Wednesday, 20 October 2010

All over for Roger?

It is very premature to suggest this. Yes, by his very high standards 2010 has not been a great year but he is still more than capable of winning the major titles. He has won a Slam and reached the final in the last 4 Masters.


Like every other sport in the world, tennis favours the younger set. A player’s finest career highs are generally accomplished before the age of 26, after which he slowly begins to slide through a downward slope which leads ultimately to retirement. Tennis is particularly brutal in this respect: it gives its senior players no leeway once they reach a certain age, when the only thing they can hope for is to go out in a blaze.

This point is perhaps best illustrated by World Number 2 Roger Federer’s final with Andy Murray, who is two spots below him in the Association of Tennis Professionals ranking. Federer entered the Tennis Masters 1000 event’s final in China in wonderful form. The 16 Grand Slam titles champion and most illustrious tennis champion in the history of the game began the tournament as a strong favourite, especially since Rafael Nadal was forced to make an early exit at this tournament.

Keeping in mind that it barely took Federer an hour to defeat Robin Soderling at the event’s quarter final, such a hope was not unreasonable. He had followed up the quarter final performance with a showdown against Serbian World Number 3 Novak Djokovic, who has beaten him earlier this year at the US Open tournament in Flushing Meadows. He beat Djokovic in straight sets this time, and it seemed as if Federer was all set to win his 64th career title and his 18th Masters 1000 championship.

However, one factor which was left widely unaccounted for was Andy Murray. The British Number 1 has been angling for such a victory for quite some time, although he often fails as a player in matches which have a part in dictating his performance on the charts. Although he has a distinct advantage in their career or tour meetings, Federer has won both their Grand Slam meetings.

However, despite all this, fans expected that they would be treated to, at the very least, an intense match. They were disappointed completely. Murray came out on fire, and seemed more determined and aggressive than spectators had ever seen him. He crushed Federer with his feline-like reflexes, fighting back improbable shots and converting them into winners. Federer seemed almost lost against his opponent, and the end result was a straight sets 6-3, 6-2 thrashing.

In the big picture, Roger Federer is and always will be one of the best players to ever grace the court. He is a global icon, and along with wealth and recognition he also fits the bill of being one of the most beloved sports personalities of all time. Despite this, his decline, though by no means complete, may have started already. 29 may not seem like much of an age to give up a career, but the fact of the matter is that tennis is a harsh sport, predisposed to not respecting its elder.

However, one thing which this week’s matches proved is this: as the months go on and the tournaments proceed, it will become harder and harder for Federer to bag important tiles. It may not be impossible, but it won’t be a walk in the park. As he gets older, it will become tough to produce the same results which he was so well-known for all his career. Older players suffer from sore muscles, stuff joints, and fatigue becomes a part of their schedule. Players past their mid-20s such as Federer cannot be expected to maintain the performance that was once their signature.

On a good day, the only player who has a chance of challenging the Maestro is Rafa. However, as tennis legend Chris Evert once said about getting older, “You just have more bad days.”

Courtesy: Bettor

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