Mr. Federer to Serve.
Indiscernible is your serve. Unreadable, your emotions.
Like many times before, a perfect ball toss starts the match.
Your opponent is familiar, as is the court.
But this, this situation is new…
“Everyone loves an underdog.”
Every final since Wimbledon 2009 has been a historic final. And every tournament, every match, a harder grind. Until last year, when Father Time reminded us that, for all that you’ve done, you’re still human.
6-4 First Set, Federer.
Looking back to the 90s, it’s funny how your parents said you can consider tennis if you can make a livelihood out of it by being a top 100 player. Your forehand is strong but your temperament was stronger. Tales of racquets being thrown and you being verbally abusive to your game is the opposite of what “Shhh Genius at work” means.
Past performance is not indicative of future performance. Junior Wimbledon champion and beating Sampras in 2001, dethroning the King of Wimbledon… That’s nice, but you didn’t win it all that year, did you?
3-6 “Break to Build”
No, Hewitt won, twice, and Roddick would end 2003 as #1.
And you would be dubbed the best man to have never won a major. Yet, you remind us, it’s a marathon though, not a sprint. The early winners were your opening act.
6-1 “Shh, Genius at Work”
Third Set Federer. Mr. Federer leads 2 sets to 1.
Sportsfans have a short term memory. While they praise Djokovic for winning 3 of the 4 majors, did they forget that you did that before in three separate years? The golden age when you wrote “Federer” into the Champions box for every tournament, except for the French. But, we’ll get there eventually.
Not winning is strange. One loss, one “mediocre” season where you win a single grand slam and that’s it.
Seems like at every break point, you meet your left handed nemesis. For every graceful forehand, he returns a brutal backhand. Until he takes Wimbledon, but it’s not time to write you off yet.
Father Time doesn’t discriminate. The fluidity and smoothness of your strokes are countered by the physicality of his game. And that will cost him more than you in the long run.
#14 comes on red clay. Finally.
And, to make things sweeter, 15 comes on a familiar setting: Centre Court.
Numbers 16 and 17 are two years apart. But, how great was it to break the record, again, on grass?
You’ve inherited the lawns of Wimbledon and now new challengers are attempting to dethrone you. And, the sound of semi-finalist and finalist? It takes some getting use to, or would you rather not?
Fifth set, Mr. Federer to Serve.
There’s nothing left to prove, is there? All greats meet challenges and adversity. And this is yours. Not Agassi, not Djokovic, not even Nadal, but Time.
0-3 “Everyone loves an underdog.”
6 months without your name in a tournament. And when you see 17 next to your name, it’s not the number of majors you’ve won, but your ranking.
But they don’t know.
Behind the talent, is the love for the game,.
You’ve been here before.
When they questioned whether you’d reclaim #1, you did so, twice.
When they questioned you could win on clay, that was #14.
When they questioned your abilities at age 30, that was #17.
The forehand, the backhand, the net play.
The effortless grace, your game is poetry in motion.
5-3 Mr. Federer to Serve.
Your opponent is a familiar one. But this is unfamiliar territory. Your name was far from being written into the Champion’s box. But, everyone loves an underdog, right?
Some people are driven because hate losing, but you are driven because you love winning.
Service down the line, followed by a short forehand winner.
Mr. Federer wins 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.
At 18 years, and counting, your career has come of age.
At 18 grand slams, and counting, your game is one for the ages.