Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello. Not only Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but also artists. Djokovic, Federer, Nadal, Murray. Not only tennis players, but also artists. With that said, the latter are fluctuating. Mutating. Several years ago, few would question this order of quality, though they might object to the particular order. Now? Some have stepped up and others down. Am I missing anybody? Is it one too many? Is one too money?Enter Warwinka. Stan had a magical ‘14 – ‘15, capturing the first two majors of his career. Until then, he had always been a question mark, if not a riddle. Both of these victories were especially memorable given the challenges he overpowered. Much of the winning came, indeed, from power. Seeing Stan slap a flat, one-handed backhand into the open was a breath of fresh air, if not just a breath. By contrast, I hold my breath each time Federer winds up.
You don’t know where the ball is going to wind up. Federer has improved his shots after shifting from a 90-inch frame to the RF97. At any rate, something clicked during those finals. It became especially apparent in the French Open. Stan dictated the pace and cruised over Novak with aplomb. And he did it in his underwear. Well, not exactly, but his interesting shorts look like boxers. Unlike Federer, Wawrinka decimated opponents with one hand behind his back.
Sometimes, Federer appeared to have this hand tied behind his back. Of course, Federer has decimated almost everybody, too. All the same, his one hand strokes evoke liability and pliability, respectively. Everybody knows the forehand is nasty. On the other hand, which is the same one, expect the unexpected. During these matches, balls often go the way of the wind, if not the wind up.
Two remarkably similar songs that stand up to scrutiny, like Djokovic/Federer in Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
In some ways, time has stopped. This sport is better than ever, if not the best ever. We are in an era for the ages. The golden age. A renaissance. One of the big curiosities in sports is retirement. Everybody is always calling for another person to go out on top; or, if not on top, at the top of their game. This seems erroneous to me. Michael Jordan bounced on a pretty slick job. I think many view Jordan as having the ideal career. You can’t perform better.
With that said, he left for baseball and, infamously, later returned to play for The Wizards. How did that go? It didn’t entirely go thanks to injuries. Fair. MJ was okay. It wasn’t as wizardly as previous performances, but he played. “Gotta play to win.” And isn’t that the most important element of his career? If you have the ability and impulse, shouldn’t you go for it? Ultimately, athletes play because they enjoy themselves. They should, at least. Gotta play to play.
There’s a flip side corollary, which entails the debt assumed by embracing adherents. Fans constitute an enormous part of being able to play in the first place for first place. All told, however, they must buy into any experience the player is inclined to materialize. That is an experimental way of saying we are along for the ride. Being ‘team Jordan’ doesn’t mean you are on his team. Nobody likes a backseat driver and drivers shouldn’t take a backseat to freedom.
Although there is definitely something to be said for giving back to the fans, the best way to return their support is by giving them your all, if not yourself. Naturally, there are different kinds of fans. Some admire teams, others players. Without question, the more gratifying ardor is in some combination of the two. I would say there’s really only one combination, but the order could vary. In any case, they each have their own merits.
It’s easier to support the player in something like tennis because there isn’t a team when there isn’t a team. I have mixed feelings about doubles. You might prefer them, but I wouldn’t bet on it. Double or nothing. Appropriately, it’s harder to champion individuals within the context of their associates. Even players as insane as MJ can’t win unless they’ve got teammates. In other activities, there are more chances to single out members of a group. Gymnastics, swimming.If you’re looking to support teams, however, it is necessary to contemplate the roster. I would argue it’s kind of crazy to cheer on just one person in a collective. They need resources. Perhaps you’d like your favorites to pile on the stats instead of letting everybody get theirs. In many sports, improving the others is good for you. Having one person account for two is a big handicap. It would be like taking on multiple legs in a medley or being your own DH.
Watching collaborative athletics also changes the nature of your indignation. Superstar is not playing to or up to expectations? Don’t hate the player, hate the game. Certainly, this takes some of the pressure off players to carry the burden of their shortcomings. But not without sacrifice. Logic stands to reason the reverse is also true: don’t love the player, love the game. And isn’t that the name of an average Kevin Costner movie? For Love of the Game.
This isn’t Angels in the Outfield. You need to be on the mark and pray to God one of your teammates is in the wings. Accountability concerns the lineup. As long as you come and play, to play, you’re set. The fans came to watch you do you. So what kind of fan is there? Are they students of the game or historians? Maybe studying to be an historian. There is a difference between making history and what it makes of you. One is self-anointed, the other is appointed.
For better or worse.
Better or worse?
It’s the difference between anecdote and all she wrote. What do you have to say? Fans may esteem a talent because the success is en vogue. These are the people who walkout on game 6.
