Disclaimer: If God is someone you have unshakeable faith in, is someone you’re fond of yet also angry with and disappointed in, and is someone you believe possesses power no other human can possess, Roger Federer is my God.
I don’t remember how it all began, how I started watching tennis but it was at least ten years ago, back when Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal started to be the only names worth remembering. I confess that I had initially taken to supporting Rafael Nadal – more out of loyalty to a friend than out of personal preferences – but like the earth unquestionably revolves around the sun, I inevitably gravitated towards the man who personifies grace in a game that largely is about sinews and aggression. I remember remaining in awe of his unfaltering serve. I remember my brother never resigning to doubt if Roger Federer was cornered in his own service game. “He’s going to fire straight aces and brush the opponent over,” he would say, which of course is exactly what would happen. My awe towards the man only multiplied thereon. I cannot add nor redefine more praise for Roger Federer since all that can be said for the man, has been said. His movements are like brush strokes on canvass – a waltz across the court, especially if it is the central, green one at Wimbledon. As I type this tonight, Roger Federer failed to convert three of five sets in his Wimbledon semifinal against Canadian Milos Raonic. When Raonic took the fourth set, a part of me knew too well that he was going to take it all and I couldn’t find it in me to sit through the anxiety of it. Was it cowardly? I don’t know but I felt the onslaught of a downpour of tears coming my way and I tore out of the room as soon as I could. Disappointment crashed on me wave by wave. Two nights ago, I was more elated than words could describe, suddenly empowered by the belief that anything was possible, that Sunday night I would be atop the world, even if my world is making less sense every passing day. Two nights ago, I was happy and Roger Federer was sex on fire. Is this how it feels to see your heroes ride out their descent? It agonised me to see him throw away so many points that ordinarily he’d have won in his sleep. But what is ‘ordinary’ anymore? I couldn’t tell if Raonic was playing better than him or he worse than Raonic. My heart is broken for the light inside Roger Federer rages and burns but it also flickers and sometimes, dims. My heart is broken because watching tennis will seem meaningless without the calm exterior of the man I have come to love and worship. My heart is broken as the plethora of commentators and onlookers, dabbling in numbers, reduce players to statistics and a stock of score-lines.. and I dread that tomorrow’s headlines will read that it’s the first time that Roger Federer has failed to win a Wimbledon semifinal – his eleventh. Don’t they understand that it does not matter if it’s the first or the second or the fifteenth time that he lost a Wimbledon semifinal? What matters is that Roger Federer is not done yet, not yet.. not yet. And my heart is broken that perhaps we won’t see all that he can give us.