Hi guys. This is a special post for me because it marks 5 years of existence for my blog!! I did my first post on December 4, 2008. Long time ago, isn’t it? It has been an amazing journey since then following the career of arguably the greatest tennis player that ever lived. If you take a look back at my first post you will see I predicted there that Roger would break Sampras’ slam record, at which time Roger was on 13 slams. I also said it’s not that relevant whether Roger wins the French Open, since at that time there was no possibility in my mind of Nadal catching up with him. The focus was more on Sampras and Roger surpassing him, and since Sampras didn’t win the career slam himself Roger just needed to pass his slam tally to be considered greater. How much things have changed in the last 5 years! When I started my blog Roger came off his worst year since his ascendancy to the top of the sport.
He got mono after his exhos with Sampras in the East and his results started dropping off. He did however finish the year on a relative high by winning a 5th consecutive US Open, the only player in the open era to do so. He was still struggling though, because he struggled during the indoor season with a back injury having to withdraw in Paris to Blake, and didn’t qualify for the semis of the Masters Cup. When Roger withdraws from a match you know something serious is wrong because it almost never happens. Despite winning the US Open and ending the year on a relative high there were more problems toward the end of the year. Then in Australia when my blog was in its infancy it received which was to this day its biggest setback. Roger was back on track when he made the Australian Open final and would face Nadal who had played a marathon match against Verdasco in the second semi-final.
It was a titanic struggle that lasted more than 5 hours, and Roger would have the clear advantage as he had 24 hours more to recover from his routine straight set win over Roddick in the other semi the day before. Roger ended up losing in 5 sets to Nadal after having opportunities to win the 3rd set and end all hopes of a tired looking Nadal. Squandering those opportunities proved to be a disastrous mistake because Nadal sensed the fear, and he is like a predator when he senses fear. He goes straight for the throat and doesn’t let up until the victim blows out its last breath. This was a crushing loss. I had just started my blog and already I wanted to give it up. It was the worst possible start for my blog and I was absolutely devastated. I mean I was floored. The only good thing about being floored is that there is only one way to go and that is up.
Even at that time my oldest reader Johnny had already started commenting on my blog. He has ever since lurked here in the background. I mean I’m not even sure he is around anymore. That’s how subtle he is. Anyway thanks for the support and loyalty if you are reading this Johnny. Fortunately I decided to endure with my blog after that crushing loss because 2009 would turn out to be one of the most rewarding years as a fan. But not before many more disappointments and people writing Roger off. Already at this point people were writing Roger’s obituary. They said he was finished and would neither catch up with Sampras nor surpass him. Roger was feeling the frustration as well as he shattered his racquet against the court surface against Djokovic in Miami. He was really in a bad place in his career, not unlike 2013.
Nothing was going his way. It was like he was cursed. He even suffered his only loss to Stan at Monte Carlo that year. He also lost another 3-setter to Djokovic in Rome. It wasn’t until Madrid when the breakthrough came and Roger got only his second victory over Nadal on clay in the final. It marked the moment where Roger stepped out of the shadows and into the light. He went on to win his first and only French Open after Nadal was shocked in the 4th round by Soderling of all people, in which was for me his most emotional slam victory. Never mind the fact that he didn’t have to face Nadal. He had already been in 3 French Open finals before 2009 and once more afterwards. So it was thoroughly deserved. He had the all important career slam. That was all that mattered. He was also tied with Sampras on 14 slams, which made him the greater player as Sampras had no French Open title.
As crushing as the Australian Open loss was, the triumph in Paris went a long way towards making up for it. Many a time you see an absolute high after an absolute low like it happened here, which is why I believe that Roger could possibly win a slam in 2014 after the bitter disappointment of 2013. But he wasn’t done yet. After the incredibly emotional French Open win Roger went ahead and won his 6th Wimbledon title after missing out so disappointingly the previous year to Nadal. He had done the channel slam, he had broken Sampras’ slam record, and what is more is he was back to world #1. A similar situation than 2012 where Roger equaled Sampras’ 7 Wimbledon titles, returned to world #1, and soon after broke Sampras’ record amount of weeks at #1. Certainly Wimbledon has been the site of some of Roger’s very best moments.
Emerging from the shadows
After Roger won Wimbledon in 2009 things surely could not get any better. He had silenced the critics in the best possible way and the Australian Open loss was now a distant memory. He was back on top of the tennis world after some testing times. In hindsight that period was like his first encore after the main show which was his prime. I say that because he did not return to his prime. He would never be as dominant as he once was. He did however add a record 4th Australian Open at the start of 2010 in a brilliant display Down Under. It was a shame he lost in the 2009 US Open final to Del Potro after being a set and a break up. If he won there he could have had the ‘Federer slam’ and a record 6 US Open titles now. But it’s really pointless to look at it that way because Del Potro’s tennis basically ignited out of nowhere and he started playing unbelievable tennis.
