February 1, 2010 in Tennis
It was just another day at the office for Swiss maestro Roger Federer, who annihilated a game Andy Murray at the 2010 Australian Open Final in three sets, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (13-11). With the victory, Federer extended his Grand Slams record to 16, which is unprecedented in the history of men’s tennis.
Is there any doubt now that Federer, with two more Grand Slam titles than his nearest rival (Pete Sampras with 14) with many more competitive years left in his career, and having completed the career Grand Slam last year by capturing the elusive Roland Garros title, is the greatest of all time? The one and only argument against him is his record against Rafael Nadal (ie if Federer isn’t even the best player of his era, then how can he be the greatest of all time?). I don’t buy that for more than half a second. If you still don’t believe it then you should check out this article (written before Federer won the 2010 Aussie). Unless a guy comes along and starts smashing 230km serves with his dick, I’m always going to argue that the Fed Express is the GOAT.
But enough suction on Roger Federer for now. I feel gutted for Andy Murray. I don’t even like the guy that much, and I was hoping he would win. It took me a while before I realised what that meant: I don’t like Federer anymore.
This is beyond strange. For years I have supported Roger Federer and cheered him on in every tournament. It was great watching his effortless play as he waltzed on towards history. Even when he went up against players I liked more (like Michael Chang…just kidding), there was a part of me that still felt good when Federer won.
When Nadal came onto the scene and beat the crap out of Federer, I felt sorry for him and wanted him to win more than ever. When Djokovic and Murray started beating him too, the same feeling rushed over me. And that sobbing exhibition after losing the 2009 Aussie Open broke everyone’s heart (including mine and except Nadal’s).
However, somewhere between winning that 2009 French Open title to tie Sampras’ 14 slams and breaking the record at the 2009 Wimbledon, Federer started to lose his charm. To me, anyway. The hair flick after every point that used to be cool suddenly turned dicky. His pre-match and post-match comments, which I used to classify as ‘confident but honest, proud but humble’, suddenly became ‘smug, arrogant and annoying’.
Almost overnight, I wanted other guys to beat him. Murray, Djokovic, Roddick. Either of the Williams sisters. Anyone that may play against him, really. And when Del Potro finally did it in the 2009 US Open Final against all odds, it was the first time I didn’t feel bad for Federer. And yesterday, when Federer disposed of Murray in convincing fashion, it actually irritated me.
What could this possibly mean? Has Federer become too dominant, too successful for his own good? Is this bad for men’s tennis? Does he need a Tiger Woods-style incident to bring him back to Earth? (And let’s face it, there’s a pretty decent chance of that happening)