roger federer

V.21 No.28 | 7/12/2012


Federer over Djokovic

Fed earns eighth Trip to Wimbledon Final

Winning used to be a pretty common experience for Roger Federer. He and Rafael Nadal would go back and forth, tossing the victories in world tennis competitions between themselves. It seemed like it would last forever. Then, Novak Djokovic came from out of nowhere, changed his diet and started to look unbeatable. It was a poor time to be Nadal, but it was probably harder on Federer, since he thought that he had seen the threat coming, in the form of Nadal, and had neutralized him.

On Friday, however, Federer took the first step toward getting back to his top spot. He will play in the Wimbledon Final against Andy Murray. This Grand Slam final will mark the 30th in a row that includes one of the trio of Federer, Nadal or Djokovic, a remarkable record that stretches all the way back to 2005. To say these three are in complete control of the sport of tennis is an understatment. This is what pure domination looks like.

The semifinal match-up was, amazingly, the first time that Djokovic and Federer have faced each other on grass, and Federer endeavored to capitalize on this advantage. The match, however, was an incredible back and forth display of power on both players' parts. In triumphing 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 Federer showcased the old grit that has consistently made him one of the most difficult opponents to close out. Djokovic committed uncharacteristic mistakes that cost him the match, moving Federer to a record of 15-12 all time against the Serb.

The men's Wimbledon Final will be played on Sunday, and Federer will face tremendous pressure to clinch the deal, now that he's conquered Djokovic. However, Andy Murray is no token opponent and promises to be ready for the match. His defeat of Jo-Wilifried Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 later on Friday sent him to his first Wimbledon final, where he will be itching to play the role of the spoiler.

V.20 No.35 | 9/1/2011
AP / Ian Walton


Rafael Nadal is the best second-best talent in tennis.

The greatest rivalry in modern tennis just got a new twist. No, not Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Rather, Nadal and Roger Federer. For years, Nadal and Federer have battled back and forth. Their styles have been contrasted, and their stories have been written. It was Federer on top, with his precision and beautiful game. Nadal was the brash young kid with the passion and the angst, especially at the fact that he could never get over the top against the king. He was ranked second to Federer's first for a record 160 consecutive weeks.

Then, all of a sudden, in 2008, Nadal went on a spree against Federer. Rafa beat Fed three times in a year and took the number one spot. It was as though his time had come. At only 27 years old, it's not like Federer was knocking on the door of retirement by any means. But those who followed the game got a sense that Nadal had paid his dues. He'd been rooted against long enough. He'd been the wild child. It was his time to ascend the throne.

To categorize the last three years as poor for Nadal would be a mistake of the grossest severity. After winning what some called the greatest tennis match ever, Rafa went on a rampage. He won his first Olympic gold medal in Beijing, ran through several of the majors (but never completing a true Grand Slam) and compiled a magnificent record. He was a monster by anyone's account.

As the U.S. Open progressed this year, however, Rafa and Fed were, once again, on opposite sides of the bracket. The match-up was there to be had. But Djokovic insisted upon playing spoiler as a set piece conclusion to his season for the ages. When historians look back to the 2011 tennis season, the big font at the top will be about Djokovic's season record: 64-2 at this point with not a sign in sight that his rate will decrease.

Djokovic has received plenty of press for his change in diet and the possibility of this being the move that puts him truly (and, seemingly at this point, inevitably) over the top. Members of the press have never been shy to describe Roger Federer as, perhaps, the greatest tennis player of all time. Lost in the fray between these two singular talents, somehow, is Rafael Nadal. If ever there has been an overlooked number two talent in the game, this is that moment. If all of these circumstances can somehow be believed, there is a distinct possibility that those same people who have dismissed Rafa as a boyish rager may now start to root for him. Ironically, they might be too late.