Tennis: Give Me A Federer Match Any Day
A few days ago Emma complained that Federer is getting too dominant for the sport to be interesting. I strongly disagree.
Tennis, or for that matter any sport, is not just about feeling the drama or watching on the edge of your seat. It's about appreciating the geniuses of the game. It's about watching something you thought to be impossible. It's as much about dominance as it is about last minute thrillers.
If you have played even a little bit of tennis, you would appreciate what Federer has pulled off in front of your eyes. You will literally drop your jaw if you saw a winner by Federer which was supposed to be other way around. Andy Roddick hits a powerful forehand to the left corner of Federer's court and rushes to the net, just in case a loose reply comes. And what does he get? Federer moves to his left side and forces a backhand half-volley. Roddick turns into a silent spectator and can't do anything but just watch the ball pass him by. Lo! A crosscourt backhand winner. Sheer frustration for Roddick as he murmurs something about Roger having an answer to every shot. That's pretty much the same for Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon and James Blake at the Masters cup. They don't set a foot wrong and try to resist as best as they can and before they even comprehend what's going on they are holding the runners-up trophy.
Roger Federer has a good kinaesthesia about his game. Even when he is rushing to the ball, he knows where he is going to set his next foot and when and where his racquet will hit the ball. That's the quality which gives him an extra edge to conjure those 'supernatural' shots. If you have seen his crosscourt forehands, backhand passing winners, baseline half-volley moonshots or boomerang net half-volley, you will know what I am talking about. Roger Federer has brought strategic game playing once again into focus in the age where the field was lead by power gamers like Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt. He revived the extreme topspin, a lost art since the time of Ivan Lendl. The extreme topspin gives the server the opportunity to serve 'shallow', dipping in after passing the net. Yet another opposing characteristic to the power servers, who use their height to serve as deep as they can.
Tennis, as the cliché goes, is the game of inches and Roger Federer is extremely precise. When anticipating a return, his opponent is not sure if the ball will land up inside the baseline. Federer, on the other hand, is quite sure of his actions. That's even more evident and jaw-dropping with recent inclusion of challenge system. When Roger Federer challenges a call, it has to be IN. Even if it's an ace which was served at more than 200 kmph and has been called out. If Federer challenges it, rest assured, it would have definitely kissed the 'T'. One is left dumbstruck when the hawk-eye proves it IN.
The once in a while dramatic moments are enough to be in your memory for long time. Take the final of Rome Masters 2006. Rafael Nadal defeated Roger Federer 6-7, 7-6, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6. That, I think, was the best game Federer has played against Nadal on clay. Yes, much better than the hyped up French Open 2006 final. You start nearing the edge of your seat, when Federer starts getting little jittery in the middle or towards the end and that's where the opponent's hope lies. That's what makes spectators believe that Federer is still a human.
If you still believe that Federer is boring, well, here is some good news. Let March cometh. Let the clay season begin. Let Rome Masters, Hamburg Masters, and French Open happen. Rafael ‘ClayKing’ Nadal will once again rise to the top and will look to continue his unbeaten record on clay since, umm, forever. He will make the mighty Federer sweat for every single point. Federer won't just pick up points but will have to work hard to earn it. Federer will want to achieve his 'Final Frontier', the French Open, and there you will get the clash of the titans. Hold your breath from March to May and see some of the best tennis you will ever see in your lifetime.