Writing this goes against everything I’ve been saying lately, but I just have to get this off my chest. While complaining about how much people focus on Roger Federer, I’ve been called a Nadal fan, a Sampras fan, a Federer hater, and anything else that means I hate Federer and want him to disappear.
So for starters, I don’t think Federer is actually perfect, but his tennis and life are pretty close to it. I’m not looking forward to Federer’s retirement at all. But I’ve been reading about how great his tennis is for so long, it surprises me to see people still obsess about him endlessly. I’m pretty obsessed with Federer myself but I can stop myself from gushing about how perfect his game is. Honestly, what bugs me is how anticlimactic the Australian Open was. At the end of the day, I wanted Federer to win the most (Djokovic would be first if he was constantly disappointing).
It’s not that I want Federer to lose, it’s that I want other players to win. I’ve been watching Federer from the very beginning and I saw him soar to the top, struggle a bit, go down, come back up, go down again, come back up again, and now he’s soaring again. And even though I’d rather Federer had beaten Nadal at the French back in 2005, a part of me is glad things turned out the way they did. The 2009 French Open victory was so incredibly sweet. On match point, me and my friends stood up. When Federer fell to his knees, we were all jumping up and down like a couple of school girls who just talked to their crush for the first time. Hell, I may have let out more emotion than even Federer did. But the win was especially sweet since it not only took him a few years, but he even struggled throughout the tournament. Andy Murray said that when he does win his first slam, it’ll be even sweeter than usual because he lost his first 2. Well that’s how it was with Federer, only he lost 3 FO finals.
Before 2008, back when Federer was in ultra-dominant mode, I was a huge supporter of his dominance. People have been saying he makes tennis boring since 2004, but I always loved it. Why would you want to watch anyone but Federer when this guy plays the most amazing tennis? It was never boring for me because Federer is and always has been a blast to watch. Then he started struggling and Nadal took over and it was awful for me. But now he’s back up there and it’s hard explain why my opinion has changed. The only thing I can say is that even if I want Federer to win, I want to see other players push him. In other words, I enjoy the fighting Federer more than the super dominant one, at least nowadays. And it’s not that I want him to play bad, I want to see epic clashes between the best players in the world.
When I was watching the Australian Open final this year, I was pulling for Murray for a large part of the match because things looked too easy for Federer. I wanted a fourth or even fifth set. Nonetheless, there was something I loved a lot about this match: Federer’s backhand. From the very beginning of the match, Federer was hitting his backhand so well I was shocked, but it also made it clear that Murray was going to have to dig especially deep if he wanted to win. I saw someone say that after being pushed, Federer has managed to improve his backhand at the ripe old age of 28. Well, that’s not entirely true. Federer’s backhand was HUGE in 04, 05, and 06. But, particularly in the last two years, it’s been letting him down more often. All of the sudden he is hitting it with perfect accuracy and incredible power, and that’s what it’s all about. I don’t want Federer to suffer, but it is fun watching him struggle only to come out blazing. He’s like a phoenix rising from the ashes. It’s so hard to watch the low points but then all of the sudden it turns into the most beautiful of creatures and you just can’t turn away.
I never wrote Federer off and I never understand why so many people doubted a guy who had well over 10 slams even when he was struggling. It wasn’t easy as a fan but I always believed Federer was the best. Hell, I picked Federer to win Madrid last year in my fantasy bracket (as well as a lot of other Masters where he let me down). I’ve always had faith and I don’t expect him to go down any time soon. And that’s the thing, I’ve enjoyed Federer’s success and now I want to see other players have success. Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic have been doing plenty of struggling of their own. Juan Martin del Potro has his injuries and Nikolay Davydenko has his brain farts. I’m also waiting for Richard Gasquet and Marcos Baghdatis to finally live up to their respective potentials.
For all those posters out there criticizing me for hating Federer, you couldn’t be more wrong. When I criticize people for going crazy over Federer, that’s a classic case of the pot calling the kettle black. A lot of you also ask me or even accuse me of cheering and partying after Federer’s losses. That’s also the exact opposite of reality. I get pretty depressed and usually stay away from tennis for a week or so. Some losses are less stressful than others and it’s only because some of his losses are to players I like and who I believe will be able to back up their wins. But in retrospect, only two still hurt: 2005 Tennis Masters Cup final and 2008 Wimbledon final. I still haven’t gotten over either one.
Roger Federer’s my all time favorite player right next to Marat Safin. But all of you Fed-fanatics who get insulted when someone DOESN’T like Federer or his game, relax. It’s not rude, it’s not a big deal, and it’s not the end of the world. Some people just don’t like the elegant style of Federer’s game and some people think Federer’s arrogant and selfish and whatnot. Well, I don’t agree with that but I can see why some would think that. So what? To each his own, right?
One last thing, Federer is, without a doubt, the greatest player of all time. I’m still not a fan of the idea that a GOAT exists, but if it’s got to be someone, Federer is it.
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