Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roger Federer or: Why Sleep is Useless In the Face of Greatness

Posted By on Sun, Jan 31, 2010 at 11:21 PM

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Do you know, I actually got up out of bed to watch the Australian Open men's final? Yup, 2:30 in the morning, and I'm sitting there on my sofa, blinking owlishly at the television and trying to wake up enough to follow a tennis match. 

So why, you ask, would I get out of bed in the middle of the night to watch tennis? Well, that's an excellent question. I got out of bed in the middle of the night to watch tennis because Roger Federer was playing, and when Roger Federer is playing, things like waking up in the middle of the night are perfectly justified. 

So why is it worth getting up in the middle of the night to watch Roger Federer? Because in all the world of sports, he may be the single most dominant athlete right now. Because every time Roger Federer walks onto a court somewhere, there is the potential you're watching history. 

Federer is the all-time leader in men's Grand Slam victories, and he's probably got at least a few more in him. When he lifted that trophy earlier today, it was number sixteen in his career, giving him two more than Pete Sampras, and Federer is still only 28 years old. Sure, that's well past the typical prime years for tennis players, who seem to peak somewhere in the 23-25 range, but certainly nowhere near the glue factory yet. By the time Federer is done, he may not only have set the record for Grand Slam titles, he may have gone all Jerry Rice on them, setting the bar so far beyond everyone else that it's almost impossible to imagine anyone passing him. 

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​That's why it's worth pretty much whatever you have to do to watch Federer play now. With Lance Armstrong officially retired to a life of hocking fitness products, Barry Bonds out of baseball due to some bad nerve tonic, and Tiger Woods at least temporarily cooling his heels in a facility specializing in the treatment of HWD (Hyperactive Wang Disorder), Federer is the only athlete in the world who has the chance to do something truly historic every time he plays. 

And on Sunday, Federer did not disappoint. He made Andy Murray, a remarkably talented tennis player, look like a rank amateur out there at times. Sure, there were missed opportunities for Murray, but watching the match, one could see that even if Murray had played a perfect match, he wasn't going to beat Federer. Not this day. Maybe someday, but most definitely not today. 

So was it worth it? Was it worth getting up just an hour and a half after I went to bed to watch tennis, when I could easily have just set the DVR and watched it at a more normal hour of the day? 

In a word, yes. Yes it was. Greatness doesn't come around just any old time. Sometimes it only comes at 2:30 in the morning. And greatness is always, always worth it. 

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