This is a narrative about an imaginary friend of mine, but this "me" is not the author of this article. Xeno created her, she is an independent "me" now, a character over whom the creator has no authority.
This friend of mine (whose identity I cannot reveal) has been a rebel leader in the footsteps of Che Guevara for some time now and is still engaged in guerrilla warfare from the trenches.
Let's call her Vera. I met her in the Amazonian jungles during my rebel days. I was a rebel like her back then. We fought many battles together, healed each other with the stories of defeats, scars, and bruises that we suffered. There would be stories of rare success. For several days we would talk about our Serbian and Scottish commandoes' small gains.
We even shared our literary interests: Irish author Samuel Beckett was our ideal, who once said: "To be an artist is to fail, as no other dare fail, that failure is his world and the shrink from it desertion" (Disjecta 145). His theory of failure was a fascination for both of us. I even had mild secret crush on Vera; probably she did, too (at least, I imagined she did).
Since I've abandoned the experimentation with failure (she thinks I have co-opted), she has certainly been dismayed with me. It's been ages since I saw her last time. I still talk to her in my somniloquies (seriously).
In the recent years, I hear, she has shifted to urban guerrilla warfare, and, as always, the goal has been to seek independence from the Federer Empire. Since then, many have joined her cause. Here are the some of the reasons Vera and her rebel followers resent Federer for (they are the same reasons we adore him for).
Let me pretend that I am with her in documenting those reasons and use first person plural narrative voice, for shorthand.
(1) Roger's dominance has been too long, especially at majors. We see him as the establishment figure. He has broken most records of the Open era, and he is the new landmark. That makes him the establishment figure.
We try to reconcile our anti-establishment, radical left-wing political views with our sports interests and try to achieve a coherent personality, a right-wing goal.
(2) Roger almost always wins in the big events, denying others their (undeserved) share of big prizes (we twist our belief in affirmative action and social justice in a weird sort of way). Each time he wins, he breaks other player's and his fans' hearts.
He does not let others have freebie Slams and does not give them enough credit for their efforts. We simply dislike the big, centralized power because we cannot get there; and we think opposition to the establishment will alleviate our helplessness.
(3) When we think Roger is gone, he comes back strongly. When we thought his 14th Masters ('07 Cincinnati) would be his last Masters and 12th Slam ('07 US Open) would be his last Slam, and he suffered from his longest gaps between triumphs, he rose from the ashes.
Since the '08 US Open title, he has won three out of the last four Slams. The guy has not slowed down in amassing majors. Our prayers for his disappearance have been denied one more time, and it has been devastating. It is hurting badly.
(4) We compare his lows against his highs, and still find his worst year is better than most others' best career year; witness 1 major title and 3 Slam finals in '08. We resent him for that, too.
(5) Roger is articulate, eloquent, media savvy, too accessible, too much commercialized. He has become a cultural industry of mass media. Every thing sells about him. Media loves him, and that has been painful to watch.
(6) Roger knows he is good and expresses such. We believe old ethico-moral value system must have its say here, which prescribes modesty: You are not supposed to self-congratulate and self-praise, which is against the Matthew Arnold's 19th century high cultural etiquette.
(7) Roger has the biggest and most loyal fan base. He won six times the ATPTennis.com Fan's Favourite. His fans are vocal, extreme, and discursively violent. He is en vogue, attracts largest crowds, friends with the likes of Tiger, Sampras, and fashion institution Anna Wintour, awes the likes of Lebron James.
Not just the fans and celebrities, he has been most popular among fellow players; testimony to that is he has been voted for Sportsmanship Award for 5 times in a row. No active player has ever won, not even once. The same players that he ruthlessly sabotages on court have voted for him. How could they? Where can we find a little hope for support?
(8) Roger even manages to get married between tournaments without missing one, beats his nemesis on the latter's home clay, wins back-to-back French and Wimbledon, produces his record 15th Career Slam, reclaims No. 1, fathers twins, all in four months.
