Roger Federer

Waiting For…

The whole world has been waiting for the last one year.

To digress and maybe not wholly, there is this absurdist play by Samuel Beckett called Waiting for Godot where two guys Vladimir and Estragon keep waiting for a guy called Godot who never turns up.

Much has been written about the play, which is not very relevant to this article, but the fundamental is the same – Waiting for the 18th.

Now, with my limited intellectual capabilities, I always wondered whether it is worth any one’s while to wait for anyone when one should have got a move on.

Likewise I wonder whether it is really worth our while to wait for the 18th. Which brings us to a more important question, is it really necessary for Roger Federer to win the 18th ?

Come on, the guy has won 17 which is a record. Well and good. He has created many more records. Even better. He continues to enthrall at the ripe old age of 34. Most important. So what is this major concern about the 18th ?

Is it that unless he wins the 18th, he will be considered a non-achiever. Nick the Pompous ( Bollitieri, not Kyrgios ), said recently that Novak should have allowed Federer to win the 18th because Federer is important for the sport. Is this guy senile or is he senile ? Will Federer cherish his 18th if he knew that Novak allowed him to win it ? Will Novak tell his grandchildren that Federer is the GOAT because he allowed him to win the 18th ? I have reluctantly used the word Pompous instead of a rhyming word to keep the decorum.

Will Federer be the GOAT only if he wins the 18th ? What if he wins 18 and Novak wins 19, hypothetically speaking of course. Will Federer be a forgotten footnote in tennis history ?

A few years ago, John the Fickle ( McEnroe, I mean ) said that Nadal is the GOAT. He literally ate his words like an admonished pre-schooler and said No No No No Federer is the GOAT. And if you need to know, it was when Federer beat Murray in a Wimbledon semi. Nadal was not in the picture at all. I could not fathom the logic in his earlier judgment and then his subsequent retraction.

Well, many others said that Nadal will overhaul 17 and consign Federer to the also-ran heaps. Now the same guys are saying Nadal is No-No, Djokovic is the Dude. Soon they will say Djokovic is Done, Nick is the Newbie ( Kyrgios, not Bollitieri )

The fact is that Djokovic is now awesome, maybe better than the uni-dimensional Nadal at his peak, and thus has a chance to overhaul 17. Maybe he will and maybe not. Who cares ?

Which comes back to our questions. Is Federer the GOAT only because he has won 17? Does nothing else matter ? Does he really need to win the 18th to seal it ?

My answer is bloody simple.

We don’t have to wait for Godot. If Godot lands up, well and good. Even if he doesn’t, it is not going to change anything. Nobody can take away the myriad other achievements, and certainly not the artistry, the grace, the elegance… Do I need to go on ?

I, for one am not waiting for Godot.

I am just waiting for a certain Federer to show up soon on the courts and dazzle us with his brilliance and remind us that life is just not about only the end-result but more about the journey, more about the small things like a sudden rainbow ( a delectable dropshot ) or a sudden clap of thunder ( a powerful overhead smash ), a resplendent sunset ( a beautiful backhand crosscourt winner ) and many more joyful moments.

Well if you get to the pot at the end of the rainbow, very good, but the rainbow is what counts.

And last but not the least ( a stale cliché, no doubt, but befitting here ) – when you don’t wait for Godot, the bloke may actually show up.

Photo Credit: Sandra Eichholzer Facebook. “R. Eichholzer AG, St. Moritz mit Roger Federer. Was für ein netter Besuch bei mir im Geschäft”

Murli Pillai

Fanatic Federer fan. Watch all his matches on TV if shown ( outside working hours ! ), and quite often drive down to Dubai from Muscat to watch him live. Apart from being an IT / Telecom sales professional, am a quiz-master, classic rock & blues fan, movie buff and a veteran tennis-ball cricketer. Love to research on Fed’s on-court & off-court doings – the Fedberg quiz an outcome of that.