Also you can never be sure how the future will be influenced by changing something in the past. The rest of 2010 was nothing special as Roger’s semi-final streak at slams got broken by Soderling at the French Open, and he lost to Berdych in the quarters of Wimbledon as well. The US Open was another disappointment as he lost to Djokovic after having match points. Things only really started improving again in the indoor season where Roger won 3 titles, including his 5th Masters Cup to equal Lendl and Sampras. There was new hope for 2011 but 2011 saw the arrival of Djokovic 2.0, a devastating force that utterly dominated the 2011 season. Roger didn’t win a slam in 2011, but he did stop Djokovic from most likely winning the calender slam when he beat him in the French Open semis in one of the best matches of his career.
It was Goderer through and through. It also happened to halt Djokovic’s streak who hadn’t lost a match all year until that point. It was another one of those moments where you wonder about what could have been, because had Roger not stopped Djokovic there I think he would have beaten Nadal, because he had dominated Nadal throughout the clay court season. But instead Nadal faced Roger in the final who was a much more comfortable opponent for him. Not that Roger just rolled over in the final. He put up an admirable performance but as usual could not capitalize against Nadal when he was in a favorable position. But still it was the highlight of what was an otherwise pretty disappointing season by his own high standards. He was convincingly beaten by Djokovic in Melbourne and at Wimbledon he lost in the quarters to Tsonga after being 2 sets to love up.
But the biggest disappointment came at the US Open where Roger lost for the second consecutive year in the semis to Djokovic after having match points. It was time to ask some questions and do some introspection, which Roger did. It seemed to pay off because he won the next three events he played in Basel, Paris, and London, in the process breaking the record for the most Masters Cup titles. This was indeed a sign of things to come in 2012 because Roger went on to have another terrific year that saw him win his 17th slam, a record equaling 7th Wimbledon title, and ascending back the top of the rankings. I see that stretch from the 2009 French Open to the 2010 Australian Open as his first encore, while 2012 was his second encore. Now, will there be a third encore? I think we will see one in 2014.
What that encore will entail I can’t say. He may or may not win another slam. It would be the ultimate achievement if he does, and could well put him ahead of Nadal in the GOAT debate for good. Realistically it is hard to see him win another French- or Australian Open. The conditions at Wimbledon and the US Open are more favorable. Of course an 8th Wimbledon title would be the fairy tale ending. Whichever slam he wins he would be making history, but Wimbledon would just be that extra bit special. It is the Mecca of tennis and where it all started for him. It is the greatest tournament ever and if Roger wins the most Wimbledon titles ever he would surely be the greatest tennis player ever. If that happens it will surely be damn hard for Nadal to surpass him. But even if Nadal does surpass him by winning 6 more slams(which seems unlikely) Roger’s legacy will be forever cemented as peRFection.
There is of course no guarantee he can do it. It seems unlikely at this point, but one can dream right? I have written mostly about Roger and his tennis in my anniversary post which is perhaps fitting. I thought I’d write more about my blog itself but this post has already gotten long. Let me just say that the last few months have been the most testing time my blog have gone through since the 2009 Australian Open. 2013 has been a testing year as a Fedfan where our loyalty and faith got tested like never before. Around the beginning of the indoor season I started noticing less comments from my readers. I could not figure out what the reason was. Was it because the lively Veronica had mysteriously disappeared? Was it because I gave Roger a kind of ‘deadline’? Or was it just because Roger had been struggling so much in 2013?
A legend among legends
It was somewhat disappointing but I have since realized it was mostly due to Roger’s on court struggle, which is understandable. It is hard to remain enthusiastic when things hit rock bottom. But lets face it Roger did a great job of starting to change the momentum during the indoor season. I am happy with how things turned out and I am excited about 2014. On a personal note I will be going to Thailand to teach English in January and will be doing an intensive English teaching course starting in the second week of the Australian Open. So don’t expect any posts from me then. Hopefully after that things will settle down some and I can start blogging again. But I will do something I have never done before and will be putting a lot of work into it, so I can’t promise anything. My blog survived me going to work in the US so lets hope it can survive Thailand too.
A lot of that may depend on you too. I have tried carrying you guys in the last couple of months and maybe you will need to do the same for me at the beginning of next year. I just wana thank you all for reading my blog and participating with comments. It seems fitting that I have 992,028 all time blog views as I’m writing this post, and there is a good chance I will pass a million blog views before the end of the year. It has been a terrific spell for my blog over the last 5 years. There have been some incredible highs, as well as lows. I started my blog when Roger had reached the end of his prime and it has been an interesting period where Roger broke countless records and proved countless critics wrong. Roger has won 4 slams since I started this blog and each one has been an absolute triumph.
