22 Mar Why I Hate Roger Federer
Why I Hate Roger Federer
Mar. 22, 2019
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I once ran away from home in a Cleveland mall.
I was a young teenager and I was playing in a high-level tennis tournament in Cleveland, Ohio.
In the first round, I played someone I thought I could beat (which was everyone) and did not do well. I did so poorly, in fact, that I decided severe punishments were in order.
In an attempt to soothe an insane young boy, my poor mother took me to a mall to try to make me feel better. She obviously didn’t understand the gravity of my horribleness.
So I sat angrily in the car and told her to just go in without me. The plan was to get her to go in and then run away. Due to my unforgivable transgression of losing, I had decided the best thing for me was to live alone, wandering the Cleveland suburbs for all eternity.
Did I mention this was during a blizzard?
Did I mention that, before hatching my runaway plan, I had stuffed my whole tennis bag into a huge snowbank right outside the club’s front door?
As it turns out, I didn’t run away from home. I eventually allowed myself to rejoin society and finish the tournament.
Obviously, losing had made me a bit unhinged, but I was young then. I had time to learn the lessons of life.
About ten years later, I was playing an adult tournament against one of my buddies. I considered myself the heavy favorite because I had beaten him before in matches and in practice. There wasn’t any money on the line. It was just a local tournament played for fun.
Unfortunately, I played badly that day and lost to my friend.
So, after losing match point, I walked up to the net, shook his hand, and congratulated him.
Then I walked immediately to the back fence and launched all my racquets one at a time over the fence and out onto the football field that was close to the court. There was no way to enter the football field on the weekends, which was an integral part of my plan. I wanted all of my racquets to be gone forever.
Did I mention I had friends there watching me?
Later, as I was hanging out with my “fans” and dealing with their hesitant, worried stares, my friend came up and handed me my racquets. He had somehow gotten through a gate and retrieved them for me. (That still might be one of the nicest gestures of all time.)
Obviously, losing still made me a bit of a psycho. But I was in my 20s then. I was still learning life’s wisdom.
Several years later, I was coaching a college team. We were playing a good team but their coach didn’t have the tennis background I had. There was no way my team could lose to a team who didn’t have an experienced tennis expert guiding them.
After the defeat, in a calm, reasonable manner, I gathered my team together as I always did after matches. Then I paused to wait for the other team’s van to turn the corner and go out of view.
Then I smashed my racquet into several pieces on a concrete curb, said something crazy, and told everyone to go back to their dorms.
When the team was gone, I wandered the streets for an indeterminate amount of time and then went and sat on the tennis courts alone in the dark.
For me, winning was the only thing. Winning was all that mattered. And losing was an unforgivable sin.
Losing meant I was worthless, and that mad me sad and angry and insecure.
But isn’t that what you’re supposed to do when you lose?
Last Sunday, Roger Federer lost to Dominic Thiem at Indian Wells. Coming in, Thiem had only won 3 matches all year and he’d just played a long match the day before. Clearly, Roger was the overwhelming favorite to win.
Furthermore, Roger was trying for a record 6th Indian Wells title and his 101st title of his career (second-most all time).
And at 5-all in the third set, with Roger leading 30-15, he tried an ill-advised drop shot that Thiem ran down and hit for a winner. Then, unbelievably, Roger did it again. Drop shot Federer, point to Thiem.
Thirty seconds later Thiem had the game and four minutes later Thiem had the match.
Keep in mind, Federer had two match points last year in the final against Del Potro and did the exact same thing! He hit two drop shots, lost both points, and lost the match.
If ever there was a time to run away from home or smash a racquet, this was it.
And do you know what that jerk Roger Federer said after the match?
“I’m not too disappointed. I feel like he had to come up with the goods, and it did feel like to some extent it was on my racquet. [I] just came up against somebody who was, on the day, a bit better when it really mattered.
That’s how it goes. Sure, it’s frustrating and disappointing and sad to some extent. But look, I have been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly”. Federer added: “I feel like I’m actually playing good tennis.”
He just took a gut-wrenching lost and…acted reasonably while extracting the positives?
If that had been me, I would’ve awakened in a gutter after blacking out in a rage-filled coma.
But Federer instead handled it effortlessly and is excited to play the next event?
I hate him.
I hate him for showing how easy it is to learn from losing, how it’s no big deal.
I hate him for making me realize all the time I wasted with my tantrums.
But, of course, I don’t really hate him.
Because it doesn’t matter when we learn stuff, as long as we learn it.
So that’s why I’ll still marvel at Federer for as long as he continues to play.
He’ll always be my favorite sports person, and I’ll always support him.
Win or tie.
My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.