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  1. [The fact is that Djokovic is now awesome, maybe better than the uni-dimensional Nadal at his peak]

    Djokovic was always better than Nadal.

    1. I don’t think Djokovic was always better than Nadal. Nadal at his peak on clay was unbeatable and Djokovic wouldn’t have been able to hold a candle to him.

      Djokovic’s upswing has coincided with Nadal’s downswing giving the wrong perception that Djokovic was always better than Nadal.

      1. [Nadal at his peak on clay was unbeatable]

        That’s the point. Djokovic has always been better overall. He got a non-clay slam win in 2008 for crying out loud. It’s unfortunate he didn’t resort to doping earlier in his career.

        2007 US Open. Watch that. Djokovic was giving Federer a run for his money on hard courts. A few points here or there, and Federer would have been a slam poorer.

        Nadal got his first non-clay win vs Federer at Wimbledon 2008, and that may have been only because of Fed was diagnosed with mono.

      1. Oh yeah…I forgot, my first title of the year.

        No doping involved here, folks. Hard earned, because I actually read the entire thing before commenting. 🙂

      1. Nopes, far from it.

        What I mean is, the more Roger pursues No.18, the more meaning it takes, and the more it becomes important to cement his GOAT status. An failure makes him look mortal.

        I’m not suggesting he should quite. That pursuit however, has come at a cost.

        Don’t kid yourself. Roger says he is in it for the love of the game. The most important thing he wants is that slam.

  2. [I am just waiting for a certain Federer to show up soon on the courts and dazzle us with his brilliance and remind us that life is just not about only the end-result but more about the journey]

    Amen to that! 🙂

    You enjoy the game a lot more when you’re not wanting him to win at all costs, and if it comes, great!

    Nice post! 🙂

  3. I for one am totally withdrawing from lack of Fed. Agree on the article above wholly but I also have a feeling he will get # 18. Regardless, no one will ever have his style and that certain je ne sais quoi that David Foster Wallace so adeptly depicted in his seminal sports article “Federer As Religious Experience.” Notice that no other player could elicit high-toned literary critique–only aesthetic Fed. Hope you are all well!

  4. Lovely article. Thank you for bringing Fed fans some perspective.

    I think the reason some of us are so fixated on the 18th, right or wrong, is that if he achieves it at this age, it will be spectacular accomplishment and a worthy exclamation point to Federer’s stratospheric career. And it will make it that much harder for anyone else to catch his GS record.

    But as you say, not winning an 18th wouldn’t diminish his accomplishments one iota.

    His fans are just greedy for him to keep exceeding everyone’s expectations.

  5. I truly want him to win GS18, i do think he deserves it (coming up one match short has been hurtful tbh). But regardless of that, the GOAT debate is something that will never finish. Obviously we are biased to support Roger, but i do think he has all the records and playstyle to be recognized as such.

    Keep on playing Roger, we are all happy to watch you play! ???


    1. The GOAT debate is an impossible discussion, because everyone around the table, at any given time, look at the subject with the same time-perspective. We are so “present time”-centric in our reasoning. Consider if Federer would have had his career in the sixties -seventies and Rod Laver would have been active now, who would we then have routed for as the GOAT?

  6. Well said Jonathan i think he is the goat not just for having won 17 GS but more importantly the way he plays the game the love he has for the game and the way his contemporaries think of him as a sportsman how many ATP sportsmenship awards does a goat need Fed has more than enough of everything anything else he wins or is awarded is just an absolute bonus i personally just want to see him play beautiful tennis for as long as possible

    1. Completely agreed with the goat argument here. When ND fans are claiming how he’s the goat, I often think, wait, the GREATEST of all time. The word ‘great’ to me means something more than tennis skills and records

      1. No, I notice they’ve introduced the concept of the BOAT, the best of all time. Definitely not greatest, though.

  7. ALERT: He just posted an amazing shot of himself on his FB page–mid-air, very high, doing physio. Check it out. Encouraging!

