Marriage. That dreaded word that is too often associated with that other dreaded word, love. Apparently, they go together like horse and carriage, but try telling that to the horses. If you ask me, they’d probably be cavorting and gambolling in the fields.
Thing is, ever since Roger got hitched things have begun to slide. Now I know Federer has been with the same girlfriend for the last 70 years I’m not saying he hasn’t nabbed another couple of majors since tying the knot, but it takes a while for the reality to dawn that the honeymoon is over.
When you’re in a long-term relationship you can still kid yourself that you’re young, free and single – even if you’re not you can kid yourself that you are. And that’s where elite sport is won or lost – in the head. Athletes live constantly in denial, convincing themselves that are invincible. And those that believe it are. Marriage, though, bleeds that spirit out of you.
Federer grabbed a Wimbledon title, a French Open and the next Aussie Open too, but Nadal was out injured during that time, plus the effect of marriage hadn’t quite set in yet. Perhaps he was able to live in denial for that little bit longer. Now, though, he’ll be lucky if he ever wins again. He’s now No3 I the world. Number fucking three! This is Roger Federer we’re talking about here.
He’s not the first to be struck down by this terrible affliction either. Same thing happened to Andre Agassi after he walked down the aisle with Brooke Shields. Now you can’t blame the guy for wanting to spend the rest of his life re-enacting scenes from the Blue Lagoon, but he took his eye off the ball, lost his hunger for the game and only snapped out of it once the daydream was over.
To succeed at the very top at sport, you need to be hungry, ruthless, on the prowl. Marriage just sucks all of that out of you, and rightly so, because you’re not going to have a very successful wedded union if the alpha male hunter instinct isn’t reined in.
And this is why Tiger Woods kept winning despite being hitched. He continued to let loose with all of those natural, competitive male instincts that enabled him to stick it up his rivals, not to mention porn stars and cocktail waitresses. Woods was like those wild horses, except he was cavorting and gambling. Now, though, tragically his therapy is coaching all of that out of him and we have all seen the results. He is “learning to be a better person” or, in other words, “learning to be an average golfer”.
So, Roger, if you want to win any more majors you know what you need to do and it’s nothing a tennis coach can help you with.