The cynic in me will not stay quiet, much as I try to muzzle him. He looks at Roger Federer winning Wimbledon again, and he says maybe this is not about him, so much. Maybe it's about who he's playing.
"I mean, what's it say about the quality of men's tennis when a 35-year-old can skate through Wimbledon without losing a set?" the cynic sneers.
After which I finally corral him, put a burlap sack over his head and stuff him in the back of the closet with the rest of the accumulated irrelevancies.
Because, listen, when you start talking about the quality of the competition, remember that Rafe Nadal is still around, and Novak Djokovic is still around, and Andy Murray is still around. Except none of them were around Sunday.
Federer was. Federer abides.
Likely it's different if he runs into Nadal or Joker or Murray somewhere along the line. Likely he loses a set or two. But it's not Federer's fault they weren't there to face him. And what does that say about the quality of the competition?
And so the gate swings both ways here. Behind it is the greatest tennis player of all time, breezing through Wimby unmarked at 35. Behind it is a man whose career looked finished a year ago, and now here he is, with two of the first three Grand Slams of 2017 in his pocket, and a record eight Wimbledon titles, and a record 19 Grand Slam titles. Behind it is a man as crafty in his preparation as he is on the court, strategically sitting out chunks of time last year and earlier this spring in order to have fresh legs and a fresh will for the big tournaments.
Two steps ahead. As ever.