Death, taxes and Federer. Nah, not anymore!
This is very painful because I am an out-and-out Roger Federer fan. Pragmatism, however, is slowly choking the romanticism.
Blame Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic for the low spirits.
At 32, Federer’s shoulders are not old enough for Father Time to be tapping on.
How can the Swiss great who plays tennis with the grace of a ballerina, has footwork that resembles gliding and owns an out-of-this-world forehand be a mere mortal like the rest of us?
Federer was the top dog in his sport for long, but the brutal dogfight that Nadal and Djokovic had in the final of the US Open earlier this week makes it evident that all tennis professionals including the Swiss maestro have to pull their socks up.
Rather, work their socks off.
Federer is easy on the eye. His game is smooth lines, angles and aesthetics — a beautiful Swiss Hound on court, if you please.
Nadal and Djokovic could not care less for such niceties. Both are, of course, exceptional talents. Their ground and pound games, however, are the antithesis of Federer’s.
Nadal is a Spanish bull. Come in his path and be gored. He is the only one who tamed Federer at his peak and left him in tears (2009 Australian Open final).
Can never forget Federer’s choked runner-up voice admitting, “I’ve felt better. Maybe I’ll try later. God, it’s killing me.”
The muscled king of clay is an unforgiving Rottweiler, if you please.
Djokovic is a lean and mean Serbian fighting machine. His gluten-free diet is the stuff of legends. The discipline he brings to the table is monkish. A no-nonsense Doberman, if you please.
Nadal and Djokovic in modern day tennis parlance have mind-boggling wheels and eat up real estate.
Simply put, they are fast enough to retrieve shots that would be winners against lesser players and their court coverage is unparalleled.
Federer swept fans off their feet and rivals off court, but Nadal and Djokovic appeal to the brutal in us, bludgeoning rivals into submission.
A 54-shot rally between the Spaniard and the Serbian in the US Open final will stand testimony to the fact that neither will yield an inch.
Such hard as nails approach is difficult to envision in Federer. He is tough for sure, but not in your face like his two great rivals.
Once upon a time, not too many years ago, loved it used be said that three things are certain in life — death, taxes and Federer. The first two remain steadfast, it’s Federer who increasingly looks like slipping off that exalted bracket.
Nadal and Djokovic have done that to him. In a way, he has forced them to pick up their games and tennis, as a consequence, to newer heights of power hitting.
I am not giving up on the Swiss maestro, even though he appears a fallible human these days.
The head says he will not add to his record tally of 17 Grand Slams, but the heart disagrees.
Willing to be slammed by Federer fans.
PS: Decided against writing on Sachin Tendulkar, as planned last week, because Federer’s apparent decline weighed heavy on the mind.