05 July 2009

Numbers, screaming

You know how I effectively said, after Roger Federer won the French Open, that the stats and records he's notching up are essentially just symbols — earthly representations of something that cannot be adequately rendered as such?

Yeah, well, fuck that. Symbols matter. A fifteenth major, at Wimbledon, in front of Sampras, Borg and Laver, against an immense opponent in Andy Roddick, in a match which featured a thirty-game deciding set...How's that for a symbol?


joao jorge 5/7/09 8:36 PM  

speaking of numbers, is the "15" on the jacket of Federer, fair game (given that it is tennis and not some other sport)?

Fredorrarci 5/7/09 8:39 PM  

What do you mean by "fair game"?

joao jorge 5/7/09 9:15 PM  

As in appropriate to the occasion.

I've already saw huge discussions on other blogs about this "Jacket 15" thing and how it could be evidence of a certain arrogance on the part of Federer, that would contradict the universal image he has.

this being tennis and not the "game of the people" i wonder if different standards apply...

j 5/7/09 10:35 PM  

is it any different than phil jackson wearing that roman numeral X hat after the lakers won last month? some achievements warrant such posturing; federer at this point is no exception. and really, how could he not be at least the slightest bit arrogant when every third question he's been asked today is whether he's the greatest of all time?

and as an American, I felt more proud to be thanks to Andy today than I did yesterday and all other Fourths i've experienced combined.

Fredorrarci 5/7/09 11:29 PM  

Correct me if I'm wrong, but Jackson didn't bring the hat along himself, did he? Was it handed to him by a member of the Lakers staff or something? The difference there would be that it was not pre-meditated like Federer's "15". But then, we do see football teams do similar things -- Barcelona had their REI DE COPAS (if my spelling is correct) jerseys out after winning the Copa del Rey, for example. Perhaps what Federer did seems more arrogant to some because he is an individual player rather than a team? I'm not sure. I don't see much difference between Federer and Barca here, myself.

I reckon Nike have something to do with all this, anyway. After the match, the BBC played what looked like a Nike ad (this being the BBC, they cut away before the logo was revealed at the end) featuring Sampras, Serena, McEnroe and others congratulating Federer on his fifteenth major. The slogan at the end was LOVE FIFTEEN. So I would imagine Federer's embroidery is tied into this.

Oh, and Roddick was simply marvellous. As happy as I was to see Federer win, it wasn't nice to see Roddick lose. It somehow doesn't seem right that he's stuck on one slam.

Elliott 5/7/09 11:53 PM  

Andy's backhand and netgame have gotten sooooo much better. I remember 2005 when the term "horse" basically described his approach to the game - power, power, and more power. I'm proud of him, even if its another runners-up trophy for the US of A.

Mark 6/7/09 11:05 AM  

Fred - it was a Nike cutaway - there's a post about that on SWS today - from the BBC, that's weeeaaak.

There is a certain arrogance to some of the things that Federer has said of late, but I think it's quite understandable. Given the dedication and perseverence it has taken him to get this far, he must be fairly familiar with the history of tennis. And if he knows that statistically now his achievements outstrip every other tennis player's in history, then surely excess humility ("no, other guys are better than me" style) would be nothing but farcical and fake self-deprecation. The only way he'd ever have got as far as 15 Slams is by possessing an improbable level of self-belief.

Why stop now?

Brian 6/7/09 1:52 PM  

I don't think he's arrogant, exactly. I think he's a sort of naturally goofy guy who's being big-upped in a second language at moments of extreme, exhausted happiness. He seems to enjoy the affirmation, but under the circumstances "Yeah, it's been an amazing career, it's crazy" seems more like the statement of someone unguardedly trying to share a good mood than someone with a deep sense of personal superiority. Sampras's aloofness always seemed more arrogant to me than Federer's genial self-praise.

That said, I do wish he'd stop showing up for these moments dressed like a Bond villain on a ski weekend. I blame Nike for the "15," but the special little warm-up outfits and monogrammed racket bags have to go beyond that.

joao jorge 6/7/09 5:29 PM  

I agree, Mr. Fredorrarci, that the "Jacket 15" issue would not be in a football or basketball environment.

My initial question centered around that difference. Is there a difference in standards between Tennis and other sports? And is this difference (if existing) creating a distance between the popular masses and this sport? And could it be that someone, among the powers that be that govern this sport, is actually trying to do something to end (or prolong) such distance?

All this comes back to the media clips that surrounded Wimbledon. Grunting, Tennis Babes and fashion statements were the issues that echoed in the main stream media, as much as Federer's 15th Grand Slam. The treatment given to each of this issues is, in someway, a sign of the current tension between the sports elitist origins and it's demands for popular acceptance, in order to remain a sport of global appeal.

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