Monday, July 9, 2012

FIDRAH!: Dominant Dominance

Roger Federer won Wimbledon and is now the #1 player in the world again for the first time since 2010. Roger Federer is amazing. I hate how much that word is overused, but I think it applies to this situation. We took for granted for about a decade, and we still take him for granted. We still expect him to contend for every major at age 30, and he most certainly does. He is probably the most consistently great player in tennis history. He never disappoints, and every champion must first pass through him. He has no apparent weaknesses. He has established himself as one of the absolute greatest athletes of a generation.

This generation is spoiled with great athletes. If we define "this generation" as, say, 1990 to the present, we will have seen the greatest athletes of all time in basketball, hockey (the last 10 years of Gretzky's career), swimming, and arguably tennis and golf. Though steroids complicates things in baseball, Barry Bonds could very fairly be considered a top 3 player in baseball history. And obviously Tom Brady is the greatest football player to ever live or who will ever live forever and ever. Actually, in terms of football, we have seen some of the greatest quarterbacks of all time in this era (Manning, Favre, Brady, Brees, Marino, Elway, Young and maybe Warner/Aikman are all top-15 QBs), and the greatest wide receiver. This kind of multi-sport all-time greatness has not been witnessed in a similar twenty-five-year period in a long time, and is only rivaled by the era spanning 1955 to 1980 (Nicklaus/Palmer, Laver, Mays/Aaron, Russell, Orr/Howe, Spitz, Ali). And Roger Federer might just be the most dominant athlete of any of these.

The question becomes: how dominant is dominance? I think it is safe to say that Federer is more dominant than anyone in team sports; any individual sports player's dominance is inherently more dominant than a dominant team sports player's dominance.

Federer's dominance is one of the most dominant dominances. I would argue that his dominance is more dominant than Michael Phelps's dominance, because Phelps only really competes on the biggest stage once every four years, whereas Federer does it four times every year. The only person whose dominance might be more dominant than Federer's dominance is Tiger Woods. Woods has 14 major victories to Federer's 17, but Woods had to beat everybody in the field in order to win his majors. Federer only had to beat the one person in front of him over and over. For instance, Federer did not have to play World #2 Rafael Nadal because Nadal was bounced in the second round. For Federer's dominance to equal Woods's dominance, he would have to play better than Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, Tsonga, Ferrer, and every other player in the tournament. He does do this in a way, but not quite as dramatically as Woods does it when he wins a tournament. Woods having played better than the rest of the world's greatest golfers 14 times in his career is truly astonishing, and I see that dominance as a bit more dominant than Federer's dominance. Woods, however, at age 36, has already been playing golf professionally for 16 years, and there's no reason he can't compete at the highest level for another 10. Federer should not be competing for Grand Slam victories anymore, but he is. He's dominating Father Time, which is perhaps the most dominant dominance.

Roger has long been one of my favorites, and I'm still in awe of just how dominant his dominance is. He's on top of the world when he should be slowing down and thinking about the senior circuit. I'll miss him when he's gone, but until then, I think he'll dominate for a while longer.

P.S. This all applies to Serena Williams also.

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