November 12th, 2011

Roger backhand USO 2011

Fact #1: There's no better sight in tennis than Roger Federer in full flight.

Fact #2: Roger reaches his first final of the Paris Masters at age 30.

Matches like this semi-final against Tomas Berdych are so rare these days that I tend to forget just how beautiful it is when Roger plays without inhibition, his forehand stroking the ball into all corners of the court, flattened, unreturnable. What a sight. Truly, what a sight. It's precisely because I want to see this vision of beauty in person that I spent $4,000 of my hard-earned money to attend the Australian Open. (Alas, it's only the first week when he and other top players are known to do the bare minimum to get the win. Still, better than nothing.)

Matches like tonight's match are hard to come by these days. I'm too used to seeing him losing his break advantage, losing when in a winning position, spraying forehand errors all over the court, hitting his backhand repeatedly into the net, serving like Nadal...even when he was up an early break in both sets I barely breathed when he stepped up to serve. Everytime he dropped a point on serve I was half-afraid that Berdych would suddenly spring to life and force a break point.

But guess freaking what? Berdych's break point conversion: 0/0. It wasn't like Roger served clinically well, either. He just played a near-perfect match.

If he'd won the damn US Open semi-final, I'd say that that was one of his best matches this year purely on the strength of the first two sets. Too bad he lost that one, and so this semi-final is the best match he's played all year, after the semi-final at the French Open. His forehand is just breath-takingly beautiful. I know I keep gushing about it, but it's so, so, so beautiful. The beauty of the stroke, the precision, the seeming effortlessness, his footwork while setting up his forehand. Seriously, I'd like to be him for a day and experience for myself just how it feels to hit a tennis ball like he does. My appreciation for him as a tennis player has definitely grown as I play tennis slightly better every now and then myself, because I know how damn difficult it is to execute the kind of jaw-dropping shots that he pulls off as if he can do them with his eyes closed.

He's never won this tournament before. This is my most hated tournament on the ATP circuit, but it would be nice if he added this title to his haul and made it 70 career titles. This match was his 801st career match win. Would he retire with over 1,000 matches won? That would be simply amazing.

I didn't really care when he dropped to #4, although it was weird seeing his name below Andy Murray's. At this stage, the ranking will sort itself out as he wins more matches and tournaments. But the wins will sort themselves out and will be foregone conclusion, really, when he gets his game together. I mean, this forehand of his - I don't even know. I still think he's not human. He's that good. He's beyond excellent. He's near-perfection.

No, wait. It's quite simple: He's JesusFed.