AO Day 5: My Denial Bubble Burst

For a couple of weeks in June to July 2001, I was crashing on Madd’s couch. I needed to get away from Santa Barbara badly, and my pathological inability to plan my life combined with my falling out with my family meant I left Santa Barbara with almost no safety net.

So there I was going from temp agency to temp agency looking for a job. One afternoon, I was watching the Wimbledon coverage on NBC and saw Pete Sampras’ fourth-round match. Damn I couldn’t stand the guy. True he was a legend, but I really hated the serve-and-volley. It was very boring to watch, much like trying to watch the Michael Jordan dominated NBA. Zzzzzzzzz.

Sampras was 29 years old and defending his seventh Wimbledon championship, but there were signs he was starting to slow down. He lost to fellow American Todd Martin in the fourth round of the Australian Open, but there he was on the grass courts of Wimbledon where he was king. Of course he could dispatch some Swiss teenager seeded 15 in the fourth round.

To be honest, I didn’t pay much attention to the match until after the third set which this teenager won 6-4 to go up two sets to one. Hm. Federderr? Must remember that name especially if he does the impossible and pull this one out. After Sampras took the fourth set in a tiebreak, this kid somehow pulled the match out. Roger Federer beat Pete Sampras. At Wimbledon. And broke his 31-match win streak at the All England Club. Holy shit.

That’s when I became a Federer fan.

It’s been fun to watch his ascension to the top, his two years of near-perfection, his fighting to remain at the top with the coming of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. I want Roger to remain that 2006 version who went 92-5 and won 12 titles. In my mind, I believe he still has that in him. And despite what we witnessed yesterday in his match against Andreas Seppi, I still believe he has that in him. I saw him play near perfect tennis against Milos Raonic in the Brisbane finals a couple of weeks ago. Sure he has lost startingly in the majors before, but he had mono. A bad back. There was always something else in my mind that hindered his championship form.

Andreas beat Roger last night 6-4, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (5). On match point Roger actually hit what would have been a forehand winner approach shot, but Seppi hustled and lunged for the forehand hitting a passing shot down the line.

One thing I can’t do is make anymore excuses for Roger. I can’t live in denial anymore. We are witnessing the final act for Roger.