The men’s final today was fantastic, for two sets at least. Indeed, we were graced with another Wimbledon men’s final that captured much of the beauty and competitive history of that grand major championship (for instance, seeing past champions dressed to the nines, aging splendidly, is always a treat). Despite the dramatics of the first two sets, however, the final outcome seemed almost certain by the seventh game of the first set. Federer is serving at 4-2 to consolidate his break of serve and quickly and convincingly snatch the first set from, what would’ve been, a fairly stunned Djokovic. The power and control of Roger’s semi-final victory over Murray was on display early in this first set. Be that as it may, characteristically, the Serb immediately broke back in this seventh game to put the match back on serve; and that pretty much sealed the deal (even though Roger had two break points/set points later in this first set leading 6-5).
Having watched so much Federer tennis over the years (many years), one can see the body language, the more frequent unforced errors, etc., that have come to define the veteran Swiss’ game when he seems to realize he’s met his match. The likes of Djokovic and Nadal have posed these kinds of challenges to Federer over the years and one can see him begin to struggle in these situations. It’s pretty definitive if you ask me.
Djokovic won a first set tie-break as a matter of fact and the second set went to tie-break, as well, which Roger won in dramatic fashion, 12-10. The tennis was very high level, did not disappoint. Pretty amazing tennis through two sets, the top two players in the world even at 1 set a piece; but, again, the die had been cast, so-to-speak, in that seventh game of the first set. At nearly 34 years of age, he absolutely needed that first set in that particular way: an artistic 6-3, thank you very much, welcome to the celebration of my 8th Wimbledon title. Tennis fans and historians could only dream of such a procession (funny to watch the camera pan the crowd following a Federer point in that first set – the sheer joy and anticipation of another jewel to rest on Roger Federer’s crown!).
This was instead yet another reminder of the current tennis era in which we live: Djokovic. My disappointment at his loss at the French concerns the meaning (the possibilities) of this Djokovic era. A Roland Garros win would have complimented the two 2015 majors he has now, naturally setting-up an historic U.S. Open for the calendar GS (not to mention he would have his career GS, entering that elite club). I say this not because I am some kind of fanboy. I say this as a long-time fan of the game, dating back to the late 70s. Djokovic is one of the greats. I already knew that. Grabbing the French would have set-up a huge 2015, perhaps finishing the year with 11 majors; of course, he can still finish the year with 10! This is his time. Time to make a run, Nole! He has a ton of game, enough juice to put this kind of historical pressure on the eyes of tennis. I was a little harsh (disappointed) with the French outcome even though I am a big fan of Wawrinka. Tennis is in a great place right now. But, again, it’s the Djokovic era.
Today’s win got his train back on track. It’s on to the hard courts, destination New York City!
One last note on his significance in the bigger picture. If we do a little deductive reasoning, most would agree with my premise that Roger and Rafa are two of the greatest of all time. Right? Novak has proven his ability to secure several big wins against these huge tennis institutions. He put a bullet in the Nadal campaign that was ready to destroy the record books. He has had to overcome Roger on several occasions. Of course there are other great players, but one can’t say he was dominated by a particular foe (as in the Roger/Rafa debate). You logically follow my train of thought (yeah, same train). Djokovic has made quite a statement against some all-time greats. If Djokovic can threaten Nadal’s 14 majors, we have another interesting discussion of tennis greatness on our hands.
So, my article on the Serena era got a little bit of attention, thank you primarily to my fellow former-Fedfan-now-Djokovic-curator Ru-an who published my article about Serena. He has a great site resplendent with big-time tennis intelligence. I’m so stoked to have met-up with this authority on the game. We both seem interested in the idea that we all need to have better historical perspective while watching this great game. In the case of that article, we’re both interested in a little insight on how she has completely decimated the WTA. However you look at that tour, it’s a joke. Please read the Ultimate Tennis Blog.
There were some great posts that responded favorably to my main point: why isn’t anyone wondering how a 33 year-old (turns 34 in September) is winning a Grand Slam?
As a culture, we are PRISONERS OF THE MOMENT. This is disturbing. We all do it. In some cases, what is happening right now is indeed historical, unprecedented, etc.
However, we have also come to understand that this premature ejaculation, er, I mean grandiosity has later been met with shocking realizations that the athlete/phenomenon is a fraud or we have simply overestimated the whole ordeal.
My concern with Serena was first and foremost a reaction to listening to all of the “intelligent” talking heads shower GOAT on Serena ad nauseam. First of all, better look at the record books for some perspective on that. Look at the numbers, look at the fields in which players played. Get beyond the moment. Come on. This should be obvious stuff. There are other great players; Serena definitely has no business bulldozing these other legacies with out some consideration. There’s not enough evidence to suggest this foregone conclusion.
I read a few comments from people (a couple of interesting discussion boards actually) that left me a bit disappointed in the apparent tennis audience. Naturally, there was the racism response: I am racist. Red herring, ad hominem, etc. That’s weak. I mentioned in the article that I’m a fan of Venus; she’s a major class act. Watching on occasion Arthur Ashe’s beatdown of Conners at Wimbledon 1975 brings tears to my eyes. The race card here is the idiot card.
The next great move was the comparison to Federer. If I am critical of Serena winning so extensively at the age of 34, why am I not critical too of Roger, threatening to win Wimbledon at the age of 34? Hahahahahahahah. You idiots. He’s aspiring on his favorite surface. He’s making a run at Wimbledon. He’s won seven already. Is it beyond one’s comprehension/imagination to conceive of a master of the game and that venue to make a run at said Championships at the age of 34? There have been other maverick runs by great players. Comparing Roger to Serena is an embarrassment.
To the point, she’s undefeated in 2015. She’s on the verge of winning the last five majors, including a calendar Grand Slam. There’s no comparison to Roger Federer here.
All I want is for people to acknowledge that she seems to be defying massively the process of age. That’s all.
In the end, Serena is winning her matches. She is executing in a big way. She is a champion without a doubt.
We’ll leave it at that. I’m not watching the WTA anytime soon, but she owns it. Good luck to her in New York and beyond.
Cheers to an unreal Wimbledon Championships; and here’s to a great summer of hard courts competition culminating in a Flushing Meadows tennis war for the ages.