I don’t know how many Bron fans left for Miami, but I’m sure they didn’t go to Ohio. Nobody leaves Florida for The Land unless they are visiting. I’m sure his faithful acolytes attend every home game if the Cavs are in town. All right, all right, all right. Enough chit-chat.Back to the topic at hand. No one owes their fans an arc beyond the arc. Narrative is applied in reflection, if not retrograde. Inasmuch as the game can elevate to artistry, athletes are not authors. Isn’t the point that if you work hard, you play hard? Even losing, one should aspire to “be remembered as someone who did the best she could with the talent she had.” They needn’t issue dues in order to lose. They shouldn’t pay to play.Anyone enjoying life, especially a storied––not steroid––one, should continue as they please, if they please. Even if objective numbers fall off, they don’t have to fall off the horse. In some ways, your horse can go faster if it’s not pulling a bandwagon. On the flip flip side, everybody has bills to pay, though not everybody has bills. As a result, you’ve got to play to pay. Income is a respectable need. Then again, players in this position can probably afford to retire.
On whose account? I get into this argument all the time and often with my age peers. On another occasion, I might involve somebody with retirement savvy. First of all, it’s ridiculous to say you’re retiring for the fans. Even if the fans do somehow want this, they really don’t. If you’re a fan, you want to see more of your idols. If not, you are most assuredly one of those people who unconsciously sabotages things. I’m not saying trolls or rickrolls, but infection…blight.
Anyway, Stan is magical. I wouldn’t call him a first ballot for the Wizengamot, but you could tell Nadal and Djokovic were expecting ducks. Fly Away Home. And he had them. Sitting ducks in a row. Moreover, he defeated some players who had eluded Federer, including Federer himself. Of course, Federer has defeated himself on a number of occasions. With that said, during his recent five-setters with Novak, you get the sense that he could win.
Not that he would actually do it, but that it’s in the realm of possibility. Maybe it wouldn’t be in our realm, but in some distant dimension where everything goes his way. Humidity, rain, mettle, digestion. “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away….”
If he could just turn back the clock instead of stopping it, there might be enough time. Instead, he got a rain delay. This is important because it changes your mindset; you’ve got to stay frosty without going cold.
Do I eat? Is the main course on center court? Be ready for hours at a moment’s notice. Furthermore, the dynamics are different. Dampening makes conditions slower. In the previous month, Roger flattened Novak in Cincinnati, one of the fastest courts on the tour. Granted, it was only a three set match, so the mentality is cursory, if not edgier. As he gets older, Federer is trying to be more aggressive from the outset. The faster he plays, the faster the match goes.
That’s how he sees and seizes it, for better or worse. Typically, it has been for the better or betterer. In his mid-thirties, he is performing better than everyone else in their mid-thirties, if not everyone else. You can’t win them all, though you can win them all over. Many of the fans in New York did not respect Djokovic. Instead, they supported Roger in a very unFederer-like way. One of the noblest ways to support your favorites is by respecting their rivals.Part of this may have had something to do with the longer availability of alcohol during the delay. In any case, many almost treated the performance like a personal affront, as they know Federer doesn’t have too many more chances for victory in Queens. It was as though the crowd had so much in it for Federer that they couldn’t express any more. The overflowing of support for Federer brimmed into negativity for Djokovic.
With that said, I’m not sure Djokovic minded.As much as he would like the fans behind him..in front of him, around him––everyone would. It’s Federer. This comes with the territory, especially when winning comes with the territory.If he keeps playing like this, everybody will come around. It just won’t be because he’s the best, but because Federer no longer is. No longer playing.
Nobody and nothing is perfect. Even those who appear to come closest are, in some ways, the closest reminder of that. You can defy gravity, but you can’t define it. This statement is as much a generalization as attributing gravity itself. Eventually, however, we may rent some holes in the spacetime continuum. Until then, let’s take up with the patchwork pastime of narrative. Rather than overthink the game, let’s think it over.Inasmuch as Federer wins, he is also losing time. The handle has fallen off a bit and it’s not a question of changing grips. I believe he’s coming to grips with that. He has to get a grip and come out swinging. Swing away. Everybody expects Roger to net majors in the wake of yesteryear. Although he hasn’t done this since 2012, he is doing other things. In some ways, this is all the more impressive. A mensch, if not an übermensch.
We must appreciate his game for what it is now, rather than what it used to be. In Federer, the present is very long. His game is graceful, but chiefly sustainable. He could have just given up after his ranking dropped. There weren’t too many people who thought he would win Wimbledon. Of course, he was not one of them. The key is Federer would be giving up, not simply calling quits. This is a result of his burning desire to continue playing.And there’s nothing to light a fire under your butt quite like getting older. Even old farts can ignite. I don’t think anybody recognizes the blaze of endearment. Then again, the first word you associate with Roger Federer’s career is probably not pyroflatulence. Roger is in the honeymoon stage of his career 13 years after it began. This is amazing. He continues to evolve in spite of new competitors. They continue to lose in spite of themselves.
