Roger Federer: How Do You Improve on Perfection?
Australian Open Finals, Sunday, January 31, 2010
I'm currently watching Roger Federer's game against Britain's Andy Murray for the finals of the Australian Open 2010. I love watching him play, for me he is the embodiment of the sport, individual, elegant and stylish. Tennis, or lawn tennis as it was known before has always been a sport for the upper class. The opponents are like gladiators when they come to the court brandishing their rackets.I never got around to actually playing the sport though two of my sisters did. We had a wooden Wilson racket that was heavy as hell and my eldest sister used it for her P.E. class in college.
I did get a chance to swing the racket and hit the ball but only on the walls of the CCP edifices (mostly that wall where the Gloria Maris restaurant used to be, or is still is im not sure).
But even at a young age, I've been drawn to the sport because of its elegance, I wanted to learn becuase I heard somewhere that lefties have a slight edge just because of their orientation. My dad was a mean ping-pong and badminton player and I remember he would say that taking up tennis wouldn't be a huge stretch because the concept is the same, hitting the ball with a racket or a paddle. I remember taking lessons as a kid (maybe just one lesson), where I learned the footwork, which was complicated as hell and felt more like learning a dance.
Even the game's jargons appealed to me, there are the words for the various strokes; the forehand and backhand, the slice, the lob the clip and the volley. Then there are the terms for scoring, the fault, the double fault, the foot fault, the game point, break point, set point, match/championship point. There's the ace, the winner and the unforced error, the deuce, and of course the love, which means zero. This year, I've heard the expression "consolidating the point" (or is it the game). Its when you break the opponent's serve and you hold your ensuing serve to consolidate the points moving the game quickly to your favor.
I enjoy the game most when I watch Roger Federer. On the court, he is all elegance, from his form when he hits the ball, to his choice of angles. There are a lot of arguments over who is the best tennis player ever, I really don't give a hoot because for me its always been the Fed Express. When he plays, I feel the love he has for the game, he is precise, serious as a heart attack and doesn't budge for an inch. It looks really personal its almost spiritual. And he makes it look so easy making it even more beautiful to watch.
He is by no means invincible and Rafael Nadal knows that very well. But he is such a pleasure to watch, even when he's losing because he never looks distressed or perturbed at all. His demeanor never changes like nothing ever touches him. Beautiful and effortless or effortless beauty, that's what makes his game perfect or near perfect. And at 7:20 pm here in Manila, Federer won his 16th grand slam title. He doesn't share this distinction with any other tennis player, dead or alive. Andy Murray was a worthy opponent and gave good game, it looked like the game would turn his way in the third set, which was decided by a tie-break. Murray was in tears when he accepted his runner-up prize. Roger accepted his trophy with much gusto, he definitely loved winning. He marked his win in the tournament as his first grand slam as a dad. Tennis' favorite son, world number 1 at 28, wholesome and engaging, generous as well (he rounded up his co-players and convinced them to forgo their last day of prep for the tourney to do a fund raising for Haiti), a veritable role model if I've ever seen one