The Fed Express has delivered at the right time again. After his stupendous win at Wimbledon for a record eighth title, Roger Federer must be among the two best sportsmen of this age and all-time.
The other of course, is Usain Bolt in the current era. But what makes Federer special is that he has defied age to win two Grand Slams already this year. The longevity of tennis players is often restricted to around age 30. Very few have maintained their form after that.
The long, hard grind of the tennis circuit takes its toll on most players. Turning day in and day out in tournaments gets difficult after a certain age.
But Federer, who will be 36 on August 8, played it cleverly this year. After a great win over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final early this year, Federer took a long break, skipping the French Open. That break was refreshing and Federer was ready have a go at Wimbledon. And such was his skill that he did not drop a single set in the entire tournament.
To be fair, his opponent Marin Cilic of Croatia, who played the tournament of his life, was suffering from injury. But in a high stake game, that was not Federer’s problem. He won convincingly and there were tears in his eyes.
Federer now has 19 Grand Slam titles to his name, the closest rival being Nadal with 15.
So what makes Federer one of the greatest sportsperson of this age? If going by statistics alone, Federer is the greatest tennis player of all time along with Serena Williams. He has the honour of being ranked No 1 for a record 302 weeks, out of which 237 weeks were consecutive. He has won many titles along with the Grand Slams.
Record books can lie. In the case of Federer, it just underlined his greatness. Statistics aside, experts point out to his all-round game for his continued success. Federer is the master of all surfaces, whether it is grass, clay or hard court.
Add to that a fluid style, great instinct and superb stroke play and you have Federer.
He also improvises with backhand smashes, jumping smashes and the skyhook. His immaculate footwork helps him to move fast on the court and play fantastic return shots. That’s the technical side. What makes Federer even greater is that he has maintained a reputation of being a true player and his sporting spirit is legendary. He is first to congratulate his opponent. The way he praised Nadal after beating him in the Australian Open this year and the Spaniard’s response to it still remains fresh in the memory.
So where does Federer go from here? It seems that he may probably take a second break and prepare for the US Open.
From his post-match comments, he wants to come back again to Wimbledon next year.
He has certainly proved that age does not matter so much if the body is fit and the mind alert. The natural slowing down will happen. But by cleverly spacing out participation in tournaments, Federer has increased his longevity.
We must consider ourselves lucky that we are witnessing one of the greatest sportspersons of all-time. Let’s savour every moment of this great player.
Federer is simply worth it !
#The views expressed in this column are the authors.