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Waterworks: The Agony of Defeat February 01, 2009 - 12:01 PM


I had planned to post a roundup of profound or amusing athlete quotes (predominantly the latter) as my final Aussie Diary entry from Melbourne. But after tonight’s dramatic men’s final – and the emotional awards presentation that followed – it doesn’t seem appropriate to do so. So I’ll save those inanities for when I’ve returned Stateside.

In the meantime, I’ll offer just a few short thoughts on a match that was long on tension and significance. First, I’m surprised and impressed that Federer rebounded from his catastrophic third set to win the fourth. In that fateful (for Federer) third, the 13-time major champ had triple break point with Nadal serving at 4-4 and failed to break. In Nadal’s next service game, at 5-5, Federer had three more break points, and again failed to convert any of them.

After he lost the third-set tiebreaker, I would not have been shocked to see Federer go quietly in the fourth. But he recovered and was able to send the match to a deciding fifth set—a development that shouldn’t have surprised me, given that he’s proven himself to be a resilient competitor many times in the past.

The fifth set itself was a disappointment. Unlike the deciding set of the 2008 Wimbledon final, which was played at a ridiculously high level, tonight’s fifth set saw Federer struggle. He looked stooped, fatigued, broken. His serve, which had been a key weapon in his semifinal defeat of Andy Roddick, let him down against Nadal – particularly in the fifth. Serving at 2-5, Federer was broken for the seventh time to end the match. Championship point felt anticlimactic, and the atmosphere in the packed arena was oddly subdued. For all of Nadal’s brilliance, it was discomfiting to see Federer bowed.

Then came the trophy presentation and Federer’s emotional reaction. As the runner-up began to address the crowd, he was overwhelmed by tears, and had to retreat to the back of the podium in order to regain his composure. The emcee presented Nadal the winner’s trophy while Federer gathered himself. Then, in one of the most poignant moments of the night, Nadal went back to put his arm around Federer, his respected rival, to ask him if he were ready to speak.

Federer, still crying, returned to the microphone and gave some very gracious and brief remarks, thanking Nadal, the tennis dignataries (including Rod Laver himself) who were on hand for the occasion, and the crowd. His voice quavered particularly when he said the word “legends,” a reminder of how much the history of the game – and his place in it – matters to Federer.

We’re not used to seeing superstar male athletes weep (Paul Pierce’s outpouring at the Boston Celtics’ ring ceremony being one recent notable exception), but again, I shouldn’t have been surprised to see Federer so affected by his loss. He’s not the stereotypical alpha male, by any means, and he’s been emotional in both victory and defeat before. Tonight, as he cried, I wondered what he was feeling. Crushing disappointment that he didn’t get to magic number 14? A fear that he might not ever tie or surpass Sampras’ record? Sadness that his days of playing otherworldly tennis in hard court majors (the 2004 U.S. Open final comes to mind) may be behind him, and that he has, for the time being at least, been eclipsed by Nadal? Intense relief that the tension of the past two weeks, and the past four-and-a-half hours, had finally broken?

None of those thoughts, it turns out, were on his mind. Federer said afterwards that his tears were merely his reaction to being beaten. He is a genius with a racquet, to be sure, but he is foremost a competitor.

“In the first moment you're disappointed, you're shocked, you're sad, then all of a sudden it overwhelms you,” he said, the strain still evident on his face. “I love this game. It means the world to me, so it hurts when you lose.”


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Posted by Farmer Ted February 01, 2009 at 12:06 PM


Posted by Kate February 01, 2009 at 12:12 PM


Posted by sabrina February 01, 2009 at 12:12 PM

oh my god

Posted by Kate February 01, 2009 at 12:12 PM

second :(

Posted by Peter February 01, 2009 at 12:13 PM

Roger is human. If I were in his position I would have cried my eyes out too.

Posted by andre morrow February 01, 2009 at 12:13 PM


Posted by vamos rafa February 01, 2009 at 12:14 PM

Fed and Rafa are a marvel in the sports world: both so dominant and so classy

Posted by ava February 01, 2009 at 12:15 PM

would've been nice if it had a couple of thoughts on the victor but still i like the analysis on Fed's mindset.

Posted by Lynn February 01, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Poor Roger, I can't even believe to understand how much winning this tournament meant to him.

Posted by andre February 01, 2009 at 12:15 PM

great article

Posted by Pam February 01, 2009 at 12:16 PM

When Roger cried, I cried. And this is coming from someone who was rooting for Rafa.

Posted by AT1019 February 01, 2009 at 12:16 PM


Posted by poophead February 01, 2009 at 12:18 PM

thats really sad. :( even though i wanted rafa to win, i didnt realize how much this meant to roger. its ok, he'll always be recognized as the best of all time, regardless of how many slams rafa wins. :)

Posted by stenelli February 01, 2009 at 12:21 PM

Already much dialogue on the boards about this incident. Thanks for writing. Sadly the fifth set of this Slam missed the drama of Wimbledon. Thoroughly enjoyable read.

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 12:24 PM

What about Nadal? You know, the guy who actually won the tournament!! The dude's just won his first slam on hard courts to mean he holds slams on every surface and all I keep reading is stuff about Federer crying.