    1. I’m looking at the knee flex in that shot & as you say it’s very enciuraging. Also he’s got to come back down & land from that height, & the fact that he can is even more encouraging.

      1. those spidey photos are sick. Fed looks great.

        And he knows what the photos means. It’s not a push up.

        Looks like he’s in great shape.

  8. Loved the article. It is a good subject to talk about since we all seem to be fixated on his winning #18. I believe he does not need to win #18 to be the GOAT or considered one of the all time greats. He just has come so close at Wimbledon and the US Open. If Djokovic wasn’t his opponent, he would have won a GS. It is all the more impressive that he is doing this at age 34.

  9. What a beautiful article, murli. Thank you

    Win or not win, I just want Fed to play forever. His absence in the past few weeks has prove that he IS tennis

  10. Thanks, Murli. I’m thinking if Fed was chasing #19 or #20, the discussion would be the same. Fed fans always want more.

    To me, it would be my ego that would want #18 or more. Then I would feel safe that everyone would call Roger the GOAT. If I get my ego out of the way, it doesn’t matter in the least. For me and millions of people all over the world, Federer is the best in so many ways.

    Roger’s beautiful game will win over all the numbers now and in the future.

    And please, tennis Gods, have him fit for IW.

    1. I’m glad you said this Sue – I was thinking I was the only greedy one here who still wanted 20! I think you’re right – we always want more for our guy, but no matter where he ends up, that will be just right, because he WAS our guy for so many reasons.

      OK, now I don’t know if I can hit “Post” because of the “WAS” in that sentence….

      Edit: …. because he WAS our guy, all those decades ago 😉 , for so many reasons. I’m clearly writing in the future here 😀

  11. Roger is the GOAT until someone wins more than 17 slams: that’s the end of that argument. Slams are the unarguable measure – not h2h with any other player, any individual stroke, element of style, or even personality, even though we may value all or any of these. Roger’s achievements still put him in front of anyone else in any GOAT discussion. He may not win another slam – he’s come tantalisingly close but Djokovic now seems a bridge too far; one player has passed his peak (by some years) while the other is now arriving at his. In that sense alone, it is not an equal contest. But quite simply neither Djokovic nor anyone else can lay claim to Roger’s greatness until they match his achievements – and that means at least 17 slams. In the meantime we still watch Roger for a whole variety of reasons, that include seeing someone who has made tennis history that none have so far come close to (sorry, Nadal – 14 doesn’t do it) and who has played the game – and often still does – as no one else has. When he goes there will be a void at the top – and indeed the heart – of the game. So we enjoy the last moments of his Indian summer, knowing how brief is that time in the sun.

    1. Don’t agree with just the slams victories being the important stuff. Consecutive semis and quarters are important imo, consecutive finals, consecutive weeks at number 1, best year ever (I think Djokovic has this one), but to me it’s more than just a number

    2. Slams aren’t the only factor, any more than number of Masters is. They’re a major factor, sure, but there are other things like technique which count as well, otherwise you might just as well tot up all tournaments and go for the person who’s won most of, everything, really and there would be no discussion. Do you discount Laver as a candidate because he didn’t win “enough” slams?

      1. Slams are what matter most to the top players and when all other results are taken into account – and, yes, tennis is all results – who wins and who loses – then slams are the only truly objective measure for distinguishing between the very best players. All else is speculation. Of course, it is no coincidence that the player with the most slams generally has most of the other records, too. 17 slams is currently the Mount Everest that only one player has so far scaled. That puts him in the front in the debate. Seriously – who else could you put ahead of him, and according to what measure? (And “what ifs” don’t count.)

    3. Everyone has a different opinion on what forms the GOAT but I think when it boils down to it Slam wins are a pretty accurate measure and it’s what most people will look towards. But it’s just one of those things will never ever be settled anyway, there’s always some stat lying around that suggests one player is or isn’t the best ever so it’s kinda pointless to really argue about it.

