since he won
three titles in a row from 2004-2006. He now has a record four
titles, one more than Americans Jimmy Connors and Michael Chang.
Federer says he is pleased he was able to pull this one out
because it had such a strong field and he was battling a virus
the first week after arriving in the California desert.
"What surprises me is that I've actually won this again
after all this time, and particularly this year where I was
struggling and hurting a lot at the beginning of the year,"
"This tournament victory couldn't come at a better time in
my career. It's a big tournament. It's really wonderful winning
these big- time events on the ATP Tour."
Federer, who turned 30 last August, said all the hard work
he is putting in on the practice courts and in his fitness
training is paying off.
"It's amazing that it has all come around so nicely in the
indoor season at the end of the year starting with Basel," he
said. "I have won six out of eight. It's pretty extraordinary."