Posted by Zhdaja February 01, 2009 at 12:27 PM

The last?

Posted by Raj February 01, 2009 at 12:28 PM

Roger has to blame himself. He didn't convert many break points. Not only here the grandslams finals Federer & Rafa played together federer couldn't convert break points even at when Rafa was at 0-40.Today he should have attacked Rafa's 2nd servers which is only like 80 mph. Any how its past. Rafa Congrats. You are super human playing around 10 hrs of tennis.Roger prepare for the French and all the best. I am sure you will win more grandslams.

Posted by Die Hard Roger Fan February 01, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Don't worry Roger, you'll bet Raffa at French Open in 3 sets.

Posted by Azhdaja February 01, 2009 at 12:33 PM

Now there's article about Federer's tears!
What about the artticle about Nadal's celebration?
Are going to pay more attention to loser than to Champion?
C'mon! If Roger weeped We have not.
He was weeping b/c he didn't tie the record. Not b/c he lost. He lied when said he weeped b/c his loss! Pure damn lie. Rog has no class, it's well known fact. All he cares about is his own ego, victories and record. That's why he weeped.

Just like Dinara, she was focused all time on what if she wins. Never thought about the match and how to make points. That's why her legs were tied. She couldn't move againts serena, and that's why she lost easily.

Roger, he is great player, but the reason he weeped was that he just realised that tehre is greater than him! Nadal. And he lost it straight to that Greater guy! That's the hell.

Once you like yourself too much, and realised that tehre is someobody better on this world than you, then that hurts the ego.
That's why poor Roger weeped. I feel sorry for him.

Posted by VM February 01, 2009 at 12:34 PM

I love Nadal, but i cried when Fedrer cried...His tears were really and from his heart... His really a good man :)

Nadal is a great player, but Verdasco is my hero :)

Posted by prath18in February 01, 2009 at 12:38 PM

Fed has come a long way and has been in an unbeatable position. it is natural tohave an emotional out burst when u know that u are threatened so much to go to that position again .Nadal (though holds the slam in every quote ) is comp newer and has a long way to reach fed`s current posn.

Posted by Jaycee February 01, 2009 at 12:40 PM

Roger, you're amazing!! So are you, Rafa~~!!!
I hope you guys continue playing the game with your best, and I hope that both of you are able to reach your goals!!!

I'm cheering for you, Roger!!!! GO FOR YOUR DREAMS!!!

Posted by Nash February 01, 2009 at 12:41 PM

I couldn't have asked for a better rivalry, both men are so respectful to whom ever they play (especially each other) and it is honestly a blessing to watch these two play and continue to impress. Hopefully they keep their healthy ways and continue to entertain

Posted by Nash February 01, 2009 at 12:43 PM

O yeah and my respect for Nadal has reached a whole new level he truly is the hercules of tennis; Verdasco's 5hr 14 min match and now pulling this off? I honestly expected him to fold like Djokovic did because as much heart one might seem to have the body can only do so much...but boy was I wrong

Posted by prath18in February 01, 2009 at 12:44 PM

And Fed, its tough to be on the top for a long time. So u rock tottaly and 14th is not far away!!!!!

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 12:44 PM

Fed stole from Rafa these victorious moments with all this crying! It was supposed to be about the winner, not the looser! And AO officials were so disappointed with Nadal´s win! Disgusting! And not fair to Nadal at all!!! Nadal well deserved this victory and after all had not opportunity to enjoy! Shame on you AO people and Fed!

Posted by HandsomePete February 01, 2009 at 12:46 PM

I got up and watched this morning from NY metro on ESPN. Pretty intense from start to finish, but there was not really a doubt in my mind who looked like they were going to win.

I dont know the habits or mannerisms of either of these guys, but at no time did Federer look like a winner to me. Not last night. Nadal simply appeared to have a degree of swagger that was entirely absent on the other side of the net.

I could be wrong because I dont know these athletes well, but then again, scoreboard.

Either way, I may not ever watch tennis again unless Nadal can learn how to serve without picking at the seat of his shorts. Perhaps his shorts were not quite tight enough.

I'm sure the post you are saving will be hilarious. It must have been discomfiting to put it aside.

Great post.
Ignore the whining about being Roger focused. My guess is that somewhere on the Web Nadal is getting coverage.
(you might try, good site, lots of tennis related stuff, they might be covering Rafa for you folks)

Side note: "discomfiting" - we took a vote, this is unnecessary use of an obscure present participle

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 12:50 PM

Last :-) :-)

Posted by mark February 01, 2009 at 12:52 PM

Roger has one strong-hold left...The U.S Open.
Let's hope he can at least hold that fort.

Kudos to Rafa today...Played brilliantly.
This guy doesn't know the meaning of Fear.

Posted by sol February 01, 2009 at 12:54 PM

im a big fan of rafa but up to now i still feel sorry for roger he cried so much that i almost cried too. congrats rafa you made my day. vamos rafa.:)

Posted by Bill Nye February 01, 2009 at 12:58 PM

federer is still going to break the record, and he's by far my favorite player

but what do guys think about nadal - he has 6 slams at 22 years of age - if his knees hold up, then he can probably be the GOAT - but i hope not... only time can tell

Posted by mira February 01, 2009 at 12:59 PM

Roger's tears surely must have melted the coldest hearts tonight!

