It was not to be. It was not to be. If Federer had won one of the match points and won today’s Wimbledon final 9-7 in the fifth set, what a closure it would have been to the heartbreaks of 2010 and 2011 US Open semi-finals, both of which he lost to Djokovic after holding two match points. The semifinals this Wimbledon against Nadal felt definitely like a closure to that heartbreaker of a Wimbledon 2008 final. It really would have been poetic justice if Federer had won the final too today 9-7 in the fifth set, the same score by which he lost to Nadal in the 2008 Wimbledon final.
Those were my thoughts as I was following that game at 8-7 in the fifth set. Well, it didn’t work out quite that way. There was no closure. Then again, Federer isn’t one who plays for closures. Nor does he play to be the greatest. Nor does he play to chase and break records.
If we, as fans, feel so dejected after that loss, how must Federer feel? He looked really sad during that trophy presentation. Then again, there’s nobody like Federer to move on from losses. And therein lies his greatness.
There are many records that people talk about. Grand slams, winning streaks, match wins, titles, and so on. I am not sure if it is well-recorded how well a player bounces back from losses. Federer will be right up there. As I had written earlier too, there were so many times he bounced back by winning the next tournament he played after a big loss. An excellent proof point would be those few months leading culminating in winning 2012 Wimbledon after the heartbreaking 2011 US Open semifinal loss.
He is probably the best long-termist and short-termist when he needs to be so and that balanced approach to everything in his life including tennis makes him who he is. He has always planned for a long career and he has always been a short-termist in dwelling on losses. In a match too, the short-termist point-for-point mentality, as they say, is required and so is the long-term endurance and mental fortitude to battle through a five-set match.
As the saying goes, Life is a game, play it. And Roger knows only too well how to do that.