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Monday 28 November 2011

Time is ripe for Federer to go the Sampras way

As a fan of Roger Federer, I was happy to see him win the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals beating Jo Wilfred Tsonga 6-3, 7-6, 6-3.

I was even more happy for the fact that Federer regained that extra zest in him to win the match after he failed to seal the match on the championship point in the second set.

Ever since he lost out to Djokovic in the US Open semi-finals where he failed to convert couple of match points, Federer has been on a roll with a 17-match winning streak thanks to an out-of-form Nadal and injuries to Djokovic and Murray. At the same time, there is no denying the fact that a break from the Hong Kong and the Shanghai Masters has done a lot of good to Federer’s form.

While hoping that Federer will continue this dream run well into 2012 and win a couple more  Grand Slams, fans must be wary of the fact that ‘The Light That Burns Twice as Bright Burns Half as Long’. More so in the context of a demanding sport like tennis at its highest level and an ageing champion who has turned 30.
Federer last won a Grand Slam in 2010 at the Australian Open and has not won a single slam in 2011 and the best was reaching the final of the French Open where he as usual lost to Nadal.

While Federer has not won a single Grand Slam this year (the first time since he won his first title at Wimbledon in 2003), the cause for worry is whether he will be able to sustain his energies for five-set battles. Twice in 2011 at Wimbledon (QF against Tsonga) and at the US Open (SF against Djokovic), Federer squandered a two sets to love lead to end up as the loser.

The emergence of strong contenders like Tsonga, Berdych, Ferrer, Del Potro and Tipsarevic along with Djokovic, Murray and Nadal make Federer’s task of winning a Grand Slam all the more difficult.

In sport, seeing your idols as mere mortals and not as champions can be a torturous experience. Less than a decade ago, I went through the same kind of emotions when Pete Sampras, the greatest Wimbledon champion who won seven of eight championships between 1993 and 2000, went down in five sets to a lesser known player called George Bastl with a world ranking of 145 in 2002.

What hit me hard was not Sampras losing the match but the impact it had on the man who is known to walk with drooping shoulders.

But two months later, Sampras rose like a phoenix to win the US Open beating Agassi 3-1 and that was the last match he played as a Pro. Not many champions have had the privilege to leave Centre Court like Sampras did.

Given the current form, Federer too for all his records, both on and off the field, deserves such a `Grand’ finish.

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