Posted by levani February 01, 2009 at 01:03 PM

Roger Federer 4ever

Posted by Alvaro February 01, 2009 at 01:03 PM

I tend to disagree with AT1019. Roger is not the best ever. He is a great tennis player, and could not help but to cry when I saw him at the podium.
Pete Sampras has 14 Grans Slams still. I tend to believe that the best match of the Australian Open took place between Verdasco and Nadal. It was so long that it was obvious that Roger had the advantage.
Nadal has passion, finesse and he is simply on fire. When you are on fire, people will come from everywhere to see you burning. There is a new King in the Palace!

Vamos Nadal!!!!

Posted by Ian February 01, 2009 at 01:03 PM

he needs to learn how to be a gracious loser and get over thefact that he is not #1 in the world anymore.

Posted by Lark Logan February 01, 2009 at 01:05 PM

Beautifully written article. Very moving. I have admired Roger Federer for a long while, but am a total Rafa fan. I always look forward to a Roger/Rafa final, as I believe these two are the great shot in the arm tennis was in need of.

They are the epitome of sportsman, showing not only fierce competiveness, but compassion, respect for each other, and the love of the game. As joyous as I was for Rafa’s win, I was saddened by Roger’s loss, and the obvious fact he felt beaten during the 5th set. His body language spoke volumes, and it is something one is not used to seeing.

Rafa’s graciousness, compassion and respect elevates him to a fabulous class of sportsman. His reaching out to Roger during an emotional moment is something that I don’t think will ever be forgotten. Two brilliant champions, who will no doubt, meet on the world courts together again. I look forward to it.

Thank you for this excellent article.

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 01:12 PM

Roger you are king of tennis. win or lose thats part of game.

Posted by Zahid February 01, 2009 at 01:15 PM

Mr.Roger you are king of tennis win or lose thats part of game.

Posted by anna February 01, 2009 at 01:17 PM

wow. i cried too, i don't think rafa realizes the importance of grand slams like roger does. roger knows the significance. i mean, yeah rafa gets that they're important, but that's it to rafa. to roger, winning is a part of his game. i hate to see him cry because he's so great, and it makes me sad to see him depressed.

Posted by banti February 01, 2009 at 01:19 PM

Its funny how people turn after a loss from the guy. I am sure if Roger performs great leading to the final at wimbi and Rafa not so well, that roger will have the "favorite" burden on his shoulders once again. That is bc he is still the man to beat, the best.

The guy had an off day, in which he served 15% points worse than he usually does, or did in his previous matches. NOT JUST NOTEBLY IN THE 5TH SET! The serve is something that is not forced. Its a matter of getting it in or not. He played amazing tennis, but giving someone as they say "a look" at a second serve is not a question in a grand slam final. You cant serve at 50% and win a 2nd round match, forget a final. Imagine if Sampras served at 50%? I actually think Roger out performed Rafa in everyother category. He won more total points, won more points on return '(total and percentage), more aces, faster serves, more winners, at one point a sick amount more break point opp, played much better at the net. Could go on.

The point is he had the worst serving day of his grandslam career, and lost. This is no indication of what he is capable of against Rafa on this surface or Grass in the future.

He won the last slam before this for god sakes. Have you all forgetten this so quickly? This is better than Roger did last year making this final. What makes you think he cant win 2 extra games in wimbi (do a bit better there) and win it this year? He still has a great chance to take down the last two slams and end this season right. Even the french is not out of the question. Rafa cant maintain this type of play forever, and cant expect federer to faulter at this level again either.

concerning the trophy presentation. I thought it was moving. The guy was crying for many reasons. He is well aware of the history behind the sport. The first people he thanked were the legends for coming out. And appologized for not making number 14 for them. He had to much stress on his shoulders, and Rafa brings that out more than anyone. His serve stat is a perfect example how Fed fell apart mentally. This was not won by Rafa, it was lost by fed.

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 01:25 PM

still roger won more points hmmmmmm?

Posted by HandsomePete February 01, 2009 at 01:29 PM

The Science Guy makes a great point about Nadal Being 22 years old with 6 slams. If he can maintain health till he is 30 or so what keeps him from 14, 15, 16, 17?

Does anyone have the math on how many GS's Federer/Sampras avg'd yearly during careers? Can we do some extrapolation on Rafa?

Will the tightness of Rafa's shorts in anyway affect his longevity?

Posted by pkagano February 01, 2009 at 01:31 PM

I am a huge Federer fan but I have to say that this is the end. Roger can NOT beat Nadal. Nadal has no fear, he simply plays. Against everyone else Roger is superman but against Rafa the balls are filled with kryptonite. Nadal will win the grand slam this year defeating Roger in all of the finals. Federer will then pull a Borg and call it a career. In 5 years we will be talking about Rafa as the greatest ever as he approaches 20 grand slam titles.

Posted by TB February 01, 2009 at 01:35 PM

Wow, i stayed up till 745am but fell asleep in durung the early part of the 4th set. At that point i was hoping for a miracle as it didnt look good for Fed. Im a Fed fan, have been since before he was the great he is now. I guess its asthetics to me, the smooth strokes, flowing one-handed back hand, effortless look. So i suppose that one of the reasons i think he will stand out in history as one of the all time greats. I also like Nadal, i mean its hard not to. He's an amazing competitor and really is unbeleivably fast. His story is amazing and he has earned his number one spot and is working on his place in history.

I think this is a spectacular rivalry and both players clearly respect each other. Nadal is a freak of nature, so intense you think he might explode. I feel lucky to have witnessed so many fine matches between these two guys. I wish Fed would have won, but im still hopeful that he will win another slam, if not two or 3. All credit to Nadal though, he's the champ.

Posted by Master Ace February 01, 2009 at 01:40 PM

Rafael Nadal is the ATP best player mentally. Period. Who else could have played 9 hrs and 37 minutes to win his SF and F matches. It did help that Rafael had approx 42-43 hours to recover instead of the USO grind of playing on consecutive days. 16 out of 19 points on serve in the deciding set and won some great points in the 4th set especially the FH winner he got after retrieving shot after shot from Roger.

This match can either help or hurt Roger in his quest for 14. Also, will Rafael get the Calendar and/or Career Slam. If Rafael wins the United States Open before Roger gets 14, that may be the one that will hurt Roger mentally the most.

Posted by bbg329 February 01, 2009 at 01:40 PM

first of all, it was heartbreaking to see roger like that. he seemed disconsolate.

secondly, despite the fact that i am 100% FEDERER FOREVER, i have the utmost admiration for nadal - not only for his tenacity, his vicious game, and his other-worldly physical and mental strength, but most of all for his character. he was the better player tonight and he completely deserved to win. he was the victor, and yet somehow he took a step back to offer roger [and the fans and officials who were clearly, openly rooting for roger] a most sincere gesture. it was truly heartwarming to see nadal hug roger. to some extent though, i agree with an earlier post that it was a tad bit unfair to nadal as well - that he couldn't jubilate and be completely celebratory, out of respect for roger. to a certain extent, and with the help of the AO officials, a portion of the limelight was taken away from nadal. i admire nadal's humility.

thirdly, i don't think tournament officials should display the partiality they showed towards roger. of course roger deserves the utmost respect, he being a living legend, this slam meaning the world to him. BUT IT WAS TOO OBVIOUS whom they were rooting for. officials/announcers should have given nadal his due. he won, after all.

lastly, rafa has beaten roger in 5 GS finals already. had rafa chosen to play pro soccer, roger would have 18 GS titles by now.

Posted by Almond49 February 01, 2009 at 01:45 PM

I agree banti. But I doubt if they will ever talk about Fed being the GOAT now with Nadal winning number 6 at age 22. The media will hype this man until Rafa breaks Sampras record. Rafa is healthy and young. In tennis, that takes you a long way Roger needs to go back to the drawing board.

Posted by abeckman February 01, 2009 at 01:47 PM

I think Roger was so emotional because he lost to his nemesis - AGAIN! After being so spoiled by his own talent for so long, you can't blame the guy for not being very used to this. But, I'm afraid it may only get easier as it continues...

Rafa is doing a remarkable thing; he is in the process of supplanting the existing greatest, just as Roger did Pete, and he did Borg, who was really the first bright star. (Conners, Mac, and Agassi were protuberances into those players' records, but they weren't the standard holders of their ages.) Unless Roger changes his game plan, the writing is on the wall.

Posted by Ricardo Rivadeneira February 01, 2009 at 01:48 PM

I, like many of you am extremely disappointed at Federer's loss to Rafa. However, my disappointment has nothing to do with Federer not getting to the magical #14. On many occasions I have actually been very upset at some of those loses at the left hand of the Spaniard. No one can ever take away Federer's genius, his legacy. He is a true gentleman of the sport and his style of tennis inspires awe, admiration and respect. He is without a doubt one of the greatest tennis players of all time. It goes without saying that I have been a big fan of his for many years. But today, for the first time, after watching Federer loose to Nadal I felt something very different inside of me. I realized that Federer (Fed may have realized it too) will never really overcome Nadal. Nadal is the one mountain that Federer will always struggle and, for the most part, fail to climb. Nadal will be the one “huge” blemish on Federer's brilliant career. In my humble opinion, Federer will reach #14 and then some, but when it comes to greatest player ever, Nadal will be the one thing Roger never conquered. Thus, setting a shadow of doubt over the question…is Roger the greatest ever?

Posted by Raymond February 01, 2009 at 01:48 PM

YAY!!!! NADAL WON! I kind of feel bad for Roger, but I root for nadal all the way!

Posted by Marjan Swantek February 01, 2009 at 01:49 PM

Now, we'll need 2 HOPE that Roger can win the next US Open & B the Defending Champion, that he's been in the past. Nadal, truly, IS his Nemesis, but one that has HEART & worthy of his WINS! Barring injury or illness, he WILL Go Far! BOTH R worthy Champions & have a GR8 Rivalry>>>>>Bravo 4 us, Tennis Fans! HOW Lucky can we B????

Posted by america's asian February 01, 2009 at 01:59 PM

first off grats to rafa. he's a tough guy to beat especially since he chases down every single ball. and fed he IS human and he IS getting older. and it just comes with age that you start wearing down a bit. don't get me wrong, he's still a great player but it was understandable. he played great and broke almost all the records for the last 3-4 years. and yes i cried when he lost in wimbledon as well as this time.

Posted by Jorge February 01, 2009 at 02:02 PM

Great article. I'm happy that Nadal won; he's a fearless beast. Nonetheless, I like Federer a lot and was touched by his display of emotion.

I want to say two things:

1) Nadal is in Federer's head, plain and simple, and for good reason. Not unlike how Federer is in Roddick's head. I don't feel sorry for Federer because he has been mopping up courts with his opponents for years. Federer's brilliance and desire to win is eclipsed by Nadal's sheer competitiveness. It's a wonder to behold. I've been playing/watching tennis for decades and I have never seen another player as willful as Nadal. More power to him.

2) Someone posted earlier that "Nadal didn't win the match, Federer lost it." Sorry, not-so-gentle poster, but I have to say that's an inane comment. You're entitled to prefer one player over another, of course, but to take anything away from a classy competitor like Nadal is sour grapes. Moreover, if you insist on tilting the court in one direction or another, keep in mind that lousy scheduling gave Federer an extra day to rest for the final. I guess Federer wasn't crying alone but at least he had some class.

My $0.02, worth considerably less when adjusted for inflation.

Posted by temsu jamir February 01, 2009 at 02:06 PM

why mention only about the reasons of federer crying... you could have wrote something about the significance of nadal's win.. its a touchy but loopsided article... one thing is clear NADAL trashed FEDERER to TEARS... its historic..

Posted by amy j. February 01, 2009 at 02:07 PM

roger, congratulations for making another great run at a grand slam, all the way to the finals again. and thank you for another great game of tennis. keep playing the game you love. you lost tocay, but tomorrow is a new day. can't wait to see you at the french.


roger and rafa. you make me love this game.

Posted by temsu jamir February 01, 2009 at 02:07 PM

why mention only about the reasons of federer crying... you could have wrote something about the significance of nadal's win.. its a touchy but loopsided article... one thing is clear NADAL trashed FEDERER to TEARS... its historic..

Posted by temsu jamir February 01, 2009 at 02:07 PM

why mention only about the reasons of federer crying... you could have wrote something about the significance of nadal's win.. its a touchy but loopsided article... one thing is clear NADAL trashed FEDERER to TEARS... its historic..

Posted by jaime caceres jr February 01, 2009 at 02:14 PM


Posted by abeckman February 01, 2009 at 02:24 PM

Some of you Rafa-nuts don't do justice to your own hero with your petty comments. You probably derided him, as well, when he lost the '07 Wimbie final.

Posted by temsu jamir February 01, 2009 at 02:25 PM

hey BANTI ... what a sore looser you are.. giver due respect even in defeat.... that is the true nature of a noble being

Posted by temsu jamir February 01, 2009 at 02:25 PM

hey BANTI ... what a sore looser you are.. give due respect even in defeat.... that is the true nature of a noble being

Posted by temsu jamir February 01, 2009 at 02:26 PM

hey BANTI ... what a sore looser you are.. give due respect even in defeat.... that is the true nature of a noble being

Posted by charles February 01, 2009 at 02:26 PM


Posted by temsu jamir February 01, 2009 at 02:26 PM

hey BANTI ... what a sore looser you are.. give due respect even in defeat.... that is the true nature of a noble being

Posted by Erin February 01, 2009 at 02:29 PM

Roger's tears just broke my heart to pieces, it just shows how very very much he cares about tennis and every great player that came before him. I h ope he can recover from this, his emotions seem to be boiling over now more than ever, at many matches in different ways but none so dramatic as this. I never lose faith in Roger, in spite of his tears I really think he is one of the toughest athletes I've ever seen.. he has to be do have done what he's done with the pressure he's carried. He finally let it all out, maybe it was about time. Love you Roger, no matter what happens on the court.

Posted by Federer-GAY February 01, 2009 at 02:30 PM

Look at his face he is crying !!!!LOL!!!! MAN IS CRYING FOR NOTHING!!!!!!HE IS SO GAYISH!!!

Posted by joseph:] February 01, 2009 at 02:31 PM

what did i say..i knew rafa was going to win, even though i said in 4 sets but he played spectacular tennis..i could not hold back my laughter during the trophy presentation watching federer act like a baby and cry..i mean he wanted to win so badly but its a kick in the a$$ for him to try even harder, which i doubt hell be able to beat rafa

Posted by alias February 01, 2009 at 02:37 PM

My opinion as a teenaged tennis addict:

Honestly, I'm biased...but I really do think that it was Roger's match to lose. This match was nothing like Wimbledon...Roger didn't go down two sets to love before deciding to step it up. He did so well this entire tournament and in parts of this match, only to be stopped from his 14th slam by his rival for the 5th(?) time in a row. I'd cry too, dammit. Heck, I did cry. Can you imagine his frustration? This whole thing could bring about some serious blows to anyone's self confidence.

The hurtful thing is that I really really want to hate Nadal for what he's done to my favorite sportsperson and one of my idols - he's gotten into his head too much, and Federer believes he can't beat him now. The fact is, he could have beaten him. The man won 1 more point in the actual match than Nadal. That counts for something in my books. If he wasn't so nervous because it was Nadal on the other side of the net, his serves would've found their mark and we'd all be celebrating a different kind of victory. I find that Nadal can be extremely intimidating, especially because he's wicked fast and can hit some ridiculous winners. But it's fine. I can't hate him. He deserved his victory - he took advantage of his opponents weakness which is what any good tennis player does. So I say congrats to him...although with a heavy heart. I do believe, just because I can, that Federer is plotting his revenge. Someday, before he retires, he will avenge these losses. I'd like to see that day.

I'm also gonna watch Nadal these next couple years. Not physically watch his matches, because I can't say that I like his playing style, but I'm gonna watch how many slams he can win and how long his body will hold up. We'll see. In this sport, or any sport for that matter, anything can happen. Anything. It's all up in the air now.

For now, I'm off to drown my sorrows in some ice cream and watch the superbowl.


Posted by Ian Reed February 01, 2009 at 02:37 PM

The article mentioned other male athletes crying (e.g. Paul Pierce). The difference is that this was in reaction to a loss. The implication is that so many of us who view Federer as perfect (irrationally) are forced to confront that our hero is vulnerable. That hurts.

When sports fans answer the question "why do we chear for certain individuals?" they will fully understand what those tears meant.

Posted by Jake Ian February 01, 2009 at 02:42 PM

I wrote this on my own blog, but thought I oughtta put it here, too, out of sheer penance for being so mad at Roger for losing, and because I was CALLING MY HERO NAMES after said loss.

Now, I feel a bit like the heel that I apparently am for mentally betraying my defeated hero, Roger Federer, especially after just seeing him boo-hoo upon being handed the runner-up plate by ~his~ hero, Rod Laver, following the Australian Open final.

I must say: I never expected an emotional display of that magnitude, at that moment, but guess what--it's rough and wonderful and rough and wonderful and, sometimes, just plain ROUGH to be human and gifted, kids.

Anyone out there who has ever wanted anything meaningful and noble and valuable, wanted it so deeply and so desperately, after working so hard for it, and who is thwarted from attaining it in some do-or-die moment (could be a job, a contract, someone's affection, a pat on the freakin' back when you need it, something "big," something seemingly "insignificant" to others)...well, ~that~ person would understand every single tear boo-hooed by Roger Federer.

Every. Single. Tear.

Chin up, Rog. We still believe in you. Save your energy for Wimbledon. You've got a couple of those left in you, at least. And, please, start using your big groundies to open up the court and charge the net and put pressure on Nadal--not every point, necessarily, but please do it in those tight, set-deciding moments to impose your greater versatility and take the length of the court away from him. Neutralize his backboarding. Come ON! If he's going to win the set from you anyhow, make him have to pass you 50 times in a row to do it. Take the ground away from him. You've got the big ground-strokes to set that kind of thing up.

All credit to Nadal, by the way.

Posted by Raul February 01, 2009 at 02:43 PM

As tennis fans, we are so lucky to be entertained with such an amazing rivalry. Federer and Nadal both display greatness and class. Anyone who really knows tennis realizes that Federer can not and did not take anything away from Nadal's victory. Nadal was gracious and respectful. What kind of champion would have done any less. Lets not forget Federer's graciousness to Andre' Agassi at his last Match!!!! Congrats to Rafa and I look forward to another great year of tennis...

Posted by ballav aryal February 01, 2009 at 02:43 PM

no mater what roger is the greatest tennis player of all times and a great human,truly a champion.

Posted by woome February 01, 2009 at 02:44 PM

I cried when Federer cried. I really wanted him to win his 14th slam. I think most people were rooting for him because his game is so beautiful and graceful. Nadal, on the other hand,is an animal and his game is violent, brutal, and physical. Just wears opponents down. Yes, he has 6 slams, but how long can his body last??

Posted by Jake, North Carolina, USA February 01, 2009 at 02:49 PM

Dear Roger:

As a die-hard fan of yours, I think your emotional reaction to this loss to your No.1 nemesis (Rafael Nadal) was a NECESSARY FIRST STEP to regaining an edge in future encounters.

Here is my honest advise to you:

1. From henceforth, in interviews and elsewhere, lay the praise THICK on Rafa. Take the pressure off you by pointing ALWAYS to the fact that Rafa IS the no.1 right now - which is a fact. In my heart (and in those of millions other lovers of this game) YOU are the true no.1, with a one-of-a-kind, well-rounded game - sweet, melodious, aesthetically beautiful to behold, and delightful to savor).

