Tennis and the Feral Prodigy

It’s all educational. How promising you are as a Student of the Game is a function of what you can pay attention to without running away. Nets and fences can be mirrors. And between the nets and fences, opponents are also mirrors. This is why the whole thing is scary. This is why all opponents are scary and weaker opponents are especially scary.
See yourself in your opponents. They will bring you to understand the Game. To accept the fact that the Game is about managed fear. That its object is to send from yourself what you hope will not return.

— Infinite Jest – somewhere when Hal is reminiscing about his relationship with James Incandenza and his life as a tennis player. And Mario’s film – Tennis and the Feral Prodigy.

In a more literal world, both the words feral and prodigy will be associated with Rafael Nadal. Nadal, the clay court specialist. Nadal, whose game is that raw beauty that has shredded its skin and reveals the genius of the inner workings. The prodigy that won a Grand Slam at 19. Or was it 18? It feels so long ago.

But today it fits no one but Federer. When did this feral run begin? It began with “The Shot” in the US Open 2011 semi-finals against Novak Djokovic. He has been uncharacteristically open about this one thing. How much it affected him. How much close he was to the final at that moment. And how much he regretted it. That was when the prodigious Roger Federer kicked in. He who went on a great run winning Paris Masters and WTF at the end of 2011. Rotterdam, Dubai, Indian Wells, Madrid. The misstep in between was Roland Garros and Roland Garros alone.

But it had to be Wimbledon. To quote Sorkinism – If you haven’t seen Roger Federer on Wimbledon grass, you haven’t seen Shakespeare the way it is meant to be done. From Shakespeare, we get to Infinite Jest, which leads us to David Foster Wallace who’s probably maniacally grinning right now.


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