Andy Roddick hung his head in anguish.
The star-crossed American tennis standout had just played the match of his life, had left his guts on Centre Court at the All England Club.
With nothing but heartache to show for it.
In spite of playing top-level tennis through five riveting sets, in spite of playing 30 games in the fifth and final set Sunday, Roddick had lost to Roger Federer again.
For the fourth time in a Grand Slam final.
For the third time in a Wimbledon championship.
As I watched the dejected American on TV, I couldn't help but wonder:
How differently would we view Andy Roddick's career if there had been no Roger Federer?
Which, actually, is the basis for one of the best sports-related bar games going: How would the world be different if (fill in the blank) had never been born?
What if Adolph Rupp had never been born?
Would Bear Bryant (pictured behind Rupp) have coached his entire career at Kentucky? Would football be the commonwealth's predominant college sport?
What if Tom Izzo had never been born?
Could you add three Final Four trips to the state of Kentucky's ledger? Would you add the 1999 and 2005 trips that Tubby Smith and UK lost to Michigan State in regional finals and the 2009 trip that Rick Pitino and Louisville lost to Izzo (offering comfort to Chuck Hayes, above) in the final eight?
With a Final Four trip "with his own players" in 2005, would Tubby still be the UK coach — and how much would that have saved the University of Kentucky in terms of subsequent turmoil, controversy and money?
What if Affirmed had never been born?
Instead of three times a narrowly beaten bridesmaid when it mattered most, Alydar (above, left) would be Thoroughbred racing's most recent (1978) Triple Crown winner.
Given the stellar record he subsequently compiled at stud, would Alydar as a Triple Crown champion have been the most significant Thoroughbred in American history?
What if Michael Jordan had never been born?
Charles Barkley (see Phoenix Suns, 1993) would almost certainly NOT be on the list of great players who never won a championship.
If Michael Jordan had never been born, Karl Malone and John Stockton might very well have back-to-back titles (1997 and '98) on their résumés instead of joining Barkley on the list of greats who never tasted the championship champagne.
If Michael Jordan had never been born, how much grief would that have spared poor Sam Bowie?
What if Tiger Woods had never been born?
Rather than "only" three major championships in his career, would Phil Mickelson (behind Woods at right) have twice that number? Three times that number? Would Mickelson be the iconic golfer of his generation rather than a guy known as much for failing under pressure as for his (considerable) achievements?
If Tiger Woods had never been born, how different would be the career arc of Ernie Els, David Duval, Sergio Garcia and a generation of would-be golfing greats?
What if Serena Williams had never been born?
Then Venus Williams (above, right) might have won the six Grand Slam finals she's lost to her younger sister and have 13 major championships instead of seven.
If Serena Williams had never been born, Venus Williams would almost certainly be regarded as the greatest women's tennis player of the first decade of the 21st Century.
What if Venus Williams had never been born?
Then Serena Williams might have won the two Grand Slam finals she's lost to her older sister and have 13 major championships instead of 11.
If Venus Williams had never been born, Serena Williams would almost certainly be higher up the list of women's tennis' all-time greats than she is.
Finally, what if Roger Federer had never been born?
Then, almost certainly, Andy Roddick would almost have more than one major championship (the 2003 U.S. Open) to his credit.
If Roger Federer had never been born, Roddick would almost surely be a Wimbledon champion, probably a multiple winner of the most prestigious title in tennis.
How differently would the world view Andy Roddick — how much differently would he view himself? — if Roger Federer had never been born?