King Roger Federer and the inspiring battle against inevitable decline
It’s no secret that Roger Federer has long been the dazzling darling of the tennis world.
Some of the best chapters in the Open Era’s history have his unmistakeable autograph all over them, but his time as the author of his own greatness is under serious threat right now.
A favourite of neutrals far and wide, his appeal has long seen him garner adoring fans year after year, and the Swiss star had high hopes of further adding to his prestige with yet another Grand Slam win at the Australian Open in January. Unfortunately for him, his run was ended at the semi-final stage by a tour de force performance from World No. 1 Novak Djokovic.
It was a defeat that echoed long after the final winner swooshed past Federer in the final set, carrying with it an unfamiliar air of overwhelming disappointment for the World no. 3. Rarely, if ever, had tennis’ golden boy been on the receiving end of such a devastating defeat, especially at the hands of one of his greatest opponents – something highlighted by this tidbit from the BBC:
Not since a 2001 loss to Andre Agassi at the US Open had Federer been limited to just three games in the first two sets.
Djoker was deserving of his victory and worked wonders to earn his sixth berth in the final. That said, it was a little tough to stomach for the majority of spectators inside the Hisense Arena “Down Under” during the week as they were left reeling in the aftermath of such a one-sided result.
It all felt a little odd and it begged an uncomfortable question: Is Federer suffering an irreversible decline?
Immense hunger remains, Fed is still (technically) the greatest
The wait for an 18th Grand Slam crown of his career will have to wait a few more months at least.
It has been nearly four years since the endearing Basel-born performer last claimed victory in one of the big ones and the painstaking wait has no doubt been nearly impossible to bear for someone so used to tasting victory on a regular basis. The one minuscule comfort is that his peers are still some way off catching up with him in the Slam stakes.
Since 2012, he has come pretty darn close to building his numbers on a few occasions which underline just how keen he is to coax the smouldering desire for silverware into something a little more searing.
Against “Djoker” in the Aussie Open semi-final, the normally uber-competitive Fed was blown away in the opening two sets as the impressive Serb blasted his way to an unforeseen lead. Entering the third set, it looked like the contest was ready to come to an early conclusion. Thankfully for neutrals everywhere, King Roger managed to produce his best tennis of the tournament to fashion a hearty fight-back against an ultimately unstoppable tide of champion momentum.
In particular, his “point of the tournament” where he capped off a battling game in the closing stages of the encounter with an audacious winner underlined just how instantly his superpowers could spark back into life.
It obviously failed to ignite a Herculean comeback and, despite his obvious decline, might have assuaged a few worries that Federer has become a relic of the modern game. Just how relevant he manages to remain will be up in the air for the next few weeks and months, but until he actually calls quits on arguably the greatest career the sport has ever seen it would be silly to discount him completely.