Federer is not close to Woods - What do you think?
Federer is brilliant but still too wooden
By Bill Center, Times Online Special Correspondent
As 25-year-old Roger Federer was stroking his way to a third-straight US Open title to extend his Grand Slam count to nine, including four consecutive Wimbledon championships, tennis fans began wondering why he isn't mentioned in the same breath as Tiger Woods.
Tennis, after all, is far more physically demanding than golf - even though the current generation of players rush the net about as often as the seasons change.
Shouldn't Federer be rated among the world's greatest athletes? Shouldn't he be ranked right up there with Woods? Ahead even.
You're kidding me, right? Federer is not Woods. He isn't even Maria Sharapova. There's a lot more to this than the ability to hit a ball. Once, men's tennis was great drama. Borg. Becker. Connors. McEnroe. Sampras. Agassi.
And championship matches drew great television numbers. The players were personalities, the matches events. Each shot carried excitement... all the way down to a rocket Roscoe Tanner serve.
Plus, there was entertainment beyond the game. Admit it, you enjoyed those John McEnroe tantrums. You turned up the volume to make sure you didn't miss a barb directed at the umpire or some poor volunteer linesman.
Today, who cares? Federer is a fine Swiss movement. Nine Grand Slams is the sixth-highest in tennis history. Still young, Federer's only five shy of Sampras' record of 14.
No question, Federer, who routed Andy Roddick 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the US Open final, is the ranking player in the world today, and for the foreseeable future. But he's boring us stiff. And he's not the only high-ranking player out there who can make that dubious claim. Roddick. Rafael Nadal. Line 'em up.
Tennis, please give us another Connors or McEnroe. Someone, anyone with a little charisma and panache. Someone please rush the net.
Want to know what is wrong with men's tennis? Watch Tiger Woods. On any given Sunday, there is a smile on Tiger's face as he charges to his next win. The camera loves him. So does the microphone. Tiger is loveable. We walk the course with Tiger. We're there with his every shot. In victory, he is humble. In defeat, he is gracious.
Federer can't even be gracious in victory. When he wins, he embarks on strange journeys of self-admiration. When Muhammad Ali proclaimed "I am the greatest" we listened. When Federer heads in that direction, we reach for the remote.
Not that many of us were actually watching the last act of the US Open. The main storyline of this championship was the farewell appearance of Andre Agassi. And his farewell match drew a large television audience.
But the top draw, particularly for those target males aged 18-34, was the chance to see Sharapova, who defeated Justine Henin-Hardenne 6-4, 6-4 in the women's final.
Federer? Not that we really cared, but he was up against the first Sunday of the National Football League season. Even NASCAR raced on the Saturday night rather than go up against the NFL.
Is Federer a great player? Absolutely. Is he one of the all-time greats of tennis? Definitely. Is he Tiger Woods? Not even close.