where now?

Eras pass. Successors are anointed. Crowns are won and crowns are shattered. Belief withers away.

Last night, all of this might have happened. Indeed, some of it began earlier, even a year ago. But something else happened too. My heart broke.
It knew it was at odds with my head, which favoured the irrepressible force of nature; that fierce, incomparable athlete who is terrible and beautiful to behold. Rafa would win. Yet it was also a heart that suddenly filled with hope and expectancy as I witnessed, almost impossibly it seemed, another titanic struggle.

Federer’s game has always been about the grace and fluidity, and seeming effortless nonchalance. It’s a quality that sometimes is put in the shade by a more energetic, brutal, muscled style. Yesterday his grace was intact, for the most part; but hidden beneath that veneer of elegance was a vacuum. I could see the edge, his edge, only fleetingly. He grappled with it, trying to hold on to it. Clutching it and riding it to take the match into a fifth set, when finally it appeared like his desperate hold had strangled it. Squeezed out of it, and him, the struggling belief that had somehow managed to carry him this far.

It is this Belief that seems surely and almost tragically small now, dwarfed by the oppressive visage of his nemesis. A few times in the past year has it been said that something small and deadly has entered this superhero’s psyche- the insidious tentacle of doubt. Yesterday it slowly clawed into his soul. By the final act, whatever had brought him thus far was gone, gouged out. The reaching darkness inside of him pointed to the glowing Kryptonite across the court- “He is, and you can’t be. He will, and you can’t. He glows, you burn. There is nothing you can do.”

Later, he wept. The implacable fa├žade, the beautiful control, it all crumbled. He shed tears for an evaporated dream. But who knows, it seemed also like he wept in despair. He wept to see his self belief wither. He wept in frustration, and maybe even fear- unacknowledged, unsettling, unknown- where now?

3 thoughts:

Perakath Monday, February 02, 2009  

Federer's name will always be associated with Nadal, and vice versa. Neither dominates the other in totality, and I doubt they ever will.

(I was rooting for F too.)

Anonymous Tuesday, February 03, 2009  

The clash of the heart and mind.... I was there too...

Saurabh Somani Monday, February 16, 2009  

Just discovered your blog recently. Interesting stuff. I too was heartbroken on the day of the Australian Open finals. My own take on the match is here:

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