Roger Federer - Great to Greatest? (Part - II)

Mahesh S BharadvajContributor IFebruary 27, 2009

I must thank all readers and fans at the outset for encouraging the first part and patiently waiting for the next and final part of this article.


Recapitulate Part I

The first part provided a background on the title which rhymes with but not the same as the management book titled Good to Great.

The point of referencing the book is that great companies stand hand and shoulders above the rest by following certain core principles consistently.

Implicitly, great companies had the ability to weather tough times and emerge successfully after each time it had to face a challenge.

I had reminisced on a certain thought that it’s possibly most respectable to one leave the stage early (be it sports or job career or anything else in life) and when one is believed to have achieved his peak.


Moving onto Part II

It is still recent history that Fed had been dominating men’s tennis like never before in Tennis history. Fed’s racket was ceaselessly demolishing records at equal ease as whacking at the balls.

It’s unimaginable whether there’ll be someone ever in times to come, who’ll have a stranglehold on No.1 spot for a prolonged period and appear predictably in Slam Finals nearly as certain as the rise of morning Sun.

Yet, we live in a world where only change is constant. Nadal had learned successfully to question Federer’s dominance and succeeded in slowing down Federer’s rapid pace towards tennis immortality. It was in his interest to crack the Fed code, break the Swiss stranglehold and ascend to the No. 1 spot.

Federer is facing different set of challenges now than he possibly faced earlier in the form of his famous nemesis. It’s become Fed’s turn to crack the Nadal code, if he aspires to achieve what he set out to in rest of his career. I suppose Fed is now facing the biggest challenge in his career yet.

Going by Fed’s own recent admission the game has changed over the years and become more physical now. Ironically, for Fed the challenge is coming late in his career and possibly what would be the last phase of his career.

Nadal is not the only testimony to this. Andy Murray had taken his physical fitness and stamina to a different level before conclusively declaring his arrival in Grand Slam scene in the year 2008.  If Verdasco’s recent rise was anything to go by, it further reinforces this trend.

Those who have been watching Nadal’s steady rise would believe that Nadal has left no stone unturned in elevating his level of play apart from sheer hard work and perspiration. His hard work is indeed paying the dividends. The more the merrier. The more Slams he wins, it helps to stem the tide of Federer who he considers still as his No. 1 nemesis.

Rafa has been on a soul-searching quest to emerge as a complete player and has made rapid strides in the process. Nadal is on a twin quest. Firstly, having been No. 2 for a record time in history, Nadal would give anything to defend his No. 1 ranking.

Secondly, Nadal is keen to demonstrate that he’s able to constantly improve his game and he’s indeed a complete player on all courts.

The fire to win and to prove oneself is a big pushing factor. This is obviously working in Nadal’s favor now.

There’s not much room for Fed to grow from a shot-making perspective. Rod Laver had mentioned after watching Fed in Aussie ’09 that he seemed to have worked on his serve. It’s ironical that his service let him down in Aussie ’09 finals.


Fed had been sitting all alone in the ivory tower of greatness until now. Nadal has squeezed his way in and demanding his right to stay in there.

Now that Fed has no intentions to retire and no near-term plans to give up, he has some homework to do. Fed does not have a choice about having to remain relevant as ever.

He must question his ways and think more than ever. He cannot turn back to history to guide him for the challenge is unique.

Fed has what it takes to crack the code. He is a man driven by a mission. It’s a journey to become the greatest ever and he's close enough to be able to see the summit!