In a turn of events that may have been a turn-up for the books, depending on your orientation or point of view, it was without too much incident that Roger Federer progressed past the likes of Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro and David Ferrer to make it to the final of the 2012 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
I will readily admit that, ahead of the start of the tournament, I was one of many that had keyed Roger Federer in to produce one listless performance after another to support the theory that he was entering the latter stages of his clear decline.
However, looking back at it now, there is no doubt that brazen bit of mongering (shall we call it) was premature. To say that I was wrong wouldn't itself be wrong, but therein lies the answer to the question I have posed here.
Why the Current Negativity against Federer?
A good question and one not easily answered.
The first step to gaining any understanding on this matter is to try to put ourselves in the shoes of Federer's detractors (if we may call them that) and think like they do and see the world like they do.
Secondly, the context must be taken into consideration. We are in a world of social unrest, where we are confronted daily with news of job losses, fiscal cliffs the harsh realities of the Arab Spring and China's inequality volcano and the effect the decline of that state could have on the rest of us.
The one overarching theme that rings through and the most likely reason for any negativity against Federer is that these people want others to get a shot too.
The situation seems to me very much like your typical one percent versus the 99 percent battle—an Occupy Tennis of sorts. The detractors see on one side a guy who's got so much and wants more (and there's nothing wrong with wanting more). And on the other side, they see a group with little but their hope that someone will champion their cause.
I'd say that for your average detractor, that's pretty close to being a moral issue. For them, it's a question of: is it right to continue to push for a scenario in which Federer dominates or are we best off striving for a future in which we are all in this together, and everyone is included, including Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray?
It's that familiar question that has dominated our politics: Do we build tennis from the middle out or the top down? However, that question alone doesn't fully represent it. (Note: I'm a firm believer in the former, by the way.)
It reminds me of that old conundrum: Limited food and water at home, the old and the young to choose from, who would get those resources? The future or the past?
The backdrop to the Middle East and China is of course an exaggeration but the point is that at the heart of each and every dissent (regardless of how small or meaningless it is or in what arena it is) against the status quo, there is that common denominator of "We want more for ourselves or that person or that thing that we are or represent".
Of course it's a macro way to think of it, but they can and these world issues usually do pervade through our psyche and it's no surprise that there is a growing sympathy nowadays (even if, perhaps, only because it's hip and fashionable to be sympathetic) for the plight of the lesser man.
I think most people realize (or they ought to) that it is a losing game being negative to a person who could care less. So, I do not believe the negativity towards Federer is residual—it's not ill will against Federer, it's just the mindset nowadays—it is merely just a sign of the times we live in.
Tonight's final pits the consistency of Novak Djokovic against Roger Federer's name. It is a battle between an emerging talent against another one past his time and desperate to hold on to power.
There's the Arab spring and China's inequality volcanoes—a precedent, if you will.
There's no doubt who will win in the end. However, that may still not change the status quo and that is where we come in.