It was deathly quiet on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Novak Djokovic took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and tossed the ball. He was serving on championship point. The usually rambunctious crowd was still; having collectively inhaled their war cries, saving them for the inevitable end of the battle raging below them. Novak is tall, imposing, and incredibly Serbian, with charisma oozing from every pore and cheekbones to die for. A gladiator, a champion, a warrior waiting to strike.
But down the other end of the court, his opponent is something else entirely. The man standing hunched over his racquet, ready to fight for his life, is more than your everyday celebrity sports star. This man has been labeled not just the greatest tennis player, but the greatest athlete to ever live. He is called the Maestro, the Master, the Genius, the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time). I call him God. He is none other than Roger Federer; the Swiss tennis deity who has enriched the lives of everyone who’s ever watched him play.
Novak smacks the ball with terrifying force. Back, forth, back, forth, back again; it whizzes over the net. The crowd begins to stir; the gasps, shrieks, and other inexplicable noises come thick and fast as the final point is played. Suddenly, Roger’s ball lands just outside the baseline and Novak Djokovic has officially claimed the 2015 US Open crown.
After a moment, the crowd begins to clap; a grudging, watery sound that increases gradually as the two move to the net. It’s a weird moment. Victory is usually delirium from the winner and ecstatic chaos from the crowd…but not this time. As these two kings of the court exchanged post-match niceties, it was overwhelmingly clear that of the 23,000 people in Arthur Ashe Stadium, 20,000 of them were desperate for Roger to win.
I sat on the couch at my home in Sydney for a solid half hour when the match ended. Crying – loudly. I was so heartbroken by Federer’s defeat I could feel a pain in my chest. Oddly enough, I wasn’t the only one. Three of my friends sent me texts littered with teary emojis, expressing the terrible sadness we all felt. I checked Twitter; the die-hard Federer fans (who call themselves the FedFam) were distraught. Even the Rafa Nadal fans (the Rafamily) were loudly lamenting the loss and they are about as partisan as a fan club can be.
So, what is it about Roger Federer that inspires this cult? Why are people like me, who have never played the sport and have absolutely nothing to do with the tennis world, so entranced by everything he does? And why is Novak Djokovic, the sensational athlete, philanthropist, and hilarious impression-maker, so terribly resented whenever he beats the Swiss tennista?
After much contemplation, the only answer is that dearest Fed is a perfect human being.
I’m not kidding; that man is quite literally nailing life like he’s following a textbook. His impeccable record extends far beyond the court. Aside from the 17 Grand Slams, 87 career titles, and his 300 million dollar net worth, he’s just an all around good guy. Not only is he head-spinningly gracious, he’s funny! And handsome, and kind, and gentlemanly, and he has two sets of identical twins (two girls, two boys). This adds about 5 points to his perfecto-ranking because not only will they always have a buddy, they’ll be able to play men’s, women’s, AND mixed doubles together.
How can such a being exist? How has such a masterful member of the human race have manifested in this imperfect world? And why does nobody begrudge him anything? All I can say is thank you, Universe, for Roger Federer. You’ve done us all a great favour. Now excuse me while I comfort-buy “I Heart Roger” T-shirts on e-bay.
Image via Ibtimes.co.in