Roger Federer turned back the hands of time on his career today with a spectacular win over world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in their semi-final match at Wimbledon. At the age of 30, Federer is having an incredible resurgence in his career that will reinforce his status as one of the greatest (if not the all-time greatest) tennis players ever. As someone who follows tennis closely but doesn't necessarily bow to Federer as the best ever, I was very impressed with his play against Djokovic and can no longer deny that he's reached the pinnacle again in this sport.
Then again, I've been impressed with the way he's brought himself back after a dismal and disappointing two years. Not only did he have to deal with the amazing domination of Rafa Nadal in 2010 (when he won three separate Grand Slams), but then Novak Djokovic leap frogs them both with an even better year in 2011. Federer was left to pick up the crumbs of whatever he could. During those two years, Federer managed only two appearances in a Grand Slam final (2010 Australian Open, 2011 French Open) and, as a result, saw him tumble down the rankings. In 2010 he was pushed down to the No. 3 ranking for the first time since October of 2003, and for a brief time at the end of 2011 he landed at No. 4.
That was a hard and long fall from the lofty heights where Federer once resided for the better part of a decade. The man clearly struggled with his new lot in life. Honestly, I believed that Federer's time had passed and we'd never see him win another Grand Slam. Djokovic and Nadal seemed to be playing on another planet and Federer was left behind, a victim of his age and lesser athleticism. Before Wimbledon started I felt that the only way he could make it to the final was for at least one of his chief competitors to get injured. I never expected Nadal to get beat in the second round. I also expected Djokovic to handily beat Federer the way he did at Roland Garros but he just couldn't seem to get it done.
In no way am I making excuses for Federer's chief rivals. At a tournament like Wimbledon you must be ready to play your best at every match. Nadal learned that the hard way last week, and Djokovic learned that today. Federer has been far more prepared than he was the past two years when he got bounced here in the quarterfinals. His serve was exactly what he needed it to be today and he didn't allow Djokovic to counter it with blistering returns on a consistent basis. Federer also went for the winning shot a lot more than usual for most of the match, and when he gutted it out in longer rallies with Djokovic (usually a weakness for Federer) he came out victorious more often than not. Federer played like the King of Grass that he once was and now is poised to be once again.
I'm greatly looking forward to watching him play in the Championship on Sunday. More than any other player I've ever seen, Federer loves being a champion and he especially loves being a champion at Wimbledon. Anyone who doubts that hasn't seen him walk out onto the lawn court on a Championship Sunday with his dignified and elegant white tennis suit. I truly hope that he wears one like that once again this Sunday. He has earned the right to do so, and the fans would love it. For me, he is the heavy favorite to win his seventh title here. There's just too much history at stake and Federer has waited too long for another chance to further cement his legendary status. He will not be denied his crown this time.
Julie is a featured tennis contributor for the Yahoo Contributor Network. Wimbledon is her favorite tournament of the year, and this year's tournament definitely did not disappoint. She will be up early on Sunday to watch the final.
- Sports & Recreation
- Novak Djokovic
- Roger Federer