In Roger Federer’s British garden, there’s a sense you’re standing on sacred ground. A place that feels special. There’s a tingling sensation which courses through your body. It’s the sensory realization that you’re taking in the magnificent splendor of the most decorated singles champion in Wimbledon’s 53 open era years. Federer’s 8 titles at the English Grand Slam are the standing record. But it’s his overall Grand Slam’s titles record (20) that his main rival, Novak Djokovic, is frothing at the mouth to match. However, the hunger also is present with the newcomers. World number 2, Daniil Medvedev, French open finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas and the promising German Alexander Zverev are all able and ready to crash the garden party.
The newcomers are over a decade younger than Federer and are often victims of a lack of experience in high pressure situational points. They have the tennis ability to succeed but not the mentality to overcome calls that don’t drop their way. Nor the resolve to dig deep and come back from a couple of game breaks down. It just hasn’t been visible yet. Until they beat Federer in his backyard, these talented and young tennis players won’t get the credit and respect they will undoubtedly, someday, deserve. That doesn’t mean they won’t deliver on their promising talent at this year’s Wimbledon. Theoretically, they have younger legs which means more stamina. A strength that could be used to their advantage by using the format at Wimbledon to extend matches. The longer a match goes the more likely they will outlast their older opponents. Not only do you have to outlast Federer in his garden, but you also must outthink him.
In the era of Federer dominance, there have only been two men capable of outthinking him. One is Rafael Nadal, but he’s injured and won’t be playing at Wimbledon. The other is the Serbian sniper Novak Djokovic. The Serb enters Wimbledon after picking up his 19th Grand Slam title at the French Open this year. He now only needs one more to match Federer for most career Grand Slam Titles. The stage is set for a confident Djokovic as momentum is with him. He’s mentally on the offensive since he’s after a record while Federer, although ahead, is on the defensive trying to deny the Serb a seat with him and Nadal. The only issue for Djokovic would be health reasons. Winning the French open took a lot out of his body and we could see the Serbian pulling out if he slides or falls awkwardly. Still, Novak Djokovic is the better equipped, the more experienced and therefore the main rival this year game in Federer’s backyard.
Federer is touching 40 years old. In tennis years that’s beyond the retirement age. His body, his mind and his spirit have gone passed the allotted mileage by a long way so no there’s no logical stance to suggest that he will win a 9th Wimbledon singles’ title. Which is why Roger Federer is running the emotional campaign. The fans at Wimbledon will be behind him. His supporters from the Swiss Alps to the decadent skyscrapers of Dubai and down to the sandy beaches of Sydney will be sending all their love to their champion. Because he has been, from one point or another, our collective champion. His tennis has been outstanding throughout his career and his attitude has been exemplary. There is no one that has the temerity to utter a bad word towards a gentleman like Roger Federer. Wimbledon is his garden and, out courtesy, we should all treat our host with the dignity and respect that he has earned and deserve.