Roger Federer and Lewis Hamilton: How similar and impactful were they in their respective sports?
Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer are two icons of their respective sports. Two legends, who have been the face of their sport for more than a decade, and whose names have become synonymous with the sport in which they participate.
Roger Federer began his professional career as a 17-year-old Swiss in 1998. His ascension to the top took time as he matured and improved. By 2003, however, he was on top of the lawn tennis world. He'd won Wimbledon, Pete Sampras was on the decline, and there were a slew of contenders for his place. Federer became the #1 seed in tennis by 2004, and he has not looked back since, accumulating one award after another.
Lewis Hamilton's rise was more meteoric but somewhat similar. He made his F1 debut in 2007. Michael Schumacher, the king of F1 at the time, had retired. The throne was still up for grabs, and Hamilton defeated Fernando Alonso, who had been provisionally seated on it in his rookie season. In 2014, he took control and since then has taken over the sport of F1 like no other driver before him.
Lewis Hamilton and Roger Federer: How are they similar?
Early in their careers, their talent was given more credit than hard work
By 2004, Roger Federer had established himself as the dominant figure in tennis. Every match he played was pure dominance from start to finish. Most of the wins were in straight sets as Federer would rarely drop his serve, let alone the set.
During this time, Federer's Davis Cup loss to Lleyton Hewitt in a tough five-set match in 2003 became fodder for speculation after the Australian came back from a two-set deficit to defeat the Swiss player.
This setback sowed the seeds of doubt. Roger Federer was considered to be a generational talent who swept through the Grand Slams. Now, however, he was seen as someone who wilts under pressure when the going gets tough. Through the years, Federer would break that myth and even win the elusive French Open to complete the Grand Slam.
Lewis Hamilton, on his part, struggled through the same as his first season in F1 saw him squander a comfortable margin against Kimi Raikkonen and lose the title. He battled in the 2008 F1 season against Felipe Massa and was a clear frontrunner. With the championship down to the final race of the season and Hamilton making far too many mistakes, his lifestyle was scrutinized.
The then-McLaren driver was stereotyped as a prodigious talent who did not work as hard as the other drivers. Over the years, with his longevity and success, Lewis Hamilton has proved everyone wrong.
They overcame early adversities
Roger Federer was not always the epitome of calmness that we see now. The Swiss player was always an amazing talent but when it came to putting everything together, Federer struggled massively. The first instance was in 2002 Wimbledon when Federer beat the king of grass, Pete Sampras.
Even after defeating the tournament favorite, he was unable to maintain his level and was defeated by Tim Henman in the subsequent rounds. Federer didn't start putting things together until after his Wimbledon title in 2003, and by 2004, there was no turning back.
For Lewis Hamilton, some of the biggest adversities struck him during the tumultuous time at McLaren from 2010 to 2012. The car was strong but not strong enough to win titles and Hamilton's inability to fight for the title had him on the edge.
During the 2011 F1 season, Lewis Hamilton experienced complete chaos, with even his teammate Jenson Button defeating him. Through all of this, he stayed firm, moved base to Mercedes, and the rest is history. He went on to break every possible record that a driver can aspire to.
They evolved and re-invented themselves
Roger Federer's career was one of two halves. The first half was him enjoying dominance over the entire locker room, picking up grand slams for fun. It was in the second half that he became even more endearing to the fans. The Swiss star encountered serious competition from the likes of Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal and had epic battles with them.
Federer had to reinvent his game as his natural athleticism waned and his opponents caught up to him. Having said that, he remained a formidable opponent and went on to win multiple Grand Slams, bringing his career total to 20.
Lewis Hamilton's greatest evolution in his game came when he joined Mercedes. The driver was notorious for eating up his tires and would struggle in races as compared to Jenson Button. During his stint at Mercedes, Hamilton learned the art of tire management, which elevated his racing to a new level and elevated him to an all-time great status.