Will King Federer's Battle to Regain Tennis' Crown Have a Fairytale Ending?

Marianne BevisSenior Writer IJanuary 18, 2009

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, a handsome royal sovereign set out upon a long and dangerous journey to defend his crown from a host of marauding warriors.

He was besieged by invaders from all corners of his kingdom who were envious of his riches: palaces filled with golden treasure, the bearing of a Greek god, the love of his people, and happiness beyond measure.

These usurpers called upon all the weapons at their disposal to bring him low, to steal his powers and seize his wealth.

A great pestilence poisoned his belly, and fever coursed through his veins. Though he fought like Hercules to overcome his many labours, he struggled to defend his Antipodean palace. He was buffeted and beaten by young soldiers from the far shores of Serbia clad in dark eye defenders. They hypnotised the king with the weapons of ball-bouncing and shirt-shedding, and were urged on by fearsome harridans.

The mighty king sought magic potions to restore his powers but the medicine men from his mountainous homeland could only roll their eyes and command rest.

The energy-draining poisons drew forth eruptions on his fair face and painted dark shadows beneath his furrowing brow. Skin that once glowed as honey now flushed with sickness, and limbs that bestrode continents buckled under the weight of disease.

The king watched as further marauding hordes gathered on the horizon, but he continued to fight—alone and deserted—to defend what was rightly his.

The mighty one’s powers were greatly tested in one-to-one combat by a blue-clad highlander and by bandits from the far shores of ancient Mediterranean lands bearing pennants of orange and red. These challengers were quick to see our hero’s Achilles’ heel and became bent on a mutinous rebellion against his ancient court of tennis.

As the months passed, the mightiest of his foes strode colossus-like into the burnt sienna arenas of European fortresses and the emerald fields of the king’s most treasured summer residence. The piratical demon threw bolts of thunder and lightening that burst the defender’s sword asunder, while onlookers stared in awe and wonder at the spectacle. Even the sky seemed to have its light dimmed by the gathering clouds of doom.

Tears coursed down our fair hero’s cheeks as he succumbed to the elements, and many who saw the scene also wept. Meanwhile the soothsayers predicted tragedy for the old royal kingdom, and began to kneel before a new prince.

But as befits a nobleman with royal blood in his veins, the king would not lay down his sceptre. He drew on the flame-red garments of his homeland and seized first one golden medallion then a prized chalice from the sweet meadows of the great northern frontier.

With newly burnished armour and finely honed sword, he returned home to protect the treasures within the confines of his own court, and there he triumphed.

The king overcame one challenger after another, cutting the first down only to see a new one spring up in its place like a many-headed hydra. And too soon, his defences were pierced anew. Great was his courage, and fierce his passion, but he withdrew to the confines of healing secrecy to mend the wounds that had begun to cripple his brave body.

The pearls of the Orient were the final jewels in the crown of his kingdom, a palace of great beauty and favoured by loyal supporters who hoped to pour balm into their hero’s wounds.

The proud champion roused himself for one final combat against the combined might of the most daunting princes in the world. But he could not prevail, and the roaring lion was finally subdued by stabbing daggers and poisoned darts. He retired to lick his wounds, regain his powers, summon new resolve.

So the fable comes full circle. 2009 sees the great king of the tennis court rising to reclaim his crown. As if to emphasise his blue blood, he enrobes himself in the colour of the sky. The sun-drenched hair is cropped to battle-ready order. The limbs are honed to Roman gladiator leanness. The back is straight, the shoulders broad, the head held high.

The fearsome foes line up, all eager for his head. He stands firm, sword in hand, ready for the new battle. Win or lose, he will forever be the rightful king to his loyal followers.