2016 has been a year to savour for Roger Federer, but the Swiss great has revealed that things could have gone quite differently in contrasting circumstances.
This season, the Swiss great rolled back the years and delivered some scintillating on-court performances, as he added two more Grand Slams at the Australian Open and at Wimbledon to his already bulging collection.
And, he secured the sunshine double of winning at Indian Wells and Miami in the same year.
Yet, Federer has admitted that it was his success at the Australian Open that paved the way for his incredible year of success.
At the start of the year, Federer returned to the tour after missing a large chunk of the previous season in order to fully recover from a troublesome knee injury.
Some began to wonder whether time was finally catching up with the man widely regarded as the greatest of all time.
Knee injuries are a tennis pro’s worst nightmare, and in his mid-30 now, there was no guarantee that he would regain his place at the top of the men’s game.
Federer set himself low expectations for the first Grand Slam of the season, telling the Times: "My plan was to play maybe the quarters at best at the Aussie and then take it from there."
However, he went on an incredible run to become the oldest man in a Grand Slam semi-final since 1991.
In the final he faced his old nemesis Rafael Nadal, in a match that captured the imagination of tennis supporters across the world. In a thrilling final, despite being 3-1 down in the fifth and deciding set, Federer recovered to secure his 18th Grand Slam title.
Federer explained: "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 No 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."
The ranking points he racked up early in the season allowed him to play with the freedom and confidence that ultimately resulted in his triumph in Melbourne. This win set up his whole season, and the incredible success that followed.
"I don’t think I would have won both Indian Wells and Miami [had I not comeback against Nadal],’ Federer admitted.
"Maybe I would have won one. I would have played on the clay maybe. The season would have been very different."
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