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Fighting like a warrior
Every time Roger Federer walks into a grand slam these days, it seems like people are declaring that he’s got more and more to fight against. The draw, his opponents, his age, his fitness, his motivation etc.
And it seems like more and more people are willing to declare that it’s all too much for him. That this is the tournament where he’s going to crumble, where he’ll give up. That this is the tournament where he loses his fight. Where we’ll finally see the Swiss hero fall.
After losing the semi-final match to Murray, there’s been a lot of these declarations. But a fallen hero is not the Federer I watched lose. I saw that guy being dismantled in straight sets in the Olympics final 2012. That was heart-wrenching.
Today was different. Today I watched a guy who, when everything had deserted him except the crowd, found a way to push his opponent to five sets. His serve, his forehand, his backhand, every single weapon he’s come to rely on disappeared, whilst his opponent seemed to be getting stronger and more resilient by the set. Yet he still didn’t back down.
By all rights Federer should have lost this semi-final in straight sets. Instead he scrapped his way through to five sets like only a fighter knows how to. He was the soldier who doesn’t know the definition of ‘giving up’. He was the gladiator who refuses to believe it’s over. He was the warrior with the will.
I see too many people arguing that Federer might be brilliant, but he’s not a Nadal or a Djokovic. ‘Sure, he glides around the court and makes everything look effortless, but he doesn’t have their determination, their god damn stubbornness to never ever give in.’ If this match doesn’t prove otherwise then I don’t know what will. After all, an in-form and six years younger Andy Murray still needed five sets to take out the less than one hundred percent Federer.
He may have lost this match, but Roger Federer is, and always will be, a warrior.
Everyone would do best not to forget it.