“He moves like a whisper and executes like a wrecking ball. It is simply impossible to explain how he does what he does.” – Nick Bollettieri
He’s been the king of tennis for 20 years. Even at the age of 36, he continues defying Father Time with his on-court magic.
Roger Federer’s most recent win at the Australian Open gave him 20 career Grand Slam singles titles, breaking the previous record of 19, held by…
Every slam win henceforth by ‘The Great Swissper’ (does that work?) marks a new record. With No. 20, Federer has now won 10% of all men’s Grand Slam titles since 1968, the beginning of the Open Era – If the isolated ’20’ didn’t impress, the bold ratio ought to have.
There’s never been a more dominant force in tennis.
“If you poll the top 500 tennis guys in the world, 499 are going to say Roger [Federer]. The only one who won’t is Roger himself because he’s too nice about it.” – explained former American tennis player James Blake, who holds a 1-10 career head-to-head record vs. Federer.
Novak ‘Joker’ Djokovic, former world No.1 and winner of 12 grand slam titles (8 behind Federer) put it rather succinctly…
“I don’t think you can ever get your game to perfection. Only if you’re [Roger] Federer.”
Djokovic actually holds a 23-22 advantage over Federer in career head-to-heads – nobody’s perfect.
Debating GOATs – Greatest Of All Time – is tricky. We’ve all been a part of those heated discussions. Each one, a valid and worthwhile debate, though most wind up unresolved and result in modestly strained friendships.
POINT! – COUNTER-POINT! – *sips drink* – POINT! – COUNTER-POINT! ––– agree to disagree…
(and subjectivity rules the day).
But when it comes to Roger Federer, the picture is much clearer…
He has no equal…
…in any sport.
The GOAT Pageantry
Tom Brady deflated footballs and has been accused of being a suspect teammate. His name is often thrown around in the greatest of greats discussion.
Some others include…
Tiger Woods who, after being unable to resist the temptation of a Denny’s waitress, would garnish his Grand Slam breakfast with his own private label baby gravy. The rest of the story saw him infamously crash into a fire hydrant while escaping his club-wielding wife, pay her a gazillion dollars as part of a divorce settlement, quit golf, and enter rehab in hopes of curing a sex addiction – You can’t make this shit up…
…oh, and there was also this video –haven’t seen a man that dicker’d behind the wheel since Jim Lahey patrolled the streets of Sunnyvale.
Lance Armstrong won seven Tour de France races – some of which he competed in with one testicle! He beat cancer and seemingly managed to, as a clean competitor, dominate a sport known for being riddled with PEDs…
…and then he too could hide from it no longer, ultimately admitting to leading one of cycling’s largest doping rings.
An American sports hero and inspiration to millions of cancer patients was now nothing more than a liar and a cheat – Cycling, the only sport where the person finishing 25th winds up winning every race after the fact.
Ok, double time now…
Lionel Messi, the oft-declared greatest footballer of all-time, evades taxes #Shame.
Michael Jordan (sorry LeBron) reportedly taught Tiger Woods how to womanize #LikeMike.
Wayne Gretzky, apart from wearing a truly obnoxious number, benefitted greatly from being able to play worry-free hockey knowing anybody daring to go near him would be dealt with accordingly #FuckPuck
Baseball…Bonds? Clemens? Pete Rose? Three choir boys right there. I don’t truly know who’s the best to ever step foot on the diamond. Chances are, they were either perennially drunk or good with needles #InTheButt
With Federer, there’s so much good…and zero bad.
Never a cheater. He’s never once spoken negatively about an opponent, fellow player, referee, tournament director, fan…anybody! His career in totality has been nothing but positive, both in terms of outcome and intent – although he has gone on record regarding his distaste for HawkEye, tennis’ replay system. Trying to find a blemish in Roger Federer’s career or character is akin to looking for Bruce Wayne’s parents – you won’t find one. Everything he does, he does with class and grace…
…And all he does is win.
Idolized & Incorruptible (Like ‘The Caped Crusader!’)
Batman – the Bale ones! – told the story of an idolized & incorruptible force. An upholder of justice. A hero mostly, there were times when circumstances called for him to be a villain – end of the second one, beginning of the third. WATCH THE MOVIES!
Batman would oblige, knowing he could handle the scrutiny that came with being the perceived bad guy. Ultimately he knew with time, people would understand who he truly was, and what he stood for.
Roger Federer is Batman! – incorruptible, dominant in nature and also capable of excelling as a hero, and obliging as the villain.
Facing the likes of Sampras & Agassi early in his career saw a young Federer succeed in front of crowds cheering for his demise. Tennis then was still years away from understanding his true brilliance. It never once phased ‘Roger’, who won his only match against Sampras and bested Agassi 8 out of 11 times.
More recently, there was Wimbledon 2012…
Andy Murray, vying for his first grand slam victory, faced Federer in the finals. A favourite 99 times out of 100, an older Federer accepted that on this day, he would be #2.
It didn’t matter.
Federer went about his business as usual. With his typical on-court stoic demeanor, and the odd ‘C’MON!’ thrown in to pump himself up (unable to rely on the crowd that day), he bested Murray and the crowd winning in four sets.
Understanding the position he was in, the antagonist standing in the way of UK triumph, he didn’t take it personally.
*Speaking about Murray following the match
“I really do believe he will win Grand Slams, not just one. I do wish him all the best. This is genuine. He works extremely hard. He’s as professional as you can be. Things just didn’t quite turn out for him in the finals like he’d hoped for. But today I’m sure he got another step closer to a Grand Slam title.”
It was a day that saw an older Roger Federer, now fully understood, assume and thrive in a villainous cameo.
Today, he enters every tournament and match as the odds-on (and crowd) favourite. Batman, if you recall, quickly reverted back to being a hero once Gotham figured its sh*t out! – am I selling you on this yet?).
Federer’s play and glowing reputation have earned him the love and support of the global tennis community. He has no equal, and it may stay that way for a very long time.
So dominant, one could understand if he strutted around with ‘Mayweather’ arrogance and bravado, making sure to remind everyone just how great he was anytime the opportunity presented itself.
Instead, he’s Batman…content to go about his business while remaining mostly in the shadows, coming out only when a signal (in this case, tournament) beckons him.
A husband and father of four, his family travels alongside him to most every tournament he plays in. Federer himself credits his wife Mirka, for allowing him to continue playing. After all, it’s not easy tending to four little ones when life has you perpetually on the road.
“Family was something I always wanted when I got together with Mirka, way back when in Sydney at the Olympics in 2000, and my whole life changed completely and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me”, explained Federer, prior to winning his most recent grand slam title.
He continued about his children – “They know I’m a professional tennis player…I don’t want to educate them on everything, but they know I sometimes win. But winning or losing to them shouldn’t matter because my attitude will always be the same towards them.”
An incorruptible, real-life hero…
…Albeit, with a losing record to a ‘Joker’.
Like I said, nobody’s perfect.
But Roger Federer is damn close.
*Feature image via Instagram