I’m late in getting on this–the days are just rushing by right now–but I wanted to offer a quick observation about Sunday’s U.S. Open final, which featured one more unbeatable performance by the ultimate Hall-of-Famer.
Ever so briefly, it seemed like Roger Federer might call up the brilliance of the past and grab one more major title. He had been fantastic all through the tournament, up to and through his straight sets beat-down of the Stanimal. More than one observer picked him to win the whole thing, and it seemed very possible even up to and through the rain delay that turned Sunday’s final into primetime entertainment. But then Federer found himself confronted by the ultimate Hall-of-Famer.
No, not Novak Djokovic. It was Father Time–he who is famously undefeated–who beat Roger Federer.
Make no mistake about it. Djokovic wasn’t all that dominant–but Federer could not take advantage. Federer had his chances; both of the McEnroe brothers noted during the broadcast how many easy shots Federer missed. Djokovic survived break point after break point after break point, particularly in the pivotal third set. Federer won only 4 of 23 break points–an amazingly low number, given the player he is…or was.
It would have been wonderful if Federer could have summoned that greatness and given his fans another thrill in a Grand Slam final. Certainly, the fans in the stands were aching for that result. There’s always that tendency, to want to see a former champion go out there and defy time and mileage and stay on top, or get back there after having fallen down the ranks. We root for a champ like Federer to keep winning into his sunset years, as much to defy our own mortality as to see him defy his own.
But it was not to be; Federer simply doesn’t have that kind of performance in him anymore, at least not against a top-ranked player who is even close to on his game. Djokovic wasn’t great, but he was good enough on Sunday to prevent Federer from turning the clock back and giving himself–and us–a respite from the advance of the uncertain future.
Father Time, the ultimate Hall-of-Famer, was having none of it. Mortality wins again.