Roger Federer, Once Exciting, Has Become Boring At Wimbledon And Elsewhere

Roger Federer is Inhuman

6/24/08 in Tennis   |   TheBigThree   |   1 respect

"Inhuman" is seriously the word that best describes Roger Federer. He is, indeed, otherworldly. He is, indeed, next-to-infallible. He is, indeed, unbreakable—in more ways than one, mind you.

But by the same token, he's that "other" definition of inhuman. He's cold-blooded. He's merciless.

Well, he's both of those on court. With a microphone in his face, not so much.

His modesty is almost grating. His humility is almost annoying. His endless thanks for those great champions that came before him and his contemporaries who have been reduced to pests almost seem forced. But they're all so true.

They're true because Roger Federer's knees buckle and his tears well in the spotlight of triumph. The value he places on winning is premium. Even more so, the satisfaction he derives from living up to and exceeding his own expectations seems to him, well, oh-so-satisfying. He doesn't dare hide what it means to him to win a major tournament—we’ve seen it when he’s assumed the fetal position on the grass at Wimbledon and the hard stuff in Flushing (no clay stains from Paris just yet).

But the truth hurts. Fact is, Federer has completely monopolized the sport of tennis. Disregard the fact that he can't beat Nadal at Roland Garros—he's come plenty close. He’s reached the French final three years running, and no offense to my main man Pete, but that trumps the completeness of Sampras’ game three-fold. This man Federer takes every other man's absolute best shot and repels it as if he's a brick wall. This man takes every seeming glimmer of hope and suffocates it within the span of a single point. This man is so damn remarkable, so damn unbelievable, so damn near-perfect that it's almost boring—yes, boring—to watch him anymore.

Think of Federer as a virtuoso musician: a man who has changed the world with his creativity and unparalleled ability. He has written and performed pieces of music which appear timeless and have transcended all that has come before him. For years, onlookers have gawked at his talent, have revered his work ethic, and have appreciated his unique place atop history. But at what point do his contributions become little more than showmanship? How much more icing does he really have to spread on that cake? How much longer can people maintain their enthusiasm for someone who has hijacked the tennis scene for an entire era?

Every time Roger Federer blocks back consecutive bombs off the forehand of Andy Roddick and follows them up with a sublime running backhand that lands three feet over the net with an angle that nearly defies physics, it's commonplace. Every time he slices and dices Djokovic left and right before whipping a passing shot when any other player would be playing defense, it’s expected. In today’s difficult real estate market, perhaps men like Federer provide the troubled with an out—bet the house on Roger at Wimbledon and be rewarded. The man simply has no weaknesses, no fears, and no inhibitions to him attaining victory whenever and wherever he so desires, save that one day a year in Paris against that one guy from Spain.

All comers throw the kitchen sink, the neighbor's pit bull, and a potpourri of pointed objects Roger Federer's way every time he takes the court. And still, somehow, someway, he comes up with the big serve when he needs it, the unflappable defense when the heat is on, and the kill when he smells blood. Thing is, Roger Federer smells blood before his opponent is even wounded. Thus why he's unbeatable when he feels like being unbeatable.

Federer has wowed enough to the point where the jaw-dropping has become the monotonous. It's enjoyable for our heroes to stumble here and there—Tiger has missed big putts and Jordan did miss big jumpers—because it makes the rebound from the failure all the more rewarding to watch and all the more fresh. In Federer's case, there is no stumbling. There are no chinks in the armor. Roger Federer is a machine.

I begin to care less and less each time he wins, because there exists no more intrigue. It's the same destination with a slightly different path. And as hard as it is to not like a champion as magnificent and grateful as Roger Federer, he has absolutely nothing left to prove. All that's left to do is to continue to crush upstarts, wake up from the occasional dropped set, and figure out a way to conquer Rafa on clay.

He may figure it out someday. Hopefully I'll still be interested to watch.
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6/24/08   |   TheBigThree   |   1 respect

(Edited by TheBigThree)

He has reached 16 consecutive Grand Slam semis.  He has been to 11 out of the last 12 Grand Slam finals.

The first half of his season has been rough.  Let us all collectively wet our pants in utter despondence -- "My word, what has happened to Roger?!"

I don't buy that Nadal is "coming" for Federer, because outside of his moderate struggles on hard courts, Nadal is already there.  It's inarguable that at this particular moment in time, no one is in a better groove.  But to call Rafael Nadal any kind of "favorite" coming into Federer's tournament is asinine.  Federer won a clay court event heading into this year's French Open, too.  And good for Nadal that he took Federer to five sets in last year's final.  Federer has still won the danged thing five times in a row.  Until he's unseated, he's the favorite.  Period.

If he loses in this tournament in any fashion to any player -- outside of a 6-7, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 18-20 loss to Nadal in the final -- surely everyone (who gives a damn about tennis) will flip out, just as we did when Tiger was in the slump of his life not too long ago.  Golfers and tennis players have different shelf lives, thus the comparison between Tiger and Federer is faulty, but look at what Tiger did when he hit rock bottom (for his standards).  Woods came back with a vengeance and the turnaround was rapid.

No matter that Nadal has arrived and no matter that Djokovic is on the way -- Federer is still Federer.  He is just 26.  He will continue to have more individual moments of brilliance than anyone.  Just because he may be at a crossroads in his career doesn't mean his greatness is in any way over.  Perhaps it's time for him to begin another chapter, but another chapter is not the end of a run.  It is very likely a continuance of his greatness that will take on a new face because new challenges and new challengers have burst onto the scene.  And like other greats of their sports -- Tiger, MJ, Brady -- Federer, too, will find a way to duplicate and build on already wild success, because that's what legends do.  Nothing can stand in his way; not even history, because he's the man writing the book.

6/24/08   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

derms33 wrote:
I believe I saw he was considered an Underdog.  Who the hell is favored?  Nadal?  This isn't clay!

Nadal also took Federer to 5 sets last year, just won a grass tournament, and is in much better form than Federer.

This article feels like it should've been written last year. This year Fed's only won two tournaments, and neither are very big. The armor is showing chinks this year. Nadal and Djokovic are coming for him, and quickly. The Aussie Open had the mono excuse. The French had the excuse of Nadal being a clay god. If he loses Wimbledon, what's the excuse then? There won't be one. That's what makes this tournament intriguing, and it could determine if Federer's run of greatness is over.

6/24/08   |   derms33   |   17645 respect

I believe I saw he was considered an Underdog.  Who the hell is favored?  Nadal?  This isn't clay!