Reading Federer's recent comment in the press about him being "unbeatable" during part of last season and his ability to repeat this accomplishment in 2010, and about the ailments that affected him got me thinking: "here we go again!" I was wondering when Federer will start to announce his superiority and explain past losses as the beginning of the season fast approaches— and sure enough Sunday, the day before the start of his first ranking event, was the day.
Year after year since his rise to the top, Federer has declared himself in the press at the start of the tennis season, his carefully masked words sending out warnings to his would-be rivals should they even think of challenging his dominance.
Why must he always do this? A man who has won 15 grand slams should be secure enough in his abilities and not feel the need to use the press to intimidate future opponents, a practice I find quite disrespectful.
A man who has over 60 titles under his belt should start to tone down his self-indulgent commentary, enjoy the game and the fight, and just let his racket do the talking.
I never recalled the great Sampras announcing himself in bravado fashion, even in the years of his greatest triumphs and even when the new generation of players were breathing down his neck.
And then there are Federer's explanations for his losses, carefully worded, usually months after those matches were over. Towards the end of the '08 season Federer began mentioning the illness that affected him at the beginning of the year and, with hidden undertones, used this to explain his loss to Djokovic at the Australian Open. Is this fair to the man who played so well to beat him?
Now Federer is saying that his back was ailing him at the beginning of last season. Was his back a problem when he blew Del Potro off the court (with a double bagel, no less)? Perhaps Federer should be reminded of the words of that epitome of sportsmanship, the 12-time slam winner Roy Emerson: "If you're hurt don't play. If you play you're not hurt. There are no excuses."
Federer has certainly been relentless in all aspects of this sport and shows no signs of slowing down, certainly not to offer his words of wisdom to the enquiring writer.