Roger Federer’s favorite color is gold. His large bag glitters that color. If you examine his tennis shoes, gold is laced all around them. Same with his T-shirt and its trimmings, including the Nike swoosh and the inscription, “RF.” More so with his pre-match jacket and long pants. All trimmed with gold.
Fittingly, when the Wimbledon finale that needed more games than any other Grand Slam final was over, he carried on his fingers the trophy that glimmered with one color: Gold.
(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
RF’s 50 aces? That wasn’t just astonishing—it was his destiny. Because with the number “50,” don’t we often associate that figure with (think “Golden” Anniversary) one color? And when Roger carried that trophy beside his face and smiled to the world’s cameras, sunlight shone on his face and revealed one color, gold.
For, isn’t the Swiss the most precious of all? Doesn’t he, with his effortless volleys and backhands, shine? All, I repeat, like the most precious of metals named gold.
Did you watch the match? I hope you did. I hope you stayed up until nearly 2 a.m. yesterday to witness a once-in-a-lifetime moment. A golden moment. It started as we expected: With Roger supposed to win. It was a given. An assurance. I said so myself 48 hours ago. With five Wimbledon trophies adorning his Dubai home (versus Andy Roddick’s zero) and a head-to-head record of 18-2, the game began with zero expectations for Roddick.
Yet, partly because of the presence of The Three Kings (who, among them, have 16 Big W. titles), Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg and—most of all—Pete Sampras, the perennially-calm Federer was flustered. “I used to get nervous when a friend would come and watch me play as a kid, and then it was my parents, and then it was legends,” he said. “Today anybody can come and watch me play, I don’t get nervous anymore. But with Pete it was a bit special. When he walked in and I saw him for the first time, I did get more nervous actually. I said hello to him too, which is unusual. But I thought, I don’t want to be rude!”
Roger lost the first. He lost the second. Well, he was en route to losing that second set—trailing 2-6 in the tiebreak—until he won six straight points (including a missed high backhand volley by Roddick on set point) to even the match at one set apiece. Then, later in Set No. 5, Roger was again in danger: he was down two break points at 8-all. Knowing Roddick’s booming serves, in effect, those were match points for A-Rod. But it wasn’t to be. Roger saved those and, an hour or so later, jumped for ecstatic joy at winning 16-14.
Three thoughts on Roger’s Win No. 15… One, his forehand is the best-ever. He can hit it cross-court on the run. He can slide to his backhand side and hit an inside-out winner. He can flick his wrist on a low ball and, as if his racquet were a rifle, shoot the yellow ball like a bullet.
Two, I’ve never seen any athlete as calm and serene. Watching Roger’s face and body-talk, you’d never know the score. He can be up 2-sets to love, he can be down 2-6 in the second set tiebreak—he looks exactly the same! Smooth. Tranquil. Unperturbed by the score. Composed.
Three, what a turnaround for RF. In late May, before the French Open started, he was nearly touted as a “has-been.” A player who might have passed his prime and who had never won a tournament in 2009. Well, what a difference one month makes: He won Roland Garros and his 6th Wimbledon. (Plus a baby due next month.)
As for Andy Roddick? I pity him. I’m sure you do, too. But what courage the American has. After that devastating second set, we all assumed Roger would glide to an easy four-set win. But, no, Roddick toughened up and nearly—should have—won. Watching him nearly cry (not Roger, what a surprise!) as he sat on his chair, that was painful. Watching him clap as Roger circled his chair carrying the trophy, that was a gracious and gallant act.
But sports is one-sided. It’s biased. Always, in the end, only one champion emerges. Only one—the No.1—wins gold.