Yet, he looks unbearably calm, disturbingly unperturbed.
(9) Many living legends of tennis consider Roger the Greatest of All Time. That only aggravates our pain and intensifies our resentment.
(10) Roger does not have bad boys' antics. He does not bounce balls forever, does not curse at the officials or ball kids, does not rub his ass on the court, does not grunt, does not take fake timeouts, does not retire when he is losing, does not withdraw from the major or big event due to illness, poor health, or unpreparedness.
He is simply a ruthless ice-cold terminator. We have reason to resent him: We like "Human, All Too Human" villains.
Roger is said to be "flawless" and "too perfect to be human." We are told that there is nothing to criticize about his tennis, except rare, fixable glitches that, unfortunately, do not seem to prominently plague and permanently derail his game.
He stays healthy and fit. He is economical, artistic, and magical. He makes everything look effortless. Roger has embedded and synthesized racket technology into his body and mind. He varies his racket stringing between 52.9 to 61.7 pounds tension, depending on his opponent, ball type, surface, and temperature of the day.
Don't even think that these are lifeless techno-artifacts; even strings have coil memory. We therefore conclude that he is a cyborg.
Fed's co-ordination between technology, neurophysics, thermodynamics, and biophysics is post-human. The racket becomes Roger's prosthetic hand, perfectly assimilated with body, and rhymed with visual and mental laser beams.
This prosthetic hand is synthetic as well as aesthetic (harmony of technology and biology).
The sweet spot is mobile due to Roger's technologized flesh, and the coordination between metal, neurons, co-polyester monofilament and beef serosa hybrid strings, results in an unfathomable pop with full control.
Oh, no, Roger cannot be flawless. Even if he is apparently flawless, we try to manufacture some. We even start nitpicking the barely visible, embroidered 15 on his jacket and his gold purse.
We literalize his once-a-year sartorial comedic acts and reduce his entire personality to a couple of incidents of wardrobe malfunction. We use these gotcha moments to heal our bruises.
What's wrong with that?
When we said he has to show some emotions on court, he broke his racket.
He has answers to everything. He listens.
We, too, have answers to everything: We call him crybaby now; we feel victorious in this as if we have stolen a couple of his trophies. One of our members has even started a website called "I Hate Roger Federer."
Yet, we are not satisfied and continue in the fault-finding mission with the belief that it will shorten his stay at the top and his empire will fall, and proletarians' days will come.
It hurts everywhere, and we cannot do anything about it. The more he wins, the more opportunities we get to resent Roger.
If Roger can take home most titles, he should shoulder other players' failures, too.
Before I conclude, let me extricate this "me" out of this "we," and address you as Xeno once again.
In the long and arduous journey of this imaginary, off-court battle, Vera and her followers have accumulated a great reservoir of weapons and ammunition.
Yet, none come to their aid when it comes to on-court tennis. The warrior-players that Vera and fellow rebels admire (Rafa, Roddick, Soderling, et al) still fall one-by-one and desert the battle field empty handed.
They await, like their forever vanquished players, Roger's decline and demise through aging. They have turned into sort of hungry zombies, waiting for the taste of his last blood and last breath. They and we behave alike, sort of a prison's racial gangs. They ruffle our feathers whenever they find us alone and in small numbers, and we do the same to them.
Our love for Terpsichore, the Muse of movement, provokes Vera and others like her to angry outbursts. Nonetheless, in those angry outbursts, there is pure love for tennis.
We, I and Vera, we and they, we and we, always have this one thing in common: Tennis.
Vera and her fellow revolutionaries love tennis as much as I and you do. It's colorful. Resenting and fetishizing are two most passionate ways of celebrating tennis, two ways of replaying tennis incessantly off the court.
Whenever I think about Vera and my rebel days, I am reminded of the thought of having crush on her once. I feel ticklish in my heart. I fancy to bump into her one day and explain to her what it feels like on the other side of the fence.
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