Let’s be honest, the headline statement is true. For the many of you out there who to a core despise Roger Federer or just generally dislike the man, this must have been a very rough last few months for you. These are indeed tough times. I feel for you guys – I do – and I see the hate and anger boiling into the comments, conversations and reactions I read on this site and elsewhere. And to a degree I can understand it: He’s not your guy.
Further compounding said suffering is when you look back from where Roger has come to where he is now, and we don’t have to look back very far.
Flashback to just four months ago. Federer was floundering, mired in arguably his worst slump since claiming the No. 1 ranking back in 2004. The Swiss could get close, but couldn’t close a win against his main combatants – Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, coming up empty behind a game that would almost on cue come unglued at all the wrong times.
And while Fed was exiting his “window of opportunity”, others where just entering their own window. Nadal was becoming more dominant, Murray was rising fast, Andy Roddick had a spark and then Djokovic drove the what many thought was the final nail into Fed’s coffin, beating Federer on that “Black Friday” on the Miami hardcourts in early April.
Ah, the sight of Federer smashing his racquet in disgust. The anguish on Roger’s face as he slid off the court in such a sad wreck that he forgot to even shake the umps hand. For many of you the skies were blue that day. The grass was green and there was an overwhelming sense that Federer’s best days were now over. It was almost a fitting, Hollywood-esq confirmation/conclusion watching Federer try to dent Miami’s center court with his Wilson.
For the Anti-Federer’s of the world, that Friday was bliss, it must have been. It was Christmas, New Year’s, St. Patty’s Day, hell Arbor Day all rolled into one. The King was dead. He had cratered. It was all but official.
The future looked even bleaker for the mighty Rog. Federer had kids on the way, but before then he’d surely have to endure a painful, titleless clay season courtesy of the unstoppable Nadal. And with his confidence so low Wimbledon would be just to big an ask against the likes of the improving Nadal, Murray and others.
The baby would pop out in mid-summer stifling any hope of him being fully ready and motivated to win a sixth US Open, leaving the once great world No. 1 starring at a plunging ranking and a Slam-less 2009. The realization would set in, that at 28, with two kids, new priorities, getting to No. 14 let alone 15 was no certainty anymore.
And I was right there with you guys. My chips were not on red.
But how things change…
Off those “April lows” Federer has roared back like a lion enjoying one of the greatest personal and professional patches any tennis player or even athlete has ever been fortunate enough to have.
Just consider what’s happened since that Miami defeat:
• He gets married to Mirka
• He beats Nadal on clay
• He wins the French Open to complete the career Slam and tie Pete
• He wins his sixth Wimbledon in an epic breaking the in-attendance Pete’s 14
• He gets his No. 1 ranking back
• He becomes a father to twin girls 2.5 weeks later
And that’s all in less then four months! Can life be any better for Federer? Can it be any worse for the legion of Fed haters (vomit)? Fortunately or unfortunately, yes and yes.
After all this, Federer’s rivals who seemed to have passed him earlier in the year appear to now be back at the starting line.
Nadal remains an iffy proposition going forward as the Spaniard battles his nagging knees and the emotional scars of his parent’s divorce. One has to wonder how Roddick will mentally recover from that devastating defeat at Wimbledon. Murray has a lot of pressure on this summer, will he finally live up to the great on the US hardcourts or will he cave in again like did Wimbledon. And for Djokovic, the Serb’s last Top 20 victory was that Federer win in Miami, and his play since that crushing loss to Nadal in Madrid seemed to have taken some wind out of his sail.
Meanwhile, it’s easy street for Roger. It’s all smiles. No more due date speculation, that’s out of the way so he can concentrate on tennis. Expectations are off, questions have been answered now that he has the French in his pocket and he’s passed Pete, which means he’ll play more relaxed, more loosely than ever. Then again, that could be a bad thing, we’ll see.
But the point of this is is that if you hate Federer, which you are perfectly entitled to do, your time will come again to sound your horn. There will be another “Black Friday”, another busted frame and many more losses to come. Hell, in 10-15 years whatever Roger (or even Rafa) does end up with may be surpassed by some kid sitting in a class room today learning how to dot his i’s and cross his t’s. It’s just hard right now to take swipes at the guy after all he’s accomplished in the last few months.
Now you will say that I’m a Fed fanatic (which I get a lot of when Roger’s winning and I’m left with having to write Roger’s winning, imagine!). Not true. I like the guy, I like watching him play but I’m not a diehard.
I actually like watching him lose, watching him slither and see what he says afterward. And I don’t think he’ll win all the time. I picked Murray to beat him at the US Open last year. I picked Rafa to Wimbledon before Federer would win the French. I even ripped Fed’s competition during his “glory” years.
I’ve called him arrogant and smug (he is!), and showy (wearing a Liberace outfit on a tennis court is clear evidence of that), but he seems to be a decent guy who doubles as a great ambassador to the sport of tennis. So I give him his due.
I’m not asking that you give the same, but I’m just saying this lovefest he’s riding now will end and you’ll have your day in the sun again. Don’t worry. So just be patient, sit tight and while you wait you better hope and pray Rafa’s knees return to full capacity, and fast! Otherwise you may want to disconnect your TV, shut down your internet, throw your cell in the river and go live in a ditch because more pain may be on the way.
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