Former Indian tennis pros Somdev Devvarman and Mahesh Bhupathi recently talked at length about Roger Federer's style of play, explaining why the Swiss is more unique than Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.
Mahesh Bhupathi is one of the greatest doubles players in the history of the sport with 12 Majors to his name, while Somdev Devvarman has been one of India’s brightest stars in singles. And during a recent conversation with Livemint, the two showered lavish praise on Roger Federer's immense variety - especially when compared with Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who have their own strengths.
"Rafa and Novak are also incredible, but people can’t do what they do because their physical and mental abilities don't allow it," Devvarman said. "But Roger, no one can do what he does. It’s a different kind of beauty. Just the way the ball comes off the racket. The guy can do 55,000 things with the ball on any shot."
Mahesh Bhupathi, meanwhile, admitted that Roger Federer is unlikely to end his career as the GOAT. But in the same breath, he claimed that in terms of aesthetics nobody can hold a candle to the Swiss.
"He’s not going to end up the greatest player, but he's the most beautiful player to come out of tennis," Bhupathi said.
The doubles great further asserted that when you watch Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in action, you expect them to come up trumps due to their elite fitness levels. But with Roger Federer, Bhupathi believes you can always expect the unexpected.
The 46-year-old marveled at Federer’s ability to pull off spectacular shots on demand, particularly highlighting his recent winner at match point against Dan Evans in Doha.
"If you compare highlight reels, then with Novak (Djokovic), he wins points he had no business winning because of his fitness. With Rafa’s highlight reels, there’s always the amazing running forehand down the line which he bends in," Bhupathi said. "But with Federer, it’s always ridiculous half-volleys, or a half-volley backhand passes down the line, or a backhand flick cross-court. Against Dan Evans (in Doha), after 13 months, who hits a backhand down the line at match point? Only Roger."
Roger Federer’s second serve is the best I have ever faced: Mahesh Bhupathi
Mahesh Bhupathi claimed that Roger Federer’s second serve is the best he has ever faced, due to its incredible variety. The former doubles World No. 1 also waxed lyrical about Federer’s slice, explaining how the Swiss has got a different version of the shot for every situation.
"His variety is mind-boggling," Bhupathi continued. "His second serve is the best I have ever faced. He has the ability to hit multiple spots with the same toss and at multiple speeds. He makes people miserable with his slice. He’s got the slice to keep him in the point, the slice down the line, the short slice to bring people in. His game is premised on taking away time."
Somdev Devvarman, on his part, believes that Roger Federer’s game is a perfect mixture of aggression and elegance - something that Devvarman believes has never been witnessed before in tennis.
"One of the things that makes him stand out is how he can do things in an explosive way but still do it elegantly," Devvarman said. "No one has seen that happen in the sport."