Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Day 15: There is a God

Men's final, New York

After a series of precision assaults that left Andy Murray hopelessly outdone, Roger aka our heavenly father Federer has restored order in the tennis world. Andy aka snaggle-tooth Murray, playing in his first major final, was excused without much of a whimper as Federer hit the ground running early and hardly bothered to look back. Federer, finally regaining his dominant form just in time for the curtains to close on the 2008 Major circuit, cruised easily to his 13th Grand-Slam title, a virtuosic 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 victory.

While the surprisingly short match wasn't close, it was poetic. Federer was artful throughout, dispersing his world-class arsenal of shots so casually that at times it looked like he was toying with Murray. But there were times in the 2nd set where it looked like the fiery Scot was going to make it a match. He was serving to force a tiebreaker, and had played brilliantly just to stay even in the set, but the tiebreaker never materialized - Federer broke to take the set, then went on to take the next 5 games to lead 5-0 in the 3rd set.

From that point on the tennis was a mere formality - it was more about that moment of exultation that Federer and the adoring New York crowd would get to simultaneously revel in. As Federer finally secured championship point the wait was over. The beleagured king of tennis has returned to his throne in convincing fashion. Many had doubted him after a disappointing 2008 saw him be overtaken in the rankings by heir apparent Rafa Nadal. Now, as the dust has settled at the USTA National Tennis Center, believers are once again signing on.

Federer is now the only player to ever win 5 consecutive Wimbledons and 5 consecutive US Opens in his career. It is difficult to envision this achievement ever being accomplished by another man, just as it is difficult to envision Federer falling short in his quest to catapult past American Pete Sampras, who currently holds the record for 14 Grand-Slam titles. 2009, most likely, will be the year that he finally arrives at the holy grail.

When he is finished, there will no doubt be a lofty precedent set for those who wish to surpass him. As for now, Federer looks like he's a far cry from being done.