2010 Australian Open Champ Roger Federer is quietly going about his Swiss business, but that hasn’t kept others from jawing about the state of the Fed, past present and future.
John McEnroe must realize that a good Fed quote will get him in the papers:
Promoting an ATP Champions Tour event in Zurich, McEnroe said Laver was his idol and Sampras was the greatest grass-court player ever. But the American left-hander said Federer, who has won a record 16 Grand Slam titles, was the greatest of all.
“I think we can all appreciate how incredible he is even more lately, because he’s shown a bit more emotion on court and he’s become a father so he seems a bit more human, more relatable,” McEnroe told World Tennis Magazine of Federer. “That makes what he’s doing seem even more amazing.” (via ESPN)
I like how McEnroe has his own GOAT trio, with Roger at the top of the pyramid. Anyone care to offer their own?
Now that Federer has completed the career slam at the French and proven that he can further separate himself from Pete’s 14, it’s out responsibility to find a way to keep the pressure squarely on his broad shoulders. So. . .it’s time for the calendar year Grand Slam, Rog! (Winning all four majors in one season.)
“Grand Slam possible for thrill-seeking Federer” says Reuters.
ESPN lists “Why a calendar Slam is possible for Federer”
Headline from the London Times “After triumph in the Australian Open; now for Roger Federer to do calendar grand slam.”
The Telegraph teases: “. . .by winning the Australian Open in such magisterial fashion, Roger Federer has encouraged the tantalising prospect of the impossible (calendar year Grand Slam) being possible in 2010.”
Pete Sampras, who understands the pressure of staying on top, tries to be the voice of reason:
“Anything is possible, but it’s not probable,” Sampras said. “The French is a big one and he’s going to have to defend that against all these Nadals and Verdascos. Things need to fall into place — a great draw and great weather — but it’s a tough hurdle. Wimbledon will be tough too, but Roger’s a freak of nature.” (via Fox Sports)
It’s interesting that Federer, himself, not one to artificially down-play his chances, remains steadfastly unconvinced that he can pull it off:
“Look, I mean, it’s not something I’ve ever put in my mind that this is something I want to achieve. I’ll still go and play the smaller tournaments, you know, the Masters 1000s, the ones we’re supposed to play. I try to give my best everywhere I go to, because I think there’s not only the Grand Slams”
“I won’t just put the entire calendar just around trying to win the calendar Grand Slam. I mean, it’s something if it happens, it does, it’s great; but it’s not something that’s like my number one goal. Not at all. It’s the same as I haven’t put a number on how many Grand Slams I want to try to win. Whatever happens happens.” (via Australian Open website)
Of course with Rafael Nadal sidelined due to a knee injury, the chatter inevitably turns to “what if?” Here’s Peter Bodo’s latest musings from tennis.com”
One of my big takeaways from the Australian Open and the performance Roger Federer put on was that no matter what he or anyone else said, Rafa was in his head – as deeply embedded as a piece of shrapnel – until the unexpected events of last spring, starting at Madrid. For as Rafa has appeared to become vulnerable and suddenly less than picador perfect, Federer seems to have flourished. It’s almost like the guy can breath deeply and freely again, or like a judge has just thrown out a legal action that had been brought against him. Since Federer won the French Open last June, he’s looked like a man with a new lease on life. Is it coincidence that this occurred at the same time that Rafa hit the first serious roadblocks in his career?
Bodo’s answer to that last question, of course, is “no.”
Jon Wertheim gives the spread via his SI mailbag:
Root cause of Federer’s resurgence? You have 100 points to allocate to the following options. A) Nadal declined, while Murray and Dokovic have not (yet) reached full potential, B) Federer found his old form (read: his serve and forehand), C) Fatherhood gave him new “perspective”, D) Other.
–Kathy, Reston, Va.
• Very good. I’d say, 30/40/30. But I would add these two. 1) By virtue of both hard work and lucky genetics, Federer endures bodily wear and tear better than anyone else in tennis. Even after seven matches in Melbourne, Federer happily admitted to feeling fresh enough to go skiing the next day. Not too many others can make such a claim after playing 23 sets in 12 days. 2) Federer won the French Open and eclipsed the all-time mark for Slams last year. Mortals in that position might have a hard time finding motivation. To Federer’s thinking, it simply means that he is shorn of pressure.
And here’s some serious food for though from Douglas Perry at the Oregonian:
Nadal’s injury issues make me think of a particularly cruel remark that Joe Frazier once made about his foremost rival, Muhammad Ali. Ali won two of his three fights with Frazier and, of course, now famously suffers from Parkinson’s Syndrome.
“Look at him now and look at me and tell me who really won those three fights,” Frazier said.
The simple fact is, it’s not easy to keep up with Roger Federer. It has caused truly exceptional athletes to push themselves to their physical limits and beyond. Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick and Juan Martin del Potro have all struggled with injuries, including at the 2010 Australian Open. Nadal, just a couple of days after declaring that he was in excellent condition and had no lingering pain in his knees, defaulted mid-match against Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Now he’s going to be out of action for four weeks, and observers increasingly wonder if he’ll ever again reach his 2008 level of play. Federer, meanwhile, floats on from major to major, unimpeded by physical problems despite having to lift up all those heavy trophies. Sixteen major titles; eight straight major finals; 23 consecutive major semifinals.
Yes, Federer is 2-5 in Grand Slam finals against Nadal. But look at Nadal now and look at Federer and tell me who really won those seven matches.
Finally, for all you Doubting Thomases out there: “Why do we continue to question the World No. 1?”