Overnight Roger Federer, the king of effortless strokeplay and diffident pasta twirls, won his 101st career title, taking out the Miami Open. The Miami Open is an ATP World Tour Masters 1,000 event which, to the uninitiated, means that it’s one of the biggest tournaments outside the 4 grands slam – or is it grand slams – and the end of season ATP Finals. In other words, it’s a big deal. After all, the prize money is over USD$1million. Not that Roger needs any more hard earned. Or coolly earned as the case may be.
The reason why we are banging on about this achievement is because Federer is a tennis champion at the grand old age of 37. Thirty seven. He’s the oldest ATP Tour tournament winner and is the only player this year to have won more than a single tournament. Let that sink in for a nanosecond. [Let’s thought sink in] Federer is relatively ancient and he’s still winning major tournaments. Ok stop. You too Federer.
Just a reminder – Federer is playing professional tennis. He’s not a golfer i.e. someone who walks by lakes and sandpits and whacks a little ball with a big stick and doesn’t even have the self respect to carry the clubs himself. Nor is Federer a goalkeeper, ambling around the 18 yard box and occasionally punching balls away because catching them is too hard. No, not for Our Roger. He’s out there floating around the court, creaming off-forehands, fizzing one handed top spin backhands or flicking half volleys from the baseline, all before apologizing for breaking serve. But never breaking into a sweat.
Yes, much has been written about Federer previously. His talent is supernatural. His touch is extraordinary. His tears whenever Rod Laver appears contain the elixir of eternal life. His grace and demeanor is unparalleled to the point of nauseating. Father of the year, player of the century, there is nothing he can’t do. He even makes wearing a linen blazer in ivory seem like a good idea. Trust us, it’s not. We’ve done it. Heaps of times. It wouldn’t be so hard to take if he was in his mid 20s with a sunny disposition, fuelled by the misplaced optimism of youth. But he’s not. He’s old. He should be retired. He should be Dad bod friendly. He should be spruiking hair plugs and committing unspeakable acts in broom cupboards. He should be working out what to say during a tell all interview with some shonky media outlet who’s holding a form of Swiss kompromat that would make even Donald J. Trump blush. But he’s not. Sad!
By the age of 37, any right thinking person has glanced wistfully into the rear view mirror and thought to themselves, “how did it come to this?” Ok that might be just us here at TippyTappy Sports. As for Federer, he shows no sign of slowing down. Rather, he is accelerating. His skill is in deciding late, yet moving early. His delay is what gives him his advantage. That is the true mark of genius. Watch Federer play and there’s always a nagging sense that he’s not actually playing the person on the other side of the net. His opponent is not Nadal. It’s not Djokovic. It’s also not Kyrgios mainly because Kyrgios has threatened to make good on his talent but has spent the previous evening playing Fortnite and flossing on a jetski before rolling his ankle while jumping off. No, the only opponent that Federer ever has is himself. He may never win another major. He may never win another tournament. But Federer will always be playing.