Curt Schilling once said about the New York Yankees that Mystique and Aura were two exotic dancers, not what you see at Yankee Stadium.
Can the same be said about Roger Federer?
“I don’t know if it’s an advantage necessarily, because the opponent has nothing to lose,” Federer said after be beat Sam Groth, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the third round. “He can go out there and just go for it really because he’s not expected to win. I think it really depends on the personality of my opponent.”
And that goes throughout the match, especially in the third set.
“There he should have like forgotten who he’s playing and all that stuff,” he said. “By then he’s in the match. I had my opportunities early on in the third as well, so I was just hanging on. Maybe the pressure got to him a little bit just because of my opportunities I created. I understand where you’re coming from, but I don’t necessarily agree that it’s always an advantage being the favorite or former world No. 1 or Grand Slam champion, because I really do believe a lot of guys come out swinging against us, and they usually play above what they usually can.”
It’s hard to believe Federer is now the sentimental favorite and also the player with the easiest path to the finals. The Swiss Maestro made easy work of Groth, especially since he was known for his serve and is not as accomplished as Federer.
“What I like about these kind of matchups is there’s always going to be something unusual that’s going to happen, unusual shot-making,” he said. “You have to react rather than just always play percentage tennis. You just hope to get the other odd ball back, and then all of a sudden it drops short; you’ve got to run up to it. Whenever somebody is at the net or you’re at the net, there’s always something of the unknown that’s going to happen a little bit more.
“Whereas at the baseline you’re so far away from your opponent that you see it happening. You have time to react to it. That can become sometimes a bit boring, I must say, as well. Like the big serving can be boring, as well. I like the mix of playing these kind of opponents and then totally different in the next match. But got to appreciate, you know, those kind of matchups, because we don’t have them very often anymore, unfortunately.”
Federer is going for his 18th Grand Slam and is trying to add to his other records. When all is said and done, he will be the greatest of all time. But there’s still the matches to win.
And now onto the third round, the Maestro can start reflecting, or at least answering a question of two about it.
“Maybe I can tell you once it’s all said and done really, because right now — I mean, everything was big in the moment when I it,” he said. “In that moment when I did break a record or when I tied it, that was what was magical about it, not really like having it. I mean, I can walk around screaming, I have 17 Grand Slams, I have the record here or there. It was the moment when I passed something. When you can play for history and you do it, that’s what is so really cool, is that you can then be compared to other greats or you’ve passed another great. Even though it doesn’t mean you’re better than him.
“But it’s just like that moment you’ve gone into the unknown where nobody else has ever been before. So I can really tell you when it’s all said and done, because my career went so much better than I thought it would anyway. I said it a million times, but it’s so true. Having won Wimbledon and become world No. 1, that’s for me the pinnacle when it all happened. World No. 1 makes the entire year consistency, being there, winning tournaments, day in, day out on the ATP Tour, the grind. That, for me, stands out besides winning Wimbledon, because that’s where my heroes won and where I wanted to win as a player.”
Federer’s quest continues on Sunday against Spaniard Marcel Granollers.
Mystique and Aura may be making a comeback.