Poetic cruelty.


Hello lovelies! Apologies for my long absence. Life keeps getting in the way of my cyber-existence, and I’ve been going through some massive (but positive) changes in my life that has required me to be fully focused elsewhere.

But let’s talk Olympics, shall we?

There comes a moment when the expected happens to the expectant, and yet you are still left with a sense of disappointment that there was no miracle to stop it all from unfolding, like a Shakespearean tragedy prematurely foretold by the Chorus.

I have always said, coming into the Olympics final, that there was no way for Federer to win it. Let’s look at the factors in Murray’s favour here:

  1. Extra motivation after losing Wimbledon despite being up a set.
  2. Considerably less pressure: rather than being the sole hope of nationalistic glory in a grand slam, Murray at the Olympics is simply part of a bigger scheme – a ‘Team GB’ working towards a group medal tally. Since he is hardly the British poster child of the Olympics, much of the attention was directed away from him.
  3. A 31 year old opponent coming off a 4.5 hour match.
  4. A net that was decidedly British.

If you didn’t think Murray could and would win the Gold medal, then … you clearly didn’t think much of Murray.

Still, all credit to Murray, he had to play a calm and self-assured match and execute his game plan to come through. From the very start, Murray looked sharp, using his forehand to manoeuvre Federer around the court. In previous meetings, Murray’s serve has been a liability during key moments, for once last Sunday – it wasn’t. And it was hard not to feel some sort of redemption on Murray’s behalf as he climbed into his box in victory last Sunday, screaming: “I did it! I did it! I FINALLY won a grand- gold medal and I can’t believe … it’s not butter!

On a less serious note, the biggest question now for Murray is whether the gold medal could potentially become his shortcut to grand slam glory. There was a poignant moment during the 2010 Australian Open trophy ceremony, when a teary-eyed Ahndee apologised to the British public back home, “sorry I couldn’t do it for you“. Despite his insistance over the years that domestic pressure wasn’t the cause of his grand slam failures, it was a telling statement that Murray felt as if he was playing a grand slam final for the folks back home rather than for himself. Indeed, it was a statement that you could not imagine Roger, Rafa or even the more fiercely nationalistic Satan making.

But does it take the pressure off Murray, now that he has finally won something for his country? Does it mean that he goes into future grand slams playing solely for himself and his own pride, and not that of his country? Does it make a difference, now that he has finally beaten a top opponent in a best of 5 set final?

Or will Murray ultimately be known as the Elena Dementieva of the ATP?

As for Federer, he conceded post match that he felt as though he won silver, rather than lost gold. The problem is that he won silver when he took out del Potro in the match of the year. By the time the final came around, Federer was playing like a man running on an empty tank, physically and emotionally spent.

I said pre-match that I’d prefer nothing over a silver or bronze, not because I don’t consider silver or bronze an achievement. They are – for someone who doesn’t have 17 grand slams and almost every record in tennis.

For those with less human accolades, a silver or bronze adds very little to their legacy, and instead becomes a constant reminder of what would never to be. And let’s face it – London was Federer’s last realistic chance. In the unlikely event that Federer is still playing tennis by the time Rio comes around, the tournament would most likely be played on clay.

And so it would remain a poetic cruelty that the man who achieved almost everything in tennis would miss out on sport’s most universal prize – an Olympic gold. But in a way, Federer already knew the inevitable, going into the final.

There was a moment lost in the commotion of his win over del Potro, when Federer pulled up his shirt and kissed the Swiss flag underneath the collar. It was an understated, quiet moment amidst the violent cheering and standing ovation coming from the crowd, but it was a moment of revelation: right then and there, Roger Federer knew he had given it all. And he had won silver.

xx doots

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14 responses to “Poetic cruelty.”

  1. Deb Griffith says :

    Hi Doots, life sounds good for you at present, always good to hear !
    Take your point about the legacy of silver/bronze, but really pleased Rog won
    his medal, regardless of the colour, as it meant so much to him. Winning for Switzerland was obv something SO special to him, as you said, the kiss for the Swiss flag, and his delight in having that Silver around his neck,said it all. Agree with you that the semi was his final and left him drained. So pleased that Delp got the bronze!
    As for Andt, well, I’m a Brit, so I guess I can say ” Yay Team GB” even if yay Murray just doesn’t trip off my tongue !

