The greatness of the living legend called Roger Federer
“Greatness is not born, it grows”
It was 10th September,2011 which made me look back and see Roger Federer in a new light. Before that, he was indeed the player who no doubt had this innate talent, who could do just about everything he wished to do on court. He was like the Harry Potter of the tennis court who could create magic with his tennis wand and leave everyone spellbound with the results achieved.
Until Wimbledon arrived where he lost in the quarterfinals and then followed it with the heartbreaking and humiliating loss to Novak Djokovic after being up two match points. Everyone knew something was wrong. Most of the critics predicted the end of his career, citing the rise of new champions like Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. How can one forget Rafael Nadal who of course has been his arch nemesis on the court?
Federer’s arch nemesis- Rafael Nadal
At times I look at myself and think about the path I would have taken if in the same shoes? One, I would have been to fall back on my laurels and continue to live on my past glories ignoring the signs of a breakdown somewhere and just keep on trying to ignore the defeats as just another bad day in office. Another would have been to hang my racquet and move on to a new career. Last but not the least was another option which would have been to go back and reflect on what went wrong, work upon the weaknesses that had crept up in the game and come back rejuvenated.
What did Roger Federer do? Roger Federer took the famous six week break to do just what his wife Mirka had suggested and the rest is history. Since that break, he has won 8 titles, One Grand Slam and Olympic Silver Medal and claimed World No. 1 ranking in a span of 15 months.
To be exact: This is what Mirka told him: “It’s O.K. to lose one or two matches very closely, but you can’t start losing more and more and more. Then maybe something’s wrong in your corner. So you just have to question yourself and check with the entire team, see what everybody thinks.’
That is why I say greatness is not born, it grows. Mind you, we are talking about a player here who is 31.5 years old now and still there is no sign of wear and tear on his body. Take a moment to pause and look at these facts:
1) Former World No. 1s like Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg and John McEnroe were unable to win a Grand Slam past 30.
2) Rod Laver who won all four Slams at age 31, never made it to another major semi-final.
3) Federer played back to back 5 set matches in Australian Open 2013 and still didn’t complain of fatigue as the reason for loss in the semi-final. Andy Murray , 6 years younger than Federer, on the other hand after losing the finals complained about fatigue being one of the reason for the loss since he had played Federer in a 5 set match in the semifinals.
I can go on and on about the records of Roger Federer and pages will not be enough. Unlike Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, he was a late bloomer who won his first GS at the age of 22. Since then he has won 16 more grand Slams. What stands out to me is the commitment this great champion has shown even at the age of 30+ when the so called experts call it an age of retirement. Has this been an easy ride for him? Certainly not, what many fail to see is the effort that has gone into keeping Roger Federer as the player that he is today. Fit as a 20 year old and sharp as a razor, he still does two to four hours of intense training every day in the scorching heat of Dubai during off season and then add to it few more hours of fitness training with his team. Not to mention, he has to keep up his media commitments, commercials (according to Forbes Magazine, Federer is the second-most trusted athletic brand in the world) and at the same time is also a devoted family person who is happy to help his wife around the house, play with his twins and put them to sleep every night.
As the great Rod Laver once said, “There’s really no substitute for hard work, for putting in all that practice and time.” Roger Federer is no exception, his flawless tennis which continues to dazzle each and every one of us is a result of the hours and hours of practice that has gone in improving his game and fitness. Sure there are going to be times when he will suffer losses that will be frustrating, shocking, unexpected but the only way I see him reacting to such situations will be to grow even more and comeback even more determined to achieve his goals, to come up with results as extraordinary as he did in 2012 because Napoleon Hill once said: “Most great people have achieved their success just one step beyond the doors of failures.”
And in my mind: Roger Federer definitely falls in that category of people.