The thing that struck me most about the final at Indian Wells between Federer and Djokovic was not in fact the result, that was always going to happen. Novak played fewer matches due to the withdrawal of Tomic in the quarters and he was fresher than Roger. If the same good fortune had happened to Fed then I am certain he would have been the fresher player going into the final. Anyhow that's not what this is about.
Did you read Roger's press conference transcript ? Fascinating to say the least. "I'm not going to look back on that match, on that moment very long. That will be forgotten probably in 25 minutes or so ". Now there's how you take a loss. The thing is this though, when you have won just about every tennis tournament on the planet, winning it again or losing it in this instance may be all a little bit on the 'ho hum' side.
In 1981 after Bjorn Borg had lost the final of the US Open to Jonny Mac which was his second Grand Slam final loss in a row to the American he famously walked out of the stadium in New York and retired from tennis. Why ? Because he couldn't handle being second best, he admitted just that. Sure he made a couple of brief attempts to come back to the game but he was never the same again, he lost his initial desire to be the best.
Here's the thing about Roger Federer, he doesn't mind it, he's just happy to still be showing every other player in the World that at age 33 he is still a genius and when he does lose, well it takes someone of Novak's expertise to beat him. The same happened at Wimbledon last year when after an epic 5 set loss to Novak he spoke of simply being happy to be a part of such a great match. Would title number 8 really have been a life changing moment had he won ? He handled the loss a whole lot better than the Australian Open final defeat at the hands of Nadal in 2009, the loss shattered him.
So what is it about Federer now days ? His game is as free flowing as someone who now has nothing to lose and with an air of almost arrogance about it. He goes up against an army of baseliners like a soldier up against the enemy but with a different type of arsenal. In fact he has alarmingly huge wins over players who seem to be taken back by the way in which they are dealt with, seemingly with no respect whatsoever for their ability.
Take the young fellow Borna Coric for example, the World's hottest teenage talent who had a resounding 6-1, 6-3 win over Andy Murray in Dubai at the quarter final stage. After a win like that you would expect him to put up a big showing against Federer in the semis but it took Roger not much more than an hour to destroy the 18 year old 6-2, 6-1.
How does a player lose that easily after winning so easily against a player of Murray's ability ? Coric spoke of the difficulty in playing someone of Federer's legendary status but also paid tribute to the tactics used by the Swiss genius. He spoke of being 'rushed' and not having any time to play his 'game plan'.
Did you see the highlights of Indian Wells ? At 5-3 up in the tie breaker in the second set the match looked in the keeping of Novak before a rather daring drop shot from Federer set up a winning volley which turned the set around. That type of play is outrageous at that stage in a match yet it proves that Federer is playing with a sense of ridiculous freedom and simply no fear of losing.
The great man from Switzerland didn't win this time around but he won't be walking out of any stadium in the near future as Borg did in '81. There is no personal disgust at not being the best in his chosen field anymore. Federer knows his game plan currently is good enough to beat just about anyone on his best day and recently he has proved that his best days are most days. As he suggested in his press conference, 25 minutes may be all it takes for him to move on from a loss.
Oh to be that philosophical.............