Videos by OutKick
By Roger L. Simon
To say Roger Federer is idolized is an understatement. I’d wager no active athlete has been so revered globally for anywhere near as long as he has been. (Well, maybe a few, but don’t tell Rolex.)
You Google “Roger” by itself, no surname, and he comes up about the third link, the first two before him being dictionary definitions.
All six front page videos under “Roger” are Federer doing his thing on a tennis court.
The first real person, other than Federer, to appear is Roger Waters, alas as well known these days for his anti-Semitism as his Pink Floyd riffs.
You’d need an abacus to figure out how long Roger F. has been doing his peerless tennis thing. (Okay, he won his first Wimbledon in 2003!)
And now he’s making a comeback, after over a year’s layoff and two knee surgeries, at age 39 and, unlike Tom Brady, out there by himself.
So how’s it going?
Roger skipped the Australian and decided to return at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open, where his open round opponent was the Brit Dan Evans. Ranked 26, Evans is not exactly a journeyman, but he’s not, on the other hand, much of a threat to Nadal, Djokovic, et al.
Federer struggled past him in three closely fought sets, 7-6 (8), 3-6, 7-5, in a match that looked as if it could go either way until the last couple of games when Evans got that familiar look on his face that I translate as:
What am I doing here? I’m close to beating the legend of legends Roger Federer himself. That would be like killing my mother and father at once. Oh, Oedipus!
And, of course, he flubbed it and Federer won. Still and all, Roger did well, or well enough, in his debut. (In the old days, rarely would he lose a set to a guy like Evans.)
Next up was Nikoloz Basilashvili who ranked even lower at 40 and looks like an exceptionally macho Greek Orthodox priest, copious beard and all, on serious steroids. I suppose we should say Georgian Orthodox, because that’s where Basilashvili (rhymes with Sicilian Village… oh, forget it) hails from.
At first it seemed like something of a repetition of the first round. Federer looked surprisingly rested and played well in the initial set, winning 6-3.
But then the roof kind of fell in. Fed lost the second set in a jiffy, 6-1. He rallied himself in the decider and was going toe-to-toe with the Big Bash, even to the point of earning himself a match point.
When it failed, however, more than the roof fell in. Roger Federer, as we knew him, disappeared and suddenly looked very much the thirty-nine-year-old tennis player on the edge of retirement. The last two games went swiftly.
The astonished Basilashvili, who had overcome his Oedipus complex and defeated his father, walked off with the victory 7-5.
And then Federer, through his people, announced he was passing up the next tournament in Doha to work on his fitness. No one knows when he will next appear.
I wish him luck, but I shiver to think what he would look like at the end of a five setter in the Slams against Djokovic, Nadal, Medvedev, Thiem, Tsitsipas or any of the others who lurk in waiting.
They all know the man is vulnerable. In fact, they have for some time, but they didn’t know the man with this vulnerable.
We all are, of course, mortal, even the legendary. As Muddy Waters (not to be confused with the aforementioned Roger Waters) warned us, “We all gots to go back to Mother Earth.”
Roger Federer has avoided this in sport for an amazingly long time. But his time has come, and I think, deep down, he starting to know it. Or make terms with it.
Tennis, these days, is like an Agatha Christie mystery.
First it was the Big Four, then Andy Murray’s knees got the better of him. He’s trying to make it back, but not getting very far.
Then it became the Big Three, Federer beginning to look like the odd man very much out.
Now it’s the Big Two, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Is it possible it will come down to the Big One by the end of this year?
Tennis can be as brutal as boxing.
Oscar-nominated screenwriter and author Roger L. Simon is the editor-at-large of The Epoch Times. His most recent novel, “The GOAT,” is set against the world of big time tennis. Get it on Amazon before they cancel him.