It seems weird to say this about a guy who has won 13 slams and who many people already regard as the greatest of all time, but as everyone seems to agree, a victory today will be truly historic. However, I don’t think we should fall into the trap of viewing this match as ‘career defining’, especially if he loses. If Soderling continues his unbelievably good form and manages to win, that won’t change the fact that Federer is one of the four greatest players of the open era (Laver, Borg, Sampras, Federer). I don’t like inter-generational comparisons which is why I hesitate to say greatest of all time.

Career moments were throttling Hewitt 6-0 7-6 6-0 in the US Open Final and defeating Nadal in that epic, second Wimbledon final. Those results are neither invalidated or vindicated with what happens today; they stand on their own merits – a bit like how Barca losing in the Champions League Final wouldn’t have invalidated their team – although that’s slightly different because the European Cup seems to be necessary for a team to call themselves great.

Having said all of that, it would be incredibly awesome to see Federer win and I’m desperately hoping that it happens! Also going back to Barca, what a couple of weeks it will have been for sporting aesthetes to see Barca win the Champions League and Federer complete the career grand slam. All that would be left would be for the Lakers to win the NBA finals (although Orlando play nice ball as well), Rohit Sharma to be the best batsman in the World T20 with Roelof Van der Merwe being the worst. (although I don’t mind his bowling)

Some Words on Kafelnikov

Kafelnikov can not in any way be described as a relic of the cold war. Making his professional debut in 1992, he reflected the moral ambivalence of many Russians of the post Soviet era. Rather than being driven by glory as players of earlier and future generations might have been, Kafelnikov seemed to care mainly about the pursuit of money. Unlike Sampras and Agassi who would ‘peak’ for the slams, Kafelnikov played seemingly every single week (singles and doubles), picking up as many appearance fee cheques as he could.

This isn’t to say that he was a greedy pig. Its instructive to note that after finally obtaining the World Number 1 ranking he lost his next 7 matches, relinquishing the ranking in only 6 weeks. There was something about being No.1 that didn’t sit well with him. Also, it should be noted that he really got himself motivated for Davis Cup and that he probably regards winning the Olympic Gold and Davis Cup as more important achievements than winning the French and Australian Opens.