Roger may have lost to the Djoker yesterday in the semi-finals of Miami but he made an important breakthrough on another level. Since the beginning of 2008 we have seen a Roger Federer that has not been as dominant as we were used to seeing. He lost the competitive edge he had over the rest of the field, and in pressure situations he started falling apart. In the moments that it really mattered we saw time and time again Roger making unexplainable unforced errors. The backhand was not as solid as it used to be and the usually reliable forehand became surprisingly unreliable. There has also been a pattern developing in his matches where he starts out playing well and then for no reason his game just started falling apart.
First this was the problem he had against Andy Murray, but against Roddick the same thing almost happened and against Djokovic yesterday that did happen. There was really no excuse, the conditions were windy but he played fine in the first set and besides the wind is a problem for both players. After playing terrific tennis in the first set Roger inexplicable dropped his serve in the first game of the second set. From here on it all went so wrong for the former world number one. The unforced errors kept rearing it’s ugly head and it seemed no matter what he did he couldn’t make it stop.Then in the third set after dumping another routine forehand half way into the net, all the frustration that’s been building up since the start of 2008 finally came out when Roger smashed his racket into little pieces on the court surface.
My first reaction was shock. What the hell is that?!! Is Roger losing his mind now?! For all these years Roger had been on top of the men’s game he had an impeccable public image where he was the ultimate sportsman that never lost his cool and was the perfect ambassador for the sport. So I’m sure most people’s first reaction was shock when he smashed his racket. After the shock subsided my next reaction was laughter. It reminded me of a match I played against a guy who I faced in the same tournament, at the same stage I faced him at the previous year and I lost by the same score. It made me so mad that I threw my racket and broke it in four places. It felt like it had been a long time coming and I just had to blow off steam.
So after I stopped laughing at what Roger did I realized that it was a significant moment. All the failures from the last year or so had been building up inside him and it was time for him to finally release it all. For too long he has been protecting the Mr. Perfect public image and it was time to let go of it. Who is he being perfect for anyway? He has been perfect for long enough and served the game the best he could. The time has come for him to think about himself. He is now in the latter part of his career an it hasn’t been an easy time for him so far. Something had to give and something had to change. Throwing the racket was just a symptom of what his been building up inside the man for some time now.
He is just a human being and it’s time for him to realize that. He played tennis like a God for four years but it’s time to become human again. No one can play like that forever and that is OK. It is time for Roger to realize that and start relaxing again. It’s not the end of the world to be losing to guys like Rafa and Murray, he must accept that will happen from time to time. He puts so much pressure on himself that it is no wonder he breaks down under pressure. If he expects to beat these guys every time they play he will lose every time. But if he accepts that these guys are good and that he is not invincible anymore he might just start relaxing and start reliving some of those glory days. Thank God he threw his racket and that something finally changed!
This has not been a fun period for both Roger and his fans. We have now been witnessing and living through the pain with him for long enough and the time has come for change. I was hoping Roger could at least make the final of Miami but I would easily have exchanged that for him throwing his racket and getting rid of Mr. Perfect. So in the end I am happy with the way things have transpired. Now Roger doesn’t have to keep looking over his shoulder and worry about what the public would say, he can go ahead and relax and enjoy his tennis once more and throw his racket a few more time if necessary. Is everything suddenly fine in the Federer camp? No, but something has changed which is a start.
Lets relive that beautiful moment one more time: