Will Roger Federer resume his magic at the Tokyo Olympics?
Exiting as the oldest Wimbledon quarter-finalist, 2-time Olympic medallist Roger Federer will look to Tokyo to conjure more magic and add the missing singles gold.
Struggling for words isn't something I am familiar with - they usually come easy, yet watching Roger Federer's reliable forehand land outside the line and all but gift Poland's Hubert Hurkacz a place in his first-ever Wimbledon semi-final, was gut-wrenching and rendered me speechless. Lagging behind at 15-40 in the sixth game of the third set, Roger Federer was propelled into alien territories, the possibility of a bagel staring at him as his humanity revealed itself - the divinity briefly cast aside in confused fluster.
For Roger Federer, who has been an 8-time Wimbledon champion and is the indisputable King of Grass - the Centre Court he treats as his Mecca transformed after he slipped at the net during the second set tie-break. Visibly shaken up, Federer walked on stranger sands and Hurkacz, all of 24, challenged his idol stiffly to make his way into the semi-finals and book a date with the seventh seeded Matteo Berrettini, winning 3-6, 6-7, 0-6.
Nursing two knee surgeries in 2020, Roger Federer aspired for a fairytale comeback much like he had scripted in 2017 - but even if history professes to repeat itself, it was not to be replicated just as yet. Seemingly struggling with his form, a match-starved, 39-year-old Roger Federer has competed in 5 events so far in 2021 and made it to the second week of both the Grand Slams he partook in - one on clay, the other on grass, which is a rave feat in itself.
At both the French Open and Wimbledon outings, the 20-time Grand Slam champion left his opponents and fans bamboozled with the streaks of magic he casually displayed and forced them to close their eyes as he committed un-Federer-like unforced errors to punctuate the magic with reality. Going ahead, with 14 days remaining now, Roger Federer's chance to get back to his winning ways are looming ahead as the Tokyo Olympics pick up. A 4-time Olympian already, Switzerland will be looking to their most celebrated athlete to fetch glory at the upcoming Games and dually, let the crowning achievement boost him.
Are we seeing the last of the magic from Roger Federer?
There was a certain kind of eeriness hanging in the air as Roger Federer packed up his kit, took his towel and got ready to head out of the hallowed grounds of the Centre Court - the crowd stood up in the most reflex manner - stuck in disbelief seeing the events unravel - as fast as they did.
Ever since Roger Federer made a comeback on the tennis circuit in March at the Qatar Open, an entire milieu of tennis aficionados tuned in to watch magic unfurl again. I'll help my case by using rhetoric here - watching a 39-year-old Roger Federer wield the racquet again was like coming to see a magician who has stayed away from the stage for a long time and is rusty with his skills, watching the Swiss Maestro these days is like getting access to a 'Limited Series', time-bound and hence, more delectable - every point played is precious, every game won is memorable and every match victored is ceremonious.
Only like the rusty magician, Roger Federer's magic shows - the cracks are hard to ignore, the hoodwinking we are familiar with is now reduced to a conditioned acceptance. The gloominess in the air was unmistakable as commentators voiced the worst of fears - 'Is this the last time we are watching Roger Federer leave the Centre Court?', 'Was this the last match Roger Federer played at Wimbledon and did he imagine it to end with a bagel - a first for him at the Big W?'.
I found myself muting the audio - unable to go on. There is one thing about players in the sunset years and quite something else to realize that yes, perhaps, the sun is indeed sinking and the dusk is upon us. Roger Federer, head bowed, a swift wave of the hand, left the court - sending people into a frenzy guessing if this was the last time, indeed and how simply, heartbreaking it must be to see the man exit his home in this fashion from the quarter-finals.
How will an Olympic gold in men's singles boost Roger Federer
The Tokyo Olympics, which is scheduled to begin with a great deal of fanfare from July 23 is sadly going to miss a lot of the top names in tennis. From 4-time Olympic gold medallist Serena Williams, to 2-time Olympic medalist Rafael Nadal and 2020 US Open winner Dominic Thiem, deciding to give the Olympics a miss, the roster of medal-favourites have narrowed down considerably.
Roger Federer, who has been a 2-time Olympic medallist as well, winning a gold medal in the men's doubles event with friend and partner, Stan Wawrinka at the 2008 Beijing Olympics before following it up with a silver medal at the 2012 London Olympics in the men's singles, is eager to participate in the Tokyo Olympics.
"My feeling is I would like to go to the Olympics," he had said in late-June. "I would like to play as many tournaments as possible. But I think we decided now let's just get through Wimbledon, sit down as a team, and then decide where we go from there," Roger Federer had mentioned in a press conference.
Recently, the Swiss Olympic Association named Roger Federer as a part of the Swiss Olympic team to go play at the Tokyo Olympics and extend his medal collection at the quadrennial Games. While it remains uncertain if Roger Federer will jump on the Olympic bandwagon given his age posing as a deterring factor and provoking the need for wise-calls, there is no doubt that Federer's outing in Tokyo will act as a morale boost, if needed at all.
Not used to such a drought of titles, Roger Federer needs to be fuelled by medals and Slams and spark his divinity alive again and in that respect, the idea of Roger Federer at the Tokyo Olympics seems like a grand opportunity at this point.
Although the Swiss legend does not have anything left to prove anymore, an Olympic gold in the men's singles is still amiss from his impressive loot over the years. Roger Federer is yet to fully give a nod to the Tokyo Olympics but he did express his desire to participate in it recently; so fans eager to watch some more of the magic need not wait for too long as the Tokyo Games begin in two weeks from now. It remains to be seen if the magician decides to pay a visit to Tokyo and chase a gold medal at his fifth Olympics, in the singles event.