For those who don't read my blog on a regular basis (99.9999999% worlds population), you should know that while I certainly are a Federer fan, I can also be critical of one of the worlds greatest athletes, and certainly the big dog in the tennis world.
When I write the title "The End is Nigh", Fedo-philes are surely going to perk their ears and take notice. That isn't the intention here. It is merely an observation based on where Roger is in life, personally and on the court that makes me think this way. Is this post a notice that Roger is done? No. Is Roger going to go slamless the rest of the way now? Absolutely not. The problem lies in a couple of areas that brings be great concern that the Greatest of All Time (GOAT) is about to ride off into the sunset.
"What the hell does that mean?" you say...
It means that Roger Federer days are numbered in the following categories;
- Worlds #1
- The man to beat
"You are bloody insane!" you suggest.
Well, ok maybe, but let me at least give you the reasons why I think Roger may now have a very small window of slam-hauling before he becomes the senior stateman, paving the way for the younger generation, and very shortly, handing over the reigns to a younger, more capable athlete. I will produce this in a simple list, and you can crucify me later...
- Life isn't about tennis, however Roger didn't truly understand this until a short while ago. Getting married, and significantly more important, having kids, changes your perspective drastically on life and your approach to life. There are simply more important things out there than breathing tennis 24-7.
- He has nearly acomplished everything possible to accomplish in tennis. Aussi Open? Check. French Open? Oh yeah! Wimbledon? In spades. U.S. Open? A handfull. Worlds #1? Twice now. Career slam haul title? You betcha! There is more out there, but what is important Roger has acquired, 2009 being an obviously very important year for this. What stands in front of Roger still? Well, go ask Rod Laver...But Roger isn't going to get it, and he knows it. His window on that front is long gone, and so everything material to accomplish has been achieved.
- The Next Generation - Roger has a strangle hold on many of the current generation stars. He knows Nadal will struggle to stay healthy, and can pick his spots to be triumphant. The likes of Del Potro, Monfils, Cilic, Tsonga...etc...Could really not give a damn however. Things are changing fast, and time marches onward. Federer is an athlete however, and undoubtedly will match opponents with stamina heading into the 5th set, but that's not what I'm getting at. The younger generation isn't named "Haas", "Djokovic", or "Roddick". They are a new breed of players who really don't hold the same fear that the existing generation have. The men's circuit is brutally deep, things are changing quickly, and like Mike Tyson found out, your pedestal can grow shorter just as fast as it grew.
- The Nadal Factor - His ultimate opponent. THE foe to Roger. He knows his window is narrow, and in 2010, I expect Nadal to be throwing down hammers...should the lad stay healthy.
- Number five is the most important reason of the bunch, you may disagree with it, but I sense differently. Roger is at peace with himself. He accepted defeat in New York. He didn't shed a tear. He wasn't in sorrow or pain. Roger played four quality sets, and got throttled in one, and didn't blink (enough times). You may not, but I struggle with this. We saw Aussi Open 2009, and Federer couldn't take it. His tears from defeat were genuinely from caring more than any other human being on this planet cares more about winning tennis slams. This was IT for Roger! It's not now. To me that's a great thing (see point number one), but to people who are truly freak Fed-fans, this should be disaster. The greats of all sports were greats because they had insane talent, but more importantly, their competitive fire raged larger, and their focus was that much more tunneled.
While it doesn't/shouldn't work quite the same in real life, when you accept defeat in professional sports, you begin heading down another road. This road isn't nessessarily bad, it's just different. Winning all four slams in one year exits the system, being number one exits the system, ruling over the tennis steerage doesn't seem to be it any longer. Roger is entering this place. The changing of the guard is going to happen shortly, and just like Federer did one afternoon at Wimbledon against Sampras, the same will happen to him.
It may already have.
The Tennis News Authority