Semi-final v/s Tomas Berdych; July 14, 2017
My insides felt dishevelled tonight.
As I watched Roger Federer point his index finger and his racquet towards the sky today in celebration of his triumph over his opponent in the semi-finals of the world’s greatest tennis competition, I felt a tad befuddled. The person who steam-rolled Tomas Berdych in straight sets was aggressive, merciless, attacking and visibly powerful, devoid of the grace and composure that is enchantingly unique to Roger Federer. To think that I knew every move of the legend as well as the back of my hand was, as proved tonight, folly. I learnt that he could still surprise me, after all this time. I suppose there’s a life lesson hidden in there somewhere.
Perhaps it was my own disbelief at the fact that he made it this far, defeating every single odd that stood in his path? I can barely believe this is happening. My potential happiness is eclipsed by my state of disbelief and shock. How did this happen? Five years of a Grand Slam drought to end so phenomenally well? How did I spend these five years, watching him lose again and again? I shudder at the complementary set of ‘what if(s)’.
I feel like time has turned back to ten years ago. Surely this isn’t 2017 and Federer isn’t 35-going-on-36?
Fun fact: He’s never retired from a match, and last year was the first time in his extraordinary career that he took time off the playing season. Then, I’d thought the world was coming to an end and that he would never play again. Oh how wrong I was and how fucking glad am I that I was!
Immediately prior to taking time off, when Roger crashed out of the Wimbledon semi final, miserably losing from a winning position against Milos Raonic, failing to convert so many opportunities, I remember darting out of the bar I was watching the match in – well before the match ended. The second the match entered the fifth set, I knew he was done for, and I left. I knew him like the back of my hand and I knew he was done for. I was crying because I was angry, because he had so much more to give to tennis. I wish to go back to that day, outside that bar, when I’d sat on the footpath hugging myself, hands turning cold, and tell myself that it’s all going to be okay. He’s going to win an 18th and then another one (the holy grail of tennis). I wish I could tell myself that he’s going to steamroll Raonic, among others, and make Wimbledon matches seem like an exhibition tournament. Vindication will arrive in due time.
Final v/s Marin Cilic; July 16, 2017
The win was clinical and so very one-sided. Anti-climactic? Yes. I’d been conditioned to expect roller-coasters. The Australian Open victory echoes off the walls even today. Wimbledon was a cakewalk in comparison. I feel only a fraction of the overwhelmed feelings that I felt six months ago, but it isn’t fair on Cilic to put the same weights on his shoulders as you can on Rafael Nadal’s.
Looking at the calendar year thus far – Australian to Roger, French to Rafael, Wimbledon to Roger – it does indeed appear that the world order has been restored. Time HAS turned back, hasn’t it? Not once could I stuff my hands in my mouth tonight, as is my nervous tic. He is rather brilliant, but then Gods are rather brilliant.
Roger Federer will guide you home and bel19f will fix you.
(Pictures courtesy of Wimbledon’s official Instagram page)