- John Keats
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.”
- John Keats
survey by The Reputation Institute in September 2011 anointed Roger Federer as the second most respected man in the world, behind only Nelson Mandela. This particular achievement is not just another milestone in the roster of feats amassed by Roger over the years, it speaks volumes about the kind of charismatic individual he has evolved into. From being overly temperamental in his youth to becoming the quintessential gentleman- a living, breathing paragon of humility and sportsmanship; Federer sure has traversed a long way in the perceptibility spectrum.
With a facebook following that exceeds the population of Switzerland by quite a distance, Roger Federer is one of the World’s most loved, respected, idolised and revered athletes. Being proficient in Swiss, German, French and English besides a bit of Italian and Spanish; Roger is one of the most interviewed sporting personalities on earth! Even after being inundated with the same questions over and over again, he has exhibited immense poise and patience whilst dealing with the media. Sometimes, the media blitz that entails his matches lasts longer than the matches themselves, but be it 3 in the morning or 7 in the evening, he is his usual composed self.
Seldom have I seen the maestro in an agitated state. His modus operandi is a testament to his stoic nature and a mercurial resolve to take absolute charge of the moment wherein he hypnotises his adversary into submission whilst the latter incredulously wallows in a daze.
Watching the Federer Express in full flow is bound to make you sit-up and take notice. The immaculate down-the-line single-handed backhand, the perfectly judged out-wide ace in the ad-court, the oh-so-magical forehand pass that leaves his rivals stranded at the net, the perfectly disguised drop-shot which catches his antagonist unawares, the silken drop-volley at the net which elicits a rapturous applause, the inside-out forehand whizzing past his rivals at a razor-sharp angle, or the ungodly tweener that encapsulates the RF brand of coolness; every time he wields his racquet on the tennis court, it is poetry in perpetual motion.
Roger’s on-court exploits have earned him universal plaudits and are legendary all the same. However, his divinity stems from the activities which he indulges in off-court. His philanthropic endeavours are an afflatus to his aficionados, which is one of the many million reasons why he is adored fiercely across the length and breadth of the Federer fandom.
All sport is laden with emotion and tennis is no exception to this rule. Myriad hues of sentiments manifest themselves in idiosyncratic ways and are conspicuous to all and sundry by the passionate reactions of players at pivotal points in a match. Roger emotes quixotically in constrained bursts of excitement and then lets loose an unbridled flow of unsullied sentiments that reflect the cumulative credo of his persona.
Although it would be a travesty to scrutinise his effortless genre of tennis, this eulogy would be incomplete without examining what differentiates Roger from the power-centric generation of this day and age. Every exalted sporting luminary sets a precedent for others to follow in his/her footsteps. In Roger’s case the answer to his majestic dominance and continued success over the last decade lies in decoding his consistency and longevity. I have often felt that his progression into the Quarter-Finals of a Grand Slam event or in other tennis tourneys for that matter, is often taken for granted by his fanatics and the media alike. They are vindicated by a staggering stat - 34 consecutive Grand Slam Quarter Final appearances en route to compiling an unparalleled 294 weeks at the helm of the rankings (and counting!). The man who created such awe-inspiring landmarks which are enough to overwhelm the vainest of mortals remains unperturbed though. His feet firmly rooted to the ground, serving to exemplify his character certificate emblazoned with the word “HUMBLE” in bold. It is this particular trait inter alia which endears him across demographics and compels other sporting icons to tip their hats in honour of his magnificence.
Federer epitomises greatness. Here is a man who has conquered the tennis world and still manages to retain an unassuming, unpretentious aura around him. His is a story, befitting a magnum opus wherein the protagonist serves to redefine the very meaning of being humane and affable, of being a mortal and yet a demigod, of being a magician and a captivator and yet holding his own in the direst of circumstances, of meeting triumph and disaster and treating those two imposters just the same.