Saturday, September 12, 2015

US Open Update

A wise person leads with this. Hilarious and charming. In the other women's semifinal, Simona Halep of Romania, the number 2 seed, was upset by another unseeded Italian, Flavia Pennetta. What are we doing here, making wine?

Over on the men's side, the world number 1 and top seed, Novak Djokovic, rolled into the final in straight sets over the defending US Open champion, Marin Cilic. Seriously, though, this dude is scary. If he wins, that will be his third major this year, and 10th for his career.

In the other semifinal, the great Roger Federer rolled over 2015 French Open champion and fellow countryman, Stan Wawrinka, in a mere 92 minutes. Wawrinka is the guy who upset Djokovic in the French Open final to prevent him from being in position to win all four majors in a calendar year (the "Grand Slam"). Wawrinka is the 5th ranked player in the world; Federer made him look like a qualifier.

If Roger Federer wins, it would add an all-time leading 18th major to his total, and his 6th US Open. He is certainly cementing his legacy as the greatest male player of all time. For guys this great, there is no prime, no twilight, and no seeming end. What if he simply retires because he is bored? On the other hand, he is driven to dominate. He does it with great class and respect for opponents, but he's a fierce competitor. I think he wants to be the world #1 player again, and he believes he can be. It's patently absurd that he's #2 at this stage, anyway. Why not? I'll never question Federer again. His run to the Wimbledon title and reclaiming the #1 ranking was just as unlikely in 2012, but he did both.

That was more than 3 years ago now. All the way back in 2010, the media began to ask, "Is the greatest ever finally done winning major titles?" No. And his greatness is proved by being a consistent threat to win more in 2015. We can take nothing away from these other recent major champions, most of which are new in reaching this elite level. But don't bury the lede, as they say: "Federer Still Here, As Great As Ever."

You need to tune in, while you still can. I'm going to keep saying it, because the man is 34, and there's nothing really left to do in tennis, except reclaim the mountain upon which he stood, briefly unchallenged. Tennis is a deceptively brutal sport, and stays at the top are brief, unless you are Roger Federer. Age gives way to youth, unless you are Roger Federer. When Andre Agassi made his remarkable run to the final of the US Open, it was Federer who beat him. 10 years ago.

Tomorrow at 3 PM CDT, we have a chance to see if time can be defied once again. It's deeper than you realize, though: it's not a Cinderella story; Federer has made it seem commonplace for guys in their 30s to play for major titles. It isn't, and it never will be. Unless you are Roger Federer.

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