In a leaf from the Rich Get Richer Department, Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick have started their own sports agency, Team8, to which they’ve signed Teddy bear-ish Argentine star Juan Martin del Potro and up-and-coming Grigor Dimitrov, aka “Baby Fed,” Maria Sharapova’s boyfriend, Serena Williams’ ex. In the dictionary, his picture appears next to the word “player.”
I’ve never liked Roger Federer, which is probably why I love the blog Pseudo Fed and Jimmy Fallon's impersonation so much. Both capture what I perceive to be the sheer cluelessness of his self-absorption and superciliousness in hilarious fashion. I particularly dislike the faux Rafa lovefest and the dismissive way he treats Nole, although I think Nole’s family had hand in that early on.
And yet, there is much to like about Feddy. No one is more elegant on the court – or for that matter, off it. No one looks better in a jacket sans tie, or in his tennis gear with one leg crossed in front of the other in a Mercedes-Benz ad, casually tossing up a ball.
It’s not just superficial. As president of the ATP Players Council, FedEx has fought for more prize money for the guys who get knocked out of the tournaments early. He organized the “Hit for Haiti,” which was one of the best disaster fundraisers I’ve seen. His move into sports talent agency – just don’t call him Jerry Maguire – will clearly prove a canny segue from a playing career that must one day end.
He’s beloved by people of class, drive, intelligence and talent – the pianists Misha and Cipa Dichter, the late novelist David Wallach, who wrote about him as if he were a mystical experience and tastemaker Anna Wintour. Indeed, to see the picture of Anna with her arm on his shoulder at his birthday party before the US Open last year is to see a portrait of all the longing a woman can have for a man who will never be hers. (Although lately, Anna has been cheating on Fed with Nole and his fiancée, Jelena Ristic – even posing Nole fetchingly in a Speedo, so we mustn’t feel too bad for dear Anna.)
Then why the hate? I guess I’m too much of a Nadalista – there, I’ve said it – to embrace Fed the way my baby sister, whom I like to call Gina Federina, has. And I resent the G.O.A.T. stuff. The greatest of all time may not have been born yet. Frankly, the greatest tennis player I ever saw was Rod Laver. He won the Grand Slam in the calendar year – none of this career Grand Slam stuff over time – not once but twice. And off the court, he was just a bloke. But, of course, that was a different time.
I also hate what hating anyone but especially someone I don’t even know does to you. It’s such an absurd, useless emotion. I hate hating the Red Sox. I hate hating Roger Federer. And yet, perhaps without that, I wouldn’t know the wondrous joy and pain of having loved so many heroes I’ve never known and mourning their loss.
There’s a great YouTube video about Fed losing to Rafa at Wimbledon in 2008 and the Australian Open the following year set to Ross Copperman’s “They’ll Never Know.”
It makes you feel for the guy – almost. But hey, he’ll never know.