Tennis purists,critics and writers may sing the same symphony of praises each time Roger Federer systematically demolishes an opponent with clockwork precision,but the fans beg to differ. The keywords ‘federer,boring’ on a web search throw up 173,000 links,and while the 27-year-old may have his defendants,the verdict is damning.
Tennis’s former No 1 aspires for perfection,which has seeped out from his tennis racquet to his on-court demeanour — the slow walk across court,the poker face,and each meticulous wipe of the wristband after a gruelling rally. New epithets on the subliminity of Federer’s backhand keep cropping up,but the inescapable fact remains that the great man is a tad boring. The concept of sport as entertainment takes a beating far worse than anything the Swiss has inflicted on hapless opponents,miles removed from the days of John ‘you cannot be serious’ McEnroe,and Jimmy ‘I can turn the crowd against you’ Connors.
If you compare him with the contemporaries,there’s Andy Roddick,a former No 1 himself,who has held forth on Saturday Night Live,and turned away questions about his love life — from Mandy Moore to Maria Sharapova and swimsuit model Brooklyn Decker — with a quick wit guaranteed to raise a few laughs. The talking point in Federer’s case has often been the latest cow he was gifted.
There’s yelling,cussing,antic-king Marat Safin,also said to be extremely talented,but whose outpouring of emotion stands in the way of similar greatness. The Russian may have only two Slams to his name,but his sulks and unbelievable gestures on court will be sorely missed in a sport on the hunt for personalities.
And then,there’s Rafael Nadal of the now-abandoned pirate pants,sleeveless shirts and messy hair,who pumps his fist like no other,and isn’t afraid to let off a little scowl his adversary’s way.
It’s war,but Federer doesn’t seem interested in getting his hands dirty. He reminds you of another legend,who also had to battle with similar ‘he’s too boring for words’ accusations,and coincidentally,possessed the same the one-handed backhand — Pete Sampras. The American was constantly measured against Andre Agassi on the personality stakes,and Federer seems to have the same thing going with the passionate outpourings of the man from Spain who has taken away his throne. Both possess the brain of a champion,but while the Spaniard wears his heart on his sleeve,Federer keeps it all inside. What’s more fun to watch?
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