Saturday, February 17, 2007

Will the real Marat ever show up again?

Roger Federer was definitely the story of the Australian Open, but it was disappointing that the rest of the field did not seem to be as motivated as the Swiss artist. Given Federer's tendency to elevate himself to tennis godhood in the majors, they had to be hungrier. And Marat Safin's was the most disappointing failure of all. In my opinion, Safin is the one guy on the planet who can stand toe to toe with Federer as far as ability is considered. Yet Safin has somehow conspired to remain one step away from greatness and what's more seems content to remain there. The Russian comes across as someone who enjoys life and enjoys playing tennis for the pleasure of it rather than be motivated by loftier goals. But if there's something that inspires all athletes, it must be pride in their will to compete against odds. Here's hoping that Marat will find some such inspiration because at the moment Roger Federer is just turning men's tennis into his own private circus. Federer deserves all the accolades he's getting, but fans are entitled to see a great battle or two. - NK