His maturation is the real deal. It has always been about the long game, not some long con. Moreover, he contributes to the ATP as much as himself. If a career is broken down into seasons, just like the World Tour, Federer is an autumn. He is in the U.S. Open of life. That is, of course, during a period ending with the Finals. Extending his career, Federer has given new life to this epoch. I don’t know if old Nadal is going to return. I’m sure he will.
Meanwhile, Federer is the same old guy, slightly older, with tricks. Notably, he introduced the chip return. It is called a “SABR,” which is on fleek for swordsmanship. While others are offended by this, making adaptations is part of the game: your game. So long as it’s legal, abide. Although the efficacy of this shot is disputed, certain commentators believe it has effects you can’t see.
The SABR is funny because he’s not an aggressive guy. Very understated. Moreover, he is among the best players ever, if not before them. So when you imagine him being sneaky, he contradicts the gentlemanly demeanor we have all come to know and love. It also sounds like something a jedi might do. This isn’t surprising. When he is on his game, no one can break it. Except for Nadal.
Australian Open 2012 is probably emblematic of peak Djokovic against peak Nadal. They displayed the ultimate athleticism with insightful precision. Nadal just wasn’t good enough.
Djokovic is tied with Federer in head-to-head, but many of those wins came from Djokovic’s dominance. Nevertheless, Djokovic and Federer match up well. This makes me wonder how important Nadal’s mastery of Federer is in the big picture.
Crystal (tennis) ball:
Nadal is no slouch. Even as he sits on the couch watching Federer get laid out, he can be assured that he alone is the true maestro beater. Nobody else was crushing Roger during his prime. Nadal gets injured. Anyone who views his grinding is not surprised by this. How, then, is longevity factored into the excellence equation? Are we talking about highest peaks or sustained altitude? Federer is still number 2, competing in Grand Slam finals.
He does this amidst the other best players of all time. After the dust has settled and rust has set in, Nadal and Djokovic will doubtless endure in the contemporary triumvirate of one, two, and three. Djokovic has been a part of each Grand Slam final this year and won three. For his part, Federer made it through the last two finals. With lesser results, one might argue he’s less renaissance man than Vitruvian Man.
The leaves aren’t green in the fall and Roger definitely isn’t green anymore. He is rolling in it. Roger has prolonged his renaissance by making the autumn longer than anyone ever would have expected. If he stays around long enough, his gradual recession could keep him above everybody else when their decline is rapid. Observing Federer makes you think about the issues in aging. Don’t stop ‘til you get enough. It’s a spiritual meditation, if not a religious experience.
Even if he’s lost a spring in his step, he’s getting warmer. Federer still has another shot at making many more. Although the U.S. Open and Wimbledon were comparable, they were also competitive. At 34, he enjoys the game and is playing better than I hoped. If his family is cool with this, he should play for as long as he wants. Who else is going to challenge Novak? Cilic? Wawrinka? Murray is likely Ringo in the Big Four.
I would be remiss to discuss tennis eminence without mentioning Serena. She is every bit as illustrious as Federer, maybe more. Nevertheless, I don’t talk about her as much because she hasn’t had many serious rivals. She is her own biggest enemy. One subject that arose this summer was the issue of how Maria Sharapova makes significantly more money by sponsors than Serena, even though the latter is by far the superior athlete. Player.
There isn’t a whole lot going on. Being better doesn’t mean you are paid better. In tournaments, the winner earns more. Outside the lines, not just between them, the sponsor cares about marketability. If Serena is widely appreciated, she should be compensated accordingly. Whether companies are accurate in this assessment is another question. More imminent is the conflict between male and female wages. Again, these issues arose concerning the U.S. soccer team.
If the men’s tournament brings in more dollars, the payout will be greater for each team. If more people watch women, the advertising shares increase. Effort is made if money exists. Is made. Maybe more people would watch women’s soccer if it was advertised more. At the moment, the total prize pool for the men’s tournament was $576 million, compared to $15 million for women. The German men’s team grossed $35 million by itself. Astroturf?
All the same, “if you do the math, the U.S. women’s team pocketed more of that revenue––roughly 11 percent––than the 6.6 percent given to the Germans.” If the 23 million people tuning in to watch the U.S./Japan final is any indication, equal wages are over the horizon, if not on it. One controversy that is unmentioned concerns the reality that women earn the same money as men for matches that may last under half as long. Three sets to five.
That said, women don’t have a choice in the matter. Moreover, most men’s tournaments are best-of three, anyway.
Winter is coming. The Federer Express doesn’t stop as much as it used to and is nearing the last ride. Although Federer has done an admirable job keeping his age at bay, he will not always be able to keep up with time. #Humble mumble. Like Federer, my article has a long autumn, but no winter. It’s still going. As such, I’m not going to end this with the winter, but with a winner. It isn’t vintage if it never gets old.
“I’ll see you guys next year.”