“Awesomeness” is one word which can be used to describe the glorious career of Roger Federer. Just two days back, we learnt that he has completed fifteen years of his presence in ATP circuit. For majority of the fans of the Swiss Maestro though, his career kicked off only from Wimbledon 2003 when he lifted his first grandslam title defeating Mark Phillippousis in the final. So, when you say to them Federer has been in the field since last fifteen years, you would only become the subject of laughter. You can’t blame them for their ignorance because the sporting history of the great man itself has progressed in such a manner that no one really remembers or even bothers to remember what transpired before July 2003.
Just like in a 100 m race, where the sprinters take off and complete their task in no time as soon as they listen to the gun fire, Federer raced past Sampras’ record of 14 grandslam titles in less than seven years’ time since winning his maiden Wimbledon in 2003. Now, he has established his own empire with 76 ATP titles, of which 17 of them have been majors. If you are Roger Federer, you must be more than satisfied with the way you have marched on. Is there anything left for him to do in tennis? Seriously, one thing which should have haunted him for the major part of his career, amidst all his achievements, was the way he was deprived of a title in Roland Garros till 2008. Fortunately, even that elusive title came under his belt when he successfully fought his way to capture his first French open crown in 2009.
So much so that he triumphed even as a doubles player as he bagged his lone Olympic gold medal, partnering Stanslas Wawrinka for Switzerland in Beijing 2008. Yes, he is yet to get the ultimate prize in Olympics as a singles player and it is also unlikely, considering his age, he would get the same done in Rio De Janeiro in 2016. But, should it really matter to him? Olympics is just one of those tournaments which happen only once in four years and a victory or a defeat of a player depends on his form at that point of time, more than anything. He can just consider himself a bit unlucky and move on as far as his performance in the Olympics is concerned. Besides, he has got a silver medal anyway.
Having accomplished almost everything in tennis, Federer, who will be nearing the twilight of his career in a couple of years from now, would be retiring from the game, very pleased with what he has achieved. That’s how we feel, at least. But would Federer also see his career the same way post retirement? If you ask me, he cannot be self-satisfied. He would be feeling drastically impoverished, in my view.
Some are born rich and some are born poor. A poor man, who is at the lowest level, would forever be happy as he would be having no other ambition other than working for a daily bread for himself and his family. A rich man, on the other hand, no matter how much money he has, would always want more. That would be the situation with Federer as well, even if his records remain untouched for years.
I can explain the situation better if I touch upon the career of Andy Roddick. A-Rod’s retirement days had begun a couple of weeks back. Though he called it a day very early when he was just 30, if one goes reviewing his professional career, we can say there should be no reason for him to be lamenting. He would be saying to himself, “It is true I got only one grand slam playing for more than a decade. But, should I even deserve more than one playing in the era of someone like Federer who is way ahead of me on talent? People may say I should have won at least one Wimbledon having contested in the finals at “All England Club” thrice. But I cannot be oblivious of the fact that each of those times I had Roger as my opponent and losing to him should never be counted as disgraceful.” So the American’s retirement days are not going to be as miserable as that of Roger’s.
Federer is more gifted than anyone and so even minute misses at the end of his career would make him repent. Like a rich man who always goes for money, he would never be pleased if certain things did not go his way. He would be kicking himself all the time saying, “Oh! How come have I failed to add this feather to my cap?” Whenever he is in solitude, such types of thoughts would frequent him. But the million dollar question is – “Has he been denied of any success, first of all, for him to feel so crest-fallen?
I would answer affirmatively to this question. Tennis is not just all about grand slam titles and masters series. If you succeed when competing in those tournaments, you will be the sole beneficiary of the laurels that follow. Since tennis is an individual game, no one else stands to gain from it. But when you play a game representing your nation, the whole of your countrymen would feel elated. Not that Switzerland’s citizens are not happy with the accomplishments of Federer but the victory that he presents to them, as their own countryman, would make them even much happier.
He is nowadays treated more like a superstar of the tinsel world with flowery tributes all over. But the real jubilation can come only when he is treated like a soldier who wins something for his fellow countrymen. I have so far enjoyed Roger as a super star who has revolutionized the world of tennis by the beauty of his game. But now, I want to see him adding more spice to it. I want his career to be remembered as something eternal, never heard or never seen. For that, I wish he gives his country people something to rejoice. The only way he can do that is to win for them the Davis Cup.
In my opinion, the next year he should strive hard for it. He should have it on the top of the priority list, way above than winning grandslams. Yes, I am not joking. As a Federer fan, I want him to focus more on Davis cup. If he wins that, his career could be termed as a complete one and he will have nothing unpleasant for him to rue post retirement. A country like Switzerland can never produce a player of his class again. Even if they produce one, in this competitive world, he would be left unnoticed.
Even history does not give us a healthy hope in this regard. Neither Australia has ever produced another Rod Laver nor has Sweden produced another Bjorn Borg. Players of such class are born once in a millennium. So, ultimately, the people of Switzerland whole-heartedly depend on Federer to give them some moments to cherish. It is therefore becoming imperative for the great Swiss Master to try his best to fetch a Davis cup triumph for his country. Once he does it, he can enjoy his retired life better than what he would have sans Davis cup.
In fact, there is a reason that I am stressing the importance of the Davis cup, rating it higher than the Olympics. Even in Olympics, though you play for your nation, eventually you end up struggling for yourself on the court. Obviously, till you are alive in the draw , you can be least bothered about the exploits of your fellow countrymen who are also contesting in it. At times, you get to face them in the preliminary rounds, only to halt their progress further in the draw. But Davis cup is not like that. It is something where you play as a team. Even when your match gets over, whether you win or you lose, you will be seated in the stadium cheering for your teammate who plays the next match. Besides, you may even team up with him during doubles competitions the next day. You will never play against your own countrymen in Davis Cup. In that way, Davis cup is much bigger than Olympics when it comes to playing for the country.
When a player wins the final match of the Davis cup, adulations do not go to him alone but his team, as a whole, gets them. The tears of joy, which would run through the eyes of a player, when he seals a victory for his country, would always be rated much higher. No one more than Federer would know the importance of it.
Since Federer is one of the greatest players of all time, he need not do anything special to win a Davis cup for his team. All he should do is to make sure he wins two of his singles matches against his opponents. Once he does that, his other country men will be left to win only one of the remaining three matches and since Federer himself is contesting in one of those three matches as a doubles player, it should be rather easy for Switzerland to win Davis Cup.
For Federer, nothing is impossible in tennis. If he targets Davis cup as his first priority, then no human playing the game of tennis can stop him. At the age of 31, when he had the conviction, coupled with audacity, to get back to his No.1 position, it only means he is capable of doing anything. Will Federer strike one last time next year by winning the Davis Cup for his team? I hope he does this for his country sooner rather than later, before age gets the better of him. As an ardent fan of Federer, I would like to see even this credit of winning a Davis cup go to Federer.