August 30, 2013
Roger Federer is as popular as ever. You only have to listen to the American crowds to know that he will always be admired and revered for what he has achieved in the game. Let’s face it, we all love the guy. He is class, he is a legend.
Unfortunately, even his most ardent fans now admit that he is past his very best. Does that even matter when we can still enjoy The Master of Sporting Elegance do his thing? Well, maybe. Sometimes it depends on how you don’t win a Slam.
The next few days could tell us what the future holds for Federer. And whatever happens, it’s going to be absolutely fascinating.
Imagine this scenario: Federer wins one more match, Dan Evans wins one more match. They play each other in the last sixteen.
Dan who? You know, Evans the anti-hero, the guy who doesn’t even look like a tennis player, the British number three.
But Daring Dan just beat Australia’s own anti-hero, Bernard Tomic 1-6, 6-3, 7-6, 6-3. He played with so much force and natural talent that a fighter like Tomic was left in tatters, with all his usual Aussie grit surgically removed from his system.
And by the way I’m a Tomic fan, I loved the way he teased the media about whether or not his father had made it into Wimbledon in disguise this summer.
No one wanted to see Bernie beaten quite as comprehensively as he was by the Brit the other night, least of all me.
But what about his conqueror, Dan the Man? The eccentric Evans has stopped partying. He is taking tennis seriously. And we in turn must take him seriously too, even though he had a time-out against Tomic so that he could have his sore nipples taped. ‘I’m going to get some stick for that,’ Dan admitted later.
You see where this is leading. Roger tells us, ‘It is still all about winning for me.’ What if Federer played Evans…and…er…didn’t win?
I know, I should be hung, drawn and quartered for so much as raising this question. Impossible, right? If they do meet, Roger will hand out a tennis lesson to Party Boy like never before.
Then Federer can play another epic against Rafa Nadal in the quarter-finals, roll back the years, take it to the wire. Whatever happens in that one – and Nadal would be strong favourite – Federer could leave the tournament with his reputation in tact, his appetite undiminshed, no voice inside his head telling him that it might be time to call it a day.
The trouble is, I can’t get Anti-Hero Evans out of my mind for now. When he is buzzing, he looks unplayable.
Don’t worry too much, Fed fans, it probably won’t happen.
But what if it does?