Somewhere in 2015, Roger Federer tweeted with an Indian Cricket team. This happened before a much-awaited Pakistan India match at world cup in Australia. The tweet set Pakistani fans of RF on fire. Many of them felt hurt and stopped following RF altogether. Others were merely disappointed by his gesture. A star, who lives in our hearts, seems our own. Seeing him taking sides with an enemy came naturally as heartbreaking. Thankfully RF realized that his fans felt hurt and tweeted an explanation. He rather likes the South African cricket team, SA being her mother’s birth place and things felt sorted.
For a fan like me though, nothing of this sort could stop following him on daily basis. In book marked pages on my browser, there is one page which directly leads to Federer search on Google. ATP world tour means Federer to many tennis fans who proclaim no Federer no tennis as their motto. Even in the weeks when he is not playing, keeping in touch with his updates is a daily routine. When I am procrastinating, I am usually reading about Federer on Google, looking for #Federer on Twitter, seeing his best shots compilations on YouTube or following various pages on Facebook that update about RF. This following has run deeper than I initially thought so.
I remember hearing about Martina Hingis and her initial run in tennis. I also remember vaguely remembering the defeat of Pete Sampras at the hands of RF. That was a big news of that time, that virtually heralded the era of RF on tennis, especially the grass court. Time has since been on his side. With all the characteristic ups and downs of any tennis pro, he has had everything that makes a pro a greatest of all times. The most important of these has been the rivals of this golden era of tennis. As rightly put up by an analyst, this has not only been the golden era of tennis but also the best era of any sport that we have ever seen. RF was first joined by Rafael Nadal who took the clay court before even Federer had conquered the great arena of Roland Garros. Nadal virtually proved someone that could hinder his chance of RF winning RG ever. Federer back hand proved a vulnerability that he was unable to overcome on slower surfaces. Although he is not a bad clay court player (REF REC), the rightful heir of the clay throne had already set his foot. Rafa took it to Federer all the way and defeated him in SW19, something that RF couldn’t pay back, never having defeated Nadal at RG.
Later, came long the likes of Djokovic, Murray, Wawrinka and Del Potro. Everyone had a fare share of success and Federer insists each one of them contributed to make him what he is today. But somewhere deep down there, there may be a dislike for at least few of them, on some particular moments may be. For example, with Stephan Edberg, RF was in Wimbledon final on two consecutive occasions, 2014 & 2015. Each time it was Djokovic who lifted the trophy and denied RF a chance to rewrite Wimbledon history by winning an 8th crown. In addition to that Rafael who once made it look like an impossibility that RF will ever complete a career slam by winning on French Open. Nadal had, till Swiss Indoors Basel 2016, championed Federer 23-10. From then onwards, Federer seems to have solved one of the greatest mysteries of his career. .
The 2012-2017 slump, where RF didn’t win any majors, must have been difficult for him. But the way he kept believing was amazing. I once read somewhere that 2008 defeat in Wimbledon at the hands of Nadal would have torn him apart. Such defeat would tear anyone apart. RF said Nadal got into his head with the repeated beating and bashing he inflicted on him on clay. But right after Wimbledon ’08, RF was there at Flushing Meadows, lifting the trophy. Such resilience, positivity and faith is what makes him loved. It gives people hope, to believe and to keep believing. He repeated the same in 2017 by winning two majors and 5 other tournaments, defeating Nadal on four consecutive time, in a year when Nadal otherwise finished as world #1. In a way, I feared his #USO17 run would come to end when he will be up against Nadal. Fortunately he lost a round earlier to our very beloved Del Potro.
2017 ended as one of his best years. Wishes take us on a journey where he would have ended as world #1 again as we, the fans, fear that with 2018 being the year when many top guns make a come back and younger generation finds their groove, he might never come close to being #1 again. On a second thought, I remind myself that he doesn’t have to do that. For me, he will always be RF the maestro, the artist, the magician, genius, and most of all, Roger Federer. The kind of gentleman that he has been, is much more than the tournaments that he has won. The best statistics that describe him, for me, is that he has never retired during a match. If he feels he is unfit, he chooses not to play. This is, by far, a standalone stat in tennis history. A tennis fan can never be thankful enough for being born in RF’s era. So, what's left for him? Jimmy Conner's 109 trophies? Two more seasons?