It’s that time of the year again; Of lush green courts adorned with spectators from all over the world shelling out hundreds and thousands of pounds to watch their favourite players; Of players in white thronging the prestigious All England Club for the oldest tennis tournament in the world: The Wimbledon Championships.
Since the 2014 championships began, obscured by the Fifa World Cup, all eyes have been on one man who has dominated the arena for a decade with his elegant stroke-play – Roger Federer. The reason is more traditional because Federer has become such an indelible part of Wimbledon that it is impossible to imagine the championship without the champion. Be it in 2001 when he dethroned Pete Sampras ending his reign, or in 2003 when he won his first Grand Slam title or even in 2008 when he lost to Rafael “The Bull” Nadal – each year Wimbledon has been bestowed with the opportunity to witness Federer play in the centre court.
I have the fondest memories of watching his matches recast on Star Sports. Like most people, it was Federer and Wimbledon that blossomed my love for this beautiful game. There is a certain aura of the grass court that compels me to watch these games, even if I occasionally miss other championships on synthetic and clay courts. I remember watching him decimate Novak Djokovic in the 2012 semi-finals in 4 sets and later, pounce back on Andy Murray from the claws of defeat to snatch the title and also the world number 1 spot. But alas, it has been downhill ever since.
It is not the fleet of accolades that awaits Federer on his 16th sojourn. He is supposedly in the worst phase of his career. And it looks even gloomier ahead. There are hoards of people pestering him to hang his boots now citing his continually dismal performances. Some believe he has lost his magic. Even in Switzerland, growing popularity of Stansilas Wawrinka only exacerbates the situation.
Then again, his life-size poster in Zurich main station incites some optimism in me this time. Maybe he can win this one. Murray does not look as invincible as last year. Djokovic, although dangerous, crumbled against Nadal in Roland Garros and also falters quite in pressure situations.
May be he can weave his magic once more. But wait, there’s San Fermin in Pamplona, Spain next week. San Fermin, the famous festival where you run to save your arse from being punched by the bulls; And one of those bulls will hit Federer, as it always has. That fucking brilliant Spaniard.
After all, it is very difficult to see your idols fall…