Confessions Of a Non-Roger Federer Fan

RockCorrespondent ISeptember 10, 2009

There are players to be found in all sorts of sports, who dominate and build a legacy of their own. These players who are so dominant over their craft fall broadly into two categories of sports, namely team sports and individual sports.

If a player is exceptional in a team sport like baseball, football or cricket they spend their days of limelight in the public. When players like Michael Jordan, David Beckham or Sachin Tendulkar are performing, it is the team as a whole that is winning and less so the individual.

The performance of the team hinges on that particular person on that day and therefore the result does too.

When one talks about individual sport like tennis, boxing, golf or cycling the performance narrows down to that individual.

A Roger Federer, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods or Lance Armstrong makes a name for them self because their performance is entirely dependent on their own self ability and the exceptional talent that they've possessed and nurtured in the process.

They are bound to get their fair share of recognition and will be quoted as examples, like the legends in team sports, because they appear as if they had mastered their craft. They will have a God-like aura when they are on the field and unless a devil comes and knocks them off their perch, they seem invincible.

While these legends master their craft and exhibit their God gifted talent to their opponents, making mockery of their skills, they also make winning look easy.

A certain Roger Federer makes it look ridiculously easy because of his exceptional talent, motivation, training and the hard yards which he has put in to reach this stage.

And thus he commands millions of fans across the globe expecting him to win every point he constructs on the field, drilling forehands with laser like precision.

Everyone is struck with awe when one gets to see a display of tennis which was unthinkable before. Even his haters would admire his game and study the footage to train their upcoming kids on how to play the game effortlessly.

There are opponents and commentators who admire his skill but wish to see him defeated and bring his dominance to an end. Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray have had their fair share of victories and in the process made Federer look human.

They earned fans not because of their game. It is because they were primarily responsible in giving the God-like phenomenon a fight. They were fearless and are the few ones who tasted victory over the mighty Federer. They are not like players such as Filippo Volandri or Guillermo Canas who enjoyed a one-off victory and promptly disappeared.

Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray played fantastic tennis and held their nerve to notch victories over Federer. There are also eternal triers like Roddick, Blake, Hewitt, Soderling, and Robredo, to name a few, who give their heart and soul into the match but, more often than not, end up on the losing side.

So are the gutted fans supporting anyone not named Federer? These players and fans after their initial admiration, would reach a stage where they begin to dislike the most efficient player in that craft the world has ever seen. It is purely because the phenomenon who has turned into a monster, who is not giving any one else a chance to win.

A classic choke by Berdych in the Australian Open, an exhausted game by Juan Martin  del Potro in the fifth set in the French Open, a gruelling 16-14 in the final set by Roddick in Wimbledon or a close finish by Robin Soderling in the US Open are the sort of games which causes heart break to the small contingent of non-Federer fans.

These minuscule number of people, who exist in anticipation that one day the King will be brought down from his throne, will only be waiting for an eternity to get their wish fulfilled, unless the freak hangs up his racket on his own terms.

They even begin to root for a qualifier to win the match if he breaks a Federer's serve in the first round. If the qualifier gives a tough fight in the first two sets and pushes Federer to a tie-breaker, these fans expect that qualifier to win the set.

Such will be the joy of seeing Federer getting beaten, that they will remember the qualifier for the rest of their lifetime, which in other case, when he is not playing Federer, they would not even had bothered to notice.

These fans are not all that stupid to not recognise the talent of the Swiss at the other end. They begin to watch the game with zero hopes, thinking, "Let me see if the opponent can give a fight".

Once the player whom they are rooting wins a second or third set, with the first set being dedicated to Federer, just like how one used to dedicate the first page of a fresh notebook to God as God's page, these fans begin to get agitated and raise their expectations. 

A competitive fourth set by their man will give them satisfaction. If he takes Federer into a fifth set, then that is a bonus. If their man shows great fighting spirit in the fifth and loses, they are bound to be gutted and turns moody for the next few hours. 

The maximum they could do is to empathize with the guys who had been making multiple attempts on Federer with nothing positive coming out of it.

Some even go the extent of quitting watching tennis just because Federer's results have made the game boring to them. These fans say we just want to see some fight given to Federer. But deep down they really wish that man defeats Federer fair and square.

Once this desire to see Federer getting beaten is not satiated, it slowly mounts to something called, I hate Federer. They again bring sanity to the situation by not expressing their hatred in public because they are aware that this would make them appear like a black sheep amidst the white ones.

Their passion and love for tennis, a sport which they had been following for more than a decade, comes crashing. They would still watch a match now but with no emotions.

Now that Federer has conquered 15 Grand Slams and has got nothing to prove, and everything has been achieved by him, these fans take a diversion from Federer and focus a little more on upcoming players to keep their interest alive.

They finally realize that not changing a seat or position from which they are watching the game is not going to bring Federer a defeat. They will go and have snacks and make tea even when the match is hanging in the balance.

At one stage, they even yell "How many more would you like Federer to win?" on whoever comes in support of Federer.

If one Federer's loss makes a Federer fan mourn, imagine how many of these matches that were closely fought and yet won by Federer would turn the small section of non-Federer supporters into mourners?

The number of wins for Federer are insane. His results turn the game mundane to quite a few. A certain tennis fan even predicted that Federer would not get past the semis this year after looking at Federer's sole bad year, 2008, where he won only one Slam and reached three Slam finals.

They had been waiting for six years to see the dominance of Federer coming to a grinding halt. The Federer Express for the first time slowed in 2008 and gave everyone a chance to look at it and Nadal even boarded onto it.

But the train incredibly has picked up steam in 2009 again. After waiting for half a dozen years, these handful of non-Federer fans can wait for a small matter of three more years till 2012, that is till when the Swiss declared his intention to stay in the game.

Just as life goes on, so the Federer Express rolls on, raising doubts as to what is that thing that has made these small section of non-Federer fans stay the way they are, and remain incapable of mingling with the millions of die-hard Federer fans out there.