Monday, July 09, 2007
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
perhaps roger federer is a fan of dylan thomas. perhaps he read these lovely words of his. roger is not old. nor is he in the twilight of his career. nor is the genius back in the bottle.
but it has been a tough year for him. the australian open win was followed by some pedestrian displays and then he came back emphatically at hamburg, only to be quelled at the french open by the spanish matador.
the pack smelt demise. the pack smelt the end of an era. it was growling,snapping, sniffing and biting. and we could see the pack in the form of the spanish conquistador.
and this was the backdrop to the coliseum that was sw19 yesterday, whence our gladiators clad in pristine whites came to do battle. the challenger who doesnt know what capitulacion means.. and the defender who doesnt know what defeat means on grass.
the puppet master, above, in his wisdom, knows genius cannot be made on an assembly line. it has to be handcrafted in a minority to enliven and enrichen the lives of the masses. and hence one shane warne in australia, one sachin tendulkar in india, one jonny wilkinson in england and one roger federer in switzerland.
the puppet master also knows that genius is not on tap. these greats will have ordinary days. yes their ordinary days are on a different scale to us mere mortals. but they are still ordinary. and hence roger federer had, by his own standards a very ordinary year.
we hadnt witnessed the glorious shot making that we know he is capable of. we hadnt witnessed the mind numbing beauty that his tennis is capable of the whole year. and we had too few of those jaw dropping, pinch myself, am i alive, moments.
we the discerning started doubting the maestro. maybe the maestro started doubting himself. after all michaelangelo cannot paint a sistine chapel every day.
and so the gladiatorial contest started yesterday. doubt and hope warred amongst the believers.the spanish matador ran better, ran quicker, hit harder.. set 1 came and went. set 2 went .and set 3 went and so did set 4. the maestro still hadnt gone into his turbo charged game.. and doubt started turning into despair for us believers.we railed and ranted internally. surely the puppet master had not set an expiry date on genius.
maybe the maestro heard us. maybe he didnt.
but came set 5
and the maestro went into the ZONE.
i do not know what the zone is. i am not a genius. mere mortals cannot describe it. genius cannot describe it and will not describe it cause they know mere mortals cannot comprehend.
but the zone is jonny wilkinson with that final drop kick. the zone is that day in adelaide when shane warne commanded the field.
the zone is roger federer, the maestro, in the 5th set of wimbledon 2007.
it does not matter to me now if roger federer should or should not be called the goat. it does not matter whether he wins the french open.
all it matters is that i was witness to this 5th set. there was reason to be alive. there was privilege to see this man play, win. and stamp his greatness on the grass. and tell the matador, not yet my friend, the day still belongs to me.
and so onto monday. the day is flat. the day is empty. the gladiators have packed their bags and gone in search of other coliseums.
there will be days when the demons come back. there will be days when insecurities rear their head. there will be days when i can hear the pack growling in the background.
to such days i have the antidote.
it is chris martin on the boom box
"When you try your best, but you don't succeed...
And the tears come streaming down your face
When you lose something you can't replace...
Could it be worst?
Lights will guide you home,
And ignite your bones,
And i will try to fix you"..
and remembering the 5th set with the maestro in the zone... then the day will be brighter.. the demons will recede.. the impossible will be possible