A drop shot especially an off-forehand caressed across the net reminded everyone of his exquisite touch.May brought Rome. And he reaped his first trophy of 2009.June, Roland Garros, the French Open, and its perfectly manicured clay rectangle Everything was just so Federer fitted Paris like a native. Here, he married cool, understated smoky blue with a highlight of coral at his neck.His effort, fitness, and concentration had to be as crisp and complete as his look. This was the most valued prize and proved to be the most hard won.
Sets fell by the wayside, and two matches almost fell on stony ground. Tommy Haas saw the prize ripped from his grasp by a Federer suddenly possessed.Del Potro almost stole the show two matches later. Federer, though, could see his name on the trophy: Soderling wasdispatched in straight sets as gentle rain christened his efforts. Fields of gold (Eva Cassidy)The Federer trajectory since spring had swung upwards as temperatures rose into high summer.Injuries were behind him, records were broken, and his personal life burgeoned. The sun-kissed assassin had started to take the tour by the throat, his outer contentment masking a steely resolve.July, and an emerald Wimbledon offered the chance to etch his name in gold for a sixth time.Glimmering in white, his look was stripped down to crisp simplicity: immaculate fit, diamond bright, with just a hint of gold on breast, thigh and shoe. Understated, practical and classy.In action, the sweep of his arms and shoulders were swan-like, wings angled back like a bird taking flight.He has always held the Wimbledon crowds in his palm.
This year’s performance on London’s lawns was like a kiss on their cheek.His tennis came together with a fluidity, lightness and ingenuity not seen in many a season. If it had not, if his piercing serve, his energised backhand, and his deft drop shot had not born such fruit, he may have lost one of the greatest battles of his career. But gentle sunlight shone on a victory over a gallant but shattered Andy Roddick.The rest of high summer saw Federer retreat to the embrace of family and restful mountains, to the headiness of sleepless nights with newborn babies, and to reflections, alongside the tranquil waters of Lake Zurich, on what had been and what lay ahead.This happy month, away from the whirligig of the tour, mirrored that less happy break in the cool weeks between winter and spring That season was tinted with cobalt blue, stormy sea blue. Black made its first assertive statement, trimming neck and forehead, and presaging autumn’s black-and-bright theme.Revenge over rivals from the spring came with satisfactory ease: Murray in the semis, Djokovic in the final.Federer took his fourth title from five majors. New York lay ahead. A study In scarlet (Arthur Conan Doyle)White-bright summer afternoons turned to burnished days and velvet-warm nights at Flushing Meadows Cheeks, appropriately, became flushed from a hot, humid sun.
Colours exploded around the most vibrant venue in the world: Jackson Pollock made flesh.The defending champion hoped for a record-breaking sixth title and dressed the part.At high noon, Federer burned in vivid scarlet. At night, the crimson darkened to ink, with flames licking forehead and throat. Man turned volcano: body dark as granite, opening through red collar like molten lava.So poppy-red days, like a Mediterranean garden, alternated with silky black evenings floodlit into operatic Technicolor.He lost one set under the blazing sun to Lleyton Hewitt He lost another under a cloud-heavy sky to Soderling. Federer, hard as jet, intense as fire, dug deep in pursuit of the prize.With Djokovic dismissed, the black knight emerged for the final showdown It proved to be a step too far. Black and scarlet trumped by Del Potro’s black and gold.Within a week, restored tovermilion in Italy, Federer led the charge for Davis Cup victory on Italy’s clay Season of mellow fruitfulness.