The Time Lord finds Roger Federer
Earlier in the week, the stunningly heart-warming story of a Spanish Roger Federer fan who woke up from an eleven year coma surfaced on the internet. Reportedly, the man’s last memory of the Swiss great was the 2004 US Open final dispatching of Lleyton Hewitt. Yes, it is hard to believe it’s been eleven years since Federer blitzed through his rival with an irresistible offensive onslaught that earned the then world number 1 his first US Open title, and had many predicting years of greatness and domination.
And yet, it boggles the mind to think that what may have at the time seemed like yet another overzealous premature coronation of the next all-time great, turned out to be modest projections compared to what actually transpired. After all, that US Open win – which still ranks up there with the great man’s finest ever performances – was “only” Federer’s fourth major victory. In other words, it was thirteen grand slam titles ago. If this seems like a needless stating of the obvious, it’s only because we’ve all been conditioned to take Federer’s greatness for granted… by Federer himself.
In fact, the Spanish fan’s reaction upon hearing of Federer’s feats truly puts this in perspective: “When I knew, at 34 years, he is still playing and is No. 2 in the world, I thought they were kidding me. When I heard that he reached 17 Slam titles, I put my hands on my face.”
Imagine if eleven years ago, someone came to you with the seemingly outrageous prediction that not only will Federer win thirteen more majors, and not only will he exhibit record-breaking dominance unlike anything the tennis world has ever seen, but that, eleven years later, Roger Federer will still be electrifying the Arthur Ash crowd on the second Sunday of the US Open.
It may not sound so crazy in hindsight, but that’s only because Roger Federer has made the extraordinary look almost underwhelming. After all, when Federer went through a slump back in 2013, speculation ran rampant as to how much more time he had left at the elite level. The tennis world found it striking that the once great Roger Federer had been reduced to a mere top 10 player, when in reality, the very notion that a thirty-three year old man with a thousand matches under his belt can still compete at the highest level is quite remarkable. Such are the standards that Federer set for himself.
This only makes the Maestro’s recent form all the more noteworthy. The man recovered from a disappointing 2013, and slowly but surely, found his way back to the top…almost. Indeed, it took the brilliance (and relative youth) of Novak Djokovic to stop Federer from storming to yet another Wimbledon-US Open combo, as the way in which Federer navigated through the field at both events was nothing short of sensational. Reminiscent of the “Mighty Fed” days, Federer was absolutely eviscerating the competition. Anyone from the early round gimmes to multiple time grand slam winners Andy Murray and Stanislas Wawrinka was left in his wake with equal ease — Federer was barely dropping sets.
For some, it is perhaps a touch disheartening that despite his amazing consistency and brilliant tennis (which when in full flow, is still unrivaled in terms of offense) Federer doesn’t have any major silverware to show for this season. Many will argue that, rolling back the years or not, the window for Federer’s elusive 18th slam is narrowing down, especially with his rather pedestrian results in Australia and Paris in the past few years. Nevertheless, you would hardly begin to consider writing #18 off based on Federer’s performances this past summer. And with Rafael Nadal in limbo, Andy Murray being soundly outplayed by the Swiss Master this year, and Novak Djokovic being the only true obstacle at the moment, ruling out yet another piece of Federer history-making would simply be naïve.
The Spanish fan expressed his desire to be there when his hero clinches an 18th slam. Considering the young man woke up from an eleven-year coma, it’s safe to say stranger and more improbable things have happened.