Yes. I'm a Roger Federer fan, and this article is intended to be written in that way.
Well, I might have written a standard article on the current state of tennis, but it would have been impossible to take out the 15-year-old Federer fan out of me while writing that. Thus comes this self proclamation.
When I started watching the beautiful game in early 2000s, my father used to say to me that there is no one better than Pete Sampras in this world. My father was no tennis pundit, and I didn't know anyone else who was a Tennis pundit.
So, according to me at that time, Pete Sampras was the only player who knew how to play tennis.
After a year or so, I came to know about the rules of the game, and I kind of realized that Sampras too can be defeated. Yet, he was still the only Gladiator in my mind.
The year was 2001. It was July, and the court was green. Sampras, the Gladiator walked into the center court and faced a funny young man with a bandanna. The funny man defeated my father's hero in five sets.
I could not grasp his name from the commentary. But I saw the scorecard, and it said Roger Federer. I asked my father, "Why did Pete Sampras lose?"
He said, "Maybe a better man won the match." That response was to satisfy me, and I know that now. My father wouldn't have dared to guess that the same man with the bandanna would come to overhaul Pete Sampras's record of 14 Grand Slams in about eight years.
From that day on, I began to watch Federer day in and out. When Sampras won the 2002 US Open and retired in grace, Federer became my favorite player. He was literally unstoppable from then.
Fast forward nine years, it is 2011.
Federer has had his share of wonderful days. Sixteen to be precise. Sixteen days I rejoiced! Sixteen days I thought were better than the whole of my life!
Then there were some days which left a bitter taste in my mouth. The major cause, Rafael Nadal.
Now, I never hated Nadal, not for a single day (well, that might not be true). But whatever it is, I've always respected Nadal for what he has done. He is a player with humbleness and zero attitude.
I know that Federer will be defeated by rather weaker names in the coming days. But for a person who grew up watching him win, it is quite hard to digest. I know that there are millions like me.
When Federer lost and cried at the 2009 Australian Open finals, I thought it was pathetic. No matter how much you fought for it, you have to be gracious at the end of the day. It was Nadal's night, and Federer made a big scene out there.
He came back, won the French-Wimbledon double the same year and overhauled Sampras. My father couldn't see that match against Roddick.
That year was fantastic! But times have changed. Federer has now become second fiddle to Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Do I like Djokovic? Well, I cannot answer that. His streak was broken by Federer who then went on to lose to Nadal in the French Open 2011.
The reason why I cannot answer about Djokovic is simple. For me, there are only two people deserving to lift a trophy, and you know who they are.
If a third party comes and claims it, you are naturally offended by it. I know that my reasoning is petty and pathetic, but it is true.
Well, we have all come to talk professionally in Bleacher Report, but does that mean that we have to switch off the young tennis fans in us? Does that mean that we have to be neutral all the time? I don't think so!
One thing is for sure. Once, Sampras was unbeatable. Then Federer-Nadal were unbeatable, but Djokovic has put an end to that. He can beat Nadal, but Federer can beat him.
I don't know what Federer will do from now, but the world of tennis is certainly in a very good place! When my kid asks me who the greatest tennis player currently is, I will say to him "Who knows?"