The finale of the 2014 Barclays World Tour Finals was won by Novak Djokovic. But there was no match, as Roger Federer dropped out of the tournament one hour before he was set to take the court.
He made the announcement in an arena filled with stunned and disappointed tennis fans. People who had paid hundreds of dollars to see him play, and had traveled half way around the world. I was almost one of those people. I had traveled to London last week to see some of the tournament, but I did not attend the Sunday session. And I’m glad I didn’t.
This is the second time in Federer’s 15 year career that he has forfeited a match. His reasoning? Back pain, stemming from an intense semifinal against Stan Wawrinka. But there’s more to the story…
Semifinal vs. Stan the Man
During that match, Wawrinka got into a verbal spat with Federer’s wife Mirka. The conflict grew into a locker room encounter between Stan and Roger that lasted late into the night. According to reports, Federer’s back therapy didn’t happen soon enough and resulted in overwhelming pain the following day.
But Federer and Stan play Davis Cup together this coming weekend, adding another wrinkle to this strange story. They will be trying to lead Switzerland to its first Davis Cup championship in the nation’s history.
So it looks like Roger Federer refused to play in the World Tour Finals’ championship match in order to better prepare for his Davis Cup run.
A great personal decision, but an atrocious one for sports. Not only is Roger expressing favoritism for specific tournaments, but he is going against the mentality of competition.
Athletes are supposed to leave it all out on the court… fight until they can no longer move… if he had played the final and destroyed his back, he would have had my respect and admiration for life.
But people don’t care about machismo anymore. In fact, the majority of fans at the O2 Arena on Sunday applauded Roger. I refer to this as the God factor.
It matters not whether you are religious, agnostic, or turquoise. Everyone elevates certain people to a Godlike status. Usually themselves (that’s what social media is for), but especially athletes.
Federer and Nadal are placed on a pedestal by tennis people. Even Novak Djokovic, the current world #1, is treated like a second class citizen since his name isn’t ‘Rafa’ or ‘Roger.’ Godlike people can do no wrong in the eyes of their worshipers. This is problematic because it enables them to do whatever they’d like, no matter how inexcusable.
By the tone of this article you probably think I have a vendetta against Roger Federer. I don’t. He is one my favorite tennis players because of what he’s able to do on the court. But when he does something stupid like this, I judge him.
I’m not under the influence of the Roger mystique, I see him very literally. Great tennis player, but apparently he lacks a great moral compass.
I’m glad I didn’t go to the O2 on Sunday, because I probably would have booed. And I would have looked like the bad guy.
The World Tour Finals is a fantastic tournament, run by some of the best organizers in the game. It’s a special, one of a kind event, and Federer didn’t treat is as such.
But he’s still one of my favorite players, gotta love that backhand.