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An attempt to dissect the DNA of a timeless legend

Ravi Kiran
Modified 13 Feb 2018, 15:57 IST

2018 Australian Open - Day 14
Federer with the 2018 Australian Open trophy

It is common for any sports lover to see their sporting idols retire one day. But what we don't realize is the hard work the legends put in to keep doing their best in their quest for excellence and delight the sporting fraternity.

We keep our eyebrows up with a surprised look. Usually in such cases, one tends to think about the motivation they get to perform at such a high level with great consistency despite their age. In the recent past, we have observed legendary sportsmen like Roger Federer, Vishwanathan Anand and Leander Paes who have performed extraordinarily, beyond anyone's imagination.

The entire tennis fan base is aware of Federer's 20th Grand Slam win in the recently held Australian Open. It is hard to believe or imagine the fact that Federer lost only 2 sets in the entire tournament and that too in the final. Though rumors about his retirement were rife, his victory in the Australian Open and his intention to take part in the Rotterdam tournament has put a stop to them.

Vshy's brilliant comeback

2017 King Salman World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championships - Day 6
Anand with the 2017 King Salman World Rapid & Blitz Chess Championship trophy

Vishwanathan Anand had lost to child prodigy, Magnus Carlsen of Norway, in the 2013 and 2014 World Chess Championship. The media had already begun to write Vishy's retirement stories. To some extent, even some of his fans were in complete disbelief, considering his form.

However in the 2016 Candidates Chess Tournament, Anand defied odds when he finished the tournament behind the ultimate winner Karjakin by a mere one point. To his credit, he also had the unique distinction of being the only player to have beaten Karjakin in that tournament.

One could see the glimpse of the old genius in Vishy's game but the fans wanted more from him. Just like a lightning that strikes amidst the dark cloudy background, Vishy fought back strongly to win the FIDE World Rapid Chess Champion in December 2017 to enthrall his fans. The critics were left pondering about his skills and the mindset to make a strong comeback.

Paes and his tryst with tennis

2016 French Open - Day Thirteen
Paes and Hingis won the 2016 French Open

Leander Paes has to be one of the greatest tennis players that India has ever produced. The recent significant win of Paes' career was in the 2016 French Open where he played alongside the legendary player Martina Hingis to defeat the pair of Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig. After that, it has been a series of ups and downs with no major wins against his name.


However, he won the Newport Beach tennis tournament in January and has brushed aside any talk about his retirement leaving his fans in a joyous mood.

What is the X Factor?

Federer, Paes and Anand are 36, 48 and 44 years old now. One does tend to think about the factor or factors which keep these legends going. Could it be popularity, money, passion or any other factor?

It would be unwise if one attributes the answer to the first two factors since these legends have already achieved a lot of popularity and money by now. If we analyze the post retirement conversations of various legends from any sport, the most common answer is the lack of passion to continue in their fields.

The fans are not obviously happy with their sporting icon's decision and all the messages to recall the retirement decisions starts floating in the social media and by other means.

Author's Take

It is tough to say with certainty what the X factor is and the fans will only love to see them playing for eternity. While the entire sporting group continues to ponder and question about the mindset to excel in their fields, it appears as if these players have a very distinct approach and that is what makes them so successful.

Published 13 Feb 2018, 15:57 IST
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