July 04, 2005

Flawless Federer: Perfection comes in many guises and yesterday afternoon perfection was Roger Federer.

posted by justgary to tennis at 01:44 AM - 11 comments

He's just so much better than everyone else, that's the worrying thing. Good match, if a little one-sided!

posted by BigCalm at 05:43 AM on July 04, 2005

Yawn. It was like watching a Ferrari race a Buick - amusing, but without tension.

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 07:52 AM on July 04, 2005

Weedy - Simon Barnes in the Times addresses your complaint in this article: "And if you find excellence boring, then direct your attention away from sport, where excellence is the goal, even if it is rarely found. Instead, concentrate your mind, such as it is, on EastEnders, where they value cheap gratification above such tedious matters as excellence." I really enjoyed watching him all through the tournament. From the moment he walked out of the dressing room yesterday and smiled his big goofy smile at Roddick (who could only react by turning away and looking even more like Stifler than usual), it was all over. I had an interesting debate at lunchtime with a colleague - can you think of any other sport at the moment where the number one in the world is so far ahead of the rest?

posted by JJ at 09:14 AM on July 04, 2005

Weedy - Simon Barnes in the Times addresses your complaint in this article: How erudite. Me thinks he dost protest too much. Federer was a machine - laser like precision and an astoundingly low number of errors, but at times it felt like a video game - and his character had the cheat code. Federer seems a lot like Pete Sampras in that he seems to be dominant without much of a public persona. That's fine, but excellence can be banal. Besides, I hate the fucking East Enders (which is available here in Canada).

posted by WeedyMcSmokey at 10:54 AM on July 04, 2005

Surely excellence of Federer's brand is the very antithesis of banal. I've been watching tennis for twenty years and never seen anything like it. As for his public persona, I don't know how he comes over in the states, but the British press and public can't get enough of him (slightly irritatingly so at times in terms of how much the BBC pundits love him). From what I've seen and read of him in interviews, he couldn't be more likeable. He's the only tennis player I can think of who could say something like "Sometimes I even amaze myself with the shots I play." without sounding conceited. I would agree that watching one person win everything can become boring, but it's not like RF wins the way the England rugby team won the World Cup in 03 - by grinding out results and 'winning ugly' - he wins by being magnificent in the face of the merely very very good. And yes, EastEnders should be banned for crimes against writing, acting and direction.

posted by JJ at 03:59 AM on July 05, 2005

I haven't seen someone convert that many passing shots....since a classic Sampras Wimbeldon match I can't exactly place...Freaking unreal. And Roddick, was out-played, out-thought, and generally out-classed. In the final set, Roddick didn't react to one 'at net' opportunity, he proactively dove out of the way, at which point I began to feel some sympathy for the forgone loser.

posted by garfield at 08:32 AM on July 05, 2005

I think the thing that may make Federer seem unexciting to some is that he's thinking three steps ahead of his opponents, and he's got the body and skills to execute. You get a lot less flailing, he makes it look easy, and no colorful temperamental outbursts. What's fun is to sometimes watch Federer while the other guy is doing something. There is plenty of effort, but it's a classic case of better preparation, in every sense, leading to better efficiency. Efficiency doesn't usually look real exciting unless you look at the whole picture (and even then I spose you have to be a bit of a nerd). Anyway, I like it.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 08:42 AM on July 05, 2005

I noticed that this year, lbb - I've never seen someone return so many smashes before. Occasionally he gets forced to hit a defensive lob, but the the number of times he 'guessed' correctly as to where the smash was going to be directed, and then got there and returned it, was just incredible. Commentators talk about players' "movement" all the time. I don't think I really got it until this year - as you say, watching RF while the other sucker is playing, and watching how he gets himself into the right place at the right time, finally made me understand the importance of good movement. On the one hand, I can see him going from strength to strength, on the other, everyone needs a rival, especially in such a face-to-face sport as tennis - it has often been the desire to beat one's nearest rival that has driven the best people (Borg might not have been driven to the heights he achieved without Mac chasing him) so it will be interesting to see what RF can do if he stays so far out in front on his own for too long.

posted by JJ at 09:42 AM on July 05, 2005

IMHO Richard Kraijceck was the best ever tennis player I've ever seen on grass - Out of 8 wimbledons, Sampras won 7 - who won the other one in the middle of Sampras' streak? Richard Kraijcek, who flattened Sampras that year. However, Kraijcek was the Stan Collymore of Tennis - supremely talented, but could never get his head together, except for that one year when he was just outstanding.

posted by BigCalm at 10:31 AM on July 05, 2005

I blame his hot girlfriend for the distracted nature of his career.

posted by JJ at 04:14 AM on July 06, 2005

Before everyone climbs on the "Roger is the best ever" bandwagon that McEnroe seems to be trying to rally, just remember, we've seen this before. In 1974 when Jimmy Connors was all but unbeatable, in 1984 (with his collapse at Roland Garros the only exception) when McEnroe himself made everyone else look like they were playing in reverse, and all those easy Wimbledon and US Open wins that Sampras made look so easy. Don't even get me started on the years of dominance that Graf and Navratilova had on the women's side. It just happens every once in a while. All the great ones have had years where they all looked like "the best ever", only to be driven back to the fold by a serious rival. Borg did it to Connors, Becker to McEnroe, Graf to Navratilova, Seles to Graf and so on. Of all those, I think Federer is a fantastic talent, and a genuine pleasure to watch, but until he gets 10-12 slam wins under his belt, including Roland Garros, I would dispute the "best evar" claim. Not to take anything away from him, but I do think on a good day on the hard courts, Marat Safin still plays even up with Roger.

posted by psmealey at 07:16 AM on July 07, 2005

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