Roger Federer has been hearing the talks, the criticism, the calls for retirement. They’ve been going on for three years now, more or less. The voices grow stronger after a disappointing finish to a Grand Slam tournament, like in 2010, when he couldn’t make it past the quarter finals at the Roland Garros and Wimbledon. Those voices dissappear when he wins the Indian Wells, his third tournament in 2012.
Does Federer take to heart? I’m don’t think so, but he certainly hears and acknowledges the fact that many, at the slightest sign of weakness, will try and send you into the tennis nursing home when you’re barely into your 30’s. Federer may not be as dominant as he was in 2004-2007 and again in 2009, but being “just” one of the top 3 players in the world certainly doesn’t mean he needs to retire, right?
We wrote about Ian Thorpe, but it touches a bigger subject. Athletes, great athletes, champions, idols and icons. We hate seeing them grow old. At the slightest sign of their decline, the knives are out. The calls to say it over grow ever louder. Shaming the past, we say. Forgetting that even not perfect is still good enough to be among the best in the world for some, which is certainly the case for Federer, who has been almost unbeatable since the 2011 US Open.
Unbeatable unless it’s Rafael Nadal on the other side, but even Nadal has lost twice to Federer in the past months, including last week at Indian Wells. Federer hasn’t won a Grand Slam in more than two years, staying put at 16, but is far from depleted in his skills, reserves, and desire to keep on playing, keep on winning, and keep on trying to return for at least one more time to the top of the rankings.
As expected, he’s getting tired from hearing he should give up the sport, especially during his current streak.
Roger Federer – It was a bit like being pinched all the time. You know how it was, ‘Am I going to quit?’ I know I come to different places all year and each event wants their answer, but sometimes it came from those who know me and after I lose a big match it’s like, ‘Come On! I’m not afraid of playing and taking losses, but then you get a double whammy from the press. I don’t like it when the fans start believing that this is the way it is.
It’s about perspective. Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray are perfect examples. Nadal won a grand slam tournament and made seven more finals. Mostly, it was Novak Djokovic in his way. Once it was Andy Murray, in Tokyo. That is a number one type year on plenty of seasons. Not during a year when Djokovic simply couldn’t lose.
Andy Murray hasn’t won a grand slam, but he’s consistently close. He reached the Semi Final of all four grand slam tournaments, including the final of the Australian Open in 2011 for the second straight time. He reached the Semi Final two months ago in Melbourne again. He may not be winning the big things, but there’s no doubt he deserves to be in the top 4, and on a good day or week, is more than just a threat to win his first major.
People want their extremes. Remember Murray winning back-to-back tournaments last year and he played super-consistent in the slams and had chances, and people don’t talk about that. Nadal had a great year – he won a slam and was in eight finals, and that could be a world No. 1 year, but it isn’t when you have a guy like Novak around.
So that’s why it it’s important to have perspective and realise where each player is coming from, because sometimes a guy is on a hot streak and he’s just tough to beat.