Can't Say it Enough: Roger Federer is Good
After his U.S. Open 2012 quarterfinal loss to Tomas Berdych, Roger Federer said: "I've said it 100 times: It's been amazing -- I'm back to No. 1. To win Wimbledon, but we don't need to talk too much about that right now. I lost the match. … A very disappointing match for me."
I'm not feeling bad for Federer - who should? A quarterfinal loss this year meant that Federer reached the quarterfinal of a Grand Slam - again - and his active streak stands at 34. Ivan Lendl and Novak Djokovic, both multiple Grand Slam winners and phenomenal tennis players, are tied for second place with 14. This ridiculous stat should be a testament to Federer's consistency over the years, and he's not done yet.
Right now, nobody is talking about Federer being too old - that was last year, and the media has learned their lesson. This tournament, more than ever, should highlight just how good of a tennis player Federer is. Andy Roddick, one of the most well-known faces in the game and the best American tennis player in the past decade, announced his retirement after being unable to compete at the very top, and did not want to toil away like the multiple Grand Slam winner Lleyton Hewitt.
Roddick and Hewitt are 30 and 31, respectively; Federer is 31. While his former rivals - including Marat Safin - have hit rock bottom and are retiring, Federer just keeps on rolling. Even Nadal couldn't stand the toll of playing so much, nor could Djokovic keep up the extreme pace of winning - which Federer did for many years. Perhaps it should be a compliment, that a quarterfinal loss to a 26 year old 6th seed is considered a shock by many.
I could throw around ridiculous stats about Federer that really make you stop and think about how special he is: never retiring from a match, holds the all-time record for consecutive finals, semi-finals, and quarterfinals for Grand Slams, and the only man to reach all four finals in a single year - not once, not twice, but three times. But let's just save these stories for when the young generation comes through, and inevitably the "____ vs Federer" debate comes up.
Is it a Match-up Problem?Berdych, as you may know by now, has beaten Federer in four sets of a Grand Slam before: Wimbledon 2010. Berdych, a 6 foot 5 heavy hitter, is just one of many hard hitters capable of blowing Federer off the court when he is on, as evidenced yesterday. We've seen Juan Martin del Potro do that, and we've seen Marat Safin do that. When these players are in the zone and swinging, there is just nothing Federer could do about it, which is a rare sight.
Is Federer a Closer?In sports, we love the "closer", or athletes who posses that "clutch gene". LeBron has received a lot of flak for it - Kobe (supporters) has used it as an excuse for Kobe to take the last shot despite going 7 for 28 that night and being triple teamed.
But could it be that Federer is not a great closer? We've seen big matches slip away from the Fed: 2011 U.S. Open semifinal against Djokovic, 2011 French Open against Nadal, and in a sense, last night, when Federer took the momentum with that 6-3 third set.
Federer himself said: "The momentum switch no doubt gave me a chance to put the score back to zero, to put him further away from winning and make the match go longer, make it more physical, more mental. I just didn't come up with the goods."
Federer likes to play it safe, and not take wild swings on match points. But his overwhelming talent has protected him for so long that he would rarely find himself in a position similar to the 2011 U.S. Open. We've seen more stunning Federer shots than we can remember, but as matches begin to get tighter, will we be seeing magical, clutch, close-out points from the Fed?
Brian has been a lifelong tennis fan and has written about tennis since 2009