Sunday, July 08, 2007

All Hail King Federer

It must all have seemed part of a large conspiracy to Roger Federer soon after the match began. He seemed to have more opponents than he was prepared for – Nadal, the chair umpire, the linesmen, even Hawkeye (but then he didn’t really love it too much anyway). And unfortunately for him, Nadal chose this very inopportune day to prove to his own detractors that he could actually graze on British grass almost as well as skidding on clay anywhere in the world. So much so, the otherwise stone-cold Swiss even tried to question the Hawkeye software to vent his ire. I won’t be surprised if the perfectionist Federer decides to pursue a career in software programming to face his digital nemesis Hawkeye; he’s already accomplished almost everything in tennis anyway. Perhaps, his to-do list will now have an entry for “Rework code for Hawkeye or eliminate its existence” right below “Win French Open” and right above “Defeat Rafa on clay” which was crossed out after this year’s Hamburg Open.

But Federer, the champion that he is, must have relished this battle (it was pretty much an all-out war, actually) that ensued on the hallowed Centre Court greens. After five long years, he finally seemed to have an able competitor across the net at Wimbledon. But, the question that has persisted for a few years at Wimbledon now rang again – will this able competitor be the elusive dethroner this year? It took FedEx three hours and three quarters of the fourth to reply: no, not just yet. The match was an epic with both the top-ranked players proving why they are the best in the business. Cross-courts, down-the-lines, diving volleys, even winners from so far outside the camera's view, you wouldn't be blamed for assuming that someone in the crowd had taken a shot. Just when you thought you had seen the best rally of the match, the next point would produce a better one.

What this match has done, besides adding another star on that cream blazer for next year, is refute the popular myth that Federer cannot be stretched to a five-setter, let alone be defeated, at the All England Club. Ironic that Federer’s last five-setter in this Grand Slam came in 2001 against the legend (my fave) Pete Sampras.
The result was the same as in this match and many regard that as the passing on of the torch from a seven-time Wimbledon conqueror to an erstwhile upcoming player who now boasts of five consecutive Wimbledon championships.

Coming back to that cream blazer, you can call that chic or cheeky, but Mr.Federer couldn’t care less. If 2006 saw the introduction of the blazer, 2007 saw Rog taking a step ahead by
adding a vest and white pants (the latter bringing to my memory apna Bollywood ka Jeetendra) to his Wimbledon wardrobe. Perhaps, the drab white shirt and shorts were too commonplace for his well-earned royalty. Just makes me wonder, what’s up for 2008? A crown with five stars emblazoned across it?

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