Even after watching Roger Federer play and win dozens of big matches in Grand Slam tournaments, he can still catch you off guard.
It happened on Wednesday night at the Australian Open. Federer was facing James Blake of the United States in the quarterfinals and was down 1-2 in the second-set tiebreaker. He had just played a poor defensive point, looking off rhythm and in a mood almost dark enough to match his black socks.
Up he trudged to the service line and then, out of a funk, came nothing less than tennis magic: a typically huge return from Blake that Federer parried with a forehand half-volley, a huge approach from Blake that Federer parried again as if someone had pushed a fast-forward button on a digital video recorder and then, to finish off, a whipping forehand passing shot cross-court for a winner that seemed to dip past Blake's racket at just the right moment.
With no time to think, brood or fret, it had all been done on instinct, and just like that, Federer was on his way: taking the next point, another extended crowd pleaser, with a spectacular overhead winner off a high-bouncing lob from Blake that landed very near Federer's baseline.
Blake put hand to strings and clapped, not nearly as stunned as the 16,000 fans in Rod Laver Arena. "Nothing he does surprises me," Blake said, after Federer's 7-5, 7-6 (5), 6-4 victory. "It frustrates me, but nothing surprises me.
* Sim, no Record, n'A Bola e n'O Jogo também encontro textos assim.