Kolkata, March 23: The secret to Roger Federer's success this year has been his fearless game where the Swiss tennis ace has been seen playing all the shots in the book, former Davis cup captain Naresh Kumar says.
Since enduring a six-month injury layoff at the end of 2016, Federer, 35, returned to action at the start of the season in spectacular fashion, capturing his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open with a five-set victory over arch-rival Rafael Nadal of Spain.
At the BNP Paribas Open earlier this month, the 35-year-old has won 18 Grand Slam singles winner, beat compatriot Stan Wawrinka to win his fifth Indian Wells crown.
"Tennis now is based on who's injured and who's not injured. And all of them hide their injuries. They don't want to show it. The sponsors may not help them. See (Novak) Djokovic seems to have run out. (Andy) Murray seems to be bobbling," Kumar, who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon in 1955, told reporters here on Thursday.
"Once you break down one muscle of your body, it needs a compensatory muscle. In doing that, the other muscle goes. So it's a very difficult thing. Actually, he (Federer) has lost the fear of losing. Everybody is calling him a loser so he is playing his shots and it is coming off magnificently."
Underlining the importance of Federer's backhand, which the other big three of Nadal, Djokovic and Murray helped improve by constantly attacking it, Kumar said: "The secret is his backhand. And you know how that backhand came?
"Because all in the four were attacking his backhand all the time and, with practice, his backhand became strong. And they made him into what he was. A terrific machine. I think he has balance and balance is the essence of life. At 35, to win a Grand Slam is not easy though you can say most of the others are injured, it's a great thing."
Kumar though stopped short of calling Federer the greatest of all time.
"But it's difficult to call anyone the greatest. The greatest can only be assessed with the surroundings one has. I think he is so far the greatest player."