Fail better.


A few years ago, while having dinner with a group of Federer fans, we came to the topic (as we do always) of Nadal.

“I still think Federer has a best-of-5 set win over Nadal in him,” I declared to the table, and was promptly mocked back to Basel.

“Nadal’s too in his head!” everyone said.

“It’s a bad match up for Roger!”

“Nah, it’s over.”

But somehow, I believed. Partly because I’m naturally inclined to optimistic delusions, and partly because – Federer being the kitschy fairytale that he is – this was precisely the kind of plot line that Federer’s career needed. The ageing veteran conquering his achilles heel. Beating the one rival who always eluded him. Redemption in the most emphatic of ways.

As his compatriot would quote:

Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try Again. Fail again. Fail better.

This time, he failed better.

And make no mistake, he failed plenty in the final – going down a double break in the second set after playing first strike tennis most of the first set, losing momentum in the fourth after breadsticking Rafa just the previous set, taking a medical time out only to come out cold in the fifth and going down an early break.

But I kept thinking back to one of his more insightful moments in the semifinal post-match interview, when Federer acknowledged that his early losses against Rafa on clay affected the way he played him on other surfaces.

This level of insight was something that – just a few years back – he would get defensive about. Confronting and admitting the mental aspect of his struggles against Nadal appears to have been liberating, and this time, despite failing throughout the match to maintain momentum, Federer kept on asking the question, and found the answer to #18.

What else is left to say? 6 months off. Ranked #17. Coming into the tournament as the underdog no one talked about. Beats 4 top 10 players en route to the title. Defeats his greatest rival in 5 sets after being down a break in the fifth. And with this win, he has gone semifinals or better in his last FIVE grand slams. We could not have scripted this any better.

Happy 18th Roger. You just came of a whole new age.



(You didn’t think I wouldn’t resurface for THIS did ya?)


10 responses to “Fail better.”

  1. sao says :

    yes,I did…
    For years following your blog, I knew the day would come!
    Thank you for all the funny, sad, enthousiastic, stupid, biased, …posts you shared with all your RF fanatic friends from all over the world!

  2. Matt Zemek says :

    Nailed it, Mistress Doots. Nailed it to the wall like the 95 Theses Martin Luther nailed to the Wittenberg door 500 frickin’ years ago.

  3. Marco Iacoboni says :

    Greatest match ever 😄🎾😎

  4. Stephen says :

    I always believed he could do it. Because Roger Federer is one of that rare breed: someone who can transcend his own limitations. Most of us, even most of the best of us, reach a certain point of achievement and then just stop. Not Federer–he always keeps seeking to go beyond what he has achieved. To him there’s no such thing as a mountain too tall to be climbed. And he climbed it yesterday.

    Darkness may be descending over the world in so many ways, but one ray of light still shines out through the gloom.

  5. Michelle Early says :

    I totally expected to hear from you today!!!

  6. K. CHAE says :

    i’ve just published my little blog on this match as well and I came across yours. Beautifully written. I too have believed he had that one match in him. I am so glad he has came through.

  7. Deborah Taylor (@shackle52) says :

    Doots, this did my heart a world of good to read your special take on Roger’s victory. Love, love how he figured it out. He never gave up and that was a beautiful thing to watch, even in the wee hours in my dark bedroom in far off North America! Thanks for this!

  8. Sue Whiteside says :

    Woo Hoo Doots !! Brilliant post! Wogie is just amazing!! Just knew you would have to write something, and you nailed it!!

  9. lapinroyal says :

    Just like that a Fedal final bring you back to PicketFence… ❤️

  10. Sita says :

    I used to be a regular Federbitch here when this blog was in its prime 6-7 years ago . Had to visit the head bitch’s blog after witnessing the most amazing fairy tale that unfolded 🙂

    What do I say ? To see the man fighting against all odds and beating his nemesis in the unlikeliest of circumstances when even the most die hard fan had given up hope of him beating Nadal in a best of 5 was an out of the world experience…I’d always wonder why destiny is so cruel to him as to not give him some closure for all the losses to Nadal in slams for a decade now but was resigned to believing that there are no fairy tale endings in the real world. Still pinching myself to make sure this is for real…

    Group hug to everyone here, this one will be savored for a long time as you say.

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