“I’m still very hungry and motivated to keep playing, so a match like this is very helpful. it’s been a privilege and honour to play here. Of course, I would liked to have won but still, I enjoyed myself”
So said Roger Federer after losing his second successive Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic. (Thankfully, the tears have long dried up). The 17-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t won a grand slam since defeating Andy Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon. Since then, Federer has lost many battles, but at the end of it, he’s echoed the same line – ‘I’m hungry for more’.
Shortly after his interview, followed by Djokovic expressing his feelings on the major triumph, Federer was seen waving to the fans in every corner of SW19. That brief moment made we wonder, are we seeing the last of the great man at Wimbledon? Is he going to announce his retirement?
Well, all such fears were laid to rest as the dreaded talk of retirement didn’t feature in the 7-time champion’s post match press conference. There were no regrets, as the Swiss maestro seemed content with his game, and his performance here at Wimbledon..
Newspapers/bulletins across the the world are marveling at yet another great match, how Federer gave it all, how Djokovic thwarted the great man with a clinical display. True, all the action made for a great display, but this game wouldn’t rank among the greatest games ever. Nor did Djokovic play out of his skin to beat Federer.
In the end, it was a similar story. Fed-error! More than Djokovic winning, it was Federer who bulked under the pressure. The stats don’t lie. The Swiss had 35 unforced errors as opposed to the mere 16 by the world no.1 Djokovic. Up 4-2 in the first set, Federer let go of a great opportunity, eventually losing the set 7-1 in the tie-breaker. Federer did produce some fine shots to win the second set, but it was Djokovic who missed numerous chances to go 2-0.
Throughout the 4-sets, Djokovic played the waiting game, merely returning the ball, and waiting for Federer to implode. This was more apparent in the fifth game of the 4th set when, down break point, Federer drew the simplest of forehand winners wide. He wilted when up 30-0 on the Djokovic serve at 3-4 after the rain break, and in no time was down 15-40 in the subsequent game, eventually losing the match.
Now for those who’ve watched Federer carefully over the last three years, the great man has been found wanting in the mental strength in these big ticket games.
Fathom this, the Federer-Djokovic rivalry is all tied at 20 games a piece, but importantly, Federer hasn’t beaten Djokovic in a grand slam since the 2012 Wimbledon semi-final. The Serbian now leads 7-6 in all clashes at Grand Slams.
Now, when compared with Nadal, Federer has hardly troubled the Spaniard with Nadal leading this duel by 23-10. The 9-time French Open champion has won their last five meetings, and in the Grand Slams, Federer has only won two out of the 11 matches.. Astonishingly, Federer hasn’t beaten Nadal in a Grand Slam since the 2007 Wimbledon final.
Nadal and Djokovic are 5 years younger to Swiss, but how can Roger Federer be called the greatest player of all-time when he’s finished second best to his biggest competitors?
This is not an article to belittle the great man’s achievement, after all, I, too, like the universe, am a Federer fan. But stats don’t lie. To his credit though, at 33 (34 next month), Roger Federer is still playing a very high level of tennis. He still reaches the finals, semi-finals and quarter-finals at the grand slams and other big tournaments. This kind of consistency eluded greats like Sampras, Agassi, and Becker when they reached the twilight of their careers..
However, as a Federer fan, it pains to see the Swiss maestro looking increasingly mortal, crestfallen with every passing year.And it’s just not Nadal and Djokovic, but Federer has come second against other contenders too. More than the losses, what’s hurt Federer fans more is how the once mighty champion, has looked so grumpy, so forlorn, so bereft of ideas in the big games.
The Swiss is arguably the greatest gentleman the game has has ever seen, and as such deserves to go on his terms, but these ever increasing losses are no longer a sight to behold. It doesn’t make us happy. So, while the Swiss maestro is happy with his game, soon there’ll a come a time, when few more losses to Nadal and Djokovic, will make him ponder.
“Is this legacy that I will leave behind?