No, I am not getting all starry-eyed on Federer. When I say he is from a different era, I am not making some mystical reference to his celestial origins, as if I think Federer’s game is just “out-of-this-world.” Ha ha.
You all know that I don’t waste the space on fanatical rants or emotional poetries. I have celebrated and berated them all.
What exactly do I mean when I say Federer is from a different era? I mean: Federer is from a different era.
He predates Nadolovic. This observational fact complicates the discussion of the golden era/Big Four even more. What makes 2017 Federer such a phenomenon is the idea that he began in a “different,” earlier era, has played through Fedal, developed a real rivalry with Djokovic and now, at least for a few months it seems, he is playing beyond this era.
Obviously, one has to stop there and remind himself that Djokovic is far from finished. He has had a bit of a burn-out, we suppose, his level has dropped from that ’15-’16 reign, and injury seems to have hampered his game, as well. We suspect Djokovic to gain confidence and form throughout the clay and make a valiant run in Paris to defend his 2016 title, and accomplish the career grand slam double (win each major twice). Djokovic can re-insert/assert himself back into this discussion very quickly and powerfully with a great clay run here in the next couple of months.
But the fact remains that Federer started dominating tennis, winning majors, etc., well before Nadal and Djokovic were doing much of anything on tour, played throughout this golden era and, as the story goes in 2017, has vanquished his greatest nemesis, which seems to mean he is winning (dominating) beyond the Spanish clay GOAT’s time. The ramifications of this development could be pretty significant. But the story isn’t over.
Just as Djokovic is far from done, Nadal could rise-up even more (his 2017 campaign has been very impressive, as well) and win his 10th FO. The story lines will continue to be written by the athletes battling for these precious championships.
Another thing to recall here is the absolute center-piece of my HRFRT thesis: Federer’s tennis created a context that inspired/facilitated the championship/title frenzy that has defined this golden era. The historical context of players is a critical element in the consideration of legacies and eras. As I have already argued, Sampras obliterated his historical standards. There was nothing left for him to climb, really.
Even his clay omission can be explained in this historical context. The French Open before and during Pete’s era was almost a minor key in the men’s professional tennis theme song. Borg and Lendl are more outliers of that era, winning the French multiple times (Wilander did, as well). This was a tournament generally reserved for the clay court specialists. If one disagrees with that assessment, then tackle the other end of the discussion of majors, which argued that Wimbledon and the U.S. Open were, essentially, the ultimate tennis crucibles, where the greatest champions triumphed. Sampras owned each venue historically.
So, the current version of this historical influence is that 2017 Federer will inspire Nadolovic again.
We’re not saying that Nadal and Djokovic have come and gone. But the recent moves from Federer to return, dramatically, to this championship winning form is fairly remarkable, historically I am arguing.
The clearest illustration of this argument that Federer is from a different era? (other than I just explained it to you 🙂
What were you doing in 2008? Think back for a second. What was happening in men’s professional tennis at that point? You have already thought about the Wimbledon final, where Nadal, on his third try, up-ended Federer to claim his first Wimbledon.
The year is 2008.
Federer already has 13 majors to his name.
Nadal has 5.
And Djokovic has 1.
A lot has happened since then, no doubt.
And this is part of what is so remarkable about 2017 Federer. Historically, this shouldn’t have happened.
But it is happening.
His athleticism and his new coach. I have argued a bit of both and will continue to take this on next.