Roger Federer said recently that 2009 was his most emotional season but not, technically, his best. He’s right, of course, this year he won “only” 4 titles and had the worst win-loss record of any of the 5 years he’s finished at the top (61-12 as opposed to say, 2006, when he finished the season with a ridiculous 92-5 record – check out the chart here.) But two of those 4 titles were biggies – his first French Open and his record-breaking major at Wimbledon. So I thought I’d finish the year by looking back at Federer’s “emotional season” – which was pretty (melo)dramatic for his fans, too. We should savor it now that we’ve survived it!
Roger has never had a problem sharing his emotions. He’s come a long way since winning his first Major, but some things haven’t changed.
Roger doesn’t mind letting the tears flow. He cries when he wins Majors, during in-flight movies, and whenever he sees Rod Laver. But this season really was different. There were sobs of despair before there were any tears of joy. Who could forget the infamous “God, it’s killing me!” moment during the Australian Open trophy ceremony? I bet the the grounds crew just finished drying the courts:
Fed tried to explain himself after the match:
“In the first moment (of a loss) you’re disappointed, you’re shocked, you’re sad, you know, then all of a sudden it overwhelms you. The problem is you can’t go in the locker room and just take it easy and take a cold shower. You can’t. You know, you’re stuck out there. It’s the worst feeling, you know.”
Boy, do we know, Roger! Proceed at your own risk, Fedophiles:
Yes, it was rough. But we must credit the ATP’s top Fedophile, Rafael Nadal, for doing his best to cushion the blow. (I guess he could have tried losing the match, but Rafa does have his principles – and Uncle Toni – to contend with.) Federer fans may have found the match and the trophy ceremony excruciating, but it also gave us tender moments like this one:
Nadal defended Roger after the match:
“Of course it can happen to all of us. It was an emotional moment, and I think this also lifts up sport, to see a great champion like Federer expressing his emotions. It shows his human side. But in these moments, when you see a rival, who is also a comrade, feeling like this, you enjoy the victory a little bit less.”
So eloquent, Rafa! And it gets better. Even months later, Nadal admitted to feeling torn up over Roger’s loss:
When I beat Roger Federer in January, in Melbourne, in the final of the Australian Open, I felt an animal excitement. But afterwards, I felt an indescribable emptiness and a loneliness. As if I had no more aim/no more purpose. To me, Federer is still the number 1 in the world. I want to meet him again on court. I know he can beat me.
The Australian Open haunted the rest of us Fedophiles, too. Some of us even felt betrayed. How could Roger have let us down? Losing 2-6 in the fifth set, when Rafa was obviously tired from his epic semifinal? And on hardcourts? At a tournament Federer had won three times? Against the guy who stole his precious Wimbledon trophy?
Sensing at the time that we were in for more heartache, I offered this advice:
We Fed Fans are not a hearty lot. Let’s face it, one of the main reasons we love Roger is that he’s supposed to be invincible. If we enjoyed riding tsunamis of hope and despair, we’d waste our time cheering for the Cubs or Marat Safin. But now that we’ve been smooth sailing with our guy for so long, it just doesn’t seem right to jump yacht as soon as we hit a rough patch.
Federer fans, it’s time to pop the Dramamine.
And boy, did we need some serious sedation that Spring! Stay tuned for Part 2: Childish Ways