In memory of David Foster Wallace (he committed suicide a month ago), I present to you his essay on the genius of Roger Federer – Roger Federer as Religious Experience. Wallace wasn’t a sports writer, he was just a good writer who happened to write a piece on Federer.
Almost anyone who loves tennis and follows the men’s tour on television has, over the last few years, had what might be termed Federer Moments. These are times, as you watch the young Swiss play, when the jaw drops and eyes protrude and sounds are made that bring spouses in from other rooms to see if you’re O.K.
The thing is, it’s true. Fed is freaking amazing, but in a way the seems unreal. Nadal’s more likeable and fun and exciting, but Federer is the better player, perhaps the best of all time. Tennis frequently seems to have these dynamic polar opposites, see also, e.g., Agassi and Sampras, Borg and McEnroe. Typically, the ice queen/king is the better player, the emotional one the more charismatic.
No matter, it’s all great tennis and this is a great article. Rest in peace, David.