Thursday 19 November 2015

Roger Federer : the most commonly associated name with tennis

This is my first ever blog on Roger Federer and what a day to start writing about him. The World tour finals 2015 is underway and not even 24 hours ago, Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2. As a Federer fan, nothing gives me more happiness than to see the great man still conquering the very best in men's tennis.

I am not actually very sure what to write about him. So much has already been written and said that I doubt I have any original story to tell. The only uniqueness I can bring to my post here is to share my views. Today I want to talk about why he is the one name most commonly associated with tennis.

Every sport has its greats and legends. When we talk about football, names like Pele, Diego Maradona, Ronaldo, Zidane immediately come to mind. For cricket it might be Viv Richards, Sir Donald Bradman, Allan Border. Major Dhyan chand and Jamie Dywer reminds us of field hockey and Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumachar takes our minds to zooming F1 cars. Even tennis has its share of legends in Arthur Ashe, Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Bjorn Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and so many others.

I will not go into the debates regarding the greatest of all time, but at least for an era, I have observed that one name is more closely associated to a particular sport than any other. Some of you might not agree with me but I think the name Sachin Tendulkar is associated to cricket more than any other cricketer. Same goes with football, where Lionel Messi is the second name of football today. In a country like India where basketball is not a very popular sport, many people know about just one player: Michael Jordan. Same can be said about Tiger Woods and golf, and Hulk Hogan and wrest
ling (Just kidding. WWE might be the most popular 'sport' after cricket in India).

In all these cases, that one name just sticks. That is what I feel about Roger Federer and tennis. So many players have come and gone but Roger Federer is one of the most loved and admired tennis players of all time, by fans and players alike. As proof, he has won the fan's favorite (voted by fans) award for the 13th time in a row and the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award (voted by fellow players) for the 11th time in the last 12 years. Yes, Rafael Nadal comes close to being so loved all around the world, but the fan following that Federer has, I think it is unparalleled to anybody in any sport at the moment.

Sometimes I ask myself why. He is of course one of the greatest player to have played the game. Some of his achievements are mind-boggling and I doubt anybody can surpass him easily. For example being world number 1 for 237 weeks, or making 23 consecutive major semi finals is a ridiculously imperious record. But I think the reason for his popularity is more than his records.

When Roger Federer plays, it is very easy to make out, even for a non-tennis fan, that he is inhumanely calm and composed. While others get pumped up after a couple of winners or smash their racquets into a lump for making a few mistakes, Roger Federer never (except once that I remember) does something like that. He will win a point by an ethereal volley and go back to the baseline, ready for the next point as if nothing happened. I have also seen many players yell back at the crowd if they get under their skin, but with Federer, it is unthinkable. During a match, he is mentally as stable as they come and that makes him stand out among others.

One other aspect of Roger is the way he plays his game. He makes everything look so ridiculously easy. Some people say it is just talent. I disagree. I think you have to work even harder to make something so tough, look as easy as peeling a banana skin. Add to that ease, his grace. He makes tennis look like art. There is no data to prove this but I am sure everyone will agree with me on this one. I can never get bored of watching Roger play. I can play it over and over again and feel like someone is feeding me unlimited chocolate pastries (except that you will get bored of eating pastries eventually).

He is an amazing strategist too. I have seen so many matches where he came back to win the match against a more inspired and dangerous opponent by using the right tactics at the right time. (I am sure many of you can relate to it with the SABR he started using for the last few months.)

I do not know exactly why he is so unanimously loved and associated so closely with tennis. I am just here to speculate and share my views, and I think a few of the above points, or maybe all of them, in addition to thousands more that I have not mentioned, or are not possible to put it down on paper, contribute to it. My only wish is to keep seeing him play like he is at the moment and relish every bit of it.

If you were looking for '12 reasons why Roger Federer is the greatest ever' kind of a post, I am sure you would have been disappointed reading this post. So to try and compensate for that, I shortlisted Roger's 5 most memorable shots (in my opinion). These shots have been compiled keeping in mind the significance of the tournament, the quality of opposition and the ridiculous ease at which Roger executes them.

5. This shot is simply here due to the brilliance and cunning of Roger on court. Just look at the way he outfoxes Ernest Gulbis by giving a 'fake gaze' crosscourt.

4. Back in 2002, when Roger was a 21 year old emerging player, he conjured up this against his rival Andy Roddick. (As a bonus I have uploaded the full game which is worth watching).

3. Wimbledon finals 2012 against Andy Murray. Who really expects that kind of a 'drop shot'?

2. Who can forget the 2008 Wimbledon finals between the two legends? This backhand passing shot to save Championship point is one of the highlights of this great match.

1. This, in my opinion is one the best shots the maestro has dared play (and perfectly executed!) in a major. US Open 2009 semifinals against Novak Djokovic and he plays this to bring up match point.

If you have any suggestions or feedback regarding the post, please leave a comment. Cheers!

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