Roger was Roger - 2013 Roger. Terrible. Disappointing. Impossibly un-clutch. Heartbreaking. He only won the second set because Djokovic was absolutely woeful; when he tightened up his game in the third, he allowed Roger only two games. Djokovic played like the Federer from 2004-2007 the second that Roger hit his first serve in the third set - played with authority, with a strong sense of purpose, possibly fueled by anger at himself for losing the second set; and he broke Roger Federer, one of the best indoors players of all time, to love. What a wonderful start. Roger had a chance to break back immediately and he set it up beautifully with a gorgeous forehand winner, but Djokovic was too strong - an authoritative first serve that Roger couldn't return later, and that was the last time Roger saw a break point for the rest of the match.
Not that it went on for much longer. When Roger equalised, I was thinking, Oh my god, am I gonna sit here for an hour more without peeing?! That was at 10pm. The match ended at like, 10.20. Roger lost serve again and Djokovic hit a bunch of unreturnable first serves when serving at 5-2, and that was it. The end. I wished that I could turn it off like a TV set. I don't know why I stayed till the bitter end.
It's sheer horror, watching him miss low-percentage, aggressive shots that he used to make - shots that used to be point-ending shots because that's the kind of player that he is. He takes matters into his own hands. He creates his own luck. A forehand up the line into the open space and he misses it by mere inches. A defensive cross-court forehand that he would have made in his sleep during his peak and he hits it long. After a protracted rally in which he hits a few brilliant defensive shots, he floats a fucking routine fucking slice backhand wide. His forehand is no longer the formidable weapon that it used to be; he makes almost as many errors off it as he does winners/high risk shots that force an error from his opponent. It was painful watching him play like that. He has to hang around in long rallies because he can't trust himself to make those point-ending shots; yet, the longer he stays in the rallies, the higher the chance that his backhand will find the net, or his forehand will miss the back of the baseline by a narrow, but defining, margin. It pains me to watch him like this - trying to play the game on his terms, trying to dictate the points with his money shot, the shot that made him the Roger Federer that he is today, but struggling to hit the lines; struggling to get past the Great Wall of Serbia that is Novak Djokovic; struggling, generally, to regain his old form which he has lost so much of this year.
The worst part is, watching him struggle live hits me so much deeper than just watching him play like this on my computer. I went to the match expecting him to lose and unlike last year's final, I wasn't nervous at all. Yet, it sucks so much to watch him lose. He really is a shadow of the player that he used to be. His timing seemed so much worse today than last year, and he was lucky that so many of his mishits landed in.
The way that he lost the first set pretty much summed up his entire 2013: down 30-40, 4-5, he makes the first serve, gets the reply that he wants, and goes on to hit his forehand out. He would have made that shot 9 out of 10 times even as recently as 2012. Not even 9 out of 10 - he would have made it 10 out of 10.
I feel so sad. This is the first time that I really feel like he's at the end of the twilight stage of his career...and it's sad because his tennis is still breath-taking to watch, whether on TV or in person. That particular point in the second set, when he hit an amazing backhand down-the-line winner to give himself break point - that precise moment when the ball left his racquet and bounced off the corner of Djokovic's forehand side of the court was one of those incomprehensible moments when the unbelievableness of what you just witnessed is overcome only by the fact that it happened. You don't know how, but it happened. I was excited and pumped up again in spite of myself. I found myself cheering out loud without meaning to. That single shot served as a timely reminder of why I love this man so much; and when he converted that break point and broke Djokovic who was 40-0 up, I started having hopes that he'd win.
Alas. At some level, it's not really about the result anymore and it's about watching him live; and yet, I will never not want him to win. I will never not want to see him beat the odds and win a match that he is losing. I selfishly wanted to see something inspiring tonight in the form of Roger Federer wrestling victory from the jaws of defeat which might have put me in a better mood and made me feel better about life and the world in general. But because he didn't, the world remains dark and cold, and life, a tangled, knotted mess.
It's all a bit of a scam, isn't it? You're pushed to have ambitions and goals when you're a child; then you're driven to think about what you want to do with your life when you're able to give a serious thought to it; and then you realise, what the fuck does it matter? The mere state of wanting to do X with your life does not mean that you will get to do X with your life. You spend all this time and energy "figuring things out", just to figure out in the end that it was a waste of time and energy. The only thing to figure out is why life exists - why we insist on perpetuating it when it's a series of disappointments at best, and a long drawn-out process of Disappointment at worst.
You have ambitions and goals and dreams and passions, and you end up with the Ordinary. You end up settling. You end up defeated, deflated, surrendering your hopes and dreams and retreating, white flag raised, to making things work for the sake of it; doing something because you have to; and passively letting life happen to you. Is it worse never knowing what you're good at and passionate about, or knowing exactly what these things are but failing, for some reason or other, to do them?
I am so deeply unhappy. I don't know what I did wrong along the way that has caused me to find myself here, right now, feeling the unbearable weight of my unfulfilled ambitions. I wish I was stupid, simpler, more easily satisfied, happier. I wish I could just be happy with what I have and be happy, like everyone else, to get married and have children and start a family; but I couldn't think of a worse fate. My life is my own; it's the only life I've got; and I want to do with it exactly what I want to do with it.
But it's so hard and I'm not strong enough to handle what is probably the first real adversity that I have ever faced in my life. All I want to do is to give up and retreat, white flag raised, saying, This ship is sinking, and so I give in. You win, Life. You've proven your point; now just let me be.
I can't really relate to this anymore:
I love this man: I love him irrationally (when I 1) skip classes to watch him; 2) wait two hours in the freezing cold hoping to see him so that I could take a picture with him; 3) spend a hell lot of money to watch him live; 4) get upset when he loses; 5) become insanely happy when he wins); I love him miserably (when he loses big matches, especially after having match points); I love him unabashedly (when I walk around with a Swiss flag wrapped around my shoulders and wear cheesy RF merchandise); and I love him happily. I love how happy I feel when I watch him play his beautiful tennis on TV; I love how happy I feel when I look forward to watching him play his beautiful tennis in person; I love how happy it makes me when he's a few metres away from me and he hits an amazing, sometimes miraculous shot; and I love how witnessing the Federer Genius in person makes me feel like life is worth living. I am happy to be alive because (among a host of other reasons, obviously) it means that I have the chance to watch this man play his beautiful, beautiful tennis. (Source)
It's sad that I wrote that only a year ago but now, a year later, thanks to a combination of his declining form and my being shoved back into the Real World, I can't fathom at all how I thought that.
This performance stuck a chord with me:
I kept hearing this guy's version of the song over the past year, heard it again at the O2, thought that the melody and lyrics reflected how I felt, downloaded the song on iTunes, found out that the guy won X Factor and ug up that performance. Very powerful stuff.