Roger Federer: A Broken Racket, and Two Babies
July 31, 2009 · Print This Article
Who would have thought that a year which began with tears of agony on the shoulders of his arch nemesis, would ultimately lead Roger Federer towards a gratifying turnaround?
After his Aussie Open defeat to Rafael Nadal, a shell-shocked Swiss took his bruised ego, and battered body towards a six-week break from the tour. With no play in February, and a return to action in March, Federer’s reluctant play would be evident throughout the Indian Wells tournament.
His efforts in reaching the semifinals in Palm Springs were not spectacular, and his lethargic loss against Andy Murray was bizarre to say the least.
Lapses in concentration were becoming the norm in competition, a constant staple throughout the season for Federer.
After his loss to Murray, a stoic and subdued Federer was asked to comment on his miss-firing backhand.
“Ah, yeah, I have those moments quite frequently”, said Federer.
Quite frequently? Here is a guy who was known for flicking backhand passes on a dime just a little over a year ago.
With the dust of desert behind him, the sunshine of Miami would be next up. A much needed victory would be greatly appreciated.
Federer was once again granted a relatively safe, and turbulent-free passage throughout the Key Biscayne event—until the semifinals of course. This time around, the final four stage would feature another one of the games current and future stars, Novak Djokovic.
In a carbon copy of a the Murray match in California, Federer had many opportunities to close out his Serbian opponent. He went ahead, fell behind, and inevitably came up short at another major tour stop.
During the early stages of set three, the culmination of a 10-month struggle without a tour title, as well as being pushed around by the “next” generation, propelled Federer to not only release his anger, but also his tool of trade, his racket.
After an uncharacteristic brush with the dark-side, the mangled fragments of Federer’s frame were not the only distraught pieces of the Swiss which remained on center court—he simply had no understanding of what was wrong with his game.
The lack of trust in his shots, accompanied by confusion, prompted the Swiss to make this statement during his post match presser:
“I haven’t been winning twenty tournaments in a row, so nobody expects me to win really. No, look, it’s been a tough last year or so, especially in the hardcourts. My game never really clicked, you know, except for the Open where I thought I played great. I think when I was finding my form again, you know, it hit me with the back problem. It was unfortunate, you know, but thank God the hardcourt season is over.”
Once again, this was coming from a man who had won five US Open titles, and three Aussie Open crowns. Oh my God, was more like it.
With another brief and much needed hiatus from the sport, a rattled Roger would return to the dirt, in the quest for stained socks, and better results.
His appearance at the Monte Carlo Masters would be spearheaded by the news of his marriage to long-time girlfriend, Mirka Vavrinec—not the recent string of losses to his three main rivals.
Although Federer’s stay in Monaco would be brief, and mediocre, the demeanor of the former No. 1 seemed to be lifted a touch—would tennis be less of a priority now that he was married, or, would his partnership with his long-time companion lead to a rejuvenated spirit when competing?
Battling through another tough-to-swallow defeat at the hands of Novak Djokovic in Roma, Federer’s off-court news seemed to once again eclipse his on-court struggles: Fatherhood would be around the corner.
With Rafael Nadal winning everything under the sun on the clay, Federer’s new perspective on life, and tennis itself for that matter would take him straight into the lions den, the Madrid Masters.
Suddenly, traces of the “old” Federer had resurfaced. His movement became liquid-like; his forehand catching the outside edge of the lines—on purpose. The altitude, and a worn down Nadal added to the sheer brilliance of the Swiss. Roger could not have asked for a better week.
Defeating, Soderling, Blake, Roddick, del Potro and Nadal in succession would be just the way to diffuse his title drought. The statement was made.
With his confidence on the rebound, a push towards the only slam which had eluded him thus far, would be up next—the French Open.
The road to French glory would not be easy—constant adversity, coupled by the added pressure of the King’s dismissal, meant this would have to be the year.
Although the like of Tommy Haas and Juan Martin del Potro almost spoiled the “Grand Slam” parade, Federer’s long quest was finally over—three years of finishing second were a distant memory.
The tears of Australia, were traded in for the pride of his national anthem—tears certainly do have different forms.
The dichotomy which was Roger Federer’s year, would take the Swiss towards a record breaking journey in London, the hallowed lawns of Center Court were ready for some magic.
Throughout the two weeks which saw Federer grace his way towards the record books, a distinct glimmer in his eyes had returned: The passion for competition, coupled with a new life, had created an unmatched synergy throughout the fortnight. The Greatest of All Time would be crowned.
With his 15th grand slam stashed away in his vault of excellence, Roger would dawn the tennis world with one final tranquil piece of news towards his remarkable season: Not one, but two babies would added to Federer family. May we welcome, Myla Rose, and Charlene Riva.
So there you have it folks, just another routine year in the seemingly fabled career of the worlds No. 1 ranked player. It surely took some time, but the turnaround season of the Swiss definitely did not seem possible when it commenced in January.
It is uncertain, if, and when the Swiss super-star will return to the circuit. At this point, we may not see Roger back in action until the defense of his US Open title. A much deserved leave of absence, may I add.
Life is different now for Roger Federer, if anything, he has a broken racket, and two babies to thank for his resurgence to the top.
The career of the Swiss has taught a truly life valuable lesson to all who are concerned: With any obstacle comes the notion that a brighter day is a ahead, a day in a which what didn’t kill you, made you stronger, with perspective being the underlying catalyst to success.
Above all, perspective and Roger Federer go hand in hand.