Roger Federer: Platonic Form and Trusted Man
I know Roger Federer would like to get one more run at #1 to tie or break Pete Sampras’ record 286 weeks as the top player in the world. Somehow, I think Roger must be excited about being the second most respected person in the world!?!?! Nelson Mandela is #1 in the recent survey, but Federer at #2 is pretty awesome for the Fed and for tennis in general. How much does this end the once popular notion of tennis players all being self-absorbed petulant people with a knack for throwing memorable temper tantrums?
Can He Catch Mandela?
I like Roger’s chances on grass against Mandela. Still, Roger trails Mandela by a decent margin. Bill Gates is always a threat to go deep and help Rotary International eradicate polio. Richard Branson is launching a project to innovate how humans produce electricity. Bono is always a factor. Still, none of these contenders are the Platonic Form of a tennis player like Federer.
Tennis and the Common Good
In all seriousness, Federer’s organization of the Hit for Haiti, the tennis efforts after the 2005 Tsunami as well as efforts aimed at Chile, Japan and Australia during various disasters is something special. Federer, Andre Agassi, Steffi Graf, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Roddick among others all have active foundations. If one adds the work of Arthur Ashe and Billy Jean King, it is plausible to say that tennis is the socially conscious sport.
Does this Mean Anything in the GOAT Debate?
Probably not, but Roger Federer’s good citizenship is obviously part of his legacy.
Does Isner Have a Chance?
I thought Gilles Simon would get enough returns in play to dominate John Isner in rallies. I figured Isner might win one set in a tie-break, but that Simon would be too much. I was wrong. Can he beat Andy Murray?
The positive side of me thinks Isner has one of the top 5 serves in the world, has played great tennis this Summer with 2 titles and 1 runner-up finish prior to this US Open, and has just faced an ideal sparring partner for preparing for Andy Murray. Also, Murray has had a habit of head scratching losses and lapses of concentration during matches. If Isner can take two sets off of Rafa on clay, then to paraphrase George C. Scott in Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb, “Hell yeah, he’s got a chance!“
However, it is a puncher’s chance. If Andy Murray plays up to his potential, he will beat Isner and reach his fourth Grand Slam semifinal of 2011.
Roddick vs. Rafa
Andy Roddick has a great chance of advancing to the semifinal round of the 2011 US Open. For one, Roddick has felt disrespected. His play at Wimbledon in 2009 versus Andy Murray was fueled in part by Lleyton Hewitt implying that Roddick had no chance of beating Murray. Roddick is mad at John McEnroe, mad at the USTA and mad at tennis writers in general. Roddick versus the world, plus a favorable crowd, plus a surface that Rafa has never loved means Roddick can play up his over the hill underdog status and attempt to shock the world. I may be crazy, but I am going to pick Roddick to win in 4 tight sets.
Nadal may also be in a no quarter sort of mood given the scheduling of the US Open. If both guys come out snarling at the world and the powers that be in tennis, this could be an instant classic.