Aus Open 2014: Shine on.
Don’t you miss that feeling when Roger Federer comes out of the players’ tunnel and quickly shimmy-shimmies his way around court like he was made of SHINE?
It’s been so long since Federer’s played a match this clean against a top quality opponent. So long since he’s made it to the quarterfinals (okay, two slams. But that’s so long for Mr Shiny). So long since we’ve heard the clichéd use of terms like “vintage Federer”, “full flight” and “majestic” by commentators lacking in vocabulary.
But wasn’t it precisely “vintage Federer” tonight? A timely reminder of the reason why none of us are quite ready to do without him in this sport just yet.
Winning 6-3 7-5 6-4 over Tsonga in 112 minutes, Federer hit 43 winners to 21 unforced errors, including a few backhands down-the-lines so deep I could see Adele rolling in it. He also won 34/41 points at the net, which accounts for precisely 34% of his total points won.
“Aaah. Edberg,” chants a chorus of media commentators. I’m not sure how much of it was Stefan Edberg’s doing. It doesn’t seem like Fedberg has been working long enough for that kind of visible effect just yet. And let’s not forget that some credit is due to the rest of Federer’s team, including his actual, full-time coach, Severin Luthi, who has no doubt been working closely him during the pre-season on fitness and tactics. But all that aside, those net stats do seem like an appropriate homage to Mr Edberg by a charge keen to impress his childhood idol.
In his post-match press conference, Federer jokes that he’s started another streak of 36 quarterfinals in a row. But all jokes aside, this is his 41st grand slam quarter-final, equaling the record of Jimmy Connors in Open Era.
At the start of the tournament, I said that I go into grand slams these days with adjusted expectations for McFudd: make it to the second week and the rest is gravy. And now that we’re squarely into the second week, “gravy” comes in the form of Murray, Nadal and Djokovic. I rate his chances against Murray. I don’t rate his chances against the Rafole. At the end of the day, we’re faced with an improbable task ahead, but one worth going down swinging for.
Shine on, McFudd.