Indomitus


"Bloody hell, he's done it again. He's made the impossible seem trivial."

That was something along the lines of my thought process when I saw the final scoreline of the gentlemen's singles championship match at Wimbledon on Sunday. Roger Federer, at 35 years old and a very happily married father of four, had completely dismantled one of the biggest hitters in the men's game of tennis today with display of ruthlessly clinical efficiency that very nearly bordered on the sadistic.

What happened that day at SW19 wasn't really a championship match. It was a masterclass demonstration of the indomitable will and spirit of one of the greatest athletes who has ever drawn breath.

Everyone who was there knew that they were watching something amazing, even though it just looked like Roger Federer being... well, Federer, thrashing his opponent with about as much effort as you or I might put into our daily commute to work.

His opponent knew it too, which is why, midway through the second set, the big Croat simply broke down weeping in his chair. The pain from his blistered foot was more than merely physical; it had gotten to him mentally, to the point where he was simply outmatched in every department.

There have been many words written about Roger Federer's incredible achievement since it happened, and many more are to come, but from my perspective the best thing about his victory is that the debate over whether or not he is the greatest tennis player of all time now is OVER, once and for all.

He has scaled heights that no one else has. And in all likelihood, no one else will ever get anywhere close to where he has gone.

The list of Roger Federer's records and achievements is longer than my arm, but if we just look at his record in the majors, it becomes clear just what an incredible legacy he has built for himself- and how hopeless it is for anyone else to match it.

Consider: he now has 19 Grand Slam trophies to his name. His closest rival, Rafael Nadal, has 15. That doesn't seem like a big gap- until you realise that Rafa has to win five more Slams in order to surpass Federer.

Let us grant Rafa his thoroughly deserved status as the greatest clay court specialist who has ever lived. That is exactly what he is.

But can he win five more championship titles at Roland Garros?

I consider that extremely unlikely.

It is also unlikely that he will prevail on the faster, lower-bouncing hard courts at Flushing Meadows this year. The speed of that surface never suited the grinding physicality of his game even at his peak; by contrast, it suits Federer's flowing, graceful, low-impact game rather well, and it suits the big servers and heavy hitters even better.

Let us say that Nadal wins two, maybe even three more majors before his body fails him and his injuries really pile up beyond hope of recovery. Well done him. I'd put the chances of that happening at around 15%.

He'd still be one behind FedEx.

And that is before we remember that Roger Federer is almost certainly going to win at least one more major before he retires for good. At this stage I wouldn't be surprised if he wins another three between now and 2020, which is when he will almost surely have to call it a day.

The next closest contender, Novak Djokovic, has mysteriously fallen all to pieces of late. His formerly impenetrable defence has abandoned him, and the mental weakness and stroppiness that characterised his early career have come right back to the fore now. And he's "only" on 12 majors himself.

To beat the Fed and claim the mantle of the GOAT, Novak Djokovic would need an almost unthinkable eight more Slams. And like Rafa, he's over thirty and his body is beginning to fail him.

Simply put, the task of climbing to the peak of Mount Federer, which has been created with his legacy, grows more impossible with every passing year that he continues to play and win.

Most remarkable of all, to me at least, is the fact that he is unique among almost all of his peers in the way that he handles his family life.

For Roger Federer, his family is not his rock or his anchor. They are his fuel- just as family should be for any truly masculine man.

He absolutely loves being a husband and a father. His wife, Mirka, is the first girl that he ever kissed, held hands with, went out on a date with. She has been his faithful companion, friend, counselor, and lover for damn nearly 20 years now, and she has given him 4 ridiculously adorable children who plainly enjoy life on tour. She obviously gets along very well with her in-laws, and she has formed a protective barrier around him into which he can retreat at will.

Very few men can claim to have such a remarkably harmonious family life. Fewer still can claim to be the best in the world at their respective fields of endeavour at the same time. Almost none of them can manage the kind of hectic schedule that a top athlete must, what with all of the sponsorships and charities and invitations.

Precisely one has been able to do so while still being a profoundly decent human being who lives for his sport, and who has elevated it to heights never before seen in human existence.

For that is what Roger Federer has done. He has taken a very difficult, extremely physical sport, and elevated it into artistry. To watch Roger Federer in full flow on Centre Court at Wimbledon is an experience unlike any other; it is to see the most graceful, the cleanest, the most jaw-droppingly brilliant exhibition of talent, power, mental fortitude, and laser-guided precision that can be imagined.

As I wrote back in January, the day that Roger Federer finally calls it a day will irreversibly diminish the game. In my view it will be the saddest day in the history of the sport- because its single greatest, most talented, most lauded, and highest achieving athlete will no longer be out there to show just how great the game can be.

And the day that the Greatest Of All Time, the King of Kings, says "enough", the sheer mountain formed by his achievements will almost surely never be scaled, by anyone, ever.

For now, though, the King is here to stay. Long may he reign.

Comments

  1. Eduardo the Magnificent17 July 2017 at 20:46

    A couple thoughts that are in no way a disrespect to Federer:

    It was once a foregone conclusion that Tiger Woods would catch Nicklaus. But Tiger's rock, his father, passed away and he slowly unraveled, and I doubt he's ever great again (ESPN did a rare well-done (for them) article several years ago detailing how extreme his behavior became, including jumping out of planes and running for miles daily in combat boots). The point is that greatness skates on a razor's edge, and as delicious as it is to predict future success, it's much better to simply enjoy it now. It may never come again.

    Taking the Red Pill now makes me wonder if his wife would be as supportive if he wasn't Roger Fucking Federer, but merely say the 10th best player in the world, or worse, 150th. Women can help make a great man, or destroy him. I doubt we'll ever hear any stories from the MSM of how good it is and how happy it makes Mrs. F to stand behind her husband's ascent to greatness, rather than daily combat him over trivial shit, because "equality".

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    1. ESPN did a rare well-done (for them) article several years ago detailing how extreme his behavior became, including jumping out of planes and running for miles daily in combat boots

      I think I found that article. It's this one, right?

      The point is that greatness skates on a razor's edge

      Very true. It doesn't take much by way of adversity to turn a tightly wound genius into a shaky neurotic.

      Taking the Red Pill now makes me wonder if his wife would be as supportive if he wasn't Roger Fucking Federer, but merely say the 10th best player in the world, or worse, 150th.

      This is a very good point. However, it is worth remembering that Mirka Vavrinec first met Federer when he was, like, 17- when he was screaming and smashing his racquet on the tennis court. Apparently she rolled her eyes and sarcastically remarked, "yeah, he's a great player, isn't he?!?", or words to that effect.

      I'm not saying that Mirka was not, and is not, hypergamous. Of course she is. She's a woman, that's her default setting. But she did what very, very few women ever do these days in the West: she found a man with tremendous potential, bet on him, invested in him, and helped him forge his path to greatness.

      It is as you said- she helped make a great man. She could easily have destroyed him, the way that the WAGs of other formerly great athletes have done.

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