Congrats to Nole, who beat Feddy Bear in the finals of the BNP Paribas Open March 16 in Indian Wells, Calif. 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3). (That was the tournament Nole was headed to after he played at Madison Square Garden on World Tennis Day, another BNP Paribas event.)
But apparently, the big news out of the California desert is that Roger Federer is back in the top five at age 32. A larger racket, a healed back and the hiring of Stefan Edberg – yet another 1980s star coaching players who were born in that decade – as adviser have all been credited with FedEx’s renewal. (They call them Fedberg. Cute.)
But might not Rog’s resurgence also be a response to the ascent of a certain countryman, alias “Stan the Man” Wawrinka, who has become the No. 1 ranked player in their native Switzerland?
Remember this was the same Wawrinka that Feddy seemed to blame during a Davis Cup loss and then when his comments were parsed as less than elegantly Federer-like suggested that the press misinterpreted his French. Yeah, right. This year Stan breaks through to win the Australian Open and all of a sudden Roger is playing Davis Cup – not always his cup of chamomile – and beating Nole in Dubai, a city that they might as well rename Nole-land, because of his success in the year-end tournament there. But back to Roger: Stan’s rise seems to have had a certain competitive effect, n’est pas? Like the characters in my new novel “Water Music,” these guys just hate to lose.
Anyway, good to see Nole back on track. Now we need Rafa and Andy to join them. So funny. Rafa blazed through three-quarters of 2013 to take the No. 1 ranking away from Nole, then proceeded to lose to him all fall and early winter. He injured his back against Stan in the Aussie Open final and hasn’t played that well since. Speaking of backs, Andy’s still recovering from surgery on his. How tennis matches, seasons, careers turn on a dime.
Come on, guys: You don’t want Stan to be the last man standing, would you? Although he didn’t play that well in Indian Wells.
But then becoming a champ is apparently easier than remaining one. Which brings us back to Fed. Gotta give him credit – not easy for me to do since I still think there’s a certain superciliousness in his treatment of his peers – but Fed’s like the Energizer Bunny.
Maybe he just loves what he does.