U.S. Open 2008 : Fedex From The Ashes
When I decided to watch the U.S. Open Men's Final, sitting up as late as 2:30 A.M IST, I wasn't quite sure how long I would have to finally remain awake. For Andy Murray, coming into his first Grand Slam final had a 2-1 head to head lead on Federer, and was hot on form after upsetting newly crowned World No.1 Rafael Nadal. I was wondering whether I will be awake through the entire morning to finally see the winner.
Well, as things turned out eventually, Federer might have thought of giving me more time to sleep and get some for himself. His three-set demolition of Andy Murray was clinical and ruthless to say the least. He did lose break of serve during the match, but those were the moments when Andy Murray showed his true capabilities. Federer ultimately taming the Brit 6-2,7-5,6-2.
Honestly, it was precision and aggression which wrapped up the match for Federer in under 2 hours. He seemed hungry as ever, and his win over Novak Djokovic in the semi finals seemed to have done him a world of good. Coupled with the possibility of creating history to become only the second man in the history of the game since Bill Tilden in 1924 to win five consecutive U.S. Open titles.
In a press conference leading upto the finals, Andy Murray summarized the magician that Federer is, by questioning critics who doubted Federer's abilities even after reaching Semi Finals of all the Grand Slams in the year, being in the finals of French and Wimbledon. Really, what more can one ask from a professional tennis star ? True to what he referred to as having created a monster after his performances in last 4 years, that is precisely what every tennis fan wants from him. Sweeping all 4 slams of the year. Atleast Wimbledon was expected. Reaching finals is not good enough for a man like Federer.
It was heart warming to see Federer play in a free spirit, devising tactics to come into the net much more than earlier this year and mix his game. The Gold at the Beijing Olympics (again, shall I dare to say .."though" in the Men's Doubles ?) has certainly done him a world of good in terms of gaining confidence which was lacking after major setbacks at the French and Wimbledon at the hands of his nemesis, Nadal.
There is no denying that, if one has been witness to this era of tennis, it is indeed a privilege to have seen the finest player to have played this sport. Federer has taken tennis to such heights, which only Gods can dream of. With the fifth U.S. Open title, Federer has now achieved 13 Grand Slam Titles in all, just one behind Pete Sampras. Another astounding piece of achievement, which I can bet a zillion dollars will never be beaten is, winning 2 different slams , in 5 consecutive years (U.S. Open - 2004-2008, Wimbledon - 2003-2007). If to be the second best in clay behind Nadal should be the reason for him not be hailed the best ever, then it would be gravest of injustice on the genius that is Federer. Having qualified for three consecutive finals in the French Open (2006-2008) when his game is not totally suited to the surface speaks volumes of the ability of the man.
Federer has only now begun a new journey. A journey where he realises challenges are more. But the free spirit that he regained after the Olympics, will keep him in good stead. Critics doubted his abilities, because they were thinking Federer would surpass all records in the history of the game. That is the level of expectation he has set. Now that he has proven himself to be another mortal wielding the tennis racquet, he can breathe easy and win half a dozen slams more on the way. What say, Roger?