It’s no longer his game. He’s playing, winning a couple of matches before another painful exit. Roger Federer’s loss to Richard Gasquet didn’t even make such a splash of news in Rome. There’s no real shock in the greatest ever losing to anyone, at any stage, these days.
We’ve been this road a few times during the last couple of years – knowing the 29 year old Swiss’ time at the top or near it of World Tennis is coming to an end. It seemed that way in 2009, but a win over Rafael Nadal in the Madrid Open changed the course of history, at least for a little while. Federer won three of the next four grand slam tournaments and completed the two accouterments he was working so hard for – a career grand slam with his first Roland Garros and surpassing Pete Sampras as the winner of the most Grand Slam tournaments in history.
Then came 2010, or the post Australian Open 2010, and Federer was back on track to being the World No. 2 at best. Nadal was healthy, and Novak Djokovic was picking up steam before completely exploding in 2011 (still undefeated). Roger has been pushed back to number 3, and at this pace, the quick drop down the rankings is imminent.
I hate watching him lose. What can I do, I’m a Federer kind of guy. Always have been. Something about Nadal never scratched me right. And even he, the Spanish Toro, seems unable to handle Novak Djokovic, even on clay. We’re bound for another matchup pretty soon at the Rome final, probably a preview for an epic Roland Garros one.
Back to Federer – When someone’s been that good for so long, you don’t realize when the big drop comes. I mean you see it, but can’t comprehend. It’s an injury you say, it’s a slump, he’ll get out of it. Federer still has amazing tennis in him, but he can’t seem to let it out and subside for too long. The unforced errors from the back line, the instincts betraying him and over all things, Roger Federer, a father now, travelling with his kids and wife everywhere, is an old man in the Tennis world.
Federer has made two finals in 2011, very early on, in Qatar and Dubai. He won the Qatar tournament. Since then its been mostly Djokovic (3 times) and Nadal in his way (twice). You keep thinking, when watching Federer struggle, that he’s going to bring it on any second now. When the tie-break arrives, you know he’s going to make it. He’s clutch. No one is better in this than him. And then he loses. And realizing that his time on our TV, on the tennis courts, is going to be over soon.
I don’t want to see him getting ousted over and over again by guys he has long long winning streaks against in the first and second round. We want our heroes to go down before it turns a bit awkward to watch. Federer isn’t at that stage yet. He has some tennis left in him. I don’t know how much drive is left after so many accomplishments and everything going on in his life. At some point, you’re over it, and you move on without looking back I think. He just doesn’t have enough to win another grand slam. Unless I’m wrong about him, again.