July 9, 2019
Roger Federer says he is in a ‘great groove.’ That is an understatement. Has Federer ever looked this good?
We know. On the face of it, this would appear to be a ridiculous question.
The man is going to be 38 years old in a month.
Yes. Just consider that for a moment. Roger Federer is very nearly 38.
It should be impossible, even for Federer, to compete at the very top of a sport as physically demanding as tennis.
But Federer is more than competing. He is one of the favourites for Wimbledon 2019.
And if he beats Kei Nishikori next, he will notch an astonishing 100 Wimbledon wins.
No one has ever done that before at any Slam. It could be a lonely club that he is about to open, that 100 Club. But Federer is feeling groovy anyway.
Roger is producing performances of astonishing brilliance, including shots from the tennis heavens to eclipse all others.
He is looking so special that you start to wonder whether he is back to the level of his very best years.
Seriously. How can we even be asking that question of a man only two years away from his fortieth birthday?
But we are. He has done so many incredible things already at Wimbledon 2019. So it is a legitimate question.
Remember that cross-court winner against Lucas Pouille? The one from so far out wide that Roger was heading for the crowd?
Only the very greatest players could have reached the ball. Maybe one or two could have sent a pass round the net and down the line.
But Federer found an angle so acute that he defied all laws of physics and geometry, never mind sport.
Can anyone who saw that shot get it out of their heads? Aliens landing on earth is a more common occurrence.
For Roger, though, it’s not quite like old times, when he was regarded as a certainty for Wimbledon glory. Untouchable.
Between 2003 and 2007 there was no one who could match Federer’s level of performance on grass.
He won Wimbledon five times in a row. Truly extraordinary.
But is it Federer’s fault that he isn’t the only all-time-great out there any more?
Of course not. This is beyond his control. Maybe it pushes him to greater heights.
Now Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have caught up in terms of the sheer quality and excellence of their game at Wimbledon.
And the Big Three are streets ahead of everyone else. Simply stunning.
Sure, Nadal had it tough against the super-talented Nick Kyrgios. But he coped admirably and neutralised the unruly Aussie’s threat to his title chances.
Now it is business as usual. Take a glimpse at what the Big Three did on Manic Monday.
Novak Djokovic brushed aside Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-2, 6-3. Nadal dispatched Joao Sousa 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.
Federer defeated Matteo Berretini 6-1, 6-2, 6-2. It took him just 17 minutes to win the first set. He only lost four points in the last five games of the set. And Berretinini is no tennis fool.
Afterwards Roger said this: ‘I’m very happy I’ve really gotten into a great groove now.
‘Great match, great tournament so far. Great performance today, a really good match for me.
‘You can always lose a Grand Slam in the first week but you can’t win it. So if you can get through, having enough energy in the tank when the big matches roll around, that is obviously a bonus.
‘The mindset has to be that I train for seven times five sets. But of course, for the body it is nice to avoid these five-setters at all costs.
‘I’m really excited to reach the quarterfinals.’
What a landmark 100 Wimbledon victories would be, if he can see off Japan’s Nishikori.
Knowing Roger, though, the only statistic he will want is Wimbledon title number nine.
Can Federer do it? Sure he can.
As you may have read, we believe Nadal and Djokovic have a slightly better chance. But the margins are so small, no one really knows any more.
Amd with every passing match, Federer becomes more and more convincing.
How lucky are we to have three geniuses at work in the same place? Legends of tennis, still beating men who are supposedly in their prime.
None classier or more elegant to watch than the great Roger Federer. Still at the height of his powers. Truly amazing.
It is no exaggeration to say that Wimbledon 2019 is the greatest sporting show on earth.
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