2. Once your underdog status is established in the public's mind, then come at Rafa with a nothing-to-lose mentality.

3. Watch yourself then walk through Rafa to achieve your 14th, 15th, 16th, 17th, 18th, 19th, 20th and, possibly, even more slams.

Cheer up - I mourn with you for a day or two, but then pick yourself up, get back to working hard (mentally and physically), and you will accomplish your destiny.

God bless.

Posted by Platinium February 01, 2009 at 02:50 PM

Sampras and the others did not have an opponent like Nadal. However, it is still annoying that Federer loses really close matches because of the most important points. He could have already beaten all the records held so far, if he did not have the mental block. But he has to hurry up, because Djokovic and Murray are dangerous.

Posted by Hemant February 01, 2009 at 02:52 PM

Roger and Rafa are great champions and great men. They have played fantastic tennis against each other. I feel sorry for Roger. Rafa deserved to win. Roger has to win in the mind against Rafa before he can win the game itself. I am 100% certain that Roger would have won the championship had it been any other player facing him in the finals.

Posted by HandsomePete February 01, 2009 at 02:53 PM

The interesting use of the English language has me wondering if this was posted by Rafa......

"Federer-GAY 02/01/2009 @ 2:30 PM

Look at his face he is crying !!!!LOL!!!! MAN IS CRYING FOR NOTHING!!!!!!HE IS SO GAYISH!!!"

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 02:54 PM

I felt sorry for Fed being stuck out in public when a crying jag took over, but I'm tired of Rafa's wins being more about how sad it is for Fed than, you know, Rafa winning. So far, all of the articles I've read about been all "poor Fed." (And I usually don't give a shit what the talking heads say.)

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 02:55 PM

Awwww, so sorry for Roger.
I am almost in favor of saying, you know what, if you can't take it, just get the hell out of here .

Posted by bc February 01, 2009 at 02:55 PM

As I see it, the reason Federer loses to Nadal is that Nadal has completely psyched out Federer. A couple of days before this final, Nadal said, basically, "Federer is the best ever and he doesn't have to win the final in Australia, because he still will be the best ever no matter what happens.'' I mean, it's one thing to carry this best ever mantel when you are only in the middle of your career and haven't really passed Sampras yet. But, to have your opponent say you are the best ever, whether it's intentional or not, puts Roger in an odd place. If he buys what Nadal says, what's the incentive to go out and play the match. Nadal sets himself up as David going after Goliath, and with everything to prove, the fire burns intensely. But what about Goliath. If Federer is better than Nadal, he is better by the tiniest of margins, and to win he would have to summon every ounce of ingenuity, power, strength and resolve to win. This is tough to do when you're told you have already been handed the best ever mantle, the heaviest mantle any player has ever seen and one that probably contributed mightily to Borg's (and others) demise. I believe that Nadal has some idea of what he's doing, that the effusive praise is strategic, something Uncle Tony has concocted, to prey on Roger's only weakness, which is a confidence that is so complete that he's vulnerable to this praise.

Posted by moxie February 01, 2009 at 02:57 PM

I cried because Rafa won in such spectacular fashion again, and because he has finally ended the dreadfully boring Federer domination. Tennis is fun and exciting again! Thank you Rafa! I hope Federer never breaks Sampra's records, he doesnt deserve to.

Posted by Bill February 01, 2009 at 02:58 PM

neither federer or nadal will ever tie or surpass Pistol Pete's record.
and this is not because they are worse athletes than Sampras, but because they both luck the manliness and courage needed to become the number one of all time.

Posted by Vel February 01, 2009 at 03:00 PM

This was a great match! doesnt matter weather he lost or won, he is still #1 in my heart.

Posted by doobydum February 01, 2009 at 03:01 PM

I don't see Djokovic as a threat to Federer.

Murray - Yes
Nadal - Definitely yes
Berdych and anyone else with a giant killer's mentality (like Ivo Karlovic) - Oh yeah.

But you know what, screw them all. I still love The FedExpress. He will rise again!

He's not yet -- and he might not ever be!

Posted by luis February 01, 2009 at 03:01 PM

Come on roger this not the end but the beginnig, keep it up

Posted by britotriton February 01, 2009 at 03:02 PM

Andy Nurray should have won the Australian open if it wouldn t been for VerdAsco
congratulations to Nady....and roger don t cry you have won the australian open meny time
I only wanna see you winning roland garros this year.

Posted by Anthony Beckman February 01, 2009 at 03:11 PM

Fed should focus on his serve. It's not what it used to be. Sampras was trained to toss his serve and then respond to a coach's call for it's direction only when it was already aloft. Perfect way to learn to better disguise your serve.

With the way Fed is playing now - and the pressure completely off now at FO - he could win.

Posted by Ian Reed February 01, 2009 at 03:12 PM

What really stings is that Federer is the better player.

Like I said in another post, tennis is like rock, paper, scissors to a certain extent. Federer's style of play dominates most other players, but is susceptible to Nadal's style. If Federer were to change his style to better suit Nadal's, he wouldn't be as powerful against other opponents. It has a lot to do with what each player brings to the table.

A lefty with mad topspin is bad news for a guy with a one-handed backhand, even if that guy is Roger Federer (and he is!).

