Might just be in the math.
I standby by my 2019 Wimbledon Final analysis as much as anything I’ve written, knowing that Federer could make me eat crow. I have strong opinions and arguments about sports and life. Getting proved wrong is part of the exercise.
As far as that 2019 WB Final is concerned, the devastation of that match from the Swiss’ perspective is unequivocally horrifying and, as I argue, almost certainly inoperable, fatal.
That’s what I said back in July.
At one point in that post, fairly pointedly, I surmised:
” . . .Federer may have actually died on Sunday.”
I ended said post continuing to push the ominous tone, echoing my argument throughout, asking (rhetorically) if the match between Federer and Djokovic there on Center Court represents a divine tennis experience or not? A triumphant match to be remembered for its championship quality, or one that we’ll recall for that chilling turn-of-events in the fifth set tie-breaker, especially, that casts more a sense of failure?
Using this spiritual or divine theme, then, does Federer rise from the dead? That’s a very important question. That’s how bad this loss is for the Swiss.
Sure this is about Federer’s Cincy loss to Rublev. In that WB Final analysis, I called the match the biggest choke in the history of the world. Glossing this as a win or draw for Federer against Father Time, that Federer should still be congratulated for his run at that age is the dumbest sports or life take I’ve ever heard (Fedfan, Brad Gilbert, et al., I’m talking to you). That was a monstrous choke.
And even for the Djokovic fan, whose feathers I might have ruffled above suggesting that the 2019 WB Final will be remembered more for the choke: even Djokovic can be seen there almost sympathetic toward Federer; the initial celebratory body language is subdued not because of fatigue. There was something predestined about the result.
Am I wrong?
Federer, I felt during that match and actually said in that July 16 post, probably never recovers from this loss.
Getting routined by Rublev here in Cincy R16 (he would’ve had the still surging Medvedev next and Djokovic after that) adds juice to my prophecy.
Wimbledon 2008, US Open 2009, Australian Open 2009, US Open 2010 and 2011 and 2015, etc. . . . matches that in particular for me represent Federer collapses of some kind, found some balance with his innumerable impressive titles (many) and, even more, his 2017-18 run.
But Federer has this Achilles heal. Tough to deny the carnage somehow survived by this great champion. He’s endured perhaps like no other athlete of that stature, which speaks to his incredible class. I suppose.
But the losses don’t lie. These along with his other numbers, his incredible statistical argument of success in this sport swings the argument in the more popular direction.
He’s an all-time great.
None the less, watching him disappear in the so consequential first and third set tie-breakers of that 2019 WB Final and then completely shit-the-bed at 40-15, 8-7 in the fifth set tie-breaker . . . made me think he’s done.
We talked about the context of that match (See: massive, historically consequential like nothing ever).
And here, today, a week after his 38th birthday (literally, seven days after), tough to imagine how he continues to grind and find that fearless Federer ascendancy again and again.
Maybe it’s all starting to add up.