Not long back, there was a time when he would smash and stun the crowd into a split second silence before it burst into thunderous applause. Winning title after title, he was the undisputed king of tennis. His game built on grace and indomitable confidence, he could masterfully play every shot in the book without effort, beating opponents with utmost ease and comfort.
But in no time, the once unconquerable territory of Federer has come crashing down. Blame it on his age, or the rise of the likes of Nadal and Djokovic; Federer, who was once hailed as the greatest player of all time and the God of tennis, now appears as a mere mortal and his eternal qualities look more fragile than ever.
Growing up a man accustomed to adulation, rather than brickbats, defeat is becoming increasingly difficult to swallow. And after his ‘humiliating’ defeat in the fourth round of the US Open 2013, many have wondered if this is truly the end of an era for Roger Federer. With the defeat to Tommy Robredo, fans and journalists alike have been left gobsmacked and wondering if he will ever be top dog again and achieve that 18th grand slam.
Without doubt, 2013 has been a year to forget for Federer, and his performances have propelled the critics and media to write obituaries for the Federer-dominated era in tennis. After making it to the semis and quarters of the Australian Open and French Open respectively, his biggest upset came when he exited in the second round of Wimbeldon, an arena where he once was the invincible warrior clad in pristine white..
The Wimbledon loss was a big blow for the Swiss Legend, as it came at a place where he once used to showcase his invincibility. It was here that Roger Federer announced the change of guard in tennis, stunning a champion in Sampras in early 2000, and the court where he picked his first grand slam in 2003, thus starting the genius’ obsessive habit of winning, which lasted till he won 7 more grand slams on grass.
With not many tournaments coming up this year, and a world ranking of 7, which is expected to go down further after the US open exit, the road ahead for Federer looks difficult. So the big question remains on the minds of all Fed-Ex fans. Will King Roger be able to recapture all his lost and former glory, vanquishing all his foes with a performance worthy of many more grand slams? Or is it the end?
Only time will tell if Federer’s recent dip in form is just a blip or is a terminal decline of a once great champion. Whatever the future holds, the presence of such a champion in the tennis court itself will be a sight to celebrate.