When a medical student visits a Doctor’s clinic to learn the ropes, so to say, he sees the Doctor play twenty questions (or less) with the patient to diagnose the malady and prescribe appropriate medications. Under the assumption that diagnosis and prescribing medication is very easy, were the medical student to take over the Doctor’s clinic however, he would be in big trouble, to say the least.
Over the long weekend, I had the chance of watching Witch Doctor Roger Federer conduct two tennis clinics. Clinic # 1 was against John Isner, the NCAA runner-up (guess who won the title?). After he lost the first set, Federer toyed with Isner, committing zero unforced errors for two entire sets. Maybe I could get away with no unforced errors for a few games (among my peers), ONLY if I were to aim for the center of the court. In his match, Federer was getting the ball to skim over the net or catching the sidelines, or doing both on the same shot! Clinic #2 concluded a few minutes ago (here is a nice preview post); were it not for the fact that the Spaniard Feliciano Lopez is left-handed, I might have been tricked into thinking that Isner had returned for a second shot at Federer. Lopez took the first set off Federer like Isner did, and the match appeared to be headed for a slugfest. In hindsight, Federer was probably getting some much needed match practice against a big-serving left-handed Spaniard in preparation for Nadal. After losing the first set and midway through an (until then) even second, Federer went into overdrive and Lopez was left lunging left and right at the net as balls went all around him (OK, none went under him). It was as though Federer had magnetized the ball to make it land inside the court, however he hit the ball and wherever from. In winning the match in four sets, Federer nailed 35 straight points on his serve and committed only 12 unforced errors in 199 points. Unbelievable!!!
Any casual observer should be forgiven for reaching the same conclusion as the medical student – that everything is so easy. It is only when one tries to execute the same shots that one would realize that those shots are really rather difficult to replicate, if not impossible.
Would Laver have won either of his Grand Slams with Federer around? I doubt it!