So much has been said, written and explored about this ‘wonderful phenomenon’, that it becomes difficult to further explain and comprehend the genius of him.
To enable this article to reach a wider audience I will eschew the analytical details of his matches and performances, but include his brilliance, the extravagance and the sheer ecstasy I have witnessed being a life-long admirer and fan of Roger Federer.
When he burst onto the tennis scene in 2002-2003, every tennis analyst, pundit, etc predicted that this guy will take the sport forward as the heir of legends such as Sampras and Agassi. But nobody in their distant dreams could have surmised that this very guy will transform the sport and things would never be the same again.
Tennis was always a physical game. Then Roger Federer happened. That’s not saying that fitness and strength are redundant but the artistry and perfection that Federer exhibits has never been seen before. They say, ‘Hard work beats talent, if talent doesn’t work hard’. The commitment that this guy has for the sport coupled with the sheer talent that the almighty has bestowed upon him has captured the imagination of the world for a decade now.
Professional tennis has seen its eras. From the ‘serve and volley era’ to the baseline era, there is only Roger Federer who has been able to transcend these boundaries and stand alone as the greatest to ever play the sport. When Federer defeated Sampras at Wimbledon, many witnessed it as a passing of the torch moment. And here we live today, 16 years later; Federer has surpassed Sampras’s record of 7 grand slams at Wimbledon.
Many believed that Federer’s one handed backhand wouldn’t be able to resist the pressure of the technical skills of the likes of Djokovic, Murray and most importantly Rafael Nadal. But the mere fact that Federer has had competitive and legendary rivalries with all of them, proves them wrong. Yes, Nadal does have a relatively one sided head to head with Federer (23-14). But the numbers should not befool us. Federer leads the rivalry on the hard and the grass courts while Nadal has dominated him on clay. We have to look at aspects to further analyze the stats. Firstly, the regular Nadal Topspin Forehand has exploited the Federer backhand always and especially more on Clay courts where the ball bounces high and is slow too. Still, Federer has been able to nullify the effect of this destructible and potent combination on hard courts as seen by the head to head. Secondly, Nadal is arguably the greatest clay court player of all time and Federer has lost 11 finals to him on clay. Therefore, Federer has in many ways outperformed himself on his ‘least’ favorite and on Nadal’s favorite surface.
After the heart-breaking loss to Raonic in the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2016, Federer has bounced back stronger, more aggressive and is now ruling the tennis world again, at the age of 36. In a span of eight months, he is a 19-time grand slam champion from being a 17-time grand slam champion.
The longevity, courage and dexterity he possesses have never been seen before and never will be seen again. The will to achieve has never been stronger, and the grounds of success never been higher. We are privileged to be born in the era of this genius, to see the TWEENER against Djokovic in 2009 (U.S Open Semifinals), to see the no look passing shot versus Murray in 2015 (Wimbledon semifinals).
He has survived them all, from Agassi, Sampras, to Hewitt, Roddick to Nadal, Djokovic and Murray and thus stands alone at the zenith of men’s tennis.
Federer’s movement has often been described as a Ballet Dance; his shots, as a form of art. His game as magic personified; his matches, as a theatrical performance. And maybe they all are right, and maybe none of them are. This genius continues to astound us, amaze us and reaffirms our belief in magic and God.
About the Author:
The more the things change, the more they remain the same. Believes in commitment, loyalty and determination, but most importantly, believes in himself!