“It’s Not Easy To Watch You Getting Defeated”: To Roger Federer, With Love
Dear Roger Federer,
It’s just been two weeks since your defeat in the second round of the Wimbledon. It’s been two weeks since you snapped your unprecedented streak of 36 straight quarter final appearances in majors. Yes, it’s been, two weeks since you, Roger Federer, was defeated by the world number 116, a player whose only claim to fame is defeating you at the Big W. As I pen down this article, I remember the morning paper reporting your drop in ranking to no.5, something I would have definitely passed off as a joke, a few years back.
Roger, you must have heard of India, the land of Paes and Bhupathi and of course your friend Tendulkar, who is nothing less than a God here and his sport no less than a religion. Yes this is India, where I hail from and right till my teens it was always cricket and Tendulkar who ruled my mind.
It was but on a summer day in the year 2003 when my dad almost forcefully introduced me to tennis, my first match being the Big W final between you and Mark Philippoussis, whom you ruthlessly defeated in straight sets. Your win did not really create much of an impact on a 10-year-old Indian’s mind but I distinctly remember that your game had a grace and finesse which made you seem more like an artist than a sweaty, aggressive sportsman. It was like watching a VVS Lakshman inning, where a distinct flick of the wrist or a graceful movement of the bat controlled the game rather than sheer manpower.
It was since then, that, I became your fan and needless to say, you never, ever disappointed me. While a Sachin may have followed up a century with a duck, you were always winning and controlling the game like a powerful, ruthless dictator. From a Marat Safin to a Leyton Hewiit to an Andy Roddick, plenty of talented and gifted players were simply admonished by the Federer storm. Rafael Nadal, the French Open or the clay surface may have been impediments in your path to greatness but they were overshadowed by your accomplishments in every other surface. Even clay has never really been your weakness because you have had your share of success at the French Open only to fall short of Nadal on a few occasions.
But Roger, you have really not been the same old Roger Federer since 2009. With Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Del Potro or even Tsonga stealing the show, you have been somewhat moved to the sidelines. It’s difficult for me to say this and I guess it must be even more difficult for you to admit. You might have reached the semis of most of the majors but you have not managed to bag more than two Grand Slams. While even two Grand Slams mean the world to any other average tennis player you should not forget that you are none other than The Roger Federer. It is painful and heart wrenching to watch you struggle desperately to bring back the game of your heydays. It’s not easy to watch you getting defeated by players who would never really stand a chance in your glorious days.
Come on Federer, admit this. You have gone past your heydays. You are no longer the genius that you used to be. But no, that can never take away the fact that you have been perhaps the greatest person ever to hold the tennis racquet. No one can deny the fact that in your prime, no Murray or no Djokovic could have dreamt of defeating you.But, age and time does take its toll on one and all. You are still the world No.5 and even now at the top of the game. You can still play better tennis than most of the world.
But Federer, please leave while you are still good and don’t just keep on playing for the sake of it. It’s not really possible for you get back to the top with your present game and age. I know you will miss tennis and we will miss watching you. But we would rather watch our hero win and rule the world rather than struggle like another mere mortal.
A Die-Hard Fan, Neelabjo