It was, perhaps, a bit of both.
For the first two sets, it seemed as though it was to be yet another cakewalk for the Swiss. The motions were smooth; the serve was chugging along like a Rolls Royce. The Frenchman was sleepwalking his way out of the tournament.
Then suddenly, something changed. It was, as though, the Ali-lookalike realised that this was his best chance—his only one. He had nothing to lose, so why not go at it full-tilt like the gladiator he is?
The first break of Roger’s sublime service fueled this belief. That, maybe, there was something to be gainsaid from it all.
Fedex was still smooth, still elegant, still dazzling but there was never the slightest hint that he would raise his game just that wee bit more, take the fight to the challenger. The bronco he was riding had his head and though it never seemed that the six-time champion would fall off and be trampled, he found that the reins and the bit had disappeared.
And so it continued. The fourth set came and went—a repeat of the third. Tsonga, the thoroughbred, galloped toward the finish line.
The last set dawned. Surely, Federer, the magician, had a regal rabbit to pull out of his hat. But no, it was the Frenchman who unfurled yet another ribbon-edged break of serve to move ahead.
Poise, beauty and savoir-faire had deserted Roger. It is not easy to play the beautiful game when you have to strain sinew and arm to get to the ball, whizzing past rocket-like. Tsonga had done the unseemly—he made Federer look ungainly.
Federer is at his best when he gets to the ball early; he is an epitome of grace as he unleashes a repertoire of strokes—a possible three for each shot.
Smitten fans waited and hoped but they knew it was in vain. The King is human—more so in his 29th year.
Tsonga had done something similar to Rafael Nadal way back in 2008 at the Australian Open. Last evening, it was Roger Federer’s turn.
Salute the man.
In the end, all we can say is that Roger Federer played as well as he can—now. Tsonga, however, was the best he ever will be.
Quote of the day:
If nobody spoke unless he had something to say, the human race would very soon lose the use of speech. – W. Somerset Maugham
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