As a longtime tennis afficionado (and a varsity player myself back in high school), my favorite player has always been Pete Sampras. Pistol Pete was handsome, gracious, humble — and a hell of a server. The guy could hit a dime on the service line and leave a scorch mark to boot. So I hated Roger Federer when he came out of relative anonymity in 2001 to knock Sampras out of Wimbledon, which was for all intents and purposes Pete’s tournament.
It’s been six years since then, and the former “Swiss teen” has grown up and won an unbelievable 10 major titles. During the Australian Open, he didn’t lose a single set — a feat that hasn’t been done in a major tournament in 27 years. He’s 25 years old and literally within a year or two of knocking down Sampras’ record for total major victories (14) if he doesn’t get injured. To put things in perspective, Tiger Woods is 30 years old and has 12 major titles. Federer could outpace him by September.
And while Tiger is a formidable player and the best in golf, Federer is literally unstoppable. I’ve heard him described as a “tennis-playing machine.” I think he’s a walking textbook on how to play a perfect game. As much as I love Sampras, Fed is just better. His game is perfect; he has no weakness, no shot that isn’t a weapon. He can serve, he can rally, he can attack the net. He hits every shot deep, hard and with plenty of spin, and tactically he’s on some Alexander the Great stuff, battering balls from corner to corner like there’s no tomorrow.
That’s not the half of it. Watching him last night, he had about one poor game, one in which he knocked a few forehands out of bounds — but unlike most players, who would’ve tanked and lost the set, he regained his confidence and went about obliterating poor Fernando Gonzalez.
What Roger Federer is doing right now is ridiculous, unprecedented, and being virtually ignored. He’s doing things that are miraculous in sports; in tennis, he’s shredding records by the minute. And yet, he can’t get the headline story on ESPN.com (…at least not this morning). He certainly can on this humble MP3 blog.
Gang Starr – “No Shame In My Game”: mp3
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