Roger Federer recalls: ‘I grew up on clay, but grass is my favorite surface’

Roger Federer became Wimbledon junior champion at 16 in 1998, showing his grass-court skills and becoming a player to watch on the fastest surface in the next two decades. After a couple of mediocre years at the All England Club on the senior level, Roger defeated Pete Sampras in the memorable fourth-round encounter in 2001 en route to the quarter-final, dethroning the Wimbledon king and losing to Tim Henman in the next round. Roger experienced another early loss at his beloved Major in 2002 before heading all the way a year later to embrace tennis glory at 21.

Ever since, the Swiss has been one of the most accomplished competitors on the green surface, winning 19 titles, including eight crowns and over 100 victories at Wimbledon. On the other hand, despite growing up on clay, Roger could not find the rhythm on the slowest surface in his first years on the Tour, improving that in 2001 and becoming a contender at Roland Garros from 2005. Speaking about two surfaces in Miami 2002, Roger said it is easier to play the decisive points on grass than on clay. You have to work harder to earn it on the slowest surface, and it also exposes your vulnerabilities to the rival since you can not control the exchanges as you do on grass.

Roger Federer spoke about clay and grass in Miami 2002.

“I play better on grass than clay, that’s for sure, even though I grew up on clay and played on it throughout my career, also during winter in a balloon. It’s weird because I had a 0-11 score in my first ATP matches on clay; I was like, ‘This is not possible.’ When you play big points, you can see more weakness in your game on clay than on grass. You usually have two or three shouts on grass, and sometimes you can be lucky as well; you never know in such a short rally. You have to work hard to earn the point on clay; there’s no guessing there.

I was disappointed with my game on clay before, but now it has gotten much better; I had some good results. On the other hand, I won the junior title at Wimbledon in 1998, but the results on grass were not there in the next couple of years. I was waiting for it for the entire season, only to suffer losses in the first rounds. Then, the big thing happened when I beat Pete Sampras, and now everybody considers me the favorite. I feel good on grass; I was surprised when I defeated Sampras but not by the level I produced,” Roger Federer said.

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