Roger Federer won his 78th ATP title at the Dubai Championships. (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)
Aces and Faults recaps the week in tennis.
Roger Federer — Dubai Championships
By winning his biggest title in 18 months, Federer ended any lingering doubts about his improved form this season. Just over two months into the season, he has already matched his tally of titles (one) and victories against top-10 players (four) from 2013. He’s made the semifinals in all three starts and the final of two. He appears comfortable with his new racket. His fitness level is high, as he got through four matches in four days, with back-to-back three-set wins to finish the week. In other words, all signs point to “go” in Federer’s world.
His self-belief — something that escaped him last season — helped secure his two signature wins in Dubai. He came back from a set down against both Novak Djokovic in the semifinals and Tomas Berdych in the final. They weren’t perfect matches from Federer, but he impressed most with his patience in waiting out his mid-match dry spells. When those 15-minute stretches of poor timing and wild misses happened last year, there was a sense of panic. This year he seems to accept that this may just be the state of his game and he simply waits for things to turn around. That calmness is a great sign.
“Man, I was missing shots out there like I was totally out of sorts, and conditions were as good as they could have been,” Federer said after the final. “It’s like that was a mental win for me.”