Wednesday, November 19, 2008


2008 has been a BAD year for Roger Federer. He began with illness and defeat at the Australian Open and ended similarly with sickness and slump at the recently concluded Masters at Shanghai.

For Federer-fanatics like me, it’s been a year-long low of watching and hoping, and then wincing at each unexpected defeat. You see, defeats were unexpected from Federer, till this year. Oh, there have been flashes of flair and grace of movement, and touches of perfection in shot-making, but the consistency’s been missing for quite a while. Except in the by-now-familiar shake of the downturned head, in defeat after defeat.

I am all admiration for the huffing-hardhitting tenacity of Nadal, and the goofy bang-on mimicry and success of Djokovic, (even Murray’s laidback scruffiness is fine), but Federer is above mere admiration. When in top form, he evokes the jaw-dropping awe and the breath-taking adrenalin rush associated with sheer, supreme, seemingly-effortless perfection. Gliding to victories, soaring into record-books, he made his fans coast along on a heady tide of invincibility for years, minor blips at the French Open notwithstanding. If Agassi could say, grass is for cows, Federer-fans could add, clay is for potters. He was winning everything else, anyway.

Till we came down with a series of thumps this year. From the ritual-humiliation at the French Open, to the agonizing-albeit-classic encounter at Wimbledon. The only bright spot was the US Open, where the Federer-aura was humanized by the underdog-edge and the emotions were as much on display as the sublime skills.

And now, in 2009, will Federer be able to surpass his past? He has both defeat and victory to motivate him. The defeats of 2008 can be avenged to teach the brat pack the lessons of the maestro. Victories will raise the records-bar even higher.

We’ve lucky to witness his rise and his glory. Now if Federer has to fade away, please please please can he do it with a BANG and not with a whimper?


Lazyani said...

Federer was to me all that tennis stood for. Poise, power, grace and humility in a single package. It feels bad to see him loose as frequently as he does these days.

But, he for me remains a complete champion.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

I totally agree with you. And so do millions of others, including other sporting greats like Vishwanathan Anand. In today's Times of India, he eulogises Federeras being "pure class" on-court.

Anil P said...

The others are beginning to catch up with him. It had to happen sometime.

MoziEsmé said...

I haven't been a follower, but a few years ago we watched a match while on vacation, and it amazed me how the best players appeared weak when playing him. He was invincible and made it seem so easy.

Paul Bernard said...

I saw a Wimbledon replay of a match between a young Federer and Pete Sampras coming to the close of his career.
It was a great match. Well worth checking out.

Sucharita Sarkar said...

Hi Anil and Moziesme,

Both of you are right. Federer is a champion, but the poignancy is in the fact that he is an aging champ.

Hi Paul,

that match pits two of my all-time faves - Sampras and Federer, though unequally. I just cherish the match.