Roger Federer, New York’s New Sentimental Hero

l rogerfederervert Roger Federer, New Yorks New Sentimental HeroWhen Roger Federer finally dispatched Igor Andreev on Tuesday, the crowd went absolutely bananas. New Yorkers have always had a real fondness for the guy, but this time there was sort of a Shea Stadium-like shriek when he finally won in five sets. Jon Wertheim today makes the excellent point that the more vulnerable that Federer looks, like Pete Sampras at the end of his career, the more the New York crowd is going to rally behind him and finally give him the love that they’ve held off showing when he was dominating the game. We love an underdog, after all:

Federer clearly entered a new stage of his career, much as Pete Sampras did in the latter part of his career. Fans are showing him the reverence and affection they, collectively, withheld a bit when he was the overwhelming favorite. He’s gone from "Darth Federer" — who even walked on to Arthur Ashe court to the Stars Wars music — to a sentimental hero. The critic will say that fans are "brutal," a beast as fickle as the media. But I think there’s something quite nice about this. There’s a sense of "this champion could use a boost; let’s give to him."

Federer’s quarterfinal match against wild card Gilles Muller will begin around 3 p.m. this afternoon.