Here I sit bleary eyed (not teary-eyed, mind you) at work, half the man I was yesterday.
Everything was neatly planned. The finals were supposed to start at midnight (13th moving to 14th – a momentous day 23 years back and hopefully today as well)
I had an 8 AM meeting 2 hours away from Muscat for which I had to leave home at 530 AM and I had assumed that the match would be done and dusted much before that. Fed’s winning was part of the plan.
But rain played spoilsport and I sat in front of the telly watching a rerun of Flaberta, till some zany announcements were made that the match will not start before 12.45 AM and obviously there was no assurance that it will start soon after either.
I dozed off on my beanbag while my daughter (the birthday girl) napped in her room, waiting to be woken up whenever the match started.
I had set no alarm as no time was announced. However, my subconscious mind was not asleep as I promptly woke up to see Fed and Djokovic warming up. The time 3.19 AM. I quickly went to wake up my daughter. Not an easy task during school-days at all, but the lure of the Fed match had me wasting no time whatsoever.
The first game was an indication of things to come. This was not going to be easy for Fed and at the same time Fed was gonna fight.
When the first set was pocketed by Djokovic, my daughter was beginning to lose hope. I reassured her that Sampras had taken the first set against Edberg in 1992, despite which Edberg went on to win the match. So patience.
True to my reassurances, the second set was pocketed by Fed and it was all even-stevens. Just like how Edberg had taken the second set. Both of us were ecstatic and I was now cock-sure that it’s going to be Fed’s day. History will repeat itself.
The third set went back and forth and I was keeping an eye on the time as well, as it was close to 530 AM and at any moment my colleagues would arrive and it would be the end of watching, for me at least. At 4 – 3 with Djokovic serving to level scores, Fed came from behind to conjure a breakpoint to go up to 5 – 3 and then serve it out to take the third set. I got a call from my colleagues saying that they are waiting for me outside. I told them to hang on for a while (being the boss does have a few perks these days, if not many).
But the match turned on its head and soon Djokovic pocketed the third set. My daughter was aghast. I had to leave when she said” Don’t leave me alone”. But I had to, all because of the rain.
Nevertheless, I was on the road and Djokovic broke right away and it was 5 – 2 soon. I was following the match on the mobile and hey presto it was 5 – 4. Fed had broken back and held. Got a whatsapp message ” Hope it’s not too late”. I pinged back “Never too late for Fed.” Positivity at its height.
I had parked at the petrol station to fill up and saw 15-40 and my heart skipped many a beat. Can Fed pull this off, breaking Djokovic twice in a row? Forget twice, I was having visions of thrice in a row. Advantage Federer, as Djokovic had pulled back to deuce. I thought maybe now.
But it was not to be. I saw the scoreline of 6 – 4 in the fourth set. Shell-shocked at the Shell station. That’s what I was. It’s over, I had to keep reminding myself as I was back on the road. I needed to get myself together for the meeting. Not an easy task when the emotional investment is so high.
But like Fed, the professional in me surfaced and I was soon in another world.
Meeting over, I was back to reading online match reports etc. Epic battle said The Guardian. Despite the scoreline, it was an epic battle for sure. The 34 year-old did not make it one bit easy for the 28 year-old, and I am sure Djokovic was the first to accept that.
Does Fed have it in him to get that 18th ? Three finals gone abegging. Stefan Edberg believes so, as he says ” You can’t count Roger out “. Djokovic believes too, as he says ” He is just not going away”
So does Fed when he said “See you next year”
In conclusion, need to share something with my non-Indian friends. In Urdu and Hindi, the word SABR means patience.