Quotable Quotes: the New Yorker on Roger Federer, Zen-Master.
Oh goody. The June 28th edition of the New Yorker will feature a profile on Roger Federer.
Calvin Tomkins, a staff writer at the NYer mostly known for his writings on art, talks in a podcast about Bill Tilden, John McEnroe and Roger Federer, who he claims to be the best player he’s ever seen.
Here are a few snippets from the conversation.
Tomkins on meeting Federer:
“He’s surprisingly articulate … the famous athlete has usually given to the cliche. And in tennis, there’s an unavoidable cliche: they all “he played incredible“, not “he played incredible tennis“. [Grammar nazi!] Now Roger doesn’t speak like that. He’s thoughtful, he’s humorous. He’s a very lively personality, but he doesn’t make a show of it.”
You know that feeling, when someone says everything you’ve ever wanted to say but didn’t know how to say?
“I find that people who don’t really watch the game say he’s boring, he’s dull, he’s not exciting. But that’s absolutely untrue. I find that watching Federer is tremendously exciting. His emotions are under tight control. But that control intensifies the excitement of watching this kind of perfection on the court. He does everything better than anybody else has ever done.”
Tomkins goes on to talk about the first time he’s ever met Federer at the Houston Masters Cup in 2004. It is almost like the story of an affair. Not knowing a lot about Federer at that point, Tomkins went to the tournament hoping to see a bit of Andy Roddick. Andy never made it to the finals, but by that time, Tomkins was bewitched by someone else. “To me, [Roger] was the best tennis player I had ever seen.”
And he’s seen plenty-a tennis players, Bill Tilden included. That makes it the two of us, Tomkins, who were converted to Federeralism by Andy Roddick. Although in vastly different ways.
As an art writer, Tomkins discussed the similarities between “art” and “tennis”.
“Tennis is a highly complicated game, and with those two, McEnroe and Federer, it involves a great deal of creative thinking, imagination, and chess-like setting up a point 2 or 3 shots ahead … I think you actually do get an approximation of the creative process … [does he think all tennis players are artists?] err not every tennis player is an artist, but a few of them have been, and those are the ones that you really love to watch.”
Want more? You can listen to the 12 minute podcast here: New Yorker. The issue comes out next week.
One last thing to mention before I head off on my assignment frenzy (it’s that time of the year): there is an uncommonly high number of artists, writers and opera singers who adore Roger Federer. It’s not surprising, but you know it makes you feel so infuriatingly smug about your taste.
Don’t even try to deny it. *infuriatingly smug* 😛