      Comparing generations is difficult too which makes it even harder to say decisively who was better.

      1. Damn! Why can’t I hit a 1HBH like that, even with good knees???
        Damn you, Roger, for making it look so easy. Damn you, again and again and for all eternity.

    1. Remember, since the M1000 are “mandatory” for the top…. um…. however many it is, their names are AUTOMATICALLY on the lists until & unless they withdraw. I think he’s just leaving options open at this point.

      Le says today that “according to our information” he will return at MC; but they don’t say whether their “information” is pure guess or they’ve actually talked with somebody who might know. I think we really don’t know yet.

      I think he would go to IW if he could – that’s always a big trip for the family too, visiting with friends etc. But if he doesn’t feel he’s able to play close to his best – I’m not sure he would want to put that out there for the world to see. (On the other hand…. 2013.)

      1. Le matin is probably the most worthless piece of “media/ press” you can find in this country…. ^^’ Wouldn’t put my money on anything they say unless confirmed by another source ^^

      2. Mickey Carlo isn’t mandatory though so if he’s on the entry list it seems likely that he would be playing it.

        I doubt he makes Indian Wells.

      3. MC isn’t mandatory. MC isn’t mandatory. Maybe someday I’ll remember this. (Right about the time they change it, I daresay! 😉 )

      4. And @Simon – well bummer. What about Tribune de Geneve? Don’t read German, so more difficult to get a translation I can understand out of some of those magazines…

      5. Tribune might be a bit better, but not by much…. ^^’ There aren’t many good French Swiss newspapers ^^’

  12. It’s not that it matters or not. The record is just an element of his GOATness. If Fed gets it, would be so awesome for him and for us fans to share the joy. Agreed with Sue, if No.18 happens, we would hope for no.19, 20…never ending story.

    “I am just waiting for a certain Federer to show up soon on the courts and dazzle us…..” – a lovely paragraph, Murli. Yes, a Roger is better than no Roger. And I am waiting for a certain poem to be post on the blog and dazzle us, too.

      1. Since it’s confirmed that he IS coming to MC, he may well play the expo. Yes, Thinker, I’m going 🙂

  13. This beautiful reading by Murli rang a loud bell inside my head: you may or may not know this, but in 2012 there was this dazzling “game” on PS3 called “Journey”. It couldn’t be a better fit. In the end, it’s all about the journey itself, the end is secondary. Those of you who were lucky to play it will understand. The others might want to look it up on the net.

    That said, I’m 100% with Sid: the more the “18 thing” is brought about, the more it becomes a useless obsession – it shouldn’t be – or a measure of all things – it’s not. Even if it arrives, soon it will be all about the 19th major, and so on.
    For heavens sake, let’s just grab our racquets and go whack some balls! That is the best tribute. Enjoy, don’t panic. – Ford Prefect

    1. Thanks for the article Murli – wholeheartedly agree with all your sentiments. I’m sure Federer would like to win another slam – and I think 8 Wimbledon titles would be a crowning achievement, but I think it’s more about the fans wanting that 18th for him than him necessarily desperate for that extra one. Perhaps it would somehow be more satisfying – 8 is a lucky number – he was born on 8th day of 8th month, so maybe we all think it’s fate.

      None of us can know exactly what he does or does not want, but, like Murli (whilst I would of course love him to get just one more), I am happy and grateful that I have been privy to this marvellous Roger Federer journey. He captured my imagination from the first time I saw him win that match against Sampras, and he has given me more pleasure than any other tennis player I have ever seen.

    1. Well, let’s be honest: if Novak said “no, sorry, go away” following a photo request, more than one person here would bash Novak for being a dick…
      On a more quantitative analysis: how many dick actions does one need to pile up until (s)he’s considered a dick?

    2. I saw this too Dippy, & wondered about it; seems like there must be more going on here, doesn’t it? Maybe he was in the middle of an important conversation; or maybe as Jonathan pointed out, he’s fine with being approached in some places but not the player lounge; or maybe he was just having a terrible day. I confess I’m semi-waiting for the follow-up story about Roger inviting this kid to practice with him 😉 .

