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Steeped in tradition

Wimbledon is the rare hallowed tennis court that exceeds its reputation for grandeur. Ladies with Victorian era hats line the walkways. The <g data-gr-id="83">silenced</g> hush and the polite clapping is only more touching for being a parody of itself. Demonstrating the English flair for imposing class systems where informality might otherwise flourish, badges dangle from the lapels of men in Panama hats, identifying them as debenture holders, or non-voting investors in the All England Lawn Tennis Club, which was founded in 1868 as a croquet association. It was in this atmosphere of prim and proper gentlemen that Djokovic nicknamed the ‘Djoker’ for his goofy sense of humour slashed a return and won his ninth grand slam. All of twenty-eight, Djokovic showed on the final point why he is the world number one. 

Djokovic, surer of foot and quicker of thought, had oodles of time to drive a forehand into the corner. Federer was stranded on the other side, exhausted. The Serb roared. Novak Djokovic is now a three-time Wimbledon champion.There can be no debate about who rules the tennis world now. At the same time, one has to feel for Federer. The aging warhorse, the man with the liquid forehand, Federer was all these and more. If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster. And treat those two impostors just the same. Perhaps no one epitomises these lines more than Roger Federer. 

There’s something about Federer’s game these days — some quality of vulnerable, but simultaneously mind-blowing, uncertainty — that seems to call strange images to mind. In his prime, Federer went way beyond everything, took tennis somewhere it had never been before.Beauty is not the goal of competitive sports, but high-level sports are a prime venue for the expression of human beauty. The relation is roughly that of courage to war.The human beauty we’re talking about here is the beauty of a particular type; it might be called kinetic beauty. Its power and appeal are universal.Of course, in men’s sports no one ever talks about beauty or grace or the body. 

Men may profess their “love” of sports, but that love must always be cast and enacted in the symbology of war: elimination vs. advance, hierarchy of rank and standing, obsessive statistics, technical analysis, tribal and/or nationalist fervor, uniforms, mass noise, banners, chest-thumping, face-painting, etc. Federer was an antithesis to this noise. There was no fist pumps and guttural cries of Vamos, a la Nadal. In perhaps what will be his last Wimbledon final, Federer showed us why he was so loved. Now, with the waning of the Federer-Nadal duopoly, which has fixated tennis for the past decade, Djokovic is on the ascent. Today on the centre court he proved just that. 

In four sets, Djokovic asserted his right for tennis immortality.When Djokovic was six, he told his parents that it was his mission to become the No. 1 tennis player in the world. When he was eleven, NATO began bombing Belgrade. Djokovic has come a long way since then. Today’s match heralded a new Wimbledon champion and perhaps bid goodbye to an <g data-gr-id="82">age old</g> one. At 33 plus, it seems unlikely that Federer will challenge for the title again. 
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