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Roger Federer is a freak of nature, says Pete Sampras

FEATURED COLUMNIST
News
678   //    11 Nov 2017, 00:09 IST

The Official Launch ATP Finals
Roger Federer speaks at the official launch of the ATP World Tour Finals in London on Thursday.

What’s the story?

14-time Grand Slam champion Pete Sampras heaped lavish praise on Roger Federer recently, calling him a ‘freak of nature’. In an interview with Wimbledon.com this week, the former World No. 1 analysed the reasons that gave the 36-year-old Swiss maestro so much success and pointed out that his smart schedule has definitely contributed to his incredible longevity.

“Roger’s just one of those freaks of nature who comes around once every 50 years. He’s been very smart with his schedule and hasn’t overplayed. He’s been playing enough to keep it fresh,” he said.

The American legend also talked about Federer’s unbridled passion for the sport and his love for travel, adding that he believes the Swiss can surely dominate the game for another couple of years.

“He still enjoys the travel. He loves the game. Put that all together and he can play for another year or two if he wants to, and if not, he’s got the right to do whatever he wants.”

In case you didn’t know

Federer beat Sampras in their only meeting that happened in the fourth round of the 2001 Wimbledon Championships. Federer, then aged 19, gave glimpses of his immense talent and maturity in the thrilling 7-6(7), 5-7, 6-4, 6-7(2), 7-5 win.

Also read: Nitto ATP Finals 2017: Tournament preview

The heart of the matter

Sampras admitted that even he was surprised to see Federer coming back from a six-month surgery-induced hiatus to win the Australian Open and called it ‘an incredible feat’. The added aggression and his repeated forays into the net have helped produce the magical 2017 season from the 19-time Major winner’s racquet.

Federer’s record eighth Wimbledon title win, however, was not at all unexpected because of his experience and his mastery of the surface.

If Federer is healthy and playing with confidence, there is no one to halt him on the lustrous green lawns of SW19, Sampras reckoned. Novak Djokovic’s absence in the final facilitated the win further, the seven-time Wimbledon champion opined.

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Sampras also said that he never envisaged his Grand Slam record getting broken just seven years after his retirement. The American hung up his racquet in 2002 and it was at the 2009 Wimbledon that Federer surpassed that tally to win an astonishing 15th Grand Slam.

Since then, not just one, but two players have gone past Sampras’ record. Federer now sits atop the standings with 19 following his triumphs in Melbourne and Wimbledon while Rafael Nadal boasts of 16 Slams having conquered the French Open for an unprecedented tenth time and later on adding the US Open to his kitty as well.

What’s next?

Federer will next be seen in action on Sunday at the ATP World Tour Finals where he is the second seed. His first match is against the eighth seed and Paris Masters champion, Jack Sock.

Author’s take

Federer has continued to stun everyone with his discipline, dedication and hunger for the game at an age when most would like to contemplate a life beyond the daily grind of the sports world. Sampras is thus absolutely spot on in calling the World No. 2 a freak of nature.

And the man continues to get better and better as he ages, defying all established notions. He has already reigned supreme in seven tournaments out of the 11 that he has played this year. That number might rise even further as the Swiss sets his sights on a record-breaking seventh title at the prestigious season-ending championships.

Also read: Video: Roger Federer plays while wearing a kilt in exhibition match against Andy Murray

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FEATURED COLUMNIST
A freelance journalist based in Kolkata who is a diehard Rafael Nadal fan. She is also extremely passionate about India’s progress in sports and hopes to throw light on India’s unsung sports heroes through her articles. When not screaming her lungs out in support of her favourite sports stars, she can be seen reading, watching movies or immersed in planning her next travel destination!
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