David Ferrer is a tremendous player, someone whom everybody wants to see win a major title some day. At 31, when you see Ferrer play, you feel for the guy. He is someone who gives 100 percent into every shot he plays. The way he covers the court, he could make a youngster run for his money. He volleys, he sweats, and runs hard, and looks passionate towards his game. But despite all these efforts, despite defying age with his swiftness on the court, the Spaniard is yet to win a Grand Slam title.
On the other hand, at 32, Roger Federer has 17 major titles to his name, the most in the history of the game, and the Swiss is undoubtedly rated as the greatest player of all time. In the last decade or so, tennis seemed to be a beautiful game when Federer was on song. His one-handed forehand looked as smooth as his backhand and the tennis ball almost obeyed him on the court. Individuals all across the world remained glued to their television sets, as Fedex weaved his magic on all courts.
But when you watch Federer play these days, you are forced to think whether he is the one who dominated the men’s tennis for over ten years. His pin-point serve, which was a headache for his opponents, has eluded him, so has his form. His dominance is now questionable and even though we still love his presence in the Grand Slams, he probably isn’t the man whom the opponents feared the most at one stage.
But despite all the criticism, Federer refuses to give up. His passion towards tennis is something which all of us can understand. Pete Sampras, once considered to be Federer’s arch-rival, decided to draw curtains to his illustrious career as he was sick of travelling. He couldn’t see himself sitting in a flight any more. Federer’s commitment towards the game is probably something that inspires youngsters to take tennis as a career. But his current form might not.
At the toughest phase of his career, Federer is aware of his chances in competitive tennis. He is doing all that is needed to improve. He decided to give up on a tennis racquet which made him the ‘Kind of Grass’. While senior players immediately went to the locker room after winning their initial matches in the US Open 2013, Federer practiced for another few hours, seeking his 18th major.
The timing of the US Open matches made it difficult for the Indian viewers to follow the matches of their favourite players. But you want to see Federer play, irrespective of the time, and the form.
But I was surprised to see Federer serving and volleying, quite often, in the US Open 2013. One could seen the desperation to silence his critics, one could see the way he added some more strength to his forehand, which now had more power and less accuracy, but one could also see Federer not winning against Nadal or Djokovic, only if he made it that far.
And the predictable happened. Federer was knocked out by Tommy Robredo in the fourth round, and to add to the woes of his fans, in straight sets. As Robredo celebrated his advance to a maiden quarter-final appearance, Federer once again left the court to a rousing reception, leaving his fans in a state of shock, worry and concern.
While Federer’s defeat has become a common phenomenon these days, his reaction after the loss was interesting. “I kind of self-destructed, which is very disappointing,” Federer said. And the legend didn’t lie. Robredo isn’t even half as impactful as Federer was in his prime, and the Swiss actually self-destructed himself by converting just two of the sixteen break points.
Like Federer, even we believe, in fact we want him to win another Grand Slam. The question is when? And while it remains unanswered, Federer’s ‘self-destruction’ will continue to hurt him, and his fans, as the other players take their level to new heights.