Tuesday, 27 January 2009
There was to be an interview after the match, as usual, but it never came about- probably the interviewer could not find his tongue, or maybe his mind had gone completely numb- just like mine.
This man in the pictures most of you would recognise as the World number two Tennis player- Roger Federer from Switzerland, decimated fellow top ten player Juan Martin Del Potro from Argentina 6- 3, 6- 0, 6- 0, in one hour and twenty minutes. I'm giving you the stats because several hours after the event, I'm still shell- shocked. I mean, Del Porto is ranked number six on the Men's Tour, and Roger Federer finds the time and occasion to head a ball into his side of the court. Football style. If you're ranked number six in the world, you really are a fantastic player. Instead, he was made to look like a grade- 2 club player.
I seriously hope he apologised for the very public humiliation, Federer, because Del Potro may just need councelling after that lesson. Come to think of it, he should probably pay Roger for the hour and twenty minute coaching session.
Two years ago when Roger won the Australian Open against Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, he broke down after accepting the award. It was an emotional response no one expected from the cool Swiss, and one that endeared him to the Tennis World, almost as if it confirmed his humanity. This year he's coming off a season marred by glandular fever, after losing the Wimbledon and his rank one position to Rafael Nadal of Spain. I have no doubt, either, that it affected his confidence, especially when almost everyone has been talking about the end of the Federer- era, always forgetting that almost all the top ten players in the world today are the by- products of what I call the 'Federer- effect'. The effect This One Player had on the Men's Tour, just because his reign was so absolute, so totalitarian, that every time he lost a match, people wondered if finally someone who may ultimately (not immediately, but in time) conquer the man, had arrived. The result of facing such a challenge obviously toughened the newer players. You will notice that most of Federer's contemproraries are not even in the picture anymore, so that the players ranked in the top ten are mostly younger to Roger by a good two years at least. It's a significant difference in Tennis.
Oddly enough, this masterful, almost God- like performance, which left the TV guys speechless and fumbling even the words and names listed out for them, has in some way done for me what his tears did in 2007. As if he was asking, why? Why do you want me to lose just because I play well? This is a guy who really, really wants to win, and not just because he is possibly the greatest player to ever grace a Tennis court. It's almost like he wants to prove it to himself that he can do it- but also like a plea for sympathy and support from the people whose vocal backing saw him take thirteen grand Slam titles home- reminding fans, experts and opponents alike that Roger Lives.
I'm not a psychiatrist, just a fan, and I'm sorry for the melodrama... but that's what it felt like.
For all the autocracy in today's performance- even to a point of cruelty, it was almost a supplication. What is more, it was sapping: I couldn't even muster the energy to feel sorry for Del Potro.
I had earlier not been sure as to who I will support to win the Aussie Slam, but now, I think, the decision is made.
Dinara Safina for the Women's Title, and Roger, if you don't win on Sunday, I think I will cry.