Federer has been the standard of the ATP the past decade with unprecedented conquests of tennis records and dominance, but media attention has spread to other players and stories.
Rafael Nadal has become the No. 1 story by not playing tennis.
Novak Djokovic looks to be the first player to score an Open Era three-peat of the Aussie Open title and match Federer and Andre Agassi with four overall titles.
Andy Murray hopes to continue his career surge by erasing Melbourne pain that has snakebit his finishing touches to the title.
Is it possible that expectations on Federer have lightened to the point that he can emerge as an underdog?
Cursed Old Age
In tennis terms, reaching 30 years old is akin to choosing out a condo in Florida. His tennis racket may as well be a cane, and all losses and injuries can be traced accordingly.
Never mind that Federer won Wimbledon or that he held the No. 1 ranking for four months in 2012. Media vultures circle every one of his setbacks, ready to spin out their thousand words of when and how he should retire.
In the meantime, here is a reminder to tennis fans. Do not miss any moment from arguably the best player on the planet. If you seek artistry and style, if you search for variety of shotmaking, and if you enjoy classically modern skills, tune in to enjoy Roger Federer.
Djokovic notwithstanding, Federer’s tennis zone is incomparable, and with continued blessed health and uncanny consistency is the player still most feared on the tennis planet.
Would another ATP player underrate the more elderly Federer? No chance.
Are there no more mountains to climb? Classical lore records that "When Alexander (the Great) saw the breadth of his domain, he wept for there were no more worlds to conquer."
Federer has nothing left to prove, but there is always more to gain. Great athletes hunger for more championships, and they thirst for the thrill of being the best for even one more day. Nobody can show them the door.
Questioning Federer’s motivation is to wonder why he would grind away like a journeyman with the rigors of strength-sapping travel and antiseptic hotels.
There is pride in his bearing and tenacity in his play. He has the eyes of an assassin when matches grow long. His strength and belief is his guide and his aim is to win, every time.
Federer wants nothing less than to claim the upcoming Australian Open title. That’s how he is wired, and that’s what he intends to do.
Sure Federer has earned his place as a media and fan favorite. His exuberant followers savor his exploits and carry the burden of his shortcomings. He will always be mighty in the annals of tennis history.
But there are always those who despise dynasties. Often the media and fans think they need new flavors for their stories. New challengers are always bringing their styles and personas to a world that seems to shift at the rumor of a breeze.
Certainly Djokovic and Murray have proven formidable in their own rights. They are younger and have studied and persevered through the Federer years in learning how to be champions. Their success has been noted.
Just do not forget about The Maestro.
Soon you will watch him walk out for another greatest effort that will be apparent to those who choose to observe. He will hustle to move his feet as if he were 24, just for one more retrieval or shot. He will tap into his inner fire and coordinate the most ideal shot he can produce with every ounce of his greatness.
He repeats this with each point he plays, but that doesn’t mean we should forget it.
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