      Agree with Rui’s comment too. To be fair, both of these champions have demonstrated some outstanding reaching out to their younger colleagues at various times.

    3. The support for young players goes way beyond having a photo. You only need to hear from a couple of them in the top 50 now to know what Roger has done for them. Sportsmanship Award voted by his colleagues for 14 years in a row is not there for nothing.

    1. “He is contracted for another two years at least until 2018. ”
      This line made my day.So it means that we still have two years more of his artistry on court.?

    2. Contracts don’t always have to be honoured 😆 but it’s going to be interesting to see how long he plays for. 2016 seemed unlikely in 2012. Now it’s here.

  14. I’m calling bullshit on Kyrgios’ “injury” today…. No way he was hurt that bad and suddenly, magically, the physio cures him…

      1. He was not moving, complaining the entire stinking time, whilst still hitting 200kmph serves. Then, after the massage, he suddenly played “normaly” again. I get that the physio could have unblocked something, but why didn’t he have it done before the match…

    1. I think he had a truly bad eye. How he was booed! A bit unfair I think. But I’m glad he won’t be photoed with “Roger’s” trophy! 🙂

  15. SOOO glad that Djoko won’t hold the Dubai trophy! I am a FeliLo fan, too–one of the few guys w variety and joy in his game other than Fed. YES!!!!!!!!!!!

    Wondering about the eye thing–wouldn’t Djoko have gotten meds and been able to gauge the eye’s effects sooner???

    1. Dubai is in many ways, designed for Feli’s game. With the Djokovic situation dealt with, and Federer not on the other side, you never know, he might win it all.

    1. Djoker would not fake an injury and I don’t think it is right to boo him.The guy is number 1 and has been winning for the past 15 months so I think he would have had a serious problem if he considered to retire.
      I hope he recovers soon but I feel happy with this loss?.

      1. Agree Jonathan – no call for the booing, but no call for engaging with them either – especially not calling them names, as some are saying – not sure if that’s true or not, can’t tell where it’s originating.

        Some (like me) were stunned at Fed’s long ago “Shut uuuuupppppp!” incident, but even there, there was no swearing or name-calling.

  16. In the same day, Djoker gets booed off the court. He tries so hard to be liked by people that aren’t Serbian.

    Then in the Fed world, Roger is thanking people all around the world for the cards, gifts, get well wishes. Nasty me thinks it’s kind of funny.

  17. Dear fans

    I would like to send out a heartfelt thank you for all your kind words after my injury and the surgery. It was an amazingly positive boost to receive all your cards, letters, presents and posts on the web. It really means a whole lot to me to feel your support in tough times.

    It is fantastic to be moving and working out again. We’re taking it one step at a time, but I’m already really looking forward to getting back onto the court with full energy.

    Thank you very much again, see you soon


    This is from his official website.

    1. ah, sorry Sue.

      Delpo though?

      And of course none of us wants him to actually come back too soon & then actually have to miss more later. This is dragging on terribly though, isn’t it?

      Oh, Alyyyyyyshaaaaaa – we could REALLY use your AO fan story about now…

  18. Roger hasn’t missed IW since 2000. It was always a sure thing. I have no plans to go next year. So maybe last year was the last time I saw him play.
    Don’t know if Delpo is playing for sure? Life just won’t be the same there….no heart in my throat as he walks onto the court.

    In two weeks time I’ll be in IW drowning my sorrows in a bottle of wine.

    Oh, and now I hate you Wanda.

      1. Better than nothing! Hope you’re feeling guilty. I remember last fall I was feeling for you because Fed wasn’t playing MC.
        I think I’ll scout out the young guys this year. Maybe sell some of my tickets.

  19. My suffering continues, but its a good decision. No point rushing his return anyways. YouTube will be my BFF this March.

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