Tennis Anecdotes: The incident that changed everything for Roger Federer
It can take a single incident to provide inspiration for any athlete in any sport to change gears and rise to the occasion. All athletes who are deemed to be legends today probably had an incident or a moment that changed the course of their life forever.
Roger Federer, winner of 20 Majors, is also known to be a man of utmost humility and this quality is instrumental in him garnering a large fan-base all across the globe.
So, what was that one day or one moment in Roger's life that probably created a deep sense of introspection in him?
The day was August 2, 2002, when Roger's coach and a former Swiss Davis Cup's team coach Peter Carter lost his life in a car accident in South Africa. It was rumoured that Federer ran across the streets of Toronto crying and baffled by the sudden tragedy.
David Law, who once helped Roger Federer in his media appearances explained:
"Roger used to be a cry-baby once. He lose one final and you can see him break down mentally, throwing his racquets over. Everything changed after the death of his beloved friend and coach, Peter Carter."
As Roger grew up in Basel, when tennis was undergoing a transition from a game of volley strokes to powerful base-line strokes, and when every young and aspiring tennis players preferred double-handed backhands, Peter stuck to Roger and made him play single-handed backhands.
Peter Carter was more of a friend rather than a coach to Roger as he took him up at a tender age of just nine and stayed with him till 18 years as his coach. The death of Carter evoked the humane side of Roger Federer as he launched a foundation for the education and up-bringing of the children in Africa.
Every tournament where Roger shed tears after winning the title, most of the tears were a tribute to his late friend and coach. As Peter Carter was Australian by birth, Roger Federer has been dedicating seats in his player box at the Australian Open to Peter's parents Bob and Diana Carter ever since 2005.
From a brat, who hated to practice, to a legend whose fame and legacy can never be replaced, this death of Peter Carter had a huge impact on Roger Federer as he lost in almost all the tournaments in the month of August 2002.
But in October 2002, Federer won the Vienna Open and dedicated the victory to his coach.
One great personality trait the Federrer has is his ability to accept things with maturity. In the case of his most-celebrated rival with Rafael Nadal, Federer lost many of those matches. Soon, Nadal and Djokovic dethroned Federer and fought for the number one position among themselves.
But, Federer accepted that someone was better than him at some point and these words in the post-match presentation of 2017 Australian Open reflects the mindset that Roger has towards life:
"Honestly speaking, i would have been happier to even lose to Rafa as the come-back was perfect. Tennis is a tough sport and there are no draws but if there is one, I would be happy to share this (the tropy) wth Rafa."
These words speak a great deal about Roger Federer and every tennis fan should pay tribute to Peter Carter who introduced a player whose style of play will be cherished for years to come.
Also coincidentally, the birth dates of Federer and Carter are next to each other. Roger's birthday is August 8, whereas Peter Carter's birthday falls on August 9.
A man's death gave resurgence to one of the all-time greats of this sport.
Published 03 Apr 2019, 03:50 IST