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Force-Fed's Fifteen

Robbo Robson | 12:05 UK time, Monday, 6 July 2009

'Right' said the missus, 'You've got today, Monday and Tuesday to wallpaper the wall in the bedroom and put a lick of paint on the walls before the Ashes begin.'

That was Sunday morning. I pointed out there was the little matter of the Wimbledon men's singles final and she laughed in my face. 'That'll be over in an hour and a half!'

'What if it rains?' I was going to say. Curse that bloody roof. Any road, A-Rod and R-Fed couldn't have played it better.

Not only did they keep me pinned to the telly all afternoon, our lass was so wrapped up in it she couldn't drag herself off to the kitchen to make some healthy fat-free fajita thingamy and we made do with a take-away curry while the mixed doubles was on.
Andy Roddick
It wasn't an exhilarating match, though - not like last year when Raf 'n' Rog pushed each other to more and more feats of miraculous greatness.

That was like a swashbuckling swordfight up and down the stairs and ramparts of an old castle, swinging on the chandeliers and that. Sunday's 16-14 was more like one of them fist-fights in the mud and rain of a main street in some gritty Western, with both men dragging themselves up out of the dripping earth for one more slug at each other.

In the end Roddick swung hard, Federer ducked and Roddick did a 360 degree turn and flopped on his back a broken man. The serves were too dominant. I know it's impressive but after four hours it got a tad Roddickulous.

In fact to me, the real story was not Fed's 15th, but Roddick's desperate heroism and ultimate failure. He is truly an honorary Brit now.

The fact is that had Federer played anything like his best, Roddick would have been flat out way earlier and the missus would be celebrating a bold floral print on one wall of our bedroom. (Why are lasses so keen at the moment to put wallpaper on only one wall? All four or not at all, surely! Anything less is just faffing about).

But Roddick played his absolute best and still got beat. Everyone's banging on about what a nice chap Rog is, but by God you'd have to go a long way to beat Roddick for niceness. His loser's interview, surely the worst job a sportsman could ever be asked to do, was gracious, funny and heart-breaking.

When Sue Barker said sport was cruel and Andy replied that he was one of the lucky ones, the wife descended into a series of sobs I'd not experienced since I was present at the unveiling of a chronic bubble perm of hers in 1984. (That was the Year of the Headscarf for her).

The worst bit of the post-match chat was when Federer tried to reassure Roddick by saying he lost in a similar way last year and the American quickly reminded the champ that he'd already won five. It's like getting a divorce from a beautiful woman and being comforted by a polygamist.

Andy Murray must've been looking on in envy 'n' all. Unusually for us Brits there's been an outpouring of common-sense in the Scot's direction. The semi-final was a good effort, Roddick out-thought the bloke, there was only a couple of points in it, etc.

Me, I think he bottled it. But not in a British wild-card sort of a way. More in a not taking the game to Roddick when he could have sort of way. In the spirit of reverse psychology I would like to say categorically that I don't think Murray will ever win Wimbledon.

So OK, is Federer the greatest ever? Better than Sampras... well yes, in that Pistol Pete never made the game look as easy as Rog does. Sampras had the strange habit of lolling out his tongue like a sad and sweaty St Bernard every time he lumbered back to the baseline.

Better than Borg? Borg was great but I didn't enjoy watching him. He was too cool, the headband seemed to push his eyes closer together, and all them loopy top-spins were weird.

Folk say if he'd have kept going, just think how many titles he'd have won, but that's not relevant. I think the IceBorg could've carried on for six more years if he'd 've given himself permission to smash a few racquets once in a while.

Better than Laver? My Dad says no one's better than Laver. My Dad says Laver was the greatest freckled sportsman of all time. He was 5' 8" too, and played serve volley. Your average modern lady player would be peeling the bloke off the pimples of their giant-sized tennis shoes.
Roger Federer
It's amazing to think that 'cos he went professional, Laver was deprived of five years of going for grand slams. That's 20 tournaments he missed while he was selfishly making a living. I reckon he'd have bagged at least one a year. That'd be 16 in all.

So Federer isn't the best, he's just the best I've ever seen. Sports fans don't usually warm to the bloke who just wins and wins and flippin' well wins.

Sir Alex Ferguson was there on Sunday and you know what, you'd have had to do a lot wrong as an individual for me not to wish that you, and not him, were lifting the Premier League Trophy next May (although he's already struck a blow for the never-ending United-Liverpool war of words by having Michael Owen grinning away with a United flag held aloft.

I know Liverpool fans with Owen's face already up on the dartboard in the garage. I expect the Govan beetroot has pulled off another infuriatingly smart piece of business.
I don't know anyone who feels the same about Federer. He's so nice, decent and above all immaculate to wish him anything but success.

I just wish the match was still going on now 'cos I know I'm going to be ripping up great sheaves of this blinking wallpaper for the rest of the day!


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