Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon recaps the 2018 Australian Open on the men’s side.
If we’re not going to do this the Monday after the Super Bowl, then when will we?
Granted, this was the exact situation we had a year ago, and we sure didn’t write this column then, but 2018? Let’s do it.
Here we are in early February and waddayaknow, Roger Federer and Tom Brady are both sitting atop their respective sport. Okay okay, this isn’t exact: Federer is only the second best player in the world, it says so on the ATP World Tour rankings. And Brady, well he’s just lost the Super Bowl against a team playing with his backup quarterback, so how exactly is sitting atop the NFL?
Semantics. Really, what we’re saying is that Federer is the Tom Brady of tennis—or should that be the other way around? Here, let’s count down the ways.
There are numerous parallels to draw between the two men’s careers. They’re both probably the best players in their respective sport’s history, Brady being if nothing else the best QB in NFL history. They’ve won multiple times everything there is to win and when they were done with that, they’ve won again and have made a great deal of money from their successes.
And not that this is the most noteworthy thing about them, but Brady’s and Federer’s excellences surpass any kind of time markers: 17 years for the former, 20 for the latter. They might have been helped by the powers that be a little bit as well. For some time now, Federer has basically been able to pick his schedule with no penalty, while Brady has been helped by rule changes that have made football, and playing quarterback especially, just a little bit safer. Not safe, but safer.
But it’s not enough to mention that they’ve both won, of course they have but it’s more than that—how and when they’ve won also is fairly similar. If you recall, Brady took the football world by storm in 2001 with a first Super Bowl, only to do it again in 2003 and 2004 and then….nope, nada. Brady won it all seemingly every year until it all kinda stopped.
Federer, meanwhile, was relatively young when he first triumphed at Wimbledon in 2003; sure he had turned pro in 1998 but he was still just 22 years old at the All-England Lawn and Croquet Tennis Club. He won a whole bunch from 2004 to 2007 before it all…kinda stopped? Of his 20 career Grand Slam titles, a whopping 15 came before 2010.
That’s right: for both Brady and Federer, the winning stopped at one point for (compared to what they had accustomed us to) an eternity only for it to start again right when we had kind of stopped expecting for it to happen, with Brady winning two Super Bowls in 2014 and 2017, and Federer another 3 Grand Slams since the start of the 2017 season.
So Brady and Federer? Good at winning and both with long careers that unfolded largely similarly. What else?
Well let’s talk about their brand, which we could describe as being “Just win, baby!” Indeed, the two men love to be as bland and boring off the courts/football fields as they are excellent and all-conquering on them.
They don’t just lend their name to any one thing or company, either. Sure, maybe Federer has a few more “prestigious” endorsements than Brady’s relationship with UGGs but the bottom line is the same: they’re known for winning and excelling, and not much else. They just want to play and there’s no controversial topic that they aren’t willing to and adept at sidestepping on their way to their next victory.
The one difference between the two? Federer has never had a Make America Great Again hat in his locker, not that we know of. So let’s give the nod to the Swiss.
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG