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The Federer Hole

June 2, 2010

*This isn’t going to be a normal post from me, it’s a post from a Federer fan, not a non-biast writer who brings opinions in the most fair way I can. I will, of course, try to make this fair.*

The Federer Hole is my term for the place Federer fans go when he suffers a loss. The hole has varying depths, from the cravasse of Wimbledon 2008 to the shallow dish that was the US Open 2009.  Right now I’m sitting in one that is deeper than that dish, but light years off the bottom of the cravasse. Let’s call it a basin. I’m sitting in a Federer basin. The immediate consequence of this is a lack of concentration and an inability to work properly. The Federer hole means complete and utter dedication to thoughts of Federer’s loss. I want to read what the media has to say, more to gauge the extent of the blow and reaction than because I think they will have anything decent or new to write about. I managed to read Federer’s interview this morning before work but I want to read it again. I want to reassure myself that he is Ok. Most of all, I want to delve into an online world of Federer fans, where Twitter and blogs can make me feel better. This loss may not be the end of the world, but it still hurts.

I watched only 1.5 sets of Federer’s match last night and from it I gathered this: Robin Soderling was on fire and Federer wasn’t. It’s not that Federer was playing badly, he was just lacking a bit of sting to his shots and he missed a few vital points here and there. Soderling, on the other hand, played like a man on a mission. He was in Nadal-beating form, smashing winners from anywhere and taking risk after risk. We all know this though, that’s why we are in this hole.

To me, the whole match reminded me of the US Open final 2009. Again Federer was up against a determined opponent and again he failed to find that extra gear. The big similarity I see is that Federer didn’t have that much to play for in either case. I know it’s ridiculous to ponder that a Grand Slam isn’t much to play for, but that’s where Federer is right now. He has the all-time record, he has the career Slam, he is in unchartered waters. So what about the Australian Open 2010? He had something to play for again, something to prove. He had been beaten in the last Slam and he felt some extra motivation to prove that he could win time and time again. The year before he was left in tears of disappointment; 2010 healed that wound, and let’s not even go into how much he likes beating Andy Murray. Federer was in a similar situation last night. It’s not that he didn’t want to win, of course he did, he didn’t get to where he is by not playing tennis to win, it’s just he probably didn’t want it as much as Soderling. Perhaps there was a little less time put in off-court. He admitted to a lack of practise due to the conditions, but I’d bet my left foot that Soderling was out whacking balls anyway. Of course, I don’t know Federer or Soderling and I can only speculate. It’s just a guess from me that Soderling wanted this more than Federer, that Federer might need a little extra push these days, what with the kids, the records… you get my drift.

I’m possibly the only Federer fan who feels this way but I feel a little relief. Relief that the semi final streak, an amazing run of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semis, is over. Of course, just as Federer said, we all hoped it could go on forever but it had to end. Now that is has ended I feel like a cloud has lifted, some pressure has floated away. The record is over, it was a fantastic record and it won’t be beaten anytime soon. We no longer have to dread the semi-final mark, hoping he will get there to keep the streak alive. If Federer loses again in the quarters it won’t be the upset it is today. That part of supporting Federer is over. As a friend said, it’s like something you fear but once it’s over it isn’t so bad after all, kind of like flying or trying an ugly seafood. It’s over now, and we can appreciate it for what it was: one of the most brilliant and amazing records achieved in sport.

So why am I in a hole then if all this isn’t so bad? It’s the number one ranking. He is two weeks away from the all-time record and I am greedy enough to want him to claim it now. He still can if Nadal loses before the final. I’m throwing all my support behind the likes of Djokovic and Soderling to beat him. But it’s not bitterness and all about the ranking. To be honest, I think I’m ready for a change in men’s tennis. In last year’s US Open half of me was behind del Potro. Before the French Open started a huge part of me was behind Djokovic. I think I am finally satisfied with Federer’s performances. We cannot forget, us fans are in unchartered waters too. It must be natural to take each loss easier and easier as his legacy grows. There isn’t much left for the crtitics to criticise. Federer has it all. Of course I want to see him win more Slams, but I am ready to trade some of these for other players. The Djokovics, the del Potros, the Cilics and the likes of Gulbis, (that counts you in, Berdych). I’m finally ready for Federer to spread the love around a little bit. I’m still feeling low but I can see the light. I know by tomorrow I will be closer to climbing out of this hole and into the green pastures of Wimbledon. There is no doubt I will be fully behind Federer at Wimbledon, it’s his hunting ground, and Federer will always be my number one. But come Sunday, I will be able to crack a smile for the winner of the French Open. Especially if it’s someone who hasn’t won it before.

In the meantime let’s hold our heads high and congratulate Soderling. Support him through the tournament if you like, or turn your love to Nadal or Djokovic, but don’t get too down about this one. There is still plenty of tennis to be enjoyed, even if Federer isn’t wielding his beautiful forehands. Sit back and enjoy this Slam without the worries of rankings or head to heads. It’s still tennis without Federer, it’s just taken me a while to figure it all out.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. evie permalink
    June 2, 2010 4:20 am

    I’m bummed, too, at about the same level. I’m bummed about that set point that he almost snatched from oblivion. I’m bummed about the break he got and then gave back at love. I’m bummed that both rain delays were on his serve. Woulda, coulda. He still has a chance to get #1 back and break the record, but he has no chance to defend his prized RG Championship again.

    Happy for Sod, he deserved the win. It’ll be fun to watch the rest of the tournament without being invested in the winner — except Lena and Sammy. And let’s face it, an early round loss at Wimby would be much tougher to take.

    Btw — I had a different reading of his “practice” comment. I don’t think he was saying he couldn’t practice this week because of the conditions, but rather that it is impossible to practice FOR the conditions he faced today. He was out every day, but even with rain, it’s not the same as what he faced today.

    • June 2, 2010 4:25 am

      Ahh I see, I’ll have to reread his inerview and if I think ur right Ill delete that sentence. I read it in a rush to work (I missed the train as a consequence, first time ive actually missed it!) and could easily have misinterpreted it. Ill check again later if I have the heart. Yeah it sucks but hell, we have had so much happiness and the more I think about it the happier I am that the streak is over.

      ‘If you are bored with life, you are too stupid to think of something to do’

      -Ernests Gulbis 2010

  2. amy permalink
    June 2, 2010 5:19 am

    I am totally in the hole over the record too, it’s all I wanted out of this slam since Rafa has like no points to defend for ages. I can’t be mad at Soderling, he played amazing and I want him to win it all now. If not just because that would mean another top 10er getting a slam before Murray! Plus I’m glad he beat him this year and not last. I can handle a qf loss. I don’t think I would have coped if Rog missed his best chance to get his hands on the Coupe de Mousquetaires!

  3. Maya permalink
    June 2, 2010 9:31 am

    Great. 🙂

  4. breadstix permalink
    June 2, 2010 12:30 pm

    I managed half of his presser this morning before deciding to leave it for another day. He mentioned his QF streak hah hah. Well, better than a R4 streak I guess. Yup, Soddy outplayed Feddy today but I think it’s going to be a little while before I start thinking rationally about it all. In the mean time, back into a hole I crawl, wheeee!

    Hoping for a Sod-Wafa final. I mean, I like them. Just not as much as Feddy. So yeah. At least it wouldn’t be stressful watching them, Yup. Honest.

  5. June 4, 2010 8:58 am

    I know for certain I’m sharing that hole with you. It really bums me out when he loses, but it gets easier for each time.

    Really rooting for Soderling to take the title, I think he’s the only man who stands a chance against Nadal of the people left in the draw. If he does, then Fed-fans will see that last record put safely into the bag and I can breathe a sigh of relief 🙂

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