Roger Federer: Enjoy the experience while it lasts
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(This blog post is written by Siddharth Kapoor, who is a junior doing his B.Tech in Civil Engineering from
. VIT University)
It is hideous to watch Roger Federer wane. Federer, after his most wretched summer in a decade, is now caught stranded at a strange crossroad, between being one of the most eminent players in tennis annals and a perilous future which promises to only go downhill.
Roger Federer looked sluggish this year and his results have been way underneath his standards. The 32-year-old began this year as World No. 1 and reaching the semifinals in the
but the remaining three Grand Slams have been disappointing; with a
quarterfinal departure at Roland Garros followed by a shocking second-round
defeat at Wimbledon and then his miserable
last 16 exit at the Flushing Meadows.
After his historical record-setting mark of 33 straight quarterfinal or better appearances at Grand Slams came to a sudden and shocking end at this year’s Wimbledon by the hands of Sergiy Stakhovsky, a player then ranked outside the top 100, the naysayers smelled weakness and went on overdrive to thrust it under the spotlight.
However, the Swiss maestro decided to stay resolute and push ahead, sending away all questions about him hanging his boots. By doing so, the 17-time Grand Slam champion dangers impairing his historic legacy, a prospect further enhanced by his fourth around rout in the hands of Tommy Robredo, whom he had never lost in 10 previous meetings.
For the first time since 2002, Roger Federer will end a year without a Major title, and a career low ranking of No. 7. It’s visible that Federer has struggled in 2013 with a record of 32 to 11 in singles play and only one title to his name. Roger Federer, a shadow of his former self, is clearly on the decline.
So what’s next for Roger? Will he bounce back? Or will the ‘retirement’ arrive sooner than later?
Many great players had been in the similar situations in the past and regardless of the odds, they had won Grand Slams or came close to winning it. Pete Sampras (and was undergoing similar treatment in press rooms and daily sports pages) was 31 when he captured the 2002 U.S. Open, and Agassi was 32 when he won the 2003 Australian Open. Eight-time Grand Slam winner Jimmy Connors kept playing for nearly ten years after falling from the No. 1 ranking but left an indelible mark in the minds of tennis fans with his improbable 1001 US Open semi-final run.
While Sampras had to overcome up-and-coming players in the form of Tommy Haas and Andy Roddick, and eventually beat Agassi in the final, the current crop of players have elevated tennis to a whole new level, which is partly due to Federer’s stratospheric levels. Federer’s stratospheric tennis forced his competitors to push themselves beyond themselves to catch up with ”Fedex’. In an amusing irony, it can be safely said that the Swiss’ dominance has eventually caught up with him, for now his younger rivals
have not merely become better all-round players but have also toiled to up the physical demands of the game.
Federer has nearly a half-dozen rivals with Nadal,
Murray, Potro, and Tsonga and even
Berdych all looking very sturdy and consistent in Grand Slams and to win
another, he must beat at least two big guns of the game. So, can Federer to do
it given that he faces a tougher competition than they did? Djokovic,
Back in 2008, Rafael Nadal toppled Federer to being the numero uno in the tennis world and begin dominating on all surfaces, leaving many to ponder whether Federer has it in him to regain his top-dog status. And, the rest they say is history as he climbed back the perch again by winning the US Open at a time when even his ardent supporters had began doubting his ability.
Again, in 2011, Novak Djokovic looked supreme, driving Federer into unacquainted territory as the World No. 4, but come June, Federer acquired his 17th Grand Slam at
reclaimed the No. 1 ranking, eventually surpassing Sampras’ record for most
weeks at the top.
So, if the past tells us anything, it’s that a cornered Federer is even more dangerous. He’s still motivated and he loves playing the game and it would premature to write off somebody of his stature.
Let’s keep opinions aside. Let’s forget the statistics. Forget the records. Forget that it’s a competitive sport. Forget success. Just watch Federer play in isolation. Even in what is regarded as a bad season, Federer produced moments of brilliance that few players can replicate. That elegant one-handed backhand and the effective flowing forehand still has the power, grace and the ease to awe-inspire tennis fans around the world.
He still provides fans with innumerable moments of pure brilliance, at times reminding us of his crispy serves and smacking volley.
Age may not be on his side, competition may be getting harder, and weaknesses are clearer than ever but Federer’s elegance and brilliance still retain the charisma to draw any person towards the game of tennis. He may or may not win another Grand Slam but he will definitely compensate for it by drawing millions of people towards the game.
Remember, watching Federer wield his racquet like a wand is a religious experience. Genius is not replicable.
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