Monday, 8 June 2009

Paris... Done!

People thought someone like him with no extraordinary powers could never be in the great league… people thought his career was over when he surrendered his coveted crown last year to his nemesis … people said he would never be able to win on this surface ever… people thought he would never win again…

And then, he came back and won.... again!

There has never been a moment in my life where I have regretted not knowing a language as badly as yesterday when I lamented not knowing French. The man, the living legend, arguably the greatest player ever to hold a tennis racquet ever – Roger Federer had just won his fourteenth slam – his first Roland Garros title, the only grand slam to have eluded him so far. He had finished a career slam – only the sixth person in the history of the game to have achieved the feat. It was a real emotional moment for the great man. No one else could describe the moment better than himself and there he was doing exactly that in fluent French. I just watched his facial expressions when he spoke, the tears in his eyes, the ecstasy in his manners – they said it all. This was one title which he had to win to prove himself. Now that he had done it, Federer's name would go down in history as one of the modern day greats.

Roger Federer is my favorite sportsperson ever. I never followed tennis before but he is the reason why I started watching the game. I say that not because he has now won all four grand slams or that he has equaled Sampras’ record of 14 grand slams. The one distinguishing quality that makes me admire him is because of the charm and grace he exudes. He does not have extraordinary powers like the others. He does not have the power and stamina like Nadal. He is just pure talent and hard work which is why normal people can relate to him. He restores the people’s faith in old age graceful techniques in an era dominated by hard hitting, high stamina players. He is grace personified. Whether in victory or in defeat, he never has a bad a thing to say about anyone and that is one of the characteristics of a great sportsman.

People make fun of his “on field crying”. But at least he does not give animal like shrieks and does not shout abuses at everyone like the others. Besides, the crying also shows how hungry he is for success and how human he still is. He works very hard for each of his matches and never blames anyone for his failures. He never gives up anything easily and the pain of losing hurts him. Thus he has every right to display emotion after achieving his hard-earned success.

Some people criticize Federer that he never wins against the big players in big games. That too against his nemesis Nadal, his record has been pathetic. But if that was the case, how could he win 14 grand slams? Also, the other big guys like Nadal and Djokovic have never made it to the semis as many times as Federer. It is really a tough task to consistently reach the final four of major tournaments, let alone winning it. That too, he now has a slam on all the surfaces which only five people have managed to achieve before. Some people say that they would have been more happy if Federer had beaten Nadal on clay rather than Robin Soderling. But it is not Federer’s fault that Nadal lost to Soderling in the fourth round match. With all due credit to Soderling, I would like to make the following statement – “In his prime, Federer would have never lost to someone ranked above 20 in the fourth round of a tournament. It took a great player like Nadal and an epic five setter to snatch the coveted Wimbledon trophy from him last year. But Nadal, considering that he is in his prime right now lost his strength – the clay court French Open to someone ranked way below him” This alone proves the difference in their consistency. Nadal still has a long way to go.

When Nadal was ousted last Sunday, everyone thought Federer’s job was easy. With his nemesis safely out of the way, all that the great Fed had to do was win the title. But this made it the most difficult for Federer. Knowing that this was his best chance, he still had to win this one. And he almost came close to losing it to Tommy Haas and Del Potro. But the champion finally found form at the right moment and stood up to be counted when it mattered. This victory has now given him the confidence to take on any player on any surface. This way, Soderling has definitely helped Federer. Sometimes even champs need players like him to rediscover what they truly are capable of.

Most people have already started answering and debating this question – Is Federer the greatest tennis player of all times? According to me, this question is rather pre-mature. Federer is undoubtedly one of the best players of all times. But the question of whether he being the greatest can be answered only after the end of his career which is still a long way away. Also, his record against Nadal needs some polishing. It is a privilege for most of us tennis lovers that we have two of the greatest players of the game competing against each other. Nadal may eventually become the greatest player of all times. He just has to win the US Open to complete a career slam and a few more slams to come close to Federer and Sampras. And with the strength, fitness and talents that he has, Nadal might go on to become the greatest. But no man’s success can inspire us like the great Federer’s because he seems just like us. No player can ever earn the respect and admiration that Federer has earned by virtue of his grace and humility. That alone makes Federer take the top place in the list of all time greats.

Last year, after the defeat at Wimbledon, most of the Federer fans were devastated. All his fans were faced with the same question – what next? This year’s trophy has given everyone of them a reason to cheer and celebrate. The champion has come back to break the shackles. Take a bow, Roger!!! Now that he has taken all four grand slams, it is time that he realized that the greatest competition for a champ like him lies from within. Stage is all set for a comeback at the prestigious All- England Club. I wish he does it this time and stamp his authority on the game like no one else. Go FedEx Go!


Anonymous said...

Federer is truly the greatest tennis player ever. I was a huge fan of Sampras but after watching Federer play, all that changed.
This post is an excellent tribute to Roger Federer

Federer rocks !!!

Anantha said...

Amazingly written post!! or am I feeling so coz I am also a fan of Federer and I had no point in ur post to not agree with :)

I also hv written abt it, read it when time permits.

A friend of mine quoted, "Anybody can beat Nadal except Federer, Nobody can beat Federer except Nadal" :-/
Hope Fedex disproves this statement in the coming years...