In that time he also returned to #1 twice and broke the record for the most number of weeks in the top spot. He won 2 more Masters Cups to break the record held by Sampras and Lendl. He completed the career slam and broke Sampras’ slam record. He equaled Agassi’s record 4 Australian Open titles. He equaled Sampras’ 7 Wimbledon titles. He extended his semi-final streak at slams to 23, and his quarter final streak to 36. He won 20 more titles. These are just a few of the amazing things he has been able to achieve in the last 5 years. And he is not done! I would still like to see that 18th slam at Wimbledon, but like I said it’s anyone’s guess whether he will be able to pull that off. He is Roger Federer though. He can probably do it. I just want to thank all my readers again for helping to make this blog what it is. This post is as much for you as it is for me and Roger.
I couldn’t have done it without your support. I don’t like to call names out because everyone plays a part, but I do feel like I have a bit of an obligation to thank some of my long time readers who forms a kind of core group. Readers like Chris, Steve, Dolores, Wilfried, and Veronica(who sadly has been absent for some time now and will hopefully see this post and comment), have been with my blog for a long time and have been loyal supporters and big contributors. I already mentioned Johnny. A special thanks to you guys. Your support means a lot to me. I know there are many of you who have followed my blog for a long time as well who have only commented once or twice, or never. You guys are just as important. It’s always a thrill when someone leaves me a comment and they say something along the lines of having followed my blog for years or never having missed a post.
This blog is something I am very proud of because it seems I have created something here which is meaningful because it is valuable to many people. That is probably the single most rewarding thing for me about this blog. The last 5 years have not been the most exciting or most eventful time of my life, and this blog is what kept me going. I didn’t find anything as far as a job is concerned that I was passionate about. So this blog was an outlet for my passion for tennis. Even though I couldn’t make a living off blogging at least I created something of value for people. Money is not everything anyway. It’s more important that you feel good about what you do and to add value to other people’s lives. I know I have my shortcomings and can probably seem very grumpy and egotistical at times, but at least I am honest and objective.
People get the wrong impression about this blog. They think it’s just another fan blog because of the name. But I have always stated that this is first of all a tennis blog, and second a Federer blog. I have always tried to be brutally honest. I have been Roger biggest fan as well as his worst critic. The fact that I have been so brutally honest and objective have no doubt chased away many a Fedfan from my blog, but telling it like it is have always been more important than having a lot of readers to me. Without authenticity popularity means nothing. I don’t have time for the fanatical type. I am not a blind worshiper who can’t find any fault with his favorite. I have always thought Roger is a great role model and ambassador for the sport, but he is not even my idol. I feel more like I’m on equal footing with him.
Is there one more left…?
I have always felt a strange connection with Roger. Of course Roger has a South African mom while I am from South Africa as well. But it’s not really that. When I watch his matches I can sense when he is going to slump or peak. It’s gotten to the point where I don’t want to watch his matches, because whenever I get bored during the match and start to lose interest he does the exact same. It probably sounds extremely superstitious but it is uncanny how it happens. Like Roger I have a sense for the dramatic, and I get bored with things easily. I think because Roger is so talented this tends to happen with him too. We have seen it time and time again in the latter part of his career. It clearly doesn’t make things easy on us fans. A match like the Del Potro match in London this year for instance leaves you tired and emotionally drained.
But at the same time it is thrilling and exciting. It’s all part and parcel of being a fan of past prime Roger. It has been a very emotional 5 years that’s for sure. It has also been a very rewarding 5 years as a fan. I have always felt that being a Fedfan is the most privileged position you can be in as a fan of any sport. Overall Roger’s career has been a fairy tale, and I would love for him to have a fairy tale ending to a fairy tale career by winning Wimbledon one more time. But if he does not it would still have been an unbelievable career. Now onto something a little more serious. I want to discourage the doping accusations toward Nadal from here on(yes Rich, that goes for you as well). I know I have been guilty of this myself in the past, but there are two reasons I want it to stop: (1) we don’t have any hard proof and (2) it reflects poorly on Fedfans and this blog.
If Nadal is doping he will surely suffer the consequences at some point. It is not our job to make that happen. We would be well advised to support Roger and enjoy what is left of his incredible career. It is always better to focus on the positive. We must remain righteous in our thoughts and actions if we want to endure. Cheating and dishonesty on the other hand never endures. Lets just leave it at that. Well I think I have said more or less what I wanted to say. We will just have to see what 2014 have in store for us. I am kind of entering a new phase in my life now where a lot of things will change again. My going to the US was just the beginning and I have big plans for the future. But a lot of things will stay the same as well. And hopefully one of them will be this blog. We never quite know what life has in store for us which is what keeps it interesting.
But whatever happens I thank you for a great 5 years. It was a blast and I wish you all the best!