Sampras’ seemingly unbeatable record of 15 grand slams has been overhauled. All 4 majors have been won. The no.1 ranking has been reclaimed and all the while grace, poise and elegance has been maintained. Thats Roger Federer for you. peRFect.
If someone had told you about 10 years ago, that a Swiss would become the greatest player of all time, you would probably have laughed, and so would I. But it has happened. Not only has Roger Federer become the most successful player player in Grand Slam history, but has also done it by playing a brand of tennis that can only be described as, well, magical.
When he first burst onto the scene, it was all guns blazing. A victory over the mighty Pete Sampras at Wimbledon ( which ironically became Sampras’ last match on the lawns of SW19 ). He had arrived on the scene.
The years that followed can only be described as ‘The Federer Era’ and there was hardly a hiccup( except in the clay of Paris, which a certain matador from Spain called his own ). Major after major came his way, and world #1 was a given.
Then came 2008. The year, I am sure that tennis fans will remember for a long long while to come. It was when Federer was dethroned as the king of England( well, of Wimbledon at least). In what was the longest final in Wimbledon history and perhaps, the greatest final ever, Rafael Nadal prevailed over Federer to add insult to the injury blows that he inflicted on Federer in the final of the French hardly a month before. And now doubts arose.
Naturally, whispers started of Federer losing it and not having anything left in him. These soon turned into full blown shouts when he lost his world #1 ranking to Nadal later that year. But just as great champions do, Federer won the US Open, albeit not playing the best tennis that he is capable of.
And this vulnerability was yet again exposed by Nadal when he beat Federer in the final of the Australian open. The scenes that ensued will certainly be fresh in the minds of all tennis fans. Federer breaking down and sobbing hysterically with Nadal, in what can only be described as one of the greatest shows of sportsmanship that the sport has ever seen, consoling him. This was probably a bit too much for Roger and soon enough, the axe was wielded and the guillotine lowered.
Yet again, as only great champions can, he rose from the ashes, to claim the one major trophy to elude him. He won the French open in some style and thus joined the pantheon of greats like Don Budge, Rod Laver, Andre Agassi and others, to be only one of a select few to hold all 4 major trophies. He had indeed come a full circle.
Then came Wimbledon and another epic final. Andy Roddick gave as good as he got and a bit more but in the end, Roger Federer had done it. He had eclipsed Pete Sampras to become THE HISTORY MAN ! The Undisputed king. Whats more, he’s got his #1 ranking back.
His critics will always say that he never had the competition that other great players like Sampras or Borg had. You know what? It only seems that way because he was head and shoulders above the rest. The competition that Borg had can very well be equated to the competition that Federer had without any disrespect to the players of either eras. The difference was that while Borg and Sampras were ahead of the competition, Federer was well ahead and well, as they say, it gets quite lonely at the top.
He does not have the biggest serve; Roddick does. He does not have the best forehand; Djokovic probably does. He does not have the best backhand; Richard Gasquet does. he does not have the best physique or legs; Nadal does. But you know what? He has what it takes to be a champion, and a great one at that; probably the greatest.
Kudos to the great man.