  2. pban says :

    yet he does have gold only not in the discipline he excels in…..poetic cruelty yes but fate did compensate for this cruel twist.The doubles gold more than any of his trophies tells me he is truly blessed.

  3. Tournament Junkie says :

    I have always thought it was poetic that Fed would own doubles gold rather than single. The man who did it his own way has gold with a teammate. Such is life. I completely get your point about the silver except that semi win was so wonderful that am glad he got something out it forthe the Olympics. Frankly Fed was not even in the gold medal match, so I consider it a non-starter. Dismissive? A bit but it’s how I feel. Might I also say that it is good to see an athlete actually experience fatigue?

    • Katarina_YYZ says :

      I also found that doubles gold particularly moving. After all the disaster in 2008: mono, losing badly at RG and then the marathon/darkness debacle at Wimbledon. Going to #2 rank and then losing — again outside of the medal rounds — to James Blake!! You’d think he’d be depressed, bitter. And yet he competes like that in the doubles and gets the gold. Like life showing you not to give up because you really never know what’s around the next corner: maybe not what you thought you wanted, but something you didn’t even realize you needed. ;)

  4. Marcoiac says :

    Poetic luck is that I was in the air and didn’t watch the bloodshed. Who knows? Perhaps Wimbly ’12 was the last hurrah for Fed. We don’t know yet. We will know only much later. That’s the beauty of it. Every time you win, a major, a title, a match, it may be the last one. So, you better cherish it. Glad to hear there are good things keeping you away from the blog, Julie. You created an amazing little community with your posts. Every time I see a new post from you I cherish it, even when I disagree with you :) (not that there is much to disagree with this one, but sometimes it happens)

  5. Matt Zemek says :

    The Olympics are their own creature. Fed won Switzerland’s first medal of these games (not the type of medal, but he was the first to clinch some sort of medal before a teammate won gold in a non-tennis event). Under the unique nationalistic circumstances, he held up to the pressure and created an enduringly bright memory.

    No complaints here.

    SILVER YELLS! SILVER YELLS! It’s not Fed’s time to seek pity.
    SILVER YELLS! SILVER YELLS! Not on a Roger birthday! ;-)

    #ChristmasCarolTennisTweets

  6. Alex (@FedFanForever) says :

    Believe me, I’m not broken up about this. Roger gave his very soul to win a silver medal and that’s all we can ask. He honestly looked very happy for Andy and I’m happy for Fang too.

  7. Kyle Johansen (@KJOttawa) says :

    Knowing Fed, I think he could still be competing in Rio and even be in the top 20. He’l be 34 then, and we see what Haas is doing at that same age now, and we also saw what Agassi was doing at 33-35 (AO semis and quarters 04 and 05, US Open quarters and final 04 and 05), Masters Cups finals and semifinals still. I see no reason why Fed can’t at least compete in the Rio Games. Just being there would be special to say that he competed in 5 different Games as a tennis player.

  8. roadrunnerz says :

    That last paragraph is….golden. Says everything you need to know about Fed and what makes us love him.

    Getting the chance to see Fed play for Switzerland (on freaking-Wimbledon-Centre-Court, with Kate and Wills in the audience) was a dream come true for me. I’ll never forget these Olympics for that alone.

  9. flo says :

    Supposedly Rio will be hardcourts. Also it may be enough to make him hang around for 4 more years. And if silver is the best it gets that’s fine.

  10. freudoe says :

    Great to read you Doots. You make poetry with your take, but I’m still glad he won the silver (rather than notning). If he’d lost and had to play Djokovic the next day, and lost, that would have been a much higher hurdle to get over, emotionally. I’m hoping he can get enough rest one way and another to feel sharp by the US Open. We’ll see.

  11. writersbleedink says :

    Brilliantly written, you are both talented in finding words and doing so at the right time. A beautiful article and truly poetic.

  12. Nancy says :

    Glad to hear from you Doots.

    Regarding Andy, I had a feeling that he would do it for GB even if Roger didn’t have a marathon match with DelPo. I get that vibe from Andy, he can’t quite muster it up for his own glory but he can do it for his country.

    I was sad for Roger but not too sad. C’mon, he won Wimbledon, he’s back at number 1, he’s got Mirka and those yummy twins, AND he’s got that head of hair……not too shabby for an old man.

  13. Matt Zemek says :

    Reflecting out loud:

    I wonder if the passage of time (albeit only one week) has changed any views on this subject.

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