What can I write that hasn’t already been written in the past couple of days? Roger Federer extended his own all-time record by reaching his 35th Grand Slam semi-final? That he has now gone past Boris Becker to have the second most match wins at Wimbledon with 72 wins? Or that this was his 273rd total Grand Slam match win? All those stats are true and if you know my posts, you know I love stats and records. But I was so tense while watching this match that for once I totally forgot about them. All I remember was Roger fighting and me willing him to fight, urging him on with my every breath.
When I was watching the match, millions of others were watching it too and quite a few of them were Federer fans I’m sure 😉 Each of us has our own way of watching. There were those who had to be elsewhere and were only following scores online. Ones who had to put up with horrible commentators who keep bringing him down; or those like me who watch matches using streams in a language they don’t understand so as to not get irritated by biased commentators. Yes, I actually do that. Some of us clutched our pillows with each point while others shouted variations of one-word screams ranging from “YES!” to “F***” and everything in between. We all collectively took part in the Federer-Match-Viewing experience. I think that because I wanted this win so badly, for the first time in a while I actually had to look/walk away from the screen from being so nervous. As such, I can’t do my traditional detailed match report this time.
What I can tell you is this. There was the first set when Stan played very well and Roger played one bad service game. That was enough for one break for Wawrinka which was all he needed to take the set. Roger had a break point too but he couldn’t convert. This was the first time this tournament that Roger was broken and the first set he had dropped. But, I told myself, this is a best-of-5 (thank goodness) which means there is still a long way to go before a winner emerges. But nonetheless, it would be great if Roger took the second set to level the score.
In the second set, the tennis was at a very high level with neither player getting broken or getting any break point opportunities. It led to an inevitable tie-break that was so tense I thought my heart would jump out from my chest. Roger got the mini-break only to lose it again. But then he got another one. And this time he took the set with a roar. We were 1 set all! The margins were thin in this set but ultimately Federer’s net approaches and phenomenal serving, especially his first serves, made the difference.
Stan had asked for the doctor at one point in the second set and both players went off-court after the end of the set. Roger came back first and hopped around on court keeping himself warm for Stan to get back. Play resumed the same way with both holding serve for 1-all. In Stan’s 2nd service game he provided Roger 2 break points but Roger couldn’t convert either and it was 2 all. Finally, in the 7th game of the set Roger had 2 more break points and he took the first one. For the first time he was in the lead and he consolidated easily. One break was all that was needed for Roger to claim the third set and we were now up 2 sets to 1 and you could sense Roger was in full control. He offered Stan no break point opportunities in that set.
The fourth set started with Roger looking confident and Stan looking a bit ill. It didn’t seem to hamper his play too much as he started with a love hold. But then in his very next service game Roger had 2 break points and Roger converted. After that the set continued on serve though Roger was put under pressure while serving to go up 5-3. He got pushed to deuce but held. Stan held his next game which meant Roger had to serve for the set. Just like his previous match, Roger got tight having to serve for it. In his last match, Roger offered Robredo a break point in his last game; he did the same with Wawrinka and he saved it like last time too. In the Robredo match Roger converted on his 3rd match point. This time Roger needed a few more. He finally converted on his 5th match point with an overhead smash.
My twitter timeline was certainly colorful for those minutes when Roger kept trying to close it out. But I knew this would happen, I KNEW it. Once I saw it happen with Robredo I knew it would happen with Wawrinka. I think he wants this so badly that he gets tensed. This isn’t Federer of 2007 when closing out matches and reaching Wimbledon SFs was norm not the exception. He waited two years to get to this point. He is allowed to be nervous; he is allowed to take an extra breath; he is allowed to bounce the ball one more time than usual. The important thing is that he got it done, whether in 3 match points or 5. And in the upcoming SF match I will be mentally ready for this again should it come to him serving for the match. Speaking of which…
Roger will face one of the rising stars of men’s tennis across the net for his SF match today – the big serving Milos Raonic. It will be a clash of generations. Roger has a positive 4-0 H2H with him but they last played over a year ago and Milos has improved a lot since then. The positive for me is this is the best of 5 so it is possible that Milos’ level might not be sustainable throughout. I am hoping that same hunger, motivation and desire that caused Roger to want this so much that he needed multiple match points the last two matches, will get him over the hurdle this time too. Yes, mistakes can happen when you want something so badly but if you don’t have that passion in the first place then you don’t deserve to win and Roger has passion in truckloads.
Raonic said the following in his presser after his QF match:
I’m going to step out there and I’m not playing the seven-time Wimbledon champion. I’m not playing a 32-year-old man. I’m not playing father of two sets of twins, which is a very low possibility I bet to do. I’m not playing the guy that’s won whatever he’s won, which I could probably list quite vividly. I’m playing a guy that is standing in my way of what I want to achieve, and I’ve got to focus on everything that’s there, on the situation, how best to deal with it to give myself the best possibilities to achieve what I want.
Strong words there for sure, but guess what. WE know he’s playing the 7 time Wimbledon champion. WE know that Roger’s 32, that he’s the father of two sets of twins who’s won everything that could be won in this sport. Roger knows that too. He knows who he is when he walks on the Wimbledon grounds, when he enters the players’ lounge and when he steps on court to the adulation of millions. It is up to Roger to remind Milos of who he is playing. If he can do that, I believe he can win. So come on King! Show him what he’s up against! Show him who YOU are! Allez!
***Photos from http://www.zimbio.com/***