Roger Federer: The master of a generation and beyond
A cricket-lover by birth, the first ever tennis match I watched was the Wimbledon final of 2003. I had just entered eighth grade and within a span of three hours, I saw Roger Federer winning his first Grand Slam. His impact on me was such that I got to learn more about tennis while watching him play than I did while attending tennis classes in my younger days. Now I am in my 25th year, completed my masters and running my own start up. Yet, every time there is a Federer match, I am forced to leave all my work and stick to the television as if I am playing on a gaming console controlling the master with my joystick. And I am still winning.Many try to write him off but to no avail. That is the power of Federer’s genius, consistency and longevity. His unbelivable stroke play in last evening’s semifinal was a proof of that. Considering Federer as a favorite was an automatic yet tricky choice back then, keeping in mind that tennis was going through a generational change. If you look closely at the period between 2000 to even 2004, Major men’s singles tournaments were won by Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Lleyton Hewitt, Marat Safin, Gustavo Kuerten, Gaston Gaudio, Alber Costa, Juan Carlos Ferrero, Goran Ivanisevic, Thomas Johannson, Yevgeny Kafelnikov and Nicolas Massu (thirteen players in a span of just five calendar years), whereas all Majors between 2004 and now were won mostly by Federer and Rafael Nadal, followed by Djokovic and Murray, with Stan Wawrinka, Juan Martin Del Potro and Marin Cilic being the only other penetrators with a collective sum of four wins. Roger Federer has ruled the tennis world for more than a decadeOn Friday, in front of a fullhouse home crowd cheering for an in-form Murray, no one had expected such a comprehensive game-let alone a straight-set win for Federer. A tiebreak was the least that could have made things more even.In fact, Vijay Amritraj’s post-match analysis (for the South Asia region) summed up Federer’s then and now story very well. He was shocked and lost for words. All fans and haters want to know about Roger’s retirement. But Vijay was spot on when he said ‘He will retire. But that will be on the day he loses his desire. When he realizes, he is not good enough to beat the best in the world.’For me, and all those who watched last night’s match, you know he’s still capable of more. Throw all the retirement debate to the background. Even your fans want you to leave the game at your peak. But whether you win anymore or not, you have surpassed a generation of greatness and will be remembered as the greatest of atheletes from the start of the twenty-first century for years and years to come.Now let’s talk about the other three that made the top four in this generation (Wawrinka is included in the new generation). Can any of this lot confidently claim to be superior to Federer even in today’s date, by any stretch of imagination?
#3 Andy Murray
In the 2012 Wimbledon final, when he stepped on to the centre court for a first-time final against six-time (before the match) Wimbledon winner Roger Federer, the home crowd were right behind Andy Murray, who lost, but not before putting up a great fight. Federer said in the presentation that he will win at least one Grand Slam, and Murray did not disappoint.
He avenged this loss to the same player on the same court less than a month later to win the gold medal at the Olympic games (the only glory that has eluded Federer) in London.
Murray went on to win his first Major at the US Open later that year, before capturing the Wimbledon crown in 2013.
Federer’s straight sets win over Murray in last evening’s game, despite a spectacular and largely error-free game from Murray proved that Federer is far from being overshadowed by the younger lot.