The problem is that some people don't understand this and thus underestimate Federer's abilities. For example, Federer would have DESTROYED Verdasco, but lost to Nadal.

Federer is the Greatest Of All Time.

Posted by ayah February 01, 2009 at 03:19 PM

Roger is always in the best

i love you roger >> dont cry just try be smile

go roger go

Posted by alias February 01, 2009 at 03:19 PM

Ian Reed, I agree with 99.9% of your post, but the GOAT labeling has got to stop. Let's all wait until Fed's surpassed Pete. He has 3 more slams to equal and pass him.

Fingers crossed that Roger wins the FO and breaks the record at Wimbledon. That would be spectacular.

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 03:19 PM

Crying Federer - it is all hurt EGO!!! Nothing more!

Posted by Ian Reed February 01, 2009 at 03:22 PM

I'm glad you agree! I guess I'm just starting to wonder whether # of grand slams is a good measuring stick. If Nadal was in the Sampras era, things would have been different, no? Or even if Agassi was more consistent.

That being said, I hope he wins 14+ majors!

Posted by omar February 01, 2009 at 03:23 PM

Roger cried because this loss verified in his own mind that his reign as the Supreme One is tennis has been completely shattered. He sensed this at last year's Wimbledon, but the match was so close and great, and then he came back and won the US Open, that he was able to convice himself that there's still a chance. But losing today ended all that.

What this loss also cements is that Roger has NO CHANCE to ever be thought of now as the Undisputed GOAT. No matter what Fed does the rest of his career, his failings with Nadal on ALL Surfaces will forever be a chink in his armor of greatness, a chink he's incapable of fixing.

He's among the GOATS, but no longer THE GOAT.

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 03:32 PM

I have never seen runner-up behaveing like that and spoiling the celebration of the victor! Non of runners-up in matches that Federer won done something like that! It was respectless towards Nadal (although I understand that it was very difficult for Fed, but he is 27 years old! and won 13 GS titles!!! he is not just a kid!) Rafa is just 22, but he behaved like a very wise man!

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 03:36 PM

Awwww, so sorry for Roger.
I am almost in favor of saying, you know what, if you can't take it, just get the hell out of here .

Posted by February 01, 2009 at 03:36 PM

I felt sorry for Fed being stuck out in public when a crying jag took over, but I'm tired of Rafa's wins being more about how sad it is for Fed than, you know, Rafa winning. So far, all of the articles I've read about been all "poor Fed." (And I usually don't give a shit what the talking heads say.)

Posted by Ruth February 01, 2009 at 03:43 PM

Ian Reed: I've been thinking and saying for years that the number of Slams should not be the only criterion or even the most important criterion in discussion of the greatest players. But I think that has something to do with my advanced age. :)

Just last week, I heard Navratilova (who own tons of Slams) say that this obsession with the number of Slams won is a relatively new phenomenon -- something that started only about 20 years ago, she said. I think that it's even more recent than that.

I've heard older professional players say that they remember that having a good all-round game etc etc and winning all kinds of events were more important in the discussion of who was the best player than who won the most Slams.

I am willing to bet money that most people had never heard of Roy Emerson and never mentioned his accumulated Slam wins until the PR machine started as Sampras was closing in on his (Emerson's) record 12 Slams.

But the genie is out of the bottle or the Pandora's box is open, and all we hear now is "He has to beat Sampras's record!" or "He has to win the French Open!" and other such stuff that leaves some longtime tennis fans (like me) just shaking their heads.

Posted by Tennis the Menace February 01, 2009 at 03:43 PM

First, I think all of this GOAT talk is a bunch of hooey. People have an annoying need to categorize and rank so many things that defy categorization. (Saying that only gay guys cry, for instance. But I digress.)

Second, how can anyone say Federer is the GOAT when he can't even dominate Nadal? It's hard to compare greatness across the generations but we have ample evidence that Nadal is superior to Federer on multiple surfaces. You're delusional, Ian Reed. I would sob, too, if I heard people like you saying that I was the GOAT when I knew good and well that I wasn't even the greatest of my own time. Give Roger a break. He's the second-greatest at the moment, and the weighty realization of it is why he was so emotional.

Posted by Armando February 01, 2009 at 03:45 PM

Azdahja... you're an idiot...

You have to give credit to Nadal, for winning the match, and dealing in a Classy manner with Federer's outpour of emotion.

I guess he probably realized that his time is winding down, and he's not living up to the hype that has surrounded him for the past four years about being the GOAT...

Now, regarding the GOAT... Rod Laver was banned from the grand slam tournaments between 1963 and 1968... If he had not been banned, we would probably be talking about his 20 slams being the best of all time, not Sampras' 14. Laver won 8 slams in just 2 years... try that for measuring the true GOAT.

Posted by ticker11 February 01, 2009 at 03:47 PM

i cannot believe how some people are reacting to federer's reaction. are you so unbelievably arrogant that you think you know how roger feels? do you completely understand his thought process? roger cares so much for this sport, and he shows that by giving us his absolute best. sometimes that's not enough, and that upsets him. wouldn't it upset you? GO FEDERER!

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