He likes doing this; that’s the point. Being on tour, being competitive, being celebrated: This stuff feels more satisfying to him than the lonely relishing of some legacy in which he had a better head-to-head record against Djokovic. So why not keep it going as long as he can? And not to get too dogmatic about what’s basically the story of a person liking his job, but isn’t that the model of grown-up maturity that we should want from an elite athlete? So often, great players in their late careers wind up eclipsed by their own narratives, their choices constrained by a whole complex of considerations involving memorialization and pride and morning-sports-zoo yell. Think about, say, the question of Kobe’s retirement — how free does that decision feel? There’s an entrapped feeling around Kobe that Federer seems to have sidestepped. And fine, maybe he wouldn’t have sidestepped that so gracefully if his decline hadn’t been so gradual, but then, that’s also part of the point. He’s living the life he actually has, not some portable-across-platforms version of the athlete’s journey.
Brian Phillips on Federer. This brilliantly captures the very unusual, maybe even unique, grace with which Federer has pursued his career these past few years.