The changing perception of Federer
The most painful thing for a champion is when you realize that someone else has passed you by.
The most difficult thing for a champion is to try to change your game. After all, you became the best playing
And so we have ...
It was hardly but a year or so ago when the only question was whether he was the greatest tennis player of all time. And there was no argument whatsoever that his game was the loveliest ever. But now it seems that he might not even be the best of his own era.
How quickly it has happened. How bizarre. Federer is, after all, still ranked second in the world. It was only last September when he won his 13th Grand Slam tournament, at the U.S. Open. He's been in 14 of the last 15 major finals. That's otherworldly. No, he's not a tragic figure. Away from the court, he appears level and happy, a newlywed with a baby on the way. He's rich and healthy Even, it seems, rather quite a normal human being.
And yet, now he is demonized. Federer could not beat
Looking back, it's almost eerily the same as what happened to
Everybody has advice for Federer. Get a coach, Roger. Use a larger racket. Whatever, change. Do something new, Roger. Do something different. But maybe it's hardest for him to adjust because he knows what everyone has told him, that he is the most beautiful tennis player who ever lived.
And then, Sunday, in Madrid, in the last tune-up for the French Open, Federer beat Nadal. On clay. Straight sets. Granted, Nadal had a sore knee, and he was worn down from a grueling semifinal against
Power rules almost every sport today. It is all that is stylish. Nadal is power. Beauty is now but a bagatelle. How do you get prettier when you are already the fairest of them all, and that isn't enough anymore?